nourishing & unapologetic
One year ago today I had the first suspicion I was pregnant.
We spent the night before celebrating the wedding of one of our favorite couples on the planet in the most idyllic setting in the Ozarks. Although it was a late night of fun, I wasn’t hungover (card-carrying drink-waster right here. Coke, Diet Pepsi and Dr. Pepper are my party beverages of choice), but this nausea was REAL.
While Nick slept I snuck out to snag a Sprite (from the vending machine right near our room) to go with the famed ginger snaps Big Cedar leaves in each room. (And if you didn't know, ginger is a natural remedy for queasiness.) Serendipity, I tell ya.
I rallied enough to pretend nothing was unusual and chalked it up to a lack of sleep. I hadn't fathomed we were expecting so it was only a quiet suspicion being tamped out by the loudness of doubt.
This selfie is from the night before. It’s one of the last pictures I have of my former self (albeit with professional hair and makeup 💄 ✨).
It would take me five more days after this picture to get the courage to take the home pregnancy test I'd so tentatively purchased while fervently praying I didn't see anyone I knew during my self-checkout process. But once I did take the test, it would take me all of about 15 seconds to realize our lives would never be the same.
Two pink lines: Ubiquitous. The symbol of song lyrics-- the cliche that's so cloying, it's true. Two pink lines was all it took to change my heart and soul.
From that point forward, the dreams and plans about what you'll do with this pregnancy, growing bump, and soon-to-be babe are almost immediate. The gravity of the responsibility and gift are intuitively recognized. The innate need to be better is instantaneous.
And, then when our ultrasound was silent, the despair was deafening.
For some reason, I never posted this picture, other than the original Snap it's from, but have held onto it through all my necessary and all too often iPhone photo purges. I think my subconscious kept this photo because I knew what it represented.
This is the last picture of me, the woman who didn't know about miscarriage.
That Jess... I wouldn't go back to her for a second.
I was the woman who still knew about infertility but now also knew a new kind of disappointment.
I was the woman who didn't know about loss.
I was the woman who didn't know know that miscarriages happen a lot.
I was the woman who didn't recognize that patience is a learned practice.
I was the woman who didn't yet know that this level of empathy and frustration can co-exist.
I was the woman who didn't share all her heart, but now knows the only way out is through.
I was the woman who didn't know miracles really do happen.
Leading up to this week, I've been silently on tilt. My emotions have been a bit out of whack. I've been fixated on strange and insignificant things. I've been pretending to not think about the dates looming ahead of us. I've been pretending not to go back into the September/October 2017 section of photos on my phone. I've been pretending that I still adore September as much as I always have. I've been pretending I'm fine. But somehow in all that pretending, I actually faith-ed it til I made it because this week I'm oddly feeling pretty at peace.
I'm working on a post about what miscarriage teaches you which will be coming soon. But in the meantime, to the woman who recognizes herself in my reflections and experience, may you know:
Mommas-in-waiting, loss mommas, and all those in between, I see you. To those who love us through this, I see you too and thank you.
I wasn’t going to write anything.
I wasn’t going to feel anything.
I wasn’t going to be different.
It wasn’t going to be different.
Except it was.
This year is different.
It was going to be my first official Mother’s Day. And, I guess it is. But, my heart knows it’s not what we planned. It’s not the same.
If you hear or read a twinge of sadness, you’re right. It’s there. But I’m doing my damndest to channel that hope in my soul.
In the light of the impending holiday, I have a few suggestions to my fellow mommas-in-waiting, those who still have empty arms and a chunk of their hearts still missing, those who’ve suffered a loss during pregnancy or after, and those who have had failed adoptions. This could also apply to those who've lost their mother or estranged, I suppose too.
1. Find your kind.
Literally, find your kind. Find the ladies who have walked this path, and those still in the midst of it. These are the folks who can really relate to the experience, the emotions, the emptiness, and the impatience. Connect with them via social, text, a call, or in person. Talk it out or be quiet together. Lend your support and send a little love on this day. It's hard for everyone but hard is better together, usually. I think.
