Food Diary

I haven’t eaten meat in years. I couldn’t remember whether it was 2006 or 2007 when I went quasi-vegan, but luckily I have a blog to remember things for me. It was just after Thanksgiving, 2007. I had been toying with the idea for a while, but I didn’t know if I could really do it. I remember very clearly, though, taking a bite of turkey at Thanksgiving, putting my fork down, and thinking, “I’m out.” I just re-read my blog post about it, and in it, I said I didn’t know if it would last. The vegan part of it hasn’t lasted, but the vegetarian part has and will. I honestly don’t know what would happen to my stomach if I tried to eat meat now, but I don’t think it would be pretty.

People always want to know what I eat as a vegetarian, and it’s a fair question, though a bit silly in my opinion. I eat food, just not animals. If it never had a face or a heart, it’s fair game. That leaves:

  • fruit (anything but melons – I don’t like melons)
  • vegetables (except a few I don’t care for – cucumbers, eggplant, raw tomatoes, raw onions)
  • grains (bread, pasta, rice, cereal, couscous, quinoa, farro, bulgur – Yes, please.)
  • beans (Chili, anyone?)
  • nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.)
  • dairy (yogurt, cheese, butter, milk, ice cream)
  • ALL the herbs and spices

Y’all, that’s a LOT of things. With all of those as options, I can literally walk into 98% of restaurants and find something on the menu that I can eat (unless I’m in Gatlinburg, TN, but we won’t go into that right now). My only problem is that up until about a month ago, the majority of my diet consisted of things that my body turned into sugar – dairy and pasta. So much pasta. Delicious, delicious pasta. I was eating the amount of starch that I should have been eating protein and vice versa. A typical day would have looked like this:

  • Breakfast – Krave Double Chocolate cereal with unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • Snack – Fruit-on-the-bottom Greek yogurt
  • Lunch – Left-overs from the night before (generally some kind of grain and veggies, usually with beans, possibly with cheese or other dairy)
  • Dinner – We try a lot of new recipes, but most of them involve rice or pasta, beans, and veggies. We’ve also been known to order pizza or get Chinese take-out.
  • If I was still hungry after dinner, I might have eaten another bowl of cereal or some applesauce.

I know, it doesn’t seem THAT bad, does it? But what I’m learning is that not THAT bad is also not very good at all. And vegetarian or not, you can make good and bad food choices. Oreos are vegan. So are Twizzlers. And I have a whole book of vegan cupcake recipes, each more delicious than the next. That doesn’t make them good for you, especially when you make a whole batch and eat them all yourself.

So I’m trying something new. And I’m not doing it perfectly, but I’m working on it.

21-Day Fix Containers (not my ugly countertop)
21-Day Fix Containers (not my ugly countertop)

These are my food containers. They are color-coded so I know how much I should eat of what. Green is for veggies, purple is fruit, red is protein, yellow is starch, blue is good fats like nuts and avocado, and orange is not-so-good fats like salad dressing. When I got them, I thought, “Is this all I get to eat in a day?! No wonder it makes you lose weight!” But no. Every day, based on my weight, I get 5 green containers, 3 purple, 5 red, 4 yellow, 1 blue, and 1 orange. I’m supposed to eat all of them every day in 5 small meals, and there are days when I could eat that and WAY more, and there are days when I skip a container because I’m full. Like I said, not perfect, but I’m working on it.

This requires a LOT of planning, but that’s the hardest part. Once the planning is done, the eating is easy. I would say it’s even easier than trying to force yourself not to eat certain things by sheer willpower because you never have bad-for-you things in your plan. I make a chart of what I’m going to eat, and that’s what I eat. I’m never rooting around in the kitchen looking for something to eat. I’m never tempted to just swing through the Taco Bell drive-thru because I have food waiting for me at home, and usually it’s vegetables or fruits that will go bad if I don’t eat them, so I feel obligated to go home and eat them. Otherwise, I’ve wasted money on good food that went bad while spending even more money on bad food.

If you’re super-curious, here’s my first week on this plan (and for those who don’t know, Shakeology is a protein shake to which I add fruit and/or almond or rice milk):

21-Day Fix Week 1

I’ve color-coded it for my own benefit, so I could easily count how many of each container I had planned into each day. Again, not perfect, and some days got tweaked as I went, but not bad for my first go.

