Be gentle with yourself…and walk your own pace into the new year.
So how does a parent go on?
We carry this weight in our hearts and on our shoulders. We learn in some kind of way to hold this heartache. We figure out what helps us try to crawl, then walk, then dance this crazy balancing act. And you may fall even with this weight. It is not easy at all. It is WAY easier to type and say and read than to actually do, but it is there inside of you.
We are STILL STRONG!
“KEEP GOING! You are strong!”--Yes, I can see how this may be helpful in the pregnancy world of HG, but this just adds another punch to the gut to a HG Loss parent or partner. Our loved one died. We are STILL strong!
Is there some type of hope? Not in the way as before the losses. Some type of light but it is through a dark dark space, like tiny twinkling sparks peeking through a veil trying to guide you somewhere. Where do you think it is guiding you?
“How do you cope?”
He told me he killed a bunny. And I thought of sweet George in “Of Mice and Men”. I’m not quite sure why he took its life but I watched the pain in his eyes. I felt I could relate to the responsibility of holding life in your hands… So I shared the story of my babies and how I terminated to save my life due to a rare pregnancy illness called Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), which meant saying GoodBye to my dearly loved and desperately wanted babies. He immediately grabbed his chest and choked out, “How do you cope?” I stumbled through the answer, trying to grab the bits of wisdom grief has taught me. He asked me so bluntly to stop talking. He had broken down in tears in immense pain, still tightly holding his chest almost like someone had knocked the air out of him, hardly being able to catch his breath. And I could see just how powerful a story can be. Powerful enough to make someone stop in their tracks and lose their sense of balance. To have their spirit scream through their skin with just a drop of a parent's grief. I wondered how would he survive in my shoes?
Your body after HG
Trying to make peace with your body after surviving HG is such a difficult path, one where we don’t have answers, and we may never have them. Living with the unknown can be a heavy weight that can trap you in a vicious cycle of avoidance, obsession or other stressful thoughts or behaviors. The seemingly invisible journey after surviving an illness like HG can be grueling. It can be isolating. You can be left feeling just as unseen now as when you were deathly ill. Accepting your body after HG can come with a variety of emotions as you unravel each layer. And, it is a complex place that deserves to be acknowledged. Have you found it difficult to accept your body since you had HG? Have you hidden yourself away from your own eyes?
A deep sadness crept over me as I sat in the recovery room at Planned Parenthood. I couldn't stop staring at the crack in the tile, feeling just as broken as it. I could see it splintering and I knew in that moment that I saw something familiar in myself. Something once whole, now separated with this dark space. The sadness was my dark space. The dark trench that I had fallen into. It is cold and barren. Hope did not exist in the darkest spaces of my grief. Hope was not welcomed in the early days of my new found heartache. I lived within a hollow me, unable to hide the sheer sadness on my face. A stranger reminding me that, “the sun will come out tomorrow” seemed to be the most pointless and irrelevant thing I had ever heard. And how could they know? What did they know? My babies are dead. How can the sun ever come out? It’s gone. It’s just gone. And through the storm I laid there on the ground, weeping and weeping uncontrollably. I couldn’t “pull myself out of it”. There was this hopeless abyss consuming me. Would I have to exist in this space forever? No. In my own time, I began to feel a bit of light shining through the storm that always seems to be lingering. The warmth had found a way to peer through the veil and reach me. Finally. Me at the bottom of this trench could feel the warmth in the separation that seemed to be the thing that was breaking me. Speaking and sharing about my grief and about the mental health impacts of a life after HG and loss have helped me give my deep sadness a voice. It helps acknowledge that yes there is a deep sadness, because there is a deep, eternal love.
You did NOT fail
I just wanted you to know...
There was no peace, curled into a ball, unable to do anything except exhaustively vomit and feel my insides burn with each breath. There was my baby and me trapped in this body.
What do I need in this moment?
Deep sadness, an emotional pain that goes to the very core of your being. It rips you open and makes you dig deep within yourself and feel what lies beneath. It can leave you struggling and feeling alone. Isolated. Unwanted. It can bring on a sense of hopelessness, one that you can barely imagine climbing out of. How can you climb out? Maybe it’s that you do not need to climb out of the sadness just yet. Maybe we need some time to explore ourselves in our deep sadness and ask ourselves, “What do I need in this moment?” “How can I care for myself when I’m in such a heartbreaking place?” Trust. Trust yourself that you are doing the best you can. Try to remain mindful that even though this is a deep, deep heartache, the ache of your love will change as you do, and you will not be in this dark moment forever. Rest. Rest your mind, body and soul. Give yourself space to just rest and try to be at ease as realistically as possible. Nourish yourself. Healthy eating is a good place to start. But, nourishing yourself also can mean nourishing what you put in your mind. Trying to find something new to learn to help cope through these difficult times. Give yourself permission to grieve. It is so important to allow ourselves to feel all of our feelings, even the uncomfortable ones, even the ones that leave us sobbing, soaking our pillow case. We can face our grief and ask it, “What can I do for you? What do you need in this moment?
