Baby Button Needs You To Stop Praying For Him Now

8 weeks ago, I wrote a story about the journey our baby was taking us on, and how we were praying that my body would survive being pregnant just 7 more weeks to give him the best chance. So many of you responded in love and prayers and genuine care.

I truly believe it worked because my body proceeded to need a total of 3 amniotic fluid drains, plus a dramatic 3 night stay in the hospital because I was having very real contractions every 5 minutes…and then suddenly everything stopped. I went home. Life has resumed at an almost-usual routine for the last 4 weeks. Baby Button has grown big and strong, we have a safety-approved place for him to sleep and travel, and my mom made it here without complication.

So now? I need y’all to stop praying. I turned the corner on 38 weeks yesterday, and I am done.

I know every third-trimester mother says that, but I don’t think you understand.

I am “answering questionnaires for concerned psychiatrists/sense of humor completely gone/collapsing into tears for no reason at least once a day” done.

I have survived the Apocalypse. I have lived in fear of the government and deportation. I have moved houses at least as many times as I’ve had birthdays. I’ve seen a childhood friend die right in front of me. I have endured losing a relationship with my father 2 months after it began. I have gotten lost in Europe, lost a baby, lost jobs, and been one paycheck ahead of financial disaster for years.

But 9 months of pregnancy, one of life’s greatest mysteries that I was looking forward to the most, is the straw that broke this camel’s back.

I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel needy. I feel weak.

And so I feel lost. My identity is shifting. I’m the girl who writes about all the crazy shit that happens to her, and still manages to make people smile. I’m the Chandler Bing, I’m the Spartan who keeps on trucking, I’m the one who has heard time and again, “Wow. Looking at you, listening to you, I would never have guessed that you survived all THAT. You’re amazing, and you should probably write a book.”

My shit has always been a little messy, but it was my mess, and it made me stronger.

Now? After being pregnant and sick and worried and unprepared for 267 days in a row (including being displaced from home for 60+ days in a cramped house with 4 animals and 4 in-laws out of that)?

All I want is to go to sleep, and wake up in my own bed with a fresh mani/pedi, a killer haircut, a multi-ethnic buffet, and an impossibly adorable baby who never cries longer than 5 minutes or makes me question whether I am mentally and emotionally capable of becoming a mother in the first place.

I feel gross for even admitting it. Because I can see all you ladies who have been moms for years, who are laughing at my innocence and thinking, “Just you wait, honey, it gets worse.” I can see all you ladies who have been thinking they’d like to get pregnant, and now I’ve just ruined it for you. I can see all you ladies who had magical unicorn pregnancies with babies made from Jesus’ eyelashes, and are secretly judging me for being so dramatic and non-sacrificial.

And honestly, I’m going to play the Pregnant Bitch card and say up front: I don’t need to hear from you right now.

The only thing that keeps me typing so vulnerably is the off-chance that maybe some lady will read this and think, Thank GOD I’m not alone. Maybe I’ll wait one more day before checking myself in to the closest institution. Hi, Carly. I’m your new messy mama friend. Let’s keep talking.

13 days or less…

 

Next Time

At this time last year, I was four days late. My breasts were sore, my appetite had changed; something new was going on.

My husband and I welcomed our first pregnancy with shock and awe. We hadn’t planned for it, we weren’t ready – but really, can you ever be?

6 weeks later, our baby was gone. We hadn’t planned for it, we weren’t ready – but really, can you ever be?

I still can’t believe it’s been almost a year. A year of walking through a strange fog of grief that only someone else who’s experienced it can understand.

We haven’t tried again. We’re afraid. We want to be secure in finances and housing and knowledge about child-rearing – but really, can you ever be?

Ever the optimist, I have hope that one day soon, our life will hear the sounds of a newborn cry morphing into the pitter patter of little feet running down our floor.

And once it does, this is what I want to do.

1. Next time, I want to tell my husband the news a little more creatively.

As much as he loved the news, I’m sure he will appreciate being told in a way that doesn’t involve being woken at 6:30 on a weekend to have a pee-covered stick shaken in his bleary face.

2. Next time, I want to tell more people in person.

Technology is great for sharing news, but there’s just something extra special in seeing a loved one’s face explode with joy in #realtime.

3. Next time, I want to tell people early-ish.

We announced our pregnancy to our world just shy of 8 weeks in. A foolish thing, some might say, but I believe something unexpectedly bad can happen to a pregnancy at any time. I’m not jinxing anything if I share early. It was a life saver for me to be able to use my blog and Facebook as a platform to document every high and low of my 9-week pregnancy and the weeks that followed. Every time I made an update, I knew I had people waiting to support me with comments, prayers or even just silent heart emoticons. Friends appeared out of the woodwork with their own stories of loss, that I might have never known otherwise, and I value that more than keeping secrets for taboo’s sake.

4. Next time, I want to ignore my phone a little more.

“Hi! Welcome to the MyPregnancy App! Today, your precious baby is the size of a raspberry. Make sure you avoid soft cheese and raw fish. Watch this video of computer-generated genitals emerging from your cartoon baby’s abdomen!”

