Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Duggar Miscarriage

Does anyone watch the show about the Duggars? They have 19 kids and a few grandkids too. They all play the violin and are named Jesse or Jessica or something. 

Whatever you think about their reproductive choices, it's still sad that they have lost their 20th kid in the second trimester. If you want to drive yourself crazy, read the comments on this Huffington Post article

True, they have a ton of kids and should probably focus on feeding the mouths they already have. But a loss is still a loss. I would think it would be especially hard because she has all the kids. She probably thought, hey, I have 19 kids, I'm a pro at this. I made it to the second trimester. I'm in the clear. I'm sure her loss is devastating. 

It's fascinating to me how people of faith credit God for all the good things in their lives. Michelle Duggar even said during the pregnancy announcement that God had seen fit to bless them with another child. 

But how do you explain miscarriage? A curse from God? A terrible event God "allows" to happen? If God allows it to happen to us, why are there 16-year-olds and crackheads who carry to term? It just doesn't add up. 

I have to believe it's all science because the faith answer fails me. That doesn't mean I'm not a person of faith, but I am conflicted over this whole realm of evil/suffering, etc.

I wonder how Michelle will talk about the loss and what language she'll use. And I hope that she can grieve in peace without people telling her "she deserves it."

over and out,

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I thought my problem was STAYING pregnant?

In October I did everything right. Eating. Walking. Vitamins. Acupuncture, etc.

I was sure I was pregnant. I felt nauseated. I threw up once for NO REASON. One night my boobs hurt so much that I made my husband fetch me an ice pack, and I literally iced my boobs.

The only thing that came of my hard work to relax was two negative pregnancy tests and a horribly long and painful period.

In November I did everything right. Resting. Laughing. Vitamins. Acupuncture, etc.

I was sure I was pregnant. I felt exhausted. My boobs hurt and my brain felt foggy.

I had a negative pregnancy test this morning.

Going crazy,

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It happened to me: xojane

Hi lovely readers! xojane just published an article I wrote about my two miscarriages. Check it out! Some reader comments make an appearance.

love to you all,

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Retail Therapy: Diamond Edition

You know what makes me feel better? Buying stuff! Here are five unique items you can buy to commemorate your baby and lift your spirits.

1. Stones in nest. I've purchased these for a friend who has one living child and has had two miscarriages. You can order names engraved on the stones or images or a combination. The shop owners are super nice.
2. Comet necklace. A comet represents a bright spot gone too quickly. Comets also have that "other-wordly" quality that's totally appropriate.
3. Mother and child necklace. I love the intersecting circles on this piece.
4. Moon necklace. Another beautiful, symbolic necklace. The moon is always with us, far away but present at the same time.
5. Right hand ring. You are brave and have been through hell. You deserve a giant diamond on your right hand, whether you have one on your left or not.

Show me your commemorative stuff!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Words of a Mouth-Breather

From lovely reader Shanlee:

"My husband doesn’t think that our losses are something to be kept quiet, especially to friends, and he is trying to eradicate the stigmatism associated with miscarriages. So after our second loss, one of his friends (who was a little hammered on booze) says to him, 'Don’t tell people about it, it makes people with kids feel bad.' That was after our second miscarriage. Good grief, imagine if we told him about our third!"

Maybe I have dark sense of humor [ed. note: of course I do] but I'm cracking up right now. I'm soooooo sooooooorry people with children who've never experienced infertility... we don't have the slightest intention of ever ever ever making you feel uncomfortable or .... worse.... thankful for the children you have! Our deepest apologies. Now let's return to our friendship of shoveling food in our mouths and grunting at the TV.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

How about a tear-stained Target gift card?

Yesterday was the due date of my second baby, Juliet, who I lost at 8 weeks. The dates always hit like anvils. This is what could have been. This is what should have been. It's a quiet grief, like the tree that falls in the forest that no one hears.

I lost this baby after an ordeal of praying and hoping and believing this baby would make it. I had already been through miscarriage hell that previous fall. On February 28 I started spotting. I knew it was over but I held out hope. On February 28 I found out my younger brother and his wife were pregnant with their first, due October 31.

Of course their baby was and is fine.

He will make his grand appearance very soon.

There have been many times in the past seven months that I've been ok. Ok with their baby. Ok with grieving and still celebrating their baby.

But today I just feel like shit.

I bought them a small gift but no big gift yet. I know I'm expected to buy like the stroller or something. I've put it off for so long. I'm running out of time. But every time I visit the Target website, I just can't do it.

Any advice?

love to all,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Complete Guide to facebook Post Miscarriage

Facebook. We all do it. It's awesome to keep in touch with people, but navigating the murky waters of 5 week pregnancy status updates and perfect ultrasound pics can be trying. Here's your complete guide on how to deal.

17. Read every post from every pregnant woman and cry continuously.
16. De-friend them all.
15. Feel bad and friend a few of them back while immediately blocking all of them from your feed.
14. Think about de-friending your pregnant sister-in-law again. Think about de-friending her in real life...
13. Glimpse an ultrasound pic in your feed. What. How can this be??? Realize you forget to block some of the soon-to-be fathers. Dammit! Block them all.
12. Wonder why your news feed is so light...
11. Wonder if so-and-so had her baby...
10. Visit her page and read all the updates you blocked for the past 4 months. Cry.
9. Get super pissed about some update and start screaming at your husband... "How NICE that everyone wants to bring dinner to the new parents!! Where were the dinners when our baby died?!" Realize that someone did bring you dinner and many people sent flowers. Still! Stomp around the house.
8. Tell yourself you're getting off facebook.
7. Realize you can't ... you love the funny musings from your brothers too much to quit.
6. Check your feed.
5. Dream of typing, "Hey pregnant bitches, no one cares about your stupid healthy pregnancy complaints!"
4. Post something about your fabulous LA child-free life. Relish the jealous comments.
3. Vow to give up jealously.
2. Vow to give up facebook.
1. Check your feed.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Filed Under 'Commercials That Make Me Cry'

I've already recapped some top offenders-- books, movies, TV shows that totally miss the mark portraying infertility and miscarriage. Imagine my surprise the other day when I saw this Pampers commercial. It's not brand new, but it was new to me.

