The heart wants what it wants. If the heart wants something that triggers intense pain or strong reactions, resist the urge to shut it down. The goal is not to repress what the heart is stirred to express (hopes, losses, despairs, longings) but rather to hold it all in love….and then release. Staying in the flow of life means feeling what needs to be felt. This alone does not make you a victim of life–it’s the story you tell about the feelings that create liberation or victimization.art by Lori Portka.
When I started writing this blog I had no idea the blog’s name — mourning dove motherhood–would take on so many varied meanings. I originally named the blog in honor of all the mourning doves that visited me shortly after my mom died. I had no idea that I’d go on to grieve more motherhood related losses, namely the loss of a pregnancy, and now the infertility too. (Jeesh maybe I should have picked a different blog name!)
To quote my doctor:
“The patient presents with the following problems. Period. New paragraph. One period. Advanced maternal age period. Two period. Reduced egg supply period. Three period. Wilson’s Disease recessive carrier period.”
Why thank you, infertility doctor awkwardly dictating your case notes while we are still sitting in the room. I’m glad to have a recap. And that does pretty much recap the situation. Hmm but does it?
Actually, I think I maybe I should dictate this. . .
“The patient presents as a woman emerging from a difficult and transform-ative five year period that took a toll on her body period Patient experienced significant loss comma which combined with the stress of young motherhood comma left her feeling tapped out and dried up period. Patient believes her body is physically manifesting this inner state period. Patient would love to tell the fertility doctor that she believes her yin has been significantly reduced comma resulting in infertility comma and consequently her recovery requires nurturing and cultivating her yin forward slash feminine energy and bringing balance to her doshas opening parenthesis especially because her vata was incredibly aggravated which can lead to infertility closing parenthesis period. Patient would also like to describe the current look on the fertility doctor’s face as quote boggled comma confused comma horrified comma and unable to compute with clinician’s brain end quote period. LOL period.”
Just to be clear, my version was not uttered aloud because I’m pretty sure his brain would have exploded all over his desk and it would have made quite a mess on his 27″ monitor that he treasures for showing patients charts, statistical analyses and the occasional (and accidental) view of his Facebook feed.
I suppose both dictations represent the two polarized views of my situation. The very, very left brain masculine energy (which we all have) analyzing with logic and data, juxtaposed with the highly intuitive and creative right brain feminine energy (which we also all have–with the exception of this doctor. Just kidding. He has it in him somewhere I’m sure). Both are true and both are not the entire truth. The truth is both. Deep man.
(Maybe it is time to change my blog name and thereby my future. How about “Forty-Year-Old’s Return To Vitality and Health and AMAZING Advanced Maternal Age Pregnancy and Birth blog!” Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it does it. Might need to work on that. Any suggestions?)
I am so excited to share with you all that a piece I wrote, ‘Seven Things Nobody Tells You About Miscarriage” has been published on Mommyish.com! They are all about sharing the day-to-day truths related to ‘parenting imperfect’–what better home for some truth-telling about miscarriage than their site?
(Plus Mommyish loves listicles–even listicles about miscarriage despite the fact my husband thinks it’s creepy. Plus they appreciate my love of animated gifs. My piece even includes a gif from Jane the Virgin! AND LIZ LEMON IN A SNUGGIE.)
Needless to say I’m a little bit excited about this (ok a LOT!) because it is my first official byline. And nearly a paid one at that! (Alas, I wrote a previous version of the piece on this blog so they can’t pay me. But just the idea that I could have been paid makes me want to dance a little jig!)
Thanks for reading, as always. Have a great weekend!
I was going to write about grief but even I am tired of writing about grief. I know, you probably didn’t think it was possible. I gotta say you all are pretty awesome for hanging with me. I often astound myself by how much I can write about it. (I mean hello it is why I started this blog so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised but yet, I am surprised sometimes. I really am). Occasionally I think, what is wrong with me, and then I visit my “Dead Parent’s Club” facebook group (yes that’s the real name, and they are as awesome as they sound) and everyone else is struggling with an anniversary or milestone just like me and I go, okay. This is normal.
And then I was going to write about meditation and how yesterday after just sitting with my emotions for ten minutes (using the Insight Timer which I highly recommend!), I was there, just sitting and giving presence to what is (why is that so hard? and yet we resist don’t we), and no joke, about ten minutes after meditating I suddenly just…cried. A release. It was good and needed. Sunday will be three years since my mom died. Oh, and was supposed to be the due-date of the pregnancy that I lost. I KNOW, YOU CANNOT MAKE THIS UP. Well I’d sensed my body had been holding in. (Ha! Imagine that.) And then, meditation and release. Huh. Amazing. Works so much better than endless scrolling on Facebook or eating my daughter’s extra-cheesy goldfish crackers. Which are delicious but should not be used for emotion-eating.
