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Saturday, October 22, 2016

a miscarriage story - Jennifer Buck

October is a National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and as such I find it very important to open up the dialogue about miscarriages. The more women talk about it, the more I feel they will realize they are not alone. I'm grateful to Jennifer Buck for opening up about her own personal experience with losing a baby at 10 weeks along. She is so courageous and strong, and I admire her greatly for sharing with us. I know this will help another mom feel less alone through this tragedy.

Images shared from Jennifer Buck

1. When did you experience a miscarriage? How far along were you?
It was March of 2015. I was 10 weeks along. My oldest daughter was almost a year and half. I had a little spotting but I didn't think much of it. Then I had a bad dream that I lost the baby, which completely freaked me out. When I went in for my 10 week appointment, my first ultrasound, I had a bad feeling... It was almost as if my body was trying to mentally prepare me. We discovered  the baby had no heartbeat and hadn't progressed beyond 6 weeks. I was heartbroken and beside myself. The ultrasound tech didn't say much (just that the baby hadn't progressed) but it was obvious.  When I went back in the room with the midwife, one of the docs was there as well. They confirmed the news (missed miscarriage) but were nonchalant about it. I felt they were not comforting and not empathetic. My husband agreed. It was odd.. I remember having to walk through the waiting room after, big baby bellies everywhere. It was absolutely awful. I ended up switching practices not long afterwards.

2. What do you remember physically about the process? What was the most difficult part physically? 
I remember not knowing what to do. I think I was still in shock. My choices were: wait to see if I would pass it on my own, drugs to induce contractions, or a D & C. I recall feeling a little pressure by the staff to make a choice.

I chose to try the drugs to help my body pass the baby.  I remember feeling the induced contractions and sitting in the bathtub. bleeding, with the shower running, that was the worst part. I didn't want to see what was happening. I realized then it probably wasn't the best choice for me.

After two days I didn't feel like the drugs were working, so I went back in the office to have an ultrasound. The ultrasound confirmed I still had a lot of tissue that hadn't passed. The dr on that day said he could try and take care of it in the office. At that point, I just wanted it to be over and done with so I said, nope, I want a D & C.

So my mom came up and watched my daughter and my husband came with me to the hospital. After my d & c they realized there was still a lot more tissue left than they realized, so I was definitely glad I chose the procedure.

3. What do you remember emotionally about this process? What was most difficult emotionally to consider?

I was sad, somewhat lost, angry, and probably surprised. Although I knew friends that had experienced miscarriages, after having a normal first pregnancy, I just didn't think of it happening to me. 

I was also angry at the reactions of the midwife and Dr. Especially after I had a positive experience with them with that practice with my pregnancy and birth of my first daughter. I felt like they were so used to seeing women have miscarriages in the office, that it didn't mean much to them. But even if it didn't, they could have tried to pretend. It was certainly traumatic for me.

4. What feeling words would you use to describe this experience? 
Raw,  trying, & helpless.

5. What were some of the thoughts you had in your mind that maybe at the time didn't make a whole lot of sense, but still you were thinking them all the same?  
That I was being punished for some reason. That perhaps running a 5k caused it to happen.

6. What medically happened for you? Did you have any procedures? What helped you through this process medically - medicines, baths, sleep, etc.?

I had misopropyl and was told it worked 95% of the time. I was part of the 5% it did not work for. I then had a d & c in the hospital under anesthesia. I only took Ibuprofen (they didn't prescribe anything else) and that didn't do much for the pain. Sleep probably helped the most.

7. What helped you emotionally through this process? Do you remember things someone said to you that helped you feel better?  

My amazingly supportive family and friends. I actually talked a lot about it to friends and in a mom group.  It helped to share openly for me.  I also made a pinterest board for the baby with quotes, etc. Hearing stories of friends who had gone through it as well, helped me the most because I felt they understood.

8. What are some of the worst things you heard from people about this time? 
"You'll have another baby." I was mourning the one I had just lost..I wanted that baby. Also, who knew what the future held. Or people who knew it happened but didn't acknowledge the loss to me. I remember being surprised by the people who did acknowledge it (an uncle,  dental assistant) and who did say "I'm sorry for your loss." That meant a lot.