Also, find your kind. Be kind to yourself. Remind yourself that the lack or the loss isn't your fault. It isn't in vain. And, it isn't over. Practice some self-care.
2. Expect the awkwardness.
People, including your closest family and friends, don't know what to say. And, what can they say? Sometimes what's said hurts more than helps. But, let's try to understand, even if someone says all the wrong things, they're trying to fill the space. They think they need to say something to show their sympathy or empathy usually because they really, really care and want what is best for us. And let's be brutally honest and self-aware, generally we don't know what to say back which is awkward for them too. Plus, if they weren't saying anything, then how would we feel? So, let's give our crew and the well-meaning strangers, the benefit of the doubt. Grace is a gift we can give them and it helps us too. Accept that the awkwardness will happen and embrace it. Say thank you for their sentiment or dive in and have a conversation if you feel so moved.
3. Eat your favorite food or something totally indulgent.
All the health experts and nutritionists probably would tell you emotional eating is bad. And, probably a poor coping mechanism. But, I'm here to tell you that there is something special about your favorite food -- be it a fudgy brownie, a tart lemon bar, a double-dip cone, or heap of chips and guac. Whatever your go-to is, make it or order it. And don't second guess it. Calories don't apply here.
4. Get some sunshine and some moves in.
For me, getting some steps in outside not only gives me a dose of Vitamin D and some fresh air, but gives me a chance to dream and think big thoughts. I always feel refreshed after a walk or a yoga sesh.
5. Love on the mommas in your life.
This can be a hard one in particular on this day. But do it anyway if you can. Tell them they’re doing a good job. Tell them what you admire about their approach to #momlife. Tell them why they’re special to you. Our relationships with other women are so important. You know the gals I’m talking about: Your momma gave you life. Relish if you’ve still got a grandma or two around. And don’t forget to love those sisters and sister-in-laws who gifted you the most precious nieces and nephews on the planet. Love on your momma friends; they are a good group to learn from — plus you were probably friends with many of them BEFORE they had kids in tow. These are our examples. These are our role models. These are our future babysitters, play dates, and room mom crews.
6. Know you are still a rockin’, strong, rad, beautiful soul that gives the world her best.
Through the monthly disappointment and spontaneous tears, you are still you. And that is enough. Totally enough.
Note, these are just suggestions. By all means, if you just can't do any of these, and you just need space and quiet, take it.
And, tomorrow, if you happen to go to church, and you get to the inevitable portion of the sermon when the pastor or priest asks all the mothers to stand up and be recognized, do what feels right. If you want to stand because you have a babe in Heaven, stand tall. If you want to sit because it doesn’t feel right to stand, stay planted, but don’t shrink. And if the well-meaning little in your family asks for another flower for you too (because her mom and grandma have one), accept it with grace. You’ve earned that flower.
Mommin’ is hard. No matter what stage you’re in or if you haven’t even got to really start it yet. All mommas matter.
For now, I’m going to be a momma-in-waiting. But I know it’s going to be worth the wait.
Until next time,
Baby-making and infertility have their own alphabet.
Raise your hand if you agree?!
All of these abbreviations become your every day vocabulary during this process. Whether you just started trying or it’s been a long road, these combinations of letters are familiar. And, for once I wish I didn’t have a mastery of words, that I didn’t know these definitions.
Or, that I was clueless and still thought you just got married, decided to have kids, did the deed, and then 9 months later brought home a newborn.
This process, this hurdle, this hiccup, this mountain we've been assigned -- what a doozy.
Nicholas and I are 1 in 8. ONE in EIGHT couples who have struggled with conceiving a babe, carrying to term, and becoming parents.
I’ve never been one for math, (and if you are, that’s a 12.5% chance) but that means more than likely you know someone else struggling with unfulfilled dreams of being mommas and daddies. We're also 1 in 4 to have endured a miscarriage.
This week, during National Infertility Awareness Week, we’re helping #FlipTheScript. We’re turning those acronyms into meaning. We’re telling our story.
We've been not preventing, trying, not trying, and trying for the bulk of three years.
