Beth’s Ultimate Guide to Postpartum Care

Friends, gestating a baby is hard. Getting the baby out is ridiculous no matter how you do it. But then you go home and think things will go back to normal. In the last few weeks of pregnancy, you look forward to giving birth so you can get your body back. What you don’t realize is that it will take a while for your body to recover from the epic sh*t storm that is labor. And I mean that literally. You simply won’t believe the amount of feces involved in pushing a baby out of your hoo-ha.

So I’m here to tell you about a few things you may need when you get home with your precious little one.

For your lady bits:

Adult Diapers

  • Wear to the hospital if your water breaks at home because after it breaks, it just keeps coming out because your body keeps making more of it.
  • Wear home from the hospital and for a few days afterward until the bleeding subsides a bit.
  • Wear for fun and fashion!

Giant Pads

  • You’ll need these for a week or two after you stop wearing the adult diapers.

Regular Pads

  • You may need these for several weeks after you stop wearing the giant pads. HOWEVER, they have other uses. Keep reading.
  • **THIS IS IMPORTANT**  A day or three after you get home, you will need to poop, and it will be terrifying. The poop will be hard, and you’ll feel like you are going to bust a stitch getting it out. You probably won’t bust a stitch, but seriously, it’s scary. Your pelvic floor is all stretched out and weak right now, so here’s what you do. Take one of these pads out of the wrapper, fold the wings back, and fold the whole thing in half so the sticky part is on the inside. Press it up against your lady bits to give your pelvic floor some support while you push the poop out. You may pee on your hand, but probably the pad will catch most of it, and after giving birth, you really won’t care about a little hand pee. And getting that poop out will be worth it.
  • Make some padsicles (you can also do this with the giant pads). Open the pad and apply a liberal layer of aloe vera gel all over it. Pour about a teaspoon of witch hazel (alcohol-free) over the aloe vera. Sprinkle on a few drops of lavender essential oil. Wrap the pad in aluminum foil and put it in the freezer. You can probably get all the ingredients at Whole Foods.

Tucks Pads

  • Whether you have hemorrhoids or not, witch hazel is magical.

Ice Packs

  • Steal as many of these from the hospital as you want. You have more than paid for them.

Dermaplast

  • Spray as needed.

Squirt Bottle

  • Steal this bad boy from the hospital. They will surely give you one. Use it EVERY TIME you go to the bathroom. Every time. With warm water. Every time.

Hot Bath

  • Sit in a hot bath (as hot as you can stand) for 10 minutes every day.

Boppy

  • Sit on it (you’ll need to sometimes).
  • Lay your baby on it (it’s ok that you were just sitting on it). You can do this with it around your waist during feedings, or you can lay baby’s head on the pillow and sit his/her butt in the hole so y’all can lounge on the couch together.
  • Prop your arm up with it while you hold your baby.

For pooping:

Colace (Stool Softener)

  • 100 mg at least twice a day. If you need to take 3 a day, that’s fine too.

Milk of Magnesia

  • I hope you don’t need this, but if you do, get the mint flavor, and try just 1 tbsp at first. This stuff is potent. PLEASE don’t wait until you haven’t pooped in 2 days to use this. The longer it stays in there, the worse it’s going to be coming out.

Fleet Glycerine Suppositories

  • If Colace and milk of magnesia aren’t cutting it, and if attempting to poop feels like you are giving birth all over again, Fleet glycerine suppositories may do the trick. Shove one up there, and wait at least 20 minutes. You will feel like you need to poop immediately after you put it in, but wait 20 minutes.

Fleet Enema

  • This is your last resort, but it will work. If you haven’t pooped in 4 days, and you know it’s all backed up in there, but nothing is getting it out, send your husband out for an enema, and while he’s gone, prepare yourself mentally for the test your marriage is about to go through. Then follow the instructions and enjoy the sweet relief.

For breastfeeding:

Something for Your Nipples

  • Nipple butter, lanolin, coconut oil, fancy cooling stickies…whatever floats your boat.

Lactation Cookies

  • There are a million recipes on the internet. Find one you like and chow down!

Pumping Bra

  • Or any other contraption that will let you pump hands-free. For a DIY option, just cut holes in an old sports bra, but make sure it’s one that you can get on over your ginormous nursing boobs.

