Merry Christmas Eve Friends! I can’t believe it’s already the 24th of December. This month is flying by! Every Christmas my husband Charlie and I share a little Christmas tradition.
Have any of you ever seen the classic movie A Christmas Story? In my family, I was raised watching this movie every Christmas. It is an old and corky classic, that you can’t help but love. There are many scenes in this movie you might be familiar with, even if you haven’t watched the movie from beginning to end. For instance the dad cusses like a sailor, and the furnace is always malfunctioning. Or the youngest son in the movie gets wrapped in too many layers of snow gear by his mom, and is temporarily stuck in a T shaped position until he makes it to school. Or how about how the oldest son Ralphy is given a bright pink bunny suit from an auntie for Christmas… and later gets a BB gun and gets struck by an icicle. There are a lot of great scenes from this Christmas classic, and I don’t want to spoil it if you haven’t seen it. But my favorite part of the movie is when the neighbor’s Rottweilers stampede through the family kitchen and destroy Christmas dinner. It’s sad for only a moment, until the family decides to go out for Chinese food for Christmas dinner instead.
That is where our tradition got started. A few years ago, my parents and I would get Chinese food for Christmas dinner. When I married my husband in 2016, we continued the tradition. Sometimes we get Chinese food on Christmas Eve and sometimes on Christmas Day. It all really depends on when the Chinese restaurants close and how things play out each year. This year I have a feeling we will be enjoying our Chinese food tonight, and enjoy any leftovers on Christmas Day.
What are your Christmas traditions?
Merry Christmas Friends! I wish you all a safe and happy holiday
To be honest, I’m not feeling very festive this Christmas. This past year has been a tidal wave of grief that I didn’t plan for, nor did I appreciate. On top of grief I’ve had other struggles including anxiety, depression, weight gain, self doubt and distress. Some might say this past year has made me stronger, and in many ways I believe that. But in this moment, this past year has only made me hate life.
When you’ve faced trauma, something changes in you. You see things differently, and you know things can get worse because you’ve lived it. When you’ve faced repeated trauma, not only are you traumatized, but also on edge. You’re just waiting for something bad to happen, or something else to go wrong. It’s exhausting, but if you’ve already been blindsided by trauma before, it’s almost an illogical effort to worry and fret for the bad things, in hopes that you will be somewhat prepared if they happen. I have lived this way almost every day this past year, and it’s really not anyway to live.
This Christmas was supposed to be different.
I have thought about Mackenzie everyday since she’s been gone. Losing her, has changed my life forever. She made me a mom. Even more, she made me an Angel mommy. This year I envisioned caring for an infant at Christmas time. Charles and I would head over to my parents on Christmas morning. She would be spoiled by her Grandma, and cooing at the cats and her Grandpa. She would be wearing the cutest Christmas jammies, and be smiling from ear to ear. Everything was going to be perfect as I celebrated my first Christmas as a mom.
Instead this year, I am celebrating Christmas as an Angel mommy. My baby Mackenzie will not be in her Christmas jammies, and my baby Chase will not be warm in my tummy. Instead I will be here loving and missing my babies, while Mackenzie and Chase will be in Heaven celebrating at Jesus’s grand birthday party. They will be having more fun than I can even fathom. As much as I want them here with me, I know they are safe and happy right where they are.
It won’t be easy… It won’t be easy this Christmas seeing friends and their baby’s first Christmas. But no one said this life will be easy. No one said we are all meant to take the same journey. And no said this world is prefect. So through my tears and heartache, I will get through this Christmas with my family, because my babies deserve to see me have joy my first Christmas as their mom. ❤️
This past semester, I took a public speaking class. I had quite a bit of apprehension before taking this class as I really don’t like speaking in public. In fact, I have registered for this class a handful of times before, but have always dropped it before the beginning of the semester. What can I say… I really didn’t want to take this class. However, since I am close to the end of my college career, I figured I better get it done, since it is a required course.
In this class, I had the opportunity to give a persuasive speech on a topic I am very passionate about. I took about a week to contemplate and brainstorm on my topic, until I was ready to present the speech topic to my professor. The topic I decided was miscarriage, but not just miscarriage. I wanted to give a persuasive speech and argue that their be a change in the way women are treated after suffering a miscarriage, in society and in the healthcare system.