*An hour later*

“Sweetie, your baby is *still* the size of a raspberry, and probably will be tomorrow as well. You know how at sometimes you keep checking the fridge in hopes that new food has magically appeared? Same concept here. Go take a nap.” – what MyPregnancy App should have said.

5. Next time, I want to finally become a fashionista.

I am not fashion-conscious. At all. I am the reigning queen of hand-me-downs and thrift store bargains. There’s nothing wrong with that. But my queendom has been established for more than 10 years. I’ve been out of high school for only 8 years. Yes, if you do the math, that’s a problem. But not one that I can justify changing until I literally cannot fit into those clothes anymore. And there’s never been a cuter time to be pregnant, Pinterest will tell you that right now. Hang in there, holey wardrobe. Your time is coming.

6. Next time, I want all the photos.

One of my good friends took my wedding photos almost 3 years ago. I booked her that same day to take all my family’s photos for all time ever. But before that, I want baby shower photos, I want maternity photos, I want labour & birth (YES, birth) photos, and I want newborn photos.

This will be my “rainbow” baby, and I want to soak myself in their presence, just once, before I’m too tired to function and staring at a tiny stranger who’s changed my whole life.
I want to revel in every glorious inch of those days before and after because I’m making up for lost time.

I know that the world is already flooded with baby photos that everyone else is sick of, but you don’t understand. It’s my turn. You don’t have to look at the pictures, but don’t you dare deny me the joy of sharing them, just like I’ve shared every single other difficult step it took to get me here.

7. And finally, next time…

…even if I don’t accomplish everything on this list, my baby will still be here, and I will still be a good mom. Because Love conquers Lists and Fashion and Pregnancy Apps and Photography.

And I’ve got Love in spades.

Without Compassion, We’re All Lost Babes #1000Speak

Today – February 20th, 2015 – is my due date.

As a birth doula, I know that due dates are not really a reliable standard of time. When I’m hired and given a due date, I consider myself on-call with my bag packed for the whole month surrounding it. Anything could happen.

But I’m here, I made it to February 20th in one piece.

I can just imagine it now, my precious little surprise greeting me and the rest of the world. Gracing us with their innocence and wisdom and poop and neediness. Seeing his or her eyes for the first time, as they realize that they’ve known me their whole life – they just didn’t know it until today.

I can just imagine it.

But only just.

Because today is my due date, and I am not pregnant.

**Trigger Warning**

I started bleeding 3 weeks after the tests had confirmed that we were going to be parents, 1 week after we told all of our friends and family.

To lose a baby is very common, I know, as if that eases anything.
Not as common, however, is the way in which we lost our baby.

It wasn’t really a baby to begin with. Hold on, hackles, technically it’s true. My body experienced a “blighted ovum”, which means that the egg and sperm never fully met up properly, although it traveled into my uterus and convinced my hormones that things were clicking along quite nicely. I felt everything a woman feels in the first trimester, all the while an empty sac of tissue was floating around inside of me like a lava lamp, without a care in the world.

My body was so convinced it was pregnant that it would not miscarry. My traitorous, confused body would keep changing and growing unless it was convinced otherwise. And chances were, if I let it continue, I might not be able to get pregnant in the future.

I was forced to choose between a surgery and a drug called Misoprostol. I’ll never forget the doctor who gave us this choice. She was a smaller, older woman – I figure she’s been a doctor for a long time, probably been the bearer of bad news for countless people.
Yet, she had tears in her eyes as she hugged us and tucked the envelope of pills into my hand that she’d smuggled out of the lab because she knew we couldn’t pay for them.

Nothing like the doctor who confirmed my pregnancy at the beginning, whose clipboard-scanning first words were, “And do you want to keep it?”

Compassion.

I chose the drug out of fear and familiarity: I have never had surgery before, and I know how to take pills.

Within half an hour of swallowing them, I vomited them and my sandwich into a bucket in the living room.

I grimaced when I realized the only other option left to me. I took the 4 remaining pills out of the envelope and awkwardly pushed each one inside my cervix, hoping that they wouldn’t get lost somewhere. (I never took Biology, and vaginas are so mysterious.)

Steve held my other hand and kept his red-veined eyes on my face the entire time.

Compassion.

How ironic, I thought, that the way this “pregnancy” started is similar to how it will end.

I didn’t know if or when the pills would start to take affect, so I put a pad on, and we cuddled on the couch watching TV, petting the cat. Anything to ward off the thoughts of Death and the Unknown that were facing us.

We went to bed, and I felt okay. Maybe I’d done it wrong.

Hours later, I was awakened by the greatest pain I’ve ever felt in my entire life. My whole body shook as I made a hunching crawl down the stairs to our bathroom. I felt like an atom that was about to split in half; I had no control.

For the next hour, the bathroom was my home. I kicked Steve out; I wanted to be alone. I didn’t want him to see how I was being melted down in an offering to a cruel god that was only appeased by blood, sweat, tears, shit and vomit.

In a haze, I remembered the other pills. The Tylenol-3’s. I reached out for them like a life raft, barely taking a moment to read the instructions. An eternity of 20 minutes passed, and finally I felt a tinge of sweet relief. I was able to gather the strength to take some toilet paper and reach down between my legs.

