love and loss

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drowning in blessings

cassmiller – Just a happy little reminder left just for me on my sidewalk by one of my children. #tendermercy
If you are going through a stormy season, let me remind you that your rainbow is coming. God is with us in our trials and He never wastes a hurting heart. 💛

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I have been dealing with a wave of depression over the last little while.  I know it’s depression, not only because depression has gotten so familiar to me, but when my life seems pretty smooth, everyone is doing well, things are busy and bustling and there’s nothing to be sad about, yet still I feel sad inside.  That is exactly what’s been going on here.

This morning, as I finished up my hour of gratitude, where I start my day noting all the things I am grateful for, I told Mr. Miller, “I feel like I’m drowning in blessings.” and that is exactly how I feel.  I am so grateful for this full and happy life, and sometimes it just feels like so much full and happy life.  I guess I’ll take that particular set of issues.

Depression isn’t something I chat about too much, even though it’s something I’ve dealt with my entire life.  Lately though, as I have been studying depression, post partum depression, depression in women, I have found some truths and statistics that troubled me.  Like, post partum depression being the highest complication after delivery, but only 7% of these women suffering get help.  I found this through my own research to find answers for my post partum depression, a very misunderstood and misdiagnosed form of depression.

I, of course, believe in living a healthy lifestyle.  I do all things possible to maintain a happy, healthy, and wholesome life.  These things include but are not limited to: eating habits, exercise, self care, therapy, good books, nights with friends, a good date night, resting, self love, down time, vacation, feeding creativity…  I believe everyone should be striving for these things on the regular.  IF MAMA AINT HAPPY AINT NOBODY HAPPY.  It is not bad mothering to enjoy life and prioritize taking care of your mind, body, and spirit.  That is actually great mothering.  You cannot fill anyone’s cup if yours is on empty.  Take time for yourself.

I (after exhausting all my options I could on my own) sought help from my OBGYN, because ya know, post-partum/women/childbirth…  but after they lead me kind of astray and I felt worse and more confused after their carelessness, I eventually found myself in the care of my primary care doctor, which is exactly where I should have been in the first place, I learned.  So, know that is where to go.  Depression you can chat to your primary care doctor about.  *And if you find one you like, keep them forever! (words from the wise here) His help might be lifestyle suggestions, different areas of therapy, hormone support, medication… there is a variety of different treatments, but just talking about it to someone safe might make the world of difference toward feeling better.

Do you know the signs of depression?  If you aren’t feeling yourself, if you can’t feel the joy that you can see all around you, if you have increasingly less energy that you typically have, or are finding yourself always feeling like you’re running on empty… these could all be signs of depression.  I have struggled with depression and post partum depression, and after each of my babies, my post partum depression has manifested itself differently.  Sometimes with anxiety and panic attacks, sometimes with all consuming, reason-less sadness, sometimes in extreme feelings of failure or never doing enough.  I muscled my way through it, and now that I have an entire family that depends on my emotional well being, I have had to prioritize myself and get the help and answers I needed to get better.

There is NO SHAME in self love, self care, self prioritization.  The more kids I have, the more I have to prioritize myself.  The weird thing is, the more kids I have, the less natural it feels for me to keep myself at top billing.  I have really kept to aligning my life with my relationships with God and myself as my priorities.  This is the only way I wont get swallowed up by the bits of life that can become consuming.

For me, this dance is not hardly ever graceful.  Or not ever.  I burn way out before I start asking for help, but I am learning that about myself, and looking for opportunities to be better.  Working on my own personal boundaries and figuring out what I can really fit on my plate.  And that’s it, just on my plate.  Not what is on her plate, or what the general area has on their plates in comparison to mine.  We all have a different place here, and it’s okay if I can only squeeze in one kid in a dance camp for the year and tell the rest Santa will only come if they sacrifice extra-curricular activities. (Just kidding, but really..) While other friends of mine seem to breeze through the web of organization it requires to maintain a bustling family schedule. (Looking to you here Liz, Jess, Amy…)  “Different” is not “less than”.  Run your race, let the others run theirs.

I am feeling better after a couple of tough weeks, and I pray that as I continue to learn about myself, I can heal faster, grow deeper in faith and love, care for myself better, and maintain a happier, healthier, more beautiful life.  At least, that’s the goal here.

If there is one thing that I have learned through this blog of mine, it is that we are not alone in our lives.  Not only is God with us, but He provides us angels all over in the world to connect with.  You all have been a blessing to me, and I care about us all too much to not sometimes talk about the important stuff.  If you are out there reading this, needing these reminders today, remember this: You are loved, you are thought about, you are prayed over.  You, my dear friend, are not alone.

 

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four

In the spring, we’ll have another little Miller babe to join the party.

We are so excited!

Just about 12 weeks and feeling pretty sickly, but my heart is so full it could burst.

(Thanks to Ashley Flowers Photography for this sweetest pic.  More of these next week!)

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Life after Loss

One of my top three most clicked on posts is my love & loss post where I wrote about the story of my miscarriage.  I followed up a bit here and there as I healed from that loss, but I felt inspired to write a few things down of how I’m (honestly) feeling after having 2 years of perspective.

I was really surprised by how much hurt I felt when I had a miscarriage.  I have seen many mothers walk through it and seem almost unscathed. I think that’s what made me want to write about it, because I didn’t feel unscathed.  I felt wounded deeply, and I felt alone.  I receive so many emails of mothers walking through their own loss who have found my posts to be a help and I am so grateful for that.  I am so grateful that through this space, we can be connected as sisters of loss.  I pray for each person who writes me and shares their stories of loss with me.  It truly touches my heart and I am so glad we have each other to heal together.

