Posts Tagged ‘miscarriage’

The Photo I Really Wanted to Share

Green Bay WisconsinI have a vision for everything. I am easily influenced by space and clothing and light and color. I can see how one thing connects to another thing to convey mood and emotion. It’s why I love planning parties and putting together outfits and making art. All of these things use my creativity and my analytical brain to assemble beautiful stories.

Pandemic Pregnancy

When we found out we were pregnant in July, my brain immediately strung all the joy together in neat little rows. An April due date meant sweet pastels for clothing and bunny stuffies for their first Easter basket. It meant late winter maternity photos in a grove of evergreens and announcement photos in an apple orchard (perfect timing as I would be 14 weeks mid-September). Three and a half years seamed like a wonderful age difference, and we talked about what it would be like to share the news with Juniper and how great she would be as a big sister. I was carried away as if this wonderful news were a symphony that lifted me straight through into the future. I could see it all.

I envisioned the nursery – white furniture and a brand new bookcase filled with all the art I had made while pregnant. There would be windows that needed replacing, and we should probably switch Juniper to the larger room, that’s only fair, and maybe the crib would need repainting, and should we get new carpet now before that baby is old enough to crawl or is it better to wait until both kids are grown?

My mind could see it all, but my actions were more hesitant. We didn’t buy the cute baby booties or tell all our friends the news. In fact, I tried to suppress that visioning instinct. After all, it was early. And we had been here before.

Miscarriage / Infant Loss

The tests looked normal, my levels were rising well. I ordered the clothes for our apple orchard session and booked the photographer. Then one day I woke up and I didn’t feel pregnant anymore. Shortly after, I ended up in the E.R. and heard the thing I really didn’t want to hear. I choked on sobs through the double-layered masks I had worn to keep myself and my new baby safe. It was all happening just like before.

At the hospital they wouldn’t let me see the screen or print a photo. I was hearing that it was all over, that there was no heartbeat, but I hadn’t even seen the baby I would never meet. I walked out of there with nothing. No sign that this baby had ever existed, no tangible way of knowing that this baby I had carried for 9 weeks was anything more than a fever dream. And it hurt. There was the hurt of losing the pregnancy I desperately wanted, but there was also the hurt of having nothing to remember them by, of losing this entire future I had imagined for us together.

After more ultrasounds to confirm (with a plea for a photo) and the physical act of miscarrying, our apple orchard outfits arrived.

I folded them up and left them on the dresser. The thing they had arrived to celebrate was no longer happening.

I was grieving. And even with the support of those who love me best and the reassurances of people who had been there before, I felt alone in my grief. I was grateful for my little ultrasound photo, but I was haunted by the fact that I never got to celebrate this baby. Those outfits sat on the dresser as though the life I had planned for myself had been cancelled. And I realized that I wanted those photos. I wanted to celebrate my pregnancy in an apple orchard with my family. I craved a substantial way to hold onto all the joy that this pregnancy had brought us during those 9 weeks in the midst of a pandemic. When there was next to nothing around us that felt good, this baby was our bright spot, here to bring us hope.

Our Bright Spot

So here it is. The photo I really wanted to share.

The vulnerability of the act of sharing makes me uncomfortable. I am not healed; I am still in the middle of this. My impulse is to never let anyone ever know I wanted something I couldn’t have. I worry you will think I’m ungrateful for the child I already have. I fear your pity, or worse, your deep and exposing empathy. But I am writing this because I need to celebrate the best thing that happened to us during this pandemic. Though the time may have been brief, the love is without end.


Read about our first miscarriage: Loving a Baby After Losing a Baby and The Fog of Grief.

Personal Post: Living in the Fog of Grief

Trigger Warning: Infant Loss / MiscarriageInfant Loss MiscarriageThree years ago in April I was losing our first baby.

We conceived on a trip to California and brought home this special secret. I loved knowing I had this little being to care for who would be with me on all our adventures. Ben and I didn’t know whether the baby was a boy or a girl, but we called her Sweet Pea. Together Sweet Pea and I made maple syrup, attended a cooking class, celebrated Easter, taught photography classes, and road in an airplane. We only had ten and a half weeks together, but I can tell you from experience, ten and a half weeks is a long time. It’s long enough for priorities and plans to change, and most importantly, for one’s identity to shift. I was mom to that little baby.

