Seeking Light

I press my face into the soft, donut shaped pillow and take a long, three-count breath. I try to steady myself, push the anxiety, tightness in my stomach and pressure in my temples away. I must lock the grief, frustration, and the acute work stress somewhere to allow this bodywork… to actually work. I inhale as a barely visible needle is placed down my spine, then another and another. I hate needles… I think to myself, I must be crazy. My acupuncturist squeezes my hand and checks my pulse; her calming manner and inspiring words encourage me to give in. To give myself over to this new world of unique self-care. I gently close my eyes and allow the pressure of the glass suction cups on my shoulders to melt into my skin.

Someone asked me just this week what the red circular marks were all over my back. My answer confounded them. “Well… I can’t keep a pregnancy, so I’ve decided to do just about anything someone advises me to try. I’m taking about 7 types of vitamins, two styles of Progesterone, they’re telling me to eat animal protein, exercise with weights to build testosterone, acupuncture, therapy, meditation, cupping which is what leaves the marks. I could easily be made into a Saturday Night Live character.” As I looked up, her mouth was open… “Oh honey”… probably more information than this acquaintance had bargained for. I have no filter for this period in my life. I am slowly realizing that I am wearing this experience all over me, which means I am probably not the best at a party. Alcohol makes me cry. My babies’ faces make me cry. The love permeating out of their beautiful eyes reminds me how much I want this again.

I have not written for a while, contributing to an overall sense of imbalance. The truth is, when I pause long enough to think of what to say, it has not been all together cheery in the last six months. The compliment I receive on my writing is typically that despite the struggle, I find the light and positivity by the end of any post. Given the ride I have ridden since last October, positivity and light are things I have had to work very hard to find and in small increments. I know I have climbed into this car willingly- seeking another chance at motherhood- a chance at this experience with the unique and mesmerizing love I have in my now husband. Yet when the car has hit the edge of the road and careened wildly out of control, I have been oddly unprepared emotionally. One would think that multiple miscarriages would prepare the brain for repeated loss. It does not. One would think that I would be able to protect my heart from the acute sadness in seeing a newborn baby nestled on a mother’s chest. I cannot. So here I finally sit, blog open, heart exposed to tell you how it’s been.

I’ve been pregnant off and on for six months as many of you well know. My body still carries the reminders that this was not some awful dream. My abdomen is still strangely swollen near the scar that bears a reminder of having Landon, my hips still struggling in my smaller clothing. I still grow oddly quiet when I see babies on hips, the mothers curiously looking at me as I gaze at their children with tears in my eyes. I have finally come out of the clouds this past month, following my pattern of grief that eventually I find more peace each day. My car eventually clicks back into the lane as I press forward. Preparing my mind and heart for another try at this.

In choosing to fill myself with all forms of self-love recently, I have also found my meditation practice to be an incredible gift – almost like hitting the reset button on my anxiety. Before this new practice, I walked around in a haze, not wanting to claim my everyday life. The stress from my job, the details of each miscarriage has clearly had an impact on my body and mind, and I have not been exactly living a life of light, balance and passion. As for meditation, I would do it intermittently. I have never had anything resembling a practice… until now. For once in quite awhile, I can more clearly see what passions I want to pursue career wise again. I am lighter and smile more often. I actually am living my mindfulness mantras.  While the clouds have begun parting, one deep attachment has stuck.

When I wake most mornings, I immediately I crave one tiny, indisputably precious face to kiss, her little body to hug. To replace the loneliness for a baby, I have found myself longing each day for my Landon. It is more fierce than usual… she must sense it. Her five-year-old brain is rife with ways to get what she wants, and I am sure she knows she has me where she wants me. When she is not at our house, tears hit my eyes the instant I find one of her ponies or fold her tiny clothing. The intensity of my love for her is palpable. My need to see her is beyond a normal mother’s connection to her child. It is an almost desperate need to make sure she knows her mother loves her, and to see before very my own eyes that I did indeed create this child. It is living, talking proof that I was successful at carrying her and that I could do this. For some of my week, I get my wish, and I get to wake both girls up and take care in picking bows and socks. The other days, the emptiness settles against my chest, my furrowed brow remains creased and I push forward through my day. While this has eased in recent weeks, I certainly know that I hold her longer and probably tighter than my usual hugs and I certainly ask for more of them.