The pain of my loss, in it’s entirety, didn’t last forever.  Those first days waking up seemed to hurt so much.  The weight of it was so heavy I could barely breathe.  One thing that astounded me then and continues to do so is that I had never felt more peace than through that pain.  I felt so close to heaven.. I mean, I felt heaven almost tangible.  It was breathtaking.  I have never felt so close to God before as I did in those days and weeks following losing my baby.  (Which when I type comes with a sting – even now.)  I had never experienced that Grace before and I am so happy to know it – to have lived through it.  God is with us in our times of need.  For me, it was as if He was sitting right beside me as I wept through my disappointment.

The sting slowly faded.  At first my mornings were filled with the that sharp sting – wake up and sting.  Then my mornings got easier, but when I would walk past the nursery, sting.  Sometimes a few days would go by before I would feel that familiar sting.  Soon weeks were going by with more hope than pain, but certain dates would stick out with a sting.  Even my next pregnancy came with a side of sting.  Then even months would go by and I would notice that I hadn’t felt that familiar sting for a while.  My heart was healing.  Sometimes, I have friends and follower-friends who share their losses with me, and I feel that sting for them.  This kind of sting comes with a huge pouring of love.  I’m glad I can feel what they’re feeling, even if just a little bit.  I am glad I can help carry the burden – because I felt others help carry mine.  I still get that familiar sting every once in a while, but I take it as a good little reminder from what I’ve overcome, what I have waiting for me, and what I have here on this beautiful earth.  Where the sting used to accompany pain, it now accompanies peace, acceptance, happiness.

One thing I haven’t shared here is the day I actually passed my miscarriage.  It was a hard, long, emotional day and much too personal and sacred (and painful) to recount, but one of the harder moments of my life.  It was March 26th – after weeks of my body holding on since the whole process had started.  I didn’t know how I would heal from that day, but God did.  It took us some time both emotionally and physically, but I found out I was expecting later that Summer.  I was due none other than March 25th that next year.  When the clock struck midnight on March 26th, my labor started.  I thought about the year before when I was deep in labor to deliver a disappointing loss, and now I was handed my sweet baby from heaven, a year later, on March 26th.  A year to the day.  What a sweet tender mercy, and one that still gives me chills as I write it.

I do hope to have more children, and that fear of loss is still very much there.  I have felt it, and know how real it is.  That fear plagued me in my pregnancy after loss.  Each midwife appointment, each ultrasound, each trimester turning came with anxiety and fear. But God heard me in my prayers and carried me through until the end.  He still carries me.  While I hope I never have to experience that type of loss again, loss in some form will come.  And I will understand it just a bit better the next time I think.  I will trust in a God who carries me through, even when I feel like I can’t go on.  I will not live in fear, and I will hope for more healthy pregnancies, and sweet smelling newborns, and children to fill my home.

  (ashley flowers photography)
Because life after loss still goes on, and life is still just as sweet.

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So, how are you feeling?

No really, HOW ARE YOU FEELING?

I have heard this question 185 times at least this week.  It’s really nice, and because it’s so nice I feel like I should just be nice right back and say “I’m good, thank you!” because I’m not actually sure what type of response is being hoped for.

BUT.

How am I feeling?

As far as the child in my womb goes, things are good.  I’m used to being pregnant by now and I’m comforted by not being able to sleep really at all and having to pee every two seconds and my belly involuntarily bouncing and rolling and hiccuping without me having to do any work because that means things are normal.  So, as far as that goes, great.  Also, if you were wondering about my cervix as so many strangers, neighbors, and family members are.. It’s very much still there, my friends, but I have opted out of cervical checks at this point, so as to what my cervix is doing right now? Your guess is as good as mine.  My money is on dilated to a 2 and 50% effaced which it has really favored in pregnancies past until the big debut.  My boobs are getting nice and leaky if that comforts your worried soul in anyway?

Oh, did I mention we’re buying a house?  Yeah, we were bored by the idea of just having a baby, so we decided to do the 2nd (actually 1st) most stressful thing humanly possible and buy a house at the very same time.  We like to keep things spicy.  We were supposed to close last week but that wasn’t cutting it quite close enough, so our closing date got pushed to this week.. so far we’re on for Friday (again) and wouldn’t you know it, the checks should all clear exactly on my due date which is when we can move in.  So, will I be delivering here at my current house while it’s torn apart in packing boxes?  Will I go into labor while our stuff is strewn between two homes?  Will this baby hold out for the chaos to die down and wait a week past her due date for us to get settled in the new place?  Not only do I not have any idea, I also have no control over said situation.  So how ’bout them apples?

So how am I feeling about all of this?

The only thing I can control over the situation is my own behavior and I am trying, trying, trying to stay calm (and by trying I mean laying down as much as possible with a diffuser full of lavender blowing at my face while I massage my temples saying “ooommmmmm”).  I pray, a lot.  I have an internal battle of being anxious about labor and delivery and so unbelievably excited to meet my baby, but seriously trying to slow down my body’s progress to wait until I’m on more certain ground to comfortably have her.  “Please baby, come out.. I mean don’t. Not right now, I mean.  Maybe later.. like much later.. like after my curtains are hung in my new bedroom, perhaps?  But I bet you’re so cute so if you want to come now, totally do.  But actually, wait.” And I’m also in denial about how rapidly my due date is approaching, which leaves me looking like a deer in the headlights anytime someone asks me how much time I have left.  I feel like laying on the floor crying much of the day like a toddler who has no say and control over their own life.