But I am not writing about that. I am too tired. My child keeps waking up at 5am (FIVE FREAKING A.M.) and last night I went to bed too late which means I am running on way too little sleep. So here I am with my Cuban coffee (one perk of living in south Florida is the abudance of amazing cuban coffees….a perk…did you catch that–ha!) and my kid wants to PLAY instead of watch Calliou (as if!) (of course I don’t blame her, I can’t stand that little dude). And I’m a huge fan of play except when I’m not, which is right now because momma wants to write!
So instead I won’t write. I will pickup the myriad of messes that my child created in less than ten minutes. The “caterpillar” which is twenty plates laid out in a line on the floor…the watercolors which I will say are a lovely mix of purples, blues and greens (she has an eye for color). And alllll the other messes. But don’t worry, I don’t plan to dust.
Life is good. Grief is okay. Meditating helps. Caillou however does not help.
Sending love to you all.
Anyone else out there sometimes just think, really more grief? Really? REALLY? Just me? 🙂
I don’t want to brag or anything but yesterday I vacuumed my floor and I thought about dusting a few surfaces. And I bathed my child. But then she put brown marker all over her legs because she apparently wants “faces of her daddy” on her upper thigh. Which would be sweet but shit now it looks like I didn’t bathe my kid! I want credit for this people.
I think yesterday was the first time since my child was born that I actually entertained the idea of dusting my house. Not because I am a monster or anything–I like clean surfaces as much as the next gal–but who on Goddess’s green earth has time to dust when they work full-time and have a young child? And still have time to watch Mr. Robot? (WHICH IS AMAZING AND IS MY NEW ADDICTION BECAUSE I FINISHED ALL SEASONS OF VEEP, WHICH I ALSO LOVE.)
I am reveling in this new stage of parenthood, this stage that allows me to have the time to consider dusting. I was thinking about this yesterday, how it feels like everything is less chaotic. I thought about how different it would be if I were still pregnant and giving birth in a week or two.
Yes, that is roughly when my pregnancy would have come to term if I hadn’t miscarried.
This is very strange to consider because so much has changed since February.
Let’s review it shall we?
I found a spiritual community.
I began doing ink and watercolor again after decades of not doing it.
I started singing again.
I committed to writing nearly daily and taking scary (good scary) vulnerable steps to share my story and define the ending.
I started swimming and doing yoga regularly.
I committed to a regular meditation practice.
And most importantly, I considered taking up dusting again.
Hot damn! Those are a lot of gifts born from a period of darkness.
This has me thinking about seasons again. How we all have them. And even when it appears you don’t you do. Like lizard season.
What the hell am I talking about you ask.
I live in southwest Florida and I am finally to the point where I have figured out that a) there are lizard seasons and b) what those lizards seasons look like.
You know I am going to break it down right? Here we go:
Winter does not have very many lizards. One day you will walk out onto your lanai and there is a cool breeze and your air conditioning isn’t running 23 hours of the day and you go, huh, where are all the lizards?? They just…vanish all of a sudden.
But not for long, because before you know it spring brings baby lizard season. Baby lizards the size of your fingernail come out of the wood work. Not the literal wood work because that would be creepy. No, they hide in the grass and then when you take a step a zillion little lizards go scattering.
And then finally, summer brings huge, fat, slow lizard season. Even your three-year-old doesn’t scare these old dudes. They sit and stare and wait for a giant hawk to just end it all.
The moral of this story is that even in places that appear not to have seasons (like Southwest Florida), or appear to have only two seasons (wet and dry) are more nuanced than they seem. There is a season to every thing. Even lizards.
I may not be having a baby this September. This is hard and still makes me sad. But I’m realizing that there is no rigging of the system: you cannot rig it in your favor–and it is also is not rigged against you. The seasons change and turn. You might even find yourself in the remarkable and unthinkable place of finding time for dusting.
Are you witnessing the changing of seasons? Literal, or figurative, or lizard? Thanks for reading. You rock. Have a great day.
This is a story about muffin tops, intentions, art, and rainbows.
Yes, those muffin tops. The kind you jiggle in front of the mirror and make scrunched up faces at. I had a conversation with mine recently. I said, what gives little muffin top? I am doing yoga and swimming almost daily — which is wonderful in and of itself, don’t get me wrong — but why is it that I am shedding weight everywhere except RIGHT HERE IN THE OL’ MID-SECTION?
