Mothers, the Good, the Bad and the Ones That Would Never Be

The weeks and months bled into one another, as I continued to seek the very things that eluded me, a baby, a full term pregnancy, and motherhood. Everywhere I turned, someone was pregnant, they glowed with the excitement, they radiated in the bask of what was to come. “Wonder how they would feel if they had to feel how I feel each time I get pregnant, I wonder if they would glow then?” It was more than the pain of the losses, although they took the brunt of the blame. I hated the fact that I couldn’t even find joy when I found out I had become pregnant! Stolen was the gift of the glow other mothers had, for they did not share my fate. Envy pierced my eyes as I looked upon their ripening belly, their body preparing to give them the miracle of life; while my body was soiling the life that formed in my womb and then doing the unthinkable….it was expelling it. If I could have killed out my body, and lived to replace it with one that wasn’t broken, I would have. Even the sight of my flat stomach sickened me, for I knew there should be a blossoming bump, to represent a fluttering of life it held there…..instead it lay there empty. The dates of each due date approached and passed, leaving behind a birthday that I would never celebrate, a gift I would never give to a face I would never see. I lost three more pregnancies during this time, within a year……and my body’s lack of completing the task I had sat out to accomplish filtered into every aspect of my life!

I was repulsed at my reactions to the things that once brought me such joy. The me, the one who had no idea that motherhood may never be her’s, the one who had been naive enough to assume that pregnancy and birth would come so easily, she had dissolved, leaving behind the childless UnMother. I remember the enchantment when I would witness a tummy heavy with life, as a woman would pass me by. Back when magic still existed I would find my way to her, sharing her excitement, asking questions about the gender, her due date, and name choices. Imagining the day when I would share in her destiny. The wonderment of creating a life was something so magical…..but I wouldn’t be granted that joy. Instead I would fall pregnant, dream of the day I would bring forth life, but even that dream was stolen from me. I found with each pregnancy, I became more skeptical, unable to even allow myself to hope. I had no room for hope, because if I did the disappointment that would soon follow, would rip me from the tiny bit of sanity that I had left. And so, the UnMother, she avoided baby aisles at all costs, she scampered away from anyone visibly pregnant…..because each reminder brought with it a deep rooted sadness.

Babies, toddlers, children, had always drawn me in. I loved to look upon the face of a newborn baby, so innocent, so pure, and so perfectly miraculous. I relished in the way toddlers were seeking out to discover the boundaries of their worlds, the sweet way they toddled as they learned to use their legs, and their angelic faces. Children with their silly antics, their new found independence, and their developing personalities. I was mystified by them….until the losses, also took that with it. I would watch as new moms cooed at their infants….but the thing is the way their baby looked back at her, is what hurt me the most. Would I ever see that look? Would I ever see my baby stare at me that way? The exhausted mom at the grocery chasing after her toddler brought on a new form of pain. Who could envy that lady? You know the one with this tiny person who was so unpredictable, so energetic, and prone to throw a tantrum over a piece of candy at the drop of a hat? Those moms, looked utterly deflated, as if the tiny vacuum of the human they had created, had sucked all the life force out of her.  The tiny tornado left in it’s wake a woman dressed in yoga pants, a shirt soiled by some sticky residue, a makeupless face, bags of sleepless nights, hair disheveled and thrown into a sloppy pony tail. She looked tattered, worn out, barely holding it together, but yet I envied her. Her job was important, balancing her little one’s safety and also allowing her child to explore. Spending her nights bribing her energetic toddler to go to sleep so she could as well. She had the job that I wanted, and even in the moments that  tiny people fell into the floor of grocery store, I didn’t pity her……I was jealous. Because even then the love between them was apparent, and that was something I had no knowledge of. So, I avoided situations where I would be forced to acknowledge them, instead choosing a different aisle to venture down, as my heart tried to steady itself and finish the grocery shopping.

Social media was a constant reminder. The children, the ones starting school, they were reminders of my first loss. Posts on facebook of “first days of school” were quickly scrolled by, or “_____ said the cutest thing today….” I didn’t want to hear about it, didn’t want to see their children in their frilly and fancy clothes, because my angels would never see their first day, and I would never be able to share pictures of them as I meticulously dressed them.

But the very worst, was those moms, who had this amazing gift, and discarded it like it was nothing. I would see her screaming at her toddler in the store, see the defeated look upon her child’s face as she dismissed them. This mother was the worst of all. Her children were a burden to her……a burden I wanted more than anything else. She pawned them off on whoever would take them, and make comments like, “I don’t know why I had children!” I remember one instance when I overheard a woman discussing how “inconvenient children were, and how much easier it was before them,”  all the while berating her son who couldn’t have been more than three. Telling him how he was such a brat, and he never listened, amongst other things I cannot bring myself to type. She was sick of him she had said……and then i saw that little boy’s eyes, pooled with tears, and she was breaking his spirit, making him feeI unloved. I was sickened by the sight, so I spun around at the pharmacy, where I was picking up more infertility medications, and I challenged her…..”Well, maybe you should not have had them? I mean there are people, people like me who would give anything for the minor “inconveniences” your child brings. Do you know what I would do to have a child? One just like this perfect little boy by your side who you are insulting in the middle of this line? Your son who as far as I can see, is healthy, beautiful, and has done nothing deserving of your harsh words. If you don’t want him, I would have gladly taken him. I have been through things no one should to be given the right to be a mother……a job you are clearly unworthy of. YOU are sick of him?????? Well, I am sick of parents like you who get this beautiful gift and are so unworthy.” People were staring, but I didn’t care! I knelt down to the little boy who’s brown eyes were searching mine, “You are a good boy, and don’t you ever forget that.” The mother’s face was red from embarrassment, she yanked her child’s arm and whisked him to another check out.

I know I sounded like a crazy woman…..after all it was no business of mine, right? WRONG! I didn’t care if others thought, save only one…..that tiny broken boy that she didn’t deserve. Amazingly, the other people in the aisle did something amazing……they applauded me, told me that I had said all they wanted to say, but my only hope is that she took some piece of that vulnerable part of my hurt and found a way to love that little boy the way he deserved. His eyes, they still haunt me.

I became consumed with the undeserving mothers……they were every where that I looked. They got the gift that I desired and yet they discarded them, for men, drugs, and freedom. To them their child was a burden, and that broke me in a whole new way. All around me there was this woman who “accidentally” fell pregnant only to abort their child, because they didn’t want the responsibility…….why????? I would have loved that child, I would have taken that child, and so many others would love nothing more than to be that child’s parent. Then their were the moms so addicted to drugs and men that their child was left to his/her own devices. Those were the saddest, they were often filthy, unkempt, and their eyes were so lonely. I wanted to save them all. How cruel was this world that these children desperately needed a mother, and I needed a child and yet, they had been gifted to someone unworthy?

I craved the child they despised, and in return I resented them……so deep that resentment ran that it bordered on hate. I still wish I could save them all, but at the time, I couldn’t even save myself. I think of them often, those unwanted babies, the unworthy mother, and me…….the mother that would never be able to be one……

The Creation of the UnHusband

I find myself wrapped in thoughts tonight. Outside my window, the snow is falling, snowflakes cascading down from the heavens. The yard is blanketed in a pillowy white covering…..a welcome sight compared to the mud that it replaced from a dreadful downpour of rain this morning. The vision is a sight to behold, erasing all the muck and mire that is burrowed just beneath it’s surface. Forgotten is the sloppy, muddy dishevel that my driveway was not long ago; it’s buried. I tell you all of this because this is symbolic. Today, I stand before you a snowflake, freed from the heavens, but just a few years ago, I was the aftermath of a rain shower. I was stained, I still am, but today it just isn’t as apparent. If you were to dig your hands into my snow blanketed soul, you would lift them with soiled gloves. In order to grow, to transform, I must always remember where I came from.