If anyone has tips, tricks or recommendations for how I can get more non-dairy protein in my life, I’m all ears. I’m eating a lot of plain Greek yogurt at this point, and I’d like to eventually cut back on that, but the struggle is real, especially if, like me, you can’t eat that much soy in a day (or any soy at all like some folks).

Healthy Start

I could go back as far as high school to start this story, but I won’t. I’ll just go back to when I was pregnant with a tee-tiny bit of back story. Like a lot of women, I have always struggled with my weight. Looking back at high school pictures, I can see now that I was reasonably thin, but I did not believe that at the time. After high school, things just got worse, and although I’ve tried now and then to lose weight, I just seem to keep putting it on. I didn’t even lose a pound when I was training for the half marathon I did in New Orleans.

When I was pregnant, the nurses at my OB/GYN practice liked to remind me that I was overweight. As if I hadn’t noticed that I was shopping at the plus-size store. And as if I wasn’t already self-conscious enough with my belly growing and people asking if I was sure I didn’t have two babies in there. Thanks, gals, for the ego boost.

But I wasn’t allowed to try to lose weight at that point.

Then we lost our sweet Ella, and through the kindness and generosity of SO many people, we ate a LOT of not-the-healthiest food in a very short period of time, and I put on another 8 pounds in just 6 weeks, which put me at the most I had ever weighed in my life, including the time I spent pregnant. This was getting serious. I knew that I needed to do something, and I knew I needed help and accountability to do it.

Well toward the end of August, I noticed that a friend from college was going to be leading a health and fitness challenge group for beginners on Facebook. I didn’t really consider myself a true beginner, but I knew I was REALLY out of shape, so I figured I would fit in just fine. We’ve been at it for almost three weeks now, and not only do I fit in just fine, it is HARD.

The exercise is hard, the eating plan is hard, and all of the feelings associated with it are hard. There’s the determination to succeed, the fear of failing, the desire to eat things I shouldn’t eat, the guilt of eating things I shouldn’t have eaten, the thought that I should just give up, and then back around to the determination to succeed. I’ve just come to think about food and exercise in a certain way, and changing my thought patterns is really difficult. But it IS time for me to make these changes, so I’m going to do it.

On a purely mental/emotional level, I need to do this now:

  1. because I need to succeed at something after losing my baby.
  2. because I need to feel like I’m in control of my body after the complete traumatic helplessness of PPROM.
  3. because I need to treat my body well after being so angry at it.
  4. because I still feel so sad so often, but endorphins make you feel so great.
  5. because I need to be proud of myself for something.
  6. because I need to keep myself busy until we are ready/allowed to try to get pregnant again.

So off I go on a frightening, exciting journey. If you can relate to any of this (with or without the pregnancy stuff), you are cordially invited to join me. I hope you will, and if you want, you can tell me that you’re with me, and we’ll keep each other going.

NaBloPoMo Table of Contents – October 2014

Well I’ve enjoyed blogging daily so much over the past month that I’m going to do it again! I don’t know what BlogHer’s official theme is for October, but I’ve chosen the theme of health. I’ll write more about why tomorrow, but I thought it was a nice follow-up to September’s theme of healing. Again, I’ll update this post daily with links to new posts, so if you stumble across this page any time after October 2014, you can access all of this month’s posts from here.

Wednesday, October 1
Why this topic now?

Thursday, October 2
Describe a day of your normal meals.

Friday, October 3
Recipe Friday! – Tortilla Soup

Monday, October 6
What scares you about healthy living?

Tuesday, October 7
Give 3 tips for healthier eating.

Wednesday, October 8
How do you deal with discouragement?

Thursday, October 9
How do an herbivore and an omnivore cook together?

Friday, October 10
Recipe Friday! – Easy Dijon Vinaigrette

Monday, October 13
Give 3 tips for improving your workouts.

Tuesday, October 14
How important is community when it comes to fitness?

Wednesday, October 15
What are your favorite and least favorite kinds of exercise?  Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Thursday, October 16
How does good nutrition relate to exercise?

