DAY 56: The crazy lady

Yesterday we had a scan and saw the heartbeat for the first time. I’m 8 weeks today.

This is my third pregnancy this year, and the other two didn’t stick. 8 weeks was when the heart stopped beating for the baby we lost in May.

I’m perched somewhere between anxiety and excitement, and I’m constantly holding myself back from any feelings of joy possible… just in case.

But honestly what difference would it make? Do I really think that by stopping myself from being happy now will somehow make a miscarriage easier? That I wouldn’t fall as hard. That it wouldn’t hurt.

A miscarriage now would be devastating. Attempting to protect myself by ‘thinking the worst’ isn’t going to make it any easier, it’s just making each day right now a living hell.

baby clothes
Image by Memphis CVB at https://www.flickr.com/photos/ilovememphis/5595415449

So my goal this week (linking in with my values of mindfulness) is to be happy about the pregnancy. To dream unabashedly about the future. To make plans for the baby, even if it’s just in my own mind.

When I was a teenager, I watched a documentary about infertility and I remember one woman had been trying to fall pregnant for over 10 years with no success, but she’d bought so many baby clothes she’d literally filled the wardrobe in her spare bedroom. I remember thinking, what an absolute crazy lady! Who does that?

Yesterday, to celebrate getting to 8 weeks and seeing that little flicker of a backbone, I bought a winter onesie size 0000 for my little baby to put in the cupboard of the spare bedroom.

I had become that crazy lady.

But now I get it. I’m horrified that I judged that lady from the documentary so harshly. Who cares if there’s wardrobes of baby clothes all over the world that never get worn? We need hope. We need joy.

Having the clothes or not having the clothes will not make any difference to the grief if something goes wrong. But it will make me smile today, and that’s something.

xx Eloise

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48:Two steps forward, two steps back

I’m making a rug for my spare room / creative space. At least I had big plans to make a rug.

When I started this commitment to get my balance back I had a lot of enthusiasm and dedication. I’m just over halfway through and I’m starting to have doubts.

rug
Image by Quinn Dombrowski at https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/2222558947

At the beginning it’s easy to see progress. I guess I was in such a dark place that anything was an improvement. Plus, I was doing something about it! And that felt good.

6 weeks in and I’m losing momentum. I’m not meditating as much, I’m not doing anywhere near as much exercise as I should be, and I’m even feeling like crying at various points throughout the day.

As for the rug, it’s been bothering me. It’s a great idea and will look good when it’s done. It’ll just take a lot of time. I also decided today to unravel everything I’d done so far and start again with smaller pieces of fabric. It was a good decision but it means it’s going to take even longer to finish it.

So here I am, stuck with an unraveled rug and feelings of underachievement. That’s difficult.

xx Eloise

DAY 45: Inside Out the movie

My psychologist suggested I should watch the movie ‘Inside Out’ because she said it’s pretty much written about me and my life. Interesting…

Anyway, it’s finally release on DVD so I sat down today with the family and watched it.

I loved the different feelings in her mind and the way they interact with her baby self, her child self and her older self. It’s a brilliant concept. I love how I can use this movie to talk to my son about his feelings (and maybe to my husband too).

Image by Ron Bailey at https://www.flickr.com/photos/rjbailey/18636588055
Image by Ron Bailey at https://www.flickr.com/photos/rjbailey/18636588055

But maybe I need to watch the movie again before I fully understand what the psychologist meant.

I know it has something to do with growing up. We often talk about how, prior to this year, I was still living a ‘child’s life’. Things had gone very smoothly in all aspects of my life, and even when things did go badly (homesickness, or when my dog died) I didn’t have the weight of responsibility that comes with being a grown up and also a parent.

This year, things haven’t gone well. But what we often talk about in our sessions is how I have finally experienced true life. The one with ups and downs and stress and sadness. Just like Riley in ‘Inside Out’ where she needed things to go badly before she would be able to start living a real, whole and grounded life.

And that’s what I’m seeing over and over. This year has given me the opportunity to see life from a different perspective.

In fact, it just might be a much better one.

xx Eloise

DAY 43: The far more interesting story

We decided to start trying for a baby at the beginning of 2015, so I also decided I’d keep a journal and write in it every day. My plan was to hand it over to my daughter one day to show her what pregnancy and birth was like and how she first entered the world.