If you peek out the glass window panes, if you squint through the blizzard, you will see, a man. Scotty, after a long day of working in the cold, wet snow, there he stands in the ditch, he is helping a family that has slid off the road. I am thankful that this family wound up in this yard, at this particular time, otherwise the woman and her kids probably would’ve spent hours awaiting rescue. Ever the rescuer, there he is, still dressed in his saturated work hoodie and his now soggy boots, billows of cold air coming in puffs from his lips. I know he is cold, I know he is tired, but he carries on. Doing what it takes to see that these strangers find their way home, safe and sound, so typical Scotty. I can’t help but smile to myself, at his compassion, he hides his heart well, but it is times like these, I am so proud he is the father of my children. He is a man of few words, his smile is not one you find often upon his lips, but if you take a moment, if you search a bit harder, under the harshness he exudes; you will find a softness unsurpassed by none. He does everything hard, he loves hard, he fights hard, and even in his most desperate hours, he never lets it show. He is the epitome of strength, perseverance, and a true man’s man.

I watch admirably at his endurance. He patiently shovels piles of snow from the road. Then when his attempts are unsuccessful he scrapes the ice from the four wheel drive and returns to pull them out. The metaphor is not lost on me this night, no, too easily I transcend back in time. You see, I was that car. Out in the storms of life, sliding out of control to land in a ditch. Most would have cut their journey short, or chosen a less treacherous path. Not me, I continued on that slippery slope, finding myself in a ditch, or rut, more times than I can count. I cannot remember the number of times that he pulled me from my wreckage. Every time he pulled me back onto my track, I managed to end up back where I started, and eventually, I quit accepting his help. His damsel in distress refused to allow herself to be saved.

I think back to all the times I shoved him away. I had nothing left to offer, nothing left to give. I often wonder how it must have felt to be married to the UnMother. The woman so alone in her grief that she couldn’t see past it, she couldn’t breathe, and she was incapable of emotion. She was just a suit of armor I was forced to wear, this doppleganger version of myself. She was a farce, a much needed escape, but she was robotic in her expression. Then, I am reminded of how tough that must have been to witness my transition.

Scotty had married a completely different woman……actually still a young lady. I was full of life, laughter, and love as boundless as the oceans. I was enchanted with everything about this man I loved so dearly. I always laid his clothes out for work, I made his plate for supper, and I relished in spending my time in his presence. If you saw that young version of me, you would have loved her. She was so easy going, so full of life and wonder, so eager to love, and most importantly, so very happy! Her face lit up when he came into a room. Like a moth to fire she was drawn to him. She valued his opinion above all others, and they spent nights lying awake just talking about everything under the sun. She would listen as his voice spoke to her. Sometimes she would forget to hear what he was saying, instead allowing herself to enjoy the way her name sounded upon his lips. His touch was something that she hungered for, the feel of his hand upon her’s, the way he caressed her face when she was resting her head on his shoulder, and the way he wrapped her up in his beautiful, strong arms, that was the thing that kept her world on it’s axis. She was smitten with this man who had swept her off her feet.

The day I walked down the aisle, I had one soul purpose; to love this man more than anyone in the world. I didn’t realize that I would soon grow to love someone that didn’t exist. Or how I would yearn for the presence of another, more than I ached to be held in his arms. My wedding dress was beautiful, flowy, romantic and elegant. I chose it with great care, to represent all that I hoped our marriage would be. I knew him better than he knew himself. He was drawn to me because I was what he needed, softness to smooth out his rough edges, a constant smile for the days he couldn’t find one, and light in a world that was once dark. I vowed that day to be all of those things, because I needed him just as much. I needed his strength when I was vulnerable, his wisdom when I was careless, and his guidance when I so often lost my way. We were a team……until the miscarriages.

I no longer craved his touch, or his hug; my body was too accustomed to needles and tortuous testing; one more touch would send me spiraling. I didn’t wait by the door for him to come home; I was too often at another failed doctor’s appointment. The once talkative me, now fell silent. Her voice seemingly lost forever. Conversations that lasted long into the night were replaced with short responses to only necessary questions. We spoke of nothing of importance. We had become “that” couple: the couple who merely lived together but no longer knew each other. I was no longer the girl with an easy smile; my face was one of stoic determination.

I reluctantly allow myself to look back upon that time, and conjure up the effect that my isolation caused him. Without my softness, he became harsh, closed off, and withdrawn. He too, had gone into his secret holding cell, a place void of emotions. Without my sense of humor to brighten his somber moods, his smile faded….the smile that I once sought above all things. The tiny gift of that grin could set all things right in the world, but I no longer sought it. How could I summons a smile to his face when I had lost my own? Without the light that I used to access his heart, darkness enveloped him. I wonder how he felt? I have never asked him. I am sure he felt deserted, abandoned, neglected, and lost, just like I did. If we had only leaned on each other instead of hiding in our fortresses of steel, perhaps we could have shared our pain and found our way….but the person I was during my despair was not the one locked away inside her own prison.

I can see him, the UnHusband. That is what he had become. His purpose had always been to love me, to receive my love, to embrace my weaknesses, to fix me when I was broken…..but I was unfixable, incapable of allowing love in, and too consumed with all my weaknesses to be embraced. Just as his purpose had always been to be my husband, my purpose had shifted to being a mother. He wasn’t as driven as I was for the need for a child; he wanted his wife back, and his wife wanted a baby. For the first time in our relationship, we found ourselves on opposing teams, fighting two different battles; his to save me, and mine to save my unborn children….which in the end rendered me beyond saving.

In hind sight, I see the two miserable people we had become. Our mourning, and pain were for different reasons. I lost my babies, and my identity, but in return he lost his wife. His countenance changed, he no longer attempted to hug me after a long day at work, (I had shunned his embrace too often), so he lost himself in a project in the garage. Our conversations, once light hearted, tender, and full of fun banter, now was non-existent. The only words we spoke were out of necessity, and laughter had dissipated our once happy home. I knew, even then, I should stop this madness, reach for him, kiss his lips, speak the words that he needed to hear, and close the distance that separated us by continents. But, in order for the UnMother to guard me from the pain, she had to shield me from all emotions…..even love. I could not speak the words he longed for, I could not tell him that I was okay to simply be his wife, and abandon my dream of being a mom.

So, they lived together, in the depths of their own Hells, the wounded UnHusband and the broken UnMother. Their escape was futile as each of them were driven by different desires. I remember hating him for not being a part of my need. I am sure he hated that I had morphed into this unrecognizable version of the woman he loved. Two Hells, two hearts broken, and we stood divided as our world crumbled. He found comfort in drinking and endless nights spent with his friends. I found no comfort, only one thing could set my world right….a baby. My anger was only fueled by his absence, and I lashed out at him, and he in return drifted further away. An endless cycle, a battle that could not be won, and two people who once loved each other beyond measure, became enemies. We were strangers. Forgotten were the loving words, the beauty of the sound of one another’s laughter, and when we were once each other’s world……now we were worlds apart. How our love story had become.

The UnHusband, he looked so shattered. His once dominate stature, now was one of defeat and his shoulders slumped against the weight of the burden he carried. The beautiful, rare smile, was replaced with a grimace, a scowl, a hardness from the loneliness he felt. His hazel eyes that used to light up had fallen dull, the golden flecks that used to ignite when I walked in the room had fled into the darkness that lurked behind them. His eyes were haunting, reflections of his darkened soul. As I swam out to an ocean without a shore in sight, my husband had swam out to rescue me……and I had drowned the man I loved. When we emerged on the shores, we were different people. Our old selves died in that ocean, and on the sands of a shaky seaside two new entities were born: the UnHusband and the UnMother. Only time would tell  if we could find our way back to our former selves.

I will say that the journey would be long and treacherous, and some things would forever change them. This isn’t the story of a flawless love, it is indeed that is flawed beyond measure. That part of our lives, was one that would force us to evolve or to cut our losses. I will soon share more of our love story, as tragic as it is, but right now my heart cannot allow anymore emotion in. To be continued…..

The UnMother and The Mommy

I wish my present self could have spoken to the broken me. I wish the me I am today could tell the me of yesteryear…..it truly will be ok. You will make it. The journey will hurt but you will come out on the other side. Yet I know that, the person I was during my losses wouldn’t listen to the woman I am today. I was bitter then, soured by life, and I wore my pain securely affixed to my heart. No words could have calmed me, they would have just angered me. I was like a caged animal, so full of rage, and I seethed with anger at the world. The world was such an ugly place back during those days. It offered no comfort, no solace, no peace of mind….just endless amounts of pain that it poured upon me in suffocating doses.

