Loss, continued. | #notthemamawho

Showing up to the hospital to have your dead dreams sucked out of your uterus is a dreadful errand. First, a quick stop at the pharmacy where another cold woman spoke to me in a language that was not mine: “Pills, to make you to do not care.” I actually laughed. That is, if you can call the dry wretched bark of a sound that escaped my larynx a “laugh”. My face contorted into a wry, bitter expression I intended as a smile. Yet another thing that didn’t translate.

Then, you wait. The vibe in the waiting room made it clear that this was D&C day for more than just us. An immaculately dressed biracial couple wearing no rings clutched a sonogram and softly wept, occasionally speaking in hushed accents. A lone hispanic woman with a distended belly leaned her head back and closed her eyes, weary from the weight of it all. Their expressions required no interpreter: sorrow is universal and loss does not discriminate. I’ll never forget them. Their faces are stitched into the burial shroud that covers that day.

Some time passes… seconds and minutes both dragging and hurtling toward our “turn”. I blink, the slow drugged blink of “do not care”. Next scene: I’m on a table. On the wall of the sunless room is a macabre scene of sunflowers and a red barn, on the ceiling: clouds. It’s almost insulting, that someone tried to make this room cheerful. I’d have preferred the sterility of hospital green. The obscene sunflowers stare back at me. I am vulnerable, exposed, broken. But I am not empty. Not yet.

This is the part where the pain begins. (I’ll let you know when we get to the part where it ends.)

D&C is an acronym for ‘dilation and curettage’. This means they literally dilate the birth canal and then either dice apart and skewer or vacuum the baby out. It’s a vicious process, and indescribably painful. Every. single. other. woman I know who has undergone this procedure was put under general anesthesia, but for reasons that remain unclear to me, I was never offered that option.

So many things about that day are inescapably, hauntingly clear.

The Sadness, The Pain, The People.

But the thing I remember most, the thing that is seared into my consciousness, the thing I desperately want to erase is The Sound.

You know at the dentist, after they rinse your mouth, when they suck out the rinse water? Can you hear that sound of choked off air as suction meets flesh, then the gurgle as it is released down the hose? I can. Only this is not the dentist, and it’s not rinse water.

For years, The Sound echoed into the darkest places of me, it reverberated in the emptiness, taunting me, judging me, dragging my failure into full view and brutally morphing it into fear.

Anyone who has ever endured losing a pregnancy, or several, or been dealt the cruel card of infertility can tell you that while the pain is deep, the fear is what cripples you.

Pain is lessened by time, fear is nourished by it.

Fear tells you you’ll never have the most desperate desire of your heart.

Fear tells you you’re broken and a failure.

I am beyond blessed to have two healthy, happy, whole children. I carried them, gave birth to them, and have cared for them well enough to keep them alive so far. Those empty rooms that once contained only screams of disappointment were filled twice over, and my heart is full to the brim, still I can occasionally hear The Sound.

My hope is that if I refused to keep it locked away, if I tell the world, then the echo will have no walls off which to bounce. My hope is that if I talk about the dark places, however small they’ve shrunk, light will find its way in and they’ll be gone.

Why don’t we talk about miscarriage and D&Cs and infertility? Why was it so automatic for me to attach shame to a tragic event that happened TO me? I hope that if you’re going through something similar you won’t keep it in and let it fester. Please, do not bear your agonizing burden alone. Join me, share your story, and together we will #silencethesound.

Writing this post was rough. I found some remaining shards of depression, anxiety, and shame. Ultimately, the process has been intensely therapeutic and I am so glad I chose to take it on. I am eternally grateful to:

BJ, my rock. Thanks for loving me no matter what. 

Lauren of By Love Refined for your friendships and for sharing your own story of pregnancy loss. Your humble and graceful response to this particular hardship inspired me to rethink my own, and to seek the closure I didn’t know I needed.

Ryan, for the encouragement, for reading, for the kind words.

Finally, I am most deeply thankful to Jillian of Southwind Jillian who has graciously agreed to join me in the #silencethesound project. Her editing and helped refine this post and give me the courage to go through with it.

Please visit these blogs and watch for more posts about Silencing the Sound here and on instagram.

