What Steel Magnolias Taught Me About My Miscarriage

 

Talking about my Miscarriage_

I’m in a play right now. You might have heard of it. Pink is my signature color.

Steel Magnolias, anyone?

Doesn’t that conjure up images of a giant red-velvet armadillo wedding cake and big 80’s hair?

So much fun!

Evidently the film is a cult-classic. Iconic is the word. Dolly Parton, Sally Fields, Julia Roberts, the list goes on…

I think I might be the single solitary southern girl who had never seen the movie.

When I got word that our community theater was holding auditions I was ecstatic.

I love acting in comedies. And that is what I thought Steel Magnolias was- a classic southern comedy.

Then I read the play synopsis.

I was dead wrong (pun intended!).

Yes, there are moments of sheer hilarity. But no one ever told me that it is also full of sadness. Spoiler alert- Shelby dies.

I was cast as Shelby–the spunky diabetic girl who risks pregnancy and forfeits her life.

Does anyone else see the connection? The irony?

Shelby dies due to diabetic complications of putting her body through pregnancy and I write about grief related to pregnancy loss.

Lord have mercy! I can’t escape grief for trying.

But this play has taught me something. Something I’ve struggled with for years.

In Act II the sassy ladies are sitting around Truvy’s beauty salon getting all dolled up and gossiping.

Truvy is busy rolling up Shelby’s sleeves so that she can paint Shelby’s nails the perfect shade of pink.

But then…

Truvy lays eyes on Shelby’s bruised arms.

All the ladies quickly gather round and learn that Shelby is on dialysis.

Clairee bellows an entitled, “Why haven’t I been told?”

Shelby responds, “Sometimes you just don’t want to talk about things.”

