Looking Back at Loss...

11:27 PM

Today is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day.

It took me 4 months to go public with our miscarriage last year. It was hard to be honest about it because I still felt like I had failed my baby, that my body had failed me, that I had failed my husband, etc. Feelings of failure are so evident in pregnancy loss. It takes a long time to shake them. I shared the news of our loss weaved into the news of my pregnancy with Isla, and I remember trembling as I posted our announcement, anxieties high. I felt like people would suddenly not believe that my pregnancy with Isla would last, which was of course one of my big fears too. I was worried people would hold back celebrating my pregnancy. But they didn't. The comments and messages and texts and calls came pouring in. The joys were as high as the sorrows had been low. I was so grateful. 

I lost my first pregnancy on June 28, 2016. It was an early loss but after 5 years of fertility issues, it was a deeply felt and devastating loss. I also remember feeling so so sorry for myself that some people have sex to get pregnant, period, while I had to undergo two months of treatment and monitoring and meds to get to finally see that positive, only to have it fall away from me and to realize that all the dreaded drives and poking and prodding and testing had to be done all over again. It sure felt like a loss but more than that it felt like losing. It felt like dreams being dangled in front of you only to be crushed and thrown away, just out of your reach. It was raw and painful and horrible. But it was also a lot of other things. It was a journey. It was friends reaching out. It was family extending love. It was my husband proving yet again that he would stand by me through anything. It was me learning to forgive myself. It was me holding on to hope. It was God giving me the strength to keep going. It was me learning more deeply what love is. It was me becoming a mom with a baby i'd never get to hold, and it was me having a child I will look forward to meeting in heaven.

For all of you who have experienced any similar kind of loss, know that you are so dearly loved and you have every right to grieve and process this loss of a little who was also so dearly loved. Give yourself time and space to go through what you need to go through. My husband Scott who is the wisest person when it comes to loss and grieving in my opinion, having lost his dad suddenly at 13, says: give how you feel the right amount of power and time, and nothing more...nothing less. Sometimes I would have a day where I would be feeling particularly down and would say something to him like "I feel like this is my fault...I didn't take it easy enough...I didn't eat right enough...etc." and he said to me "I am going to let you feel like this today because you need to feel like this. But the truth is this wasn't your fault and you can't blame yourself. Today you can feel like that, but that's it." Of course he knows you can't schedule pain or grieving and he knew I would battle feelings of blame for awhile, but he also knew by speaking truth and letting me know he wasn't going to let me sink into dark places for too long also helped me realize that a day WOULD come where maybe I wouldn't blame myself anymore. That day did come. I think it was when I saw Isla on the ultrasound and I knew for whatever reason, what was meant to be was becoming - it was her. She was here and she was strong.

I still think back often about the baby I lost. Of course I never could find out the gender but I felt from conception that it was a boy. The longer away it becomes the more I wonder if I made too much of a deal about it. But then I think about it all and my mind goes back...and boy did I ever love and want that baby even if it was early...and boy did I ever cry and mourn when I lost it. The journey becomes you and that grief is a part of me - it helped form who I am today.

As you likely know, I am a photographer. During the time I was pregnant, I was so lucky to have gone on a roadtrip to Utah. At first I honestly could not even look at my trip photos. I blamed the trip for the loss and the photos made me sick to look at. I looked at myself in the photos as so naive - unaware of my world about to come crashing down. But now I look at the photos so much differently. The time that I "spent" with that baby earthside was so short, and this trip was the highlight. I look at the photos, and we were still together. I carried that soul inside of me. As short as it was, it was a privilege to house another little human and the trip was our first, and sadly only, adventure together but how lucky were we to be able to have one? I look at the photos and it was our time together and I now greatly cherish them.

I also documented some of my life after the loss. The images are mostly just cell shots and nothing special but they take me back to a time where pain and love were intertwined and ever so close. Here are a few of the journey - both the love and the loss.

The most beautiful thing that came out of our loss was how much stronger we grew as a couple. I was forced to deal with a lot of my feelings of inadequacy and one day when I was particularly scared that if I couldn't give Scott children, he would be disappointed in me and regret being with me...or heck even leave me...he grabbed my hand and said "I want you to look at me when I say this to you...you are my ten out of ten. Just you. If it's just you and me, I will still be the happiest man alive. Don't think for a second that I would ever leave you, I will never leave you." I'll never forget the intensity and fire with which he said those words. It was in the parking lot of our fertility clinic. We had just started treatment again and our sweet Isla was conceived that cycle. Makes me tear up thinking about it.

Now when I look back at our pregnancy loss, I mostly just see love. Love for our baby, love for each other, love for our God. Covered in so much love. I'll never forget that sweet seed that bloomed instead in heaven.

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