I had a miscarriage…

It’s much easier to type those words than to speak them aloud, but it’s true. In April 2020, I suffered a miscarriage, and it has completely changed me. I couldn’t and still can’t believe it happened. No shade to other women who have experienced this painful, life-changing event, but I never imagined it would happen to me. No woman ever believes it’ll happen to her. Here I am, a mother of two healthy, living children that were birthed with no complications. How could this happen to me?

When you become pregnant, there is a taboo around sharing the news of your pregnancy before 12 weeks because statistics show that early miscarriage is very common. I always followed the pattern of not sharing before 12 weeks. Honestly, I never say anything before 5 months of pregnancy. With my third pregnancy, I was planning on doing the same thing. I would be sharing the news of my pregnancy at the end of May 2020, only to have lost my beautiful child at the end of April. 

Unlike some women (my heart goes out to those struggling to conceive), my husband and I weren’t trying to conceive a child. We were practicing natural family planning. I had no idea I was pregnant until I was almost through the first trimester. As soon as I began to accept our reality and became excited, my pregnancy began to end. My heart was shattered. I’m still shattered. I’ve condemned myself over and over again for still mourning my angel. Feeling as though I’m being dramatic. But God… But my husband… But therapy… they help me so much. 

In general, I am not one who copes with the death of a loved one very well. So when I lost my child… it ended me. It ended the woman I once knew, was, and was becoming. Why would God allow this to happen to me? I wasn’t even trying to get pregnant, so why let it happen to only put me through pain? I was so angry with God. I felt abandoned by Him. I couldn’t understand Him. I felt disconnected from Him. However, I didn’t know what else to do so I continued to pray. I continued to ask Him for help. Cried out to Him endlessly. I told Him how much He hurt me every day. I felt like he’d broken me. 

I knew about miscarriages, but I wasn’t educated. When I was in the beginning stages of my loss, I immediately thought of my friend who’d shared her experience with me. I couldn’t remember what I had said to her, but I knew that I owed her an apology. I knew that I didn’t have a true understanding of the impact the loss of pregnancy had on a woman, so I knew I probably offered very insensitive and unsolicited advice. I knew this because everything everyone (with the exception of a few) has said to me throughout this healing journey was completely hurtful and unhelpful. It wasn’t what I wanted nor needed to hear to “feel better.” 

For the most part, pregnancy and infant loss is a taboo topic. No one talks about it, many women sit in silence as they mourn, and others are shamed for sharing their pain publicly. People only want to see the beauty of pregnancy, and that completely dismisses the community of women who are still mothers to precious angels they didn’t get enough time with. Many people will minimize the amount of pain a woman feels when losing a child if she experienced her loss early in pregnancy. A loss is a loss. Women experience pregnancy loss differently. Some women have no idea they’ve lost their baby until an ultrasound confirms no heartbeat, while others experience bleeding and cramping. Some have to get surgery to clear out their uterus, while others give birth to their lifeless child over a toilet. Some women experience labor in a hospital bed only to hold their baby for minutes to an hour. There are so many variables. 

I tried posting to social media as normal for months. Pretending like nothing had happened and that I was ok. Posting pictures with fake smiles and laughs while suffering from anxiety and bouts of depression. It’ll be a year since my miscarriage in 4 weeks. I still have so much to say and share. This is the first time in a long time where my fingers just simply went to work on the keyboard. I tried so hard to blog last year, but I couldn’t. The topics meant nothing to me because I felt like my life was falling apart. I had fallen apart. So if this post is all over the place, forgive me. I literally picked up my computer and just poured out my heart. I will be sharing MUCH more as so much has happened in a year, and I’m beginning to feel encouraged and excited about life again. 

I came across a Facebook post from a woman that I felt stole the words right from my heart. She spoke my experience so clearly. I feel seen every time I read it. I hope it touches you and brings a little more enlightenment to you.

“No one talks about the messy parts of miscarriage. No one talks about the painful details. No one talks about the cramping, the labor, the bleeding, the postpartum hormones raging-all without a sweet snuggly baby as a reward. No one talks about the “products of miscarriage.” The baby that comes out of you, just as it would full grown… only much, much smaller. The placenta. The blood. The horrendous pain and wearing of what feels like diapers 24/7 for days or even weeks. No one talks about what you should do with the tiny, perfectly formed body you just birthed. If it’s under a certain ‘gestational age’ it’s left up to you. Do you bury it? Do you cremate? Do you toss it in the garbage?! Do you flush?! If it landed in the toilet? What do you do?! And why doesn’t anyone tell you these are decisions you will have to make? Why doesn’t anyone speak up? No one should have to make a decision like that in the moment of extreme emotion, trauma, and pain. No one should have to look back and wish they had done something differently. Wished they had known there were options. We need to do things differently. When I was pregnant with my oldest, and especially after his labor & postpartum, I remember thinking “why didn’t anyone tell me it would be like this?” And here I am again. On the other side, wondering “why no one ever told me it would be like this?” So, I’m here. I’m standing up. If you ever find yourself in this horrible place… reach out to me. I will share the messy parts, the hard parts, the important decisions and moments of grief, pain, and healing to come. I will speak up.” -Annalise Washburn