I look back on the “UnMother” as I refer to the person who claimed me when I was struggling to accept my losses. She was the only thing that kept me sane, yet she was the side of me that is the very definition of insanity. She only allowed me to feel the pain that I could tolerate before snapping in two. I often felt like a branch on an old tree, right after a snowstorm, weighted from the ice….thinking just one more snowflake of disappointment would split me in half. Yet, the UnMother, she raged on. Fearless, she was! Yet scared of everything, allowing no one in. If I were to explain to you who the UnMother was, you might think her ugly. She was…..but she sprung from a source that left her no option…..she was emotionally void. You can’t grow a garden on unfertilized soil. Just as I could not grow a baby in a barren womb….so she was the result of the emptiness that consumed me.

I had almost forgotten her existence, she is now dormant in my being. A strange thing happened, I read my journal from seven years ago. I barely recognized my words upon the paper. I think I was too overwhelmed with heartache that I couldn’t see the changes in my personality. I say all these things, not to bring you sadness…..but to offer you hope. I lost 8 babies, and with them, I very nearly lost myself. The words scratched upon the now yellowed paper, were hardly legible, and were filled with hate. I read them and they sounded like the ramblings of someone who had lost her mind. I suppose, at that time, I had. No one can understand the depth of your sadness until they have felt it.

If your eyes are the window to your soul, then I would say those of the UnMother would be something you wouldn’t want to peer into. You would see the pits of hell there, so black and lifeless that even shadows fled. Nothing laid in the depth of those eyes; only unending void. If you looked into their midst, you would see no kindness…..pain cannot afford kindness. Empty were those eyes, as empty as her fruitless womb.

If you looked at her arms, you might mistaken the UnMother as a drug addict. Her arms bared scars from needles…not from drug use, but the tireless prying of testing her blood. Poked and stuck so many times that all her veins were hardened….almost as hard as her heart. Lab work was a weekly part of her life and even the poignant stick of a sharp needle seemed painless, when compared to the hurt she bore. For what she craved was something to hold in her arms, and to achieve that she was subjected to blood draws. They tested for everything, genetics, clotting disorders, thyroid issues, lupus and chromosomal defects. She was a defect, she accepted that, for if she pretended to be anything more, or to even hope for more, would have been her demise.

I compare each woman’s heart to a garden. It is supposed to be beautiful, a dwelling that grows and ripens with love. I dare myself to remember the garden that belonged to the Unmother. It was such a wretched place, it sprung from sadness, not love. It was hideous to behold. Weeds crept up from the cracked earth, thorns and briars branched from every crevice. You didn’t dare trek upon the murk and mire, some areas were dried, crumbling earth; then there were places you didn’t dare cross for fear that it would swallow you up. Those sinkholes would swallow you up, those were the parts where the UnMother went to shed her tears. Tears fell so abundantly from her eyes that the earth couldn’t absorb them all, leaving behind a sunken place, that threatened to drag those who treaded there, straight to the hell in which she was trapped.

If you are reading these words, and you are not repulsed by the ugliness….it is because you have felt the agony. Maybe some grief brought you to this sad, lost place…..or perhaps, you are an “UnMother.”  I feel sorrow when thinking about that part of me, however, I do not deny that this piece of me was at one point VERY real. This was my survival, my coping mechanism, and for that I am grateful for the “unmother.” Why? The soft, fragile person I was could not have adapted to the harsh, cold reality that I had to face. The loving part of me would have crumbled, instead the “UnMother” encased me with her strength, she blinded my eyes to keep them from witnessing the visions I would see, she stilled my shaking hands so I could endure the tedious habit of signing medical consent, and she would build a fortress around my heart so that it would one day be capable to love. She was the tiny thread that tethered me to the living, breathing population but she had replaced me with a shadow self. She wore my face, but she hid me inside her fortress until I was ready to come out and face the world! Today, I give thanks, to the unmother. Because of her, I feel the heat of my pain but am not burned by it. I carry the hurt but am not encompassed by it. She saved me from myself! Thanks to the UnMother, I will allow you to see through the veil as to who I am today!

The day that my daughter was born, the UnMother smiled before disappearing into the recesses of my treacherous past. She could not co-exist in the light, so she scampered away to the shadows of my heart….she lives there on the fringes, along with my 8 miscarriages.

My eyes are once more, my own. The first vision they saw with renewed eyes was a tiny, perfect gift from the heavens. A miracle that had been created from a million whispered prayers sent to Heaven, and had fluttered down from the clouds to me. Had the “UnMother” not shielded my eyes, how could I have viewed the innocence, the beauty, and love that was in front of me? It would have been lost from me, and for that, I am so happy I could see her with untarnished eyes, my vision was kept from being blurred by the “UnMother.” If I could just allow the reclusive, “UnMother,” to peer into my eyes, into the windows of my soul; it delights me to what she would find. In the windows of my soul, she would see, two blonde little girls, filling the rooms of my heart with laughter.

My once scarred arms, were soon forgotten, when my daughter filled them. The “UnMother” had bore the endless needle pricks! For her sacrifice, I was able to enjoy the warmth of her weight in my arms, without being tainted by the memories of the IVs and lab work. I thank her for that….

I won’t share my daughter’s birth….not today, that is for another day. But I will share with you, my gratitude to the “UnMother” that saved me the full amount of the grief, which surely would have broken me. The one who stood in the gap, while I hid in mourning. She faced the daily dealings she had to, and for that I was incapable of doing at the time. I regret that she cannot share the person I have blossomed into, a person full of light, and I owe a part of that to her. So, to the “UnMother,” who hides in the shadows of my heart; I would welcome you into my garden, “UnMother,” for a moment of rest. I know she lurks just beyond my surface, and i like to think she gets a glimpse of what she helped me create with her tenacity. I like to think that she should be granted access to the fruits of her labor.

When I became a mother, I went and tended her garden. I pulled the weeds from it. Replacing them with lilies and wildflowers of every shade. I removed the black and white that she was casted into, in it’s place I put colors of every vibrant shade. The thorns were replaced with plush moss, ferns, and an oak tree that my girls can climb. I would like to sit under it with a cup of tea, and see her heart at peace, I smile at the symbolism because she is a part of me. Each time I tend that garden, I know she is there with me…..for as much as I want to deny the ugly part of it, she is still a part of me. I embrace her, and when I look upon the faces of my children. I wish she could relish in the joys of the children she sought with her every breath. She is here, she is me, but she has served her purpose, lurking to the shadows to ensure I can bask in the joyous new title I hold…..The day my daughter was born, so was I, no longer was I the “UnMother” I was born so was my favorite part of myself….simply the “Mommy.” Perhaps, the UnMother just merged with me, once again. Yes, I prefer to think of it like that. She carried my heartache and when I became a Mommy, I pray she shed the UnMother title and joined me on this journey passed infertility, into the glorious light of motherhood!

The “Unmother” (miscarriages #4 & 5)

I became blind….not in the ways a person loses their vision…but in the way a person loses themselves in their purpose. Burned, branded, and marked by tragedy. I drudged on, one slow, painful, aching step at a time, I kept looking for my way. I couldn’t think beyond my purpose. I sought my destination like a starving man seeks a crumb of subsistence. Nothing quenched my thirst, my goal, the end of my road to freedom was always seemingly within reach. I kept getting advice from various sources, “take a break,” “it will happen in His time,” “you are putting to much pressure on yourself,” on and on the unwanted advice flowed. I was no longer that girl with the ready smile, I was now this frantic person, trying to control something that was out of my control. In my logical mind, I knew these voices were people who had my best interest in mind, they truly were well-meaning. Their words were, however, ill received. I had grown impatient, and their words only spurred me to further my quest. I knew what I sought was going to cause me to drown…there was no good answer to be found. I had not reached acceptance yet. I couldn’t accept that I was fated to never be a mother! I began to refer to myself, as the unmother. I define her as someone who is delusional, destined to bury herself in her grief, begging for the impossible, and never accepting no. She is riddled with heartache, but she continues down the path to her pain, allowing nothing to deter her, knowing that inevitably she will be suffering the same fate.