It wasn't anything anyone said, but I also had two good friends who were pregnant with their second children during this time.  We spent a lot of time together. It was hard to be around them for a while because our babies were all due around the same time, and I had been excited for all of us to be pregnant together.

9. What is your advice to a mom who has gone through a miscarriage? What do you hope they remember?    
That they are not alone, and to take their time and grieve. Don't be afraid to speak openly about it, if you felt comfortable doing so. Journal, cry, take time alone. Be gentle and kind with yourself. 

Remember although it is common, it is a tragic loss, and you will have good days and bad days.

10. What is your advice to a friend of a mom who has gone through a miscarriage?  What do you want to encourage them to do or not do to be supportive? 
Just be there and tell them you care. Ask your friend what is helpful to them. I imagine some women may need space, but it helped me immensely to talk about it.

11. Why do you think moms don't talk about miscarriages? Why do you think they SHOULD talk about their experience?
I think sadly, in our culture, miscarriage still isn't something  you talk openly about. Once I had one, I later found out a close aunt had a few, so and so had one., etc. Basically people came out of the woodwork and I never knew before it happened to me that they had suffered. 

It's common to wait until after the first trimester is over to announce a pregnancy, but it doesn't have to be. You should announce whenever you like. If you then have a loss, hopefully those people who you announced to will be supportive, and in turn some more of the stigma of talking about it will be erased.

12. Do you do anything to honor the baby you lost, the due date, or another part of this experience? 
My husband got me a Pandora charm after my oldest daughter was born. I looked for a charm that would symbolize my angel baby but I was surprised to find they didn't have one (beyond a regular angel) I thought about writing to them and suggesting they create one. Otherwise, I light a candle on the baby's due date, 10/24. Two days after my oldest daughter's birthday.

13. How has this experience made you a stronger mother? 
It has made me a better advocate for myself. It had helped me be more grateful of what I have, appreciative of my daughter, and more understanding to those who have infertility struggles.

14. Is there a happy ending to your story? 
We conceived our beautiful rainbow baby, Lylah Elizabeth, in August 2015, three months after my d & c, and she was born 4/28/16.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

the rainbow after the storm : a year after my miscarriage

One year ago last Friday I had a miscarriage.
I was hopeless, helpless, and confused.
I wanted answers, I had so many questions, unsure why this was happening to me.
I have never in my life cried like I did when I miscarried, gut wrenching sobs.
I kept saying that I wanted to be pregnant, I wanted a baby, it wasn't fair.
I questioned if we were supposed to have a third child, if this was happening, maybe it was a sign?
I was so deeply sad.

A year later... I cannot believe it's gone by so quickly. This past weekend last year was horrible. I stayed in bed, sobbing, in pain, sleeping, and crying some more. I Googled, questioning everything, seeking information about what was happening. I prayed a lot, and then got mad at God and then prayed more. This weekend on my calendar was marked as a terrible one, one I wanted to forget. One I was dreading coming around again.

And yet now, a year later, I'm happier than I've been in a long time. I have a healthy baby boy, 9 days old. One year later, I have my sweet rainbow baby in my arms, snuggling me, breathing against my heartbeat on my chest as he sleeps, nursing and crying during diaper changes. He's here, loud and clear, he's here. I reassure myself that all is well in my world now, a year later, as I hold this little being, watching as his chest rises and falls, breathing, heart beating, all OK.

One year ago I had a miscarriage. One week ago I delivered my rainbow baby.

A rainbow baby... a term I'd never understood before a year ago. A rainbow baby is one who comes after a woman has lost a pregnancy or baby. It's the calm after the storm, the peace and hope that one longs to have. It's the blessing, the happiness, the sweetness from the bitter moments previously. It's the loss coming full circle, making a little more sense, even just for a second. It's not a replacement of who one lost, but it's someone new to fill that void and complete a mother's heart again, close up that hole, that aching inside.

A rainbow... full of colors and bright and beautiful. It always makes people smile when after a scary, dark thunder storm, we find colors across the sky. That's a rainbow baby. It's hope. It's something to believe in again. It's fulfilling and earth shattering and even heartbreaking at times to wrap our minds around. It's a calming feeling that all will be OK again.