How Does Self-Care Really Work?

Everywhere you look there is a reminder about why self-care is important and needed. As a mother… as a woman… there’s no way you could miss the reoccurring message. It pops up as if it is God sending you a message on how to ease some of your struggles. I follow several women and mom blogs, podcasts, and friends, and it’s beautiful to see everyone making self-care a priority. Everyone has their own idea of what self-care looks like because well… SELF-care! I have searched, researched, and tried many routines, and I’ve finally learned what works for me.

For years, I thought I was inconsistent and lazy when it came to my self-care. So I began to read more on how I could change that. Through my research, I never saw “Do Self-Care.” Most articles and professionals say “Practice Self-Care.” The dictionary defines practice in the verb form as “performing (an activity) or exercising (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency.” My issue is that I would focus more on doing self-care rather than practicing it. Doing it just because rather than practicing it to create a habit. I learned that participating in self-care consists of first choosing the types of self-care that you will practice (Whew! and that list goes on and on) and being consistent (the routine). When I pondered upon that, I realized that I’m not truly inconsistent, self-care is just seasonal for me.

I, like so many of you, have gone through many seasons in my life. Each time I need a different self-care routine to get me through. When I was breastfeeding my youngest daughter, self-care was me eating freely while binge-watching shows on Netflix. It then turned into adding some candles with peaceful tunes playing in the background while reading a book. Once my breastfeeding journey ended, I needed to be outdoors! I began to practice self-care by hanging out with my friends more and attending events that fed my soul. When I fell into a season of postpartum depression and needing my husband home from the road, self-care was quality time with him. When my hair was falling out from stress, my routine turned into taking care of the physical part of me by working out, taking care of my hair (includes frequent visits to the hair salon), and working on my skin.

Currently, I am in a season of healing mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Wholly and fully. I’ve had to choose my forms of self-care carefully and strategically. I need something that will tend to each area that I’m struggling in. I’ve had to remain open to them changing based on my need at any given time. I am leaning heavily onto journaling when I can’t voice how I’m feeling and my thoughts are running rampant. I sit outside on my balcony or in my car in total silence when I’m overwhelmed or I need peace (because…kids). I’ve gotten back into art (drawing, painting, crafting) in order to add to my therapeutic healing and release. I also FINALLY made the big step of reaching out to a therapist. In addition to those mentioned earlier, I’ve been trying to remain connected to God. I’ve been doing my best to pray and talk with Him, read devotionals, stay consistent with online church services and bible studies (due to social distancing), listen to uplifting music, download meditation apps, and more. On the physical end of things, it’s a work in progress. I’m getting back into working out, interested in yoga, and the urge to purchase a bike came out of nowhere today before I wrote this post.

I now see self-care as a way of healing. Healing your mind, body, and soul. Some choose the spa, vacation, massages, new hobbies, and more. It’s important to remember the root word “self” in self-care. You can be inspired by others and try their routines out for yourself, but it doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. Self-care is customizable. Maybe you can’t afford to go to a spa (especially now that Covid-19 has changed our way of living), but you can create a spa-like experience at home. The scope of self-care is endless. It can be as small as (which is actually huge) taking a social media break, going for a daily walk, watering your plants, taking a moment to sit in silence for 1-minute, and practicing breathing techniques.

If I’m being honest, self-care can be difficult and often feel like hard work. I tend to have to force myself to do things for myself, and it’s another task to do them consistently. However, considering my current needs, I can’t imagine not making a little time for myself. My children nor my husband would get the best version of me. Hence, my reason for seeking therapy. I’ve found myself irritable, sad, mad, shutdown, overwhelmed, not sleeping, hair falling out, and more when not caring for myself. This journey is still taking a lot of practice, effort, and intentionality, but I’m pushing daily to remember my importance and make myself a priority. I AM IMPORTANT. I AM NEEDED. I AM LOVED. I AM STRONG. I AM POWERFUL. I AM RESILIENT… I AM WORTHY! And so are YOU!  I’ve accepted that as I grow and as the seasons of my life change, so will my self-care routine. I talk a lot about not comparing myself or my journey to others, but I really failed myself in the past by comparing my self-care to others.