HG and Mental Health
My baby and I had something in common… we were both in the fetal position, living in darkness. Laying there in the darkness on the bed, I would reach for the little trash can lined with plastic bags to vomit in… ugh! The smell of plastic is still disgusting. It was lonely, laying there with my baby in my womb, wishing to be held by my boyfriend, wanting him to put his hand on my belly and bond with our child. But HG took all that away. It hurt to be touched, and I couldn’t stand the smell of him. I couldn’t stand the smell of anyone, not even myself. So, I just laid there wishing for everything to be okay in a situation where no one could give us answers... wishing that my chest would stop burning with each breath... wishing I could keep a sip of water down. As I laid there isolated in that darkroom, my mind was my only company. And it wasn’t good company. It was the kind that comes into your home with dirty feet and hands and smears shit all over the walls. It rips the dishes from the cabinets and shatters them on the floor, leaving you with shards to step on. These were some of my darkest times in that bed, curled up. I want to give a happy ending to this story, but there really isn’t one... HG is not only physical symptoms, but mental health symptoms as well. Nourish the body, but what about the mind?
Termination for Maternal Health
I wanted the abortion to save my life, but that does not mean that I wanted my baby to die. Sometimes it sucks being a TFMR mom. There is an assumption that only those who abort are those that do not want their children. This simply is not true. Very much loved and wanted pregnancies are ended for very real reasons. I never imagined that I would be faced with terminating a pregnancy, yet alone three. But here I am, surviving in the aftermath of HG, holding onto my babies’ memory. Who do you grieve? Their names are welcome here.
Love Transcends-Pregnancy Loss Art
She is a mother, but not your traditional mother. She has plucked her baby from her womb. They will never be any older, just frozen at the age they were. She is holding her baby presented with the unknown universe around her… Now divided into two worlds, one with the living and one among the dead. If she could fly with her wings to where her baby is she would, just to hold them one more time. She holds her baby’s memory safely in her hands. ---------------------------------------------- Grieving Mother is a series of paintings I began shortly after Dahlia died in 2016. It helped me realize that death does not devour love; Love transcends.
How do you make peace with your thoughts?
I am in constant awareness of their absence. “My babies are dead” playing over and over in my mind. If I was going to think about it obsessively, then I would need to learn how to make peace with it, at least some of the time. It’s not a matter of accepting their death, it is a matter of accepting this reality of life without them, and that is a moment to moment thing that is uniquely personal for each person. How do you make peace with your thoughts?
We are survivors!
We are HG survivors! Hyperemesis Gravidarum takes so much. For some of us, it takes our greatest loves, hopes, and dreams. It took something so precious from us. Yet, here we are surviving in the fallout. Here we are together, giving hope that we are not alone in this.
It is not easy going the footsteps of a parent who has terminated for maternal health. It can be a heavy weight to carry, and like I tell parents who have TFMR for maternal health… there are no road maps to this. We must walk (sit, crawl, run) our own paths and these may be some of the most difficult steps you take, and as you breathe, there can be steps. Just one breath at a time.
Always your child...
There is a common misconception when a pregnancy is terminated for maternal health that one does not care and has disregarded their child. But this simply is Not true. It is possible to hold deep within yourself and say to your child, “I am yours and you are mine,” and no one can take that away.
We all have valid reasons why we ended our pregnancies. You do not owe anyone your reason(s) why. Our decisions are sacred to each of us and deserve a safe space. If someone assumes, you owe them nothing.🌹
Our love is forever.
No baby to hold...
I imagined it as we got closer to the day our baby was scheduled to die. It is not easy. Some detach and are numb to the world. A distancing that only a TFMR parent can feel. It is true pain and suffering, the waiting and the release. Please remember, the "decision" was and is the right decision for that time and place.
Your grief is honored here
There is a great focus on maternal-parental health being saved through the life saving procedure of TFMR. Yes, we are so grateful to have our lives saved, but there is also the other half of the sentence that seems to be forgotten or passed over. It is the uncomfortable, painful, heartbreaking half of the sentence that TFMR maternal health parents know all too well. Please know that the ENTIRE sentence is honored in this space.
5 Things about TFMR maternal health
1. You are stuck between shit mountain and shit mountain 2. Grief may follow not only for yourself but for your child as well 3. Time will not dissolve your feelings completely away 4. TFMR may not feel like a decision at all 5.Healing and hope can happen after TFMR
Please know either choice is the best choice for you and your situation. It may not feel this way because there is pain beyond pain and question beyond question. But the best decision can still feel painful even when it has been made. Sometimes you are given “choices” that will change the course of the future. This is all seemingly in your hands. Either choice will be life altering. You made the best decision.
You are NOT weak
To terminate for maternal health and/or fetal health means to let go of a very important part of us physically. It is a great loss that some may not recognize but we recognize it here in this space. We see and hold so much care for your precious loss. You are not weak. You are a person faced with immense loss.
What is a parent to do?
One hand held tightly to the cliff’s edge and the other tightly to your unborn child. And near the cliff’s edge your born children were nearing the drop off. Below are crashing waves against sharp, solid stones. I asked myself, "Do I let go of my unborn surely sending them below so I can pull myself up and save my other children? Or do I hang on as long as I can knowing I can fall below too?” What is a parent to do? Sometimes, many times, we are faced with the most difficult decisions as a parent. We do not take these things in our hands lightly. Sometimes they may not even feel like they are in our hands, but a "decision" must be made. Even with all the heartache, we made the best decision that we could.