On the other hand, I have never felt so incredibly lucky and blessed in my life.  These “problems” I have this year are “problems” I have prayed for for years!  Remember last year how my heart was so hurt at  the loss of my pregnancy?  And here I am now, so completely full of a baby I will be welcoming here very shortly.  Exactly a year later.  What a miracle that is!  And for the last 7 years as we have gone through financial struggles and tried to get our feet under us and have worked and worked and worked for this very moment of our lives.. it’s here!  The hard work paid off!  We’re finally in the position we have set out for.  I mean, I can’t think of a more exciting time in our lives, truly.  I almost feel guilty for being stressed because it’s so exciting I feel like I should just be enjoying it.  And I am.  But it is overwhelming stuff, even though it’s good things to be overwhelmed with.  So I need to also show myself grace and let myself feel what I need to feel.  It’s okay to feel out of control because I am exactly that.  The only thing holding me steady is the enormous fact that I am not in control and luckily, I don’t have to be.

As my best friend Haley reminds me, God’s got me.  He’s got this whole situation and I don’t need to worry my pretty little soul about a thing.

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birthday week at 35 weeks

This week has been a whirlwind.  Some big things are going on for our family and it’s taking more time and mental capacity than I anticipated.  It’s all good things and I hope to be sharing good news soon!  With that and now weekly midwife appointments and all the preparation with the baby, I might be posting a bit less but keep up with me on instagram if the blog is quiet and be patient with me as I navigate this chapter of my life. :)

It is my birthday week! Tomorrow is the big day.  I have been out trying to find me a traditional birthday outfit this week, but being 8 months pregnant has really put a damper on that.  I might actually have to wear my “birthday suit” but I hope for everyone else’s sake that is NOT the case. :)

I am super full of baby at this point.
Every square inch of my mid-section is being used up.
I am still feeling quite comfortable though, besides the occasional foot shoved firmly into my ribs.
I have had a major sweet tooth pass through.  Anything chocolate and coconut or mint I am all about.
I have a super limited wardrobe right now.  Getting dressed is my least favorite part of the pregnancy at this point.
I have started to get swollen feet if I’m up and around too much.  I never got swollen with my other girls so this is a first.
I would definitely take a nap every day if I could, and the majority of the days I do.
My energy level is just seriously dwindling by the minute.  Hence the lack of posting so much.  It takes everything out of me just to regularly function during the day without the added errands and obligations.
Stella has been climbing into my bed every night and then tells me in the morning, “I couldn’t sleep all night because the baby was kicking and kicking me!” If she only knew how I felt. ;)
I can still get comfortable at night, thanks to my pregnancy pillow, but it’s hard to stay asleep through all the wiggles and readjusting and hiccuping going on inside.
Since day one, the girls have asked when the baby would be here and we’ve had lots of milestones to look forward to, “first Halloween, then Thanksgiving and Christmas, then New year, then Valentines Day, then Mommy’s birthday, THEN she will be here after that.” Now that my birthday is tomorrow the girls think the baby will also be here about the next day.  We’re down to the final stretch and I have a feeling this will be the hardest part to wait for, for them and for me!
I’ve been trying to prep them for the birth, Harlo says she doesn’t want to be here and Stella says she does.  Then they get off track on tangents about what they want to do that day instead and it ends in a gigantic adventure like “maybe we can go to nana’s, then go to the park, then go to old navy, then maybe go to lunch and to swig, then play some games and then when the baby is here we can come pick her up and eat dinner at nana’s.”  It’s impossible to keep them on the subject.  I really have no idea how the whole birth is going to play out, but I’m just going to play it by ear and see what they want to do when the time comes.  Hopefully this lady comes in the middle of the night and I wont even have to worry about it. :)
I am such a sap, but i’m so overwhelmed with the goodness my life is filled with right now.
Last night Stella couldn’t sleep so I let her lay in bed with me for an hour past bedtime and we just chatted and snuggled for a while and then I sat her on top of my belly and smooched her face as I carried her to bed.  It made me think of last year when I lost that baby and ached for this very season of life.  When I would have a big huge belly for my girls to love on and a delivery fast approaching with all the promise and excitement that time brings, and now I have just that.  It was so hard at that time to feel like that had been taken away from me, but here I am now with everything I had hoped and prayed for last year.  It’s amazing how much a year can change things.
I don’t remember a time ever feeling more humbled or grateful than I have during this pregnancy.
This is a wonderful season for us.  God is so good.

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what would have been

It has been 6 weeks since my miscarriage.  Sometimes it feels like yesterday and most days it feels like a lifetime ago.

I haven’t written much about it since it happened and I wanted to document for myself what I’m feeling now.  What I might feel a few months from now, a year from now…

Most days my pregnancy feels like a dream.  Like a foggy dream that I’m not quite sure yet if it still really happened to me.  I have been lucky to have two busy little girls that have kept my life  moving forward.  But lately it’s been on my mind a lot. I feel like I have made peace with a lot of my miscarriage.  Trusting that it wasn’t time for our family, holding to our faith and working to better ourselves because of it.  Sometimes the agony creeps up on me and grabs a hold of my heart and feels like it’s never going to fully let go.  As each Saturday rolls by, my body can’t help but imagine itself at 16, 17, 18 weeks along.   I try not to think about it, but little waves come rolling in and crash over my heavy heart.  The announcements of other women due the same month as me, my friends who I would have loved to share this journey with but am again forced to accept that it wasn’t my time.