That stops now.

 

Home Is Where the Support Is

Now that I am finally back to momming, wifing and blogging like I used to, I thought I would give a little update on my mental, emotional and location status. Six months ago, I wrote News Flash: We’re Moving!! My family was making a huge move to South Carolina and preparing for a crazy transition. While I was nervous about the move, I was excited for the change of surrounding. Well we made the move, but we moved right back to DC.

South Carolina was beautiful to be honest. I loved being able to walk outdoors with no shoes on, hearing all of the birds chirping and simply experiencing all of what nature had for me. There weren’t any loud bangs or drilling from construction… no loud horns from traffic… and I repeat… NATURE! While dangerous, we saw several alligators in the neighborhood, some turtles, blue jays, red robins and more. I was able to connect with some amazing moms down there also. They were stay-at-home moms who also homeschooled and I instantly clicked with them in-person. With them around, I didn’t feel as alone. However, they weren’t “home.”

Taniya began to like the new area, but quickly grew to miss DC where my mother and her friends were because she wasn’t doing well with making new friends in South Carolina. She was able to make a few, but it wasn’t enough to keep her from dreaming about when she’d be able to make another visit home. I checked in with her bi-weekly to see how she was coping with the transition, and her answer remained the same. I like it here, but it’s not home. I miss my family and friends back home.

Jayla was NOT doing well at all. During the day she was her normal self, but at night?! It was the newborn stage all over again! She had just turned one before we moved and began to sleep longer during the night, as well as drinking almond milk. When we made the move, Jayla struggled falling asleep, woke up every 1-2 hours, and heavily depending on breastfeeding. I knew that it would take some time because it was a different environment, but three months later there was no progress.

I continued to lose sleep rather than gain. I was homeschooling, unpacking, tending to a sensitive and teething toddler, tending to an excited but timid 7-year-old, missing my husband while he was away on the road while also trying to cope with the transition as well. It got so hard and so dark very quick. I couldn’t handle it emotionally or mentally. That’s when postpartum depression (I Am Not A Burden) hit me hard and I felt like I was slowly dying in the inside. I was not happy at all.

Because it was a new location, and I was just getting familiar with my new mom friends in person,  I didn’t feel comfortable with leaving my children with anyone. This resulted in me having both of my daughters 24/7 with no breaks. I had no alone time and I was breaking down. My support system was back in DC. Those who knew when I needed an hour to myself… Those who would call and ask if they could stop by. They weren’t near. We arrived in late November. By mid February I new South Carolina wasn’t our home. Home was where my support was. I was ok with that.

The great part about moving away was learning that I don’t have to mother alone. Taking care of my children is not up just to me, it’s up to my village, James and I. It truly does take a village to raise children. For so long I had it in my mind that because I decided to become a mother, that it was my duty to do and be everything. I was so wrong. That statement doesn’t mean that my village is supposed to take care of my children all the time. It means taking care of my husband and I also. Taking the girls for a little so that we can have some time to pour into each other as husband and wife. Giving me some time to myself and allowing me to come back to my children refreshed. In order for this to happen, I had to become comfortable with knowing that I needed help and asking for it with confidence.

The hard part was making accommodations to move all of our things back to DC. It took a lot, but it happened. We’re back home with my mom for the time being and I’m in no rush to move. I want us to take this time to get a game plan in place and build ourselves financially. Moving back and forth in a 4-month span took a toll on our bank accounts so we don’t want to make any sudden moves.

All in all, I’ve learned that “You live and you learn.” I felt so dumb for how everything played out, but I wouldn’t have grown the way that I did had we not made that move. Moving away put so many things in perspective for me and has truly forced me to create boundaries in order to protect my family and I.

Through this experience, God truly forced me to evaluate myself and how I operate. I need to have people around me who I can ask for help and not feel like I am burdening them. I’m always a listening ear and supporter emotionally for others. I need to make sure I have people around me who can do the same for me. And most importantly… self care! I am so important! I have to remember that. One of my biggest fears is my children losing me at a young age. If I keep up with the lack of self-care shenanigans, that will become a reality.

I didn’t plan on writing about our moving back home because I was embarrassed about our plans not going well after making such a big hoopla about it. But I began to feel more confident and gain more clarity. I also kept running into people who kept saying, “what are you doing here? I thought you were in South Carolina?!”