For your heart/mind:

Hot Bath

  • Sit in a hot bath (as hot as you can stand) for 10 minutes every day, and just cry as much as you need to while someone else pays attention to your baby.

Be Kind to Yourself

  • This looks different for everyone, but I think a pretty universal need we have as new moms is the message that we’re doing ok as moms. It’s ok that you don’t know everything. It’s ok that your baby is crying. It’s ok that you’re tired. It’s ok that you want someone to hold your baby while you take a nap/shower/bath/drive/trip to Target alone. It’s ok that you cry every day. It’s ok that breastfeeding isn’t working. It’s ok that you still look pregnant. It’s ok that you ____________________. Seriously, if you aren’t physically harming anyone, you’re doing fine. Cut yourself some slack because you’re new at this, and it’s going to take some time to adjust. Nobody just knows how to be a mom automatically.

Ask for Help

  • Tell someone you’re struggling.
  • Ask for food.
  • Ask someone to hold your baby so you can take care of yourself.
  • Join a support group.
  • Talk to a counselor or therapist.
  • Call the pediatrician’s emergency nurse line at 3:00 a.m. because your baby “looks weird.”
  • DON’T FEEL BAD ABOUT IT.

Nap Time = Me Time

  • When the baby is sleeping, do whatever you want. Read, take a bath, take a nap, pray, meditate, watch TV, clean. Whatever helps you relieve stress, or whatever you need to do at that moment, do it. Don’t always feel like you have to be doing something “productive.” You don’t. But if cleaning is therapeutic for you, bring your baby to my house during nap time. I’ll take care of him/her.

Patience

I’m still pregnant, which is crazy. After all the worry and energy we spent and all the precautions we took to keep her in, now she’s not coming out even though there’s nothing left holding her in. For those who don’t know, for 22 weeks of my pregnancy, a 5-inch piece of thread was holding my cervix closed. That may be more than you wanted to know about my cervix, but my TMI threshold is pretty high now. At one point, I was dilated above the stitch with almost no cervical length left below it, which is to say that piece of thread is probably the reason I stayed pregnant through the 2nd trimester. That and bed rest, which I was on for 16 weeks.

But now I’m off bed rest, and the piece of thread has been removed, and we were fully prepared (well, as fully prepared as first-time parents can be) to have a baby three weeks ago, but here I am, due date coming up in 2 days, still pregnant. I realized yesterday that even though my due date was still a few weeks away, I had it in my mind that we were going to have a baby when the stitch came out. So now, even though we still haven’t reached the due date, I feel like I’m overdue. Just acknowledging that helps me to calm down, but this waiting is HARD.

The end of pregnancy is a weird, sweet, invigorating, terrifying, anxiety-ridden, exciting time. I guess like any time of transition in life, it’s like being stuck between two worlds, wanting to be in both for different reasons, but not really feeling like you fit in either. As I sit here watching my belly warp and gyrate, I know I’m already a mom. I haven’t seen her face or felt her little fingers wrap around mine yet, but the living, fluid-breathing child inside me is my daughter. She is her own person already, living off of my resources at the moment, but very much not me. She has her own body and personality and future. But as I sit here watching my belly dance, I am also aware of how quiet it is, how alone I am in my living room, and how, in a very short time, that will not be the case again for a while.

Since I went off bed rest, Will and I have gone on as many dates as possible, knowing an evening out, just the two of us, will be a much rarer occurrence soon. We’re trying to enjoy our last days before Baby as much as possible, but at the same time, we’re getting impatient for her arrival. Part of it is the lack of control. We have no idea when labor will start, and that is driving us a little crazy. Part of it is the excitement and relief that everything is ready in time. Now that we have the nursery set up, we don’t know why she wouldn’t want to come. Doesn’t she know we’ve prepared things for her? And part of it is that pregnancy is hard, and even though we know having a baby will also be hard, we both want me to be able to go for long walks again and sleep without 8,000 pillows in the bed with me.

We’re longing for some normalcy even though we know it will look VERY different from before. We’re ready to be out of this temporary state of pregnancy and get started on the new normal of being a family of three. We want to establish routines again, like meal-planning and exercise. We want to establish new routines, like play dates, library outings, feeding schedules, and bedtime. We want, after so much difficulty, heartache, worry, and fear, to get down to the business of being parents.