 

a story of loss | #notthemamawho

It’s been TWO years since I’ve been back to this space! For the most part I haven’t missed it. But lately the words have been back and I feel the need to get them down somewhere before they again disappear into the mountains of laundry and dishes and unorganized basements that threaten to swallow me whole.

A long time ago I promised you that I’d talk about the difficult things. Lately, I’ve been particularly inspired to be honest and open with the tough stuff. The following is something I wrote shortly after our first year of marriage.

This is a story of loss.

I’ve always hated when people used the word ‘loss’ to describe death. “We lost grandpa back in ’06.” well actually, no, you didn’t lose him, in most cases you know where he went… But this past year I have come to really understand the term.

Let’s start at the beginning… My husband and I were married on an unseasonably sunny and warm January day, on a beautiful hillside overlooking the golden gate bridge. It was the first day of my life, (our song by Bright Eyes) figuratively and literally.

We had a steamy dreamy honeymoon on the side of a volcano in the jungle of costa rica, then returned to begin our lives as a married couple in the real world. The real world wasted no time. I spent my days commuting over an hour each way to a job that (to plagerize a phrase from a facebook friend) ‘sucked my soul out of my ass’ and BJ nervously rode out a series of layoffs that cut the company in half and an increasingly dire forecast for the building industry.

About three weeks after our honeymoon, my mom called to tell me that my Noni had finally died (she’d had a massive stroke in October and it had been a cruelly slow and painful process) and to book a flight home for the funeral. I went home from work, drank some cheap white wine with ice cubes in it, packed the most ridiculous random assortment of items (I made it home with 5 pairs of jeans, 3 shoes- individual shoes, not pairs, 1 shirt, a dress that wasn’t remotely appropriate for a funeral, and some dirty workout clothes) and headed out early the next morning.

Most of that weekend is a blur, but the visitation and her funeral stand out of the haze in acute clarity. My only paternal cousin’s three year old daughter kept saying ‘Noni, Noni’ when seeing her picture. I looked in the coffin and saw a scary wax version of the once real woman I loved so. People came in droves to pay their respects, and everyone had a story. My sweet husband never left my side, amd shed tears with me and for me. My aunt gave a eulogy that told the story of my Noni’s life, and my father gave a eulogy that told the story of my Noni. I held my brother’s hand as we faced the endless stream of sympathetic faces, tears running down our cheeks.

I began to understand what loss is. It’s a hole where there was once a house with a pink kitchen and peaches with ice-cream. It’s someone else’s corn pudding on Thanksgiving, it’s narcissism outliving generosity. It’s an absence so keenly felt by everyone who knew her. It’s feeling like no one has the right to be as sad as you, because she was your Noni, and she was most special to you.

A few months went by, we celebrated our marriage with a big party in my hometown, and invited almost everyone we knew. We were so busy I barely had time to think about my Noni, but I was careful not to go over to her house, and she was at the back of my mind. I smiled to myself thinking how she’d have been in a tizzy trying to cook and clean and take care of everyone but herself. I wanted to visit her grave, but I just couldn’t yet.

Another month went by, we moved into a new house, celebrated my 25th birthday, and found out I was pregnant. We planned to name the baby after my Noni if it was a girl. Two weeks later I flew to Chicago for my sister-in-law’s bachelorette party. While there, miles away from my husband and my doctor, I began to miscarry. It was terrifying and confusing and sad. And again, I knew loss.

Miscarriage is such an inept word. It first of all implies that the ‘carrier’ did something wrong. Like you made a mistake instead of surviving something terrible that happened TO you.

In a way I felt silly, we hadn’t planned the pregnancy, after all, I’d only known for 2 weeks, plus I was in the middle of someone I loved’s celebration… I needed to suck it up and accept “meant to be”… So, I had a good cry with my dear mother-in-law (for whose presence I am so grateful), got hugs from wonderful friends, the most encouraging words from my new cousins, put on my big girl panties and didn’t deal with it.

A doctor’s appointment confirmed our fears as a cold woman told me in a language that wasn’t her own, ‘Sorry. You lost it.’ Indeed. But I thought, “Well, this doesn’t mean anything, we can try again right away. These things happen.”