Instead of showing beautiful, rich, perfect young couples with perfect babies, the commercial actually acknowledges the very common problems many of us suffer. The story line actually acknowledges IVF... and not as some crazy wild procedure that only Octomoms and Kate Plus 8s undergo.

The line that gets me every time, "Whether she's 3 months early.... or 10 years late."

Pampers... I probably won't buy your diapers.... [who am I kidding, I'm not even preggo] .... but I sure do love your commercial.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Grief - Do it now... and later too

A dear friend sent me this story from NPR about a couple and their experience with miscarriage and grief. They planted a bulb to commemorate their lost baby. The story got me thinking about how we grieve. I know I've emailed back and forth on this topic with many of you, so feel free to chime in.

Without further ado, here are five ways to commemorate your lost baby.

5. Buy jewelry. Duh, you deserve it. Also, it's special. A friend bought me a "comet" necklace off Etsy. She said it was to signify a bright spot gone too quickly. I remember the sentiment each time I wear it.
4. Journal your heart out. It really does help.
3. Write a letter. To the little one. Kinda like journaling, only more specific.
2. Plant a tree. Stake out a special place and dig deep into the earth. Take pictures. Cry.
1. Name the baby. I named both of mine. I don't really use their names when thinking of them, but I like that they have them. Bizarre, I know.

Anyone have a special tip to share?

lots of love,

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Things No One Tells You About Miscarriage

This post is not for the faint of heart. I'm writing it for people like Old Me, who, one year go, had no idea what suffering a miscarriage entailed. One year ago, I was happily pregnant and hoping and planning for the best. I had seen the baby's heartbeat, and my dear parents, wild with excitement, had told every family member and friend on planet earth that we were pregnant.

When the doctor told me and my husband that the baby's heart had stopped on August 26th, 2010, when the baby should have been about 10 weeks, I was devastated. But I had no idea about the horror show I was in for.

1. You may have to deliver the baby. After that fateful August appointment, my doctor sent me home with no advice and a prescription for Tylenol Codeine. A few nights later I woke up with a fever and the worst pain of my life. My husband rushed me to the ER, where they pumped me full of Dilaudid. I delivered our tiny baby that night, and yes, I could see the baby and placenta.
2. You might need a D&C. If I had known then what I know now, I would have a requested a D&C immediately. They knock you out and take out the baby and placenta, etc. There is some risk of scarring, but the benefit is that they can keep the fetus in a sterile environment and test for the cause. This is important with repeat miscarriages. 
3. You will bleed like crazy. I bled for weeks after both miscarriages, more blood than I've seen in an episode of True Blood. I bled some normal blood and lots of red gelatinous stuff as well. You really don't want to be far from home during this time.
4. You can't have sex for a few weeks after. This was never a problem for me. Who wants to have sex while balling your eyes out? Still it's important to note.
5. You will feel sadness and anger and jealousy beyond your wildest imagination. You must be kind to yourself during this time. Here are some ideas.
6. You might suffer post traumatic stress syndrome. It's gory, it's death, it's horrific. Do the things you need to do to cope. This is a perfect time to visit a therapist (you can find them in your zip code via Psychology Today) or join a support group through RESOLVE.
7. People will say the stupidest things imaginable. And you will be left wondering if you're in the Twilight Zone. Have some answers ready, and don't let yourself be a doormat.
8. You will find kindness and hope with people who understand. Whether on the Internet or in your daily life, seek out people who understand, and they will comfort you. Find a friend to email (you can always email me) and vent. It helps.

I know miscarriages can be different depending on the situation. Did I forget anything?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Worst Things to Say Part 2

It's time to revisit the Worst Things to Say, with reader submissions.

Even More Horrible Awful No Good Things to Say to Someone who has Experienced a Miscarriage:

5. From a coworker, "Well, now you know what to do differently next time." Yep. Never talk to you again.
4. From a friend, "Take some time to have fun with your husband while you can." Wow, you're just dismissing my pain completely. A margarita and trip to Cabo doesn't fix everything.
3. Miscarriages happen a lot. Aging parents often die. Would you remind someone of this fact after their parent dies?! You would never.
2. From a doctor, "Don't think of it as a miscarriage, just a late, really heavy period." Don't think of me as a patient, think of me as a grieving mother seeking a doctor who's not a complete jerk. See ya!
1. "Don't worry, you'll have a baby someday." Really? You can personally guarantee this? Do you have 20 grand to lend me for IVF? And you'll be our surrogate? Great!

If you've never personally experienced a miscarriage here's a refresher of 5 Things You Can Say. Let me know if I missed a good one.

Friday, July 15, 2011

There's a Country Western Song in Here Somewhere

"You seem to be doing really well."


Mmmmm. Not totally true. I am managing most of the time. But sometimes one stray comment will pull me down into a spiral.

Yesterday at work one of my coworkers became a grandfather. We were all chatting about it when he brought up how he never knew either of his grandfathers. The relationship is new for him, and he is obviously, blissfully happy.

In that moment, I realized that my husband never knew any of his grandfathers either. They both died before he was born.

I knew and cherished my two grandfathers. My dad's dad played guitar and sang for us songs like, "I can't get off of my horse..." He had huge sausage fingers and was known for being the kindest, most gentle dentist. I lost my first tooth right after he died. I was devastated.

My mom's dad was a sweetheart who laughed at his own jokes. He baked us cakes... yellow cakes with white frosting. He had an easy way of throwing back his head and laughing until he wheezed. I told a joke at his funeral when I was 17.

This is totally cart before the horse-y, but I want my husband to be grandfather. I want him to have the joy of fatherhood and grandfatherhood (a word?). I could see him taking little kids fishing, taking them canoeing, taking them to a candy store.

