Monday, April 11, 2011

The Future Ahead

"Today I saw the future. She was sitting in a lawn chair in the center of the road with a sign that said, "Don't go this way." She doesn't always take the direct approach. She might camoflage herself behind traffic jams, alarm clocks, burnt toast and deadlines causing the urban observer to believe she's really not there. But no matter what, she always leaves a little trail of hope leading to her infinite arms." --Monique Duval, THE PERSISTENCE OF YELLOW

What do you see for your future? What are the signs for you that you push into one direction or the other? In the parenting realm, working world, or your intimate relationship? This is a time of transition and it is good to think of how the future is directing you in one way or another. It is important to live in the moment, but occasionally it is a good exercise to visualize the future. Particularly after you've suffered a loss, it is pleasant to picture a healthy pregnancy, your belly swelling, a precious baby being born. When I was pregnant with my daughter, past the first trimester, I would watch the TV show "Baby Story" over and over. I would sit there and just weep as each family's journey through pregnancy and birth came to fruition. I think that it was my way of learning about this adventure and visualizing what pregnancy and birth could be like for us. I also kept a pregnancy journal where I recorded how I was feeling, dreams for my child, and so on. In a quiet moment think about what your dreams are for this pregnancy and the birth of your child.

Does the future feel exciting? Scary? A combination of emotions? Who would be there to cradle you and catch you in their infinite arms--the future, your partner, yourself? Once you've taken time to visualize the future and your hopes and put them out to the Universe or is important to realize that we ultimately don't get to control what happens in the future. Of course, you already know this because you've suffered a miscarriage. This was not something you would have chosen on your way to parenthood...but, you are on a new path this time and there is always room for hope and dreams.

This week, help me to remember that even though I've lost one (or more) baby and this was is ok for me to have day dreams and visualize this pregnancy and healthy baby. I am not forsaking my lost child by being excited about this current pregnancy and I am not jinxing this pregnancy either. I have hope and want to indulge in picturing my belly big, delivering a healthy baby, and enjoying this next stage in my life.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Joy Envy

"I wish we would all have more clear, truthful, jealous outbursts. We all feel jealous. I feel it often, about both odd and common things. We are afraid that it is too ugly to be seen, or not kind, or some sign that we are greedy or inferior. If jealousy is shared consciously when felt, its power disappears...Jealously increases in size if you feed it with silence. Practice saying loudly and firmly, I AM SO JEALOUS!" --SARK, The Bodacious Book of Succulence

It's not uncommon to feel frustrated by friends who have not experienced pregnancy loss. They may have tried to comfort you after your loss and may have lots of advice for you now that you are pregnant again. Sometimes the words that they use to comfort or help you cope with the anxiety of a new pregnancy are better left unsaid. However, it is important to remember that most people are truly trying to say the right thing and not meaning to offend you in any way. Another common problem for women who've suffered miscarriage is that many of their friends are also of childbearing age--so many friends get pregnant and have healthy pregnancies while you may still be on your path to parenthood. It is universal to have pangs of jealousy over friends' pregnancies and healthy babies. Certainly, miscarriage survivors don't want everyone to experience pregnancy loss, but is can also feel bittersweet when your support system is sailing through pregnancy.

I remember one friend who just found out she was pregnant, had literally just missed her period, and announced the news to everyone at the park where our toddlers were playing. She was so full of joy about her news. I couldn't help but feel amazement at her proclamation--I would never have been able to express my joy with reckless abandon at four weeks along. Instead, I would feel that I had to keep my pregnancy under wraps as long as I could to help temper my own excitement and to stave off some shame if I miscarried again. Ultimately, I was jealous because I wished for another healthy pregnancy and also to have the carefree joy in expressing excitement about a pregnancy. For me, I coped with having jealous thoughts and feelings (which made me feel terrible) and then shared our news when we reached the end of our first trimester. In the end, both my friend and I had healthy pregnancies and precious children--the process was just different for us in those early weeks. Once I was able to wrap my head around the fact that we would have different pregnancy experiences, I was able to let go of some of the jealous feelings. After all, I was fortunate beyond belief to be having another child.