Friday, October 17
Recipe Friday! – Spicy Greek Yogurt Cauliflower Recipe

Monday, October 20
Describe some creative ways to get active.

Tuesday, October 21
After I exercise, I feel…

Wednesday, October 22
How do physical health and emotional health interact?

Thursday, October 23
Make an exercise mix!

Friday, October 24
Recipe Friday! – Sautéed Chickpeas

Monday, October 27
How do you maintain self-discipline?

Tuesday, October 28
How do you overcome failures and set-backs?

Wednesday, October 29
What are some unexpected benefits of a healthy lifestyle?

Thursday, October 30
What are your health goals for November?

Friday, October 31
Recipe Friday! – Baked Apples

Self-Care

I have learned a lot of important things over the past few months. I’ve learned how badly people need each other, how we are meant to care for and be cared for by others. I’ve learned about grief, the process of grieving, the value of it, the necessity of it. I’ve learned that love is indeed as strong as death, and that both can fill your heart and break it at any moment. And I’ve learned that taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be selfish. We get the feeling that it is, but it isn’t. Taking care of yourself does not preclude you from taking care of others. In fact, if you don’t take care of yourself, how can you possibly take care of anyone else?

Will and I have always found that we take turns feeling good and bad, confident and scared, okay and not okay. We often feel good at the same time, but we seldom feel bad at the same time, and that works out nicely because when one of us feels bad, the other can be the caretaker. When one of us feels sick, the other can bring soup and juice. When one of us feels sad, the other can be there to offer comfort. And we’ve always given ourselves and each other permission to feel the bad things. It’s the only way to work through them. Even if I just feel cranky, I tell him, and he says, “I’m sorry you feel cranky. Is there anything I can do?” Sometimes there is. Sometimes I would feel a lot better if he took something off my plate or hugged me or talked it out with me. Sometimes there is nothing that he can do, but if I can rest and be alone for a while, that helps. Either way, he helps me take care of myself, and I try to do the same for him.

We’re doing a lot of self-care this week. We’ve taken a whole week off, and we’re in the mountains resting and celebrating our first/second anniversary. We’ve been married for a year, but we’ve been together for two. This week, here’s what self-care looks like for us:

  • sleeping in
  • sitting in our jacuzzi tub
  • reading
  • watching movies
  • enjoying nature
  • doing fun things
  • being active
  • cuddling
  • eating good food

Shoot, I may even get a pedicure. The resort where we’re staying gave us a coupon for $12 off any spa service, and with that, their pedicures are still overpriced, but we’ll see. That may be just the thing I need.

Anger Management

I wrote this post about two weeks after losing my baby girl, and about halfway through it, you can read all the things I was angry about at that time. If you don’t want to revisit the whole post, here’s the anger paragraph:

There just are no answers, and there might never be, which really pisses me off. What has medical science been doing for all these years that there are still no answers in one of the most devastating situations ever that SO many women go through? I’m also mad at my body for not doing its job. I’m mad at Facebook for showing me all of my pregnant friends’ happy pregnancy posts. I’m mad at the rest of the world for continuing to spin and function as usual when my world has completely crashed down around me. I’m mad at myself for getting so wrapped up in pregnancy that it became my whole world. I’m mad at the fact that women who don’t take care of themselves or their unborn babies have completely healthy pregnancies, that women who don’t want or love their babies still carry them to term, that we were supposed to be in the clear, having made it squarely into the 2nd trimester, and that we’d gotten so excited and told everybody the news just to have it completely shattered.

There are a lot of ways to deal with anger. I wouldn’t say that I did any of these things intentionally or even consciously, but they are what has happened in/to me regardless. I’m going to write this as sort of a how-to guide, but with the caveat that your process might look very different from mine, and that’s ok.

Give it time.

Honestly, I’m still angry about some of the things from that early post, although for the most part, as time has passed, my anger has been downgraded to frustration or converted to sadness. I’m extremely frustrated that there are no answers. In fact, at this point, my doctor has brand new questions instead of answers – questions that will require more tests that may only reveal more questions. It’s like my body has sent us all on a very sad, frustrating scavenger hunt.

Take control.