It wasn’t our time, little one, but I know we’ll get it someday.  

Some days I’m thankful for the opportunity I have to work on my little family of 4.  That I get a second chance at just focusing on my two little girls.  Other days baby fever hits and it always comes with a sting.   I have worked so very hard on not being bitter.  Not being angry.  Feeling what I need to feel and letting it pass through my soul in God’s time.  Truly letting go, and letting God.  But I am human and I do have moments of longing for more and wondering why, thinking it’s not fair, wanting to guard this battered heart of mine.

For the most part, I am just so surprised by how God heals our hearts.  Especially from things that seems impossible to heal from.  I do think about that baby every day, but not everyday comes with pain.  Sometimes – most times – it comes with hope.  It comes with peace.  It comes with excitement of the future.  It comes with immense strength.  I have learned by that sweet baby who briefly touched my life just how strong I really am.  So much stronger than I thought.

I do believe that everything happens in God’s time and for His reasons even when we cannot see them.  This one was a tough one for me to see.  Because why?  Why couldn’t I have just had that baby?  I would have loved it so much.  I would have taken such good care of it.  We would have given it such a wonderful life here.  Why couldn’t we just keep it?  But trusting isn’t my strong point.  I wanted to know the answers right now, but with this, I couldn’t.  I cannot know the answer right now.  I can either be angry about that, or I can trust.  Just what I’m not very good at.

I will choose to trust rather than to be angry.  Because it’s what I need to do.  Because it’s the only thing I can do.

And I will also hope.  I will hope for my future.  I will hope for that baby.  I will hope for a better time.

One day, little one.  One day.

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ask me anything

I am working on some new stuff for the blog and I need your help!

Is there anything that you would like to hear more about from me?  I would love some input.  If you have any questions for me about photography, beauty tips, love, loss, parenting.. etc. comment or email me and I’d love to write more about it.  You sweet friends that read this mean so much to me and I’d love to know what you’d like to hear more about. :)

That being said, I have been wanting to say thank you SO much for the sweet love, the messages and comments, the calls and texts, everything that was given to me during my miscarriage and writing my love and loss posts.

I thought I’d answer some of the questions/comments I got regarding these posts.

The most common thing I heard was “you’re so brave for writing about this!” or “I can’t believe you’ve opened up about something so personal on such a public space,” or “when it happened to me, I didn’t want anyone to know.”  and I think all of these are totally valid comments.  So here’s my take on things…

On being “brave” for writing about this, I didn’t really feel like that.  I wasn’t writing about it to be brave or not.  I wrote about it because writing is how I cope with things.  I need to talk things out and sometimes I can’t express the things I really need to by having a conversation.  Some of the feelings I felt during my miscarriage were very raw and real and painful and it would have been hard for me to explain those things to someone in conversation.  Especially the people I loved who just wanted to know I was okay.  By writing them out, it gave my loved ones a glimpse of what was going on inside my head and it gave me an outlet.  I felt such peace and closure with each post I wrote and I knew it was what I needed to do.  The writing was therapy on it’s own and the kind and loving response I got was completely unexpected.  With each message of love, support and concern, I felt my heart healing piece by piece.  It might seem brave to someone else, but for me, it’s just something I needed to do.

Some people were a little stunned by me writing such a personal experience for the world to see.  I agree it was very personal and yes, anyone can stumble upon this blog.  But this blog is MY space.  My very own little piece of the internet.  I like to think the people who come here are kind and loving and would be people I would be friends with if we weren’t separated by distance.  I wouldn’t have wanted this published in TIME magazine or on TMZ or something that wasn’t my own.  But the readers who frequent here know me in a sense.  They get a feel for my heart and what I go through on a daily basis.  I didn’t feel violated by posting because it was on my terms, on my space, with my people, so to speak.  It felt safe to me and it made me realize how grateful I am that I have a gracious little community here.  It was something I needed to realize.  So sharing this type of experience publicly may not have worked for everyone, but it was good for this little heart of mine.

Others  mentioned not wanting to share their experience with anyone when they were going through it.  Some confided in me and hadn’t really ever told anyone.  I can completely imagine feeling this way.  There was a side of me that wanted to shut everyone out and pretend nothing was happening, too.  But.  I felt an urge to share my story.  There is not anything on the pages of this blog I didn’t feel the divine urge to write.  Some things I have shared right away, and some I have waited for the right time.  As soon as I went through this, I knew I needed to share.  Maybe for those people who want to shut the world out.  I told Brady, if I can even help one person feel less lonely going through this, I will share every word from the depths of my soul.  And I did.  I know one person I for sure helped sharing my story, and that person is myself.  If anyone else has felt companionship reading it, that to me is absolutely priceless.  It took me a long time to share my experience with postpartum depression, but I kept feeling a nagging feeling to write it and once I did, I realized my heart had healed from it in a way I never knew it could.