My dearest acupuncturist, wellness coach, and therapist — all three tell me to make space for the grief. Saving space in my heart for loved ones is a natural thing. Creating space my heart for grief is less comfortable. I would rather workout, take a bike ride, read, even go to work than sit with grief. It feels futile and wasteful, but without facing grief, it simply follows you around like a nagging fly buzzing around your head. And it caught up to me two months ago. I sat, tears streaming, in front of Eric and desperately could not catch my breath. He walked me through a breathing exercise, a gentle reminder that when you feel you cannot control the world, what you can control is your breath. You can always return to it. While we’ve done these exercises before, and certainly have done yoga classes infused with breath coaching, I’ve not done a long exercise and it work quite like that one did. I was fascinated.

This journey for me has been twofold. In the first phase, I craved isolation, terrible television shows and my velvet couch. I can wallow with the best of them, but rarely sit and allow myself to think and feel the pain. Instead, I fill my brain with whatever Netflix thinks I might enjoy. Since the binge watching and couch snuggling were getting me nowhere, I finally stopped dancing with the idea of meditating regularly, and actually started doing it. Some of my nearest and dearest have said they cannot make the jump to practice. Hey, my shelves are full of books with good intentions too. However, my wellness coach sat across from me recently, showing me data from my very own cells and made a compelling point. My hormone levels have bottomed out. Almost all due to my stress levels in the last five years. My self-care has truly only involved exercise and it is no longer enough. My cloudy headspace and anxious core are no longer acceptable if I want to create a positive place for new life. I have realized that if I want to find daily happiness, I need to find my breath.

So how does one start meditating when the pace of your life interrupts any quiet you find? For me, who focuses on the logistics, I had to make some shifts. I wake up earlier and my sleep routine sunsets with a body scan. I also needed a coach and found one in my favorite Mediation Studio App. Why try all these things? Why not just trust that biology and regular old science can make this a baby happen for us? Frankly, I have never been one for settling for convention. Who is to say that these ancient forms of medicine, balanced with studying my cells and necessary supplements, are not the path to the good kind of sleepless nights? There is a beautiful Rumi quotation and one I shared with Eric in the infancy of our relationship.

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This wound I have had for almost a year now, this place I have sought to heal with exercise, wine, bad television, this place that still hurts… is important. This wound is how I will grow. This is allowing me to realize how I want to soon make a living and spend my days. This wound has taught me a mindfulness practice that I longed for these past ten years. While it’s new, I’m certain of its impact. From this journey, beautiful things have begun to emerge. Along the way, I have begun returning to myself, begun to once again love this imperfect body, and forgive myself for the fact that my past and current stress has hurt me and made pregnancy harder. I am learning to leave the shame alone, not to grab it and wrestle with it as before. I am learning, and what a beautifully simple gift that is. Here I am now, seeking light, and marveling at the journey along the way.

Namaste friends,

Eloise

Who has time to be depressed anyway?

There’s no convenient time to be depressed. Someone needs you to fasten a doll’s skirt, finish the presentation, find their doll’s shoe, think five steps ahead of your manager to try to anticipate what will be needed next, remember it’s free dress day, hand you their water, do research on business as a platform, find a lovey, remember it’s a half day, make dinner, try to be a good wife, and oh have another miscarriage.  Lately my dance card has been a balancing act of executive meetings, attempting to be a good mom, and secret physical and emotional agony. Cramping and other horrific things that happen when you miscarry, have to be secondary because people need you to keep your shit together. No 8 or 5 year old wants their pancakes with a side of mom sobs.

So just when I thought maybe the anger and emotional roller coaster might skip me this miscarriage, I found myself putting waffles on the table, while Eric has been out of town, and running upstairs to sob to my best friend in my closet. A short while later, I come down and put on my brave face and try to forget for the day. But when the sisters try on their bickering pants, I am crying behind my sunglasses. “Naps for everyone I exclaim!” As I crawled in bed yesterday, I finally admitted to myself that I might be losing the parenting battle.

