Untitled (A story of life, loss, and love)

Untitled  (A story of life, loss, and love)

***(This post contains sensitive subjects that can be triggering for some.)***

This past month has been an absolute rollercoaster of a ride. I have been at the highest high I’ve ever experienced in life, to one of the lowest lows I didn’t know I could reach. All within a matter of literally 30 days. A month that flew by, but nevertheless completely altered my life in a way that can never be undone.

On December 27, I found out I was pregnant. It was early morning and I took the test while C was in the shower (in case it was negative, as I was sure it was going to be, he wouldn’t even know I had taken one). I burst out laughing when I saw the plus sign then stared in the mirror whispering “oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck.” I was elated to be carrying a baby again, but scheduled to start school (for the first time in 7 years) in less than 2 weeks time! I told C as he was brushing his teeth and the look on his face is one I will never forget. We were both over the moon happy and absolutely terrified. According to my cycle tracking app, I was still pretty early along- about 6 weeks-so we kept our joyous secret quiet for awhile. I walked around for about two straight days with a permanent dorky grin on my face. It was just unbelievable, in the best way possible.

On January 8, I rode the MAX to downtown, hiked uphill for half a mile and walked into my first college classroom in nearly a decade. Well…actually I had a panic attack at the doorway and bolted, so I technically skipped my first class. But still. I did the biggest, scariest thing I had been dreaming about for years. All while harboring a tiny secret in my womb, wondering how the HELL I was going to manage pregnancy, mothering a 6 year old, working, AND my studies. I had my doubts, but this was pretty much everything I had ever wanted, so I knew I could do it. I wanted to do it.

A week later on January 14, C decided we should take an impromptu drive to the coast to enjoy an abnormally mild and sunny day. I jumped at the chance to go to my favorite place on earth and away we went. As we walked along the shoreline, he dropped to a knee, pulled out a blingy-ass ring and PROPOSED TO ME. I was taken completely by surprise–so much so that I yelled “SHUT UP!!!” before realizing it was not a joke and answering with a tearful “yes”!! In a matter of 2 weeks, every dream I had been quietly (or not so quietly) harboring in my heart came true. I was floating on Cloud 9. I smiled all the time, I spent my hours daydreaming of baby names and wedding gowns. I happily gave up my wine and cut back on my coffee. I chewed disgusting prenatal vitamins and obsessively checked and rechecked the list of “no-no foods”. We were nervous about how we were going to manage everything, but we were SO ready for the challenge! We decided on a wedding after the baby came and starting throwing out potential names. Little Bee was getting excited to be a big brother and teach him (we were all certain the baby was a boy) football. The fairytale that I didn’t used to believe in was all of a sudden a reality. I was planning the perfect wedding with the man of my dreams, and carrying our baby.

And then, a month after seeing that plus sign, my world came crashing down. We went in for a routine ultrasound on January 31. After waiting an agonizing HOUR to get our results, an OB walked in and said the words that I will never, ever forget:

“Unfortunately it looks like it is a miscarriage. We couldn’t find a heartbeat.” 

I heard C sigh long and low behind me. I got cold, then hot and dizzy. I dropped the f-bomb and then the floor fell out from underneath me. I sat on the paper covered exam table, listening to the roar of my heartbeat and choking on disbelief and tears. To make the heartache even worse, he told us there was a second sac. Twins. I had been carrying, and lost, twins. We listened numbly to the OB go on about the causes of miscarriages, the next steps to take, the resources offered to us. He left after giving us condolences and I fell apart. I have known heartache, but I have never quite felt a hurt like that. I had never even seen the baby, but I was so in love with it. I had a name secretly picked out. It was my dream baby and now, he…THEY…were gone. Just like that. In a cruel, horrible twist of fate.

The following days were a fog of grief. My mom came, I called out of work day after day. I missed a lot of classes. Nothing happened on it’s own, so I scheduled a D&C a week after the ultrasound. C went with me, my mom stayed home to pickup Little Bee and shower attention on that sweet, nervous boy. The procedure went without any complications, but I wasn’t all the way awake from sedation before I started crying. I could tell my womb was empty. I felt like they had scraped out my soul along with my dead baby. I was a shell. I tried to return to work, but called out more than I showed up. I had to postpone a midterm and delete my Facebook. I spent a lot of time in bed, and a lot of time crying when nobody was around. Post surgery was harder emotionally than the week before it. The reality of all that had happened was impossible to ignore every time I saw blood in the toilet or in my underwear. The sharp, contraction-like cramps were a harsh reminder of what my body was expelling. It seemed everywhere I looked, there were babies or pregnant bellies. I had once, just recently, been part of that glowing club. Now I was part of the club nobody talks about, lurking in the dark shadows, trying to smile through the pain. Trying to show up for our family when all we want to do is disappear into a hole as deep as our pain.