The pink tissue of my not-baby had to be collected and taken to the hospital for analysis. Something cold and hard and clinical came over me, and I stopped crying as I stared at the mass that had been propelled from me so violently.

Do what has to be done. And try not to be a crybaby about it, would you, please?

I put the pieces of myself into a pad and a ziploc bag. Took a shower. Stared at my face in the mirror. There was nothing in my eyes. I had just ended my very wanted pregnancy. Shouldn’t I be falling apart?

Compassion.

We’d been assured that the whole “process” would take 24 hours or less. My body continued to shake, rattle, roll and bleed out for 3 weeks.

After going to the same doctor in desperation, she welcomed and treated us even though we weren’t technically her patients. After using a clamp the size of bigger-than-my-pelvis (Steve faithfully holding my hand without even a swoon), she found the source of the problem: the sac had gotten stuck, of all things, inside my cervix – causing my uterus to contract and bleed nonstop in attempts to get it out.

I wish I had chosen the surgery.

I hated my body. I grit curses in my teeth against it daily; first ya can’t hold onto a pregnancy, and now ya can’t get rid of it? Friendship over.

Tylenol Codeine was never not in my system. When I ran out of pills, I tried not to buy more. The following 3 days of fever, aches, shakes and self-loathing persuaded me that maybe I SHOULDN’T buy more.

In the midst of all this, Laurie Works dropped everything in her life to come be with us for a weekend. Work, new boyfriend, long flights – didn’t matter. It was time for poutine, Parks & Recreation, laughing and crying about the shittyness of it all.

Compassion.

When we fell into each other’s arms at the airport, we didn’t let go for a solid 60 seconds. When we came up for air, there was a man and a woman standing near us with their hands raised and fingers spread.

“That’s a 10! 10 out of 10 greeting right there.”

It made me think of that end scene of Love Actually. Airport Arrivals truly are one of humanity’s finer ideas.

What a beautiful weekend. There was no pressure on me to do anything, and the one thing I really wanted to do was have a funeral at the beach.

So we did. We found the perfect balloon, tied some love notes to it, and then waded out into the water to let it go.

I watched and watched and watched that balloon sail away until I could watch no more. Sometimes I feel like I’m still watching, still waiting – but for what, I don’t know.

Compassion.

After Laurie returned home, my life became a series of goodbyes.

Monday: deleting the pregnancy apps and resetting the Period Tracker app on my phone.
Tuesday: calling the the local midwifery clinic and letting them know I would no longer be needing their services.
Wednesday: packing the maternity clothes and newborn onesies away.
Thursday-Sunday: getting lost in Netflix and my bed, trying to forgive ignorant people who said, “Well, you’re young, you can always try again!”

Steve could no longer take any more time off work. His first day back, he came home, laid down on the living room rug and cried into the fibers. I laid next to him, all out of tears for the day. I whispered to him that I’d gotten the call from Starbucks in Smithers; our prayers had been answered, I’d gotten hired, and it was time to move back to my hometown.

And now here we are. Not exactly the way we thought we’d be, but we’re still here. I am so grateful.

Next week, I’m getting a tattoo that commemorates our loss. As always, he’ll be there, holding my hand and watching.

Next month, I’m going to start donating my time and food once a week to a program called Meals For Moms. It will help me to know that I’m helping feed exhausted families with new babies, and in turn, helping those new babies.

Being the village.

A Help Boomerang.

Amen.

IMG_0002

This New Year

On this day in 1999, I was fearing for my life.

Before The Walking Dead or Katniss Everdeen had even been thought of, I was preparing for my world to become apocalyptic. I was 12.

15 years later, Y2K still hasn’t happened. The Mayan calendar didn’t really mean much either. However, we face our own little apocalypses each year, don’t we? They have nothing to do with ancient prophecy or computer malfunction. They just happen without warning, and change us forever. But if you’re reading this, you’re still here. You’re a God-blessed survivor even if you don’t feel like one.

I’ll be honest, 2014 was a rough one. Misunderstandings, loneliness, lost jobs and a lost babe, confusion and clarity alternating like a roller coaster ride.

Occasionally, the darkness cracked and some light peered in. It’s why I’m still here too.

Can I tell you about them? Can I give you some hope? Will my thoughts mean anything to you?

Tell you what. Keep reading, and when you get to the bottom, you’ll see a link to my best friend’s site, where she’ll also be reminiscing about the positive things that happened in her life this year.  I am so thankful for her. Best friends for at least 20 years now – the kind of friends that drop everything and get on a plane to go be with each other when there’s a crisis.
We are women forged by fire, but rather than sacrificing ourselves to be burned up, we’re going to allow our hearts and minds to flow and curve like water, quenching the heat, refreshing our souls, going forward.

Don’t let your hearts remain stagnant or burnt. Winter is here, but Spring is coming. Join us. Tell us your stories of 2014, and what your dreams are for 2015. Alone we are enough, but together we are stronger.

~

This year, I witnessed another precious little girl-soul come into this world. She took her first breath in the glowing light of an early July morning, in her own nursery at her parents house. A holy moment.