We’ve had one BFP on an HPT — that's a big fat positive on an at home pregnancy test.
But we’ve also had a D&C because of a missed miscarriage.
We would have been 8 months along this very week.
We haven't done IUI or IVF and are uncertain if we will.
We made a miracle that was too good for Earth and we pray we’re lucky enough for a second chance.
Long ago now, we learned our ABCs. And as much as we didn’t ask for it, we’ve got this alphabet down too.
For now, these letters are the only ones I’m going to focus on, and encourage you to, too:
Y-O-U and M-E
That's right we've got a fan club and prayer squad like no other.
We've got genuine, soul-smiling hope.
And until it’s our turn, we will talk about trying.
We will still celebrate baby joy for others.
We will still love life. Every ounce of it. The good and the bummers.
Because we were made for this.
We can do hard things.
And so can you.
Until next time,
This Thanksgiving was supposed to be different. In fact, it was supposed to be one for the books.
A holiday we would claim as a favorite for years to come.
It was ordinary. It was good. We had our families in a joint Thanksgiving. (Yes, joint, because our families are that awesome. We can have both immediate sides together to feast and no one bats an eye. #theluckiest)
What it wasn't... it was no longer the signal of our second trimester beginning.
Ooooopppphhhfffff. Yep, there it is.
Our beautiful baby announcement wrapped up into a single sad sentence instead of glowing photos and letterboards.
Thanksgiving would have made us 14 weeks pregnant. We were supposed to get to tell the world of our joy and that a sweet Baby B would soon be here. We were supposed to get to wear funny tees like this.
We were supposed to get to post on Facebook and Instagram photos showing how clueless Shaggy and Garth (and us) were of what was to come and thank each of you for sharing in our excitement.
Instead you're getting this blog post to announce we had a miscarriage.
Our babe grew for at least seven to eight weeks. He or she was loved for every single second of those days and is still being loved every single second.
And our babe was a miracle.
You see, you all have no context. Because I haven't shared a very private part of our story. This babe was 2.5 years in the making. 2.5 years down our road of growing our family. But, unexplained infertility has been an uninvited, unwelcome, and wretched guest on this journey. You see, all those times when well-meaning family and friends have asked us about having kids, letting us know it was time to begin to start our family, or that we should get to work filling up all the rooms in our new house, what you didn't know was that we were trying. And, trying. And, trying/not-trying with no luck. So, when I kindly smiled, or laughed it off saying we have pups, or joked it away saying we're too busy just managing each other... I was deflecting. I was saying it is none of your business. I was saying, please, just don't assume that we're not having kids because we're selfish, or ill-prepared, or something else negative. I was saying if only you knew how much we want that too.
When you've been a planner your entire life, you don't plan for things like this. You don't ever think you'll be one of the women who has trouble (except it is TOTALLY more common than you imagine!). You never dream that the four kids you knew you'd have may not actually ever become a reality. You never even consider that things won't fall closely to the imaginary timeline you've set forth. EXCEPT THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS.
I've been relatively healthy. I've never had any of these types of women's health issues. Nick was in the 99-th percentile on his health exam for life insurance. I mean c'mon on. How can it be that we can't produce a healthy babe? HOOOOOOWWWWWW is this freaking possible?
Well, frankly, I don't know. And pretty much, neither does KU. Yes, we've been to see a specialist. Yes, we've had tests and conversations and more tests and conversations. What we know is we were told we would probably never have children without intervention of some sort.
Well, we must have had intervention from the universe and Heaven, because Baby B made his or her unexpected presence known in mid-September on the heels of celebrating the union of one of our favorite couples. The thought of being pregnant never dawned on me until a wave of nausea knocked me to my knees, and it did. Four positive tests later, and blood work the following week, confirmed it. A miracle upon miracles had occurred.
And we were OVER THE MOON.
Literally, shocked and surprised in the very best of ways.
All my tests and blood work showed we were in good shape. Progressing just right. But we didn't tell a single soul because I wanted sight and sound confirmation.
