Rename & Redefine Miscarriages – A Mother’s Heartache & Plea

I recently Googled synonyms for the word, “miscarriage,” and these are what popped up:

“Abortion, mishap, botch, breakdown, defeat, error, interruption, malfunction, misfire, mistake, nonsuccess, failure, weakness, deficiency.”

The antonyms just added insult to injury, “Accuracy, certainty, correction, success, triumph, win.”

Whoever decided that the word “miscarriage” was the correct term for a mother’s loss, I will never be able to fully understand.

The word itself implies fault of the mother. It’s no wonder why so many of us feel shame, cry behind closed doors, shutdown, and don’t talk about it. And, it is not wonder why society does not know how to properly support us, and how to gracefully acknowledge it.

It’s actually a very common and normal part of life, and yet, even with today’s great advances and higher education, we still treat it like the Black Plague.

That word really sucks. It sucks the soul of the mother, and it sucks the humanity of society.

It’s not your fault, Mama.

Let me repeat that to you – IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.

You’re not a mistake, a malfunction, or a botch. You did not misfire, you are not weak, and you most certainly are not an error.

Life really does work in mysterious ways, and there is so much about it that we just do not understand. Not even our advanced sciences and technology can understand all of it. Probably never will, either. Heck, we still don’t even know what really triggers labor, and why breast milk is so magical. We just have a lot of good guesses and bits and pieces of information that help us make educated conclusions. But, we really don’t know. Mother Nature is a beautiful enigma, and it’s why so many of us call life itself a miracle!

We need a new word. And, we need one right now!

Every other alternative I’ve found, though, just doesn’t work for one reason or another. I’ve spent weeks and weeks looking at words. There are over 171,000 words in the English language, and none of them seem to suffice.

“Loss” still has a negative connotation, because it’s not the same kind of loss when our parents pass away, or a friend dies in a car accident. And, any other synonym for “loss” still implies fault or failure of the mother.

This kind of loss is deeply, deeply personal.

How do you pick a word for that?!

For lack of a better word, I had a miscarriage back in 2015, and I had a lot of anger and resentment during that time. I wasn’t angry at myself, though, nor at any one in particular. I wasn’t even mad at the loss itself.

I was mad at the culture we’ve created surrounding miscarriages.

I had very well-intended women swarm around me telling me, “It wasn’t meant to be. The baby just wasn’t ready. God has a plan. Mother Nature took care of it for you. It happens all the time. Women have lots of miscarriages. You’re not the only one. I had five miscarriages before I had Johnny.”

Can I just tell you straight up – When a woman is drowning in mourning, she doesn’t want to hear any of that. It is not comforting, even though it is intended to be. However, it inadvertently minimizes her pain and experience. And, I get it – We naturally want to ease the pain of someone suffering, therefore, we try to take some of it away by saying those things. But, you can’t take someone’s pain for them. Nor should you try to. Pain, while uncomfortable to deal with, is important and necessary for the mourner.

So, instead, acknowledge her loss and let her lead her healing process.

Don’t tell her how to feel or how to deal with it.

It’s her loss, not yours.

Let it be about her, not you, or anyone else.

I also had men and women who just outright avoided me for a few weeks because they were uncomfortable, and I understand why. They felt it was better to just not say or do anything, since they didn’t know what to say or do. But, admittedly, that hurt me, too. I really needed to be acknowledged.

And then, there were the others.

I got asked, “Did you eat anything you shouldn’t have? Maybe it was that sushi you ate. Do you think it’s because you worked out too much? Were you doing something you shouldn’t have right before it happened? Maybe you’re too muscular to carry (I owned a CrossFit gym at the time).”

I don’t think I need to explain how utterly disgusted I felt by these questions, and how inappropriate it is to ask any mother these types of questions after the loss of her unborn child, so we will move on…

As a blogger and social media participant, I saw a great deal of moms pleading their cases, followed by trolls shaming them, and then others excusing them, while still others were just insensitive and downright despicable. I started questioning humanity at this point.

There was NO SAFE PLACE for me to go and deal with my miscarriage. So, I did what too many of us do – I closed my door, hid under the covers, and cried my heart and soul out all by myself. I hid from the world. I dealt with it alone. I felt like I had to, and THAT made me mad, because we have created that environment.

Eventually, I was able to write about it in my blog, and I tried to start a real conversation about it, but alas, no one seemed ready for it yet.

How can we undo the damage here? How can we create a better culture around this? And, what word would better represent this personal experience?

