Arrow

December 7

Excitement and nerves filled us. My sister, Emily, showed up with snacks and smiles to distract Ainsley. Hunter and I got in the truck and headed on our way. The interstate was surprisingly clear. The weather was beautiful. I teased him “what if it is twins?”My dad had been offering name suggestions that complimented each other, just in case it was. Hunter was not amused. 

We parked and walked into the hospital, hand in hand, anxious and full of joy. They called us back into the ultrasound room where there were two techs waiting. One, I assume, was training the other. She sat at her computer and resumed her Christmas shopping. The seemingly inexperienced tech began by trying to get the ultrasound from outside of my belly. She didn’t see anything. I wasn’t surprised, as I had a transvaginal ultrasound for the first one with Ainsley. 

They started again, this time transvaginal. What seemed like a few minutes passed, when the “trainer” looked up from her screen. She asked from across the room, “Are you sure of the date of your last menstrual cycle?” “Yes.” I replied and panic consumed me. “Is something wrong” I asked trying to hold back the tears. She got up from her chair and walked over. I can still see her name tag in my head. Her name was Hope. Ironic, I thought. She explained to me how the gestational sac was measuring 5 wks 3 days. 2 weeks less than it should have been. It was attached to my uterus. But it looked empty. She suggested that maybe I ovulated late. And if that were the case, it was normal for them to not see anything. I began to try and calculate days and weeks  trying to come up with a scenario that confirmed her suggestion. It didn’t make sense. Something was wrong. They left the room for me to get dressed so that I could go meet with the midwife. The last one (there were three in there at this point) winked at me and told me to take my time. Another sign something was wrong.

I sobbed as the door closed behind them. Hunter, unsure of what just happened, held me. In between tears, I tried to tell him what I already knew. He told me to wait and see what the midwife said before jumping to conclusions. 

We went back to the waiting room. Pregnant women sitting all around us. A few minutes later, they called us back. They didn’t weigh me. They didn’t take my blood pressure. They put me in the room and closed the door for us to wait for the midwife. And once again, when the door shut, I wept. 

The midwife came in and explained it was most likely a blighted ovum. I should miscarry naturally but if I didn’t, interventions would be necessary. By the time we got home I was already bleeding. 

Empty

The gestational sac was empty and empty is how I often feel. Not my soul or my heart, really. Although there are spaces there I already made for the child I won’t get. I am constantly remindeded of my empty womb. It’s like when you get a new car and suddenly you notice every car similar to yours. I notice every pregnant woman. I see their growing bellies and remember that mine is empty. I hear tiny babies cooing and an reminded that the baby I was supposed to have July 22, 2016 never formed or stopped forming too soon.

 I have one heart beating inside of me when I had already made room in it to love another. 

I had names picked out. 

We had already told our family and friends that we see often. We barely made it a week, keeping it a secret. We planned on telling the rest of our family at Christmas. And then telling the world (Facebook) once we finished the first trimester. 

I looked at our Christmas stockings hanging and joyfully anticipated getting a fourth one. 

I worried about how I would love two children enough. Would my sweet Ainsley be ok sharing her parents? 

I never imagined my pregnancy would end before it should have. But it did. And I felt empty. 

Grief

Grief is weird. We all deal with it differently. I cried a lot. Hunter held it together mostly, for me. I felt better talking about it. This experience isn’t something I just wanted to sweep under the rug. For Hunter and I, it was life changing and something we won’t forget. Some of our family called, some sent texts daily, some visited often. Some avoided the subject all together. I know that it was an uncomfortable one. When people don’t know what to say, they don’t say anything. But I have to recommend taking a different approach, should you have a loved one go through such a tragedy, or any tragedy.

Because it is a tragedy. One that deserves grieving. It deserves compassion and love. It deserves a hug. It deserves a “thinking of you” text. There were many nights I couldn’t sleep because I was so mad and hurt. People I expected more from, didn’t show up. We had to find ways to cope and grieve but also felt pressure to keep it quiet, so we didn’t make others uncomfortable. And it is uncomfortable, I know that. But none of that compares to what Hunter and I were feeling. 

Every cramp or sight of blood was a reminder of what we lost. I had pregnancy symptoms for weeks after the miscarriage, as my hcg levels were dropping. That, I found to be especially cruel. 

Hunter not only lost the hope and excitement we shared over this pregnancy but he had to see me doubled over in pain. He knew I felt broken and he couldn’t fix it. He couldn’t take my pain away and for him, that is torture. Few people asked him how he was.

Ainsley knew we were expecting. One day she saw me crying and asked what was wrong. So I told her I wasn’t going to be having a baby anymore. She dropped her head and said “aw man I really wanted a brother or sister.” I replied with a lump in my throat “I know. We can just keep practicing with your baby dolls until the time is right.” “But I want a real baby” she responded. I cried more tears. Her eyes welled up with tears and she told me she didn’t want me to be sad anymore. So I sucked it up for my beautiful, amazing daughter. For a few weeks she would randomly tell me she was sorry I wasn’t having a baby. I thought “me too”, as I hugged her tightly. 