Have you felt jealous of others during your process of loss and pregnancy? How did you cope with these feelings? Did it help to share your feelings with the person or was it better for you to handle the emotions on your own? Do you know women who've had a harder road than you? Is it possible that they've envied your experience in some way?

Help me to remember that jealous feelings are common for someone who has experienced loss. It is OK for me to acknowledge these feelings to myself, my partner, and my friend if appropriate. After I allow myself to wallow in these feelings a bit, it is then time to give them less power and move on. After all, I have many blessings in my life. I am fortunate to be pregnant again and this is enough for today. In life, there is always someone who seemingly has it easier than me and always many people who have a more challenging existence than me. Help me to keep this in mind today.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Activites that Restore

"May the long time sun, Shine upon you, May all love surround you, And the pure light, That's within you...Guide your way on." --song from prenatal yoga

Once you are towards the end of your first trimester, it is safe to try some restorative experiences. You might be feeling better and beginning to have more energy. Usually prenatal yoga is a favorite among pregnant women--it feels so good physically to stretch and well as such a pleasure to connect with other pregnant women and have quiet time for you and your growing baby. These activities combine the physical part of stretching, gaining strength, and flexibility while also preparing you emotionally for childbirth with breathing and calming techniques.

What activities do you do that refresh your body and mind? This is different for each person. It may be yoga, Pilates, walking, swimming, going to church, playing in the backyard with a toddler or dog, cooking, meditating, journaling, or taking a bath. If you can't think of something that restores you...then it is time to begin finding simple ways to recharge your spirit! This is your time to experiment...before this new baby arrives. You will need to have a few options tucked away for stressed-out moments once this little angel arrives! If you are having trouble making the time, I encourage you to find the time somewhere. Not only will this help prepare you for childbirth, but it also sets the stage for you taking good care of yourself as a mother. A happy home is only as happy as the mother is--remember that!

Please help me to find time for myself right now. If I feel guilty for taking time to rind a restorative activity, help me to see how important it is for my body and mind. The baby loves this special time that I spend with him/her. If I don't have an activity that refreshes me to have the courage to try some new things that might make me feel good! Help me to see that I deserve it--no matter how busy my days are.

Monday, March 14, 2011

One Day at a Time

"Being attached to the future is still attachment." --Rusty Berkus

Sometimes we are so forward-looking, especially when we're pregnant, that we forget to live in the present. Especially when you've suffered a miscarriage, your life is ruled by the calendar and frantically trying to get through the pregnancy milestones. Taking one day at a time really does allow us more time to fully experience the day's events. If we constantly focus on next week, next month, or which baby swing/bouncer/rocking chair to get--we miss the opportunity to see and experience the miracles of today. You are pregnant and this is a special time in your life and within your body. It might be nice to slow down, think about what's occurring in your body, and share this with your partner. After all, you cannot control the past or you may as well focus on today. It's easier said than done, but it's not impossible.

Children are a wonderful reminder of the joys while living in the present. They will hardly allow you a moment of peace to contemplate the future until they are sound asleep! Think about how you want to live your life...and what being attached to the future looks like for you. What kind of balance can you strike in this area of your life? Think about what makes you feel more comfortable, more at peace, and able to enjoy this current day and your pregnancy.

Are you spending too much time thinking about the future, not focusing on the current day? Is this creating anxiety for you? Does it calm you to plan the near future? Is there a way for you to allow yourself some planning time if this relieves anxiety, but then move on to enjoying the current moment? Have you always been one to think about the future to excess? If so, how do you think this might affect your parenting?

Help me to take one day at a time...this is enough for me right now. My body is working hard to take care of this baby and I need to give myself permission to live for this day. The future will work itself out. Help me to visualize myself as calm, centered, and nurturing this little baby inside of me.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Be Your Own Heroine

"Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim." --Nora Ephron

We've all suffered hurts in our lives that have been so challenging and overwhelming that we didn't know how we would cope and move forward. Most of us usually are able to pick up the pieces and begin to heal and feel better. Some of us struggle more with this in our lives--and as a result, feel victimized, angry, and walk around with a chip on our shoulder for years. Yes, you've suffered a pregnancy loss and are anxious about this current pregnancy...yet, it is so much healthier to view oneself as a survivor, a heroine of your own life. Viewing yourself as a victim is an easy trap to fall into, especially if you've had multiple losses or hurts in your life. However, if you refocus your energy on your strengths, perseverance, dedication to having a healthy pregnancy, and hope for the future--it can have a remarkable effect on your outlook and the way you live your life.