There are things I remember so vividly about the beginning. I remember singing Sloane’s Song in the shower while rubbing my belly to send in a little extra love to the baby. I remember lying back in the ultrasound room and seeing her heartbeat for the first time. I remember my world crashing down as the doctor explained that the baby looked small, but we would have to check back to know more. The wait was excruciating. Each week brought worse news, and on April 19th, we were told the baby no longer had a heartbeat.

I was grief-stricken, and the process of physically miscarrying made it all the more traumatic. After losing the baby at home, I ended up needing D&C surgery because of continuing tissue loss, and after the D&C did not remove everything, I spent weeks, then months continuing to lose blood and tissue. As I was trying to heal emotionally, I was facing a constant physical reminder of the worst thing that had ever happened to me.

During this time, life went on. I tried to fake happy through my birthday just two days after the surgery; a week after that I stood up in my best friend’s wedding, then busy season hit, family holidays came and went, and it wasn’t until the end of July that my body finally healed. And when it was healed, I didn’t care.

My body had failed me. I had done “everything right”; I had loved that baby with all I had, and yet there I was, empty. I didn’t want to care for a body that didn’t seem to care for me in return. I was depressed, living in darkness, and completely unable to see anything beyond that. All I wanted was to make it back to who I was before that happened.

I’m sharing this now, not for closure (I don’t really think that’s possible) because I’m not in that dark place anymore. Eventually I could see past the fog of grief, not all at once, but gradually. I began to care for myself and my body again, I began to look forward to things (a feeling I thought was gone for good). I never made it back to who I was before the miscarriage, but I found my new identity somewhere along the way.

There are things that still hurt even now, three years later with a baby in my arms. I can’t listen to Sloane’s Song and I wince when people refer to Juniper as “such a ‘sweet pea'”. When someone asks if J is my first, I pause, because that questions is harder than the asker means it to be.

I feel things deeply and I think this makes me responsible for sharing my story. I got a big dose of sensitivity from my dad, and extra empathy from my mom, and the end result is that I feel everything at 100% whether it’s mine to feel or not. It took me a long time to find my way out of grief, much longer than the world around me assumed was necessary. And I faced it without sharing, somehow fearing the acknowledgment of my pain would make it all the more real. So, right now, I’m just here to say, if you’re struggling with miscarriage, infant loss, or something else that has you in that dark place, I want you to know I see you. I’ve been there, and it’s okay to not be okay.

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If you are facing grief or mental health issues, don’t be afraid to ask for help through support groups, grief counseling, or call the free National Helpline for someone to talk to 24/7 1-800-662-HELP.

If you want more on this topic, read blogs Loving a Baby After Losing a Baby and Joy for Joy, Pain for Pain (written while losing our first baby). Film scans above from February and March 2016.

Personal Post: when the new year means grace over goals

In my twenties I spent every new year setting elaborate resolutions. There were categories for the resolutions (adventures, skills, business achievements, etc) and every goal had to be set in measurable terms. I would write them down and exchange them with friends so we could keep each other accountable. [Type A? Who, me?] Every year was going to be my year. I was going to “hustle”, and “crush it”, and through the magic of goal-setting I was going to miraculously transform into my best self, finally reaching my greatest potential. Every year.

Then came 2016, and it was hard. There were many small challenges, but mostly, I spent the year coping with the miscarriage we experienced in spring. I was devastated. Never had I invested so much hope, and experienced such great loss. It was 12 months of just trying to keep my head above water. So when 2016 ended and it was time to write my 2017 resolutions, I came up dry. I didn’t want to jot down how many books I was going to read, or elaborate on a skill I was going to learn. I didn’t want to set arduous business goals or demand some new level of personal growth. I couldn’t get myself to write a single resolution because I spent 2016 learning how little control I have over the most important things.

