Overcoming Setbacks: Dealing with loss and how we recover

Quotes About Strength

“Through adversity, not only are we given an opportunity to discover our inner strength, we are also given the gift of foresight so we can shine a light for others who go through the experience after us.”   ―     Rachael Bermingham

I have talked extensively about my challenges in becoming a mother and I strongly believe that sharing my experiences can help others who may be going through similar experiences.  In my first book, Welcome to Heartbreak, I talked in length about my pregnancy journey and about the miscarriage I suffered after I became pregnant for the very first time in my life.

Anyone who has ever experienced such a loss knows how painful it can be. For me, it almost took away my desire to be a mother. Not only had I lost my baby, but I had also lost my faith and hope. I was angry at God and refused to accept that maybe He had a better plan for me.  At 34 and married for 10 years, that was the baby my husband and I had always hoped and prayed for. In hindsight, I now know that I had to lose that child in order to have experienced the joy of giving birth to Avarie. Back then I was so consumed with sorrow  and rage that I couldn’t understand that.

When I first became pregnant I documented every moment in my journal; from every doctor’s appointment to every thought, feeling, and fear that crossed my mind. My reasoning was that when the baby was older it would be my gift to him or her so that it would know just how much it was wanted and loved. Today I came across that journal that I wrote specifically for that child and below I am sharing an excerpt from June 27, 2011, the day that I began to miscarry (as fate would have it, the number 27 would come to have great significance in my life).

I share this so that any woman that may be going through something similar knows that she is not alone. Miscarriages are painful both literally and figuratively and I know what you are going through. I promise you that the pain does not last forever. Allow yourself to mourn and to grieve because it is your right to, but know and trust that God has a greater plan for your life.

***

June 27, 2011

I didn’t write to you yesterday.  I woke up early and went to the hair salon. I figured that I’d write to you when I got back home. However, I never did. Emotionally I was a wreck. My body began confirming what the doctor and the nurse said from the very beginning and despite my refusal to believe it, despite my positive thinking, despite my visioning, none of that can counteract God’s will.

The red stain on my underwear pierced my eyes. It was the one thing I had not envisioned, yet here I was living my worst nightmare. I’ve never experienced this before so I don’t know what to expect. Yesterday there was a light stain and today too. Everything that I’ve read says that I should be experiencing cramping and that the blood will come in clots. Chunks of my deepest desire flowing through me like a poison releasing itself from my body. That’s what a miscarriage is. It is an abnormality in the fetus. The chromosomes didn’t split properly. Proof that what I believed was my miracle really wasn’t.

Yet, even as I sit here writing this, even as my body prepares itself to rid itself of you, a part of me still believes in you. Maybe I’m just in denial or maybe I am just going crazy, but my heart is not ready to let you go. Maybe my heart will never be ready. All I know is that I feel numb right now and because I am numb I’m not sure how to move on.  I’m stuck. My feet are heavy, wanting to move but unable to. All I can do is take it one day at a time and with God’s grace maybe one day I will be ok again.

The waiting is the worst part. Waiting for this to be over is slowly killing me inside. All I want is to stay home in my bedroom in my own little bubble. I dread going to the bathroom because of what I may see. I’m waiting for the blood to come like uncontrollable waves. So far all that’s come is light spotting. I’m waiting for the hemorrhaging to begin, for the unbearable cramps that’s been said will come.

I’m waiting but I’m not ready. I am trying as best as I can to prepare myself mentally and emotionally for the inevitable. I am left thinking about all of the dreams I had for you.  What will I do with this journal that I’ve begun to write just for you? Because of this miscarriage I will never be truly happy or overjoyed if I do get pregnant again. I will be full of worry, always anticipating some sort of bad news. I won’t allow myself to feel anything for fear that it will be taken away from me like you have been.

When I imagined being pregnant I never thought that there was a possibility that you would not grow to full term. Not that I’m not smart enough to know that these things happen. I just never imagined that it would happen to me. Diana’s 3 pregnancies all produced healthy babies and since my sister never had trouble conceiving I just knew without a doubt that after waiting so long God would not forsake me. It seems like someone is playing a mean joke on me.

I can’t help but think, “Why are we being punished? Why is my faith being tested?” I know these are questions that I will never have the answers to but I still feel them. This was supposed to be the happiest time of my life. Now all I can think  about is how I’m going to tell everyone the news. I don’t know how.

***

When I wrote that journal entry I was devastated.  I’ve experienced many losses in my life. People have been dying in my family since I was 2 yrs old, death is something that I am familiar with. But when the death is happening inside your own body, when you’re body begins to reject the life that you created, nothing can prepare you for that. After my miscarriage I decided that I wouldn’t try anymore.  I convinced myself that I no longer wanted to be a mother. I did not want to put myself in a situation where I could possibly experience that kind of loss and heartbreak again. The problem with that is, that no matter what I tried to tell my brain my heart refused to accept the message. In my heart, I still did want to be a mother. And so after a lot of praying and meditating my husband and I decided that we would try again. Five months after my miscarriage, we found out that I was pregnant for a second time and exactly 13 months from that journal entry on the 27th day of July 2012 my beautiful, healthy little girl was born.

It is never easy overcoming setbacks, but sometimes they are necessary in order to allow for greater things. I have now learned to accept life and all of its uncertainty. I have learned to trust in God’s plan for my life. And I have learned that heartbreaks don’t break us, they make us stronger.

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”   ―     Louise Erdrich,     The Painted Drum LP    

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