The “unmother” was her own worst enemy. Unyielding, she continued on, she almost craved the feeling of the pain she had allowed to eat away until all that was left was this….unrelenting mutilation of her soul. She would crawl through the belly of a beast, cross a waterless desert, and walk through the pits of hell…..she had one soul purpose; motherhood. Even in her most irrational state of mind, she knew her quest was futile. She was getting nowhere closer to her baby, because she was destined to never have one…she was the unmother.

Such was my life. Nothing held meaning, one purpose, one thought, one desire thrusted me into my oblivion of denial. I would find a way……I would beat the odds and leave this dreaded title behind. It was a sickness, this need, it robbed me of my sanity, my reasoning, my logic, and I couldn’t think beyond my singular destination. I knew that I would either end this battle with a baby in my arms or my arms in a well suited straight jacket…..On to another doctor’s appointment, another blood draw, endless barbaric tests…they all ran into one endless day of nothingness. I truly had no hope, I just couldn’t abandon my mission. If I did, then all the losses, all the pain, would be for nothing? I went to the doctor for a follow up, this would be another dismissive visit, filled with “we don’t knows,” “we aren’t sure,” and “consider other options.” I went anyways, routinely checking in at an office that knew me all too well. I went back to the sterile room but thankfully today was just discussion of results, no testing, no disrobing, I was there simply to hear more of the same medical jargon that had over the past few years.

In came my doctor, she was wheeling a machine behind her….”oh gosh, they have found a new torture device,” my inner dialogue whispered. I looked up at her puzzled…..through all of this, she was the only opinion that mattered, the one I trusted beyond a shadow of a doubt, a trust that would later break my heart in a way I had never thought her possible. She looked at me, she was a pretty lady. She was on my side, the only one who encouraged me, the only voice that I felt gave justice to my situation. She knew my losses, each and every one, after my third miscarriage it was her voice that kept me from slipping over the edge where you cannot come back from. “April, we will get that baby here! You just trust me, as long as you want to fight…I will be right here by your side. One way or another we will make it happen.” I held on to that after my trip back from Nashville, when the physician there had rattled me to my core, broken me down, those words reminded me that anything was possible. Her eyes were soft, but she didn’t handle me like a fragile piece of glass. She was honest, even when it hurt but not in a hurtful way. She could say things that would send me flying off the handle had they crossed someone else’s lips. We shared this journey together, and she was the only person I let in.

“Why do you have the transvaginal ultrasound in here?” I stammered, glancing at the machine then back at her. She paused as she plugged it into the outlet, then she looked back at me.

“Because the tech is completely swamped, and I can’t send you home not knowing. I can’t leave you worrying and I have to know.” Her words were coming out slow, letting me take them in before spilling more upon my deeply troubled mind. “Your last labs revealed that you do have a blood clotting issue!” Most would be devastated by the news of this ailment, I looked at it as triumph! We had an answer, with an answer came a plan, and I was so giddy I nearly leapt from my seat into her arms. Still, never once did I register what the device she held was going to show that had to do with blood clots. “Undress from waist down, I will be back in to do a pelvic ultrasound.”

I didn’t really question, I just did as directed and sat with my paper towel gown, trying to stay composed. The door creaked open and she came inside. She began the ultrasound, and I stared at the ceiling, taking myself to a different place to avoid the prodding, the feeling of vulnerability. “April, I didn’t want to say anything but look.” She pointed to the screen…..I had become quite good at reading these ultrasounds, and what I was viewing was a gestational sac and a tiny blip right in it’s middle, about the size of a bean. The room was spinning, I couldn’t breathe, as I awaited her next statement. “It confirms the same thing your labs did, you appear to be about 4 weeks pregnant. Everything looks of normal size and range.” She was smiling now, a full fledged smile that reached all the way up to light her eyes in it’s wake. I was reeling myself, grasping at words, “normal?” The scan and labs showed I was on “target.”

“Now this will be touch and go, but it is the best we have had so far. The hormones are in the accurate range for this gestation, the sac is perfect shape and size, the baby is reading right where it needs to be. And with a lot of prayers, this will be the one that we deliver.” Tears moistened her eyes, and I found them filling mine…..logically I told myself not to hope; a lot of good it had done me before. Yet as I have confessed, I am hopelessly hopeful, that is the only choice you had when you were an “unmother.”

I hadn’t spoken to anyone, if you excluded my physician and her staff. It all seemed to personal. I barely spoke to Scotty, and when I did it was tense, short, and passive aggressive. I hated myself for shutting him down. I felt so alone, I wanted to let him in. Letting him in, meant letting in logic that I just couldn’t deal with. This was possibly the most nonchalant pregnancy announcement I had ever given. “The test revealed I am pregnant, again. She saw the sac and the beginnings of a baby. I don’t know what you need from me but I cannot discuss the odds against me and this child. So, please just keep your input to yourself, I can’t deal with negativity.” I felt horrible even as I spoke the words, his face fell, he had already admitted defeat. I knew, given the choice, he would choose having his sane wife over this insane one who continued on a fruitless endeavor that promised only more heartache. I understood his reasoning, had I been in my right mind, I would have agreed….but I would choose the hopes of this dream at all costs.He looked distraught but managed to hug me, and plant a kiss on my forehead.

“Well, those are all good signs….” I knew he wanted to say more but he knew that would cross the boundary I had set.

“I go back next week to see if we can see the heartbeat. She gave me shots to administer. I already started them tonight.” I leaned up and kissed his cheek feeling like the worst wife on earth for putting him through this. I was building a wedge between and this man I loved but needed to continue on, even if it was mass destruction. I was still 4 days to my appointment, so decided it would be a proper day to have a little fun. To restore some of the normalcy to my life, so off to swim at a friend’s pool. My tummy was already bruised and I had to tell everyone the story as to why they were there. I found myself actually having fun. I was also on progesterone to help sustain my pregnancy, it made me tired and even more moody than I had been. I went to bed and got up to go to the restroom, I then found that I was bleeding. I vomited and drove myself to the hospital. I was given an ultrasound……I should have been five weeks at this point but the sac was the size of 3 weeks and no heartbeat…..I remembered my hormone levels and when they told me the numbers I recognized the significant drop in them…..it was over. All of this, hopes shot down, dreams gone, a baby sorely missed although I had never met he/she.

I drove home numb, called the doctor the following morning canceling my appointment, explaining I was miscarrying. I would be in for labs to be sure the levels dropped to zero to be sure that I didn’t need a D&C. I had thought that the shots were the miracle cure….I had made a fatal flaw in hoping.

About five months later, I had the exact thing happen except I wasn’t able to do the shots as I miscarried two days after a positive test…….bringing me to the grand total 5 miscarriages……5 babies gone, 5 scars on my non functioning, uncooperating, betraying body and I knew I was flawed beyond repair. And still, I don’t know why I continued, not giving up, knowing it was madness….I couldn’t let it go, the unmother urged me on. She tempted me with thoughts of a beautiful, cooing baby. She filled my mind with lullabies, baby clothes, and all the sweet joys a baby brings.

I remember looking in the mirror, and asked myself who this was? When had I been replaced by this shell of a woman, when had my eyes turned from a blue and aspark with life, shifted to these gray dull eyes staring back at me. The eyes that once held hope and love, were now sad, and tortured. I saw no resemblance in this new reflection glaring back at me…..but I knew that this was no longer me, or a side of me that I knew. No the woman staring back at me was no longer April, I was the unmother. …and I hated myself for it!

Losing Myself (infertility)

I had retreated into my quietest of places…..a hidden place. It was free there, no thoughts to elude me, no memories to break me, no heartache could penetrate the depth of my hiding. I didn’t dare let the world in, nor did I let Scotty in. This was a place I couldn’t share with anyone….It wasn’t fair; I realize that now. It was selfish to not allow access to my burden, not even to those I hold dearest! I felt all my emotions splitting me open like the earth splits after an earthquake. There were cracks so deep that if I opened, even the tiniest entrance, I would crumble. I didn’t recognize myself, or my heart or the things that my mind conjured up. I was broken! I was a fixer by nature, always have been. Imagine my pain when I concluded the thing that needed fixed this time, was irreparable and the hardest part was knowing I was what needed fixed.