Another thing I heard was appreciation of how “real” I have been about it.  To me, this is the very best compliment anyone could give.  I believe there is something so beautiful and pure about the human experience.  I believe God created all our emotions – the good, the bad, the sad – and there is something to be learned from each of them.  My experience was a very real experience and I didn’t want to do it any injustice by sugar coating it.    When I started this blog, I knew I didn’t want to just share the happy outings or the silly parts of our life.  I wanted to share it all because it’s important to me to have it documented.  One day, I imagine my girls reading this as they may have young families of their own and while my memories fade, I know my stories wont.  Real is exactly my goal.  How I write, how I shoot photography, how I live my life.  I crave being real and I hope to strive for that each day.

So how am I doing now?  This question I’m hearing daily right now.  The answer is, I’m doing well.  My perspective is still small and my heart still stings with remembrance, but we’re getting through it.  I see beauty and hope in every day.  My perspective in faith has grown the most and for that I am so grateful.  I feel like I get some extra time with my little family of 4 and I am totally content about that.  Stella gets to be my baby for just a bit longer and she is totally content about that. ;)  Through good times and bad, this life is a wonderful one if we can only choose to see it.  God has been so good to me and I don’t feel anything but totally blessed.

xo, C

 

Comments { 10 }

love and loss | part three

That night was another hard night.  We told the girls that it turns out we weren’t getting a baby right now after all.  Stella didn’t mind much, but Harlo seemed a little confused.  She wanted to know where our baby went and after trying to explain, she just suggested we get another one.  That request seemed to work for her, and she climbed right into bed and changed the subject.  I was so thankful they had taken it easy on me.

In bed, I kept replaying the words my doctor had said, the image of the empty ultrasound haunted me every time I closed my eyes.  My heart felt like it was in a hundred pieces, each piece raw with agony.  Along with the hurting though, was an immense feeling of love.  I couldn’t have ever imagined the outpouring of love I was receiving.  As painful as this process was to go through, I felt so connected to God and could see his grace surrounding me in all things.

I tossed and turned all night, feeling despair and pain in some hours and overwhelmed with kindness in others.    It still hurt too much to think ahead at all and I tried to avoid thinking of any future plans we had made.  I watched as the hours passed in disbelief that my body, being as exhausted as it was, could still not sleep.

Pretty soon, the girls were up for the morning, earlier than  usual.  Brady got up to help them and I prayed I could stay in a semi-state of sleep.  But the morning noise and cartoons and breakfast shuffle made it impossible for me to slip into slumber and I groggily walked out to the kitchen.  I quickly snapped at Brady, “the TV is so loud!” I caught myself overreacting and tried to cover, “I’m sorry, I just didn’t sleep last night, I’m.. so… tired…” and the sobbing took me over.  Brady wrapped me in his arms and told the girls not to worry.  He walked me back to our room, opened the window so I could see and smell the beautiful crisp morning and snuggled me back in bed.  He was perfectly sensitive and sweet and I wondered when in our life together he had learned it all?  How he knew me so well?  How in the world I got him?

Stella climbed in bed with us and snuggled up to me as closely as she could, I knew she was worried about her mama.  We looked out the window, marveling at the gorgeous pink sky as the sun was rising.  I woke up three hours later with Stella wrapped tightly around my neck, snoring in my ear.  I wondered right then if her sole purpose in this world was to come here to heal this very broken heart of mine.  She was doing such a great job.

Harlo climbed up on my bed, happy to see I had woken up.  She came to give me some morning love.  “Mom, did your baby come out?” she asked.  “Well, honey.. it just never really made it to my belly.  We’ll just have to try again next time.” I said, wishing I had better words to explain to her. “ohhh, mom.  I’m sorry.  We’ll try again, okay?  Let me go get you a sticker.” and off she went to fetch a sheet of stickers, which she let me pick my favorite colors.  I was surprised by how much the stickers really did help.

It was this morning that I was able to see the Lord’s tender mercies.  In large and small ways, He was showing me that He was there.   He was taking care of me and my heart.  I was able to see that even though I was struggling in this life right now, and that it was looking different than I had expected during this time, it was still so wonderful.  I could see His mercies in Stella’s bedhead, which makes my heart skip a beat.  I could see them in Harlo’s tender heart, nursing me back to health.

In a time that I was wondering when the pain would ever fade enough for me to feel happy again, I was surrounded by happiness.  I was sad and broken, but He had filled my broken heart with so much love and happiness as well.  I knew this was going to be a hard road, but I knew I could make it through.  I knew it in Harlo’s smile that morning.

My dear friend had offered to take the girls that morning so that I could have some time to rest.  I got them ready and watched as they excitedly headed off to a day adventure without me.  Never realizing before now, as I watched their little swim suit bottoms scurry off without hesitation, exactly how big they were getting.

I reluctantly went to my closet.  I knew I had to get ready for the day but the thought of facing my closet, all the new clothes I had purchased in consideration to a growing belly this summer, seemed like cruel and unusual punishment.  I took a deep breath as a wave of agony washed over me.  As hard as it was to see, I was grateful that I had things to hide my belly that was still plump although vacant.  I couldn’t face myself in the mirror as I slipped on a sun dress.

During the time my girls were gone, I was able to just be for a minute.  The first minute I had had to myself all week.  I was able to sit and truly count my blessings.  If I had gained anything from this experience, it was perspective.  I felt so grateful for the things I had.  So thankful for my sweet family and friends who were loving me well.  My life felt surreal at the moment.  Although my head was a mess of emotions, my life seemed crystal clear.  I felt more connected to God than I had ever felt in my life.  That night, another delicious meal was delivered to our door step.  Friends had stopped by, family had called.  It seemed I was on everyone’s mind and I was wrapped up in the comfort of love and support.  How blessed my little family was.