Plain and simple, right? Full of truth. Sometimes you don’t want to talk about things.

~~~~~~~

I refused to talk to talk, too.

It’s too long of a story to recount right now, but I was physically miscarrying my child while teaching an online class. I was chatting away about the value of multi-cultural literature while my dream was escaping my body. While my body reeled in pain.

I’d felt the blood literally minutes before the start of class, but used every acting skill I possessed to stay in control of the situation. I acted like nothing was wrong. Denial can do that for us.

But I did fall apart when my husband arrived home.

And a few weeks later I was at a social function when an acquaintance stubbornly told me it was time for me to have more children. Her mouth was stuffed full of food and she was reaching for her coca-cola. I thought about telling her about my plight, but I didn’t. I figured my child’s death deserved a bit more respect than a conversation over a chili dog.

But I did lay out my heart to an acquaintance over sweat tea and a BLT at a local diner while we were discussing illnesses. She teared up and told me she’d lost a baby, too.

Still, it’s bothered me for years. Why didn’t I talk to everyone? Why did I omit portions of my life to some people?

Steel Magnolias has taught me that sometimes you don’t want to talk about things.

And that is perfectly okay.

At my most tender moments of time I only wanted to share my heartache with those who I knew would be gentle. My husband. My friends. The lady I chatted with over a sweet tea.

Miscarriage was new for me. Something I didn’t expect to occur.

I needed to be in control of the conversation.

Most importantly, I needed to be in control of who I invited into the dialogue of my soul.

A sacred, sacred event had happened inside my womb. A child had been lovingly conceived and a child died.

Although I was very mad at my body for failing me, I recognized that my body had been a temple carrying a sacred vessel.

I wanted to honor that tiny soul. And for me that meant only sharing my treasure with those I thought worthy.

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Mathew 7:6

I heard a wise woman once say that where matters of the heart are concerned we must be careful to guard our pearls so they don’t become trampled upon.

My treasure was my pregnancy and I didn’t want it to be trampled with insensitive comments or pat advice.

I told my best friends and my immediate family. They wrapped me in loving arms and kept me safe. I also shared with women in online communities who had been in my situation.

We all need that community where we can be vulnerable.

As I got further away from the actual event of loss I became more vocal. Heck, I’m so public I write a blog about the topic. I think it is important to talk about pregnancy loss, but not when it might impede our personal mending.

You see time has given me space to process my feelings. It has given me an opportunity to articulate my thoughts.

I feel safer sharing my story now. But I wasn’t ready to share while it was happening.

I’m not saying the lady eating a chili dog was a swine or a dog, but I had sacred information and I wanted to be careful in sharing my truth.

We all need a place to talk. A place to speak. But we have to be ready and willing to speak our pain.

The lesson I’ve learned is that it is okay to be choosy about with whom we share our most sacred emotions. Cancer.  Miscarriage.  Death.  Divorce.

Likewise, it’s okay if we are vocal from day one. We are all different. And we must respect and honor our varied needs.

Once Shelby was ready she did open her soul.

And those southern ladies rallied around her. Bringing food, prayers, and laughter.

We all need people to rally around us. To love on us.

It’s a fine line to walk. Being vulnerable and protecting your heart.

Trust your instinct. Expect some people to hurt you with their words, but know that many empathetic dears will wrap you in a warm embrace of support.

You probably need that support right now. I hope you have those people in your life.

But, if you don’t, I do invite you to join our Loved Baby Christian Pregnancy Loss Support & Encouragement

It’s a sisterhood of women who understand.

And Steel Magnolias fans, did you know that the play was written based on a true story?

Shelby is based upon the playwright’s sister. Robert Harling wrote it based upon his life.

One piece of advice….

If you are hurting right now and need something mindless to binge watch I invite you to run to your nearest video store (uuum, that’s not right). I mean go on NetFlix and stream in Steel Magnolias.

I finally watched it.  I laughed and I cried.  It’s a true reflection of life.

We all  need a little laughter through tears.

Love and blessings to you,

 

Sarah

 

When and if you are ready, I invite you to visit Don’t Talk About the Baby.  You can share you story and read the accounts of other families.

 

 

 

YOUR ANGUISH

Hannah cried. She wept. Month after month. Year after year. Weeping. Sobbing. Tears spilled from her eyes. She couldn’t eat.  Her heart grieved.

The life-giving part of her body: her womb-was closed.

Elkanah, her husband didn’t understand her suffering. What’s the matter, Hannah? Why aren’t you eating?” (Samuel 1:8) He continually questioned why she was so sad and why she couldn’t eat. He didn’t understand the yearning that couldn’t be quenched.

A mother.

This is what Hannah wanted more than anything to be. Although her husband doted on her and loved her, his culture dictated that he must marry another woman so that he could have a family.

Hannah was unable to provide children, so he took an additional wife. Humiliating. Shame. Jealousy.

Then, as if her barrenness was not punishment enough, as if seeing her husband’s new wife give birth after birth to precious babies was not anguish enough, the new wife provoked Hannah. She relentlessly teased her.   But Peninnah made fun of Hannah because the Lord had closed her womb (1 Samuel 1:6).

Sweet, sweet Hannah-whose heart was already in such despair was now beyond tormented. Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:10)

Hannah couldn’t eat; all she could do was lament her troubles to the Lord.

Psalms 13:12 tells us that hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Hannah had a sick heart; her longing for a baby to cradle in her arms had not yet been fulfilled.

QUINOAHas your heart been sick?

Her story is like so many of ours. Those of us who have had miscarriages, late-term loss, or battled infertility can understand the longing of Hannah. Our hearts have ached, our lives have changed, and we find that others don’t quite understand the torment.

Sweet Hannah, who lived over 900 years before Christ, could probably sit with us and cry over a cup of tea as we recount our stories. I imagine we would have much in common with this female biblical great-who at one time was full of great anguish and sorrow.  

I cried, too. The disease of infertility was not my reason for sadness; I instead struggled with two miscarriages that occurred within three months of each other.

Miscarriage is common. At least 15% to 20% of all known pregnancies end in the loss of an unborn child before 20 weeks. Miscarriage is the number one pregnancy complication. Contrary to popular belief that a miscarriage is the effect of stress, heavy lifting, or something one controls such as caffeine consumption- a miscarriage is most often the effect of a chromosomal abnormality.  Over one million women in the United States have a miscarriage each year. Although it’s widespread, miscarriage is a life event often shrouded in secrecy, seeped in misinformation, and brings much sadness to a family.