In what ways can you take charge of your life so that you feel more empowered? Are there ways that you want to feel more self-efficacious at work or home? Are there ways in which you'd like to take control of your medical treatment? Is it time for you to speak up about something? One way that you can ease some of your anxiety about this pregnancy, is by renting a Doppler to use at home. This is a wonderful option that can quickly reassure you if you are feeling nervous. Dopplers are available online and allow you to listen to your baby's heartbeat at home. Depending on the baby's position, you may be able to locate the heartbeat on your own now so this may be a useful option to calm your nerves.

Are you the heroine or victim of your life? If you feel that you are a victim, are you uncomfortable and unhappy enough in this role to make a change? Are there ways that you can feel more empowered in this pregnancy and in your life in general? What lessons do you want to teach this baby growing inside of you about overcoming challenges? How do you want this child to view you as a parent and a person in the world?

Help me to explore within myself whether I walk around this world as a heroine or a victim of my own life. Perhaps my own parents perceived themselves as victims and I didn't have a good role model for being a survivor. It is time for me to take care of myself, empower myself, and take charge of my life. I want to walk around with my chin up and I know that I can do this--and it will make me so much happier. I want this baby to know that I am strong, brave, and proud of who I am.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Embracing the Moment

"In life, there are no ordinary moments. Most of us never really recognize the most significant moments of our lives when they're happening." --Kathleen Magee

It is important to be present in our lives. Sometimes we are so caught up in the daily grind, the worries about everything going on in the world, planning too far into the future...that we lose sight of what is going around us and within us. Today, pause and look around you: who is beside you, what were your joys of today, and how is your body feeling with this growing baby inside of you?

Take a moment to really let life sink in. Thank the people beside you that have been supportive and loving in your life. Cuddle with your pets. Pat your tummy--allow yourself to feel thankful for this little miracle growing inside of you. Indeed, these are not just ordinary moments...unless you let them slip by.

Now is the time to begin being "awake" in our lives--when you have this baby, the moments will slip by all too quickly. Learn to relish the wonderful moments in your life now. You will look back on this pregnancy and time in your life later and wish you could re-experience parts of it again. It is easier to count your blessings when you have slowed down enough to reflect.

For this week, help me to slow down and take an inventory of what is going on in my life. Help me to live in the present, enjoy the moment, and not to obsess about the future. After all, I don't have control of the future, but I can enjoy today. Help me to focus on the good and positive aspects of life and the people around me.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


"There are disappointments that wring us ,there are those which inflict a wound whose mark we bear to our graves. Such are so keen that no future gratification of the same desire can ever obliterate them: they become registered as a permanent loss of happiness." --Thomas Hardy, A PAIR OF BLUE EYES

It is surprising to some women how much they still think about their lost baby or babies. It's common to remember them on their due dates, around the time they were conceived, on the date of your miscarriage, at holidays, or when you see a child who is the same age that your child would have been. These rememberings can often crop up at random times like during a movie, in a dream, or in a sad moment alone. They were a part of you and some women find it hard to totally let go. Everyone has a different experience with this--and this is OK. Even now that you're pregnant again, you may still find your mind drifting to your lost angel or angels.

One of the hardest parts about miscarriage can be how you feel so alone with it. In one book about miscarriage, it begins by saying "Welcome to a lonely club..." Often couples haven't told anyone they were pregnant and they then suffer silently. Even couples who have shared the joyful news of pregnancy with others, still feel alone because no one "knew" the baby. In reading Elizabeth Edward's memoir, SAVING GRACES, which discussed the death of their teenage son, she mentions how she doesn't want anyone to forget about his existence. You may identify with this concept and feel strongly that you don't want yourself or anyone else to forget about the existence of this very tiny soul.