As a child, I had many dreams. I wanted to be a doctor. The irony? I wanted to be an OB, I wanted to witness birth; the greatest miracle. Only later would I realize that I sought a future in a field where no doctor could offer solutions. Throughout my childhood, my dreams shifted. I dreamt some times of being a teacher, or a child therapist…..all the careers that included kids. I loved children, the way they saw things through new eyes, how their imagination took them to faraway places, and the innocence they held. My dreams came in various shapes, shifting at times to a new destination, but the one job that I always wanted that never changed……..I wanted to be a mother.

Even as a very small girl, when memories fade, when they are hard to summons, the days when my young mind was too young to hold onto all of the tidbits of my days……I remember one deep desire. I remember holding my baby dolls, rocking them, snuggling them, and I took this child’s play very seriously. I saw the way my mom did those behind the scenes things that often go unnoticed. I noticed, I saw the way she tended a boo boo with more care than any physician, the way she listened to me better than any therapist could, she taught me things that no teaching degree could ever help me to learn. Mother…even as a child this word, this title was above all others. It was sleep deprivations, skinned knees, and later in life, broken hearts. Perhaps, I was swayed because my mother was so exceptional. I don’t remember a time that she ever tired of listening to my ramblings about whatever I fancied talking about that day. She read me my favorite book at least a million times, never asking me to pick a new one. With clarity, I recall sitting upon her lap, smiling up at her as she retold the story I had heard so many times but never tired of. I loved her so much, my little heart threatened to burst at the seams when I gazed upon her face. She was beautiful in a way no one else ever was. Her blue eyes were filled with this endless love for me, her arms were my sanctuary when a nightmare woke me, her voice was that of an angel never failing to encourage me, and her smile, well her smile, could brighten the blackest nights. I loved her, and I wanted to be a mom just like her. I wanted my child to love me the way I loved her.

After craving this title my entire life……imagine my betrayal when my own body refused to grant me this one simple wish. I needed a baby, I wanted it more than I had wanted anything. Amaze my dismay when my body rejected the very thing that I longed for my whole existence. I sought out a cure. A cure for my body, a body I had grown to despise. A body that continued to rob me of the one plight in life I had always wanted; a baby! My treacherous body, oh how I loathed it. My heart burning for something, and yet my body expelled it. It was designed to nurture, to carry, to bring forth life….yet it was utterly and completely broken.

I had reached my third miscarriage at this point, and this magic “3” was confirmation for the doctors to decide the thing I had already known….I was broken. That was the diagnosis to me, but the medical world had to find what was causing the reason why I couldn’t do the thing I was made to do; be a mommy. So, began the testing….I was poked, prodded, exposed to needles, and referred to leading physicians in the field of the dreaded category in which I now fell…”infertility.” I hated that word and all it’s implications. My primary obstetrician sent me on a two hour journey to another doctor in Nashville, one who could offer me her expertise. I arrived at her office, my mom and Scotty accompanying me. The normal me would have been comforted with their presence, the familiarity that they were on this journey with me, but the abnormal me (the one that I had resided to), well she shut them out. I embraced the sterile environment, the smell of lysol, the stark whiteness of each doctor’s office, they were my new normal.

I had spent my trek to the appointment scribbling questions. I hadn’t wanted to forget the things I needed to know. My research had taught me the right things to ask. “What are the leading causes for recurrent miscarriage?” “What treatments are offered?” “What are my options?” With renewed determination I followed the voice that summons me to the back room. I was only vaguely aware that my mom and husband were with me, they spoke in hushed tones, which only heightened my irritation. I could hear them, I picked up on their concerns as they escorted me through this journey, and the worried looks on their face only added to my heavy heart. They didn’t have to say a word, I could see the concern etched on their faces. Even then, in my insanity, I could see they feared what this doctor would tell me. Fear that the person they loved before these tragedies may be lost and just a few words could send me spiraling over the brink that I tethered tightly to; a cure.

I willed my heart to be still, to shut everything out, and just await the doctor. I was surprised to find myself taken back to a plush office, with chairs built for comfort and a window meant for viewing the world. I didn’t give a damn about that office, I hated it. Where was the cold, dank room with the white walls? Where was the bed that I had grown accustomed to, the one that stripped me of my clothes, my dignity, as I sat in wait wearing a gown that was more like a large paper towel. I was used to that…the uncomfortable feel of being exposed, it gave me purpose that perhaps the next physician would see the physical cause of what was internally broken. This office? This office was where one come when there were no answers. I silently filed it away to the place where dreams were lost. I felt like I was in a consultation room, right before a doctor came in to tell you that someone you love had died. I sat there, ignoring my surroundings, this was my mission……the childless mother in waiting.

She walked in, but she didn’t have the look most of the doctors had, the pity was absent from her eyes. I appreciated that, I hated the pity, I had no time for that. I instantly hated her, the look on her face told me she was going to be the one that sent me plummeting from the last glimmer of hope I clung to. “Mrs. Mangrum, I have reviewed your charts. I see that you have lost three pregnancies.” She was so matter of fact, I wanted to scream that they weren’t pregnancies they were babies but I refrained simply nodding instead. “It appears that your thyroid is normal, and you tested negative for lupus…those are the two top causes for repeat miscarriage.”

“I am aware of this. I have spoke in length with my doctor about that. What else could be causing this?” I spat venomously as I forced a polite smile upon my face.

“I reviewed the labs you had a few days ago. It appears that you have a blood clotting issue. In cases such as this, your blood clots and essentially causes the loss of your pregnancy. I usually recommend shots in your stomach, twice a day during gestation. However, it appears you are miscarrying far earlier than is typical, which makes this concerning.” I registered all these words, my blood, the blood that coursed through my veins was killing my babies! I wanted to have all of it pumped out, and replenished with blood that knew that it’s job. “The only conclusion I can come to is that, when you conceive your body sees the embryo as a foreign object and destroys it.” She watched me closely as I digested her words…but most disconcerting was the way my family was looking at me. I felt their hands find mine but I shook them off, I couldn’t bare their worries, I could barely hold onto reality.

“You can try the shots, the next time you become impregnated but I have little hope they will work. It seems that you are expelling the babies before they can take shape.” She rose from her chair and extended her hand for me to shake, I couldn’t accept her hand. I instead nodded in her general direction, dropped my head, my eyes couldn’t find their way to her’s it would mean I was admitting defeat.

“That is all you got? I need shots to save my future babies, but I can’t carry them long enough to allow the medicine to work? Well, thank you for your time, and the waste of mine!” Anger had replaced all my other senses, tears shot to my eyes and I cursed myself for not holding it together. Before I allowed them to spill onto the unworthy floor of that plush office of forgotten dreams, I spun on my heel and made a beeline for the exit. I could hear the muffled apologies that Scotty and my mom offered, “She’s been through a lot” “She isn’t usually like this.” I wanted to silence them, if I had wanted to apologize, I had lips to do so. This woman didn’t deserve my apologies for me being ill mannered! But right before I reached the other side of the door, I heard her reply.

“She is entitled to feel angry. She is entitled to feel, however she wants. I chose this occupation to help people, to bring their dreams to life, but along with those things, I found I can’t always offer the answers they want to hear. April, will need you now, just be there……she will find her way, in her own way and at her own pace.” I stepped through the doors, and sprinted to the elevator. I needed out of this hospital, away from the voice of reason the doctor offered. I wanted to hate her, why did I have to be the one she couldn’t save?

I remember the ride home, often they tried to engage me in conversation. Then I pretended to sleep my back to them, offering no answers, and listened as they spoke back and forth. “I just don’t want her to go through any more of this.” “She isn’t ready to give up.” “Not sure how much more she can handle.” “I know she wants a baby but I just want her to be alright.” I loved them more than anything. How selfish I was for shutting them out when they wanted to comfort me. I didn’t want to be loved, I didn’t want to feel, I didn’t want their sympathy or worry! I just wanted to scream, “I AM BROKEN! HOW THE HELL DO YOU EXPECT ME TO BE OKAY WITH THAT?”