Jenny, one of the many brave women who has shared her story with me, described a miscarriage as a life that was lost. Even though I never held those babies they were mine and I acknowledge them.

After my miscarriages I, like many other women, vacillated between periods of depression and anxiety.

Did you know that women are at an increased risk of these two psychological disorders after pregnancy loss?  I mourned the loss of two babies that I wanted to hold, embrace, and comfort. But I also felt guilty for mourning- as if I were  to blame for not being able to bring my child to term.

Confused and sad.  Have you been there?

You know what helped me?  Reading the account of Hannah in Samuel 1.   It  gave me permission to grieve.  It helped me stop feeling guilty for being sad.

The verses showed me that God recognizes this unmet longing for a child as a reason worthy of tears and anguish. Hannah’s despair is featured in the Bible. To me, this makes our sadness authenticated, makes it real, and gives us the ultimate permission to grieve.

It’s okay to be sad, and it’s okay to cry.  It’s also normal to cry out to God in bitterness.  

I invite you to turn in your Bible to Samuel 1.  Although I can’t take away the sadness, I do want to introduce you to a brave brave woman who felt the heartache and turned her anguish to God.

 

Loved Baby Journal:

Read Samuel 1. Underline the words in the chapter that describe how you feel. For example, 1 Samuel 1:10 says, “In her deep anguish” Do you feel anguish? Have you “poured out your soul to the Lord? (1 Samuel 1:13). Look back over the words you have underlined. Isn’t it remarkable how grief and sadness over an unborn child are universal feelings that transcend time?

Give yourself permission to pour out your soul to God. The priest, who watched Hannah cry, thought she was drunk she was so distraught. It’s okay to be distraught.  Grief must be grieved.

Re-read Samuel 1: 5. The bible says that Elkanah loved Hannah even though her womb was closed. God doesn’t love us any less if we don’t have children. Don’t love yourself less. Grieve over your lost child, but don’t feel as if you are not enough.  Invite your spouse or a trusted confidant to read Samuel 1 with you so they can better understand the thoughts that are permeating your mind. Mourn together.

Love and blessings,

Sarah


 

  I invite you to join the private, online support group  Loved Baby: Christian Miscarriage & Pregnancy Loss Support for Women.

Raising Little Kids with Big Love | Book Review

Book Review

Raising Little Kids with Big Love is a must-read manual for raising kids.   It’s a tool chest of brilliant ideas that can immediately be put to use.

This book was entirely different than I expected. I thought it would be a gentle, theological reminder of how we should apply scripture to parent our small children.   But, when I opened the pages I was (pleasantly) surprised to find that it is full of real, practical advice grounded in sound educational philosophy.  Plus it includes humorous anecdotes by the authors about their experiences with their children.

Raising Little Kids with Big Love

In this book you’ll find a bevy of advice on how to handle situations such as: bedtime, the child who bites (I had one of those!), temper tantrums, tattle telling, anger management, and a host of other behavioral benchmarks all our children tend to face. The strategies and advice are deeply rooted in what the Bible teaches us about love.

I’m a former teacher and earned advanced degrees in education. I was not at all surprised to learn that the authors were also educators. In fact, they are also the founders of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting.

Their love for and developmental understanding of children is obvious. Lori & Becky’s goal is not to teach readers how to discipline children, but to teach parents how to raise children that are kind and can successfully interact in society.

It’s a book all of us can use.

How we treat our children is how they will treat others. Our job in molding these tiny souls is to help them become grown-ups who know how to be patient, kind, content, humble, respectful, unselfish, peaceful, forgiving, and good. Lori & Becky teach us how to joyfully parent using these same traits.

Parenting can be exasperating and comical.

Right now my five-year old is urging me to watch a commercial on television. He is screaming for my attention.

“Mom! I need this new battery operated toothbrush. It will floss AND brush my teeth. Look Mom! All you have to do is add your own toothpaste!”

    “Pretty cool buddy,” I respond. “But I don’t think that’s something you need right now. Didn’t your dentist give you a new toothbrush yesterday? How about we add that toothbrush to your Christmas Wish List? Glad you are interested in staying cavity-free!”

A big-thanks to Lori & Becky for the above tactic of having a year-long Birthday Wish List (I just changed it to Christmas because that is the next present holiday for us) so that my son’s “wishes” could have a place to reside and he can start learning the difference between a want and a need.

Our job as parents is to parent with the big picture in mind, not just the immediate future. This book is going to help me to be one less exasperated mama!

All the best,

Sarah Philpott


 

P.S. Lori & Becky….I do have one question for you….will you please consider writing a classroom management book that can be used by teachers and future teachers? It’s much-needed! 
 

 

 

 

Writing Through the Wreckage

Mourning is an expression of sorrow. And sometimes our sorrows are so sacred that we don’t necessarily want to speak our inner thoughts.

And our sorrows stay put.  Simmering in our minds.

Simmering can be good.   A steaming pot of soup perched atop the stove.   Chopped carrots circling the diced potatoes.  Basil releasing its aromatic magic.

But simmering can also be bad.  Especially if words of negativity or sadness bubble within our souls.  Brewing.  Fermenting.

Do you ever let thoughts brew in your mind for too long?    Thoughts of shame or anger.  Thoughts of fear and disappointment.  Thoughts of sadness and longing.

Dear Soul, can I encourage you to do something?  To help release your pain.

Write through the wreckage.  Admit your pain.

Why write about grief?

Writing forces us to acknowledge truth. Even if that truth is painful. Writing gives us a place to process our internal dialogue. To make sense of the madness.  To grieve.

If you keep a closed pot simmering on the stove it eventually boils over.   The same is true for our thoughts.   If we repress our internal dialogue long enough we eventually erupt.

Can I tell you something?  Writing my stories of pregnancy loss was emotionally taxing.  It forced me to revisit painful memories that I would rather numb.  But writing my story- and owning my emotions- helped me move forward.

It gave me comfort to relocate my thoughts from my head to the paper.

It’s not just my miscarriages that I’ve written about, but tragic deaths of loved ones as well.  The paper was a safe place I could be vulnerable.  To speak the unspeakable.
This mere act of expressive writing is healthy for our souls.

The American Psychological Association has published research chronicling the healing power of writing.  In fact, expressive writing has been correlated with strengthening the immune system and mind.

So I am going to challenge you.  To help you mourn.  To help strengthen your mind.

I invite you to write through the wreckage. 