So we waited, and waited, and waited. My hair came out in fistfuls. My back broke out like a teenaged boy on steroids. The opportunity to try again didn’t come for 11 long weeks. I felt loss. I felt lost. Things at work weren’t helping anything. My boss was verbally abusive and manipulative and I just didn’t have the energy to deal with him. My numerous pregnant friends were afraid to talk about their own joy for fear it would highlight my pain. I felt isolated from my husband and friends, like they were all worrying at me instead of worrying with me.

Thanksgiving came, and we spent time with my husband’s extended family. I found such comfort in their warm company, my body seemed to relax, too. It looked like we could finally begin trying. I felt excited, looking back, I see a scared unhappy girl frantically trying to put a bandaid on a gunshot wound.

Christmas arrived, and with it a series of high basal temperatures I outwardly attributed to our presence in Mexico. (No one wanted a holiday at home without my Noni.) Secretly, I dared to hope they indicated a pregnancy. We spent New Year’s Eve shooting off sparklers and dancing on the beach and it seemed like happiness was imminent.

A test and doctor’s visit confirmed that I was indeed pregnant, and we were even fortunate enough to see the baby and hear the heartbeat. BJ was in awe at the experience… I felt oddly unimpressed. The doctor told us that the chances of miscarriage were now under 10 percent. We began to plan and prepare and I felt sure that everything would be okay, it had to be, it couldn’t not be. We stopped worrying about keeping it a secret, we were so happy we wanted everyone to know!

My cousins had just welcomed their beautiful baby girl and I wanted to give them a party celebrate her birth. I spent so much time on the details (turns out I’m just a wee bit like my Noni) cooking and decorating. BJ was such a good sport, hanging colorful tissue puffs from the ceiling amd running countless last minute errands. I smiled thinking that someone would be doing the same for me soon.

The night before the shower the spotting began. It was just a little… No big deal, this happens. In fact it had happened to my cousin and everything had turned out fine! I called the advice nurse, she said to take it easy and they’d see me first thing Monday. The spotting increased, but once again I was celebrating someone I loved, and didn’t have time to think about myself. Besides, everything was fine, it had to be. If the baby was a girl we were going to name her after my Noni. 

Monday morning. Doctors office. No heartbeat. I heard the words ‘sorry’ and ‘procedure’ and ‘easier’. I looked up blankly at my husband. He took over decisions and gave me a sturdy place to lean. Once again he cried with me and for me, and for himself and for us. I just cried for me.

To be continued…

alt-j – left hand free | #notthemamawho

Hey, shady baby, I’m not like the prodigal son
Pick a petal eenie meenie miney moe
And, flower, you’re the chosen one

Well, your left hand’s free
And your right’s in a grip

With another left hand
Watch his right hand slip
Towards his gun, oh, no

N-E-O, O-M-G, gee whiz
Girl you’re the one for me…

I’m a mother of two. Neither of my hands are ever empty, nor will they be for quite some time.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This is the story of how we met our Millsy girl.

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November 19th and 20th were wondrous days, our last as a family of three, our first as a family of four. Our {suddenly GIANT} firstborn son, our last born baby daughter {with the most amazing hair}, and us.

We spent the day before with Worth. We went to a fun kid’s activity center, snuggled him, and generally spoiled him rotten. I had BJ take a picture of my gigantic belly and then we settled in for our final sleep before baby. We woke up the next morning and drove to the hospital in the cool quiet darkness. They prepped me, cut me open, and handed me a baby with a  head full of hair. She was healthy and went straight to the breast for her first meal. It was all so very… calm. One of these days I’ll write Worth’s birth story out, and the contrast will shock you.

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We’ve talked endlessly about the differences between our birth experiences. So far, the experiences seem to align with our children’s personalities. Worth’s was exciting and tumultuous and challenging and endless and surprising and joyful. Mill’s was scheduled and easy and peaceful and mellow and simple and sweet.

Worth is a doting, attentive big brother and a wonderful helper {besides a few attention-seeking episodes involving absurd amounts of diaper cream…}. Mills is a content, happy baby. Watching their interactions has been the most rewarding part. Worth can’t get enough of holding his baby sister and Mills can’t stop smiling when he’s in sight. We’ve termed him “aggressively affectionate” and I think, “GENTLE!” is the most commonly spoken word in our household.

The weeks since those days have flown by, and my hands {and my heart} are always full. As I type this, I have a newborn asleep on my chest and a toddler tucked under my arm. My house and my kids are dirty and writing this is my current version of “doing something for myself”, but {for maybe the first time in my life} I can say that I am entirely content.