I kept silent, feeling the burn of the tears as they splat onto the car seat, I was certain that I would have scars from the fiery water that fell from my eyes. They needed me to be okay, and usually I was the first to set my feelings aside to help my loved ones. I was not capable of that, not this time. They wanted me to be the old me, the one who smiled easily, laughed light heartedly, and faced life head on. I needed a baby, a baby that seemed an impossible miracle, and I was scared that I would no more be able to help them find the April they had lost than I would be able to bring my lost babies back to life. I was gone, I was shattered, and I couldn’t feel anything. I was numb to the pain, I replaced it with anger. I hated this person I was becoming. I had been a guinea pig, a failed experiment, an exposed patient, and to no avail. All for nothing? I wouldn’t give up. I may have lost myself through all of this, but it wouldn’t be for nothing. I needed this, at all costs, and I wasn’t turning back. This would be my mission in life, no matter what I had to lose to find it. I would be a mother, if I had to die from a broken heart to have a baby……that is just what I would do. I would keep trying, keep losing these babies, keep dying inside. I would not go quietly into the night. No I would go kicking and screaming, trying no matter how much it hurt at what I faced losing, because giving up wouldn’t have saved me the pain. Giving up would allow only for me to be emotionally dead, so I would face the pain head on. Pain meant I was alive, and I couldn’t live my life as a childless mother, even if I died from a broken heart….it beat dying from allowing the mother in me to die! Little did I know at that very moment life had once again began forming in my womb…..but I would discover it soon enough.

The Caterpillar Who Never Became a Butterfly (miscarriage #3)

This will be, by far, the hardest blog I have yet to put on paper. I must share it, must purge it from my soul, allow myself to feel the grief. After seven years it is still so raw, so fresh, buried just beneath the surface. Each loss has scarred me, I wear them with honor……these scars on my heart are all that I have left of them. I will not forget them, for that would be far more tragic than not sharing the memory of their brief existence.

After the eight week mark after miscarriage number 2……we were given the green light to try again. We decided not to actively try, we would just let it happen if it was meant to be. I was mentally, emotionally, and physically spent from the grief of two losses and I was afraid. I prayed without ceasing…….this was only a coincidence and the next pregnancy would be normal! I prayed the outcome would be at the end of nine months a beautiful baby to hold. A baby to ease the pain of the losses I had endured. I was in no hurry this time, just trying to come to terms with the second loss of a dream, a hope, a baby.

I had become the crazy pregnancy test lady. The same person that at 21 had never contemplated I could be pregnant, now I was obsessed. Only now they were terrifying, pregnancy meant once again losing a piece of me. I had ten on hand at all times……I tucked them away. Preferred to simply give my soul and body rest for a short time. However, that was not to be……

Merely, three months after my second loss…….I found myself once again, digging out my stash of tests. I unwrapped one, anxiety, fear, excitement, anticipation roared within me. I ripped the package, yanking the contents out, I followed the instructions that I now knew by heart…….and I didn’t even lay the test down before seeing those 2 scary, beautiful pink lines staring back at me. I held that test in my hands, begging it to not disappear, to stay with me, to let me be a mother, to let me hold a baby instead of a test this time. I sat in the restroom, crying tears, bitter that I could not even enjoy this moment due to the fear that gripped me, it gnawed at me, clawed at my heart, it almost begged me to fall victim to hope…..I had told myself that I wouldn’t allow myself to become attached to this baby. I couldn’t take the hurt if these two pretty pink lines shared the same fate as the last two. Yet, there I was staring at this test, and I could not stop myself. I was totally and utterly lost in this baby. I thought that by sheer determination I would carry this child and see it born. Against my own will, I loved this child. Stopping myself from doing so, would be as impossible as trying to staying alive without breathing. The love engulfed me, how could two little lines on a plastic test hold my whole existence, my sanity, my need, and my greatest desire in it? “I need this, God! Give me this baby! Please don’t take it from me!” I pleaded to the heavens. I collected myself, stood on shaky legs, managed to call my sister. I needed her voice to guide me back to a place where I could face this terrifying excitement.

I heard her voice transcend through the air as I pressed the phone to my ear, “Hey beautiful.” “Sissy, I am pregnant again!” I didn’t even recognize my own voice, it sounded weak, it shook like the leaves of the last remaining leaves on a tree before the winter breeze swept them away. I could feel my pulse in my neck, willing it to pump life to this tiny being that I was carrying. Then her voice reeled me back to earth, “REALLY????? Oh my gosh, I am so excited! I cannot wait. When do you go to the doctor? How far do you think you are?” That is one of the many things I love about my sister, her optimism was contagious, and I found myself just being an expectant mother, not a pregnant woman expecting her baby to die. She didn’t voice negativity, she didn’t give voice to all the fears raging in my mind…..and that is exactly what I needed! My sister, my savior in this nightmare I had conjured up……her voice chased that all away. For that, there are no words for my gratitude and my love for her had cured me. We chatted about names, appointments, gender, nurseries, baby clothes and all the things a mother to be should be able to discuss…a conversation that I had been robbed of. She quieted my fears, she gave me the hope. That hope, that glimmer of hope, was like throwing a life raft to me as I was drowning in my own uncertainty.

I hung up the phone and drove to Wal-Mart to grab a few things for dinner, feeling suddenly lightened, my burden lifted. I strolled through the grocery aisle but couldn’t stop the urge, this pull that kept dragging me to the baby section. I decided I would allow myself this luxury. I lingered there touching the tiny garments, and I was drawn to the pink clothing. Scotty and I wanted a girl. I told myself I would love either gender, as it wouldn’t matter if I could only get this baby here. Deep in my heart, as certain as one could be about anything; I knew. This baby, this one tucked softly beneath my heart, this child was a girl. My heart fluttered, and jumped and I smiled from the tips of my toes all the way up to find it’s way to my lips. If I could’ve looked in the mirror, I am sure I would’ve seen someone I wouldn’t recognize. My pale blue eyes were surely dancing with light and laughter…..and hope! I touched a tiny pair of butterfly shoes, they were so tiny, I thought there surely were no feet small enough to adore them. They were soft, fuzzy, and impulsively I lovingly picked them up, allowing my fingers to linger on the soft material. I thought of how they would warm my daughter’s feet, how they would feel against her brand new skin. I bought them, they were a symbol, these shoes. A symbol of the hopelessly, hopeful me.

I came home to share my secret with Scotty. I cooked supper while he showered, I made our plate, and the centerpiece of our table were those tiny pink and purple butterfly shoes. He came to the table, he saw the precious shoes sitting there, and his eyes searched mine. He was gaging me for a reaction, he knew what I had been through, he was concerned how much more I could possibly endure. Oh no, he was going to voice the things I was not ready to hear, he was going to reason with me that we had to at least acknowledge what we might be faced with. I didn’t allow him to, I crossed the room, clung to him like an anchor to keep my dream from floating away with his words. “It is going to be a girl, and her name will be Braelyn!” I said. I felt my eyes soften and sharpen at the same time, challenging him to give me this moment, to not rob me of this one small treasure, and I knew if he didn’t I would surely crash from the clouds from which I had been dreaming. His hazel eyes, searched mine, and in them he found what I needed him to find…..I needed this moment. I watched as his eyes turned into to orbs of love, flickering in their depths, love leapt from every fleck of gold and danced in the green irises that stared back at me! “It better be a girl,” he said as his lips slid into a slow smile….I loved his smile, it was always genuine and rare, and each time he shared one with me I felt like I was receiving a gift. We both lost ourselves in the moment, allowed it to fill us up, the happiness over running until our giddy laughter echoed through the room, bouncing from the walls and falling into my ears like the sweetest music I had ever heard!