I organized my speech into 3 main points:
1. Language, and what to say and not to say to a woman after suffering a miscarriage.
2. Policy changes that I would like to implement in the healthcare system.
3. Advocacy for women of loss.
The day of my speech I was very anxious. I was scared I would break down while speaking because this topic was too close to home. I was afraid I would trip over my words, forget something or go over my time limit. Ultimately, I was scared I wouldn’t be able to do it. Regardless, when it was my turn to get up and present my speech, I took a deep breath, prayed that God would help me through, and began.
“When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses his or her partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child… there isn’t a word to describe them.” – President Ronald Regan
The above quote by Ronald Reagan was my attention getter for my speech. I went on to argue my main points and why I feel there needs to be a change. I ended my speech by saying: It is likely you will know someone in your life who has suffered a miscarriage, and coming from someone who has suffered two miscarriages, my hope is that you take something from this speech and change the way we look at miscarriage.
At the end of my speech, my classmates applauded and asked me various questions about miscarriages, pregnancy and resources. When class was over and I was walking out, a girl in my class came up to me. She told me she loved my speech, and really appreciated the things I had to say about miscarriage and some good things to tell women who have suffered a loss. She even disclosed to me that she too had suffered a miscarriage, and it was the worst most terrifying experience of her life. As she confided in me, in the middle of the hallway, I so badly wanted to give her a hug, as I too knew her pain. But when I looked in her face, I could tell she was fighting back tears, and it took a lot for her to come and talk to me. So, instead I said “thank you for sharing that with me.” She smiled while still holding back tears and went the other direction.
In that moment, I knew I was meant to give that speech, and I again understood that I am meant to share my story and advocate for miscarriage/pregnancy loss. Even though it’s hard, and even though I didn’t really think this was my purpose, I now know I have to do it. Even if as an advocate, author or speaker I only impact one person… I know I will have made a difference.
Why is it that when a couple loses a baby, society is more concerned of how the mother is doing more than the father? Why is it our society perceives a mother’s grief to be more substantial than a father’s? Why is it implied that father’s don’t grieve too? I believe it all boils down to stereotypes and the old thinking of men have to be strong and hold in their emotions. While women are delicate and emotional. Well, I have news for you. Sure these stereotypes do have some truth, but it’s not right to assume all men and women fall into these cookie cutter images. The reality is men can be strong but so can women. Women can be emotional and so can men. Women aren’t the only ones who grieve for the loss of a loved one.
Mother’s certainly grieve for their babies who are gone too soon… but father’s grieve too.
After I experienced my first loss, I didn’t realize how my husband grieves. I didn’t doubt that he too was hurting and grieving over the loss of our baby, but I didn’t understand how he grieved. For the most part, Charles grieved in silence. I liked talking about our baby after both our first and second loss. Charles however, didn’t like to talk about it. Charles was more than willing to listen to my thoughts, but wasn’t too willing to share his own. This often turned into a lot of spats because I didn’t understand his grief and he didn’t understand mine. Eventually, we were able to come to a understanding.
With time, Charles would open up about his grief and sorrow he was feeling. For instance, when we would go to a store and see cute children’s clothing on the racks, he would make comments about how he wishes we could have kids who could wear cute outfits like that. Or when we would see children at a playground or park, he would mention how seeing those kids makes him sad and miss our kids sometimes.
After awhile, I had come to realize why Charles grieves the way he does. Since our losses were so hard on me emotionally and physically, he didn’t feel right falling apart while I was already a mess. He felt he needed to be the strong one, and help me through. Then, once I was feeling more stable, he was more willing to open up about his emotions and grief.
If you too have a boyfriend, partner or husband that doesn’t outwardly show his grief… you are not alone.
It can be challenging as we all grief differently. My advice to you would be communicate with one another and allow each other to grieve in your own time. My mistake, and often the reason for many of our spats was that I would push my husband to grieve… and that wasn’t right. With time, patience and communication…. grief starts to become more manageable… and something to experience together rather than apart.
Every year I look forward to watching classic Christmas movies. Whether it’s an adorable Hallmark movie or classic Disney, I am all for it. Some of my favorite Christmas movies of all time are It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, The Santa Clause 1, 2, and 3; as well as Home Alone 1 & 2, and Christmas Vacation.
2. Let It Snow!
As a child, I always looked forward to snow. I would start praying for snow as early as September some years. I can recall many times going to bed with no snow on the ground, and waking up like I lived in a snow globe. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to not like the snow quite so much. It can be very beautiful, but absolutely stressful when you have to walk to class in a foot of snow. Regardless, I still love snow and appreciate a white Christmas every year.
3. Cookies, Cakes, Brownies and Breads
There’s just something about baking warm, delicious goodies when it’s snowing and cold outside, that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. I love baking cookies, cakes, brownies and breads and making my home smell so good.