Unpack you mind and put the words down on paper.  It doesn’t have to be pretty.  It’s not a pretty story, is it?

So be raw.  Be honest.

But, your story also includes glimmers of humanity.  Remember the goodness that other people displayed.

The sorrow they showed.  The hugs they gave.  The  fact that you cradled a loved baby within your womb.

Write about the hope you have for a new day.  The day that you will greet your baby in Heaven.

Keep your words private or make them as public as you desire.  Share them with a confidant or tuck the papers into a secret place.

Don’t worry about grammar or spelling.  This is just your truth.

I warn you…you will write about things that are tough to admit.  Anger.  Jealousy. Bitterness. Fear. But you must acknowledge those emotions so that they don’t spew forth in an avalanche of rage or depression.

It might take you a few hours, a week, or even a year to finish writing your story.  You might not ever even finish.  Your paper will be tear-soaked.

Expect this challenge to be painful, but also expect it to help ease your mind.

If you want to discuss or share what you’ve written with other women, I urge you to join the private, online support group  Loved Baby: Christian Miscarriage & Pregnancy Loss Support for Women.

In this sisterhood, you can share with women who’ve walked and are walking the very same journey you have been forced to trod.  It’s helpful to connect with women in a safe community.

Would you like to read the stories of others?  Visit Don’t Talk About the Baby.

Consider anonymously sharing portions of your story in the comment section below.  Sharing your story helps other women feel less alone.  It helps them realize that their thoughts are not abnormal.

How can you write about your story? 

Use these prompts to get your mind focused.  You don’t have to write it all at one time.  Just write a bit at a time.  Perhaps, you are reading this and have faced a type of grief other than pregnancy loss.  Write through that trauma.  You won’t find the answer of why, but you will find out more about yourself and how you can find strength.

Prompts:

  • The day I found out I was pregnant I was so (happy, scared, surprised, angry) ______________.
  • I told _____________________.
  • The day my womb baby perished I felt so _________________.  I was ___________________.
  • Physically I felt ____________________.
  • Emotionally I felt ___________________.
  • I never expected pregnancy loss to be so __________________________.
  • My greatest internal struggle has been_______________________.
  • ____________________(person, activity, a book, a scripture) has helped me throughout this time of grief.

 

I know this is challenging Dear Soul, but writing will help you release some of the steam from the closed pot.  Suzie Eller writes a prayer in The Mended Heart that will help you work toward releasing the negative inner dialogue:

Dear Jesus, I have spent hours in my thoughts where I am angry, or I am the hero, or I tell someone what I should have said, or I put them in their place.  Today I recognize all of that as a trap of the enemy.  Today, with Your help, I shut the gate to the playground of unhealthy thoughts.  I put them down; when I start to pick them up again, remind me that they are a burden, and that You have more for me than this. 


Has writing ever helped you mend your heart?

Blessed are those who mourn; For they shall be comforted.  Mathew 5:4

Love,

Sarah

Live Free Thursday

What Question Should We Stop Asking Couples?

              So, when are you going to have a kid?

image

Do you want more kids?

Are you finished having kids? 

Why don’t you have any kids?

When we reach a certain age, these questions come directed at us with sniper-like speed. They are asked by the sweetest, most well-meaning people ever: the little old lady who sits at the end of our church row, the older-widowed gentleman who is behind us in line at the grocery store, and the man at the party who doesn’t know a follow-up question to “what do you think of the weather.”

But, these questions are also asked in a taunting and teasing manner. You know the ones: “So, when you are you and Vanessa going to get that baby making started? Do you need me to tell you how it works?” ( wink, wink) says your husband’s business colleague in the middle of the company party.

Tisk, tsk, tsk. Neither Emily Post nor Amy Vanderbilt would approve of such banter as appropriate. I’m sure it is mentioned in their etiquette books between the chapters of “how to address a wedding invitation” and “how to fold a napkin.” To put it simply, “baby makin’ ain’t a topic for small-talk.”

IT’S JUST A SIMPLE QUESTION. WHY DO YOU HAVE TEARS IN YOUR EYES?

The reason questions related to procreation can be uncomfortable is because a large percentage of couples face the reality of infertility or pregnancy loss. For these couples, their heart’s desire and the timing of God fail to intersect at the same point. It can bring with it angst, sadness, and confusion. These couples have learned that creating a child isn’t as easy as making a dinner reservation, and they don’t necessarily want to share their personal details with the man standing behind them at the grocery line. It’s not that they want to keep this a secret; it’s just that they don’t really want to unleash real, raw emotions in the middle of Publix. A deluge of tears might spill down aisle 5.

WHAT ARE WOMEN REALLY THINKING?

Let’s examine the thoughts of ten women when they are asked the innocuous question: “Are you going to have kids?” You can read how emotionally laden such a simple question might be:

???SO, WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE KIDS???

Woman THINKS
Woman SAYS
Oh, how I wish I could have more babies! But you know what- I didn’t choose to have that emergency hysterectomy that stole my uterus from my body.  
No, I think we are finished.
We’ve been trying for two years & have lost four babies due to miscarriage. Yes, we want more babies, but it’s not working out.  
We will see.
I check my temperature every day, my husband is on-call for when I ovulate, and I have seen 36 negative pregnancy tests. We would have a house-full if it weren’t for infertility. 
We will see.  
I delivered a precious still-born child last year. I’m too afraid to start trying again. I’m not over that loss.

 

We will see.
Yes, sir we do want kids. We have visited every fertility specialist on the east coast and right now I’m on my third round of IVF.  
We will see.
Can you not see the dark circles under my eyes? I’ve been up all night for 13 months! I’m tired, I’m tired, I’m tired! My husband doesn’t help at all. I barely have time for a shower, much less time to make another baby.  
We will see.
You are going to call me selfish if I tell you the truth. You are going to argue with me. But the truth of the matter is, my husband and I just don’t want children. I’m not less of a woman if I choose to be childless.  
No, I don’t think so, but we will see.
We are researching adoption options. Just want to keep it quiet while my husband and I prayerfully consider the options.

 

We will see.
I can’t just snap my fingers and get pregnant! We’ve been “trying” for a year. Nobody told me if might be hard. I’ve got an appointment with the doctor next week to find out the details of my husbands “sperm count.”

 

We will see.
I’m eight-weeks now! But, waiting to announce until we tell my family. I’m so excited!!!
We will see.

As you can read, this simple question can trigger a variance of emotional responses for many women and couples.  Fertility issues are invisible burdens that many couples bear; we should acknowledge that possibility before asking such a personal inquiry.