My friend posted the above quote to the Mommy Stories Facebook page. I read it over three times, tears, and understanding. Solidarity. That's one positive thing that comes from opening up to other moms about a miscarriage. 

Last Friday I posted this picture above of my rainbow baby to the Facebook group. 213 likes and 50+ comments from real moms who had gone through miscarriage and stillborn losses. They shared pictures of their rainbow babies, some of those 50 moms had multiple rainbow babies, having gone through multiple losses previously. It was astonishing. To realize how much loss there is, was devastating. 

I had no idea how common miscarriages were until I suffered through one last year myself. I still a year later didn't realize how many moms surrounding me have gone through it themselves. It's deeply saddening. And yet... when I see their pictures of smiling beautiful children, I realize that in the loss, in the sadness, there is great strength and togetherness and hope. There is beauty, really. There is this comforting feeling that we are NOT alone. That's what I've repeatedly said, my mantra really for miscarriage support to other moms: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I want to scream it, hashtag it, put it on billboards everywhere. I felt alone when I went through it... until other moms reached out to me, helped me feel OK and normal and like they got it. I don't ever want moms to feel alone, I want moms to know they can talk about it. 

As I saw those pictures of happy children, posted by proud mommas, who have all survived the worst in a miscarriage and then experienced the best in a blessed birth... I realized all of those children would not be here if their mothers had not endured what they had prior to their births. If they had not had losses, sent angel babies to heaven if they so believe, they would not have their babies here now. If I had not had my miscarriage last October, I'd never have gotten pregnant a few months later and delivered this healthy baby now this month. 

I thank God for what I went through. I never thought I'd say that. But I do. I appreciate the hard time it was, I feel stronger because of it. I don't regret it or wish it didn't happen. In fact, I've told people, that at the time last year I knew there was a reason for what I went through, I just didn't know what that reason was yet. Now I know. It was to help other moms open up about this experience, to be a stronger part of that solidarity movement among mothers. It was so I could share and learn from others and try to help them through what they are going through. I believe I can bring some hope to moms now... I've already heard from a few who feel this way. I know other moms who had rainbow babies before I did gave me so much hope. 

It's been a year since my miscarriage. And I kind of forgot how far along I was when I miscarried, I had to stop for a moment to think about it. And then I was trying to recall what the original due date would have been, and it took me a few moments to remember. I'm slowly forgetting the parts that I didn't think I could forget or let go of, and that's a good thing. I'm starting to focus more on what I have than what I lost. That's healing. It's good to acknowledge the growth.

So moms having had miscarriages, please know you're not alone, know that things do get better, I promise. I will hope that you face the light and the sky and see a rainbow baby in your future. To those with rainbow babies, may you snuggle them close - no matter their age! - and always remember what you went through, as it signifies one of the strongest moments of your life, I'm sure. You should not forget how strong you are. 


Mom of the Month - Suzy Golden

Congratulations to our October Mom of the Month, Suzy Golden! She seems like such a hard working, devoted and realistic momma to two sweet children. She has a great outlook on parenting - making the most of it but also running her own business and teaching her kids what working hard and dedication is all about. Congrats, Suzy and thank you for sharing your life with us! :)

Photos from Suzy Golden 

1. Describe your children in 3-5 words. How did you choose their names? 
Callie my sensitive, creative and brilliant little girl.  We just heard her name and both loved it! 
AJ is my hilarious, adventurous and loving little boy.  AJ is really Andrew after my husband. 

2. How old are your children? How did you tell people you were expecting a baby?
Callie is 6 and AJ is almost 2.  When we became pregnant with Callie we told our families with a picture frame with the ultrasound in it.  When AJ came around people were sort of expecting it so we just told them!
3. How would you describe your pregnancies? How was delivery, birth and labor for you? 
I had morning sickness every day when I was pregnant with Callie.  It was really awful and made me question whether I wanted to be pregnant again.  Her due date was July 3rd.  I was admitted to the hospital on July 2nd due to high blood pressure and they decided to induce me.  The induction failed and I never progressed past 2 centimeters.  After 24 hours they stopped the induction and actually sent me home!  The next day my water broke and we headed back in.  After another 24 hours of labor and still no progress past 2 cm I ended up having an emergency c section because her heart rate dropped.  When she came out she had open sores on her wrists from sucking on them in the womb.  It turns out because she was sucking on her wrists, her elbows were out and that was causing her to get stuck, which is why I never progressed! AJ was easy after that because we just scheduled a c-section! 