In order to be grandparents we need to be parents. It's a dream deferred, but I'm still hoping.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Miscarriage and the Movies

Have you ever noticed how books, movies, and the collective zeitgeist deal with miscarriage? It's like AIDS back in 1981. So many misconceptions are proliferated as facts. Let's take a look at some of the top offenders:

1. Downton Abbey - I love this British TV show set in pre-WWI England. It's such an awesome show, yet they had to insert a stupid scene that ran like a bad soap opera plot twist. Lady of the house has all daughters, she gets pregnant, they are hoping it's a male heir, a maid gets jealous, she doesn't help the lady out of the bathtub, lady slips and falls, and ... miscarriage. This is so completely ridiculous. What we know from studies is that miscarriages are caused by a range of factors that DO NOT include slipping 12 inches. Maybe you'd pull a hamstring. Whatever.

2. The Help - A fantastic book. Really, I look forward to the movie. But why is the woman who has repeat miscarriages also the socially inept, slutty blonde who locks herself in the bathroom? The woman who has miscarriages is never portrayed as the put-together high achiever. This is bigotry. This is the definition of being unaware.

3. The Hunger Games - Another fabulous book. In book two, they concoct a fake pregnancy for main character Katniss. When she isn't preggo months later, they say she miscarried due to stress. This answer is given and accepted time and time again as a reason for miscarriage. Studies have shown that the number of miscarriages HAVE NOT gone up during wars and other severely stressful times. Miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities and other problems in the body. In my mind, the generic cause of "stress" is a veiled attempt to blame the woman for the miscarriage.

4. Gone with the Wind - She falls down the staircase and has a miscarriage? Maaaaaybe this is possible. If you're severely injured, which she did not appear to be in her giant, plush robe. I've never heard of a real miscarriage happening this way.

How do we dispel these misconceptions? Will miscarriage always be a dirty word, signifying some misdeed on the part of the woman? We have so much awareness for other issues. I think it's time for the myths about infertility and miscarriage to go the way of the black and white TV.

Anyone thinking of a book or movie to add?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cheeseburger and a Baby Pls

I've been all over the place in the past few weeks. Sometimes I feel fine! Thank you! Sometimes I feel certifiable. Let me tell you about one of the latter times.

So there's this normal-seeming guy at work. He's one of those people who got married recently and had a baby right away. Pretty much every time I've run into him in the last year he has asked the same question:

"So.... are you guys thinking about having kids soon?"

I've demurred several times. Finally after my second miscarriage I said something like:

"I just had a miscarriage." 

So he's like, "Oh. I have a book for you to read."

Weeks and months went by and I never heard any more about the book. I figured I had already read it, since there are approximately 2.7 books about miscarriage in the world. 

Suddenly, last week, he drops by my office to give me a book called Supernatural Childbirth

Omg, you guys. 

Here are some of the claims in the book:

  • all you need to do is pray and you are GUARANTEED children by God
  • if you're having problems conceiving you are not praying enough
  • God doesn't want you to have miscarriages, and if you're having them it's Satan, and you haven't prayed enough
  • you can pray for AND God will grant you a pain-free delivery
  • all birth defects are caused by Satan, and you just didn't pray enough
  • women are cursed by Satan from back in the Garden of Eden
  • you can select the gender, eye color, and hair color of your future child with prayer
Seriously, the author claims she prayed for a 7-pound baby girl with red/blonde hair and blue eyes and guess what? She got what she wanted. Just like the drive-thru at In N Out burger.

The author claims that she was once declared infertile and then she prayed her way out of it. Now she has 4 healthy children! (Of course she gave no actual details of her supposed infertility.)

The book is full of testimonials about people who read her book and listened to her tape. They are like, "I had two miscarriages and then I started listening to your tape EVERY DAY. Now I have a beautiful baby boy!"

I wanted to shred the book to bits (might still do) and scream at this Jackie Mize for espousing complete bull shit (might still do). 

But on the whole, it just makes me sad. I'm deeply saddened by this book and for the women who are desperately trying to pray their way out of tragic fertility problems that are completely out of their control. 

It makes me sad that stereotypes about woman and infertility persist because of books like this one.

It makes me sad that my coworker would own and PASS ON a book like this.

It's sad and pathetic that this woman looks at her 4 healthy children and says, "I did this. Me and my amazing faith." 

How narrow-minded. How sacrilegious. How pathetic. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Casey Anthony: Why Couldn't She Be Infertile?

Anyone following the Casey Anthony trial? Her web of lies is just despicable, and the evidence clearly shows that she did it. In addition to whatever sentence is handed down, I think she should be put in a room with a group of infertiles, who will then have the opportunity to say whatever they want to her for a few hours. I would have a string of profanities for sure....

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Not Preggo Over Here

Everyone around me is pregnant. Like, everyone. Even my infertile friends. Anyone out there still not pregnant?! I'm telling myself every female creature on the earth is pregnant, so that I don't feel kicked in the teeth upon every announcement. 


Thursday, May 12, 2011

5 Ways to Get out of a Funk

My birthday and Mother's Day really put me in a funk. I'm bummed out and crying at Subaru commercials. You know the one where the mom is taking her gaggle of boys to their little hockey game? Cue tears. Anyway, this is how I'm getting out of my funk.

5. Buy stuff. One of the oldest tricks in the book. I bought a new dress from Banana Republic for an event we have on Saturday.
4. Put clothes on. Brush hair. Put makeup on. Just do it. Everything is better with good hair.
3. Join an infertility group. Mine is through RESOLVE. It's lovely.
2. Invest in friendships that help. Ditch friendships that don't.
1. Bootcamp. I've written before about the benefits of spinning. I'm changing it up by doing bootcamp twice a week. It is scientifically impossible to be grumpy in the hours after this insane workout.

Let me know if you have any more tips.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Part 3

Take a break from world news, sit back, and relax because here is the third and final installment of my Q & A with Pastor Elise Erikson Barrett, author of What Was Lost. We definitely saved the best for last.

You interviewed many women who experienced miscarriages for the book. What surprised you the most in your research?