As for Facebook, well, I’ve just hidden the people I couldn’t bare to see for now. This is a trick I’ve learned within the past year with Facebook: It is precisely what you make it, so if you don’t want to be angry, unfriend or unfollow the people who make you angry. If someone always annoys you with their posts, you are under no obligation to look at their posts. Remove them from your news feed, and move on with your life. This is what I have done with a lot of pregnant friends. It’s not that I have anything against them personally. It’s just that I can’t handle their particular joy (or even struggles) at this particular moment. When I feel up to it, I’ll add them back into my news feed, but I think it will probably be next spring before I’m really ready for that. I have a couple of friends who are due right around my due date, and I know that when they start posting baby pictures and I don’t have a baby, that will be really hard for me, so I’ll just wait. I’m not mad about it, though, just sad.

Know your options.

I am still a little angry that there are women who abuse their bodies during pregnancy, potentially harming their unborn babies, but who still deliver healthy babies at full term; meanwhile, other women are desperate to conceive, go to great lengths to get pregnant, do everything right, and have one miscarriage after another. It just isn’t fair. Lots of things aren’t fair in the world, though, and I have to either learn to accept it or fight to do something about it. I don’t know which direction to go on this issue or how to go about it either way, but knowing my options helps a lot with my anger. If I know I need to do something, but I’m not doing it, then the only person I have to blame is myself. If I know there’s nothing to be done, then my anger turns more easily into sadness, which isn’t the most desirable emotion to have either, but it’s better than bitterness. Sadness softens the heart; bitterness hardens it.

Forgive yourself.

I’m not mad at myself anymore for getting excited about being pregnant or for getting wrapped up in the whole business. It was my first pregnancy, and I was both excited and terrified. I needed to do all the things I was doing in an attempt to wrap my brain around reality. There was nothing wrong with it, and it just shows how much I already loved my daughter. I’m also not sorry AT ALL that so many people knew we were pregnant and then knew that we’d lost her. Would I do it again if I had the choice? Absolutely not. Am I eternally grateful for the generous outpouring of love and support that happened as a result of a thousand people knowing about our loss? You have no idea.

Don’t be scared of it.

Anger is really hard for me because I’m not an angry person, and I don’t want to become one. I don’t want my heart to become bitter and hard. I don’t want people to walk away from encounters with me feeling stressed out, negative, or defensive. But experiencing anger and dealing with it is very different from holding onto anger and embodying it, and just because you feel angry, that doesn’t mean you are becoming an angry person. It means you are having an emotion – the right emotion for you to be having in that moment, most likely – and you can handle it. Acknowledge the anger, figure out where it’s coming from and where it’s directed, make sure it’s directed appropriately, and do something constructive with it (forgiving, taking control, working toward change, or accepting).

Laughter Therapy

My friend Derrick once told me that any bad situation can be improved with mint chocolate chip ice cream and The Three Amigos. I can attest to the truth of this, but there are some situations that are so bad, even Martin Short can only just barely make a dent. I don’t think laughter ever hurts, though, and maybe little by little, every smile and chuckle can add up to some amount of healing.

We watched a lot of comedies and action movies right after our miscarriage – comedies because we needed the laughter to offset all the crying we were doing naturally and not spiral into depression, and action movies to escape from real life for a couple of hours at a time and remember that there is good in the world fighting (and defeating) the bad. Both kinds of movies/shows were helpful, but laughter and escape are only small parts of the healing process.

Before I go any further, I want to say that I think escape can be a valid, healthy part of grief. Your brain and heart can only handle so much for so long. You need to step out of your real life sometimes just to give yourself a break from the crap you’re dealing with. Of course you can’t stay checked out forever, but in small doses, I think it’s helpful.

Now, back to what I was saying before. Laughter and escape are only small parts of the healing process. There’s also rest, uncontrollable crying, hugs/snuggling, food, action, intellectual processing, spiritual processing, emotional processing, research, receiving love/care, and so on. Laughter is a great medicine, but in times of deep loss and grief, I think you need a more comprehensive approach.