But we have to wait, and that’s hard. Living in the moment is hard, especially when the moment is always tense and uncertain. Was that a contraction? Was it a real contraction or just Braxton Hicks? How long ago was the last one? Are they becoming regular? Did my water break, or am I just lying in a pool of my own sweat? Is she moving? She’s not moving. I’ll have a snack, and oh there she goes. She’s fine. I’m fine. We’re fine. Everything is fine. I hope everything is ok in there. I hope she comes out safely. I hope I can do this. What if I can’t do this? Stay in there as long as you want. I’m not ready for labor yet. No, I’ll be fine. I was literally made to do this. Ok I’m ready.

But still waiting.

Mixed Emotions Birthday

Yesterday was Ella’s first birthday. It passed fairly quietly with no real attention drawn to it. I didn’t want people to say “happy birthday” because happy is entirely the wrong word, and I knew that any sympathy given would only make me sadder. And we are so, so tired of being sad.

So we spent some time decluttering the guest room that will become baby #2’s nursery, we watched a few episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, I made plans with my family to work on some projects for the baby’s room, my husband played a video game while I wrote a thank-you note and played with my new fancy planner, I looked at Facebook, I looked at Pinterest, I cried a few times because I just couldn’t not, we watched a movie, my sister brought us lasagna, and eventually we went to bed.

I wonder if we should have done more, if we should have released some butterflies or lit a candle or done something meaningful. I wonder if we should have eaten cake or bought her a card or done something celebratory. I wonder if I should feel guilty for not doing any of those things. But I don’t feel guilty. I’m not ready to be meaningful or celebratory yet. It’s been a year (and a doozy of a year at that), and I’m stuck between emotions. I’m not as inconsolable as I was, and I even have a lot of joyful, happy moments, but I can’t yet bring myself to celebrate her too-short life. Maybe in the future we’ll have a family day or a remembrance day, but this year, I just needed to get through it.

And since I don’t believe in “shoulds” when it comes to things like this, I’m going to let my feelings be what they are and that’s that.

Maybe next year, we’ll get to do a cake smash and sing to a toddler. Maybe next year we’ll have a party and invite all our family and friends. Maybe next year I’ll make a big deal out of a first birthday and post pictures on Facebook. But all of that will be for my second daughter. I don’t know how Ella’s second birthday will go. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Innocence Lost

I know too much now.

Pregnancy used to be this mysterious, magical thing that happened to people, and in some ways, it still is. But I will never be able to think of it again in the same way. When people get pregnant on TV shows, all I can think is, “Nope. That’s wrong. That’s totally unrealistic.” And when people look at a positive pregnancy test and say, “We’re gonna have a baby,” I just cringe. I heard a story about a lady who had her nursery fully decorated and ready when she was only 7 weeks pregnant, and I said, “I REALLY hope she brings home a baby because she obviously does not know that losing it is a possibility.”

I know that reality all too well. I was talking to a friend yesterday about the experience of loss in general. A friend of hers was murdered two years ago, so she knows what it’s like to lose someone suddenly, unimaginably. I mentioned the Thestrals from Harry Potter – the horse-like creatures that could only be seen by those who had been touched by death – and I said I really appreciate J.K. Rowling for making those things up because they’re something I can totally understand. Once you’ve experienced a profound loss, you’re just different somehow. You may not see creatures that others can’t see, but you truly do have a different kind of sight.

I know what it’s like to hold a baby for the first and last time. I know the empty feeling that comes in the days and weeks afterward when you should still be carrying life, but you’re not. I know the fight you have when you need hope more than anything, but having it feels like a betrayal of your loss. I know the special combination of excitement and terror you feel from the moment the next pregnancy test is positive. I know how slowly the time seems to pass when every day counts.

I see pregnancy much differently now. I know what’s happening at every week and what the major milestones are. Someone (I can’t remember who, so if it was you, don’t be embarrassed) recently was surprised to learn that pregnant women think in terms of weeks. I said I was 24 weeks pregnant, and they were like, “How many months is that?” Maybe some women think in months. I don’t know. When you think in days, it’s hard to imagine thinking in months. I’m 25 weeks and 4 days today, and I have to think in days because my baby’s chances of survival literally improve with each passing day. If she were born today, she’d have a 2-3% advantage over yesterday. I don’t know if it’s healthy to think this way, but it seems to help me get through each day, so I do what I have to do. Like I said, I know too much.

