There are times when very loving, very well-meaning people in my life say things to me that are not helpful during this journey to motherhood. I could focus on those things.
Instead, I mostly focus on the very loving, very supportive women (and a few men) who have helped me through this journey by reaching out a hand, extending their hearts, sending a gift, sitting with me on the phone, working through painful thoughts, and sharing their own journeys with me.
I want to highlight some of those gestures, even though I may forget someone important. There have been many beautiful gestures and helpful people who’ve come along as I have been navigating the story of my motherhood.
Dana Dombrowski, my best friend from law school, sent me flowers that were delivered to my door with a note that she thought it might brighten otherwise dark days the week after I lost my first baby and had surgery. They were my favorite flowers – gerbera daisies – I think if a flower could be a smile, that’s what they’d look like.
Nichole Churchill came to my house and sat with me in the days after my first loss, as my doula, and brought me flowers, books, resources, and let me tell her how I felt and what I was afraid of and she shared her story of losses with me. Turns out, I have the same disorder that cost her a couple of babies and she knows all about how to handle it going forward, too.
My sister brought my nieces over the weekend after my D&C, instead of thinking babies might make me sad. She knew how much I love them and that holding them would bring me comfort. I held 6 month old Olive who nuzzled her head into my shoulder while Heather pushed Stella on the swings. Seeing the joy in little Stella’s face going down the slide, “One more time, Mommy!” was all the therapy I needed that weekend while I was still in shock.
Cath Duncan, who lost her daughter late in her pregnancy due to her own health issues that threatened her own life and who has studied grief and created a creative grief coaching program and is the author of Remembering For Good, helping people to grieve wholeheartedly and without shame or the obligation to let go to make others feel better, has helped me do just that and has donated her time to me any time she has noticed that I’m really struggling. She’s amazing and I just might help other people by being trained by Cath as a grief coach when I am through this hell and back.
Kanesha Lee Baynard, who I met on a fluke on Facebook because she commented on something on a friend’s page and I realized she was from the same area I’m from, sent me a bracelet she had made for me in her family tradition to help with conception of our next child. I didn’t even know her. The bracelet is pictured above.
Heather May put my name and my husbands’ into a prayer circle at her church where they do a big fertility prayer every year and pray for all the couples who are asking for God’s grace in conceiving a baby or starting a family.
Amanda Waldhauser brought me flowers, the most beautiful note about what perfect parents David and I will make, and then later gave me a bag of self-love goodies and a plant for each baby.
Lori Hamann, my mentor and sister-friend has spent hours on the phone with me, untangling the law of attraction knots that some well-meaning folks have put in my vibe when they imply that I’m somehow not doing this right and that’s why I lost my babies or haven’t conceived yet again. Lori is amazing at meeting people where they are, and pointing out exactly how they are using law of attraction perfectly in the moment to create exactly what they are wanting. She’s cheerled over and over how I’ve quickly manifested the right doctors, the right experiences – even a fast pregnancy and miscarriage of an unhealthy second baby – to discover the disorder that would have robbed me of every successive healthy baby if not found and treated.
Sylwia Herbst, my best friend and soulmate, is a safe place for the details, the way too much information, the oversharing that is beyond TMI, the swearing, the laughing at inappropriate things, and the healing of wounds because it’s ok – it’s all ok to share and to feel and to talk about.
Frances Cadora created a beautiful necklace memorial for my first baby since we didn’t get to have a funeral or resting place for him, because he was very real to me. I’d seen his little head, arms, legs, and heartbeat on ultrasound just weeks before he died. I wear it all the time and get compliments on it.
Melani Marx spent time with me on the phone to help me with re-activation of post traumatic stress and taught me a technique that helps me to stay de-activated, which has helped me have less to cope with – because now all I have to cope with are real sources of pain – clean pain – not past pain and fear.
Jana Scuberth and Glenda Gill have masterminded with me and listened to my fertility updates, even about charting, and I know Glenda has learned more about fertility, cycles and reproductive biology than she ever wanted to know – but they’ve been patient, loving and good listeners and cheerleaders, and they’ve allowed me to tell them how much it’s sucked at times and simply said, “Yeah, that must be hard,” or “Yeah, that sucks,” when that’s what I needed most.