This is Eric and my second loss. My third miscarriage all together. The cycle for these last two has been a quiet sadness, when I first think something bad might happen, followed by short breaths as if I possibly move less or live a quieter life that I can make it stop. When this does not work, and this hope for another child is gone, it’s accompanied by the inevitable, intense physical pain, and then two to three weeks of emotional fall out. I intend the last part to be dramatic on purpose. I fully fall into depression as my hormones plummet, and I’m parked there as we speak. This is an I-don’t-want-to-get-outta-bed sadness and when someone asks if I’m okay, I can’t even fake it. “No, not yet,” I say or in the case of this morning: “No, my husband is out of town, and I need to workout and I still look pregnant” style of unloading I did on my poor friend at Pure Barre today. Sorry Lauren.

Who has time to be depressed? I feel like it has to fit into my trips to the bathroom to change the incredibly ridiculous pads I have to wear.  I remember when I’ve struggled before, way back pre-Landon in my twenties and even then it still seems like a selfish waste of time. Back then when a completely different type of loss surrounded me. I recall talking my dog to the park and losing my shit on a bench overlooking Sheep’s Meadow. People scurried away from us and Kingsley licked my salty tears for an hour. I could just sit there as I had all the time in the world to feel as sad as I wanted to. Now, in this life I’ve wanted for so long, it feels even more insane to be depressed. I read one of those quotes this morning that while it rings true, it’s also kind of annoying at the same time…

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Okay, yeah I get it, I remember. Thanks Instagram. I have a loving husband who says all the right things, and also actually really cares. I have two beautiful girls who love me and love each other (most of the time). I have a naturally born daughter who has made me the absolute best version of myself. I have a great job, and am recognized daily for what I contribute. I have a family who is considerate and wildly helpful every day- thank you Nunu x 1,000. And friends- mostly far away who love loudly and comfort me even when I’ve woken them up with my phone calls. This loss isn’t dismissive of the beautiful things in my life. It’s simply a loss that cannot be ignored. I learned last November, after a full month of grief, that it absolutely takes time to heal your head, heart and body. What you have doesn’t heal you, it’s patience, love of others and mainly love of self. It’s my therapist, and quiet moments with this blog. It’s walking on the beach and crying into the ocean. It’s telling your tribe that you are not okay and letting them in. It’s all of these things and more, since I learn more about what grief is each time this has happened. So while this weekend’s emotion has surprised me, even when it really shouldn’t, I’m trying to just be gentle on myself. Depression is what it is, and I can’t find my way out by pretending it’s not happening.

I say this each time, but I mean it each time. If you have experienced loss, I see you and love you. I also cherish your lost due dates and feel your pain when you see other happily and easily pregnant women. I understand the roller coasters and am here to say, “me too” to not feeling okay. I’m in it now and I am accepting that depression does not wait for a convenient time in your life. When it arrives, you can try to welcome it and handle it with patience and love.

Onward dear friends. Hoping to see you on the up and up very soon.

XOXO,

Eloise

Life after Miscarriage: While I grieve, I hope

As I opened my eyes this morning, I reached down to my abdomen and gently rubbed my hand from side to side.  As has been a customary practice most mornings for the past month and a half, I wake up by saying good morning to what would be coming next June. This morning I suddenly flinched from painful cramping and my tearful eyes opened, remembering suddenly that it’s all gone. Sleep was thankfully welcome last night after taking something at the doctor’s office yesterday for the procedure. So welcome in fact that I’d forgotten what had happened, dreaming instead of a sandy blonde baby on my hip with Eric’s brown eyes and my oval face. The reminder this morning was like a cruel joke the universe plays on mothers who lose pregnancies- physical pain to match the emotional.

Yesterday morning in Pure Barre I instinctively excused myself to the bathroom. Although there were very little warnings signs this time, I had a dreaded instinct. Maybe things like this are why they call it “a woman’s intuition.” There I sat, while the loud music blared and watched the bright red warning sign appear. Scurrying out of the building, I stumbled into the dark, freezing parking lot. It’s happening. It’s happening again. I sat in my car for a minute recounting what it felt like three years ago- guilt, sadness, pain, relief, confusion and intense physical pain. It was such a complicated time back then, so different from my life now. Remembering my mental state years ago  brought on loud sobbing that filled the empty parking lot. I had always thought I’d lost that other pregnancy because it was too complicated of a time and marriage, but this one… born out of immense, life changing love was SO wanted by us both. It was something we’ve wanted since we first met, and something we planned for and loved from the moment we knew.