2014-07-16 20.35.39

Soon, my goal will be accomplished through a little piece of paper that says “Carly Hutton, Certified Birth Doula” so that I can keep drinking in those holy moments, keep helping those other women forged by fire become mothers – even if I never become one myself.

~

In September, I was a bridesmaid for the first time. It was easier than I thought it would be. I put on a purple dress, did my makeup, and ripped only 2 pairs of panty hose while someone else far more capable did my hair.
My former roommate and bride of the day gave me a pearl necklace and earrings that she made herself. Treasure, only gained by letting a granule of sand itch the shit out of you until you’re pure.

joanna wedding 3

I witnessed 2 of my best friends commit their lives to each other. They sang their vows and yet they still wanted ME to sing a song for them. So I did. It was called “Dancing in the Minefields” because that’s not only what marriage is, but life itself.

joanna wedding

That day was the most I’ve smiled since I lost our baby. I mean, I kinda legally had to for photogenic reasons, but it was the first time I WANTED to.

joanna wedding 2~

I passed my 4-year anniversary of blogging, and at least half of my 200 followers are real people.

IMG_9420

And finally, we moved back to the town where I grew up. I did enjoy most of the Vancouver experience, but home it was not. Too much water; my fire almost went out.

home

Here in Smithers, I am known. By the people, by the snow-capped mountain, by the back roads and the river wild.

And? My new house has a bathtub.

~

It’s New Year’s Eve. It’s only a matter of one day’s difference, and yet, it holds so much shiny promise. All the shit we’ve gone through recently, we can finally say, “That happened last year.”

I used to be the kind to make resolutions. Not anymore. But for the sake of being traditional:

In 2015, I resolve to lose weight.

The weight of condemnation and shame and guilt of decisions past. The weight of trying to be liked by all and keep everyone happy. The weight of perfection. I want to lose it. And if, in doing so, it prompts me to live a healthier life that actually affects scale, then so be it.

And in 2015, I resolve to be the 7-11 in Smithers on Christmas Eve.

It was the only place open and serving food past 6pm when my husband, my mom and I were starving. Hot dogs never tasted so good.

No matter what store it is, though, I always feel a spark of hope rise whenever I see a glowing red OPEN sign. Knowing that I’ll be able to get what I came for, what I need, today.

That’s how I want others to feel when they see me. Open. Mind, heart and arms, ready to do messy, beautiful business at any given time. Never turned away.

As this year ends, I have high hopes for 2015.

Hopes that suddenly, everyone will have an a-ha moment. An a-ha that realizes we need something else. Something different. An a-ha that knows we are meant for more than what we have been content with living.

Hopes that, this new year, shooting up schools and shooting up veins will no longer be the go-to solution for long unanswered cries for help and understanding.

Hopes that, this new year, the Battle of the Sexes will run out of ammunition.

Hopes that, this new year, we will see through skin colours, to the hearts and minds that brew underneath. Every culture and race has its heroes and assholes; let’s stand up and recognize. I repeat: PEOPLE ARE MORE THAN THEIR SKIN AND REPUTATION AND STEREOTYPE. CHECK. YOURSELF.

Hopes that, this new year, toddlers and teenagers on the brink of dreams and inspiration – adults burned low on chips and bills – elderly melting on the ice floes of their last lives – will all be valued and held accountable and loved for who they are.

Hopes that, this new year, the corrupt will be exposed and the honourable will be exalted.

Hopes that, this new year, these words will ring true:

“And in despair, I hung my head
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said.
‘For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men….’
Then rang the bells more loud and deep,
God is not dead nor doth he sleep!
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Let it be so.

:: A Year in my BFF’s Life ::

Save-the-Day Shoes

A few months ago, I introduced my good friend and former roommate, Natalie, here at Growing Butterfly. She really could start her own blog if she wanted to *nudge nudge* but in the meantime, I am always honoured to share her deep and precious thoughts here.

Our community in Prince George has faced some turmoil this week, and this is Natalie’s response. (I also find it timely that my last post relied heavily on the theme of Community.) Thanks for reading.

————————————————————————————-

It’s been a tough week.

On Sunday night, I got a phone call from one of my best friends who recently moved away. The news she gave me was something I never would have expected.

One of her good friends (and her husband’s best friend of the past few years) passed away earlier that day, suddenly and without warning. She had wanted to let me know before I found out some other way.

In that moment, I was at a loss for words, as I felt my heart instantly ache and grieve not only for my two friends had known him so well, but for his wife and all of the lives he had touched in our community. It was a heavy blow, one that I wasn’t certain how to handle.

I did my best to comfort my friend – to tell her that I was there if she needed anything, and that I would be praying.

But I was still left with the question,

“What should I do?”

The next day, I was at work, surrounded by customers and fellow employees who had no idea what I was going through. I tried my best to just make it through the day while still thinking, praying and grieving over this sense of loss. I thought that I was doing okay until halfway through the day, when I got a text from another friend, telling me that her mom was in the hospital, going in for emergency surgery, asking for prayer.

