You Must Do the Thing

I’ve spent the better part of each day of this past year following an Eleanor Roosevelt quote, only I didn’t know it at the time. “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Some days the “thing” was getting out of bed. Other days it was going to work or seeing and talking to people. It has ran the gamut from mind-numbingly mundane to truly “brave,” even if the definition of brave may be broad…and determined by me. And yet to quote a friend from our miscarriage support group, what other choice do we have?

Well, I suppose we do have a choice. I could choose to stay in that dark and sad place, or I could choose to move forward and fight. And even though I choose to fight, there are days and times that bring me back to that dark and sad place where I have to remind myself, You must do the thing you think you cannot do. Tonight was one of those nights.

Tonight, Double A and I had to light a Yartzeit candle. While the actual anniversary of the loss of our baby girl is a little under two weeks away, the Jewish calendar has the date as tomorrow. For those of you who don’t know what a Yartzeit candle is, it is a Jewish tradition recognizing the passing of a loved one by lighting a candle in their honor (Note: this is a really simplistic explanation, if you want a more in-depth one, look here.). You light this candle at sundown the night before and it burns for 24 hours. And while neither of us is feeling overly religious these days, we lit the candle as a way to honor her memory, and honor our ability to move forward and fight.

Sure, there were tears. A lot of tears. Not to mention the sad reminder of what was, what should have been and what’s not. But once again, we proved to ourselves and each other that we can do this. We can keep fighting. Keep trying. Keep moving forward. And I hope that each day when I need to find that strength, I remember the words of my friend Eleanor to carry me forward.

Full Court Press

After each one of our losses, it was never “would we try again?,” rather “how soon can we try again?” There was never any question. We were going to have a family, and we were going to keep trying until we got there. And each time, when we got the OK, I thought I was going to be terrified. And while I was scared, what I found was that I was more terrified of NOT trying. Of not fulfilling the dream we so badly wanted for ourselves, so badly knew we deserved. Double A would often ask if I wanted to take a break for a while. But I couldn’t. Each time, it made me want our family even more.

That’s not to say that when the time came, that there wasn’t a certain amount of panic going on in my mind. Of course there was. In fact, as our losses increased, so did the fear. Could I do this again? What if it happened again? And would I be able to survive it if it did? Forward we went, not knowing the answers to those questions, only knowing that we’d find a way to do so. I look back and still don’t know how and where we found the strength to carry on. And I’m so proud at the fact that we did, that we are.

After loss number 2, we started talking about adoption. This is a subject that is not foreign to me, as my sister placed a son for adoption 18 years ago. Of course back then, I was in college, removed from the situation and didn’t really grasp what she was going through, and what an amazingly brave and courageous choice she was making. In fact, until we lost our first, I didn’t understand it at all. And while I’ll never know exactly how she felt, there’s a new connection between the two of us, as mothers who never got to know their children.

When we met with a woman from Jewish Family & Children’s Services to talk about adoption back in 2010, we walked out of that meeting completely overwhelmed. We realized at that moment, we weren’t ready to truly explore adoption as a family building option. We weren’t ready to give up the notion that we could do this on our own. And at that time, couldn’t see past having our own kids, as opposed to having kids of our own.

Fast forward two years and two losses later, and our mindset is completely different. We realized, for us, that we want a family, and how we get there no longer matters. That you become a parent from the love and care you give your child(ren), not because that child is biologically related to you. For some, adoption is a hard concept to grasp, a difficult choice to accept. For us, it IS an option, and one that just could get us to family. We met with several agencies (some of which gave us the ick factor, others which were too big and promotionally), and settled on one that is just right…for us. So, with our home study complete and approved, we are officially going through the adoption process as one path to family.

Notice I said “one” path. We haven’t given up the notion that we can do this on our own (and by on our own we mean walking each step grasping the hands and guidance of our RPL doctor, not to mention our therapist, support group, acupuncturist and anyone else out there willing to help). At this point, no on has told us we couldn’t. Or that we shouldn’t. So in our minds, that means we can. And we will. At least we’ll keep on trying to see what happens, all while knowing that we’re making progress on the adoption front as well. Yes, we’re now approaching our family plan with a full court press with the hopes that at least one way will end with a healthy baby…or babies.