My doctor appointment went well, they saw the baby but since the tech was swamped we didn’t get to hear the heartbeat but there was a tiny little dot, nestled inside that circle. Joy abounded in my heart…and spontaneity sent me pulling into the nearest lowes. I picked up paint, then made my way to walmart for some colorful acrylic paints. I was going to paint this baby a mural on her wall. Without hesitation, I went to the soon to be nursery, I wanted something beautiful to surround her. I wanted to cover it with all things soft and lovely. I pulled the soft, fuzzy shoes out for inspiration. Slowly, with precision I began sketching butterflies across the wall, kissing them with the paintbrush to add delicacy to their wings. I stood back and admired my work. Just like my writing, my art comes from a source of emotion and I felt the joy leap from my brush onto the walls. Something was missing….what was it? My journey to get here, to getting her here, it needed to be symbolized.

The greatest joy comes from the deepest pain, just as my losses had made this pregnancy all the more poignant. I stared at the butterflies, and then it occurred to me. Beautiful butterflies only get their wings after they transform. After they go through being a caterpillar, they earn their wings. Me and this baby had earned our wings, but I had to signify the importance of the journey. I painted a brightly colored caterpillar, it was climbing up, over and around her door facing. It’s face was smiling as if it had faced adversity and came out more vibrant on the other side…exactly how I felt! Then with painstaking accuracy I wrote her name, Braelyn upon her walls with tender, elegant strokes…..she was real, she had a name!

I was due for another checkup in less than a month. I was closing in on eleven weeks, not much longer before I was out of the first trimester. Every mother who has lost a baby waits on bated breath for that first trimester to pass, so that the chance of loss decreases. I recognized it was nearing, and allowed myself to just enjoy every second of pregnancy. My once flat stomach was already swelling to expand for the life growing there. I hadn’t gained any weight, but my tummy was rounding and I found it so beautiful. I had already bought my first pair of maternity pants and wore them like a soldier wears a well earned metal. I spoke to her, telling her about my days, telling her about her daddy and how she would woo him, about an aunt that would dote on her, and a nanny who would surely swoon in her presence. I told her we only had to make it to March 15th, her due date and my mother’s birthday. I couldn’t have picked a more fitting day for her to be born, on the same day as the mother I loved so much. The irony that on the day my mother was born, she would be born, and I would be born as a mother. I relished in knowing I was never alone, I spoke softer, angered slower, forgave more quickly……she had already changed me. What a lovely soul she must be to change me from the inside out! I loved her with a love that words could not describe. I slept with her shoes beside my bed, a reminder that soon her small feet would fill them, and the thought warmed me as I fell into sleep each night.

I got up the morning of my doctor’s appointment, showered and slipped on my beloved maternity pants. I applied my makeup, but the glow from my spirit shone through. My stepson was over and I was awaiting his grandpa to pick him up. I tousled his curly locks, wondering if my baby would share her brothers curls. He was playing a video game, and looked up with a smile before continuing on. I went to grab a bottle of water from the fridge and was doubled over with a pain unlike any I have ever felt. I grabbed the phone screaming for my mother to get to my house….the pain was coming in waves, every few minutes they ripped my insides literally bringing me to my knees. I couldn’t even think, the agony was blinding. I told him that his poppa would be here soon, and to not wait for me.  I halfway remember calling my father in law to pick up my stepson. I didn’t want to scare him, my sweet boy, I had to put on a brave face. It wasn’t until I shut the door behind me did I allow the pain to cease me…..I slid to the floor, and crawled to the bathtub. I got in the tub letting the hot water wash over me and tried to breathe through the pain. I was so thankful for that pain, it kept my mind from thinking about what this meant. I don’t know how long I laid there, weak, broken, defeated and convulsing as the pain shattered me over and over.

Then my mom was there, and Faith who had grown to be like a sister to me. I was naked, exposed, but my mind didn’t register it. I vaguely remember being dressed, as silent agonizing moans escaped my lips as the pain raked through every bone in my body, ravishing every muscle with it’s viciousness. I was sitting on the side of the tub, and I heard voices that sounded far away. Faith, a nurse by occupation, her voice sounded foreign, and scared, “Ruth, she has lost a lot of blood….we got to get her to the hospital now.” It was only then I allowed my eyes to look into the bathtub, and was bewildered that I was still alive. They helped me to the car, I was weak, the contractions were violent and intense. The thirty minute drive seemed like eternity, I clung to the pain allowing it to mute my thoughts.

I tuned everything out, I was taken back to the Emergency Room, examined and then sent upstairs to the ob’s office. My sister, Mary Ann, my safe haven, my strength during weakness was there with me as I walked into this office. Only then did I allow myself to recall the words the doctor had told me, “hemorrhaging”  “we don’t see a heartbeat” “you need to discuss the next step with your physician” and then the tears came. This pain was by far worse than the physical pain. All around me sat pregnant women, bellies rounded, smiles on their faces, and others with newborn babies surely there for their follow up after birth….something I wouldn’t be getting. I watched as one lady lifted her fussy daughter, I caught a glimpse of a shock of brown hair, adorned with a beautiful bow, a frilly little dress, and upon her feet……MY daughter’s shoes. I felt so robbed, I felt like my sanity was leaking out of me, and how dare them send me to this place. Forced to watch something so beautiful as a mother comforting her child, and knowing that at that moment my baby was dead. Her baby was feeding from her breast, while my heart was being ripped from mine.

Some infinite amount of time passed before I finally was released from the hell of that office and ushered back into the room where the doctor awaited. “I recommend a D&C,” she said with all her medical, scientific words.

“A D&C???? You want to dilate my cervix and rip the baby out?” I asked, swallowing the desire to spit in her face. I wasn’t angry at her, I was insane with grief. She was just doing her job, but I was going through a slow, twisted death. I listened as she voiced the reasons that it should be performed, “loss of blood” “the baby was stuck against my uterus which means it would not be expelled and was causing excessive contractions” “need to do it as soon as possible”…..I smiled to myself a sadistic smile, even in death, my daughter was trying to stay with me. “Fine, schedule me for the morning, for this procedure.” I spat, hatred filling my heart.

“April, we should act now, waiting is dangerous, if you hemorrage again…..” she began, and I could see her concern, trying to explain to me without adding to my misery.

I waved my hand at her, “I am aware of the risk. I am aware my baby is dead. I am aware I am not going to be a mother. But I am not ready to do it. I am not ready to be “unpregnant.” I am not ready to let her go, you can take that from me in the morning…I have lost enough today!” She silenced, nodded a sad nod, and scheduled me for 5 am the next morning.

It wasn’t until the ride home, that I realized I hadn’t told Scotty…..I hadn’t given him the chance to be there, I didn’t want him to see the wreck that was now his wife. When I walked inside our home, he was watching tv, laughing at whatever was on the screen. One look at me and he was on his feet, he sought to hug me but I pulled away, “She is gone! Mom will take me in the morning for surgery.” My voice was defeated, hard, flat, emotionless and I didn’t recognize it as my own. I knew I was being selfish, shutting him out, but I couldn’t share this, it would break me in two. I couldn’t feel his anguish on top of mine, nor could I give him my burden. I had to hold onto every ounce of the pain, it was all I had left. I resigned myself to the nursery and cried ugly, bitter, hate filled tears. I crumbled into the floor, glaring at the caterpillar for it’s false hope of a butterfly. I touched my stomach, “We have tonight, one more night.”

The next morning I checked in for my “procedure” feeling as if I was attending my own funeral, a funeral for my heart. They wheeled me back, sobs echoed through the room until they silenced me with sedative, and I welcomed it……the sweet oblivion. I awoke too soon, and with a scary realization, I had almost hoped I wouldn’t wake. What awaited me now? An empty nursery, an endless nightmare, a pair of butterfly shoes that would never grace her feet.

For nights on end I slept in the nursery which was once a guest room. Scotty was attentive, checking on me, but I was lost in a place that even he couldn’t pull me from. The morning peaked through the window and glared upon the caterpillar, and the butterflies that I had painted. I grabbed some interior paint, and viciously covered them each detailed piece of art. Angry strokes of my paint brush, blotting them out just like my baby had been blotted from existence. I cried, and screamed, then cried some more.

It wouldn’t be until many years later, when the maddening grief had subsided would I see with different eyes. I would realize that my caterpillar hadn’t turned to a butterfly, she had gained her wings though, her angel wings had lifted her to the heavens and carried her away from me.