4. The Peanuts & Charlie Brown
The Peanuts & Charlie Brown is absolutely a classic. Every year my house is decked out in The Peanuts memorabilia. I have ornaments, a rug, lights, and other Christmas décor all themed Peanuts.
5. Christmas Music
By November 1st, I am ready for Christmas music. I love when my local radio station starts playing Christmas music. Some of my favorite Christmas songs include: Do You Hear What I Hear? It’s Beginning to Look A lot Like Christmas, Christmas Song, Silent Night and All I Want for Christmas is You.
6. Time with Friends & Family
Time with friends and family is so precious. We never know how long we have with one another. It’s sad how it sometimes takes a holiday to catch up with these family members and friends, but never the less I am thankful for these times.
7. Giving Gifts
Giving gifts is one of my favorite things. If I had all the money in the world, I would honestly spend a majority of it buy things for other people.
8. Christmas Cards
Christmas cards are something I have started to cherish within the last several years. I feel like snail mail is practically extinct and we don’t write letters and cards to people as much as we used to. I really appreciate Christmas cards from others, and I love sending out my own Christmas cards.
9. Comfy, Cozy Layers
Comfy and cozy clothes are my jam. A day I can wear a pair of leggings and a sweat shirt is a good day. I also love being able to bundle up in sweaters, throw on some leg warmers, and even top off my outfit with a cute little beanie.
10. Remembering and Honoring the Birth of Jesus
Lastly, I love remembering what Christmas is truly all about, the birth of our savior Jesus! Jesus is the reason for the season. I am so thankful Jesus was born and we take the time every year to celebrate his birth.
Hour glass figure, hips, tiny waist, big boobs, clear skin, luscious hair, big eyes, big butt, long legs, small feet, no stretch marks, straight teeth, and perfection. If you are a woman, odds are you have grown up hearing these unrealistic expectations, These expectations and many more, are what our society deems as perfect, beautiful and sexy.
Growing up, I was never completely confident in my body image. I struggled with acne, I was short, blessed up top and down low. I had to have braces, wear glasses and struggle to figure out how to make myself look presentable. I had to overcome the awkwardness of being a teenage, and transition into young adulthood
Before I got pregnant the first time, I struggled with stretch marks, not really on my stomach, but in other areas of my body.
In my first few weeks of pregnancy, I started to develop stretch marks on my stomach and around my belly button. After I suffered my first pregnancy loss, I felt completely horrified by the shell that once held my baby. I had gained weight, developed stretch marks, and had suffered postpartum hair loss as my hormones began to drop. I felt like a teenager all over again, as I struggled to look at myself in the mirror. I know body image can be a struggle for many women postpartum after birth, but nobody really talks about how it is a struggle for women postpartum a miscarriage.
Last summer I took the imitative in getting back to a healthier me. I focused on my physical and mental health, as well as dedicated any spare time I had to selfcare. I started intermittent fasting, going to the gym a few times a week with my bestie, and started eating healthier. These little changes in my lifestyle helped me start to feel better. At the end of summer I went to a doctor appointment, and I was so disappointed to find out that despite my dedication to these lifestyle changes, I wasn’t losing any weight. I had gained 3 lbs. instead.
For a few more weeks I continued this lifestyle, even though I felt highly discouraged. I tried researching, online reasons why it may be challenging for someone to lose weight and become healthier after a miscarriage. To my surprise, I couldn’t find anything. I continued to feel discouraged, and not interested in even trying to be healthy any more. I figured, what was the point? I started to have the mentality of, my body is ruined, and I don’t even have a healthy baby to show for it.
When I was about ready to give up, a conversation with a dietitian encouraged me more than any conversation I had with anyone else. I went to a WIC appointment after my second loss. She asked me questions about my diet, physical activity and mental health. I explained to her that I try to eat right, do intermittent fasting, excericise, struggle with hypothyroidism, and still have yet to see any results after both my pregnancies. The dietician listened and was very understanding. She disclosed to me that she too has hypothyroidism, she has had a miscarriage and a healthy pregnancy and also struggles with anxiety. She explained to me that unfortunately it can be very challenging after a pregnancy whether you give birth or suffer a pregnancy loss to lose weight. It is often hard for women physically because of the hormones that linger after pregnancy. It can also be challenging to lose weight in general if someone struggles with anxiety, depression or grief because our bodies like to hold on to the extra fat, almost as a protection. She encouraged me not to give up and that it can definetly take a while, especially if I am struggling with all these things. She also suggested eliminating late night snacking, drinking more water, and getting plenty of rest.
