Bravery

My theme for the year, 2016, is “Bravery.” I will explain one of the reasons I chose this theme in this post. Other reasons I chose this theme, I will disclose at another time.

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do. The first step is giving ourselves permission to show up.” -Brene Brown, The Daring Way.

I continue to wrestle with how much of my story, my experiences, my life and thoughts, I should share in a public forum. It’s always a vulnerable experience to click “publish” after writing a post.

The experience I am going to share in this post feels particularly vulnerable and I’ve thought about my motivations behind wanting to publish it or not. And I decided I wanted to express it in a public way because of the quote I shared at the beginning of this post. In the last six months, I’ve had experiences I feel, perhaps not ready, but willing to talk about. These experiences are part of my story and giving voice to those experiences is one of the ways I practice self-compassion as well as a way I can “show up” in my life. Giving voice to these experiences also is a way for me to honor those experiences and validate my own reactions.

So without any more preamble, I will directly address what I am alluding to: Within the last six months, I have had three miscarriages.

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Trying for another child feels incredibly vulnerable and brave for us.

I know the last time I talked on the blog about planning our family, I believe I shared that we were in a “holding pattern” per-say, of “not deciding” whether to have more children. The tide slowly shifted as we worked through a lot of our reasons for not wanting to have more children. I also recognized that I don’t have all the time in the world to sit on the fence about this as I continue to just get older (turning 34 next month) and my girls continue to grow up.

In August, I expressed willingness to start trying for another baby but did not expect that within that same month, I would be pregnant! It took us 7 months to get pregnant with Cami so I was more than shocked when my period didn’t come as expected. However, a little over a week later, that pregnancy turned into a miscarriage. I noticed with the first miscarriage, I felt relieved. I had barely begun to wrap my head and heart around the idea of trying for another baby and felt overwhelmed that it would become a reality so soon. While I felt relief, I also felt increased awareness that I do want another baby.

So we kept trying.

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I won’t go into many details of the next two miscarriages. I’ll just say that even with the help of prescribed progesterone, both pregnancies were lost at six weeks.

This last one has been the hardest emotionally and physically. In many ways I’m really grateful I miscarried early, before I got too attached. But I did get attached to my little blastocycsts. I could feel my body react and change to their presence, preparing itself to grow a baby. And then I’d suddenly stop feeling those symptoms and within a couple days the bleeding would start.

I feel confused. I feel like something is wrong with my body that I would have three miscarriages in a row; especially when I was given added progesterone to support the most recent pregnancies. I’ve had a miscarriage before these three, but my body has been able to grow and sustain and give birth to three live babies…so what is different now? Will we figure out what is different/wrong? Will we be able to fix it? Will I be able to carry another pregnancy to term?

I feel sad. I feel like life just keeps reminding me that I don’t get to plan my life the way I want. I feel sad that I keep accumulating more losses. I feel tempted in moments to throw myself a well-deserved pity party. These miscarriages bring up my grief for Charlie and that is painful.

I feel upset. I feel upset that life continues to be unfair. The self-righteous part of me protests that we’ve already gone through more than any parent should be asked to go through so we deserve to have a continuous flow of blessings, when and how we want them! (Yes I hear how pretentious I sound) Or at worst, we shouldn’t have to keep feeling hurt and keep losing. While I am upset, and I believe those upset feelings are completely valid, I also know that I am blessed that I have been able to give birth to three babies that I have been able to cuddle and kiss. That’s three more than a lot of people get the opportunity to have.

I feel existential angst. These miscarriages trigger all my questions about God and whether He’s involved in our lives or not and if so, how much? Is He to blame for my miscarriages? Does He want us to have more kids? Is there any meaning in the miscarriages? Or should I refrain from giving God credit and recognize that something is going on with my body that we need to figure out? Should I pray and ask that we can get pregnant? Will that help at all? I have certainly learned through losing Charlie, that I can’t control God…but it also makes me hesitant to ask Him for anything. It feels too vulnerable. Why are we encouraged, as Christians, to express gratitude for anything positive in our lives and call them blessings from God, but refrain from blaming Him for bad things that happen? How to we reconcile that? It certainly causes me to have serious attachment issues and want to withdraw.

I also continue to feel hope. While three miscarriages in close succession has been pretty hard emotionally, I’m not down for the count. Not by a long shot. I actually feel like we’re at the beginning of another journey and we need to seek answers. We meet with my OB in a little over a week to discuss where to go from here. I imagine we’ll likely pursue seeing a fertility specialist at this point as well.