This is especially interesting given your blog's topic, but there were so many women who just loved hearing some of the comments that made me want to go ballistic. The "God needed little angels in heaven" one was supremely comforting to some beautiful, lovely, bright, sincere women I interviewed. I wanted to say, "Are you KIDDING me?" but instead, I had to discipline myself to say, "Okay, this comment made me crazy, but this other woman is a terrific human being and she found comfort in this (appalling) comment. Why? What was comforting about it? What sort of underlying truth or hope did she sense in this?"

In your role as a pastor how to you see miscarriage affecting your congregation or the people who come to you for pastoral care?

You know, it tends to marginalize this whole group of people. Congregations tend to make a big deal out of welcoming children - and according to Jesus, this is right on. But there is often no acknowledgment of or space for people who are childless, particularly those who desire children greatly and have experienced pregnancy losses.

So you have this whole public narrative that sounds like, "Children's Sabbath is this week! Come to children's choir! Here's a baptism! Easter Egg hunt at the Smith's house! Family Festival on Wednesday night!" And these announcements and events just batter the ears and hearts of people who have lost babies. I've heard of people skipping Sundays when they know there's going to be a baptism or infant dedication; it's just too painful. And it's hard for people to find a place to process their grief, especially if they find themselves in a Sunday school class or Bible study group with a lot of young parents who, reasonably enough, mostly talk about their children.

I started trying to name as many of these kinds of silent, secret grief burdens as I could in pastoral prayers and sermons -- pregnancy loss, but also infertility, mental illness, dementia, Alzheimer's -- the burdens of loss people lug around in silence because they're ashamed and don't know how to bring them to their community of faith or their God. Just allowing those kinds of losses to slip into the public narrative seemed to break the seal for some people and give them a reason to contact a pastor for pastoral counseling, or just to acknowledge that they were struggling and needed prayer.

Many of my readers have emailed me to say that a certain comment made by a friend or family member has driven a permanent wedge between them. How can we try to heal these relationships without minimizing our grief?

It's so hard. I think that occasionally, the relationship was already either not all that deep or troubled to start with, and the response to the pregnancy loss seemed to nail the coffin shut, or to shake into dust something that was already lifeless. I think in other cases the relationship is important and worth preserving... which in some ways is more difficult than being estranged from your second cousin whom you only saw twice a year anyway.

You typically have at least two options, it seems to me. One is to say nothing, to let time soften your anger against that person, and eventually to come to a place where you can allow the relationship to function more or less normally, with that place of hurt covered over but still very much a part of your feelings toward the person. This can actually be the best way to go IF you have other people with whom you are processing the grief well and IF there is no possible way that you can help the person understand that what they said was hurtful. (It might apply, for example, if you have a great-grandmother who lost everyone she loved in the second World War and had two miscarriages herself, and functioned for the rest of her life by "keeping a stiff upper lip." Her worldview is almost certainly not going to change, and it may be more pain for you than it's worth to try, but by saying nothing more to her, you may find that the edges of whatever she said are smoothed over with time and grace and love.)

The second option is to approach that person and explain how they've hurt you, why what they said hurt, and to tell them a way to restore the relationship. This is certainly both more scriptural and more likely to bring deep healing to the relationship. It's also more awkward, more difficult, and more liable to explode on you. But if it's a relationship that matters to you, it's worth the risk. I think that you have to be very clear with yourself both about why the comment hurt and what you hope will come of any confrontation, so you can be clear about those things with the other person.

So, instead of, "I think you owe me an apology for what you said," you might try saying something like, "Mom, I love you, and that's why I feel like I need to talk to you. When you said, 'Think of all the money you'll save!' after John and I lost our baby, it felt to me like you didn't understand how much we were hurting. I think you wanted to help us find something positive about the situation, but it really just felt hurtful and dismissive. What I need instead is for you to just understand how sad we are, and to take this loss seriously, because we do. Maybe you would be willing to come to the memorial service our pastor is having for us at our home next week. And I have a book/blog/article about miscarriage that I was hoping you might be willing to read and then we can talk again. Would you be willing to do that?"

Sometimes it can be better to do this in a letter, particularly if the person is someone who may get defensive and lash out to protect her/himself in a face-to-face situation. You do, of course, have to be prepared to be hurt again. But nothing worthwhile -- not babies, not marriages, not relationships -- comes without an attendant vulnerability and risk.

God bless you, both you who are writing and you who are reading this blog, and may God hold and uphold you in this risky, painful, beautiful life we share.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Part 2

Ed: I understand that you had three more miscarriages and now have three living children. What an emotional whirlwind. What did your grief look like for the subsequent losses?

Pastor Elise: Each loss was a little different -- the first one, in my own experience at least, was by far the most intense. We had not intended to become pregnant at that time (I still had almost two years of my master's program left, and I was commuting over three hours one way) and so there was a long space after the loss when I was longing for a baby but we couldn't "try again" for at least a couple of years.

So that time ended up providing space for the grief, both in good and bad ways (i.e., I had the opportunity to process the loss thoroughly and deeply; I also brooded on it and had nothing sufficiently interesting to distract me for quite some time). After that first loss, then, we started being actively open to other pregnancies maybe three years later. And it took longer to become pregnant than I'd expected, and when I did, like many women who become pregnant after experiencing a miscarriage, I reserved most of my potential emotional attachment out of fear. The subsequent early losses (we had one more before our first daughter, then two between our first and second daughter) were extremely early, and I was tired of "processing," I think. It was more of a dull, disappointed grief, and I wanted to close the door on those losses more quickly.

I felt great relief reading the part of your book where you said you didn’t feel close to God for months after your loss. I’m in that space right now. I prayed daily for my second baby and still lost her. When did you begin to trust God again?

I remember when I thought that it would probably be possible to trust God again someday. I remember that I was trying to pray using hymns during that first week after the loss, and I was playing and praying through a hymn text written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "By Gracious Powers." The last two stanzas go this way:

And when this cup you give is filled to brimming
with bitter sorrow, hard to understand,
we take it thankfully and without trembling,
out of so good and so beloved a hand.