On this day, although my heart was aching, I was feeling peace.  The Lord was with me in this from the very beginning.  Before I even became pregnant, I was given an impression that I would experience this loss.  The impression was not alarming, but strong.  It left me almost as soon as it came.  When I found out I was pregnant, I thought back to that impression.  I brushed it off, telling myself I was just worrying.  I’m a worrier by nature and it was easy to blame myself for these thoughts.  At 8 weeks along, I told Brady I was having a hard time connecting to this baby.  With my other two, I had felt an immediate connection to their little spirits.  I felt connected to them through my whole pregnancy and at both of my deliveries, I knew exactly who they were as they reached my arms.  This time was different though.  I didn’t feel the same.  I sensed something missing.  I loved this tiny little being growing inside of me and wanted it desperately, but I somehow knew it wasn’t there.  I looked for all the positive signs in my pregnancy.  I had been horribly ill through the weeks, more sick than I remembered being with even my first pregnancy that was especially nauseating.  I had nearly every symptom a pregnant woman could have in her first trimester and found comfort in all of these wonderful signs.  The closer I got to my 2nd trimester, the more I was able to sigh relief.  For the last few months, I had been living in fear of this exact moment. And then it came.

I would have thought all of this would have helped prepare me for the pain, but it didn’t.  Where fear once resided, pain from loss filled its place and expanded into the depths of my soul.  But I felt peace now knowing it was over.  I felt peace knowing this is something I had been called to do.  I felt peace knowing who was in charge of my life and for the first time, I was trusting Him fully because I had to, not only because I wanted to.  I gained faith in knowing I could do hard things.  That God would prepare me and take care of me through my trials.  My love for Him grew immensely in these last few days.  I could feel my soul being moved and shaped into the person I needed to be, and even though it hurt, I knew it was all part of the plan.

 

This week has been the very hardest of my life.  I would have never thought having a miscarriage would hurt so much.  I am anxious for the pain to fade and the perspective to grow, and I know it has already started to.  I am taking things a day at a time and letting my body truly feel what it needs to feel.  Miscarriage is incredibly common, but when it happens to you it feels truly unfathomable.  Even still, I can’t help but have a new appreciation for my body that knows exactly what to do in these cases.  Pregnancy is such a miracle and I am so grateful to have the ability to experience it, even when it didn’t end up the way I wanted.  I am so incredibly thankful to be a woman and a mother and to have these wonderful and sacred callings in this life.  Each one of my pregnancies has changed me for the better and this one has been no different.  I carry the scars of womanhood and I am proud to do it.

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love and loss | part two

I woke up the next morning, just over an hour after I had fallen asleep.  Just as they had been waiting for my eyes to open, the tears started to pool over my eyelids.

Today was the day I was going to have to face it all.  I was going to see what I never wanted to see.  I was going to hear words I didn’t want to hear.  I was going to have to deliver news I didn’t want to deliver.

Brady came in to kiss me good morning and I tried – hard – to swallow the lump in my throat.  I didn’t want him to worry and I knew he had to go to work since he had taken time off for my trip.  “Call me when you talk to the doctor,” he whispered to me and I could only nod as the tears began to fall again.  “Are you going to be okay?  I can stay…” he worriedly implied, but I quickly assured him I would be fine.

As soon as he was gone, I took a deep breath and got myself out of bed.  I threw on the first maxi skirt and shirt I could find.  I caught a glimpse of my sweet belly in the mirror.  I realized this was the last time I’d remember it like this and I would have done anything to pause that moment to savor it.  The morning light was beautiful through my bathroom window and wrapped my pregnant body into a beautiful glow as if it was hugging me in all it’s glory.

I pulled myself together to call the doctors office.  I tried my very hardest to keep my emotions under control as I talked to the receptionist who was impossibly kind.  She told me I could come in whenever it was convenient for me and they would get me taken care of.  I wanted to come in as soon as I could.  I called my friend Abbi to see if she could come to my house, with her two kids, right now.  God bless her soul, she said yes.

Before Abbi arrived, my sweet little Stella woke up.  She requested her regular “powage” for the day and I swore to myself I would give that child the moon if she had asked for it that morning.  Tears escaped me as I readied her breakfast, quickly wiping them away so I wouldn’t worry her.  “Are you crying mom, or no?” she asked, “Oh, I’m okay, baby.” I said with the most earnest smile I could manage.  She looked at me square in the eye and half smiled like she knew exactly what was on my mind.  I set her breakfast in front of her and took in as much of her morning scent as I could as my tears dampened the top of her golden, glistening hair.

As soon as my friend arrived – pajamas and all – I kissed my babies, took a deep breath, and headed out the door.

When I got to the doctors office, Brady was just pulling in.  As promised, they got me back as soon as I had signed in.  I wanted to wait in that waiting room just a little bit longer.  A place I remembered well from my pregnancy with Stella when life was so peaceful and happy and my appointments were made thrilling by the sounds of her sweet little heart beat.  It wasn’t the same this time though.  Before I knew it I was sitting back in the ultrasound chair – a place I had sat in before under much better circumstances.  I longed for better news, but before the nerves could build up inside me, that same peaceful calm washed over my body again.  The ultrasound technician wasted no time getting to business.  I wanted to say, “Wait!  No! I’m not ready.  I’m not ready to hear what you’re going to say!” but before I could muster the words, there I saw a black spot in the middle of the screen.  A vacant and gaping hole that appeared to be inside of my uterus and I felt the words, this isn’t the time.  She quickly brought me to reality by saying, “I’m not seeing anything, Cassidy.  There’s a pregnancy sack and a placenta here, but no baby.”  I knew about these types of pregnancies and asked her what it was called.  “Blighted Ovum,” she answered.  “Everything else looks like it’s measuring exactly to the day, though.”