Some have asked us, what happens if both “work” at the same time? Our answer: GREAT! Sure, we know it’ll be challenging, but after everything we’ve gone through, and 4+ years of waiting, we’re ready for a challenge like that. We can’t wait to be busy and overwhelmed with our kids and their schedules, rather than in waiting for them!

The truth of the matter is that we don’t know what’s ahead of us. We don’t know how long either of these paths will take. And with such uncertainty and lack of control comes fear. I don’t like uncertainty. I don’t like not being in control. And I certainly don’t like the fear factor. But they are all there, and so I have to force myself to walk these dual paths playing the best full court press just like my dad taught me: with determination, a plan and my eye on the ball, er, baby.

Grief Lingers, Life Goes On

There’s been a lot of talk about grief lately, due to in part to a maddening MacLeans article. And there have been some great responses to that. Not only was I offended by this article, but also by a question asked of one of our friends about us recently: “Do you think they are over their grief and mourning?” It is because of these articles and these questions, that women and men feel like they can’t talk about miscarriage and loss. It is because of this ignorance that couples feel alone, ashamed and saddened.

Are we over our grief and mourning? No. No, we’re not. In fact, I think its pretty safe to say that we never will be “over” it. We have lost our children. We have buried our child. That’s something you never get over. Ever. But being over it and moving forward are two completely different things.

When you experience a loss, let alone multiple losses, you’re thrown into this cyclone of emotions and thoughts. You don’t know where to turn. You want answers and reasons, and all too often you get neither, only more questions. So you turn to your family and friends, and while they may be able to empathize with you, most of them don’t get it. Sure they mean well, and want to help you, but they don’t fully understand what you’re going through. Sadly, you wind up losing some friends and other friendships change because of this. So where do you turn?

For us, initially we turned to the packet the hospital gave us, which included information on books that may be helpful (Empty Cradle, Broken Heart was one we found useful), and a list of support groups. I remember we decided to go to one of those groups, only to realize that we were off on our days, and had missed it. The more we thought about it, at that time, just days after the service for our baby, we realized we weren’t ready for a group experience yet. We needed to focus on ourselves and our grief, before we could share in the grief of others. And so we went about searching for a therapist who could help us through. It wasn’t easy to find her, but once we did, she has made all of the difference, probably because she has experienced multiple losses herself.

We also turned to the internet, to see what information we could find. And what we found was 26.2 million entries when you search miscarriage. 26.2 million! A number that only makes what you’re going through even more overwhelming and confusing. This is the number that made me want to create Will CarryOn, to help others navigate through the seemingly endless mounds of information to find what they need. As I kept digging, I came upon a community that I hadn’t known existed. A community of women and men, who not only knew what we went and are going through, but are talking about it! Sharing their experiences, stories and feelings that are so personal, painful and real, all in an effort to help others through theirs. Putting faces and stories, to highlight and connect those of us who need to talk about our loss(es), and need to know we are not alone.

A few months after our 4th loss, we did finally make it to a support group, and when we did, it felt like home. We were surrounded by amazing women and men who just “got it.” We were in a place where we weren’t looked at funny, or felt like everyone was tiptoeing around on eggshells. We cry together, help one another through triggers and anniversaries, and even laugh at the ridiculous things people have said to us. Going to group, also showed Double A and me how far we’ve come. We’ve made some amazing friends, both through group and online (many of whom we may never meet face to face). Ones that we wish we never needed to know, but ones we’re so thankful to have in our lives.

It is through this sharing — both virtual and personal — that will hopefully make the subjects of miscarriage and loss no longer be taboo. That will enable people to speak about this on the same public “stage” in which other personal tragedies are spoken. We are not over-sharing; rather we are grieving out loud. We may never be over our grief, but by talking about it, and listening to others doing the same, we will be able to manage, and to learn live with it.