Yet when again in this same world you give us
the joy we had, the brightness of your sun,
we shall remember all the days we lived through
and our whole life shall then be yours alone.

I mean, the guy wrote this from a Nazi concentration camp. So he understood suffering in a profound and legitimate way, and still wrote these words. And I sang this and thought to myself, "Is God's hand good and beloved still? Well... Bonhoeffer believed it was. And he expected new joy, the brightness of God's presence. And he believed that the memory of the real, deep suffering of the concentration camps would someday lead him to offer everything to God, good and beloved. And so...  maybe I will emerge from this suffering as well, and maybe I will call God good and beloved again, and maybe I will remember this and offer myself again to the God I have loved so long."  I did not feel trust or love or anything at that point, you understand -- I simply saw and believed, for a moment, that it could be restored.

The trust grew back over time... long, dry time. In the book, I compare the way I felt about God after the miscarriage to the way I'd imagine feeling about my husband if he'd had an affair. I don't make the two equivalent -- whatever happened in the miscarriage, it was certainly not God cheating on me -- but my feelings toward God had that same kind of unbelieving sense of betrayal. And I think that much like the aftermath of marital betrayals, for couples who try to rebuild what was broken, it's hard to point to one moment that restored things.

Instead, restoration is accomplished through a cumulative weight in a particular direction. It's months of "yes, he went to counseling with me again," and "yes, she bit her tongue instead of lashing out again," and "yes, he's been home after work every day this week." And then you wake up one day and realize that things will never be the "same" as they were before the event, but you've found something new, new trust, new assurance - and sometimes, the old thing that was broken has made way for a sturdier thing to grow. Not always. But that's how it's been for me with God. That's my primary hope and prayer for women who read the book - that they're encouraged to just keep plugging along with God. It's so easy to shut down; you're just so hurt. But I believe that God wants us to turn toward God, with our anger, our sorrow, our sense of betrayal -- with all of it.  God has taken the absolute brokenness of this world into God's own body on the cross -- God has chosen to suffer our death. It matters to God. You matter to God.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Part 1

Dearest Readers,
It's time to curl up with your laptop, a cup of tea, and a box of tissues because here is the first installment of my Q & A with Pastor Elise Erikson Barrett, author of the fabulous book What Was Lost: A Christian Journey Through Miscarriage.

Ed: First of all, thank you for writing such a real and sensitive book. What compelled you to write it?

Pastor Elise: I experienced my first miscarriage in 2004 and was blown away both by how devastating the loss was and by how few resources were available, particularly resources written from a faith perspective. After I began serving a church, I realized that there were lots of women looking for the same kinds of support I had longed for. I wanted a complete resource to hand to a church member -- something that would answer the physical/psychological questions most people ask, but would also deal with questions like, "Where was God?" "Did that little life matter to anyone but me?" "How do I pray when I'm so deeply angry?" I also wanted to share stories from others who had experienced miscarriages -- stories that would be true and raw enough to convey the pain of pregnancy loss -- so that if nothing else, the reader might find in the book validation of her own story.

You write about your miscarriage as a young student in seminary and the devastating grief that followed. What was the best thing someone said to you in the days or weeks following?

The things that were comforting in a general sort of way were the sincere, "I'm so sorry" kinds of comments. I remember one particular instance, though. I was telling a friend the short version of what had happened right before a class, and I remember being horribly embarrassed that I said something about how wild with grief I was that this little body of the child I'd loved was in a sewer system somewhere.

She just looked at me, and her eyes suddenly filled with tears, and she just whispered, "Oh, God." And it was a prayer and lament all at once, and I remember feeling suddenly sure that God was walking with us on that path, even though my feelings and emotions were too bruised to "feel" or "sense" God in those days. I would bet that she has no idea what that meant to me -- possibly even no recollection of that event -- but it was her willingness to go to that place of raw, bitter pain with me and lament alongside me that was so profoundly healing, that created a moment that was transparent to God's suffering love and grace.

You write about telling people, “I was only 7 weeks along,” and how that word “only” set up the other person up to say something like, “Oh, well that’s good you weren’t farther along.” This was revolutionary for me. I’ve spent much time being shocked and appalled at people’s comments, but I never thought that I could have some measure of control over the situation. Are there other things we can do to help dissuade negative comments?

Unfortunately for everyone, there's no 100% preventative to keep people from saying hurtful or insensitive or downright appalling things. People are just idiots sometimes -- all of us are to one extent or another. That said, it is possible sometimes to set up your conversation partner for a better or worse response -- especially with those people who truly are well-meaning and just don't know exactly what to say, or who are ignorant about the real pain and grief caused by miscarriage. Be clear with yourself ahead of time about what you want from the person you're telling. Do you want them to talk to you? To listen? To do something concrete like take you out for coffee? Do you want them to get the info and leave you alone? Do you want them to check in with you, or do you hope they never mention it again?  When you know what would be healing or feel loving and supportive for you, lead in with that. So, an example might look like this:


You: I wanted to let you know that we had a miscarriage. I...

Them: Oh, well, I guess it's good that you're young. Were you guys even trying to get pregnant?


You: Hey, I have something I wanted to let you know about... before I start, I just wanted to say that it's pretty hard for me to talk about this, because it hit me hard, and if you can just listen and not offer any advice or anything, I would be so grateful. You know we were pregnant; well, we lost the baby this week. It's so much harder than I thought it would be, and the things people are saying are making it even harder. I just want people to tell me they're sorry and to let me be sad instead of trying to fix it.

Them: (hopefully thinking, I'd better not try to fix it.) I'm so sorry.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

As the oldest in the family, I think it's only fair

"I guess it's one of those situations where you're not expecting anything and then, totally out of the blue, you don't get it."

This little mini-blurb from The Onion cracked me up. Everyone looooooooves the story of the couple who stopped "trying" and then got pregnant (and of course carries to term). For many of us, these stories are more annoying than Mariah Carey in the movie Glitter.

In other news, say a prayer for me this weekend. Holidays suck, and I think it's starting to sink in that other people are in our families are actually having babies.