4. Describe yourself as a mom in 3-5 words. 
Busy, hardworking, loving 

5. What type of mom do you hope your children think you were someday when they're old enough to tell you? 

I want them to see me as hardworking and giving - I do what I do so they can have what they need and can be happy. 

6. What things have you done as a mom that you're most proud of?
I am proud of the two little beings my husband and I have raised thus far!  They are loving, sweet and kind.  Of course no one is perfect but so far they're pretty darn great! 

7. What have been the most difficult parts to being a mom? 
It's hard to juggle it all.  I own my own business which means even when I'm not at the office I am still working 24/7- answering emails, returning phone calls, doing paperwork.  It's difficult to find that balance between home and work life and make sure every area gets the attention it needs. 

8. What is your favorite baby/child product(s) that makes your mom job easier? 
For the age my kids are right now, I love the Take-n-toss sippy cups.  They're reusable but cheap enough that if we lose one or it gets gross and I throw it away, I don't care!  Other silly cups are just so expensive and have a zillion parts to clean and dry.  I've given up on those and only buy take-n-toss cups to make my life easier!

9. What advice about being a mom would you give to a brand new mother? 

Just breathe- you've got this!  Trust your instinct as a mother and you'll be fine! 

10. What is a typical day like for you? 
We all get up and get ready for the day- get dressed, eat breakfast,  make lunches, etc...  by 8:30 we are out the door to the bus stop to get my daughter on the bus.  Then I bring my son to daycare.  Then it's off to the office where I am a speech-language pathologist and owner of a private speech therapy practice.  I typically work 9-5 seeing clients in my office.  At 5 I grab my son from daycare, pick up my daughter from the after school sitters house and head home.  Then I make dinner, we do homework, play, give baths and put the kiddos to bed! 

11. What 5 things would you like to do with your kids someday, if anything were possible and money no object? 
Lots and lots of traveling!!!

12. What are your favorite things to do in the fall? 
Eat/drink all the pumpkin things! 

What are your Halloween traditions if you have them?  

My father in law brings my kids "magic pumpkin seeds" that they plant in the yard.  Then overnight, they grow into pumpkins (my father in law brings down about 20 pumpkins that we put in the yard where the seeds were).  Seeing the looks on their faces when they see the pumpkins is PRICELESS! 

13. Tell us a time where you felt like you failed at parenting... but then realized you truly had not failed, things worked out fine. 
My son had his pacifier much longer than we wanted him to.  With our daughter we took it away at a year when we transitioned from bottles.  We always seemed to have an excuse as to why we couldn't get rid of it.  We were going on vacation... we were moving, etc... so we just didn't take it away - and then he became seemingly so attached to it.  Then one day recently I put him to bed and I couldn't find a Binky.  So I just put him down without it, he fell right asleep.  We never gave it to him again and he hasn't even asked for it! So we are binky free and I am so happy. I was worried it was too late.  

14. What makes you a strong mom? 
My mom is one of the strongest moms I know and having her to look to makes me a stronger mom too.  

15. Anything else you want to add? 
Thank you to Christine for nominating me! It made me feel so special and loved! 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

ginger chews: and other hilarious notes about pregnancy by Grace Plummer

Hearing a new mom's perception of pregnancy is one of the most amazing and hilarious things in the world. We all remember, we have been there and can recall exactly what she is talking about, even if it's been years since we were pregnant ourselves. When my friend Grace Plummer posted this note below on her Facebook page, I HAD to ask her permission to post it to my blog for all to read and relate to. It's funny, like tears running down my face, gut wrenching hysterics funny. And oh so relatable. I totally remember these things. Love that she is able to put it to words so well.

Thanks, Grace!

Pregnancy. Three trimesters. 40 weeks. Lots of, um, changes.