Miscarriage is not fun. It is many things. Fortunately, many people don’t know much about it. 

I’m not writing all of this to shame anyone. I am usually pretty good at recognizing what someone’s intentions are. I know everyone meant well. It’s just hard to be reasonable when you feel you are drowning in so many extreme emotions.  I cannot express in words how much I love our family. I am no longer angry. I’ve forgiven those that don’t know they hurt us. I just hope our experience can help someone support a loved one, should they ever find themselves in a nightmare. 

You don’t need to give your theories on why it happened.

I wouldn’t share details I think would make you uncomfotable. 

You don’t need to try to fix it, or us. You can’t. 

Just be there. Whether it’s a text or a meal. Let them (both of them) know you love them.

Simplicity is perfectly acceptable. Avoiding them is not. 

We are at a much better place now. 

I still notice every pregnant belly. I saw a lot at Disney. It could have been because we were planning on doing a cute announcement from there. I would have been just finishing my first trimester.

I had a wonderful time on that trip, enjoying what I do have. But every once in a while, when my heart feels like it’s just about to overflow, I remember my womb is empty. 

Courage 

I choose a word every year to try and incorporate into my life. 2014 was joy. 2015 was peace. And this year it’s courage. I hold myself back a lot because I am afraid of failing. But it’s amazing how something so deep can change so many things about you. Things that used to bother me, are nothing compared to what I felt on December 7.  

I want to be brave. 

I want to have courage, if and when, we get pregnant again.

That thought is very scary. Because I know what it’s like to lose one. It is an indescribable pain. 

And if you have ever experienced it, know that I hurt for you. I know there are families that lost their babies after they heard their little heart beat. They saw their sweet face. Some even held them for a short amount of time. You are so strong and I have hope for you. 

May we all have the courage to carry on.

Arrow

I read a quote about how arrows can only shoot forward after they have been pulled completely back. We chose to use an arrow to symbolize this moment in our lives. It has helped me grieve. 

Just like noticing pregnant women, I now notice arrows too. And I am reminded we will be ok.

We feel like we have been pulled back and have faith that we will shoot forward. 

With love -Callie

Waiting on 30

For years I have felt thirty was going to be my year. By then, I would know “my purpose”. I would have my life all figured out. Thirty just sounds good to me; not too young, not too old. Not a girl, not yet a woman… Or something like that.

But the problem is, I feel something stirring now, at twenty seven and a quarter.

It all started with a little soul searching.

I started to think about what people would use to describe me if they had to come up with my best qualities. I hit a wall. I’ve always considered myself average. I’m “kind of this” and “sort of that”.  Yet, I could easily give you a list of my flaws.

So I looked at that list of traits. The bad ones. I looked at it, studied it, figured out how I could change. But in those moments of criticizing myself, I found them! There, in between the lines of my list of coal, were my diamonds. Because it turns out, they are the same list.

The things I labeled negative could actually be positive, if you looked at them in a different light.

The biggest one being, I am sensitive. I’ve always hated it. I can cry over anything. I get hurt easily. My heart breaks daily for so many people. People I don’t even know, at times.

One time I watched this viral video of some cocoa farmers trying chocolate for the first time. Here they were spending day after day, busting their butts to harvest the beans and they didn’t even know what they were for. I know this may sound silly but think about all the things we take for granted. You probably wouldn’t even think of chocolate. There are people who have never even tasted it. I often tease Hunter when he is complaining about something (which we all do) saying “There are people who haven’t even tasted chocolate.” Search for the video and watch it. I can’t ever explain it well enough to give the full impact of it. You have to see their faces and reactions to get it.

Surrounded by Ainsley’s toys on Christmas morning, I felt sad. I thought of all of the children without any toys to play with, as we were trying to figure out where we could put all of hers. And there went another piece of my heart. 

I start to think, what can I do? It’s so overwhelming. It is much easier to just shut it all out and return to my circle of comfort. How can I make a difference? I don’t have any gifts or talents. Oh, but I do. I am sensitive. Or to rephrase it, I care deeply. I love fiercely.

And maybe that is my purpose. To show as many people as I can, a little love. There are so many people in this world, better yet, in our towns who don’t feel loved. If we could each spread love and show kindness to just a few people, think of how far it could go. Because they could take it, add their talent and gifts to it, and pass it along.

Because goodness is contagious, when you allow it to be. Maybe for you that’s buying someone coffee. Maybe you can buy just a little bit more at the grocery store to donate to the food pantry. Find a credible charity to help out. Or it can be as simple as smiling at a stranger as you pass them by. Touching the hand of the cashier as she hands you your change. Calling someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, just to let them know you’re thinking of them. Complimenting someone. Etc.

Spread goodness. Share laughter. Search for joy. Be the light.

I feel the flicker of a flame in my heart. My light is getting brighter. I don’t know exactly how I will change the world. But I can start with sharing love and kindness with as many people as possible.

So, if you’re having trouble finding your best qualities, look at what you have already labeled as your worst. Maybe your purpose is hidden in your “faults”.

I think there are big plans for this average girl, yet. And I’m not waiting on 30.

Callie