I say, “Enough already!”

Questioning in the middle of the grocery store- not okay. Questioning over a cup of coffee during an intimate conversation- okay. Questioning in the middle of church “hand-shaking” time- not okay. Questioning in the middle of a private conversation at church-maybe okay.

We should definitely give grace and forgiveness to acquaintances whom inquire about such personal matters. Many have a motive of pure kindness and are not privy to inner struggles. Also, opening up to other people about struggles and fears can be extremely helpful; it is through conversation and vulnerability that we find out that others might have faced similar circumstances and might be able to offer us hope, wisdom, and kinship.

Those of us with fertility issues might also consider responding with the truth-  even if the question-asker is put in an awkward position.  Responding by saying, “Actually we do WANT children, but we have complications with fertility.  Do you mind praying for us?” Answering this way can be powerful, freeing, and makes a social statement that infertility and pregnancy loss are not topics of shame.

But as a society we should all stop using the question of children as small-talk. Only ask if you are prepared for a real answer and ready to provide a listening ear (or a slap in the face).  Likewise, let’s all  (men, I’m mainly talking to you) make a concerted effort to stop teasing people (mainly your fellow guy friends) about having or not having kids.

Readers, repeat after me, “I will stop teasing people about whether or not they have children. I will stop asking acquaintances if they want more or any children. Instead, I will ask about the weather or their summer vacation plans.”

And we all say, “Amen”.

So, what’s your favorite small-talk question to ask someone? And, what’s your favorite way to answer the “Do you want to have kids?” question?

 

Best wishes & Much love,

Sarah

Have you experienced pregnancy loss? We welcome anyone into our Loved Baby Support Group for Women & our Loved Baby Support Group for Men & Women

 

FERTILITY FACTS:

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/infertility.htm

Fertility problems are quite common. According the CDC, about 11% of women in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term.

Men are not immune: based on a 2002 survey by the CDC, 7.5% of all sexually experienced men younger than age 45 reported seeing a fertility doctor during their lifetime—this equals 3.3–4.7 million men. Of men who sought help, 18% were diagnosed with a male-related infertility problem, including sperm or semen problems (14%) and varicocele (6%).

           

Acceptance in Infertility: 9 Untruths in the ‘Never Give Up’ Message | Guest Blog by Justine Froelker author of Ever Upward

Justine Froelker is a licensed professional counselor, author, public speaker, and an inspiration. Just like many of us, she has her own unique story of pregnancy loss.  Her ever-after did not end in the birth of a child, but instead ended in her acceptance of living child-free.  She is wonderful model for us all.  She challenges us to “consider more than one happy ending.”  Her book, Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Define Your Own Happy Ending is beautiful read that chronicles Justine’s story.  In it she includes strategies she uses to overcome the loss of her dream of motherhood.  Read below for information of winning one of the five signed copies of her book. She kindly gifted them to All-American Mom Blog to be given to readers.  This poweful post was originally published on the Huffpost. Visit her page at everupward.org.  

acceptance

Justine Froelker  

Acceptance and the art of letting go are some of life’s trickiest sons of bitches. They are topics I often work on with clients and I, myself, practice daily. They also seem to be some of the most difficult hurdles in the infertility journey.

The acceptance of my childfree, yet childfull, life does not mean I do not have the losses. It does not even mean that I like it most days. Acceptance is simply practicing my work every day to accept what is, what I cannot change and how to be okay despite the lifelong losses of infertility.

I am beyond thankful that infertility education is continuing to be in the spotlight and therefore hopefully fertility compassion will continue to grow. However, I believe, some of the messages being delivered by some voices with a huge platform are contributing to the loss of ourselves to this painful, difficult, long and oftentimes heartbreaking journey of infertility.

One of the biggest punch in gut messages that is probably one of the most spoken is the never give up message. Time and time again we hear celebrities or families with the “traditional” happy ending (read baby) saying  never ever give up.

I do not believe this to be a message of hope and light but rather one that dims our light and can leave a lot of us in the dark. Because, sometimes it is okay, and the healthiest option for us, to say no more and to accept what is. And, I don’t think this is giving up in the least but rather fighting for and finding our ever upward.

And so, here are what I think are the 9 biggest untruths in the never give up message:

1. MINIMIZES THE DIFFICULTIES.
Infertility is expensive, and in most of our cases, we don’t have endless resources and our insurance does not cover it.
Every cycle can feel like a loss. We live by the timelines and the waits. We oftentimes feel like no one understands and try to cope with it all on our own. The emotional difficulties of infertility feel endless.
The money, the losses, the stresses, all of it are so hard on our relationships. If we do the work to turn towards one another then many times our relationships gain strength but for many infertility will do undeniable and sometimes even irreparable damage.
2. BREEDS COMPARISON
It seems like no two infertility stories are the same, causes, medical and family history, treatment protocols, etc. and yet we compare so much.
Add to that that not all of us have the same financial resources, faith or religion, family and social support.
3. TRIGGERS SHAME
Some of us did make the choice to stop treatments. Some of us do not choose adoption. Some of us choose to keep trying. These are choices sure, however, more times than not they are choices between two shit-ass choices.
4. PUTS STRESS ON THE RELATIONSHIP
How long do we try? What if one partner only has one more round in them? What if one partner is not open to full IVF? What then?
5. DENIES SOME TRUTHS
There are some of us that the all ends of the earth in fertility treatments will never work. Sometimes there are genetic or chromosome issues, sometimes our bodies completely betray and fail us, sometimes we will never get to know the reason.
6. INVALIDATES THOSE WHO DEFINE THEIR ENOUGHS AND EVERYTHINGS
Only we can determine when enough is enough and what our everything is. For some of us, that is only a the first step in the infertility treatment road but not full IVF treatments. For some of us it is two rounds, for others it may mean 8.
7. MAKES US DOUBTS OURSELVES AND ABANDON OUR TRUTH
These pressured messages, that may be completely inaccurate for ourselves and our situation as stated above, make us completely deny and abandon our truth, what we want and who we are.
8. REDUCES US TO OUR NUMBERS, OUR LOSSES, OUR ABILITY TO PROCREATE
We must be so much more than this. We deserve to be so much more. We are so much more.
9. SOMETIMES IT IS OKAY TO STOP
This does not mean we are giving up but rather defining what our own happy ending is. This is finding and moving ever upward.