I wish I could ask my nine siblings and siblings-in-law to not get pregnant for the next two years. Maybe I can get this in writing... Pretty reasonable, right? In turn, I will actually visit their houses.

Just kidding about asking them... I would have the document notarized as well.

love to you all,

Monday, April 18, 2011

Top 5 Best Things to Do Post Miscarriage

5. Watch Seinfeld. It's funny and there are no babies. There is one episode where they make fun of an ugly baby, and another where they talk about the obligation of having to "see the baby!!" And I think they make fun of that baby too. That's out of like 7,000 episodes. Watch it.
4. Take spinning. These are the crazy classes where you work your booty off. It's great for the workout and the endorphins. Bonus: they play great music really loudly and you can sing along and cry your eyes out. No one notices because everyone is red and sweaty and thinking they will die from this workout. Seriously, I cried to Jai Ho the other day.
3. Drink wine with friends. Repeat as needed. 
2. Say no to things and don't feel guilty. Make sure people know that you are going through a hard time. If you don't want to go to someone's birthday party or baby shower, say no. Stick by it.
1. Take a vacation. Even if it's a day trip. Do it. You deserve it.

What was the best thing you did?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Btw this movie will not be distributed, as you are not Jim Carrey

This one is from Jen.

On the day she miscarried she called her boss to let her know that she would not be coming in. Her boss says, "It's crazy here, but I guess your health is the most important thing."


Dear Jen's Boss,

I've heard things are pretty crazy in the office. Maybe it's because you're driving everyone crazy? I'm guessing you're a total nut job. I hope you wake up one morning, and all of a sudden you're in a really stupid movie, like "Yes Man." The next thing you know, you're running around saying YES to yoga on the roof and eating fish heads straight from the barrel (confession: I watched 10 minutes of "Yes Man.")

Uh oh, here comes the climax of the movie, where you alienate everyone you love! You tried to say yes but everything backfired and people realize you're still a jerk! Then you have to run around making amends with everyone. You give Jen 10 weeks of paid time off! "I promise, I've changed," you say tearfully to your employees. They forgive you. Only after a friendly roast of everyone in the room being like, "you know who's the worst boss? YOU!!!"

Hahahaha. Everyone laughs.

This song plays. The End.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Yes, I would like some wine with this cheese

After my first miscarriage, I felt terrible guilt for not telling my baby that I loved him each and every day. I shared this with a coworker. She had had children later in life and was remarkably sensitive about the situation.

She said, "Your baby knew you loved him. Every time he heard your heartbeat he felt your love."

This is a total cheesy, cheese ball statement, yet it was so comforting to me. Losing a baby is so psychologically disturbing. I never held my baby. I never kissed his cheek and said I love you sweetheart.

I tell my parents I love them every day. I tell my husband. I even tell my dog (probably more times per day than is normal).

Knowing my baby felt my love is of critical importance to me. I loved you baby, and I still love you, to the blue, blue sky.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I will now invent a preggo ad blocker

And I will make literally dozens of dollars.

I made the mistake of clicking on the Mariah Carey ALL ABOUT THE BABIESSS!!! issue and now I feel sick. And also angry. I'm sangry! Why does there have to be any pregnant women ... anywhere... ever?

I wish I had a preggo ad blocker. It would block all mention of pregnancy on the web. It would also block all happiness and smiling people.

The only stories left would be sad and shriveled and wonderful, like my soul.

P.S. Can you tell I have my period?

Over and out,

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Babe, you're no Bette Midler

Here's another one from Lady E:

After her mother's choice response, she told a friend/coworker about her miscarriage... (we all know the coworker/friend relationship is fraught with landmines...)

And this person says, "Ugh. I can't imagine another little one."

What I wish E could have said in return: "That's soooo funny. No one actually asked you your opinion. You're like Bette Midler in Beaches, 'Enough about me, what do you think of me?!' Except you're not nearly as cool. Instead of funny, it's annoying. Was it your little one you lost? No? Interesting. Shut it."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Not crazy, just practicing

From an elder at church (a woman btw):

"That was just a practice run."

My lost baby was a practice run. Like I'm some sort of "practicing" home-ec major from the year 1943? No.

A practice run is when you babysit a friend's kids, and after coming home smelling of baby puke and poo and play dough, you say to your husband, "Let's never, ever, ever have two kids under the age of 2."

A practice run is when you get a puppy, think it will never be house trained, and clean up endless piles of pee and poo. Puppy chews through all the carefully hidden cords under the TV cabinet. And the leather chair. And the coffee table. You think, hmmm this is preparing me for kids.

A pregnancy isn't practice; it's called REAL LIFE.

Also, why would you need to have a pregnancy in order to prepare for pregnancy? Gee, I'm so glad I ran through the roller coaster of emotions when I lost my baby! Now I will be so much more paranoid when the next baby comes! Seeeee practice!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Aren't you a little young to be making senile comments?

From sender-inner Lady E.

Upon telling her own mother about her miscarriage, her mother says:

"Oh. I'm sorry to hear that. But aren't you reaching the age limit for that anyway?"


The silence you hear is me lifting my chin up off the floor. Lady E is only 39. Also, how rude! Maybe it's time to start looking at "residential facilities" for mom...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Morning Kick in the Teeth

This gem of a facebook message was sent to my husband from his longtime friend and former roommate:

(loose paraphrase)

Hey. I have some big news. My girlfriend of five minutes and I are pregnant. It's quite unexpected, but we're really happy and feel like this is the right time. Did I mention we're really happy?! I know I live life like a college student and can barely remember to cut my toenails, but we're having a baby. Ha! Ha! We're so excited.

Your friend who's avoided you for the past four months

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I really need to stop telling coworkers

Another guy at work: (At this point you might be thinking.... stop telling work people. You're right, I should do that.)

"Did you even want kids?"

No, I did not "want" "hypothetical" "kids." I didn't imagine some hyper, sticky, juice box-toting children running around. I wasn't like, sign me up for the airplane screamer! And the tantrum thrower! And the teenage girl... oh please no.

