After several requests from friends I have decided to embark on this blogging journey! I am both nervous and excited because I promise to be transparent with my emotions and feelings. For those that know me well they know I have no problem with this. For those that know me a little you may be surprised. I cannot be embarrassed because this is my story, my journey thus far-- the good, the bad and the ugly. I am sorry if this is too much for you to handle, but this is true and what I am dealing with everyday.
So...I share with you an article I wrote and am shopping to magazines about my path from the beginning. I feel raw sharing it because for some it may be a surprise because so many of us suffer in silence. But I share it for all of you who do suffer from fertility issues. I hope this can be a path we go down together and through my transparency you can have hope that others are sharing your struggles too!
Healing My Grief: The Birth of a Book, Not a Child
In the Fall of 2009, my husband and I were ecstatic to learn we were pregnant with our first child. I remember getting up at 3 a.m. that September morning to use the restroom and groggily thought I needed to take a pregnancy test. I had always heard to use the first pee of the morning to get the best results and I figured this was it! I had taken a couple of other pregnancy tests a week or so prior with a negative result but my monthly “visitor” was still a week late and so I thought I should keep trying to test, but not expecting a positive result at the same time. My monthly “visitor” was very irregular with her comings and goings so a week late did not mean much in the whole scheme of things. We had only been officially trying to conceive for a couple of months and I had always thought it would take much longer than that, but what the heck, pee on a stick and go back to bed. As I sat there for the regulatory 5 minute waiting period after testing and reading the backs of shampoo bottles, I contemplated how great it would be to have a kid. My best friend was pregnant and we had always laughed about how we wanted to be preggo at the same time. I glanced at the little stick and was shocked to see two double lines! I grabbed the box and double checked that yes that was indeed a positive result. My stomach quickly became full of butterflies. I opened the bathroom door and said, “Honey, guess what?” My husband sleepily responded, “You’re pregnant.” “Yes!” I exclaimed. I climbed back in bed and we laid there for the next two hours dreaming of baby names and all that we would need to do in the next couple of months. I called and woke up my parents and spent the next few weeks in a whirlwind of excitement and making tons of plans. Some people say this is bad luck to do and not to tell people until after the first trimester. I never felt that way. I am a planner and need at least 9 months to get my act together! Plus, I couldn’t keep the excitement in. If given the chance again, I would do it all over and scream it from the rooftops.
Fast forward to a month later and I am sitting in an ER room after my miscarriage. I noticed that when I was pregnant I always said we’re pregnant or we’re having a baby, but now that it was over I felt like I had the miscarriage. Somehow I failed and I felt empty inside. Of course, we were initially sad and went through the usual emotions of grief. I missed my best friend’s baby shower and generally tried to avoid all things baby if I could. We still felt hopeful because the doctors said it happens a lot to women in their first pregnancy and at least we knew I could conceive, blah blah blah. Empty words at the time to me for my empty heart and empty womb.
After a couple of months had gone by I felt the need to give action to my grief. I had decided not to go back into teaching, my career, when I got pregnant because we had decided before we were even married that I should be a stay-at-home mom as this was a high priority for my husband and me. So here I was, sitting at home, with all this time on my hands and I needed a release, an outlet. I struggled with my new identity. Could I be a housewife and stay at home if I didn’t have kids? I knew that well-off women do this sort of thing all the time, but we were far from rich and this took a bit of sacrifice to get by on my husband’s income. Anyone in the education industry knows it is hard to get a job mid-year and so I felt like it would be an eternity before I could apply for teaching jobs. Honestly, my husband thought it was great to have someone at home all the time doing the cooking, cleaning, and being the secretary who runs the household. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great gig and not as easy as I thought, without any kids. There was still a void. I needed an outlet, maybe even a distraction. I started journaling a lot and tried putting thoughts on paper, even contemplated starting a blog, nothing seemed to heal me. I had supportive friends and family and even my faith to rely on, but I kept wanting a creative outlet to pour myself into. My dream in the whole grand scheme of things was to be this wonderful stay-at-home wife and mother and to write children’s books on the side for supplemental income. It was a grandiose idea, but I had always been a big dreamer.
One night as I was sitting in bed journaling, trying to find some reprieve, my husband turned to me and said, “Write your children’s book. Treat that as your full time job and research how to get it published and what to do as a children’s author.” So, I did just that. I would rush through my household chores everyday, and then sit at my computer all afternoon. I already had the idea in mind for my book for years. It was loosely based on my first child, my dog Maddy. Maddy was my schnauzer who was vocal and gave human-like looks and always seemed to get herself into funny situations. I wrote a story about her and a rabbit my roommate had when I was single and living with friends. The story is about the two animals not getting along and then realizing through their differences they can actually help one another and become the best of friends. A great lesson for kids to learn and for all of us to not judge a book by its cover.
I spent the next few months writing, editing and contacting literary agents and any publishing house from here to Timbuktu that would accept a manuscript. Maybe I was distracting myself from my grief, but either way every day it gave me purpose and helped me get out of bed and be able to breathe. I did treat my experience as a full time job and decided that success did not lie in getting published, but instead in just going through the process. Whatever came of it was all a learning experience and it gave me hope and a sense of completion that I longed for. I was finally picked up by a small publishing house and began the process of working with editors, an illustrator and layout people to see my story come to life. At the beginning of the publishing process a friend said to me, “You may not be birthing a child, but you are birthing a book.” How profound that statement was and still is to me. That statement made me think about my book and my miscarriage in a different light. I could go on living life excited about what was to come instead of dwelling on what happened.
My book, Maddy and Scooter: Unlikely Friends will officially be released in March and I have mixed emotions. My husband and I are still trying to conceive a year and a half later and so the pain and discomfort of unexplained fertility issues still linger, yet on the other hand I have this wonderful gift of a book and possibly a new career. I realized that by seeing this book through the publishing process I gave birth to a dream, but I still did not have a baby. The day my proof book came in the mail it was like holding my sorrow in my hand. I had come through this tunnel of grief and emptiness and my end result was now staring me back in the face. I felt relief, sadness and hope all at the same time. My journey of searching for my outlet was over. I cannot say my grief process is over as I believe that journey will never truly be over, but I can say that I am healing. My emptiness is filled with my faith and my joy of this dream coming true. What is your dream? It may not be writing, but it could be painting or singing or cooking or running or something that brings you joy and peace. For all the women who suffer in silence with miscarriage and fertility issues I want to say to you find your creative outlet. Find your book to write, your marathon to run, your voice to sing and you may not birth a child but you can still give birth to a dream!