As both a survivor of infertility and a mental health therapist who works with clients every day I see the lifelong devastation that is created by the infertility journey. Every day I see people who have lost their light and lost themselves somewhere along the two week waits, the waiting rooms, the pokes, prods and meds, the losses, the judgement, the loneliness, the gravity of this battle. Every day I see people who are making decisions out of fear that are resulting in more pain.

The conversation must change. The education must continue. The compassion must grow. There are simply too many casualties to the infertility journey.

It is not about never giving up on treatments or the dream of parenthood but it must be about never giving up on ourselves. This is the hope of this journey, to not lose ourselves to it and in it. The hope of never giving up on our happiness and health, no matter what our ending may be, we must do the work to define it as happy.

 

Justine Brooks Froelker: Recovering, flaws and all. IF Advocate. LPC. Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator. Speaker. Educator. Author. Friend. Wife. Dog Mom. www.everupward.org

Justine Froekler

Justine Froekler

 

 

 

 


 

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Love to you,

Sarah

1

If I was to ever get a tattoo I would have the word cherish inked on my inner wrist as a constant reminder to be still.  Cherish is word that makes me stop and soak up the here and now.  It’s a word that reminds me to search for goodness.  

When my mind takes me down dark paths of anger, jealousy, or bitterness and I sense that my soul is about to get stuck in the quicksand of sad this one word brings me back to noticing the green of the grass and the blue of the skies.  It forces me to take my focus off the negative and instead search for the positive.

At times it can be challenging to find blessings to count. We don’t always have a choice as to where our anchor has been cast.

I don’t know where your anchor is sitting dear heart.  You might be here because you’ve just experienced a miscarriage or given birth to a stillborn child.  You might be having marital problems, found out your mom has cancer, or are living through the divorce of your parents.  Chances are you probably feel as if you are literally drowning in your sorrows.

You know what? Not a single one of us would have ever chosen any of the above circumstances as the place to set our anchors.  And yet here we are.  Tethered to the storm.  

But this “now” is the only place we have to live. The future and the past are completely out of our control so we must somehow navigate the tempest that whirls around.

Dear Soul… it’s okay to be scared of the storm.  To be mad at the storm.  To straight up hate the storm, cry out in anguish, and curse the swirl.

But we can’t just hunker down and pretend it doesn’t exist.  We must take action.  Search for blessings in order to protect your soul.  

Just think.

What happens when a hurricane approaches the shore?  That’s right.  People hustle to board their houses with lumbar so as to avoid severe internal damage.  They want to protect the structure.  Do the same with your heart.  Guard it fiercely from bitterness.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.  Proverbs 4:23

Can I challenge you?  Over the next week I want you to work on your mindset by cultivating a spirit of gratitude.

Each evening pause and review your day.  Search for three things to count as blessings.  Write them down.

2

These blessings might be small.  They might be insignificant.  They might be overpowered by the grief in your life, but still…write them down.

Anchor your soul in gratitude for what the Lord has done.  You might not be rescued from the storm, but you can look around for the beauty in the midst of the upheaval.

Grief isn’t something that easily passes.  The storm will linger and revisit you over and over.  Some moments will feel like a downpour and some moments will feel like a hurricane.

Hold tight dear friend; in the midst of the tempest choose to cherish.

It will help ease your soul and still your mind.

I’m on the other side of the storm now- drifting in calm waters but I still continue to seek out the beauty of the moment.

I know another storm will eventually hit.  Because that is life.  And I’ll still cry out and lament, but I’ll anchor my soul by searching for evidence of God’s goodness.  Will you?

My Gratitude Journal

What are you thankful for today?  

I’m honored to be a member of Suzie Eller’s #livefree community.

Live Free Thursday

 

I need you

I Need You: How to Support a Loved One through Miscarriage & Pregnancy Loss

I need youI Need You: Support After a Miscarriage & Pregnancy Loss

Tonya brought boxes and boxes of Chinese food, Leighann brought a dozen hot, still-gooey, straight out of the oven cookies, Amber brought the most delectable chocolate cupcakes I have ever eaten (& offered me her uterus), Chrissi brought a beautiful flower for me to plant and Mary sent me the most heartfelt letter via email because she was hundreds of miles away.

I didn’t want them in my house. I thought I wanted to be alone. But like good girlfriends do, in they pushed. There I sat with my eyes swollen and my stomach contracting with pain. Their eyes were soaked with tears, too. They hugged me & loved on me & then departed. Words were sparse but love was abounding. I needed them.

My husband cried. He listened. He pulled me close to his chest and wrapped his arms around my body. He fielded phone calls and told people I didn’t want to talk. He protected me. He told the sweet people at my church not to mention anything to me in a public setting. She’s just not ready to talk. Private yes, public no. Please pray. He told me how much they cared. He took me to the doctor. He made sure I ate. He let me mourn. He mourned. I needed him.

My brother called. Every day. He left messages. He sent texts. I’m just calling to check on you, Sis. I needed him.

My mom, dad, father-in law, mother-in law, and step-father in law each offered to babysit my son. They took care of him while I layed beside the Kleenex box in my bed. I needed them.

The strangers on the internet understood.  The ones in the support groups and chat rooms  were brutally honest.  The bloggers who wrote about their losses gave hope. I needed them.

My Professor at University nodded her head and said I’m sorry with her gentle glance when I entered class for the first time after my loss. I needed her.

My girlfriend’s husbands hugged me. They squeezed a bit harder when I placed my head on their warm shoulders. They didn’t utter a word, but I knew they cared. They told my husband they loved him. They asked my husband if he needed to talk.  We needed them.

My doctor and the nurses at the office hugged me. Their cheeks were landing grounds for tears. One nurse sent me a text the next day telling me she was thinking about me. I needed them.

My best friend forced me to go on a weekend getaway. Just the two of us. It wasn’t fancy. Just a hotel with a pool. We were the oldest people slipping down the waterside. She even brought a book to read. She hates to read. We laughed we giggled. She asked how I was doing. I needed her.

I need you to know that you can’t take away the pain. Tears will still pour from our eyes & our hearts will still ache. But I need you to know that we need your love.

We are comforted that you recognize what happened: our unborn baby, and the hopes and dreams we had for this particular child of God, died.  Yes, as believers we will meet them once again in Heaven, but, In this moment and time, we are sad, we are confused, and we might even be angry.  Above all give us permission and space to grieve.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; Mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15).