Ella’s Story

I’m sure that some of you are curious about what, exactly, happened in my pregnancy, but you’re not sure if you should ask. Thank you for respecting our privacy by not asking. I don’t mind you knowing, but it is a painful story to tell, so I’m going to do it once right here and now and be done with it.

It was a Saturday morning. We had just eaten a late breakfast and were getting ready to play a video game together. Will was excited because he loves video games, and this was the first time I was going to play with him. I got up to go to the bathroom before we started, and while I was on the toilet, my water broke. I guess I should be glad it happened on the toilet and not on the couch, but it’s impossible to be glad right now about anything that happened that day.

I freaked out, started shaking, and shouted for Will to help me. I couldn’t stop shaking. I told him to get me a pad even though I knew it wouldn’t do much good at all. I asked if he could drive to the hospital because I didn’t want to wait for an ambulance. He said he could do it, so he changed out of his pajamas and I grabbed a towel to sit on in the car. We called the doctor on the way and told him what had happened. He said to meet him at the women’s center at the hospital.

When I walked in, they got my information, and a nurse came out to meet me and take me to a room. She just kept saying, “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.” I had no idea what was happening, and I think she probably wasn’t allowed to make a diagnosis before the doctor had seen me, but she knew exactly what it was and where it was headed.

The doctor came in, and they brought an ultrasound machine so he could check on the baby. There was no fluid left, and he couldn’t find her heartbeat. He did a full exam and said he could already see pieces of the membrane breaking and coming out. There was nothing to be done at that point but get her out. Her lungs weren’t formed well enough to breathe, so she was completely dependent upon the amniotic fluid. When it was gone, so was she.

We sat around a lot, family came and went, the chaplain spoke to us, the nurses patted my arm, and eventually they gave me something to start labor. They told me it would feel like really strong menstrual cramps, but that it wouldn’t be so bad. They asked if I wanted morphine, and I did, so they set up a drip. It did not just feel like strong cramps. It was so bad. But my sweet husband did not leave my side. He sat right next to me and held my hand the whole time.

We knew we wanted to name our baby, so we quickly made some decisions on boy and girl names. It’s amazing how fast and easy it can be to come up with a name. We make such a big deal out of it, but it’s really quite simple. Ella Claire for a girl. It’s what I had always wanted to name a daughter if I ever had one. Ella for my maternal grandmother, who was named after her own maternal grandmother. Claire for my paternal grandmother (and also my middle name until I got married and changed it). We had just taken a silly internet quiz that morning to tell us what we were having, and it was right. We were expecting a girl.

Several hours later, the doctor came in and told me to push. That part didn’t hurt at all. In fact, all the physical pain stopped at that point. Even the next day, I felt like they expected me to be in a lot of pain, but I wasn’t. They gave me a prescription for heavy-duty ibuprofen, but we didn’t even fill it. I was fine. Just empty and devastated.

I had a baby. The doctor told me to push, and out she came. He said, “Your baby has passed. It looks like it’s a girl.” He asked the nurse for the time, and she told him. 9:08 p.m.

This is the story of how Ella Claire McMillian came into the world. She was tiny and perfect. She had ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes, all her finger- and toenails, little cheeks and eyes and ears and lips, a little perfect nose. Will said he’d always thought that babies just looked like babies, but that Ella looked like me.

We spent some time alone with her, and then the chaplain came in to pray with us and bless our daughter. Then they took her away and moved me to another room.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><>

Baby girl,

Your story is one of love. You were conceived in love, anticipated eagerly in love, wanted, hoped for, dreamed of, and prepared for. You were delivered in sorrow, and you are grieved in pain, but only because you were and are so, so very loved. And even though you are gone, your story is not finished because our love for you will never end, and it will never change. Wherever you are, my perfect girl, I am eagerly anticipating the day I get to meet you again.

Love,
Mama

It Takes a Village

Dear Family and Friends (and Complete Strangers),

I want to thank you. Thank you for your kind words, your encouragement, your wise advice, your compassion, your love. Thank you for sharing your own struggles with me, for joining me in the pit as it were. Thank you for sitting with me, for hugging me, for checking in on me periodically, for sending me cute animal pictures and videos. Thank you for bringing food, for offering to bring food, for taking us out to eat, for having us over for food, for not judging us when we ate ALL the food and then some. Thank you for helping me with housework, for taking me for a pedicure, for inspiring me to treat my body well, for being so kind to me and helping me to be kind to myself. Thank you for letting me cry, for letting me laugh, for letting me space out completely. Thank you for sending me thoughts, words, and songs of healing. Thank you for letting me explore, doubt, find, process, and pour out my heart. Thank you for offering me love and new hope in return. Thank you.