I know how the cervix works. I’ll give you a demo if you bring me an empty toilet paper roll. If you give me an empty toilet paper roll and a pair of scissors, I’ll show you how cervical incompetence works. If you give me an empty toilet paper roll, a pair of scissors, and some yarn, I’ll show you what a cerclage is and what it does. But if you are pregnant now or hoping to get pregnant in the future, it might be better if you didn’t know because the fact of the matter is that it’s quite rare, and you probably won’t have to deal with it, so there’s no need for me to scare you.

I know WAY too much about remedies for constipation that are safe to use during pregnancy so that you don’t have to push at all to poop. For most pregnant women, this is great info to have in order to avoid hemorrhoids, but for those of us with cervical incompetence, it’s an absolute must. (This one is a little silly, maybe, unless you’ve dealt with it, in which case you know it’s no joke.)

I know what a sunshine baby is, what a rainbow baby is, and what a pot of gold baby is. I know about all the ways to put extra progesterone in your body and the reasons for doing it in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. I could go on, but I think I’ve made the point. I wish I didn’t have all this knowledge. I wish I could be one of those moms on the mommy boards complaining about how I wanted a boy, but it’s a girl (because I have nothing else to worry or complain about). I wish I could be thinking right now, “I only have 3 more months to get the nursery ready,” instead of, “If she came right now, she’d be in the hospital for a few months, so we’d have time to throw something together.” I wish I could be blissfully unaware of the survival rates of preemies born at various gestational ages. But I can’t do any of those things. I know too much now.

This whole post feels a bit self-indulgent or whiny or maybe even arrogant to me somehow, but I don’t mean it to be any of those things. I might be complaining a little, but I don’t feel like I’m better than anyone else because I’ve been through something terrible. This is just what it’s like. And the truth is I have much to be thankful for, but that’s another post. This one doesn’t have a tidy bow on top and likely never will. I hope it makes no sense to you at all. I hope you gave up reading halfway through or read the whole thing and thought I should suck it up.

But if you can relate to everything I’ve said here, you aren’t alone. And now you know that I know too.

When Advent Hurts

We went to a Christmas Eve service at my mother-in-law’s church the other night. Why they had a Christmas Eve service 10 days early, I do not know, but that is beside the point. The point is that I broke down crying while trying to sing “Joy to the World” because I just don’t feel all that joyful.

When we found out I was pregnant, before we got the official due date from the doctor, we estimated that we’d be expecting a baby on Christmas Eve. I loved the thought of expecting our own baby as we also anticipated the celebration of the birth of Christ. I thought about how special Advent would be this year, how much more meaningful. I looked forward to the lessons I would learn and the ways I would be able to identify with Mary. I was excited about experiencing Advent in a deeper way because of my own state of expecting.

But instead of singing Mary’s song of rejoicing, I find myself identifying more with the Psalmist: “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” Instead of feeling like joy has come to the world, I feel like I’m still longing and pleading for it.

Maybe “Joy to the World” is just not my song this year. Maybe this year, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is the one for me. I’ve always liked it, but this year, I understand it more. Mourn, lonely, hell, gloomy, shadows, dark, death, misery – these are things I get. There are also things I want – Emmanuel (God with us), wisdom, knowledge, freedom, victory, cheer, strength, mercy, peace.

I guess in a very sad, unexpected way, I am experiencing Advent in a deeper way. It’s just not the way I wanted. So I listen to this version of it on repeat and try to think that maybe we all go through cycles of painful longing and joyful receiving all the time, and it’s just unfortunate that my own personal Advent isn’t lining up with the one on the church calendar.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

I’m supposed to write today about my favorite and least favorite kinds of exercise, but I’m honestly not really feeling up to trying to make it interesting. I like walking, dancing, yoga, and Pilates. I kind of hate everything else. The end.

What’s really on my mind is that today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, and while I am having a really hard week, several friends’ due dates are either here or coming soon. These are the friends I was pregnant with. Even though I was a bit behind them, we were all in it together. Now we’re not.

Now I’m in a different kind of club – one people don’t like to talk or hear about, one that people apologize for accidentally reminding you you’re in, one you wish no one ever had to be in at all. But lots and lots of people are.