Just when I thought my heart couldn’t take any more, I was almost brought to my knees as I prayed and hoped fervently that everything would be okay, that another one of my friends wouldn’t have to face another loss. And once again, as I tried to cope with what was happening, I was left wondering,

“What do I do now?”

In these moments, I believe that the hardest thing for me has been to know how to react. Having a protective personality, one of my first instincts is to rush to the side of whoever is in need or hurting, but then my doubt always hesitates and wonders,

“What if they don’t need me? What would I even do when I got to them? What would I say? Are words even enough?”

In a way, not knowing what to do has eaten me up inside, threatening to break my heart all throughout this week.

And then I was at work again, stewing with all of these feelings. I tried to grasp onto the good things around me, tried not to let my own thoughts defeat me. Working in retail, it can be hard enough to help people and serve them well on a good day – and in the past few days, it’s taken all I have to remain positive and not just start throwing shoes at people’s heads. (Sometimes, it just feels like they deserve it!) I think it’s safe to say that I will not getting Employee of the Month.

But after dealing with a few customers, I came back to help an older woman with her two granddaughters. They’d returned from earlier in the day to pick up some shoes and find another pair for the youngest girl.

Now this girl was, by no means, a sweet angel, but I found that her excitement to try on shoes was so contagious that I couldn’t help but smile. After I brought out the pair she wanted, she was so determined to shove her little feet into those shoes as quickly as possible that she didn’t even bother to sit down.

As she inevitably began to lose her balance, it was in that moment that I chose to make a fast decision and I quickly put out my hand for her to hold onto.

Now, normally, I make it a bit of a rule not to get too close to children that I don’t really know, and I would never admit to being a touchy-feely person. But as that little girl grabbed onto my hand, I felt instant relief in the fact that I knew she trusted me, that she knew she was going to be okay.

In that split second of a moment, when everything had seemed so uncertain and confusing, that simple fact was enough for me.

If there’s anything I’ve learned (or re-learned) from this week, it is that I need to be like that little girl and just trust. Trust that I know how to do the right thing, trust that other people will let me be there for them, trust that even when I hurry so much to put on my save-the-day shoes that I lose my balance – God and the people in my community are going to be there for me too. Above all, trust that everything will be okay.

It’s not always easy, and I know that sometimes I may have to risk exposing my heart to all kinds of unpleasant things, but I know now that for all the times I might reach out empty-handed…

…the second that someone chooses to take my hand and trust me is the only moment that matters.


(Source)

Come To The Light Side ; Sometimes, We Have Cookies.

I’ll never forget the first day I was allowed to bake cookies by myself. I was close to 9 years old, with an apron that went around me twice and a flour-splashed countertop in front of me.

I was ecstatically waiting for them to emerge from the oven, gooey and painfully delicious to the lips. Moments later, however, I would experience the bitter disappointment of too much baking soda.

My mom had mentioned that baking involved math and the use of proper fractions, but I had been sure that this rule could be bent. How could something so fun require something else so terrible?

Nearly 20 years have passed since then, and I know how to bake cookies now. About once a month, I get the urge to leave a lovely disaster of flour and broken egg shells on my countertop, despite the math involved. A small part of me even loves the math; it’s reliable, grounded and gets the results I want.

2013-08-14 15.56.45

On June 14th, 2014, I learned that I was taking on a different kind of baking venture: the ultimate bun in the oven, a baby.

As a birth doula, it’s already part of my job to know things about pregnancy and birth and infants. But I was determined to do this right.

So I read and googled and stopped lifting heavy things and eating sushi, and started drinking more water, and quit my job when it became apparent that it was too physical (and possibly dangerous) for the first trimester, and read and googled some more.

If this cookie was going to successfully bake for the next 8 months and emerge from my oven all gooey and painfully delicious to the lips (and my heart), then I was willing to do the math, sacrificially take care of my body, and follow the recipe to make it happen.

On July 20th, 2014, a mere month ago, the cookie emerged from the oven. All gooey and painful, nothing delicious.

Why?

Sure, it was my first go-round, but I had followed the recipe, hadn’t I?

Why had my precious little egg fertilized and then…never grown? My husband and I were both young and fairly healthy.

Why had my body still produced hormones that made my breasts ache and belly expand, when my pregnancy was over before it even really started? I’d never taken birth control or had any extreme hormonal imbalances before.

What had I done? What had I not done? This recipe does not add up.

And then I realized that I’ve been operating my entire life this way, at an If/Then Pendulum.

If I’m nice to people, then they will be nice to me.

If I pray and go to church regularly, then God will be happy with me.

If I work hard, then I will be rewarded.

If I’m healthy and hardly drink and take care of myself, then there’s no reason on earth why I shouldn’t have a perfectly healthy and happy baby from the very first moment I ask for one.

It’s just not true.

Sure, recipes can be followed in the kitchen, and formulas should most definitely be followed in the chemistry lab or math department. But Life is the master of Maybe and No Guarantees.

The truth is, we are in an unrequited relationship with Life. We are head-over-heels in love, and we want to spend every possible minute with it, maybe see the world together.

Meanwhile, Life doesn’t really give a shit about us.

Is it supposed to?