For this week, think about if there is a way you can keep your lost baby in your heart and still move on with your current life. Is there something special you can do on a yearly/monthly basis that will help you remember the life that was lost to you? How can remembering your lost baby or babies help you free yourself to love this new baby that you are carrying? There are many ways that one can symbolically remember their lost child. One grief website had an option to post your miscarriage date and it becomes "the day my angel got its wings." That may feel comforting. One could plant a tree or flowers, donate to a children's charity, write a poem for the lost child, say a prayer at night, or support miscarriage or women's health research. Think about what ways of remembering might hold meaning for you--they may help you to continue to heal and allow you to keep moving forward in your own pregnancy. If you aren't comfortable remembering, why not?

Help me to connect with the little soul or souls that I have lost along this path to motherhood. If it comforting to me, help me to find a way to remember that unborn child in a special way. If it is more comforting to me to let the baby or babies go, then please help me to release him/her to the heavens. Help me to hold a stillness in my heart for the losses, as well as an openness in my heart for this new and healthy life inside of me.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Seeking Your Internal Home

"Alone time is when I distance myself from the voices of the world so I can hear my own." --Oprah Winfrey

It can be such a challenge to silence our minds and the world around us. We are bombarded everyday with so much information, things to remember, places to go, people to see, errands to run, people to listen can be truly overwhelming. This can feel particularly relevant in the midst of reproductive challenges and fears--in addition to the normal chatter of life, there are more doctor's appointments, tests to be done, family and friends to update, and partners who also need their thoughts and feelings validated. Of course, one is also supposed to manage work, a home, pets, and your own aching self! Now you may be feeling burdened with people's comments about your current pregnancy...or you may have chosen to keep the pregnancy quiet for the time being, which comes with its own set of difficulties, too.

Wherever you are for today, make time to quiet your mind and begin listening to yourself. How are youfeeling today? If you heart could speak, what would it say? Are you listening to yourself or does it feel odd to "check in" with yourself? In my therapy work with adolescents, I often discuss the concept of an "internal home" with them. In life, it is often comforting if you have a place inside that you can go to when you need comfort, hope, sustenance, or guidance. This should be a place of peacefulness and should reflect your authentic self--it should feel like a home inside yourself. For me, I picture sitting on a rock beach on Flathead Lake in Montana. It is a spot I've visited since my childhood and feels familiar, safe, and comforting to me. It captures much of what I hold sacred: the sound of water, a clear horizon, mountains above the shore, a spiritual presence, and wonderful memories of family and childhood. I can hear my own voice there--and it's great that I can access it anytime if I just slow down and close my eyes for a few minutes.

What is your internal home like? Do you often visit it and does it bring you comfort? Do you like being able to rely on yourself to soothe and heal the broken parts? Or do you prefer talking things through with a friend or loved one? Are there times when it might be good to tune everyone else out for a moment? What do you wish for your unborn baby in this regard? The better you are equipped to nurture yourself...the easier it will be to nurture your little baby on the way.

This week, help me to take a few moments to quiet the world around me. Help me to take a few deep breaths and really check in with myself. If I am uncomfortable being alone with myself, help me recognize that...and help me begin to prepare for moments of solitary strength and confidence that will be needed on this journey to motherhood. All that I do today to become more self-aware will benefit myself and my child.

Monday, January 31, 2011


"Life is never beyond hope." --Rudolfo Anaya, BLESS ME ULTIMA

Our thinking affects our feelings and behavior--just as our feelings affect the way we think about experiences. However, we tend to have more control over our thought processes than mastery over controlling our emotions. It is extremely common to have a negative tape running through our minds all day long--an inner critic calling ourselves names and making us feel badly about ourselves. After a pregnancy loss, it is not uncommon to be distraught, down, or experience depressing thoughts. However, to wallow in this negative thinking for too long will only make one feel worse about the situation. Time is a good healer for this negative thinking--and a subsequent pregnancy is a good positive distraction.

There is one silver lining of miscarriage and that is the opportunity to try and get pregnant again. There was hope that you would get pregnant again--and you DID--and now there is hope that you will carry this baby to term. I know it is a guarded hope since you've experienced a loss...but it is sill hope. It is a precious gift to be pregnant again and one that is worth relishing for a few moments today. There is actually a lot to be said for having an optimistic attitude to help you cope with the stress of a first trimester.