Deb Droz has donated her time to teach me mind/body work that is helping me get in touch with my emotions, something that I’ve struggled with and that has ended up causing me physical pain where I haven’t been able to feel emotions or express them in healthy ways.
The kindest thing in this whole journey has come from Deb. While on the phone with her doing this mind/body work where she is literally speaking to my emotions and asking me to be my emotions, she has said to me something I’ve needed to hear since October 7, 2011, the day I learned my first baby died. She said:
If what keeps you from feeling your emotions fully is fear of what others might think or how you might be judged or feeling that it’s inappropriate at the moment, I want you to know that you can cry, you can get angry and yell, whatever has to come out – you can let it come out here, and there is no judgment or shame. I’ll be right here to support you through whatever that looks like.
I will tell you that turned on the water works and I said, “Nobody has said that to me.” And she said, “Sometimes you have to say that to yourself when nobody says that to you.” And I said, “Yes, and that sucks, because sometimes you need to hear that from your mom or your sister or your husband or your best girlfriend.” And of course, Deb said sometimes we need to give our moms, husbands, sisters and friends a break and know that if they knew we needed to hear that, they’d say it for sure and hold that space. She’s so wise that way, but she told me any time I need to hear that and would rather not tell myself, I can call her and ask her to repeat it and hold that space.
Rebecca Mullen sensed there was more to a story I was telling about a nursery that was full of clutter in her Altared Spaces Soulful Cleanse class about clearing clutter, and set up a call with me to talk about motherhood. On that call she beautifully coached me about why I wanted to be a mom and got to the meat of it, and the beauty of it, and helped me feel like I’m healthy and normal for wanting to be a mom and that there’s nothing broken about that. She helped me realize that I’ve always been the glue in family relationships, and I honestly want to be a mom to create a functional, healthy family that I don’t have to be the glue in anymore and so that I can just enjoy some cool people that are related to me and don’t need me to hold them together…and so that maybe they can help me create a drama-free zone that I’ve craved all my life.
Then, a few weeks later I received a package in the mail from Rebecca and I thought it was some materials for an ongoing class I’m in with her. I opened it and discovered that she’d sent me the first pages of her daughter’s baby book with her raw, young mother writing on the pages and a picture of her holding her firstborn right after giving birth. She had wanted to share with me both that motherhood is a journey that brings to you what it needs to bring to you, and that it changes you if you let it, AND she wanted to activate the motherhood vibe for me by being one of the examples I could look to for visualization and real experience that I haven’t had myself.
Those pages were the first thoughts she had when she found out she was pregnant, the things she did during her pregnancy, the way her husband was excited to find out about the baby, even her daughter’s foot prints and a copy of her locks of first hair.
Rarely has anyone done anything that heartfelt for me. I am so touched.
Tara Kennedy Kline donated her time to coach me on the topic of motherhood as well, and helped me realize that I have been blaming myself, bashing myself, and hating on myself, my body and my perceived lack of productivity since I lost the first baby. She helped me to realize that I first have to appreciate and love myself and acknowledge that I am here, I am alive, and I am valuable. She helped me realize that I have been depriving myself of having a life because I want a baby so badly – both by punishing myself and by doing the things that I think I have to do to have a baby – and she asked me how I can give life to someone else if I am not giving life to my own self. She encouraged me to do what brings me joy, to love myself and my body, and to start a gratitude journal about me – something I would NEVER have done on my own. She reminded me that children join their parents’ lives and thrive in whatever kind of life their parents have, and that I shouldn’t turn myself inside out to have children thinking that’s what will make them come when they are choosing me as their mother (in the spiritual realm) BECAUSE of who I am and how that is perfect for their life’s course.
Dawn Lichter has asked me how I’m doing and what is going on with my cycle since day one and has listened to how I feel and empathized by simply saying, “I can see how you’d feel that way,” or “that must be awful” whenever I need her to. On the flipside, she’s had her fingers crossed and been a cheerleader sending prayers for a healthy baby with every new cycle, and so has her sister, Jodie Brown.