When I fell pregnant in March with an early December due date, the dream had become a reality. I could document every step of the way, ending with the fantastic December birth day finale. How neat is that?

But life doesn’t always go to plan. At a routine 9 week scan we were told the baby no longer had a heartbeat and that I was going to miscarry.

On Mothers Day in May I mourned the loss of my baby and bared all to the pages of my journal.

journal cover
Image by Mary-Frances Main at https://www.flickr.com/photos/rexandsharkey/2859714730

In September I found out I was pregnant again. This one was going to be the one! I wrote all about it in my journal, the hopes and the dreams. There’d been a setback but this time we were ready.

Then at just 5 weeks pregnant, on Fathers Day, I started to bleed. And we lost that baby too.

I fell into a depression. Some days I found it hard to move. Every day I wrote about it in my journal. I wrote about the pain and the negative thoughts and the inability to see any joy in the world.

The very next month, I discovered I was pregnant again. And here I am. Pregnant and terrified, but stronger and more resilient. Whatever the outcome I know I will manage through it.

It’s almost the end of the year, and I’m getting close to the end of my journal. The original dream to have my full pregnancy and birth documented is no longer an option, and the chance of miscarriage again is high.

But, what I realised this week is that the story in my journal, the story of hurt and grief and disappointment, is far more interesting that the ‘perfect pregnancy’. This is the story people will actually read. The story that truly reflects the ups and downs of every day life and death.

xx Eloise

DAY 40: Physical impacting emotional

I’m giving myself permission to feel what I’m feeling. I’m not trying to avoid it. I’m not feeling guilty about it. I’m just feeling it.

It’s not sadness, but it’s not joy. It’s not numbness, but it’s still. Very still.

And I’m crying a lot. Usually at anything related to children. Photos of children, children at the beach, movies of my son. They make me cry because they’re simply so beautiful.

Image by Pink Sherbet Photography at https://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/233228813
Image by Pink Sherbet Photography at https://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/233228813

This pregnancy is making me feel sore overnight, nauseous in the morning and tired in the afternoons. These physical things are impacting my emotional health.

I noticed the nausea makes me feel anxious, or increases my anxiety. In my attempts to be more mindful, I’m observing the physical impacts of my emotions and I’ve been noticing that anxiety sits as a painful knot in my stomach and makes me curl my toes. The knot in my stomach is very similar to pregnancy nausea, which is why I feel more anxious even though I’m probably not.

My emotions (anxiety) impacts my physical (knot in stomach / curl of toes) and my physical (pregnancy nausea) impacts my emotions (makes me feel more anxious).

xx Eloise

DAY 38: What a sandwich and my toddler taught me about mindfulness

Today I watched my toddler eat a sandwich. I’d read this article about how when your children grow up you really miss that (crazy and exhausting) toddler phase, and it made me stop and watch my little boy.

He picked up a small triangle of sandwich carefully between his fingers and studied it. He turned it over and switched hands. Then he took his forefinger and pushed it gently into the jam and butter, then held his finger up and studied it. He licked the jam off his finger, swirled it around in his mouth and swallowed. He gave a little nod, then took a bite, chewed it, then swallowed again. Then he just stopped and stared at the sandwich.

Image by Zoha Nve at https://www.flickr.com/photos/benetton/3697763962
Image by Zoha Nve at https://www.flickr.com/photos/benetton/3697763962

Nothing could take his attention away.

My son is an expert at mindfulness. And he’s only 2.

Here I am, significantly older, and trying my hardest to be more mindful. Trying my hardest to stay in the moment and enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

Why does growing up force us to be less mindful? As each year passes, my little boy’s mind will be filled with more and more thoughts of the past, worries about the future and concerns about the present. Sadly, he’ll lose that intense pleasure of a simple jam sandwich.

But right now, life is his to be enjoyed. And as part of getting my balance back I’ll try to experience it with him as much as I can.

Right now, he’s spinning around on the spot happily singing the words to ‘Mary had a little lamb’ and I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.

xx Eloise

DAY 37: Resilience and reflection

I’m just over a third of my way through the time I’ve set aside to get my balance back. Time for a review.

Right now. Right this very minute I feel good. Really good. And it’s not because things are finally going well for me (they’re not) and I have so much more to smile about (not really), it seems to be that despite bad things happening this week I feel more stable and grounded than I have in months.

Months.