In the meantime, I’m trying to stay present in my life. I’m trying to appreciate more each moment with my girls, engage in those things I value, and practice mindfulness and self-compassion.
We’ll see how this journey progresses. While I know we won’t have a new little Packard in our arms this 2016, I am determined to make amazing memories and have great adventures this year!

 

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Freeze Time

IMG_0374To be honest, I never understood why parents would say, “I want to freeze time.” I don’t recall if I’ve ever said out loud that I’ve wanted to freeze time before. But it’s possible those words have left my lips due to covert social pressures and my desires to appear like I relate to other parents and their positively gooey experiences of parenthood. I feel as a parent you are “supposed” to want to freeze time…like all the time. And I hear people say it around me all the time.  But if I did say it out loud, I was lying! I’ve enjoyed stages my kids have passed, and found them to be super adorable, but I never really experienced a time where my heart just pleaded for my kids to stop growing up…until now.

I absolutely love the ages of Hailee and Cami right now. It is such a joy to witness all that Hailee is learning, both in school and also in her extracurriculars and just as a little girl emerging! Hailee is loving and happy, and while we still worry about her academically and socially, she seems to be doing really well in her life right now. She is passionate about tumbling and enjoys swimming. She loves playing with her little sister and eagerly asks for playdates with friends all the time. While reading is still a little bit of a struggle for her, Hailee has made amazing progress and reading time at night doesn’t involve tears anymore! I am also loving making memories cuddling with Hailee at bedtime, closing an Ivy and Bean book after finishing a chapter and Hailee begging for me to read just a couple pages more. Hailee lost her first tooth after Christmas and has two more wiggly teeth. She is absolutely thrilled to have loose teeth and I just want to cry. One evening as she was wiggling her teeth I got sad and exclaimed, “I don’t want you to lose more teeth and grow up!” And Hailee looked at me and responded, “But I want to grow up, just like you and eat a lot of chocolate.” Hmm…interesting feedback I should think more about sometime.

Cami is a fiesty love bug. She can be exhausting and demanding but she is also so sweet and her giggles just make my day. She is talking more and more and loves to be included with everything going on around her. It’s fun to take her to activities, like reading time at the library, and witness how she is on the cusp of grasping social concepts (obeying instructions, interacting with other kids, etc) but also continues to look a little bewildered and nervous. I love her always looking to me as her safe base as she tries to navigate new situations like this. I love that all it takes to make Cami happy, is to spin her around and around in circles. Although, beware, she can do this all day and before you even stop spinning she exclaims, “No done!” Cami still ends up in our bed every night but to be honest, I love this. I love snuggling her, even though she actually prefers to snuggle her dad.

I love how, more now than ever, Hailee and Cami are little friends. Cami loves to wake up “Hays” each morning and Hailee always turns the TV on for Cami and puts on shows Cami prefers, even if they aren’t the shows Hailee would want to watch. I kind of love and hate that the Disney Jr. Sofia the First song plays in my head most of the day (“I was a girl in the village, doing alright. Then I became a princess over night…”) I love how Hailee and Cami chase each other around, build and play in forts, giggle, tumble, and have tickle fights. I love how often each day I hear Hailee exclaim, “Come on Cami!”as she urges Cami to join her on some activity or adventure. Now, Cami is a little bully and sometimes puts Hailee in tears by hitting or throwing things at her, but I love how Hailee never reciprocates. And while she may bully Hailee, Cami adores Hailee and misses her when she leaves for school each day, asking multiple times throughout the day, “Hays back home?” Hailee is a wonderful older sister and I love the sweet relationship these two have with each other.

I am realizing that this “freeze time” concept doesn’t mean one’s life is perfect in the moment or stress free. There is still plenty of daily yelling and whining and tears. I am still exhausted every night from the daily parenting marathon. But life right now is beautiful in all its imperfections, stress and mundane. Parenting continues to feel hard, but it feels like parenting is moving beyond a custodial job into something more substantial and overall, enjoyable. It sounds so cheesy but my heart aches with love when I look at my girls. I want to squeeze them and smother them in kisses and enjoy the endless snuggles they offer. I want to enjoy the last few months of Cami in diapers and footie pajamas, and Hailee with her loose baby teeth, disheveled hair, and mismatched outfits. I want to record the soundtrack of the literal “pitter patter of tiny feet” that I get to hear every day, and the joy and happy sound of my girls calling, “Mom!” and “Momma!” For the first time as a parent, I feel I really want to “freeze time” and just stay in this time, this moment of life, for as long as possible.