We went for our nine-week ultrasound with eager anticipation. We'd planned a surprise get together so we could tell our closest family about the secret we'd been keeping. We began brainstorming how to pivot on the room that would become the nursery. And then at the appointment we saw in grainy black and white, our miracle. What a relief! BUT... then the doctor questioned how far along we thought we were and then said he couldn't find a heartbeat. And the air left my lungs and the room. And Nick just squeezed my hand a little tighter.
And there it was. And wasn't. All in the same moment.
The long and short of it, we were told we needed more blood work to confirm that a miscarriage was pending. But that blood work came back not indicative of what was expected. So, we had to wait two more excruciating weeks to see if maybe we were behind on the dating or if in fact my body just hadn't gotten the memo that our babe had stopped growing. At eleven weeks, we got the news we already knew, our miracle wasn't growing and there still wasn't a heartbeat. It was a missed miscarriage. And, with that we scheduled a D&C because my body wasn't going to miscarry on its own.
The picture I led this post with was from the morning of our surgery. Unfiltered, raw, and emotionally charged. But we consciously, unconsciously smiled. We smiled because it's who we are. We smiled because we had each other. We smiled because we had created a life. We smiled because we were part of a miracle. We smiled because sadness can't sneak in when you're filled with love and positivity. I, also, smiled because I've had Nick by my side through all of this without pause and with great resolve.
And now we're three weeks post procedure. And, for all intents and purposes, we're in a good place. We have had time to process. And we've had a lot of distractions (thank you home building!). And, we've got our sights fixed on the bright spot in all of this: WE GOT PREGNANT ON OUR OWN.
We've tried to keep this whole trying time really positive. Don't get me wrong, it sucks. It is enormously sucky, and sad, and heartbreaking. And unfair. For us. And for our families. We've taken solace in knowing we got pregnant once so hopefully we'll be blessed enough for it to happen again. We painted what will one day be the nursery "Dusty Olive." It's fitting that the color we previously picked and purchased pre-pregnancy, apparently, symbolizes hope, understanding, a meeting of will and heart, and a new life. The universe always provides what we need and I am never one to overlook symbolism and providence.
I've also taken comfort in knowing that infertility and miscarriages are more prevalent than many know. Our society makes this part of parenthood hard, kind of taboo, and quiet. Sharing isn't something that we readily do because this part of life is messy and private. Infertility and miscarriage aren't easy to experience, talk about, or reconcile. They are gut-wrenching. They are tear-filled. They are terrible.
Throughout our healing process, I've learned about many more women and couples who have struggled with infertility and/or loss than I ever knew. Which is why after much tumult and heartburn, I decided to blog about this part of our lives. Words are my therapy and this is my space. Often times blogs and social media posts are our highlight reels. It's where we go to share our good stuff. But we don't put the hard stuff, the real stuff, and the ugly sad stuff out there because we don't want to be judged or to be thought of as seeking attention. If we talk more, and share more of the real, we might also realize no one has the perfect life. No one has it all together. At the end of the day, we are all human beings, sharing the same planet, trying to navigate life the best we can and reach the end of each day relatively unscathed.
With specific regard to infertility, few talk about the ugliness of ovulation predictor kits, diet changes, charting, medicines, and the process of baby-making. Few talk about how freaking hard it is to see baby announcements, newborns, and adorable toddler or family pics flood our newsfeeds and pinspiration boards. Few talk about how you have to quell jealousy like a boss when even your closest friends share they are expecting or talk about their #momlife/#dadlife. Fewer talk about how you have to resist the urge to scream "quit complaining about your kids' behavior, your stretch marks, or your exhaustion because I'd trade you in a heartbeat."
BUT, they are very much reality.
One of the best comments I received during this whole rollercoaster ride came from a longtime family friend, who experienced both a struggle to get pregnant and miscarriage, she said in effect, 'this is going to be hard but remember throughout all of it, no one is going to know exactly how you feel or even understand. They will try. Just know the feelings you feel are yours, and whatever they are, they are right.' Talk about a load off of my shoulders. That is the truest of trues. The emotions are like a Six Flags mega coaster, one you didn't willing get on even though you may have stood in line for it.