Some days I feel on top of my game: I take my vitamins to help heal my body, I made it to a week of classes, and two full work shifts. My attention has swung from nurseries and baby names to guest lists and wedding venues. I found my wedding dress, set a date and nailed down my colors. But a breakdown is never far away. A picture, an announcement, a newborn strapped to his mother’s chest as they walk past me in the city…all have sent me to my knees. My hands still sometimes wander absentmindedly to my stomach, and then my heart clenches when I remember. My boobs have shrunk back to their normal size, my stomach has flattened again. I can tell my hormones are trying to catch up because I swing from very high, to very low, and am breaking out like a teenager. My eating has been horrendous and my vow of no drinking broken many times. I know healing will take time, but I’m ready for that time to be now. It feels like an eternity since January 31, but it hasn’t even been a month. We will try again, but there needs to be time first.

And yet through this horrible darkness, I have learned a lot about love. I have learned that sometimes love is literally the only thing to keep you moving…my love for my living child, my love for C. That is what gets me out of bed in the morning. The text messages from long-distance friends making sure you are okay. A perfectly timed care package showing up on your doorstep during one of the darkest days. C taking off work just to sit beside me and hold my hand when my pain is too great to speak. My mother dropping literally EVERYTHING and flying across the country in less than 24 hours after picking up my tearful phone call. The gleeful shouts and hugs around the knees from my kiddos when I finally drag myself to work. Love. We as humans can experience the deepest, strongest love during our darkest, most painful of storms. The people who show up without you asking are the people who care the most. Even if you haven’t seen them in years, or talked to them in months….THOSE are the ones you need to surround yourself with. In the good days and the bad.

I thought I loved C before this nightmare. But I have realized HOW MUCH his love can move me, how much I need him around. He is an absolute rock during the chaos, the most selfless person I have met outside of my own parents. I honestly don’t think I could have clawed my way out of that tunnel without him beside me, encouraging me to rest, taking care of dinners, letting me cry when I couldn’t hold it back. I know this too: we can survive anything. We have been thrown a very cruel test that not all couples experience. It’s only been 3 weeks since the nightmare started, but already I can tell we are going to be okay. We will rise above this hand in hand, steadfast in our love, and brave as we face the future together.  We can’t erase this pain, but we won’t let it break us either. It has shown us that yes, this IS what we want. We want a family, a life together, regardless of the what-ifs and the how-the-hells. If we can survive this, I’m confident we can survive whatever else the universe wants to throw at us. But Sweet Baby Jesus, please nothing else. Just because we can survive it, doesn’t mean we want to try, okay??

I knew the statistic. 1 in 4 women miscarry. I just never knew I’d be part of that statistic. My mother is. Two of my best friends and several co-workers are. And now, me. It’s not a fun “club.” It’s not something I’d wish on anybody. I know it does no good to ask why, or blame myself or scour the internet looking for answers. But regardless, I’ve done all that. It’s just part of the process. I know I tried everything I could to keep those babies healthy. For some unknown reason, they were not meant to stay with me. I wish I knew why, I really do. I wish I knew what “lesson” I was supposed to learn from this. But I probably never will. The phrase “everything happens for a reason” doesn’t sit well with me for this particular experience (or ever really). Things happen that are beyond our reasoning. The only thing I know for sure is that for the entire 11 weeks I carried those babies, I loved them. I will always love them. But this isn’t the end of my story.

To any parents out there who have lost babies too….I see you in your shadows. I hear your heart breaking. I see the tears you just cried in the car on our way home but hastily wiped away as you pulled into your neighborhood. You are not alone. I am here. We are here. There are so many of us.

“Love is deep as the road is long/it moves my feet to carry on/It beats my heart when you are gone/love is deep as the road is long.” ~The Lumineers

Image found on Pinterest. Poem by Vivienne Strauss.