Does a manual exist somewhere that says if you’re a good, kind person, then nothing bad will ever happen to you? That if you only eat organic food and don’t cuss people out in traffic, then you’ll get a Golden Star of Immunity?

Do we think we’re entitled to a suffering-free existence?

Because you can do all the right things. Pay your bills on time, love your in-laws, serve your country. And one day, you may still find yourself losing everything that you thought made you a person.

It’s not that Life hates you. It’s almost worse, in that it’s nothing personal. Life is Switzerland, completely neutral – throwing a pebble in your pond and walking away, having no idea what it just destroyed or created. No one to blame, no one to exact street justice upon, no deals or bargains, no if/then.

What is the point? Right now, I’m not completely sure.

An ancient King said it pretty well:

“I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them…I amassed gold and silver for myself…I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before…I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labour, and this was the reward for my toil.
Yet everything was meaningless. So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun is grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chase after the wind…so my heart began to despair…what do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labour under the sun?…grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest.”

Ugh.

In the past, whenever a personal event has taken my breath away and torn my clothes in grief, I always notice that the world continues on. Even though my world has stopped, most people keep going about their daily lives as though nothing has happened. But for me, everything has changed, and I wish that, for just one second, that the rest of the world would stop with mine and acknowledge my pain. To know that it’s worth stopping for, that I’m not just making it up.

But.

The week that my baby died, planes started dropping out of the skies. Most of my province caught on fire. In the weeks that followed, war in the Middle East escalated, Ebola reared its ugly head, America-the-land-of-the-free-and-the-home-of-the-brave became a little less free and a little less brave, Robin Williams’ light left our atmosphere.

For the first time that I can remember, my world has stopped…and so has everyone else’s. And it sucks.

Again we ask, why?

The same King who doubted his life’s meaning wrote this beautiful passage a little later on, and it has become my hope:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
A time to be born and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot,
A time to kill and a time to heal,
A time to tear down and a time to build,
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
A time to search and a time to give up,
A time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
A time to be silent and a time to speak,
A time to love and a time to hate,
A time for war and a time for peace…
God has made everything beautiful in its time.”

Maybe you don’t believe in God right now or at all.

Then believe in the seasons, how you’ve seen them change year after year without fail.

Believe in the words of Mumford & Sons,

| But if your strife strikes at your sleep, remember Spring swaps snow for leaves.|

Believe in the sun that has kept its promise every single damn day for the past eternity, after hours of enclosing darkness. Always.

Believe that, when you’ve been battling your enemies in the mud and the rain for 4 nights in a row, Gandalf is going to come to your aid in the light of the 5th day, just like he said he would.

Believe in whatever keeps you here, keeps you fighting, keeps you floating above the water’s embrace. Believe that your Phoenix will rise from the ashes, if you let it disintegrate into the death it’s meant for.

No, there are no formulas or recipes or guarantees of anything in this life, but we DO have a time for everything, good and bad. We may not know why, but we know we are not alone. Death may hurt like hell, but we know that new life will always come from it. We may not know when it will be over, but all things do end, and our story will ring out that “YES! There IS a light at the end of this tunnel, I KNEW it!” and others may not be in the same part of the tunnel as you are and they may not believe you, but you can reassure them to keep walking, it’s coming it’s coming it’s coming, don’t give up.

This is what I will teach my children. Yes, MY children, because I have no doubt that they will come to me when they are ready. And we will make cookies together, and I’ll tell them about their older brother or sister who couldn’t stay, and what I was taught by their leaving.

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
when grief sits with you, its tropical heat,
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a  body withstand this?
then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes I will take you,
I will love you again.

–Ellen Bass—


(Source)

The Immortal Mermaid

jessica

This is Jessica.

She is Cayce’s older sister, who was one of my childhood friends & fellow classmates. She was 3 whole years older than me, but she didn’t seem to know that when it came to friendship.

She (and her glorious hair) became my object of worship. I loved that girl; she was second only to Ariel as the mermaid queen of my heart.

She was only 10 years old the day she died; I’m the only one who saw it happen.

August 18, 1995 — 19 years ago today. With Cayce’s permission, this is our story.*

—————–

Summer was drawing to a close in Whitefish, Montana. I was soaking up all the lake days with my friends that I could, but there was one particular, special, day that I was looking forward to.

Swimming Pool on the Mountain Day.

My mom was planning on attending a Big Adult Conference of some kind, along with Cayce & Jessica’s mom. The hotel (?) that was hosting the event was at the ski resort on Big Mountain, and had its own pool. It was one of the fanciest things I could think of, and Jessica was going to spend the whole afternoon swimming with me there. I don’t remember what Cayce’s plans were; I just remember being sad she couldn’t come.

The only thing I noticed when we entered the pool area: we were literally the only people there. No guests, no lifeguards. But we were strong swimmers, and having a whole pool AND hot tub to ourselves was the stuff of dreams.

We played and splashed and laughed for hours, alternating between the big pool and the hot tub. I never wanted the afternoon to end. I kept my eye on the clock, knowing how many minutes were cruelly creeping by until our moms picked us up.

Our skin was starting to wrinkle and I was getting cold.