If we, those of us in this camp, share more we may realize we're not alone in irrational shame and guilt, palpable frustration, and utter sadness we feel. We might start to take comfort in that we actually did everything right including our vitamins, our nutrition, our scaling back on activities, our quest for more rest. We may realize the range of emotions from high to low is absolutely acceptable. And, maybe we'll realize this was so out of our actual control that we understand we couldn't have predicted this outcome and surely couldn't have done anything to prevent it. And, finally, hopefully, we'll reconcile that after a loss, it's okay to get back to routine, to laugh, and to try find "normal" again, sooner rather than later.
Sometimes you run life like a baller. Sometimes life owns you. And, the latter has been my case in this brief season. I've earnestly worked to squelch and squash the ugh-ness of everything, on most days better than the other few. I've tried to find routine in my 8-5er. I've stepped away from one of my side hustles only to be more immersed in the other. For a few weeks, I've quietly, quasi-intentionally taken a social media posting break for the most part as I recognized I didn't have the energy or desire to cultivate my content or wholly participate in communications. I also still fulfilled a commitment to a committee I was serving on that reminded me of who I've been (and who I am still), what has helped shaped me, where I want to be, and what kind of world I am dedicated to helping create for our future babes. Our actions, as well as our reactions, matter. And, it's these moments that make us.
My wish for myself, and those who've experienced this, and those who are yet to: know this does NOT define you. You have so many things that can't be taken away -- strength, intelligence, ambition, friendships, true love, quirks, funny talents, and potential. You have mercy and honor. You were a whole person before, and though it might feel like something was ripped away without permission, you are still whole. Now, you might not be exactly the same, but you are still Y-O-U. You have grit and a fire in your belly. And, above all, you can still have hope. You are enough now, as you were before, and your life is still being blissfully and wonderfully written. So, find your therapy -- cooking, running, crafting, shopping, organizing, reading, praying, or serving. Or mesh them all together. Find what brings you back to you.
Even though I know very little about any of this, save for my own experience, and what I've learned from the experiences of others, I know enough to ask you all -- those in our same boat, the parents of the world, the ones who had it easier than some of us, and the ones who have opted not to take part in this part of life (yet or forever)--, let's all give each other some grace.
Y'all, let's not put our perceptions, assumptions, and expectations on others. Let's let everyone take their own path. Let's agree there is no one right way people should move through marriage, parenthood, infertility, or loss. Let's not shove alternatives, whether it be adoption or otherwise, in their faces. Let's let each other honor his or her own pace. Let's accept that "starting a family" doesn't have to mean adding children; it's selecting who you surround yourself with. (which BTW, I already have a family, one I adore in its current status and the one I'll have in the future.)
Let's love a little more, pray a little more, laugh a little more, share a little more and just let each other be.
In hope, with positivity, and with unstoppable determination, until next time,
ps for those of you who we consider our nearest and dearest, who are reading this and finding this out along with the world, we didn't tell many folks. We didn't intentionally not tell you, or mean to leave you out. We didn't keep it from you on purpose. We hope you'll understand that this isn't something you just want to drop on anyone in casual conversation or at a holiday or birthday event, especially to those we don't see as often as we'd like. So, please give us a pass on not notifying you in person or via phone. It doesn't mean we don't value you or consider you trustworthy of an event of this magnitude. It just means we've been in a fog. We've bumbled a lot of stuff in the last few weeks.
pps thank you to those of you who have lent support, kindness, and space during this time. We so appreciate your presence in our lives. And, a special thank you to our families for your love and quiet patience and undeniable positivity.
Well, it's been way too long since I've checked in on the ol' blog. Shamefully, Born Daily has become a casualty of our move back to the homeland. There's no excuse other than not making it a priority. Forgive me?
We'll be back to regularly scheduled programming as soon as I have a kitchen, pots and pans, and my sanity back. We sold a bunch of stuff before we moved so there's some shopping to do. Whhhhhhy? Remind me again why I thought that was a good idea? (Target and Williams and Sonoma, you better come through for me. ha)
For the last three years, I've written an anniversary post. Accordingly, for the love of our four years, I'm dusting off the keyboard.