You can find the song here.

Wild Wild {Mid}West Nursery | #notthemamawho

Well, hey there. ‘sbeen awhile! I really don’t have an excuse for being gone so long. Except that maybe I’ve been cooking a baby and I haven’t had the motivation to take pretty pitchas and/or write thangs. Oh, and I’ve been working! But more on that later. For the sake of warming back up (let’s be honest, I’m having this baby Thursday, so it will probably be months before I do this again…) I’ll keep it simple!

Let’s see, where to begin…

1. We’re having a baby girl! I’m so excited and terrified and surprised all at the same time. For some reason I always pictured a house full of boys for me. We even got a girl puppy because I was so sure I’d be grossly outnumbered when this baby arrives.

2. Like I said, this baby is coming on Thursday {cue excited squealing}. We decided to go the scheduled C-section route. After lots and lots of thought, research, conversations with my doctor, and memories of Worth’s little heart rate dropping with every contraction on the third day of my labor experience, we’ve determined it to be the best option for everyone.

3. If I’ve learned one thing in life, like, at all, it’s that whatever your plan is will NOT be what actually happens. Baby girl has been trying to trick us into thinking she’s coming early, a little dilation here, a few contractions there… And the moment I accepted that she would be coming early and NOT following our plan, all of that stopped. Haha. Whichever happens, I’m so excited to meet her. And also to see what color her hair will be. It’s the final countdown!

No matter what, her room is ready and waiting! When Worth was born, we were in a one-bedroom apartment. I had a corner to decorate. Just a crib and a little shelf. This was quite a different story. A whole room! It was the most fun I’ve ever had decorating. Except when I was drawing all those $%&^+ing lines. That wasn’t fun for anyone.

Beautiful Nursery for Baby girl in Kansas CityNursery, Baby Girl, Wild WestBeautiful Nursery for Baby girl in Kansas CityBeautiful Nursery for Baby girl in Kansas CityBeautiful Nursery for Baby girl in Kansas CityBeautiful Nursery for Baby girl in Kansas City Beautiful Nursery for Baby girl in Kansas CityBeautiful Nursery for Baby girl in Kansas City Beautiful Nursery for Baby girl in Kansas CityBeautiful Nursery for Baby girl in Kansas CityBeautiful Nursery for Baby girl in Kansas CityMy inspiration came from several different places – I had the old books and the brass stirrup inserts from my grandparents’ house, and the gold rocker was also theirs. I always loved horses growing up, and I kind of hope she does too! What 8 year old girl of my generation didn’t love watching “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken”? (I know someday she’ll watch it and be all, yeahokaymomyou’resoooooweirdwhyisthehorsedivingofftowersthatsjuststupid). The Ashworth family crest has foxes in it – so how could I resist the pillow and blanket in the crib? The record table came from BJ’s grandparents recently-sold home, it makes the perfect storage space for burp cloths and swaddlers! And if you know me at all, you know I love arrows, moccs, and anything to do with Kansas.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, I realize the red frame is empty, haha.

Wall tutorial:  Vintage Revivals Fox pillow: Gingiber Fox Blanket: Dwell Studio Moccasins: Freshly Picked Arrows: Mineral and Matter Boppy Cover: IvieBaby Vases/Clock/Frame/Rug/Lampshade/Crib/ChangingTable: Target Bison/Kansas Prints: Hammerpress (shout out local KC shops!)

 

Bright Eyes – One for You, One for Me | #notthemamawho

One for the bread lines, one for the billionaires
One for the missing, one for the barely there
One for the certain, one for the real confused
One for me, one for you…

 

Do you ever just get really good and sick of yourself? Like, if you hear you say one more word you know you’re going to vomit? That’s how I have been feeling, and it’s the reason I haven’t been writing. It’s not that I’m sad or angry, in fact it’s quite the opposite – I’ve been so happy I’m flat boring. I just haven’t felt like I have had anything good or intelligent or interesting to say. I think that’s because I usually write about myself.  So, to get the words flowing again, I will write this one for everyone else. There are so many people in my life that I find good and intelligent and interesting. This one is for you.

 

I don’t have any photos for this post, only words.

I don’t have any words for myself, only others.