At this time, I could feel nothing but pride.  So proud of my body that had done such a wonderful job to prepare a new life.  My body was so good at getting and being pregnant that it was patiently waiting, continuing to build a safe home around a baby that didn’t make it to the final stages of development.  If we were separate beings, I would have wrapped my arms around my body and held her to ease her broken heart.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever felt more proud to be a woman than I did in this very moment.

I tried so hard to keep it in, but I couldn’t hold back the sobs eagerly trying to escape me.  “Thank you so much, Bobbi” I muttered.  I wanted to explain to her the appreciation I had for her being the one to break the news to me, but the lump in my throat was cutting off my air ways.  She sweetly ushered us into another room to wait for the doctor.

Brady, I’m sure at a complete loss, tried to find words to ease my hurting.  I couldn’t talk though, I just needed to be still for a moment and let my body feel what it needed to feel.  Unguarded, for just a few minutes.  I grabbed my phone.  I couldn’t say the words, but I needed to get them out somehow.  I text Haley, “I’m having a miscarriage.  Please pray for me!”  Dr. Chalmers came in to explain to us what was happening next.  He explained that this type of miscarriage happens when the baby starts to develop and recognizes it has an incorrect number of chromosomes.  In this case, it will dissolve rather than develop.  The rest of the pregnancy will continue to develop until it recognizes something is wrong and start to slough off.  This usually will happen in the 6-8 week range of pregnancy, but here I was at 12 weeks.  That thought for some reason made me want to smile.  My uterus is as stubborn as I am, determined to fight for what it wants.

Upon leaving the doctor, I hugged Brady near my car in the parking lot.  My heart was broken.  I sent him off to finish his day and promised I would call if I needed him back home.  I got in the car and made a few painful phone calls to family and friends who were eagerly hoping for better news.

I got home to two happy girls, excited to have such an early morning play date.  “you’re back!” Stella squealed, “where did you go, mom?” Harlo asked.  “Just to the doctor, baby.”  “Did you get a sucker and a sticker?” they both wanted to know.  “Not today, love.”  “Ohh… Maybe next time,” Harlo said, trying to make me feel better about the disappointment.  She’s such a sweet soul.  Maybe next time, I repeated her words in my head.

I have no idea how I got through the rest of the morning, I was completely exhausted both physically and emotionally.  The distraction of motherhood was actually a welcome relief.  Brady picked me up for lunch and took me to get a smoothie.  I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful day it was and how much I would have enjoyed this middle-of-the-day treat if the circumstances were different.

When we got home, I laid Stella down for a nap.  Harlo asked if she could watch a movie with me on my bed, which she almost never asks to do anymore.  She barely finished her question before I was answering, “yes!”  With her snuggled in by my side, I was able to drift to a peaceful sleep and didn’t wake up until I heard Stella’s door open a few hours later.  Harlo had kept herself busy after the movie was over, coloring at the foot of my bed.  I woke up to loving text messages and voice mails from sweet friends and that helped ease the load I was carrying.

I was cared for greatly on this day.  My two precious girls played and kept each other busy without so much as a scuffle between them, instinctively knowing something was up.  My love was at my side whenever he could be, offering me anything he knew I loved.  Reminding me he was here, right along side me.  My mom stopped by to let me just be for a bit.  Willing to listen to the unloading my brain had to do.  Delicious dinner was delivered by a sweet family friend.  I had never felt more hurt in my life, I was certain.  But I had also never felt more loved and supported, either.  I knew God was taking care of me, taking care of my heart.  He knew exactly what I would need to heal my sad spirits and He was giving graciously as He was with me in my suffering.

One question, along with many others, that I kept coming back to was, why now?  Why couldn’t I have lost it earlier.  Why did I have to spend all this time sick and tired for… nothing.  It just didn’t seem fair.  God was taking my questions one at a time and revealing answers to me in His time.  Brady asked me if I wanted to run and get a drink with him and my mom agreed to stay at home with the girls for a bit.  We walked outside just as the sun was setting.  The air felt warm and smelled like fresh spring.  Just then, the sprinklers turned on.  I walked to the edge of the grass and felt the mist of the water tickle my toes.  The smell of the wet cement took me to a happy place.  This is why it happened now.  You needed this to get through your suffering.  And I did.  In my soul that felt so dark and dreary, the warm spring air was breathing me new life.

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love and loss | part one

This is the week I have been painstakingly waiting for, to tell you that we were expecting a sweet little addition to our family.  Instead, it’s the week I’m telling you about how my heart was broken when we lost our baby.  I have so many thoughts on so many levels about this whole process and I need to get them out somewhere.  I am so completely vulnerable and naturally want to keep myself guarded, but I feel the urge to write.  And like most hard things I’ve written here on this blog, it’s helped heal my heart in ways I would never have known.  So here’s my story….