After finding out I was pregnant and then deciding to share the news, I was quickly gifted a couple of thick books, one endorsed by the Mayo Clinic, about pregnancy. The material, covering all of these exotic changes, is validating, reassuring, informing and therefore helpful.
But, sorry Mayo Clinic, you have forgotten a few things.

Here are some necessary-to-share tidbits that no researching, writing MD told me about the first trimester. (Disclaimer: I am not an expert but have recently lived through those awkward first twelve weeks, so am therefore qualified to write an educational piece for soon-to-be-mothers. Thank you. Thank you. ** I am bowing **) 

Here goes…
You will find yourself in the Chipotle parking lot five minutes after they open (wo)man handling an over-stuffed burrito in your car. You will eat it all, including the loose black beans that fall to your lap, and then consider getting back out of your car and back in line to purchase a second burrito to then carry in your purse at Target while you shop, knowing you’ll be hungry again in two hours.
This is normal behavior for a pregnant woman.

You will get to the conveyor belt at Hannaford and notice with an initial twinge of shame that your shopping cart has become a nesting ground for carbohydrates. Eggos, bagels, crackers, English muffins, cereal and boxes of mac n’ cheese will make up the majority of your diet.
Go with it. Shame doesn’t deserve a place in parenting. Learn that early. (Any woman who tells you she craved broccoli and avocado during the start of her pregnancy is a liar. De-friend her.)

You will speed through traffic after work to get in line for a burger and then sit and eat alone at Five Guys for a good hour until ever French fry in the brown paper bag is gone. You will proudly send your friends pictures of the meal. And though obese, sweaty men and stoned college students will be all that surrounds you, you will feel great.
Do things that make you feel great. Burgers and fries included.

You will be awake, nauseas and disoriented at 3am sharing saltines with your dog in bed. Your partner will roll over sleepily to come face to face with you and you will not smile, blink or acknowledge them… because you will not want to share the crackers.
This is healthy. BABY. NEEDS. ALL. THE. RESOURCES.

Bags of ginger chews will be stored in your purse, car, desk drawer, bedside table and “snack drawer.” You will have back-up bags in your pantry. You will turn around mid-road-trip to get them should you suddenly realize you’ve mindlessly forgotten them back at home.
Ginger will be a lifesaver. It will keep you from vomiting on your patients, friends and colleagues. And then you will never eat it again. You will divorce the ginger.
Lawyers aren’t necessary but I do suggest burning any leftover ginger once you’re safely into the second trimester.

You will go into meetings at work with crumbs stuck to your chin. No one will tell you because though they can sense that you’re kind of “off” lately, you haven’t yet told anyone you’re preggo so they will just assume that you’re either really hung-over, really over-tired or privately battling a binge eating disorder.
You will not care what they think. Crumbs on your chin is a typical pre-parenting phenomena.

You will begin to wear a fanny pack when you go on long runs to carry granola bars and mini-water bottles.
And then…
Your long, strong, peaceful runs through the neighborhood will transfer into mid-length jogs (mostly walks) on the treadmill after you have your first experience of peeing in the woods beside a stranger’s house. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll have this experience three or four times and then surrender and get on the treadmill after your husband offers unsolicited feedback about the choice to urinate on other people’s property.
I say pee where you need to pee. Damn it.

You will find yourself hypoglycemic on top of a mountain wondering if you can make it back down. You will consider steeling trail mix from an unknown fellow hiker’s backpack. If you are like me, you will steal it.
This is normal and healthy behavior for a developing mother.

You will sleep ten to twelve hours a night and wish you could sleep more. You will nap often. You will be angry when the neighbors are haying their field at 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon during naptime. You will consider running the acreage to get to their house to tell them what your current needs are as a pregnant woman and ask for their respect in honoring these needs. Then you will fall asleep any way.

You will look at your belly in the mirror every day and enthusiastically tell the non-living items in your bedroom how you’re growing and expanding. Your partner will catch you doing this. You will cry when they do.
Crying is normal.
Crying when you see road kill, parent-child themed TV shows, and your dog displaying love towards your cat is also normal.
Crying because your husband ate the last Nutty Bar is natural too. This does not necessitate a call to your OB or midwife. Just buy three boxes of Nutty Bars next time and always keep two hidden from your asshole of a husband.