The answer surprised me: I don’t want to let go.
This weight, after all, was from a pregnancy that I lost at nine weeks.
The more I sat with this the more I knew deep down that I hadn’t released all the pain. That a bit of loss remained.
I did what I often do in cases like this. I ran and hid. Just kidding! No, I decided I’d start small. I added an intention that I would remind myself of when I prayer or meditated. I would like to honor this baby that was not meant to be, and shed what no longer serves me.
If there is one thing I have learned from years of therapy it is this: intentions are powerful. If you yell, “Hey universe! I am ready for some HEALING!! Bring it on!” oh my goodness you must be prepared for ALL the sh*t to fall upon you.
sh*t grief came like I knew it would. My old friend grief.
Yesterday I woke up cranky and sad. I tried to write. Nothing. I decided to clean (not my typical coping technique but hey, why not). I folded and sorted laundry. This felt good. (Unusual, but good.) Then something happened. As I was putting away clean clothes (again: AMAZING), I realized I had a bunch of shirts and pants I never wore. A-HA!They were clothes that reminded me of the miscarriage. The dress I wore for Easter. The shirt I bought knowing it would look good on me pregnant. The pants purchased right after the miscarriage.
It was time to let these go. I packed it all up and donated it to Good Will. It felt really good.
Grief, however, was still lurking around. I knew this would require something different. I needed to do art. And not pretty art…no. I needed to just paint whatever popped in my head and put it on paper. Doodles, colors, you name it. I painted for a bit and started to feel the grief cloud lifting.
What happened next was this: my dog whined to be let out. It is rainy season in Florida (picture any episode of Bloodline with rain), and my dog won’t do his business in the rain. Well, lucky for him the rain had subsided. I took him out onto the front lawn and stared into space.
Suddenly something caught my eye. The downpour had created a huge puddle in our driveway and I saw…what was it, a rainbow in the reflection? I thought at first it must be from oil in the water. But this rainbow was so crisp and clear.
I looked up. No rainbow. I looked behind me. No rainbow.
Then up through the oak trees I saw this:
My heart soared.
I felt a rush of love–my mother’s love.
Rainbows are a sign I associate with my mom. When she was first diagnosed with cancer we kept seeing rainbows at just the right time. Riding to the hospital with my dad and sister to see my mom after a surgery. We saw a rainbow. When she was leaving to go to Cleveland Clinic for a stem cell transplant. We saw a rainbow.
Rainbows were the sign that she was going to be okay. (And she was for a long while.)
I will let you draw your own conclusions. If you believe the universe is conspiring in our favor then you might believe that my mother sent me this rainbow. If you think it is merely a beautiful coincidence, well, that is quite lovely too, isn’t it?
I went back inside. I knew my painting needed one final touch.
I added a rainbow. And a quote: love is the bridge between you and everything.
Have you had rainbows appear at just the right time? Or other sorts of magic? Feel free to share.
The post I am going to share with you today –I wrote part of it six months ago but never published it. It turns out that was because I was meant to share it with you today.
I’ve been blogging about my healing journey from grief. In fact, this blog was born from grief.
On the one year anniversary of losing my mom I made a visit to a beach–amid stinking, rotting shells (nothing says peace and contemplation like rotting sea creatures)–and I went within and heard a small still voice that said you need to write.
Since that day I have been on an epic journey within. I figured, why not reflect on all that has unfolded in less than a year?
Would you like a recap?
- I created a flow chart. (WHO DOESN’T LOVE A GOOD VISUAL?)
- Part I–shared here–I explained how grief begets grief. My mom died, I healed, more grief surfaced, I healed some more, and then…
- Part II: life throws a curveball. Just as I emerge from healing and more healing, I lose a pregnancy. My mother (deceased) chimes in and reminds me to choose love and happiness.
Which brings me to today.
No animated GIFS today. Just tender-hearted love.
We are at Part 3: Love and Mercy.
So to set the scene: there I was, having a miscarriage. The baby whose due date was the date my mother died–this baby was not to be.
I was in so much emotional pain. So very much.
I made a choice. I could hold these cards, these unwanted cards that had been dealt to me, and I could throw them down in bitterness and defeat.
Or I could take these cards and place them gently over my heart and weep.
Weep for the child who would not be. Weep for all the losses I had sustained and survived.
I also realized something else: that I did not have to do it alone.