But I was pregnant. With a real baby. I loved that baby for whoever he or she was and whatever he or she wanted to be in life. 

No, I did not want kids. I wanted that kid.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

This is really happening

When I left you yesterday, I talked about how there were no miscarriage books at my local Barnes and Noble. Nada.

I intended to follow that post with another on how I did find several great books online, and the best one, What Was Lost by Elise Erikson Barrett, was mailed to me by a dear friend. The book even has a chapter called When People Say Hurtful Things -- a topic relevant to this blog.

I was all set to write about it when the REAL Pastor Elise emailed me. Omg! 

She has graciously agreed to do a Q&A with us. WHAT?!

I'm obviously excited. If you would like to submit a question, shoot me an email at

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

From a zombie, with love

In the days after my first miscarriage, I was wandering around our home like a Venice stoner turned zombie, eyes bloodshot from crying. Worry or cabin fever led my mom to suggest that we go to a book store to look at books on miscarriage. I threw on clothes and we drove to the huge Barnes and Noble close by.

What I found in Barnes and Noble was nothing. No books whatsoever.

I looked in the pregnancy section... only happy, giant belly books, no sad Your Baby Just Died books. I looked in psychology... only books on grief after losing a parent or child/teenager. I even looked in the Christian section, where some dude started hitting on me.

"Not many people looking in the Christian section, eh? What's your name?"

Wouldn't it have been awesome if I was like, "I'm married, and also, bleeding heavily from my uterus. Want my number?"

Instead I just got the hell out of there. But not before I noticed there were no books.

Up next: Elise Erikson Barrett on how to handle the things people say.

Monday, March 28, 2011

I did not kick this guy... I promise

Random guy at work had point blank asked me if I were pregnant when we were on a photo shoot together. Apparently I had it written on my face? Or I just looked fat. Whatever. So I told him yes. (Why did I do that? I'm stupid.)

I promptly forgot about the exchange and went about my business; I had no idea I would miscarry my baby two weeks later.

Fast forward to Friday night in the office.

Guy: Have you told the rest of the office yet?
Me: About what? Oh..... No..... Actually we lost the baby.
Guy: What?! Was there anything you could have done?
What I said: No...

What I wanted to say: No. But thanks so much for the encouragement!!!! Now I'm second guessing whether I could have done something!! You're hovering over my desk shouting loudly in earshot of others!! Let me answer your question with a question. Does it hurt when you get kicked in the balls?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hello? This thing on?

This one is inspired by the lovely Singular Desire, who commented that the worst thing she heard was.... nothing.

In my mind this is the cardinal sin a friend or family member can commit. Even the most bumbling phrase "maybe... meant.... to be.... what happened... you can have another.... don't worry...." is better than radio silence.

As parents who have lost our little babies, whether at 4 weeks or full term, we struggle to convey how utterly sad we are to have lost that particular child. Having a dear friend or family member ignore our child and our grief is just a slap in the face.

There are people in my own family (I have a huge one) who haven't said anything or haven't said enough. I just want to say dude. If my baby were born yesterday you would be buying me baby gear and flying out to LA to visit. You'd be smoking It's a Boy cigars and jockeying for the next turn to hold the kid.

But because the baby died you say nothing? This is the very definition of adding insult to injury.

We do have to cut them a little slack, as they are blissfully unaware of what loss feels like, but I encourage you, if you're one of the people who found my blog by Googling, "what to say to a miscarriage person," (seriously, this appears in my traffic log) the answer is: something.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I'll take the Michael Jackson, please

This one is from awesome photographer Desiree:

"At the hospital being prepped for a D and C, the anesthesiologist comes in and without looking at my chart says (in a gruff Russian accent)

'So what are here for?'

Me: '... a D and C'

'What for? Are you bleeding?'

Me: long pause.... 'MISCARRIAGE...'"

What do you think she's here for in this particular wing of the hospital? A burger and fries? You're the extremely well-paid anesthesiologist. She's a woman who just had her heart ripped out. Take a few minutes to READ THE CHART before you start flapping your gums. And after doing your homework, give her enough Propofol that she can't remember how much of an idiot you were.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bright Spot

Today is a shit day you guys. It's the due date for my first baby, Clarence.

March 23.

Maybe I would have had him by now. Maybe I'd be swollen and tired and full of hope and ready to deliver. My mother would already be in town. My husband would be caffeinated and happy and making jokes about our "little guy."

I'm working hard to see the bright spots today. For us, for Clarence.

"I love you more than ever," wrote my husband in a note this morning. "I wish we could hold Clarence today, and see the child formed in God's image and our likeness."

His words brought me to tears. The good kind.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

You will probably be just like her!

You might disagree with me on this one.

From neighbors, friends, relatives, coworkers, etc.

"You know what, So-and-So had a miscarriage(s) and they went on to have three healthy babies!"

This is another tough one because I know it's meant to be encouraging. For me, it's annoying. I used to believe what people say. Now I don't. When I was pregnant the first time, people assured me I wouldn't miscarry, based on my health history and age. Even when I was spotting heavily, one of my pregnant friends, said DON'T worry. It's nothing. It wasn't nothing. I lost the baby.

During my second pregnancy, people said the same things. It won't happen to you again. There's no way. It did. Even when I had the same exact pain and spotting, my dear friend, who is a DOCTOR, said no. Don't worry. You're probably not miscarrying again. 

I know they were just trying to help. And I'm sure there are people out there who spotted and had healthy babies. I'm not one of the them.

I just don't believe what people say anymore. I've heard enough crazy things. I've felt complete and utter disappointment. I've seen first hand that you can pray for a baby every single night and still lose her. 

So, pardon me, friend. I will smile and nod while you tell the anecdotal story about the woman down the street and her happy family.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Guilt Monster

From a friend, "Well, your job really is so stressful...."

I know this person meant well. She was trying to say something encouraging like, it's not you, it's your job. Instead it made me feel like I was to blame. Maybe if I did a better job of "not being stressed" while at work, I wouldn't have lost two babies in 7 months.