To this day, every time I have an OBGYN appt and I must fill out an information sheet, and it asks how many pregnancies, births, abortions, and miscarriages I’ve had, I still tense up at having to mark that fourth box with that word next to it. It stings, to say the least.

And, I still haven’t figured out a better word for it.

Back when I had to explain to our oldest daughter why we weren’t going to have a baby, I told her that we were getting a Guardian Angel. Maybe that’s what we call it, because I would be much more willing and able to answer the question, “How many Guardian Angels do you have,” on my OBGYN information sheet.

So, can we, as a society, better yet, as a COMMUNITY, create a better word and a better culture for this?

Can we start a better healing process together, and give moms a safe place?

We need to start somewhere, though, and I think starting with a new word is a great place to begin!

.

.

.

.

After our loss in 2015, we were fortunate to have our second daughter in 2016, and this week we will be welcoming our third (Sept 2018)!!!

17522653_10212241183767773_4762443368975538462_n

Advertisements

Be More Human With Your Kids

Today, I screwed up and had an adult temper tantrum in front of my 6-year-old and 2-year-old while out shopping. It was a legitimate outburst that would have competed strongly against any teething toddler with no sleep and an empty sippy cup.

My jacket zipper got stuck, and then while trying to get it unstuck, I managed to rip a huge hole inside of it. The down feathers came pouring out like water, mocking me as they flew away in the wind. And I snapped. Like an Incredible Hulk super smash showdown.

I yanked my jacket off, chucked it as hard as I could across the passenger-side seat of the minivan, and screamed a cornucopia of very bad words. My white-knuckled hands punched the air around me as if I were fighting a gang of angry bees. I continued by heaving my body into the driver seat, slammed the door as hard as I could, and then battled through a tug-o-war with my seatbelt. I was sweating and swearing. I was the worst version of myself in that moment.

It had been a very long week, as any mother can relate, and that darn zipper was my final tipping point. After I finished my hissy fit, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and remembered who my audience was in the backseat.

I finally mustered the courage to look back at my 6-year-old and make eye contact with her. She was unsure what to do. So, she did nothing. She just sat very quietly and did not move a muscle. Even my 2-year-old was frozen in suspense.

I quickly transformed back into “normal Mommy” and sincerely apologized for my behavior. I explained how my actions, while completely human from time to time, were unacceptable, and my choice in words was very poor. I could have handled it better.

She still didn’t move or say anything.

I then asked her how I could have handled that situation better.

She finally blinked, looked out the window in thought, and then replied, “Well, maybe next time take three really deep breaths and close your eyes, and then listen to the sounds outside, like the birdies singing, and then you’ll be happy again.” I agreed with her suggestion and then asked if she had any other ideas to deal with anger. Without hesitation, she said, “You could also count to 10 or 20, or even 100, you know, whatever number you need to get to calm down. Sometimes, I count to 20, because I need more time than 10.”

I nodded again, and she quickly followed with, “Or, you could also ask for help. You always tell me to ask for help when I get mad when I can’t do something. So, maybe since you couldn’t unzip your jacket, you could have asked Daddy for help instead.”

(My whole face lit up and I was smiling ear to ear. Wow, I love that kid. How did I get so lucky?!)

 

Even better, when I apologized again, she said, “Don’t worry, Mama, I forgive you. And, I’m sure Santa forgives you, too, and he will still bring you a present, because he loves you, just like me.”

She is my constant source of humility and grace. And, because I allow her to see me be more human, and because I talk openly with her about my mistakes, she is learning compassion and forgiveness.

Not just for others, but even more importantly, for herself.

When I first became a mother, I thought I had to be perfect. I thought I had to have a perma-smile with all the right answers, Pinterest-worthy style and recipes, and be in constant control. I thought that if my daughter ever saw me mess up or make a mistake, then I would be a failure as a mother.

Funny thing is, I messed up a lot as a first-time mom. It’s inevitable. We are only human. But, one of the most important lessons I have learned as a mother is that our children do not need us to be perfect. They need us to love them and to love ourselves.

I am not a perfect mother, but I am perfect for my daughters.

When I was a teacher, I loved the quote, “When one teaches, two learn.” Now, as a stay-at-home mom, I have transformed that quote into, “When one loves, two grow.”