Chip Engelmann got to the crux of my “story” and helped me to be ok with the feelings that I have that are “negative” or contrasting feelings from what I am wanting – which is a healthy baby that will make me feel like a great mom. He asked me questions and listened to me long enough to point out to me that I keep repeating that I have “empty arms” and that my “baby was taken out of my womb” and that “my baby died” and that I feel “empty” all in a way that didn’t say I’m doing it wrong or need to stop focusing on it. Instead, he gently suggested that I stay there as long as it serves me – and that how I feel one day doesn’t have to effect how I feel the next, because I can create what I want and line up with my babies on days and moments when I feel good, and I can gently spend time telling the story of holding a healthy baby in my arms, having a very full womb with a kicking baby inside, and seeing a live baby with a beating heart on ultrasound.
Beth Gilmore left me a voicemail after reading some of my blog posts about this journey that I still have saved on my phone about how brave, strong and amazing I am and how inspired she is to know me. Best voicemail I ever received in my life.
Heather Maynard and Dr. Jennifer Mercier walked me through my second miscarriage when nobody would answer my questions or give me information, and had just written my baby and my body off at five weeks.
Dr. Sarah Wong did a second-opinion ultrasound on my second pregnancy and was compassionate in the delivery of her confirmation that the pregnancy had ended, and then she listened to me, addressed every concern I had, promised me that she’d get to the bottom of it, test my baby, send me to a specialist, and do everything she knows how to do to help me become a mom next time I’m pregnant. When I brought my second baby’s tissue in to her office in a cold pack, instead of poo pooing it as just tissue as I’ve heard has happened to some of my sisters on this journey she said, “Most women don’t know what to collect, so it may not be what you think it is but I’ll take a look.” Then when she opened it up she actually put her hand on my shoulder and looked down at the floor, and then promised me she’d take good care of it and find out why this happened, if she could. She did. And when she called me with the results, she asked me to sit down and she spent half an hour on the phone with me explaining chromosomes and genetics and referring me to a specialist.
Dr. Segal Klipstein met with me in her office, around a desk, with all my clothes on. She looked me in the eye. She paused and listened. She said things that validated my feelings and promised she’d do everything to find out what was going on. She was encouraged that I got pregnant so easily, and she was quick to run testing and get results back. She applauded my type A and very organized summary of my medical records and family history as well as my husband’s that I had prepared. She told me how beautifully my body works, and she assured me that the rare clotting disorder I have is easily treated with Lovenox and taught me how to inject myself. She told us to try again immediately, and she said, “I’m the second call you make when you get that positive result. You call your husband, then you call me, because I’m going to keep you pregnant this time, and I want to see you immediately.”
And then when I was discouraged four months later, she sat at her desk with me again and listened to me and then reminded me that my body needed to heal, that I get pregnant easily, and that she’s right there waiting when I do, and she gave me some resources to help with coping until then.
Beth Carlson shared with me that she is pregnant when she just got a positive test an nobody else except her husband knew, because she is on the same journey and wanted to share her joy with me as something to give me hope, and of course I cheerled for her. I was honored to be one of the first people to know and I’m so glad she made it to her second trimester to tell everyone else.
Naomi Marhefka shared with me how her daughter died hours after birth. She shared with me how important it is to grieve and truly feel all of those feelings and to treat your babies as real, no matter how early you lost them, because if you don’t, she said, “You’ll have it sneak up on you and derail your life when you least expect it.”
I’m sure there are so many others I’m forgetting. I know I have received so many kind letters, emails, notes, and comments from so many of you. I just wanted to highlight the beauty and love and support that has been helpful beyond measure and has been extended to me. It can be easy to focus on the things that people say when they don’t know what to say and they are trying to help, but I want everyone to know that in my case, it’s hard to focus on that because I have so much love pouring in and so much support.
I have appreciated it more than words can say, and I will definitely return it by paying it forward as I continue on this journey in motherhood.