“Let’s go in the hot tub one last time to warm up!” she said.

“Okay! Wanna play the hold-your-breath game?” I replied.

She smiled. It was a competition we’d been duelling at all afternoon. One turn at a time, dunking under, the other person watching the clock to count the seconds. We averaged between 30 and 40 seconds each time; one minute was the winner we’d never achieved.

She dunked, and then I did. She dunked again, and then I did. She was determined to beat me the third time. I counted the seconds on the clock. When she passed 35 seconds, I knew she would win. 40…45…was she going to seize the one-minute winner-takes-all goal?

People often say, when a life-changing trauma occurs, that “everything happened so fast.” For me, it was the exact opposite. The seconds crawled by like snails, and she was still under the bubbles. Despite a pit in my stomach that said something was wrong, I laughed and said, “Okay, okay, you win! You can come up now.”

Maybe she didn’t hear me. Almost two minutes. I reached into the water to tap on her head.

Nothing.

I grabbed her shoulder and started shaking her.

She was stuck.

“Jessica! JESSICA!” I started screaming and glancing around. As had been the case all afternoon, no one was there.

Suddenly, her body bobbed to the surface, but her head was still down in the water, and I couldn’t. pull. her. out.

I don’t understand. What is happening. Why won’t she come back?

I fled the hot tub, determined to find help. I reached the door, opened it and stopped in my tracks.

Carpet. Nice, clean, fancy carpet. And there I was dripping wet, remembering that someone had told me to never step on anyone’s carpet when I was wet. Mold would grow underneath, and the carpet would be ruined.

This thought kept me from running any further. So I stood at the doorway, calling out over and over, even though I could see no one.

In desperation, I ran back into the hot tub, and tried with all my strength to remove Jessica from it. Screams echoed off the tiles.

It felt like hours. It felt like being abandoned. It felt like all my fault. But there was a tiny part of me that was sure she was going to pop out of the water like a fish any second now with a smile on her face, declaring herself the winner of the game for all time.

SLAM! The door burst open, and a man ran in, like a guardian angel who’d gotten caught in traffic.

“What happened?” He had dark hair and a strong build, but even he strained to free her.

I froze, my words pouring out slowly. “We were playing…a game…she was holding her breath…and…she never came up.” Would this angel blame me?

“Okay, honey. I’m gonna go get some help. Are you okay here for a minute?”

I nodded. What was one more minute?

I never left her side. I had started to shake. I thought I was cold, but now I know it was probably something else.

The door opened again, this time with 6 big, too-late guardian angels to help me. I sat on the edge of the hot tub, curled up with my arms wrapped around my knees as they suctioned to the bodice of my swimsuit.

I had no concept of the time anymore.

It took all 6 of them to finally bring her limp body out of the water. Her princess hair covered her face, and as they laid her down on the concrete, one of them began CPR, sweeping the hair away. She was a light blue.

That’s when I started to cry.

——————-

Every time I recall that day, it feels like a dream. I’m certain that I blocked some memories in self-preservation; what 7 year old wouldn’t? I remember the helicopter that took her away, the gravel that bit my wrinkled feet as I walked across the parking lot, covered in a blanket.
Later, at the hospital, they wouldn’t let me see her, just told me what I already knew. Her hair, that I’d wanted so badly, had gotten sucked into a filter at the bottom of the tub. We’d never seen it coming.

Nobody asked me what happened. Not the hospital, not my mom, not a pastor or a therapist. I was never asked, so I never said anything. I just tried to forget, and kept my hair short, avoiding hot tubs at all costs.**

I didn’t see Cayce much*** after that; I was pulled out of school to begin homeschooling less than a year later. 

But this I do know: Jessica was a piece of goodness and kindness and gentleness that the absolute senselessness of Life elected to take out before she could spread her beauty beyond her corner of the world.

I hate that, and I hate the part that I played in it. That will never be taken away from me, from her family. This is a scar we will always share, as though she had been the blood and bone joining us together until we were ripped apart.

But I have absolutely no doubt that we will see her again one day.

I can picture her now, swimming towards me, laughing and splashing, saying, “THERE you are! I’ve been swimming all day waiting for you, silly! Hey, did you know we can be mermaids here if we want? Come on, I’ll show you!”

And when I jump in the water, all the pain and fear and confusion of that day will be washed away in the waves. The sun will never set, and skin will never wrinkle from swimming too long; lungs will be more than lungs and we will be more than girls. Finally. Forever.

* Some location and timeline details may have changed due to my faulty memory. Apologies.
** I can say that I love hot tubs again, and that, this year, I’ve let my hair grow the longest it’s ever been.
*** We are now reconnected through the lovely Internet, and all has been restored, thank God.

Behbeh Love Part 4.5

[If you’re just joining me…]

Part One   Part Two   Part Three   Part Four

The past 10 days have been something out of a horror movie.

I’m still in it. Physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally.

Thank God that I’m 3 sleeps away from going on vacation to my hometown of Smithers. Most of my friend & family ties are in that area, and I have not seen them in over a year.

So, before I’m able to churn out a Part 5 that actually regales you with my honest experience in miscarrying a child, I’m going to disappear for a week. Maybe two. I need to go where nothing is required of me except to be, and be held, and fed and drank and loved.