I promise you, if you know any women, you probably know at least one who’s lost a baby. If you know women currently of childbearing age, you probably know someone who has lost a baby this year. When we lost Ella, at least half a dozen women sent me private messages telling me that they too had recently experienced a miscarriage. If any of your loved ones have shared their heartbreak with you, please reach out to them this week. They are likely already thinking about the baby they don’t have in their arms or wombs; you won’t be reminding them of it. You will only be giving them the love and encouragement they desperately need.

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

PPROM

I’m supposed to write today about why it’s so difficult for people to talk about miscarriage, stillbirth, and infertility, but since I’ve already talked about that a little bit here, and since we just had a six-week follow-up appointment with the doctor today, I’ve got other things on my mind I’d rather talk about.

I wish I did not know what PPROM is. A month ago, I did not, but in the absence of answers from the doctors at the hospital, I’ve done a lot of internet research, and PPROM sounded the most like what happened to me. The doctor today confirmed it, so now it looks like I have a lot more targeted research to do. What I know so far is that it is Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes, i.e. water breaking way, way, way too early. It happens in about 3% of all pregnancies. And there are a few different things that can cause it, none of which have been found in me so far.

They’re going to do some more tests and exploring of possibilities, but right now, we don’t have any reason to believe or suspect that there’s anything physically wrong with me that would have caused my water to break at 16 weeks. The doctor said it was just a fluke.

A fluke.

I don’t know how I feel about that just yet. On the one hand, if there was no good reason for it to happen, then there’s no good reason for it to happen again. The doctor said it was highly unlikely that it would happen again. On the other hand, it was highly unlikely the first time, and I beat the odds on that one, so who’s to say I won’t beat them again?

If we had a cause, then we would have a plan for future prevention. What do you do with a fluke?

Part of me wants to be really frustrated about the whole thing. I mean, maybe Dr. Spacemen was right.

DoctorSpaceman

But I was talking to my mom on the way home from the appointment, and she pointed out that 30 years ago, women in my situation would not have been able to rule out the things we’ve already ruled out, and they wouldn’t have been able to have the tests done that we have scheduled. Fifty years ago, procedures that are commonly used today to prevent PPROM during pregnancy would have been rare if available at all. We really have come a long way.

I wonder sometimes if all that science is the best thing for us, though. We read statistics about things and think they apply directly to us. If 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, that means I personally have an 80% chance of having a surviving, full-term baby, right? Well… If I flip a coin 100 times, and I get tails 20% of the time, does that mean on my next flip I have an 80% chance of getting heads?

I know it’s not quite that simple, but I wonder if all the knowledge medical science has given us isn’t also causing us to have unrealistic expectations. Is that pessimistic of me to say?

Miscarriage Resources and Advice

So today I’m supposed to write about the best advice I’ve received since my miscarriage, and honestly, this might rub some folks the wrong way, but it’s where I am, and I’m ok with it for now. I’ve read a lot of things that were supposed to be encouraging that really just pissed me off or made me sadder than I was before, and almost all of them were what I would call the “correct” Christian response to miscarriage. If you don’t know what I mean by that, I’m talking about the things that acknowledge the pain (sort of) but then in the same breath wipe it away with a Bible verse or an attribute of God or something similar. Even as a Christian, it’s hard for me to read that stuff because it’s just not that easy. It feels like jumping straight to the resolution of grief without working through the grief, and I just don’t buy that those people truly feel that peaceful or faith-filled unless they’re a lot further removed from it than I am six weeks out. And maybe when they wrote their stuff, it had been a couple of years and they had already reached a deeper level of resolution, but I am most definitely not there, and I refuse to fake it.

The best advice is the most honest, which also seems to be the best way process grief. There’s no need to try and faith it away (one of the books I’ll recommend below actually says that’s a way of denying or repressing grief.) You just slog through it one minute at a time. And the minutes turn into hours, and the hours turn into days, and the days turn into weeks, and sometimes you feel ok, and sometimes you feel lousy, but I’m told that one day several months from now, I’ll wake up and realize that I feel different. Maybe not good or even better, but just different. Six weeks out, all I can tell you is that I’m ok at best all the time, but that’s an improvement over the first two weeks, when I spent more of each day crying than not.