15267796_10211044800858948_2301037150441628803_n

Published on Motherly, September 6, 2018:

https://www.mother.ly/life/im-only-human-and-its-okay-if-my-kids-see-that

A Lesson in Self Control

From 2010 to 2017, my husband and I owned a CrossFit gym in California. One of the skills that eluded many was double unders with a jump rope. This is when the rope travels around you twice in one jump. Trying to master this seemingly simple skill can make any grown man drop into the fetal position and cry himself to sleep.

As a coach, I tried to emphasize the importance of relaxing and smiling when learning how to jump rope, because the second a client tensed up and got angry, the rope would punish the poor athlete with whip marks. The more you fought the rope, the more it fought back. It was a marvelous built-in lesson on patience and self-control, both physically and mentally.

Fast forward to today, and my husband and I now live in Ohio with our two girls, and one more on the way. We no longer own the gym, and I am currently a stay-at-home mom. However, the other day, I suddenly found myself re-living my coaching days with my 6-year-old daughter.

Last week, she came home with a new purple jump rope that my husband got her from the bookstore. She was very excited and eager to start practicing. After changing her shoes and quickly tying her hair in a messy ponytail, she was in the backyard gleefully practicing with her little sister cheering her on. I enjoyed about twenty minutes of mommy bliss watching her play, but then suddenly, I saw it. A rain cloud forming over her head. It got bigger and darker. With each trip up on the rope, her rain cloud grew. Finally, she had enough, and her thunderstorm broke loose. The jump rope was tossed angrily to the ground, her face was red, hands clenched, and her feet stomped into the house. “I HATE THAT ROPE! It’s stupid! That rope is mean, and it won’t work, and I don’t want it!” Hot tears streamed down her face as she slumped into a chair.

I sat down next to her and allowed a long pause before saying anything. I put my arms around her and tried to gently reason on how she is brand new to jumping rope, everyone learns at a different pace, and reminded her about all our friends at our old gym who also struggled with learning how to jump rope. Like most 6-year-olds, though, she defended herself by explaining to me how she had been practicing “forever,” though, and therefore she should have gotten it by now. I quickly realized that her reality of time and space were far too sophomoric for her to understand any of my adult explanations that I used with clients at the gym. So, I had to think of something else that a 6-year-old could relate to. Unfortunately, in that moment, I couldn’t think of anything, and we called it a loss that day.

The next day, she came home from school with a newfound enthusiasm to try again. So, she gingerly picked up that rope and started practicing. It only took her about five minutes this time to reach utter despair and hopelessness. Again, I tried reasoning and explaining to her, and again, it fell on deaf ears.

Then, I remembered a t-shirt my husband used to wear at the gym that said, “Never Double Under Angry.” I reminded my daughter about her daddy’s t-shirt, and then asked her why she thought her dad would wear that. She shrugged her shoulders in annoyance. She didn’t want to think, she just wanted me to fix it for her, and I understood. So, I explained, “Well, you see, the secret of the jump rope is that it responds to your feelings. If you get angry and tighten up all your muscles like this [Clenching my fists and making an angry face] then the rope tightens up and gets caught on your feet. That’s why you kept tripping on it, because you were mad, so the rope got mad with you. But, if you relax and smile, the rope will loosen up, too. The happier you are, the easier it is to jump rope because the rope will be happy with you.”

Her eyes gazed at the floor, and I could tell she was considering my explanation. I watched as her eyebrows started to relax, and her whole face changed back to my happy-go-lucky kid. She got it.

After a few deep breaths, a big hug, and a final statement of acceptance, she went back outside and picked up the rope. I held my breath as I watched her take that first jump. She tripped, but she took a deep breath, relaxed her shoulders, and tried again. *Swish* She made it! Her face lit up, and she looked at me with accomplishment. “Mom! Did you see that?! It worked! I stayed calm, and the rope went around me!” She did it again. Then again. And she continued to jump rope for over half an hour. By the end, she was able to do ten consecutive jumps. And, more importantly, she was smiling and enjoying the entire process.

She came inside to take a break and get a drink of water. With a big, sweaty smile, she said, “Mom, I was happy the entire time, and the rope was happy with me! We’re friends now!”

The days that followed proved to be more small victories. Every time she picked up the rope, she took a deep breath, relaxed her shoulders, and conquered her emotions.

About a week later, she was trying to fold an Origami butterfly with no success. At first, she got angry, but then quickly caught herself and said, “Mom, I wonder if the paper is like the jump rope. I feel like when I get mad, the paper is harder to fold. Maybe I should smile and try again.”

Eureka! She gets it!

The attitude we choose to have determines the experience we will have.

A8C09227-D8EE-4333-83E2-99F34EAE885F