Yep, We're four years deep into #MrandMrsBorn.
It's truly hard for me to remember what life was like before our "us." But, I'm confident it wasn't better. I wasn't better. But, the universe really came through with this one and, I am forever grateful.
In the name of tradition, allow me to wax poetic. My top two takeaways from this latest year of love are as follows:
1. Marriage takes guts.
Like actual courage, because empathy, advice, honesty, goals, playfulness, finances, and commitment aren't light work. They're not "hard" per say, but this isn't a time to phone it in. Marriage should make you a better person, right ? That can't happen if you don't have the guts to love yourself first and love someone else equally, but differently too. You've got to be comfortable enough to not only wear your scroungy clothes and bedhead, but also to bear your soul to another person. You're totally open, emotionally invested, and utterly connected. You're basically naked. (Well, not actually. Okay, probably, actually sometimes ;).) This level of exposure creates the bond upon which all good and strength is built. As basic as this seems, marriage is about sharing the good stuff, the hard stuff, and the surprising stuff together. BUT, the good news when you're all-in as a team, all that stuff -- even the gut check stuff -- is just another adventure, albeit wild, joyful, hysterical, challenging, or scary, or all of the aforementioned.
2. Patience isn't overrated. Neither is food.
We're building a house together. Literally Nick's sweat equity is building the structure that is becoming our home and I am doing my darnedest as a gopher and helper. Patience is figuratively one of biggest line items on our budget.
We had sooooo many people tell us that if we can survive building a house together, we can survive anything. People made it sound like it would be the hardest thing we'd do together. Guys, I'm here to tell you, it's truly not been that bad. We went in with the expectation that we each had something to bring to the project. We're both the experts on certain subjects or decisions. You're not going to ask me to tell you what wall needs framed or how to do it; and, you're not going to ask Nick what color we're painting which room. We spent months planning for the project and I really think that preparation has allowed us to be more patient with the project, with the process, with the hiccups, and with each other.
Full disclosure, there have been plenty of times where our annoyance thresholds were burgeoning, and, there have a been three or four times, Nick and I have had a full-fledged, fury-filled fight. BUT we've always come back with cooler heads, and often fuller bellies, and rehashed what unhinged us and then moved forward.
How could we do that? // Why could we do that? Because of grace and patience. Not only patience with each other, but patience with oneself and giving each other the grace and space to deal with what triggered us. Patience is a form of love I'm still actively working on.
Also, if you know me I tend to be hangry if I've not had a meal or snack. And Nick, though he'll deny it, can he hangry himself. Naturally, we can assume that hanger has contributed to our annoyances and arguments. Never underestimate the power of food. Your body needs fuel and nourishment. Snickers has it right, "you're not you when you're hungry." But even more than the physical response to food, sharing a meal together (whether it be from a take out container or from a dinner plate) is a genuine way to connect. It is truly my love language. I highly suggest cooking together, eating together, and dining together. Anything can be solved or remembered or rekindled over a meal. The lesson in this: Snack hard. Love hard.
So, what's to come for us in this year? The conclusion of #BornsBuildAHouse: A HOME. And, a mortgage again. (warm fuzzies, right?) Really though, OUR HOME. We're stoked to continue to build, paint, furnish, and decorate #casadeBorn. And it's pretty convenient that Hallmark tells us that the modern fourth anniversary gift is appliances. We've got that covered -- winning!
There's no one I'd rather do life with. Can't wait to keep loving you four-ever!
Happy Fourth Anniversary, Lovebird!
And, in true anniversary tradition, check out our highlight reel with the annual Flipagram:
To the newlyweds, the long-timers, those "just" dating, and those anticipating what's to come: Let love guide you. Let laughter renew you. Let the shenanigans keep you young. Cheers from #MrandMrsBorn!
Until next time. xo-
ps at what point do I have to stop saying these are newlywed reflections?