I think sometimes we set resolutions – new year’s, or otherwise – believing we can bend the universe to our silly, human will. And as an introvert, I get it. There is nothing I want more than a great plan which falls into place as designed. But while we’re busy trying to figure out how to do more and be better, we ignore the grace that comes with understanding we can only work for so much. It’s goal-setting season again, and although I’m not casting resolutions aside as humanistic hogwash, I am examining my ambitions more carefully. There will be plenty of good and plenty of bad in my life, and I feel certain that the biggest of each will not be mine to choose.

So cheers to the year that brought us our beautiful baby girl, a blessing beyond measure. We are one year wiser, two months sleepier, and incredibly grateful for both goals to achieve and gifts that were never made to be earned.

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Top photo by Riverland Studios. Middle photo by KL Creative.

Personal Post: loving a baby after losing a baby

Those of you who follow the blog closely may have noticed a gap in last year’s posts. When I write, I write from the heart – I share about sessions, travels, and thoughts on photography and life in general. But during those months there was only one thing on my mind, and it wasn’t something I was ready to share.

As most of our readers know, Ben and I are expecting a baby in October. I am seven months along and typing this blog as the baby flutters in my belly and I agonize over how much more water I should be drinking. I feel good and capable in my body – an incredible gift. This baby has given me a bigger reason to share what I had gathered up in my heart last year, and now I feel ready to talk about our first pregnancy.

In February of last year, Ben and I learned we were going to be parents. We were overjoyed and reveled in the magic of it all. We fantasized about baby moccasins and sharing the news with our families. I dreamt of nurseries and family traditions. It amazed me how much we loved that baby right from the start, surrounding it with our dreams for a future together.

But at our first ultrasound appointment, eight weeks into the pregnancy, the baby was small. We watched the heartbeat flutter on the screen like a tiny, flickering light, but the doctor said it was measuring at six weeks instead of eight. Two weeks later our little baby still hadn’t grown and our doctor confirmed what we had been hoping and praying against; that baby wouldn’t make it.

We shared the news with our closest family without ever having the opportunity to celebrate our initial joy. I sunk into depression. In my dreams each night I was still pregnant, and when I woke in the morning I felt empty. I had spent the past few months caring for my body with new purpose, seeing everything I consumed as fuel for the baby; so with the baby gone, treatment of my body bordered on destructive. There were complications to my miscarriage that resulted in a physical reminder for days, weeks, months. I couldn’t find myself or the things I was passionate about.

It was easy to feel alone in the loss because I couldn’t explain what I was feeling. There was no memorial service or official goodbye, just a slow, agonizing loss. Family and friends told me over and again “just because this happened once, doesn’t mean it will happen again”. They were trying to console what they imagined was worry about my future. It wasn’t worry; I wasn’t even in a place to consider my future. It was mourning. I was mourning the loss of that baby – that individual whom I already loved.

Months passed by and little by little I fell into my normal routines. Slowly I was able to find moments of joy and reflect with bittersweetness on the memories. There were still days when I couldn’t make it out of bed, but in between I was getting better. It was as though I was reassembling myself from old and new parts. The last feeling to fall into place was anticipation – something I thought I had lost for good.

And now, here we are. Almost exactly one year later we conceived this baby. Doctor appointments have us terrified, and the weeks between them are nearly intolerable. We guarded our hearts, yearning for that golden “12 week mark” and when we hit it, I was still fearful and newly desperate to make it to 20 weeks when we would see an ultrasound. People have asked why we waited so long to announce and why we adamantly held off on celebrating. This is why. When we made plans to announce our pregnancy, I already knew I couldn’t share news of this new life and find perfect joy in it without also sharing our history.

I know this perspective may be foreign to some (even those who have experienced similar circumstances), and I honestly believe there is no right or wrong way to feel about anything – especially something so complex as parenthood. I am simply writing my experience because I need it out in the world. We’ve shared with you our love and anticipation, but my heart yearned to honor our first baby as well.


Above photos taken by KL Creative at 20 weeks pregnant.
Read More: I am Thankful – Pain for Pain, Joy for Joy
See More from our Announcement Session: Baby On Board