A Conversation with Anxiety

It is currently 4:15 am and I have been up for roughly 2 straight hours thanks to my clingy-ass friend Anxiety. I had only been sleeping for about 3 hours when the wind picked up, blew in through my open window and slammed our bedroom door shut. Sure, that would wake most people up, but "normal" people would also fall right back asleep after a few minutes. Not me, not this anxiety cucumber. This is what happens when Anxiety takes over your brain:

(Thoughts in italics are Anxiety. Thoughts in regular font is my common sense trying desperately to break through. These are ACTUAL thoughts racing through my head when I should be sleeping.)

*door slams shut*
-Shit what was that!? We're being robbed!
-No dummy it was the wind. Remember you saw we were expecting high winds today. Looks like they've arrived.
-Oh right. Did it wake up G? Is he crying terrified in his room??
-Mmm….sounds quiet. He sleeps like the dead. I'm sure he's fine.
*a bang from outside*
-Another crash! Did something fall off the walls!?
-No. It was outside probably in that dude'a backyard.
-Okay. We really need to get some sleep.
-Yeah we do. Good night.
-I think I hear somebody's smoke detector going off!
-No you don't.
-Yes I do.
-No you don't. Go to sleep.
-Ok yep that is most definitely a smoke alarm. Is it our building?! Is the fire department here again? Fuck what do I do!?
-Calm down, for one. It doesn't really sound like a smoke detector. It could be somebody's alarm clock and they're not home to turn it off…?
-No that is smoke detector! I don't smell smoke though. Or hear sirens. Although they turn sirens off in a neighborhood. It sounds so close. Might even be our building. Possibly the one next to us. Why won't it go off?? Ok, I have to get up and check. I'll feel better.
*wanders around apartment to back deck. Looks for flames or fire trucks or anything amiss. Nothing.*
-Maybe it wasn't a fire after all. But it's super annoying. I'm going to shut the window so we can sleep.
-Good idea.
-What if it WAS a fire!?
-Oh god here we go….
-No I'm serious! We have to think about these things! I'd grab my emergency binder. Oh and the custody notebook! They're right next to each other in the closet. Oh man, I'm not wearing clothes so I'd have to throw something on really quick. Ok so get dressed, grab the notebooks. Wrap G up in his blankets to keep warm, throw the notebooks in my purse because that's where my car keys are and we'd definitely need a car, and we'd get out. That can all be done really quickly! But poor G wouldn't even have shoes! He can't go to school without shoes! I'd have to call the principal and talk to her. When would he be ready to go back? The next day? The next week? But it'd be something we'd just deal with. At least I know we can get out relatively quick.
-Ok good. See? You've got a plan. Bedtime!
-But what if we can't get out the front door and down the stairs!?
-Oh for fucks sake.
-We'd have to jump off the deck. It's the only logical way because the windows are too high! Corey would have to go first, then I'd throw G to him, then I'd make my way down. That damn tree would cause problems. Maybe it'd be helpful actually? G would be so scared. I wonder if he would jump on his own, or if I would have to throw him? Am I strong enough?
-Let's hope we never have to find out. You've got your plan, can we please go to sleep now!?
-OH MY GOD WHAT ABOUT HISS!?!?! I forgot all about him! I couldn't leave him in there to burn! Ok so Corey would have to carry G, I'd have to grab my purse and the cat. How the hell am I going to jump off the deck with a 20 pound cat? And he's not gonna let me hold him all night while we wait for the fire to be put out. Plus G will want to be held too I'm sure. So do I just let the cat go and pray he comes back home when the chaos is over???
-You are INSANE! Can you please calm the fuck down!?!? You realize NONE of this has happened right?! There's not even a fire, Brittani!
-I'm sorry. I don't know why I'm like this. We're gonna be so tired tomorrow. The alarm is going off in 2 hours! We only got, what, like 3 hours of sleep? Fuck that's going to be a rough Monday.
-Ok I will try to sleep now.
-Praise Jesus.
*start to dose off. Boyfriend begins snoring in earnest.*
-I can't sleep under these circumstances! I'm going to the couch.
-Fine, but NO murder shows.
-I'm not even going to turn on the TV. I need sleep.
-Smart girl.
*get situated on the couch, just about to fall asleep*
-Oh my god! I have to register for classes today!!!
-Well we are never going to sleep now are we?
-Ahahaha nooooppppeee.

