Words to Live and Write by

I am willing to fall Because I have learned how to rise.

I craft Love from heartbreak, Compassion from shame, Grace from disappointment, Courage from failure.

I am among the brave and brokenhearted, and I am rising strong.

(credit to Brene Brown)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Permission to Grieve

 I want to share one thing I've read that has pierced my soul. It's taken from the book "Sunshine after the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother," which is a compilation of mothers' experiences about losing pregnancies and infants. The whole book is fantastic. I mean really fantastic, raw and brutiful!
This excerpt I'm about to share hit me particularly hard because it's an experience like my own. I had three miscarriages during our five years of infertility. (Incidentally that number may increase as we keep trying for miracle #2). Two miscarriages were very early, and one was at 2 1/2 months. The one at 10 weeks was the only one we got to see an ultrasound for--the ultrasound that showed it was a blighted ovum (no baby had formed). Looking back, I realize I never gave myself permission to grieve those losses. Oh, I grieved, but it was for my infertility, not those specific losses. I didn't think I had a right to grieve a baby whose heartbeat I'd never even seen, or worse, had never even existed. But this woman's words are such a revelation to me. I can't say it better, so here it is:

"I only had one doctor's appointment with that pregnancy, the one where the ultrasound confirmed... the pregnancy would end. The doctor speculated, given what she saw (or, rather, didn't see) on the ultrasound, that it was a blighted ovum.
"I had never heard that term before, so of course I Googled it when I got home. It meant there had never even been an embryo. Conception had occurred, implantation had occurred, and I had been pregnant. But something was genetically wrong, and a baby never even developed.
"How could I grieve that?
"How could I grieve blood?

"... I hadn't done anything wrong. This miscarriage, this loss, had been weeks in the making. From the moment conception occurred, the complex mixture of genes, DNA, chromosomes, and all the elements of our primordial soup that need to be just right to create a tiny bean of a baby, hadn't been right after all.
"I had been pregnant. My body had produced hCG in its beautifully natural response to the tiny attempt at life nestled in my womb. I had become a mother, because although the amazingly attuned evolutionary system in my body recognized quickly the unsustainability of the pregnancy, that message was delayed in getting to my brain. The powerful hormonal elixir of estrogen and oxytocin worked its magic, unaware that while it began the process of creating a mother, another bodily system was preparing for the end.
"I was already changing, physically and emotionally. And even though this brief spark of life, this tiny grain of sand, would soon pass through my body, my body and spirit would be forever changed. The cells and chemicals of my body had been transformed. Our bodies are constantly dying and being reborn through cellular renewal and breathing and living. Though new life hadn't been created this time, something had been born.
"I realized that although I wouldn't be cradling a baby in seven months, I had become a mother.

I am hereby giving myself permission, real PERMISSION, to grieve those three lives or almost-lives lost. They are losses, the same as anyone else's and infinitely different. They are real. They existed. They shaped and changed me, and added layers and depths to me that very few have ever truly seen. It is too personal, too vulnerable, to share with the world in brutal honesty. So for now, just know this: I have lost. I have a right to grieve my losses. I have a right to carry them with me as long as I need to, even until forever. And I have a right to live a beautiful, if somewhat broken, life AFTER the loss. The pain doesn't go away with time, it changes. And I am hereby giving myself permission to say, "That's OKAY!" I don't have to pretend nothing happened; I don't have to pretend it doesn't still hurt sometimes or at unexpected times. And best of all, I have a right to explain this to people and EXPECT them (most at least) to RESPECT my loss and my need to grieve.
Ditto for my depression, whether or not it stems from these losses.