I could extend a hand out for another to hold. Because you see, when your hands are full of cards you don’t want dealt to you, there is someone else whose hands are free. And one day you will be that person with free hands and it will be your turn to hold another’s hand.
I will share my own words to myself written after this difficult passage:
There is so much I want to tell you, Sarah from months ago, Sarah from one, two years ago.
I want to tell you, it is ok that you could not grieve because you had to parent, because you had to manage so many life changes at one time.
I want to tell you to be gentle with yourself.
That this is so hard and heavy, and I see your pain.
I want you to know that it is so heavy for a reason.
That the pain is designed to be heavy—to become unbearable—because that is what makes us realize we were never meant to heal alone.
That the only way to release it is to join hands with others and form a circle around it. To lift it up into the sky together.
Then it will become buoyant and light. It will disintegrate before your eyes.
Nobody is looking at my upper arms. Nobody is tracking their girth or tone.
And yet lately I find myself at times scowling at them, sighing and fretting about the state of my triceps.
I am typically at peace with my body. I do my best to practice self-love and compassion when it comes to my body image. After my daughter was born, I wasn’t very phased by the extra weight I still carried. I was grateful for the extra fat my body had to fuel nonstop nursing and to help my child gain the weight she needed as a preemie. Then, I lost my mom later that year and I gained more weight, and for the most part I was ok with that too. Oh, Paula Deen grief pies, I loved you so. Worth every calorie.
All this to say that I generally do not fret about weight. Except right now.
My recent miscarriage resulted in more weight gain than I would have expected. In retrospect, I began grieving immediately after the baby’s heartbeat stopped, which was nearly two weeks before I found out that I had miscarried. I ate all the chocolate. All the potato chips. Kummerspeck, if you will.
Well, some of the kummerspeck came off quickly, and the rest, well…it is slow-going.
The other day my sister pointed out that I have been talking about this weight A LOT. She is both a great listener and perceptive. My first response was, what on earth are you talking about?! And then I was like, oh wow, she is right, because now that she mentions it, I can see that not only am I talking about it a lot, I am THINKING about it a lot.
Why is my body image on my mind so much?
Because the excess weight reminds me of the loss. Because removing the excess weight will set a reset button, and magically make it OK if I get pregnant again, protect me from loss…Yes, I think that is basically the magical thinking.
I need to change the script.
Last night I did the seven minute workout. I love this thing. Seven minutes! I feel great after I do it. The heart gets pumping fast and I love that I no longer have to nearly lay my entire body on the ground as I attempt to do push-ups.
I had an a-ha moment where I realized that I feel stronger and have better stamina even compared to several weeks ago. I feel GOOD. I have more energy.
I want these to be the things I think about my body. Which got me thinking about what else can be part of this new mental script. Here are a few to start with:
- working out makes me feel good, and I love feeling strong. My body is capable of powerful things.
- When I feel triggered by this extra weight, I want my message to myself to be: this weight is a reminder of the life I was able to carry, however briefly, and I am grateful that I could be a mama to this baby who could not join this physical world.
- This weight might remind me of the sadness too, and that is ok. I mourn the baby who could not come into this world. This weight makes me sad, because instead of joy at being pregnant, it reminds of sorrow for a baby who is no longer with us.
- When I see my large thighs and butt, I want to think, wow, my body was prepared to birth a baby, to carry extra fat to feed this baby. This is both beautiful and sad—beautiful because of the amazing things my body is able to do, and sad because my body was not able to do it for this child.
I like this new script. I rings true, and I hope that it helps me to be gentle with myself. To give myself a mental hug when I need it, and to also celebrate my strength.
Have you had a script you had to change after miscarriage? I would love hear what worked for you. Blessings! -Sarah
I know what you are thinking: a listicle about miscarriage? Yes. Because if you are going to write a dark humor piece on miscarriage, it pretty much demands a listicle format.
One in three pregnancies folks. And nobody talks about it. Ready for some truth-telling?
Quick disclaimer: I ended up not having a medical intervention so my experience might be a little different than those who do have a procedure. You may now continue with the saddest post ever.
- You will suddenly be Chubby McChubbykins and have no clothes to wear and hell no you aren’t putting on those maternity pants.
You will literally be walking around Target while having a miscarriage. It turns out that if you don’t have a medical procedure you will instead experience the world’s longest, saddest period. Expelling the products of conception is process, not a single event. So, you will find yourself in Target, trying to determine the cheapest paper towels that retain that handy perforation feature, and it will hit you: Hello fellow shoppers, I am standing in Target while having a miscarriage. You might shed some tears. Let’s hope the lady next to you thinks you are just really torn-up over these paper towel prices. (See what I did there?)