Writing Blues

Ok so clearly I didn’t do very well with that 30 day writing challenge. My 4 day trip to North Carolina, then coming home with a horrible cold, and Daylight Savings Time ending just screwed with me hard and I couldn’t catch up. I’m still struggling to complete  all the things that I need to during the day, and haven’t been able to drag myself out of bed early enough in the morning to write or do yoga…or pretty much anything. Winter and I don’t get along, and I am obviously feeling the affects of the perpetual darkness. I need to research Hyyge and see if that will help me. But only if it includes a housecleaner….

So the one good thing that came out of that writing challenge was that it got my fire relit for writing. If too many days have gone by without me touching a keyboard or pen, I start to crave it much like I do with yoga. That was the main reason I started it, so mission accomplished I suppose! I want to continue to write, but without the prompts. I just need to find a direction for this blog…it feels kinda scattered and all over the place right now. Kinda like my life. I guess it could be a “lifestyle” blog for the disastrous people. The people who feel too much, and work too much at jobs that don’t fulfill them. People whose anxiety is crushing 24/7 and prevents them from chasing their dreams. The people who put everybody before themselves until they forget who they even are anymore. The people who just can’t GET. IT. TOGETHER. whatever the fuck that means.

I’m going to officially stop the 30 Day Writing Prompt project, 5 days short of completion yet 11 days late. The last few prompts were actually pretty good, but I just can’t think that in depth currently. I might write about them at a later date, but for now I will try to come up with my own writing points. Thanks for cheering me on, and reading all the nonsense. My ride isn’t over yet, I hope you stick around!



Day 25

If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and what would you eat?

First of all, why do I have to pick just ONE person!?! I did study history….I have a lot of idols to chose from.
And second of all, regardless of what we eat, you know damn well it will be gluten and dairy free so I don’t have to worry about getting sick. Although I will probably just keep that to myself so my historical dinner guest doesn’t think I’m crazy. They probably won’t even know what gluten is.

So I’ve spent days thinking about this, and if I have to narrow it down to just one person I think I’d pick Susan B. Anthony. I’d love to hear tales of how she bucked tradition, challenged how people viewed women, and refused to back down from what she believed in. Being an outspoken women is scary in today’s world, so I can’t imagine how it would have been in the Victorian era. Women were supposed to be quiet, proper and practically unseen, and yet Susan was out on the streets leading a revolution and getting arrested! The shock! I would love for her to see where her hard work and dedication got our society today, and discuss how far we still have to go. I’m sure she is an eloquent speaker and probably a hilarious conversationalist. I’d be curious about the foods most popular during her lifetime and would try to re-create them in ways I could eat. Then I’d serve her some popular food of current times and see what she thinks. Did they eat avocado back then? What about kale and quinoa??

I really wish this could happen. Think of how fun it would be!!

Day 24

Describe your family dynamic of your childhood verses your family dynamic now.

Hmmm….well now this is interesting. The four of us have always been very close, but I feel that we are closer now that my brother and I are adults, out of the house, and have children of our own. We can look back now, as parents ourselves, and see “oh yeah that’s why Mom & Dad did/said that.” A lot of things that irritated me or didn’t make sense as a child now absolutely make sense as a parent. I have told my parents many times in the past 6 years, I understand everything now. I get it. 

I think on the opposite side of that, my parents can now look at us as adults (and for the most part fairly successful adults) and realize that the hard work is done, they can step back and allow us to make our own decisions. Obviously, they are always there for guidance and advice if needed, but it’s usually us coming to them, instead of them telling us what should be done. They recognize us for our own people, who do things in vastly different ways. While that sometimes irritates the shit out of them, or confuses them, my parents have perfected the art of sitting back and watching us figure out life for ourselves.

I like the dynamic my family has now. I feel comfortable in being my true self around them, instead of like I have to be squeezed into a mold of what a daughter should be. I swear ( a lot), I have tattoos (8), and piercings and I drink a touch. While I know my father wishes I wouldn’t do or have any of that, he has accepted that I am a grown ass woman (most of the time) with a life & family of my own. I own who I am, and the values instilled in me from my family during childhood. My brother and I will always respect, admire and love our parents, but their role is now more of the backseat driver rather than the chauffeur of our lives. The don’t drive us where they want us to go, but rather gently suggest our next turn while we act as the chauffeurs to our children. I’m not sure I’m explaining that in a way that makes sense to anyone other than me. But basically….I think my brother and I have more common ground with our parents now, therefore a more peaceful and understanding relationship. They know that we had to do some dumb  shit to get to the successful places we are now, and we know that they had to be hard on us at times to prevent us from being delinquents. The view of your childhood changes drastically when you become a parent. Things make so much more sense to you, and the respect for your parents increases a hundredfold (if you are lucky enough to have great parents like I am….I imagine a bad childhood would invoke different feelings upon reaching parenthood).