Ideas for Offering Support to Someone Who Has Experienced Miscarriage or Pregnancy Loss

  • Hug
  • Pray
  • Say I’m sorry
  • Send a letter, email, or text expressing your sincere condolences
  • Flowers
  • Don’t bring it up in a public place. You can nod, whisper I’m so sorry, or gently squeeze our hands, but please don’t ask us about our loss right before the company business meeting. Talk to us in a private place.
  • Respect us if we don’t want to talk
  • Listen if we do want to talk
  • Let us grieve
  •  Drop off food
  • Offer to babysit our other children. Ask us twice so we know you are serious, but don’t force us if we say no.
  • Gift a book: Miscarriage Resources & Links
  • Educate yourself: Miscarriage Resources & Links
  • Ask us if we need anything from the store. There are physical side effects to pregnancy loss
  • Gift this book: Love You Forever. The story was written to commemorate the author’s unborn child.
  • Give an angel ornament or some other token of appreciation.
  • Ask our partner if he needs to talk. Listen.
  • Invite us to dinner or coffee the weeks after our loss. Invite us to talk. Listen.
  • Lead people to Stepping Stones Newsletter
  • Visit Miscarriage Resources & Links
  • Choose your words carefully. Read What Not To Say To Someone Who Had a Miscarriage
  • Invite your loved one to join Loved Baby Facebook Group
  • Understand that you can’t fix it but you can love on us.

 (Compiled by the Loved Baby Sisterhood)

xoxo

THANK YOU for caring and for showing your love to families when they go through this grievous situation.

Join our Support Group:

Loved Baby Support & Encouragement Group

Will you also consider adding your name to our email list?

Live Free Thursday

21While sitting on my front-porch last night- watching the fireflies dance through the starry summer night- I remembered my childhood.

Running through the grass in my front-yard with a mason jar clutched in my hand. My eyes fixated on one thing: those glimmering, and somewhat magical creatures, that only visited for a few months.

My brother and I teamed up and tried to catch as many as possible to put in our make-shift lanterns.

That was bliss.

Summer in the south is majestic.

But sometimes we are inclined to feel it up with busyness. And activities that require bags of supplies.

Life is but a series of small moments; the ones I best recollect are the simplest.

Ones that don’t require 8 steps from Pinterest.

Just a bit of connecting with nature. And a bit of savoring life.

So here is my bucket-list for the summer. I do realize that the effects of many of these will be me cleaning up dirt-stained bathtubs. But that is quite all right.

Cause after all, summer in the south is a gift to be cherished and sometimes that means letting your kids play in the mud.

I might not get to all of them. But I am going to try my hardest to celebrate the season in the most simplest of ways.

21 Things Every Southern-Child Should Do This Summer

Star gazing

Firefly catching

Blackberry picking

Skipping rocks

Imagining images in clouds

Spitting watermelon seeds

Shucking sweet corn and eating it raw off the cob

Flying off a rope swing into the ice-cold river

Looking for worms in the dirt and then going fishing

Making mud-pies

Playing in a creek-bank

Running barefoot through the freshly-mowed grass

Rushing through a water-sprinkler on a hot summer day

Listening to the croaking of a bullfrog symphony on the banks of a pond

Tasting a honeysuckle vine

Digging in the dirt. For no reason other than just to dig

Bubbles

Popsicles

Sparklers on the 4th of July

Water guns

&

Crashing into bed way past bedtime from the sheer exhaustion of just plain playing outside.

I’m thankful my parents gave me that messy, magical summer childhood of just enjoying life.

What would you add to the list? 

Love & Blessings,

Sarah

 

Where the Sad Girls Go, How to Love Someone Who Is Depressed

by Jennifer Renee Watson
It is a pleasure to introduce you to Jennifer- one of my kindred spirits.  I met this gorgeous minister’s wife, mother, and award-winning writer at a writers conference last February.  She politely invited me to sit beside her and we chatted up writing, lipstick, grief, and cheered each other on as we met with publishers and agents.  You are going to love her honesty.  On the Loved Baby Pregnancy Loss Support Group we’ve been talking an awful lot about depression after loss.  Read Jennifer’s take on supporting someone through the darkness. It’s one of those things people don’t like talking about in broad daylight.  Thanks Jennifer for taking the shame out of this affliction.
And if you want to join our Loved Baby community–please click on the above link to connect with other women who have experienced the death of their womb baby. And if you think you might be struggling with depression please visit the conclusion of the post.  I’ve collected some help-lines.  You don’t have to run alone.


 

The Lilypad“You don’t look pregnant anymore.”

I began to cry as we walk out of the doctor’s office.

“I’m so mad I could cuss.” I say, standing in the parking lot looking less pregnant.

“Do it.” My husband says, giving me permission.

“I can’t.”

“Then I’ll do it for you.”

And then he swears for me. I stand there in utter shock and then I double over laughing through the tears and say something snarky like, “You are going to split hell wide-open.”

We laugh through aching hearts and somehow I know that everything is going to be okay. We are going to be okay.

I think that is when I wrestled with my first encounter with real depression. Every fall it comes back and I wrestle trying to find words and look much like a Cymbalta commercial minus petting a cat and gazing out the widow.

I figured out where the sad girls go because at that broken moment, I was one of them.

I’m not sure if it’s connected to that time loss during multiple miscarriages, or just seasonal, but each year just as the leaves turn beautiful shades of orange and red and then finally let go giving way to winter. I become like the barren tree stripped of leaves and life, but it is still me, just the quieter version of me.

And in my head I go, that’s where the sad girls go.

Each year it becomes less of an issue, but I still go off–grid and have a hard time finding words. Even writing becomes difficult and I miss the more vibrant, spunky side of me. I stop making calls because I feel like I have nothing to say worth hearing.

The sad girls drift off inside of their head space and dream of brighter days. I feel so thankful that each year it becomes less of thing, but it’s still a thing. It’s real. But, I’m not sad. I feel hope rising to the surface of my heart because I know this will pass. It always does.

I’ve battled depression on and off for years and I remember thinking that my husband was strong enough to lift the dark cloud off of me. But, he couldn’t. Somewhere in my headspace, my winter months of darkness and bareness of joy, I wrestled with prayer and with God and stopped wrestling with others. My hands were up in surrender with the white flag raised, “God, If you can save me, throw me a lifeline. I’m desperate, I’ll take crumbs I don’t even need a full meal. I just need something.”