Miscarriage #2

Reflection is like purging the soul. It wrings the spirit clean from the emotions that plague you, especially pain. So today, I decided to purge a bit more of my infertility journey. These blogs are emotionally taxing for me, the raw hurt never stops. Writing about it, feels like picking a scab off a fresh wound, but sometimes to heal we have to let them bleed. I hope this post finds someone facing the struggle I did, because perhaps, all the pain I experienced will offer up hope to someone who feels hopeless.

It was shortly after our wedding that I found myself once again pregnant. If you read the first blog about my miscarriage, you will know this was my second pregnancy. I was 24, and after discussing the miscarriage with my physician, she saw no reason it should happen again. She explained all the statistics, one in four pregnancies end in miscarriages, usually the pregnancy is lost before knowing it existed, and that the sensitive tests offered now just detected them very early on. She also told me that once they heard a heartbeat the chances of miscarriages dropped drastically, and then almost went to single digits after hitting the second trimester.

The day I found out I was expecting, I quickly called and scheduled an appointment. From my calculations I was only 6 weeks along, so she scheduled me for 2 weeks later in hopes we could hear the heartbeat. I took it easy, I didn’t lift, I didn’t do strenuous activity……and I worried myself sick. I kept this pregnancy to myself besides a few very close friends and immediate family. I am glad I did, because I didn’t make it to my two week appointment…..eight days after discovering I was expecting I began the spotting. Off to the doctor I went. The ultrasound showed a small sac with nothing in it…..again I heard all the words, “missed miscarriage” “chemical pregnancy” “these things happen, keep trying” etc…..I remember feeling a desperation. The first time could’ve been a blip, a tragic one time thing……but a second time, surely that wasn’t coincidence.

I felt it deep in my soul, something was wrong. My body had turned against me, something in me was broken, and it wasn’t just my heart. “Shouldn’t we do some sort of testing, to see what is causing this to happen?” I heard a meek voice ask, a voice that didn’t even sound like my own. Only to be assured this was no reason for concern, and the testing only began after three recurrent miscarriages. I left the doctor’s office, I felt Scotty’s hand in mine, and I sent a prayer to the heavens that this was the last loss I would experience.

I am not one to be an observer, I am proactive. I don’t take anyone’s word for anything. So, my obsession with research began. I read every book on infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy, conception, birth, and complications that cause miscarriage; you name it, I READ IT! I decided if no one would listen to me, I would learn what was happening to my body. I would learn the terminology the doctors tossed around like a young boy tosses a football through the air on a warm, summer day. I refused to be a football, my losses were real to me, these pregnancies weren’t some fleeting daily event, they were a part of me, a part of my love for my husband. How dare anyone with a medical degree discuss them like one might conversate about the weather.

I became studied, it was the only thing I knew to do. I didn’t know how to deal with this grief. How could I share the pain with someone/anyone? To everyone but me these were just pregnancies, but to me they were babies. They were lost hope, lost dreams, lullabies that I would never sing, books I would never read, and tiny hands I would never hold. I was so utterly alone in my mourning. I could talk all day to whoever would listen, but the fact still stood, to the world these losses weren’t theirs to bare. I had to carry the loss alone, just as I had carried each pregnancy, tucked right inside my heart.

I found myself in one of the darkest places I have ever discovered. So, I dove into books, educating myself on how to advocate for myself, the babies I lost and the future babies that I would carry. I would not be a victim, I would not be a bystander, I would not allow my losses to fade into oblivion, not when their existence was a scar I would be branded with for eternity. No one else had to feel it, but I would be sure that they didn’t deny my right to.

Silently, I hoped I would never have to pull from these resources of knowledge I had gathered. I prayed the next time I became pregnant, it would be uneventful……and the end result would be a baby in my arms. I would find that not only would that knowledge be vital to my future, but I would learn more than I ever hoped to know about the subject. For this loss, and the one before it, were only the first of many.

Brynlee Third Birthday

Today 3 years ago at around 5 am my gorgeous little girl was born! Brynlee Jean Mangrum weighing in at a whooping 5 lbs 9 oz! It would be 3 days before I would be able to hold her in my arms……longest 3 days of my life! I have made up for lost time with lots of cuddles every since because she is definitely Mommy’s snuggle bug! She is my bit of sass, touch of sweetness, prettiest smile, plain mischievous and the most loving little girl! This day 3 years ago was my second baby….the second child the doctors said I would never had! After 8 miscarriages and a little guardian angel, my sweet Braelyn…I carried her and she is the perfect fit for this family! Cannot imagine a day without her! She is that hug when your heart is aching, the kiss for no reason, my little nasty nice, girly girl, and baby doll wagger! She is such a proud little sister and loves her sister more than anything! She has her heart! And though she may be small she is fierce…so much personality and the biggest heart is bottled up in her tinsy little self! Thank you, God for giving me the gift of motherhood to this beautiful little girl and her big sister! God gifted me today with a second daughter and gave Braelyn a sister….which is the greatest gift that I ever got as a little girl! I waited a LONG time, shed a LOT of tears and hit my knees in prayer and God answered!!!!!!! He handcrafted these babies for me…I know this because their heartbeat matches my own, they fit perfectly in my arms and flood my heart with love each and everyday! PRAISE GOD for gifting me with the best babies ever!!!!!! Happy birthday, my lovely, my precious, my dinky do, my sweet Brynlee Jean…MOMMY ADORES YOU!

Humbled to be Their Mother

Today I sit here truly humbled…I’ve been a bit sad the passed few months thinking about how big my girls are getting but then I think back six years ago around this time and how my one wish was to be a mommy…all the odds were stacked against me, and I had broken heartedly resigned that I’d ever have a child…well now I’ve got two beautifully prefect daughters that fill my life with love, laughter, giggles, messes and noise. They are truly the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given! God still works miracles and I am reminded of that every time I look at them! My heart still holds a special place for those who struggle with infertility, and now as I’m facing the finality of my child bearing years, I will not feel broken but instead thankful that I got to be a mom to these two miracles! For any of my friends struggling, wishing, dreaming and praying to be a parent…I pray this year your wish comes true! ‪#‎proudmommy‬ ‪#‎miraclesstillhappen‬ ‪#‎grateful‬

Missing the Child You Have Yet to Meet

Did you ever miss someone you haven’t met? Ever longed for something you’ve never had? I couldn’t explain this emotion, I couldn’t comprehend what was that I was feeling; it was this tangible feeling of unrelenting need…nothing could feel this void. I became a miserable person, I shied away from new moms when I once was the first to take a peek at the new bundle of happiness, I found myself..envious. When once I was the first to congratulate am expectant mommy and admire their protruding bellies; I would feel tears sting my eyes, bitter tears for “why can’t that be me?” When I would normally flock to children and find wonderment in their fun filled innocence; I avoided places I knew children would be…why? It was a reminder of all I ever wanted and didn’t have….seven long years, seven years of hopes and then loss, seven years of hopes that I would know the joy I witnessed as a new parent gazed at their miracles…then something happened, God gave me peace, reminded me that envy and jealousy were tools of the devil. I began praying not just for my gift of a child but also for those around me, for their new miracles to be healthy and safe…and THEN God blessed me. The day I met Braelyn every single piece of my broken heart fell back together! I can’t explain it but I missed her even before she was born! I felt such contentment, and joy. This, I thought to myself is what I’d been missing! And just because God blesses us beyond our wildest dreams he then gave me Brynlee! Just magical, enchantment when I gazed upon their perfection! I go back to each of those days, the days of their births, I still feel like I’m dreaming! It’s been nearly six years since I first earned the title as mom and I finally feel complete! I was missing their hugs around my neck, their sticky kisses when I was sad, the sound of their giggles, the way it felt to hear “mommy” and know for the first time it was me the sweet voice was referring to…many people take for granted the gift of being a parent…but even on the worst days… I NEVER take it for granted! I remember the deafening silence before them, the spotless house was so empty, I slept in every weekend but my heart was never at rest. Now, I wear bags from lack of sleep, my house is only spotless while they sleep, but my life has never been so full. I’m a little late but this year, that’s what I’m thankful for most of all, the noise, the mess, the million questions, the thousands of calls for “mommy”…I am grateful for all that because it means I’m a mom!