What negative thoughts cross your mind each day? How are these thoughts affecting your feelings? Is it time to think more positively? It is important for the baby to feel your faith and hope for this pregnancy--you can start to do this by letting more light and hope into your mind and heart. It is time to make room for the baby growing inside of you and let go of some of the negativity that has been following you around. You have had a set-back, a misfortune by having a miscarriage--but now you have also been blessed. It's so much more relaxing and soothing to focus on the current blessings present in your life.

Help me to slow down today and recognize the power of my thinking upon my feelings throughout the day. Help me to treat myself kindly and stop berating myself in every way. Help me to quiet the negative voice in my head that creates more anxiety in me about this pregnancy. Allow me to focus on the positive things happening in my life this very moment--and begin to allow the hope to seep in in manageable moments. I am scared to be too optimistic and hopeful, yet I want to begin allowing positive feelings in.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Taking Risk

"...there are times in a person's life when to risk everything is the only affirmation of life." --Alice Walker

When we pregnant for the fifth time, and had already suffered three miscarriages, it felt like some of our friends and family thought we were crazy. They had watched us suffer multiple losses, heard about the extensive medical workup, and observed the financial stress of testing and treatments. There was undoubtedly a physical and emotional toll on both of us...and we already had one beautiful, miracle child--why push it?

It was hard for us to explain our feelings about wanting to still grow our family, despite all the pain and difficulty. We felt that we had to take the risk...and just felt like somehow we would know if we needed to stop this process or switch gears somehow. We had to consider all options--maybe I wouldn't be able to carry another baby for us and we'd need to consider a surrogate. Maybe we would consider adoption or foster parenting...all we knew was that our hearts had more room for more children to love and raise and that we wanted a sibling for our daughter. At some point, we became more confident in our goals and didn't care if others could not understand. We knew their intentions were good--they just did not want us to suffer--and that was comforting, though frustrating at times.

What do you feel like you're risking? Are you feeling supported in that risk? Are you trying to please or appease too many people? How can you stay true to yourself in this process?

Help me to be clear in my mind about my desires for a family today. Help me to filter out any noise from others, if it doesn't feel supportive. Help me to make special time with my spouse this week to comfort each other and feel solid in this pregnancy and our desire to have/or build our little family. Please help me to LIVE my life the way I want to and not to look back with regret later in life.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Broken Parts

"I have woven a parachute out of everything broken." --William Stafford

One of the "gifts" after suffering a loss of any type is that you are given the opportunity to reevaluate your life and try to mend your heart and life to enable you to move forward. I know that there was no part of your miscarriage or miscarriages that felt like a gift--it was very difficult for me to ever find a silver lining. Pain is pain...and loss is loss. The only positives that came out of the losses were my own personal growth and the deeper bond between my husband and I.

Many people tried to comfort me with the adage,"everything happens for a reason." Sometimes people are implying that something went wrong with the baby and the miscarriage was nature's way of taking care of the problem. I always felt this was extremely insensitive, even if the person's intentions were good and even if there was a genetic problem with the baby. Sometimes people say "everything happens for a reason" and mean it in a larger sense--a spiritual sense--that this loss needed to occur. I have really struggled with this concept in my life. On the one hand, I believe that there is always something to be learned from a horrible situation--so no situation is without some bit of gleaning about the world/life/people etc. However, I also believe that there is suffering in the world that is terrible and unexplainable--meaning there is no reason it had to happen (think about the Holocaust, a child being hit by a car, senseless violent crimes). After grappling with this issue, I have come to some peace in the idea that my God is a loving God--and doesn't enjoy seeing us suffer senselessly either. I believe that there are terrible losses that God wishes didn't happen as well--and miscarriage is one of them. This way of thinking helped me to build my "parachute" to cope with my pregnancies after loss.

Have you been able to mend your broken parts to help you cope with your current pregnancy? Do you feel guilty in loving this new baby? How do you conceive of your miscarriage and God's role in it, if any? What words were most comforting to you after your loss?