- You have to take a freaking pregnancy test. To confirm that you are no longer pregnant. AS IF YOU DON’T ALREADY KNOW. This is officially the worst pregnancy test you have ever taken.
- You can’t have sex for a while because you have to make sure your cervix is freaking closed. Trust me, this won’t be a problem. You won’t be ready for a trip to funky town for a while. Your body physiologically is like, whoa, what just happened. I was pregnant, now I’m not pregnant. I can’t keep up. In the meantime, I’ll just sit over here and knit while watching some funny cat videos. (Note: I did not actually knit while watching cat videos. But now that I write this, it sounds rather pleasant to my non-sexy-time self.)
- Your spouse will be ready for a trip to funky town way before you are. This one wrote itself, didn’t it?
For you mother-warriors who have experienced miscarriage, anything else you would add to the list?
(And to answer my husband’s question, no, my next post will not be “The five things nobody tells you about Genocide!” I’m pretty sure Buzzfeed already published that one.)
The first dream was two weeks ago:
I am in a bus. We are nearing the place that is in the snowy hill; it is beautiful out. I look up and see these huge white cranes, morphing, dancing in the sky. I point and tell everyone but nobody seems to see them.
The second dream quickly followed the first:
I am pregnant. My mom is with me. I start to have contractions and tell her I want to give birth at home….In the end I realize I am only three months along and I am not giving birth, and yet it is like I am, which confuses me. My mom was so willing to help and was ready to be a midwife and a doula for me. At the end dream I talk about making sure I have pads that are sanitary, whatever that means.
The dreams initially confused me. On the one hand both felt joyful on some level. In particular, the dream with mom was so vivid that she seemed alive and fully present by my side. But the dreams also left me unsettled.
Now I know why.
The dreams foretold my miscarriage.
This pregnancy felt surreal from the beginning. After unsuccessfully trying to conceive for over a year I decided to begin acupuncture treatments for infertility. Within two months of treatments I suddenly found myself pregnant. I was elated but also a bit stunned. Could it be this easy?
The pregnancy came easily but physically didn’t feel right. The first few weeks were punctuated by spotting and occasional bleeding. Then, at seven weeks I ended up in the ER with bleeding. Late that night I found myself in a small dark room with an ultrasound tech. She found a heartbeat! But she also said the baby was measuring really small. Was I sure of the date of my last menstrual cycle? I was. Although I was skeptical that I had the dates wrong, I didn’t think much of it.
I was sent home with good news—good blood test results and a good ultrasound, albeit a due date that was later than I thought.
Not even a week later I had the two dreams. And then suddenly, no dreams. No dreams about baby. No dreams about motherhood. I felt uneasy. Why was I so full of energy? It shouldn’t be this easy, should it? I mentioned this to my therapist when I saw her. I feel like I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. She tells me that the other shoe doesn’t always drop.
Except when it does.
Several days ago I sat in another dark ultrasound room. My husband chatted with the tech as I watched the screen, noting the tech pause and click, pause and click, silently enlarging images. And I knew. I saw the tiny, curled still image and I knew there was no heartbeat.
The technician clasped my hand.
“I’m so sorry honey. It looks like the baby stopped growing about two weeks ago.”
Two weeks ago, when I had my dreams.
The crane dream, so beautiful. Could it symbolize my child being released from my womb, entering the spirit realm? (Come to find out, in many traditions cranes symbolize travel between realms and are thought to be carriers of souls.)
And then the dream with my mother. Alive by my side as a midwife and doula. Supporting me and guiding me through the miscarriage. The need for “sanitation” now clear—sanitary pads as I began to lose the pregnancy.
Immediately after the dreams I felt a deep malaise that I now recognize as sadness from the pregnancy loss. This “knowing” before consciously knowing about the miscarriage has helped me cope. It feels like I have already processed the loss on some level, because I have.
I decided to experience the miscarriage naturally rather than undergo a procedure, but I suppose my dream already predicted that. As I lose tissue and blood, I feel my mom’s spirit by my side as midwife and doula and I find solace in the image of my tiny baby’s spirit dancing in the sky with the cranes. The dreams have healed me and made this dark passage a little less difficult than it could have been.
Artwork my own – inspired by the dream. Full image can be viewed here (since wordpress cuts it off!).
You might also enjoy: An Ocean of Tears Larger than the Four Oceans