If I haven’t replied to any of your previous comments yet, I am sorry. I read them. I feel them. I love them. I’m just too drained to think of anything to say other than Thank You right now.

I do want to tell you, though, that I just finished spending the last 3 short days with my best friend Laurie. She flew approximately 1,350 miles just to be with me and my husband as we grieved.

We ate poutine and fro-yo and stayed up until 4am and made a gloriously sketchy vlog (coming soon!) and had a very special photo shoot down by the beach.

The idea came to me almost in a dream: to take a balloon down to the Pier, somehow attach 2 love notes from myself and Steven, and then send it up to our Baby In The Sky as a memorial of sorts.

Steve worried that this was not environmentally friendly. I didn’t care.

So, we went to a really dodgy retail store, and found the perfect balloon. THE MOST BEAUTIFULLY PERFECT BALLOON.

The rest…was pure, bittersweet magic.

2014-07-27 16.06.19

baby button balloon

baby button balloon 2

 

2014-07-27 16.35.19

2014-07-27 16.36.55

It was a good day.

But, since grief is a fickle bitch, we are in a low valley once again. We’ll retreat. We’ll climb out. And we will be ourselves again.

Thank you for staying with us.

Behbeh Love Part 4

Part One   Part Two  Part Three

** Trigger Warning: Miscarriage and grief. **

The past 24 hours have been one of the best and worst days of my life, simultaneously.

I may not have a lot to say, or I might have waterfalls of words. I’m not sure yet. I thought I would need more like a whole week to process this and write about it, rather than a day, but I’m just going with it for now.

It started at 1am on Wednesday. I was called out to go assist with my very second birth as a doula. I was very excited because I’d spent some time getting to know this new “client” and they had become friends. They were planning an at-home water birth (another first for me!), so I safely raced to their house. I told them that if she was still labouring around noon, I would unfortunately need to leave for about an hour for my own ultrasound – but I would be back no matter what.

I needn’t have worried. I witnessed a beautiful, healthy baby girl come out of the water and into her parents arms by 9:30am. I’m not totally sure what I think about good vibes or energy or juju, but I thought that my morning certainly couldn’t be a bad way to go into my next appointment.

Steve was there with me this time. We knew that this ultrasound would be the make-or-break-it, and he wanted to be there. He expected to be brought into the ultrasound room later to hear a heartbeat if there was one.

Instead, I left the clinic and took him out with me. I waited until I reached the bottom of the stairs where I knew there was a bench we could sit on. And there, I told him.

There is no Baby Button. Technically, there never was. I experienced what is (terribly) called a “blighted ovum,” which means that our fertilized egg never quite made it to embryo stage. However, it stayed inside my uterus and formed a protective sac around it, as it would normally.

This was enough to keep my blood hormones skyrocketing, my breasts growing, my heart certain that everything was okay.

It was probably already over by the time I took that pregnancy test on Father’s Day weekend.

I’m sorry, but if you’ll allow me to speak freely…

I fucking hate my body right now. Sure, it did its job and didn’t keep a non-healthy embryo growing. But to lie to me about it? To trick me for the past 5 weeks? That’s just bullshit. Trust the hormones, we said. Trust the growing boobs, we said. Sure.

Do you know what I have to do now? I have to take a bunch of pills that will make my uterus cramp and contort like I’m in labour. Over the span of 24 hours (hopefully) I will most likely be doubled over in pain while my body expels the tissue of a sac, a placenta and a defunct egg. And THEN I have to fucking collect it in a Ziploc or a Tupperware or whatever, and take it back to the hospital so they can examine it to make sure that nothing got left behind to try and infect me. Because as long as that godforsaken sac is there, my body will continue to believe that it is pregnant – and it will also prevent me from becoming pregnant again, should I try.

This changes everything. I was starting to buy maternity clothes, and getting rid of old clothes I knew wouldn’t fit me anymore. I quit my job. I wrote a pregnancy diary. I shared my hopes and dreams with my husband, my friends and family.

And now, I don’t even want to see or talk to anyone. I just want to be alone and watch Netflix all day, but know that my people are still there should I change my mind.

I’m scared out of my mind. I’m still tired from the birth the other night. Throughout the day, I roller coaster between staring numbness and unstoppable tears.

I still feel pregnant. That’s the whole problem.

And Steve…Steve is my broken hearted rockstar of a man. He has been unreal throughout this whole ordeal. He’s letting me do whatever I want/need to, and making sure I still eat, still sleep. Part of me wishes he wouldn’t, because then I could start wasting away to ghost level; then everyone could know how I feel inside. He said he didn’t realize how attached he was to Baby already, until yesterday. Neither did I, really.

Thankfully, every doctor and assistant at the Maternity Clinic in the hospital has been like a grief counselor. Giving free pills, and hugs, and sympathetic looks. Calling it a loss, and not just telling us to get over it and move on. Encouraging us to do something together that will create closure for us.

I’m thinking about getting a tattoo.

And…that’s it. In a nutshell. I don’t know what else to say. Thank you for reading.