Image by Alexander Mueller at https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexander_mueller_photolover/18051322873
Image by Alexander Mueller at https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexander_mueller_photolover/18051322873

My depressive cycle is over. Of course depression may – and probably will – come back at some stage in my life but at the moment it has been lifted and I can see clearly. Those negative thoughts running through my head constantly have gone. My dreaming of the past and wishing I could get my old self back has stopped. Even the feelings of guilt for putting myself first has dissipated. This is excellent.

This week I’ve had a sick child in hospital, a fetus threatening to up and leave and very little sleep. I’ve had morning sickness, jabbing pain from an ovarian cyst and an insatiable hunger. I’ve had medical appointment after medical appointment and very little spare time.

But you know what? I’ve survived. And that’s called resilience.

xx Eloise

DAY 36: Positive thinking to avoid pain

Daring greatly talks about the common ways people avoid feelings of being vulnerable. There’s things like drinking, drug-taking and other addictions and foreboding joy, which is where you always think the worst is going to happen.

So I decided to observe what I do.

Something pretty scary happened to me this week. I’m just a few weeks into my fourth pregnancy and I started to bleed. You’d probably say I’m, well, experienced in miscarriages so I called it. I told myself that I’d lost the baby.

Image by Leland Francisco at https://www.flickr.com/photos/lel4nd/5455224577
Image by Leland Francisco at https://www.flickr.com/photos/lel4nd/5455224577

It was devastating, and for a moment I felt quite vulnerable. But vulnerable is uncomfortable and I quickly numbed the pain. But I didn’t numb it with drinking or gambling or anything else that Brené Brown gives as examples, I numbed it by turning the negative into positive.

Having a baby now is a bad idea anyway, I’m way too busy

If I lose this baby, then maybe I’ll have a summer baby next, which is much better

My pelvic floor needs more recovery, so this is a good thing

I’ve always been known as a positive person. Always the optimist. I can always see the good in a bad situation.

But by doing this, am I actually numbing the pain and avoiding this necessary state of vulnerability?

As for the miscarriage, I’m still not sure either way whether I’ve lost the baby. I have a scan on Tuesday that will answer my question. But in the meantime I’m trying to open myself to the possibility (and the painful vulnerability that is exposed in the process) that maybe this pregnancy is not to be.

xx Eloise

DAY 35: Complete stillness

I’ve started meditating regularly since I decided I needed to get my balance back. I went to a course at the local Tibetan Buddhist shrine and the other day I went to a meditation course at a yoga studio. They were quite different (the former focused on becoming a better person for the common good of man, and the latter was about how to use meditation to reach personal goals) but together they’ve opened my eyes to the significant benefits of stillness.

Image by Badr Naseem at https://www.flickr.com/photos/mackro/4753550850
Image by Badr Naseem at https://www.flickr.com/photos/mackro/4753550850

I particularly enjoy the longer meditations – 15 mins or more – where I can really immerse myself into the moment and let go of the thoughts and worries around me.

Today was particularly successful. I listened to a body awareness guided meditation on YouTube that went for 17 mins. I had a moment – maybe only for a minute – where my body was completely still. I feel like you could have balanced a pin on the tip of my nose and it wouldn’t have fallen.

Before the meditation my head was full of worries and immediately afterwards I felt calm and aware. It’s not about ignoring my worries, it’s about acknowledging them and accepting them. This is exactly the type of spiritual healing I had in mind when I made ‘spiritual health’ one of my areas of focus.

xx Eloise

DAY 34: Why I hate the internet

OK, so I shouldn’t bad mouth the internet too much (especially here as that would be highly hypocritical) but I just have to point out how hard it is to be pregnant and worried AND be exposed to online advertising that’s based on my user profile.

Image by meneame comunicacions, sl at https://www.flickr.com/photos/meneamecomunicacions/2443884255
Image by meneame comunicacions, sl at https://www.flickr.com/photos/meneamecomunicacions/2443884255

I had some bleeding. It’s not major enough to call it a full miscarriage but things aren’t looking good. Today I googled a couple of things to hopefully ease my concerns (of course, they didn’t) but even worse, I’m now being bombarded with advertising for fertility clinics, pregnancy tests and baby advice… the internet is just constantly reminding me how badly I want this but also how unlikely it is to happen.

The advertisers are preying on the vulnerable and it’s not fair.

Then again, Brené Brown says being vulnerable is a good thing. But for some reason I don’t think she means it in this way.

xx Eloise