I don’t care what the Mayo Clinic says about “asking for patience while your moods fluctuate.” I say generously using name-calling, like asshole, for instance, will only strengthen the marital bond.
You will put the ketchup in the microwave, the ice cream in the cupboard and the cheese block in the dishwasher once or twice.
Again, very prevalent among our demographic. Oh well.

Lastly, you will feel a completely renewed sense of purpose in life. Relationships, work, your health, your values will all suddenly become much more meaningful. You will feel more bonded to your partner than you ever have and you will find your hands moving towards the place where the baby is often to reassure him/her that you’re right there and always will be. You will feel a gratefulness that is unexplainable.

Be present for it all. And keep eating the f*&#ing ginger chews.

Friday, October 7, 2016

c-section pride

I had my third c-section last week.
I had a spinal to insert anesthesia.
I was nervous and afraid and worried that all would not go well.
I was cut open in my uterus. I have another scar.
I delivered a healthy baby boy.
I took heavy duty medications, bled a lot, and struggled to walk at first.
I am super strong because of it.
And I'm wanting you to think you, too, are strong because of your c-section. No shame, guilt or disappointment, c-section mommas.

Too many women are disappointed and guilt-ridden when they are told they need to deliver by c-section. So many women I know talk about feeling sad, like they are somehow not as strong or womanly as those who deliver vaginally.

I've never understood this entirely. Why are we any less than because we had major surgery to deliver our babies? Who or what makes women feel this way? I understand the feeling of being cheated out of an experience of labor. I felt that way when told I needed to have my first c-section after having previous uterine surgeries. I felt weird that I wouldn't know what real labor was like. I didn't like that a doctor's secretary and myself chose the birth date over the phone one day, based on whatever worked well for scheduling. I wanted the baby to choose his own birthday. I wanted nature to take its course because that's what was "supposed" to happen.

But the moment I walked into the c-section surgery room, with its bright lights, almost blinding, and the many, many doctors and nurses (at least 10) preparing to guide my baby into this world through surgical means, I knew. I knew there was nothing to be sad or disappointed about. There was nothing to feel bad about or less than about in this situation. I knew immediately that we who go through c-section births are strong, warriors, courageous.

There is no shame or guilt associated with c-section births. Or there should not be. We need to let this go. We need to realize that all births are sacred in their own rights, that we should be proud no matter how we bring our babies into the world.

We create and then carry life inside our bodies. And then some of us push that life outside through our bodies, and others of us are helped by doctors to do the same thing. In the end, we have babies who take their first breaths, because of our bodies, our strength, bravery and determination. We are all warriors. We should all be proud of what we have done.

For me, c-sections are incredible things. I'm fortunate to have had three successful surgeries, where I and my baby were both healthy. I thank my doctors for all that they did to support me.

There is nothing simple about any birth, and certainly not about c-section deliveries. It's the scariest feeling in the world walking into a surgical room, alone, without my husband, and sitting on the edge of the operating table, as they put a needle into my back for a spinal. It's terrifying as they lift up the drape to cover what they are cutting into on the other side of it. It's frightening when they put the oxygen mask over my face and I feel like I can't breathe for a moment, as the anesthesia hits me in my upper body. It's scary hearing that I may need to have full anesthesia. It's alarming to know that so many things could go wrong. It's difficult hearing the doctor say this is "major surgery." The word "major" signifying so many scary things to me.

So I'm proud of my way of delivering my babies. I don't feel cheated out of an experience. I had my own type of birthing experience. I'm proud that I survived these surgeries, that I survived the recovery period of 8 weeks of bleeding, barely walking, incision pain and care, medication, etc. I'm proud that I have a scar where I will forever know how my babies entered this world.

So to you, mom who feels guilty or sad having a c-section, please stop to realize what you have gone through, what you did, how you helped your baby safely enter this world. You may not have had a choice in the matter. Probably it was not how you wanted to do it, not how you pictured things. But you did it. And your baby is here, or it will be, because of you, your body, your strength. There is nothing shameful about that.

Be proud, warrior of birth. Be proud.

Love, a fellow c-section mom