I’ve learned a lot about body image since my first pregnancy. For one, pregnancy affects a lot of things in a woman’s body. Anything from a woman’s mood to her thyroid, weight and blood pressure can be very affected. I’ve also learned that weight gain isn’t always your fault. Sometimes as much as you try to lose weight, there can be certain factors that affect how fast you lose weight. Learning this eased my anxiety and discouragement. For weeks, I was beating myself up about my weight, when in reality I was truly doing all I could do. So if you are a woman and you too are struggling with postpartum body image, please show yourself some grace. It’s hard losing weight, but it can be extremely hard when you have other physical and mental struggles going on.
So, don’t give up. Even if you’re not seeing results, and even if the scale is being discouraging, if you are intentionally trying to be healthier, and putting your health first… you are making a difference.
On Tuesday October 15th, it was an eventful day. This day was the beginning of my university’s fall break. It was also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. This day impacted me more than I anticipated. I started my Tuesday like any other. Charles and I went to our 9:30am class, then I attended my 11am class. I didn’t see Charles after that because he had to leave and head to our state capital for an internship interview.
In the afternoon after my classes, I headed home to take a nap. Charles called me after his interview and told me he made it into the internship. I was super excited for him. Shortly after that I fell asleep. When I woke up I checked my phone and noticed I had ten missed calls from Charles. I was super concerned, because there is no way Charles would call me that many times unless something was wrong. I was in process of calling him back when he called me first. I answered the phone and he explained to me that he had been in a car accident. I was instantly stressed, but tried to stay calm for him.
Thankfully he was okay, and our car was beat up but still drivable.
In the evening I met up with Charles at my parents house. My dad was able to check out our car, and my mom fed us dinner. It was an unexpected family evening, but I definitely needed it. At 7pm, we also took a moment to honor Chase and Mackenzie on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. My family and I lit 3 candles. 1 candle was for Chase. 1 candle was for Mackenzie, and 1 candle was for my brother Matthew. Even though the day didn’t go as planned, and it was some what unexpectedly emotional, I was certainly thankful to be able to spend it with family.
The day I lost Mackenzie, I immediately felt grief, heartache and denial. The day I lost Chase, I only felt sadness and denial. Having a natural miscarriage was a lot different than having a D & C. With a D & C you don’t see anything. You are sleeping and not traumatized by what you see. Where as with a natural miscarriage, I saw everything, and I continue to see it in my sleep through nightmares.
At some point shortly after my second loss, I started to have nightmares. I had nightmares I was bleeding heavily and couldn’t stop, then I would wake up. I continue to have these nightmares, that keep reminding me of my natural miscarriage. I also had flashbacks. I had flashbacks of the hospital, flashbacks of ultrasounds, and the night I was experiencing labor pains. These symptoms sounded to me a lot like PTSD, but I’m not a doctor. I ended up asking a counselor at some point and she said based on my symptoms and what I have gone through, it is likely I have PTSD.
I really don’t cry about the babies I’ve lost, not anymore.
I don’t feel like people understand why I cry. I’ve also expressed to Charles that I don’t want to talk about future children. I can’t even fathom that right now. I am more that willing to talk about our angel babies, but not future kids.
When did the grief really hit me? Well, it hits me when bad stuff happens. This year has been awful. If I were to name off all the crap that has happen, I’m sure you guys would agree. But when life gets really tough and I start to cry, I think I end up crying more for my babies than what I’m actually upset about. Because like I said before, I really don’t want to cry… but I need to.
On Wednesday October 2nd, I was scheduled to have my 8 week ultrasound. However, since I suffered a miscarriage over the weekend, I had a follow up with a midwife instead. Before going into the appointment, I had some nerves. Unlike last time, I didn’t want to talk about my loss. I didn’t have questions, and I just didn’t want to think about it. I also wasn’t in the best of moods. I had an awful headache, and I couldn’t tell if it was related to grief or dehydration, and I was still bleeding, which was like having my period. I just didn’t feel good.
Before heading to the appointment, I contacted the Community Health Worker. I told her what had happen over the weekend and asked if she could sit with me during the appointment since my husband wasn’t able to come. She was more than willing to help me, and I met her at the front desk of the OB office. The Community Health Worker escorted me out to the hallway with a pager in hand. She told me we could sit in the hallway instead of in the waiting room, and the nurse would page us when they were ready. I felt some relief knowing we didn’t have to sit in the waiting room. The Community Health Worker also shared with me that she spoke with my midwife and expressed that she needed to be gentle with me as I am grieving and have suffered a second loss.