And God always came to my rescue. Sometimes it seemed like the sadness lasted for much too long, but it eventually left and my color returned. Laughter filled my lungs and a song spilled out from a renewed heart. When I couldn’t pray, I asked others to pray for me and had trusted friends to hold my hand on the journey. I never asked them to jump in my pit of despair with me, just maybe take me out for chips and salsa and give me a reason to change out of my yoga pants. And after the conversation became lighter and tears stopped, we would have a cake-date afterwards. Sometimes you just need to celebrate the small victories because if we can’t, our expectations might be a little too Hollywood, airbrushed fakeness, and not based on reality.

I’ve learned that letting others see my ugly and broken moments is receiving love when I’m the furthest thing from perfect. In the past, I wanted others to only see me when I was happy and living life to the fullest, but God has given me the truest friends and family that have been unwilling to leave my side at dark, broken moments. They love me just because, no strings-attached, no need to jump through hoops or fake anything. I just get to show up and that’s enough. Man, that’s nice. 

So, how do we love someone in depression crisis and soul funk?

  • Realize that it’s bigger than you. Ask really good questions about feelings and what they need from you.
  • Realize that if you are doing all the things that they “need” and it’s still not enough, take breaks for your heart and do whatever you can to not to go into crisis-mode with them. Someone has to be the strong one; Lord knows it doesn’t feel fair. But someone has to be the voice of reason and hear the voice of God if the other person’s judgment is murky.
  • If you feel yourself fighting so hard, fighting with your loved one as you walk on edge through the crappy minefield and look them in the eyes and say, “We are treating each other like the enemy when we are allies.” And join forces again. Keep reminding yourself that this is not who they are, but as they wrestle with change in their hearts, minds, hormones, and brain chemistry, everything is pretty much based on fear and a lie. The things that used to make them happy don’t anymore and they don’t even know why. That’s brutal.
  • Get help! You might need personal therapy, it’s so brave and should be celebrated, not an embarrassment. It doesn’t mean you are failing, it means you care enough to not give up. You need a friend that is sticking as close as a soul sister possibly can. Prayer journal, angry journal, or verbally barf on someone you can trust. Someone who can drop a truth-bomb like, “What is coming out of your mouth doesn’t line up with the Word.” Don’t let what you feel rule what you know to be true. Like, this too shall pass like a kidney stone with spikes the size of Texas, but it will pass. So, let me speak truth wrapped up in love and hold you while you cry. 
  • Figure out your default setting. For me shutting down emotionally is what I do. I’m working on it. When you feel yourself shutting down, ask yourself why. For me, my broken girl syndrome might emerge instead of the confident, godly woman that I have become. Anytime I felt backed into a corner, trapped, or embarrassed publicly, I would just check out and put up a wall to protect my heart. Or I would come out swinging. My default is flight, not fight. I hate conflict, but boundaries need to happen if someone is crossing lines and just expecting you to deal with it and be the nice one. Communicating is essential if you want to have something that lasts. Period. If you stop the lines of communication, you might as well stamp an expiration date on your healthy relationship.
  • When you love someone, you do whatever it takes to protect the one you love. A person in crisis no longer knows how to protect and cultivate your tender heart; they are focused on what they are feeling and what they need. So, it feels very personal and selfish. Try to focus on what you love about them, remember the better days and pray for better days to be restored.
  • Figure out their default setting. Harsh truth, anyone who is depressed doesn’t even know what their default setting is.So…there’s that. But, they do have a love language and things that fill up their tank.
  • Stop doing the same things. You need something to look forward to. Try to break away from your normal routine and do something fun.
  • Find a reason to hope and dream again, take your “wounded one” with you and live a little. No lists, agendas, or jumping through the hoops, just being together and chasing after joy and each other until hope returns.
  • Just because they are depressed doesn’t mean you have to be too. When I was going through my seasons of depression, I didn’t need my man, or friends, to join me and set up camp there. It was my depression and because I love them, I just needed them to understand, love me, and pray for me. Not push me or tell me I’m wrong for feeling that way. I never expected them to fix me, so it would be stupid for me to feel like I am the Junior Holy Spirit and able to fix someone else’s depression.

Guard your heart and mind and take your thoughts captive, it’s the only thing you are accountable for right now. I’m so grateful for a God that loves me just because I’m His and I’m enough for Him, even when I’m at my worst.

You are not alone. You might not feel Him, but God hasn’t left you.

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands, Your walls are continually before Me.” (Is 49:16)

I get it, I know what it is like to wrestle with this and win. Don’t go through this alone; let someone walk you through this!

Much love and prayers,

Jennifer Renee

Jennifer

Jennifer is a self-professed girly-girl who is convinced that coloring your hair is addictive and has an undying affection for refined sugar and red lipstick. She is a mother of two miracle babies and an out-of-box minister’s wife. Visit her Blog for more inspiration and real-talk.

 


If You Think You Might Be Depressed:

The loss of a womb baby is a taboo, misunderstood topic and many women feel very alone in their grief.  Scholarly research tells us that women are at an increased risk for depression and anxiety after a loss- and it doesn’t matter the fetal age,  “A woman who has lost her child at 11 weeks may be as distraught as a woman who has lost her child at 20 weeks,” says Martha Diamond, PhD (Research in Nursing & Health).  My friend Cayci says- it was the hardest day of my life.

If you think you, or your loved one is battling depression I urge you to seek help.  Your Ob/Gyn will be the best point of contact.  Many, many women spiral unto this dark place after pregnancy loss.

Also visit the National Institute of Mental Healths Site.  They have a wealth of professional knowledge on Depression in Women including a downloadable PDF Brochure.

NIH explains that people with depression have different brain chemistry than those without the illness. It is nothing you have done and you don’t have to fight the battle on your own.  If you had strep throat would you go see your doctor?  If you were diagnosed with cancer would you seek a professional? Likewise, if you think you might be depressed you should also seek support.  There should be no shame.

What are the signs and symptoms of depression?

Different people have different symptoms. The NIH says wome symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling sad or “empty”
  • Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious, or guilty
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Feeling very tired
  • Not being able to concentrate or remember details
  • Not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
  • Overeating, or not wanting to eat at all
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems

Love & Blessings,

Sarah