Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Dealing With Loss

Usually, I write this blog about health and fitness.  Today this post has nothing to do with those topics.  If you're here for the usual, this isn't your day. 


For those of you who really know me (and I mean really know me well), you know I have a tendency to overthink things, over plan things, and over anticipate things.

Most times this personality trait ends up good: I have lots of fun stuff in the schedule, I look forward to something I've spent a lot of time planning, I keep myself active and healthy.  On a very rare occasion, though, this personality trait ends up to be a problem because I freak out and dwell on something that I know is coming and isn't going to be fun. 

I can't help it.  It's just a part of who I am. 

I've had people in the past try to get me to repress this nature and force me to change because this behavior was "negative".  When that was happening, I can honestly say, I was at the most unhappy point of my life.  Finally, though, a few years ago I just decided that my nature is who I am.  I told myself that's ok and I didn't need to try to change it anymore.  And the rest... well, it's history.  (Funny thing, just last week I saw a quote from the book Elite Minds that read "I believe we are truly at our best when we accept what is and work with it versus trying to change or stop it."  That sums up my point exactly.)

Regardless, being an over thinker has haunted me since I was a child.  For example, I distinctly remember when I was very young, maybe 7 or 8, having a conversation with the neighbor kids (with their dad sitting near by) about the universe and life.  I described to them how I couldn't think too much about how big the universe was, how it went on and on with no end, because it started to make my head hurt.  And then I threw something in there about life and death and how it made me feel the same way.  I remember the kids just looked at me like "meh", and we progressed on with other childish conversations and kept playing.  I also remember the dad looking at me like I had ten screws loose, but never saying a thing.

Looking back on it, I have to say, it's a pretty weird thing for a kid to say.  Particularly the life and death part.

Unfortunately, I never really "improved" my mental outlook on life and death as I got older.  Although I was raised Christian and taught the whole heaven and hell thing, I always wondered how we could know if that was the real truth.  But I accepted it as so, since that's what I was supposed to believe.

That doesn't mean, though, that I didn't start to fear death.

As I started to grow into my own person in college, I realized that there were too many conflicting points in Christianity for me.  Well, all organized religion, really.  Without going into great detail, I decided that the idea behind any religion mostly is that it's there to teach you how to be a good person.  Through to current day, instead of trying to follow a particular religion to a T, I instead try to practice being the best person I can - honest, generous, kind, helping those in need, etc.  That is how I practice my "faith".  I do good to others, be the best person I can, and hope that whatever I do in this life is right for whatever might greet me in the afterlife.  I'm not perfect, but I try.

That doesn't mean, though, that I didn't still fear death.

In fact, my over thinker tendency had really kicked into overdrive on the whole death topic in the last couple of years.  Not in a creepy, "I have mental health issues kind of way".  But in a "I really don't want to ever die" kind of way.  I finally had a big conversation about it last summer with my husband after I found out my uncle had passed away and I had a few too many drinks.  The conversation was slurry and teary, but it seemed to soften my fear.  A little.

Then something amazing happened.  Mid March of this year I found out I was pregnant with my first child.  And somewhere in there, I realized that this was what life was about.  Not fearing death, but creating life.  I don't know what happened, but something in me changed and my fear became acceptance.

Along with my acceptance, needless to say, my husband and I were looking forward to our new family.  But then, it all fell apart.  After having some small concerns at home, I went in for an ultrasound last Monday and got the worst possible news - although I was somewhere post 8 weeks pregnant, the baby was measuring just over 6 weeks ... and the heart had stopped beating.  It was nothing that could have been prevented, but unfortunately, it had happened.

I was crushed.  Not even two weeks prior I had seen the baby wiggling and heart beating.  I didn't know how it could be true.

Although I knew it was over, somewhere in my heart I just thought... maybe.  Until I got home.  Late that night, nature took its course.  I'll spare you the medical perspective of child loss, but to be blunt - miscarriage is awful.  I can only be thankful that mine was quick, and physically I was able to do anything I wanted the next morning. 


Realistically, what I wanted to do wasn't all that much. 

I spent the next day in bed, again contemplating life and death.  My own fear of death hadn't returned, but I began to wonder what death would mean for my child.  Say what you want about pregnancy: fetus, embryo, child, baby... I knowingly wanted to create a child, and I had lost that child.

Laying in bed, I started researching things online, and concluded two things. 

(1) There doesn't seem to be a solid resource out there for someone wondering what will happen to their child after a miscarriage ... or the child's soul, more accurately.  I don't know that even a religious resource can give you the answer you seek since so few mention miscarriage (although there is plenty about abortion, let me tell you).

(2) There seems to be a tendency for women to hide miscarriages, almost in shame.  Despite the fact that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, I couldn't think of a single person I knew who had openly spoken about having a miscarriage.  And I so badly wanted a resource that was close to home, to know someone who could tell me what might happen next.

I continued online searching for a good portion of the morning.  I read anonymous online forums about women who had miscarried, read their fears (which were so much like mine), and started over thinking even more.  Finally, I decided that wasn't helping me and stopped reading the panicked posts riddled with questions. 

Instead, I started reading through religious sites about unborn children and lost souls.  I couldn't believe some of the wading I had to do through religious tripe.  People had actually spent time writing articles to tell me a lost child isn't written in their religious text as having rights to any kind of heaven.  I closed out of more sites than I care to even mention.  But finally, I found something.  Oddly, of all things, I was able to find a short Jewish writing that made me find peace.

"From a spiritual point of view, I learned the most beautiful teaching from my rabbi, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh. He told me that every soul that comes into this world comes here with a very specific mission. When that mission is completed, the soul can leave. The holiest of souls need so little time here in this world that some never even make it outside the womb, others only need their heart to beat once, others not even that."

Thinking of how I suddenly found peace with the idea of death at the beginning of my pregnancy, I felt like this was strangely... fitting.  While the over thinker in me knows I will never be able to prove if the above is true, or if my child even had a soul at all, the resonation with my experience is enough for me. 

And so, I have spent the last week turning the above quote over and over in my head while thinking about how I wanted handle this miscarriage.  I also thought about how I so longed to know someone close to home, anyone, who had experienced a miscarriage too.

I came to the conclusion that I wanted to write this post.  Instead of continuing a pattern of non-discussion or shame, I decided that I wanted people to know.  Because chances are, someone I know is going to have a miscarriage in the future.  And dammit, if they do, I want them to know at least one person who's been there.

Besides, if my baby put up with me running them around town while I was dressed in a spandex rainbow costume, I think they'll be ok with me sharing their life story as well.  And quite honestly, after I share their story, I think my child would want me to be happy and move on with my life.

Which is why I want to close with saying this.  Now that you know, don't come to me with "I'm sorry" or "How are you feeling".  Quite honestly, I'm still a little raw and I don't want to talk about it. 

And also, I'm ready to move on, and *picture my sassy face I as I say this* ...

I don't want your pity party

If you want to show your support, or help me celebrate what short life there was - share this article with your friends.  Or better yet, use it as a tool to tell your friends that you're open to talk, even if you haven't had a miscarriage yourself.  You never know who else around you might be hiding a miscarriage as well.

And now, life goes on.  And I'm going on with it.  And so will this blog.

So let's move on with life... unless you're facing the same fears I did this past week.  If that's the case, by all means, lets talk.

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