Even though I was anxious for this appointment, I felt so much better knowing there was someone in healthcare on my side and willing to advocate for me.
During the appointment I was given a pelvic exam and asked questions about my natural miscarriage and symptoms I was experiencing. The midwife took a look at my latest labs and confirmed that I became anemic, which is why I was suffering a headache. She then advised me to take iron tablets for the next month. My pelvic exam was uncomfortable but normal. My cervix was closed and my HCG levels were dropping at a normal rate. At the end I was provided resources on pregnancy loss, and thanked the Community Health Worker for all of her help. Charles met up with me at the end, and we headed home. After suffering a miscarriage, it’s never easy to go back to the OB office, but I must say…. it makes a difference when you have people on your side willing to advocate for your mental and physical heath.
In the days after my miscarriage, I went on with life. I went to class Tuesday morning and took an exam. I went to work as per usual, and I did my homework that was due that week. I just wanted to move forward. I didn’t want to sit in sorrow or fall into depression. I wanted to keep going because I had already done so much work to get to this happy, healthy place after my first loss.
On Monday morning, the first full day I was no longer pregnant, I knew it was time…
The following post is my story of how I experienced my second miscarriage. In this post I show vulnerability in retelling my second loss. I also share details in my miscarriage, so I do want to offer a TRIGGER WARNING before anyone begins reading my post. Please feel free to stop reading, and take care of you if my words, and my story are challenging to read.
At 12am on Sunday September 29th, I was startled awake. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong. I had just gotten home from the ER a few hours prior. I was advised by my doctors and nurses to get some rest. I had only been asleep for a few hours when I woke up at midnight. I was confused. My heart was racing. I was sweating and I felt really uncomfortable. It’s just anxiety. Calm down. Relax. Baby is okay. I tried talking myself down from my minor panic attack.
I nudged Charles awake. He held my hand and we both fell back asleep.
I woke up again around 2:15am. I woke up sweaty and gross and had to go to the bathroom. I was scared to see I was still spotting and it was getting worse. I was now seeing bright red blood instead of light pink. In wasn’t a lot of blood, but it was getting darker. I prayed, prayed, prayed then fell back asleep.
I woke up at 4am in pain. Cramps radiated from my groin throughout my back. I couldn’t get comfortable. I held my belly, then curled up in a ball. It wasn’t taking the pain away. I got out of bed and tried stretching my legs and my back. I was so confused. What was going on? Why was I in so much pain? After a few minutes of stretching the pain died down. I laid back down. Fifteen minutes later it happen again. Sheering pain was radiating through my core. I tried stretching, pacing and slowly breathing, at that moment it dawned on me. Oh my gosh… I know what this is. Cramps that are painful that radiate throughout my back. Uncomfortable positions. Pain every few minutes. This pain wasn’t just cramps, these were labor pains. I was in labor and I was going to lose this baby.
When this realization hit me, I wanted to throw up. Part of it was the pain, and part of it was my mind and emotions trying to catch up with what my body already knew. I had cramps every fifteen minutes, then every ten minutes, then every five. I paced through my apartment, tried laying in bed and tried sitting on the toilet. Nothing helped with the pain. Around 5:15am, I found myself laying on my bathroom floor sobbing.
I felt scared and alone. I considered waking up Charles, but Ididn’t. I didn’t want him to be scared.
At 5:36am I cried out to God. I pleaded with God to help me. I knew my baby was already gone, and my body had a job to do. I knew this was completely out of my control. I knew the end was coming, but I couldn’t bare to think about it. I asked God that if this was it, if I was truly going to lose my baby, then could He just please make it quick. Ten minutes later at 5:46am, I felt my baby leave my body. I felt blood pour out of me and I felt my heart shatter yet again as I said I’m so sorry to my baby, and left the bathroom.
I went into my room and woke up Charles. I sobbed and told him what happen. He was confused and saddened. He held me and we cried together. That was it, it was done. My second pregnancy and my Rainbow Baby Chase were gone.
The next morning we woke up and tried to wrap our minds around what had happen. I took it easy that day, since my body was truly drained. I reached out to family and friends and let them know what had happen. They sent their love and condolences. I couldn’t believe it. We lost another baby. Why? That afternoon, Alli and Andrea sent us some flowers that read: In Loving Memory of Baby Chase. Reading this made me cry, and after that I didn’t cry for awhile. I didn’t feel like I should.