I don’t think it’s possible to heal alone, but you have not made me try to do that. In fact, you would not have let me if I’d tried, and that’s a really good thing. It takes a village to heal a broken mama’s heart, and I don’t know what I would do without you. I’m not there yet, but I have a little bit of hope, so thank you.

Grateful for you all,
Beth

Cleansing

My writing prompt for today says, “ Tell us about the best movie to bring on a cleansing cry.” Sometimes you just need to cry because the stress of regular life has built up inside you to the point where it has to come out one way or another. For a situation like that, I think I’d go with Up. The first ten minutes will get all the feels out, and then you can enjoy a delightful movie with a happy ending.

You should definitely not watch the first ten minutes of Up, though, if you are grieving after a miscarriage. If you do, you won’t have a cleansing cry and feel all better. You’ll have an ugly cry and regret your choice to watch any Pixar film ever.

Here’s the thing: Losing a baby is not regular life stress building up. You can’t just have a cry, get it all out, and be done with it. I wish you could. I can’t tell you how sick of crying we are, but no matter how much I cry, it feels like I will never run out of tears. They take a break for a day or two maybe, but they’re always there waiting. Being sad is the worst, especially if you’re normally pretty happy and optimistic like I am. I can’t wait for the day when I wake up and realize it’s been a month since I cried over the loss of my daughter. I can’t wait for the day when I wake up and realize it’s been six months. I can’t wait for the day I think of her with joy and gratitude, not with sorrow and pain.

But this process of cleansing (or changing or healing or grieving or accepting) is not a “one and done” kind of thing. It takes time and a lot more than a movie to get there. I am determined to get there, though.

The Healing Mix

As I’ve mentioned before, music is a healing thing for me, and I know many of you can relate. I’m from the generation that played a song so many times the tape wore out, and I wore out a LOT of tapes. I have a record player now, and I feel like I should have been a teenager in the ’60s the way I like to just sit and listen to records. There’s just something about it. Music connects with your soul, and it connects your soul to something bigger. I think it connects you to God, but if you don’t believe in God, believe this: When you listen to music for relief or healing, your heart connects with the heart of every other person who has listened to that same music for that same purpose. Just imagine the gigantic blanket of healing that Adele is knitting to wrap around the world and how many people are snuggled up under it, right there with you, feeling your pain. I’m cozy already.

I’m not Adele, but I’ve put together a mix of songs that has facilitated healing for me, partly because these songs are awesome and speak to me, but largely because most of them were suggested by friends and family. And knowing that these friends and family are connected with me through these songs just amplifies the effect. If the song you suggested is on this mix, thank you. I had not heard several of them before you brought them to my attention. And if your song didn’t make the cut, thank you too. There was more to the mix than just good songs, and some really great ones just didn’t fit.

This is my first attempt at adding a YouTube play list to a post, so fingers crossed (it’s also here if this doesn’t work), but you should be able to listen to the mix while you read the rest of the post, and as you do, know that if you are hurting, I’m here with you, and the music connects us.