The thing is: I love my family. Then and now. I will always strive to make my daddy proud, and Mama will always know whats on my mind before I even have to say it. My brother and I will pick and poke and tease each other until someone gets pissed. And then we’ll hug and make up. Somethings time can never change. And I’m okay with that.

A grainy, blurry image of a grainy, blurry time. Graduation night May 4, 2012

Day 23

Day 23

List your top 5 hobbies and why you love them.

Does sleeping count as a hobby???

1.) Knitting. I usually only do this in the chilly months, but I love feeling the soft yarn through my fingers and watching the colors blend together in the pattern of my choosing. It’s exciting to watch the piece grow and form into something cozy. I love making stuff for people, because nothing is cozier than wearing a handmade scarf or snuggling under a blanket made with love.

2.) Writing. This is the way I keep my creative juices flowing and my mind somewhat clear. It’s fun to manipulate the words to make the story come to life, and watching other people relate to my words and experiences. I am a horrible verbal communicator, but everything becomes more precise and powerful and organized when I write (or type) it out.

3.) Yoga. Although my practice has definitely fallen to the wayside these past few months, I still consider yoga vital to my survival. Yoga improves not only my physical well-being, but my mental and spiritual well-being too. I have worked through a lot of shit on the mat, and have had some pretty significant epiphanies during a powerful sequence. When I slack off on my practice, my body is the first thing to feel the negative effects, then my soul. My anxiety starts to creep back up, my thoughts are unfocused and my sleep not restful. Yoga is my medicine. (I need to get better at taking it)

4.) Beach combing. I can literally spend all day walking up and down the coast line, searching for offerings from the sea. I always come home from the coast with pockets full of seashell bits, smooth rocks or sea glass. I love the pretty fragments, only pieces of a larger object, but still gorgeous in it’s brokenness. I wonder over the journey this inanimate object has taken, the stories it could tell, and the eons it has been tumbled by the waves. The ocean is a sacred mystery to me, and I love being lost in her stories.

5.) Napping. Hey, being a sleepy girl with a busy life is really hard. So I nap whenever possible and I’m done feeling guilty about it. Adrenal fatigue is no joke. And also I’m part sloth, remember?


*featured image from kararosenlund.com

Day 22

Day 22

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10? 15?

Oh boy. I hate questions like these because nobody can really plan their life out, right? You think you’re going one way and then life bitch slaps you so hard you spin around and go the complete opposite way. I guarantee you my answers to this question 10 years ago would have NEVER included living in Oregon, having a child, or being a preschool teacher. But that’s where I am now and I wouldn’t change it. I find it really hard to plan anything much less my life. All too often, I get the perfect image or idea in my head of what I’m going to do, how I’m going to do it, and how it’s going to look and then that all comes crashing down and I’m left wondering what went wrong. I have learned to set a few loose long term goals, and do whatever I need to get there, and just *try* to go with the flow of getting there. Holding on to an image, or and idea, of what life is supposed to be can be really damaging to your soul and mental clarity. Life is about the journey and what you learn along the way.

So. In 5 years I see myself married to C, with a little one of our own, and living in our first house with a big ol’ dog. And some chickens. I also want a huge ass garden that will feed us all year long. I will have my master’s degree and be working a job that pays the bills and feeds my soul. Something super nerdy and fun like a museum, historical site, or library. I start school in January (eek) to make that one come to fruition. I will be juggling Little Bee’s football games/practices with my work and family duties, but will spend every Saturday of the fall sitting in freezing cold bleachers watching my dude play football.

Looking 10-15 years into the future gives me anxiety because that’s too big of a picture. And I can’t think about how much older Little Bee will be by then! I need to focus on more short-term goals. I’m well on my way to where I want to be, so I’m just gonna keep my head down and keep on working and ticking those boxes off my list.