I went to Vegas for WPPI at 12 weeks along.  Just starting to feel a bit better after 8 long weeks of brutal morning sickness.  My belly was getting more difficult to hide by the week, and since I was so close to the end of the 1st trimester, I had stopped covering it so much and even dared tell a table of colleagues and friends as we were out to dinner.  For weeks I had been so excited about this news and I couldn’t keep the secret in any longer.  I was staying with a dear friend of mine who was also pregnant, just entering into her 3rd trimester, so naturally, we got along fabulously eating all the goodness Las Vegas had to offer.

On our last day of WPPI, just after our morning class, I started spotting.  I text my midwife who immediately text me back assuring me that it was probably nothing, but to let her know if anything changes or the bleeding picked up.  My sweet friend assured me that we could leave, but I thought I would be okay since we only had lunch and another class before we were planning on heading home.  I didn’t want her trip to get cut short only to find out it was nothing.

By lunch time, I was bleeding.

I walked out with a pit in my stomach to my dear friend and asked her if we could head home early.  I wasn’t feeling super panicked yet, but I suddenly got immensely homesick.  Cher asked me if I was okay and I quickly replied I was fine.  I didn’t realize how I felt until I called Brady and a lump formed in my throat and I didn’t know what I was going to say when he picked up.  I made it through our call and stayed relatively calm the whole way home.

As soon as we got there, I headed to my midwife’s house.  We hadn’t heard the heartbeat at 10 weeks but weren’t too concerned considering it’s only a 50/50 chance at that week and since I had been sick, we knew my hormone levels were raising.  I laid down to let her hear around in my growing belly.  I can’t explain what happened in that room, but I felt an immense peace wash over me.  I couldn’t hear anything, not a heart beat, not a word, not a breath.  I felt almost like I left my body for a moment and my head was completely calm and clear.  I asked Brady to take the girls out when we were through, they didn’t know what was going on but they were getting a little rambunctious and I needed peace as I listened to the words my sweet midwife was about to say.  As soon as they left, she began to prepare me for the “chance” that this was a miscarriage.  I still felt completely calm.. eerily calm, as we finished our talk.  The only words I could think to mutter to her were, “I feel like I knew this was coming.” and she just sweetly nodded back at me.

On the quiet car ride to my mom’s house for dinner, my brain felt completely and utterly scrambled.  I was trying to make sense of the last several hours but as hard as I tried, my brain could not wrap around the reality of what was happening.  Janae had left us with a, “It could be random spotting and that your baby is just really well hidden…” but I just knew.  I can’t explain it.. I just knew. 

We got to my moms and she could immediately tell something was wrong.  I felt exhausted.  As I opened my mouth to explain, the hot tears cut me off dead in my tracks.  Again I felt home sick.  I wanted to get out of there, I wanted to go into my own bed, I wanted to be able to comprehend what I was going through but I still just couldn’t.  I made it through dinner okay, telling everyone it could be this or it could be that.  I tried to be strong so I wouldn’t upset my girls or my step dad who kept looking at me with concern all over his face.  I felt numb to the world.

I text messaged Haley, the one person I knew I could be completely honest with, “couldn’t get a heartbeat.  we wont know until tomorrow’s u/s but it could be the start of a miscarriage.”

I went to lay by my husband on the couch, not even knowing how my feet were holding me up at this point.  As soon as I reached him, I could no longer hold in my sobs.

I asked for a blessing and he and my step dad gladly obliged.  I couldn’t stop crying, I kept trying but I could not stop.  So unlike me.

During my blessing, my knowing heart was reassured.  I felt the love of my Heavenly Father and I felt that he was with me in my suffering, that he would continue to stand by me, but no matter how much I wanted it, I was not having this baby.  I was given a feeling of peace and that got me through getting back home and getting the girls to bed.

I fell asleep snuggled up close to my little Stella.  An hour later, Brady came to get me so I could sleep in our bed.  I woke up hoping I had dreamed it all, but all too soon I realized it wasn’t a dream.  I went into the bathroom and there was more blood.  Like a knife to my heart.

I curled up in bed next to my husband and he asked me if I was okay.  I nodded, but I had no energy to even think about the question, much less answer it.  He grabbed my hand and said, “I’m here.  I’m right here with you.” and at this moment, I was so grateful I married Brady Leon Miller.  I was so grateful he was the one laying with me in this bed tonight.  I was so grateful that if I had to be with only one person in this time, it was him.

I rolled over and hoped sleep would resume.  This is always the time of night that I silently pray, that I unload.  But tonight, it just seemed too painful.  Like trying to hold it together, and then you hear your mom’s voice.  I just felt like I couldn’t pray tonight.  “I don’t even want to talk to you,” I thought.  But I knew that being angry with the Lord was a place I did not want to be.  I knew that He was the only one who could help me.  I began to pray, and I am truthful when I tell you I had never felt more pain in my life than I did right at that very minute.  I told Him I knew I wasn’t getting this baby, but I wanted it so much.  I told Him I trusted Him, but it was hurting me and I didn’t know how I could possibly endure this pain.  I began to weep like I’ve never wept.  Brady put his arm around me and I cried, and cried, and cried.  I cried into the morning hours, drifting off to unconsciousness for only a minute or two before the pain of my broken heart awoke me again and I cried some more.  I just didn’t want to do it.  All night, I kept repeating to myself, I just don’t want to do this.  I don’t want to do this.  I knew I had to call the doctor in the morning and face it all, and for the life of me, I just didn’t want to. 

At some point in the morning, as the sun started to light up my bedroom window, sleep found me.

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