The problem with these types of comments is that they just feed the Guilt Monster. I messed up. I must have messed up. Otherwise why would this be happening?

It's not true. Heroin addicts have babies. They messed up. You didn't. It's not my fault and I didn't mess up. Say it again.

Wanna share a particularly awful/wonderful comment? I will use a pseudonym for you if you're afraid your crazy MIL is reading this blog. Send me an e-mail.

Top 5 Best Things to Say

To someone who has experienced a miscarriage.

5. What can I bring you? This is so much better than the generic, "Let me know if you need anything." A dear friend brought me a People magazine (about Charlie Sheen, not about babies), a bunch of DVDs, chocolate, and booze. It was the perfect combo.
4. This is terrible/horrible/unfair. A girl I barely know from work was so kind to me when she found out. She said, "Let's go to lunch and be angry!" In retrospect, that was one of the nicest things anyone said.
3. You will be in my prayers. This one might not be comforting to everyone, but I'm a religious person, and I like the idea of someone remembering me and my lost babies in prayer.
2. How are you feeling? Open ended questions like this allow the person to just vent, cry, whatever.
1.  I'm so sorry for your loss. 

Acknowledging the loss is so important. Expressing your sympathy is important too. ESPECIALLY if you  are a family member. I can't stress this enough. If you are a brother, sister, in law, parent, or dear friend, you had a vested interested in that baby as well. You might think, ugh, I just don't know what do say. It's so awkward. Man or woman up and say I'm sorry. Express sympathy. It's the right thing to do.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Top 5 Worst Things to Say

To someone who has experienced a miscarriage.

5. At least you have other children. I don’t have other children, but I’m told by other women that this is said frequently. How rude!
4. What happened? Who the hell knows? Leave me alone.
3. Maybe it just wasn’t your time. Ok... but it’s the crack head downtown’s time? And the kids on MTV “Teen Mom’s” time? No, that doesn’t make sense.
2. Anything in the maybe-it's-your-fault category. Unless you majorly abuse drugs and alcohol, a miscarriage is not your fault. It's not that cup of coffee you had, and if someone brings it up, they should be prepared to lose a limb.
1. It’s nature’s way of getting rid of an unhealthy baby.

I hear number one all. the. time. Death is also a way to reduce excess population, but we would never dream of saying that to someone whose parent has recently passed. Be compassionate. Say something encouraging instead.

Up next: the top five things you should say.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How's your mom's basement working for ya?

This one wasn't said to me directly, but was posted as a comment to the TIME article on how women grieve miscarriages for years. The article only talked about miscarriage.

This is the comment from Mike. "If they grieve when they miscarry then the psychological guilt from aborting a baby must be 1,000 times worse."

This is another huge peeve of mine. Comparing miscarriage and abortion is like comparing apples and oranges, no it's like comparing China and yogurt. They are not at all the same. The comparison is rude and thoughtless.

Also, dude who probably lives in his mom's basement, keep your judgmental thoughts to yourself. These are the types of things you should only share with your girlfriend pillow-girlfriend.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Much worse than PMS

This one is from Mama R:

"I'm so sick of people saying, 'Well at least you know you can get pregnant!' Yeah, that's all I wanted out of life. To get pregnant, have all the symptoms, and not get a baby in the end."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

4th favorite grandma

This one is from Kris:

"My mother in law always came up with the worst things to say. When I was pregnant with my second living child she told me she couldn't get excited about the pregnancy because I had lost two of her other grandchildren."

Lady, did you know that you just insulted your grandchild's MOTHER? She is the keeper of your grandchild. You are clearly an ogre who lives in the forest and makes candles from your own earwax. Have fun making those snide comments. Someday you'll be the kid's second favorite grandmother, unless there are step parents, in which case you'll be third or fourth.

On not knowing what to say

An article on TIME online just reported that new research indicates that women grieve miscarriages for years. The best part:

Some of the depression may stem from the inept way in which others can react to miscarriage. People say well-intentioned but insensitive things, or they worry about saying the wrong thing, so they say nothing at all.

“With advancing medical knowledge, everyone assumes pregnancy is going to go well,” says Robertson Blackmore. “When that doesn't happen, it strikes fear in a lot of people. It's so common, but people don't know what to say.”

Friday, March 11, 2011

I can't even remember who said this

"Things happen for a reason."

I absolutely can't stand this phrase. Whether it's true that things happen for a reason or not is a moot point. The phrase is stupid and cliche and makes me feel like crap. I've gone from pregnant and full of hope to not pregnant. Isolated. Feeling like a failure. Like an empty vessel tossed at sea. I'm sad. In mourning. 

Don't tell me that things happen for a reason. Don't cast a rosy glow on my sadness. Let me have my sadness. It's one of the only things I have left. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Four drinks in and the comments still hurt

From a slightly definitely drunk friend, "C'mon part of you is relieved, right?

Are you kidding? I would give anything to have that baby back. Anything. Also, you're being an asshole.

Your "human skin" is peeling up at the edges

From an acquaintance, "Don't dwell on it."

Thanks, robot. If I were a robot with a robot heart, I could do as you say.

Maybe God wants me to kick you in the shins?

From submitter Rachel:

A woman at church, "Maybe God doesn't want you to have children."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

You're the doctor, right?

Two positive pregnancy tests, three doctor's visits, hundreds of prenatal vitamins, one healthy ultrasound, dozens of healthy meals, and countless dreams for the future.

One terrible ultrasound, hours of pain, days of bleeding, and one crazy ER visit.  In the midst of the madness a new ER doctor walks in. "Are you sure you were pregnant?"

Another Well-Meaning Coworker

"Soon you'll have another baby, and you won't even care about this one."

You just had your heart ripped out, but keep on the sunny side!

From the phlebotomist in the doctor's office minutes after finding out my first child no longer had a heartbeat: "Cheer up dear! You can always try again."

Nothing about what you just said has any basis in science

From my hairstylist: "Miscarriages can happen if you get out of bed too quickly! That's probably what happened."

Gee... not worth it

From a coworker: "You can drink coffee again!"