My two favorite pieces of advice so far are:

“Be kind to yourself.” ~Dawn

“Take your time, bro.” ~Dallas

Simple, easy to remember, and necessary, both of these reminders help me to be patient as I trudge through the crap and give myself a lot of grace. And the fact that Dallas calls me “bro” just makes me smile.

Books on Miscarriage

The best thing I’ve read so far has been a book called Empty Cradle, Broken Heart by Deborah L. Davis. It’s written for people (particularly women) who have lost babies to miscarriage or stillbirth, or who have lost babies after birth, so not all of it speaks directly to me, and I generally just skipped over the bits that didn’t apply to my situation. What’s great about it, though, is that it’s quite comprehensive. It explains everything that you’re going through, tells you that it’s normal to go through those things, and then shares stories from other women who’ve been there just in case you still feel abnormal. I would recommend it for anyone who has lost a baby big enough to have a name. If you had an early miscarriage, you might feel like you have less in common with the parents whose stories are shared.

A friend also gave me a book called Free to Grieve by Maureen Rank. I’ve flipped through it and read some parts, so I can tell you that it’s a book for Christians, and it’s more story-based than Empty Cradle, which has snippets of women’s stories but not long narratives like this one. My friend said she liked it because it walked her through the grieving process after her first miscarriage and encouraged her that her feelings were normal and ok to have. This book does seem appropriate for women who’ve had an early miscarriage. It answers a lot of questions you might have about the medical procedures you went through, and it discusses options for the future as well as how to protect your marriage after going through a miscarriage.

Another friend gave me a book called Never Alone in the Shadows from this website. It’s a read-a-page-a-day sort of deal, and while it is faith-based, I find it encouraging rather than infuriating because I think it comes from a genuine heart of faith and concern for bereaved parents rather than a desire to straighten it all out as quickly as possible without showing any signs of a wavering faith. It’s taking me a while to get through it, honestly, because I tidied up the coffee table, put some things on top of it, and forgot it was hiding under there. But I shall resume now.

That’s all I’ve got for now. If you know of any helpful websites, discussion boards, books, or support groups for women, men, couples, or families coping with the loss of a baby, please comment and let us know. I’d love to build up an arsenal of resources for myself and others who’ve lost babies.

Verbal Crayon

I’ve always said that I’m better in writing, but I guess I do both pretty well. In the first year of the mentoring group you may have heard me talk about before, we decided at one point that each of us had a kind of super power. We gave each other nicknames to reflect our powers, some of which were cooler than others, I thought, but they were all pretty spot-on descriptors. They told me I was a verbal crayon because I was able to communicate with words in such a colorful, fun, beautiful way. They were so kind.

You guys have also been so kind. Thank you for your sweet words of encouragement as I process grief, loss, fear, anxiety, terrible sadness, hope, anger, guilt, pain, and love right out in the open in front of God and everybody. I don’t know what possessed me to write all of this in public and not in my own private journal (because the writing process is the same, and it’s therapeutic either way), but I’m glad I did. So many of you have told me that my words have been helpful to you, or that you think they might be helpful for someone you love. One friend who is a nurse even asked permission to refer patients to these words now and then. And y’all, I am honored and give permission freely to all of you to tell anyone and everyone about my silly little blog.

If you send someone to me please tell them – and if you’ve arrived here looking for support, help, strength, or encouragement after a miscarriage – 4 things:

  1. I’m so sorry. Losing a baby is awful, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone ever.
  2. All are welcome here. All are respected. All are loved.
  3. If you find things here that don’t help, just skip them. Come back to them later or just write them off forever. I’ve read so many well-intentioned things in the past month that have only left me in tears of frustration, anger, and hurt because I’m just not in the right place to receive those words. I may revisit them in two years and find that they ring true, or I may never go back to them at all. But right now, if they aren’t for me, they aren’t for me. The same goes for my words and you. If they aren’t for you, that’s ok.
  4. But if you find anything that helps, anything that brings hope, or anything that just makes you feel less alone, then I am so glad that I chose to process my pain in public.

Nothing will ever make losing a baby ok, but if anything I say about it helps someone else, then I feel like my daughter has a purpose, that she’s contributing to the world, that she’s working for hope and redemption, that she’s someone I can be incredibly proud of, and that she’s not entirely lost.