Help me to see my broken parts clearly and continue to help me try to heal them. I want to heal these sad and hurting parts before this baby arrives--and in time to enjoy this pregnancy as much as possible. Help me to make sense of why suffering and loss occurs and to cope with its aftermath. After I think about these topics, please help me to rest my tired mind.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Evaluating Happiness

"Happiness is not about is about feeling significant." --Dr. Robert Holden, Happiness Researcher and psychologist

So many of us fall into thinking that we will be happy...if we have a bigger house, if we find a husband, if we get a raise, or if we can have a baby. It is easy to fall into this way of thinking, striving, comparing in today's competitive world. It seems there is always someone right next to us that is smarter, more fit, wealthier, more outgoing, more fertile, and the list goes on. It is time to take a step back from this way of thinking--and challenge yourself. Do achievements make you happy? Do material things make you happy? Do successes make you happy?

All achievements/successes/material items can temporarily life anyone's spirits. However, true happiness comes from the inside of one's soul--a truly happy person is satisfied with themselves and their life, regardless of recent accumulations/successes. Truly content people are also able to persevere and maintain their optimistic vantage point, even after tragedy strikes.

For this week, reflect upon happiness and the role it plays in your life--and how your outlook on life will affect your coming baby. Take a moment to think about these five questions, called The Satisfaction With Life Scale, developed by Ed Diener at the University of Illinois. Rank each item from 1-7 in your mind (1=not at all true, 7=absolutely true).
1. In most ways, my life is ideal.
2. The conditions of my life are excellent.
3. I am satisfied with my life.
4. So far I have gotten the important things I want in life.
5. If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing.

What did you learn about yourself? The higher your total score, the happier you are. How do you think your feelings about yourself and outlook on life will affect your mothering and new baby? How are you significant? If you don't feel significant, how can you develop this area of your life?

For this week, please help me to slow down and evaluate how much happiness I feel in my life. If I am not feeling happy or satisfied with my life--and am expecting this baby to complete me--please help me to being understanding that this will not occur. The baby will likely fill me with happiness and joy, but also many other emotions along the way. The baby will come out of my womb with its own needs...not to meet my needs for happiness and fulfillment. Ultimately, no one except myself can make me feel happy. Help me to discover that warm part of my soul where I feel safe, confident, and joyful about life.

Monday, January 3, 2011

You Already Are a Mother

"Making the decision to have a child--it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside of your body." --Elizabeth Stone

When a woman becomes pregnant for the first time, she is forever changed. There is nothing in a woman's life experience that will quite compare to carrying a child in her womb and parenting. From the moment one knows that she is pregnant, all of a woman's life begins to transform. Every decision takes into account this new baby growing inside of her, she begins to love and bond with the baby--and these feelings just intensify as she feels the baby's movement and her belly begins to grow. As a woman who has experienced miscarriage, you already are a mother. This is not often said, nor are women comforted as if they had a child die. However, this is what the pain feels like for some women. The proof is in the profound grief that many women experience after a miscarriage. Many women do not feel like they "deserve" to be a mother yet, if they haven't been able to carry a child to term. Remember that there is not one path to motherhood--women that have adopted or fostered children, are mothers; women who have had to use IVF to assist them or use a surrogate are mothers. You were a mother the moment you chose to get pregnant for the first time. With the decision to have a child, the surrender to motherhood is already inherent.

You are now on the path of pregnancy. Whether you are a mother for the first time or are going to be a mother to multiple children after this baby is born--your life, as you know it, will be altered. Motherhood is an absolutely amazing experience--full of joy, exhaustion, frustration, fun, and tenderness. It is a miracle to be a part of the life of someone else in such a special role. If you have chosen to be a mother, and don't yet have a child, it can help to find little ways to acknowledge your motherhood. How can you acknowledge your motherhood, even if the world hasn't yet? What does being a mother mean to you? What unique gifts will you bring to your child? Is there a symbolic way that you can remember your lost child and be reminded of the fact that you already are a mother?

If I haven't given birth to a child yet, please help me to see that I am still a mother. I have carried a child in my womb and felt its loss deeply. I am already a mother and have been forever changed by this experience. Help me to recognize my unique gifts as a person and mother that I will share with this baby. Help me to find a gentle way to acknowledge to myself that I already am a mother, even if the world doesn't yet. Please bless this pregnancy.