I quietly began to drive home, and called Eric. I couldn’t speak, my voice caught in my throat and I knew he knew. “There’s blood, I finally sobbed. There’s a lot of blood.” He calmly breathed deeply with me so I could drive carefully. I began actively breathing as if doing one of our meditations… maybe by being calm nothing would happen to the baby I thought. After hanging up, I begged with the universe “Please don’t take it, please. Please stay, we love you, please don’t leave.” I called my mother and hearing her loving voice continued to help increase my hope. She also tried to calm me down and helped me get over the bridge home. Having experienced several miscarriages in her life, she knows just how complicated the pain really is. She reassured me again… there was still hope. We didn’t know yet and just needed to take one step at a time.

Laying back while the ultrasound began, the doctor had the mobile sonogram machine facing her, as she slowly moved the monitor toward me, my face crumbled and tears streamed down my face. The egg sack was empty and the embryo with the flickering heartbeat from two weeks ago had vanished. There was nothing but a vacant home for where our baby should be. Pain ricocheted through my body as a confirmation- it was over.  Once we were alone, our sobs broke wide open. After pouring tears into each others’ shoulders, we looked up with love and reminded one another that we still have so much hope. Hope and so much love to give to the future, to our two girls and what might still be some day. For now, we have to grieve the planning, the names on our lists, the visions and dreams but while we grieve, we hope. Hope doesn’t quiet the pain however, it doesn’t soothe me as I sit here and cry into my sweatshirt. But having it out there, like a beacon for what might still be… is one of the healthiest things I can think to hold onto.

Since a miscarriage’s emotional pain is always coupled with physical pain, I then had this aptly named, pretty horribly sounding procedure. A manual vacuum aspiration is different than a DNC in that you can stay in your doctor’s office. As we waited for the medication to settle in, a sweet older nurse placed her hand on my knee “I’m so sorry honey.” She turned to my kind and darling Eric, “honey can I get you anything?” And in that question she made sure to remind him he’s a part of of this as well. We are enduring this loss and pain together as one team. He thanked her and we settled in for what was to come next.  The details too fresh in my memory and too gory for my own literary taste, I will mention that as horrible as yesterday was, very kind and loving people helped us begin to close our most recent chapter- one where we were a party of five.  At the very end of the visit, the doctor sat with us and reminded me of the statistics, some I’d learned years ago.

One in four pregnant women have a miscarriage. While this data point softens the grief slightly, I recall being shocked back then that I didn’t think I knew a single friend who’d had one. Or did I? I sat down after a week and wrote a piece on my old blog. I had women from all over the spectrum of my life reach out with “me too’s” and encouraging notes. Why had I not known how many people I loved had experienced this complicated loss?  We talked for about a week around the physical and emotional assault our bodies endured, but then all of our discussions were neatly tucked back under the rugs, put back on their shelves in our hearts, not often mentioned again. But, I found myself at a party very recently, while I was secretly 8 weeks pregnant, talking to a new friend about her miscarriages. She spoke with so much hope and determination that each one isn’t a setback but instead a reminder that her body can do do great things and of her desire keep trying. I also very recently nestled in a corner of another get together and talked to my darling friend about her trials of IVF for 6 long years. The incredible tales of these families- husbands and wives alike – and all we go through for love, for our desire to spread our love and desire to nurture into this world.

Friends, loved ones, let’s not hide our losses. Let’s not feel we must grieve these painful losses, setbacks and struggles alone. Let’s not live in this world of secrecy anymore. The more we give voices to what we go through to have children, the more we can possibly normalize miscarriages, loss and struggles to conceive. And maybe by raising our voices up together during these times, the less we will feel alone and the more hope we can resurrect… together.

I commit to discussing it more often, to bringing an end to my own silence. I will need your love and support now and in the future as my fears will certainly surface whenever we do try again. For now I will continue to breathe love and hope into this pain and welcome your love and anything that any of you wish to share as well. So to celebrate the joy we felt in recent months, here are photos full of so much love and enduring hope.

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Sending love and hope into the world today.

xoxo

Eloise