Words for my baby, who is growing and moving and often neglected.

Words for my son, who illuminates my soul.

Words for my husband, who ignites my heart.

Words for my mother, who is healing from an injury left untreated too long.

Words for my father, who has made many sacrifices.

Words for my brothers, who are waiting.

Words for my sisters, who give me patient perspective.

Words for my friends, who have recently had to face the mortality of their children.

Words for my friends, who must parent their parents.

Words for my person, who constantly stretches for more, in every way.

Words for my grandmothers, who provide the example to guide me daily.

The words are all the same.

The words are: I love you.

The words are: Thank you.

 

You can download the song here.

First Aid Kit – Cross Oceans | #notthemamawho

It feels like I am
Waiting for the rain
I want to live that life again
I want to live that life again

Or an endless secret
Parade of change
I want to cross oceans
I want to cross oceans

A few weeks ago, Worthie and I took off with Janny Bob (GBop) for some sandy beaches. It was the perfect get away during that last awful week of winter, and these pictures are making me feel better on this dreary, dreary day. We had a full week of relaxation and sunshine, and it was simply lovely.

Worth wasn’t too keen on the waves, I think his dad and I probably traumatized him as a baby by dipping his feet in the freezing cold pacific on Rodeo beach before we left San Francisco, haha. While playing in the sand he would suddenly yell out “see ya!” and take off running for the stairs to the house. After a few occurrences of this, we figured out it was timed with any particularly large waves breaking on the shore. He did, however, love the wayward cow who had been separated from her herd. I think we followed her for a mile. She was not too keen on us!

Sometimes it’s hard to believe this place is real. The memories there are pure joy, moments frozen in a frame like grains of sand in a photograph. The rest of the world melts away and we dissolve into an isolated bliss made up of fresh avocados and salt in the air {and possibly lack of reliable internet connection.}

IMG_9362beach, toddler, swim zip, shark attack, shark tank, cow, mexico IMG_9328 IMG_9333 IMG_9338 IMG_9347IMG_9386 IMG_9403 IMG_9406 IMG_9410 IMG_9412Just look at the glee on that face!

On the days that he wasn’t in the nude, Worth loved wearing his SwimZip swimsuits. (This is not a sponsored post, I don’t do those!) We are lucky enough to personally know Betsy and Andy of SwimZip and Shark Tank fame, and we seriously LOVE the suits, and the people :)! Go get some for your kids, or yourSELVES, they seriously rock.

Download the song here.

Lissie – Little Lovin’ | #notthemamawho

I gotta lotta lovin’
I gotta lotta lovin’
I gotta lotta love in my heart

If you continue to read this blog, you’re probably going to see a lot of this place. It’s such a good place.

Just pack up your toddler, skip nap time, force him to sit still for three hours on a plane full of judgey faces {I wish many cranky two-year-olds upon you, Bitchfaced Flight Attendant}, and wait in line for the slowest customs agent in the history of ever.  Take a short break for Super Pollo and Mega, then it’s just a short {really long and impossibly rough} drive through Palo Escapeta towards the East Cape. In the dark. With no weapons. Or boys. (over 2). Being exhausted and pregnant, I was in possibly the best mood of my entire life. As I’m sure you can imagine. But, we arrived safely, went to bed, and woke up to this. This place!

Birds singing, sun shining, waves crashing, fresh orange juice, what else could you want? Besides a personal coffee delivery, of course. Worth engaged in banditry, GBop time, grinning, gifting of sticks, and LOTS of nudity (and Honest swim diapers). I put my very unmanicured toes in the sand, soaked up some vitamin D, and sloughed the winter off.

That last photo of Worth is my definition of the picture of boyhood. No shirt, with a dirty face and holding a stick. After being cooped up this winter it was so nice to let him run wild and free!

toddler, honest diaper, beach, mexico IMG_9262 IMG_9311 IMG_9316IMG_9276IMG_9273toddler, beach, mexicomaternity, pregnancy, first trimester, belly, beach, mexico

The last photo of me is terrible, and I love it.

There is a saying by Isak Dinesen- “The cure for anything is salt water – tears, sweat, or the sea.”

The only cure I needed was for the winter doldrums, but the combination of the sea, sun, and mountains really hit the reset button for me. For the first time in quite a while I feel peaceful and healthy.

Download the song here.