  1. Poughkeepsie – Over the Rhine – This song is a little dark at first, but I have felt very dark at times, and I appreciate that someone else has too. It gets more hopeful toward the end, but it stays appropriately melancholy throughout. Sometimes you just need your music to agree with your mood. You don’t want it to cheer you up and nudge you past your feelings. You just want to cry and feel the pain, and that deserves its own soundtrack.
  2. Reminder – Mumford & Sons – Every time I look in the mirror and see the stretch marks I was starting to develop in pregnancy, I hear Marcus Mumford in my head singing, “A constant reminder of where I can find her, a light that might give up the way is all that I’m asking for. Without her, I’m lost. Oh my love, don’t fade away.”
  3. Tear Down the House – The Avett Brothers – “I remember crying over you, and I don’t mean like a couple of tears and I’m blue. I’m talking about collapsing and screaming at the moon, but I’m a better man for having gone through it. Yes, I’m a better man for having gone through.”
  4. Late – Ben Folds – A song about missing a friend who’s gone and wishing they were still around.
  5. World Spins Madly On – The Weepies – Oh man, who hasn’t felt like this? Your whole world is destroyed, but everyone else just keeps going like nothing has happened. It does seem mad.
  6. Fix You – Coldplay – “Tears stream down your face when you lose something you cannot replace.” Yep.
  7. Rally – Allie Moss – The theme song of everyone who loves me. My buddy Dallas suggested this one for the mix, which is perfect because she has certainly rallied around me like a boss over the past two months. Love you, bro.
  8. Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul – Indelible Grace Music – Man, I love me some Sandra McCracken. And old hymns. The words are just so rich and well-chosen. There’s so much in so little. The full lyrics are here, but just a sample for you: “Still the ear of sovereign grace attends the mourner’s prayer. Oh may I ever find access to breathe my sorrows there.”
  9. Beauty for Ashes – Shane and Shane – Originally, I had something else at this point in the list, but last week, as I was writing my post on healing, I remembered this song and knew it should be in the mix. I’ve always loved the Shanes.
  10. Held – Natalie Grant – You know, it’s funny. I have exactly one Natalie Grant song in my iTunes library. I’ve had it for YEARS, and it’s this one. The one about losing a baby. About how unfair it is and how horrible, but how we are not left alone, how we are loved and held, and how bitterness and hatred may numb the pain but they aren’t the only option.
  11. Unraveling – Shelly Moore – And a nice follow-up to the previous tune, “Yes I’ve found hope that stays around, and I’ve got peace that lets me wait this thing out. Just hold me while I await release, please.”
  12. Soul’s Repair – Red June – Bluegrass always makes me feel better.
  13. Born – Over the Rhine – “I was born to laugh. I’m gonna learn to laugh through my tears. And I was born to love. I’m gonna learn to love without fear.” There are so many tears and so much fear involved in losing a child and thinking about trying again. But I do feel that I was born to laugh and love, and although those “callings” (destinies?) are being challenged, I think I can learn to fulfill them anyway.
  14. Aslan – Kendall Payne – For those of you who have been under a rock for the last 50 years (or those who just forgot), Aslan is the great lion from the Narnia stories, and in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Mr. Beaver tells the children that he isn’t safe, but he’s good. This song is about how God doesn’t do the things we expect, but that doesn’t change his nature. It’s also a tip of the hat to C.S. Lewis, whom I love.
  15. Rescue Is Coming – David Crowder Band – Just hang in there. Help is on the way.
  16. Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles – I designed this mix to run roughly through the emotions I’ve felt and thoughts I’ve thought over the past two months. It goes from dark and melancholy through tentative but wishful and finally into hopeful. If you were listening to it as you grieved, you might want to listen to the whole thing, or you might want to hang out in a particular section for a time. Either would be fine with me.
  17. After the Storm – Mumford & Sons – “And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears. And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.” I want to say something about this, but I haven’t quite formed my thoughts. Perhaps a new post is in the works…
  18. The Sun Is Rising – Britt Nicole – My sister Susan suggested this song, which is perfect because she’s an awesome encourager, just like the song. Every word of it is great, but all I really hear is, “You’re gonna make it. You’re gonna make it.” Love you, seeeesterrrr!
  19. O-O-H Child – The Five Stairsteps – Obvious choice.
  20. Sexual Healing – Hot 8 Brass Band – I know this one might seem like a VERY odd choice, but you just can’t listen to it and not feel a little bit better. Will and I went to the movies five days after our miscarriage because every good thing we have together has been built slowly over time while watching a lot of movies. There was no better place to start the healing process for us. We went to see Chef, which is just delightful, and I highly recommend it. In it, there’s a scene where Jon Favreau and John Leguizamo are singing this song while a 10-year-old kid looks at them like they’re nuts. I recognized the song before the singing started and would have loved it even if it had just been an instrumental cover, but it’s NOT. It’s got singing too, and it’s great.