Reality Calling

Our daughter’s heart had stopped beating. The screen was motionless. So was I. Even the excruciating pain of the placental abruption I was experiencing was numbed by shock.  

The simple fact is, there is nothing like a stillbirth. There is nothing like going to the hospital thinking you are about to bring your baby home, only to have the incredible joy of pregnancy ripped away, leaving deep searing emptiness. There is nothing like knowing that you are still going to have to endure labour, and birth, and swollen breasts and weeks of bleeding. 

Only your baby will be dead.

Your labour will produce nothing but a beautiful shell of the precious person you have lived your life to protect. Your arms will be empty and there will be no way to soothe your aching soul. Ever. 

And that doesn’t even factor int he guilt. or the wondering. Or the pain. Soul shattering pain. It wasn’t only emotional, it was physical. My head hurt from sobbing. My eyes burned and felt raw as the scabs beneath them appeared beneath them from wiping all of the tears. My arms throbbed because she wasn’t physically there to fill them. They still do. Stillbirth didn’t just happen to me. Or to Everlee. It’s not passive. It doesn’t just happen. Your baby dies, and then you give birth. 

 And you’ve had a baby. But you don’t have a baby. 

When I was pregnant I was like every other excited mother. I signed up for lists, and coupons and Facebook groups. Now, every forgotten tick of a check box on an online purchase comes back to me when I least expect it, and I relive it all over again. 

Yesterday, while standing at the end of the counter waiting for my latte at Starbucks my phone rang. I picked up and a cheerful gentleman said “Mrs. McMeekin, My name is _______ and I contacted you back in May, we got your information from Thyme Maternity and I was wondering if you had given any more thought to the RESP that we had discussed for your baby. I see they should be about 6 months old now is that right?”

What this gentleman didn’t seem to recall was me falling to pieces on the phone with him back in May. He didn’t remember me telling him about Everlee passing away. He didn’t recall me begging him to take me off of his calling list.  

However, my hurt this time was rage. 

Standing at the end to the counter I tore into the man on the other end of the phone. I had told him in May to remove me from his list and he hadn’t done that. So now, I was standing in the one place where I still find some peace, and I am attacked from behind when I least expect it.  

Reality calling, just checking in to make sure that you know your daughter is still dead. Got it? ok. good.

As if I could forget. But life keeps seeming to want to remind me. Blow after blow to the face. As if I don’t think of it every second of the day. It’s been 205 endless days and nights that blur together in a sleepless haze. I don’t ask for the memories to come. They’re just there. I lie in bed every night and I birth her again and again and again. I hold her again and again for the first and last time. I feel that lingering ache that prevents me forgetting even for a second the nauseating reality of what has happened. 

It changed me. 

I try so hard to out on a smile and go out into the world and be the Rhonda everyone wants me to be. But it’s hard. and I hurt. And I’m exhausted. Sometimes pretending I’m ok is even harder than admitting I’m not.  

It still bothers me when people say I’m brave. Bravery is a choice. Living this, surviving it isn’t a choice. Its my responsibility to my daughter to keep going, because she cannot. If anything, it’s as Juliette Lewis said “The bravest thing I ever did was continuing my life when I wanted to die”. 

My daughter’s heart stopped beating. But mine beats for her now.

Share if you have a daughter that makes your life worth living

In my previous life, as a side business, I created strategic social media plans for various organizations. As a side effect to that, I have become a stickler for social media etiquette. The dos and don’ts of the digital world. Don’t auto post to twitter from Facebook. Don’t share anything you haven’t read. Don’t fall for social media “chain mail”. Those sorts of things irk me.

Everyone has those people on their Facebook that are guilty of posting things for “brother week” and “cousin day”. Silly little JPEGs that go viral for weeks on end (how long is brother week anyway?). In The last number of days I have seen an increasing number of silly little pictures that state “share this image if you have a daughter that makes your life worth living”. Now, under normal circumstances, just the thought of hitting share on something like that, no matter what the occasion, turns my stomach. But at least a dozen times in the last few days my finger has hovered over the share button.

What would others think? Would they judge me because my daughter isn’t here? Would they feel sorry for me? Would they question if the thought of my daughter would make me want to die, and not make it worth living?

Get a grip Rhonda, they’re just Facebook trash.

The truth is, Everlee has brought me an insurmountable amount of joy. That beautiful little baby is everything I have ever wanted out of life. And for the nine months that she lived with me I knew what true and honest happiness was. That feeling is what I hold on to. Knowing that feeling, and that joy is what makes my life worth living every day, no matter how often I question if this crushing, soul sucking, all consuming grief is worth getting out of bed for every day.

Today, while out for my morning run to Starbucks my car steered itself to the graveyard. It’s only the second time since we buried her that I have been there. My only time having been there alone. I had no intention, when I woke up this morning, to go there. But something compelled me to go in. It’s a dreary day here. You can feel fall in your bones. The sky was grey, and although it wasn’t raining at the time, the sky was wet and damp. I hate days like this. Because, as morbid as it sounds, I think of her alone there, cold and wet. I think about how I wish I could cuddle her in a soft warm blanket and smother her sweet little face with kisses so that she doesn’t have to be alone in the cold and in the dark. I hate when it rains. So I sat there, by myself and I spoke to her, as I sometimes do. I felt closer though, knowing she was physically there. I told her I was sorry. I always do. I told her how much I loved her and I missed her. I cried my heart out. I cried until my chest was tight, my muscles were sore and people on the other side of the yard could hear me wail. I haven’t cried hard like that in a long time, and I think part of me really needed that. I have been working so hard to keep it all together that sometimes I forget that I really need to fall to pieces sometimes.

After about 15 minutes I picked myself up off of the ground and I moved on with my day.

I guess my point is this, I spend a lot of time wondering what other people think about the decisions I make and how I react when it comes to my daughter. The only thing I have to protect is her memory, and I do so fiercely. When it comes to religion and spirituality I don’t know what I believe in anymore, but I do believe that my daughter, my Everlee, knows that I love her more than life itself. So I won’t share that silly jpeg on Facebook. Instead, I will write here for all to see that Everlee Rose makes every day worth living, because I have to live my life for her now.

I didn’t lose my pregnancy

(Note: This entry started at one place and then I went off on a tangent. My bad)

I’m sitting here, about to type this entry knowing it’s probably going to come across as harsh and insensitive. I am going to type the rest of this very carefully. But, I want to preface by saying that I don’t intend it to be that way. And although parts of it may offend some of you, I merely mean this entry to show that none of us can have the same experiences. That doesn’t mean to give any less significance to the experiences of others, just that they’re different and painful and hurtful in different ways. We all hurt sometimes. 

I didn’t lose a pregnancy. What happened to me wasn’t a miscarriage. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have a miscarriage. And when people hear my story and tell me about losing their pregnancies at 7-8-9-10 weeks, I don’t see the connection the way they do. That by no means diminishes that pain and suffering that comes along with it. It’s a loss. A horrible, senseless, blameless loss. But it’s not the same. I didn’t lose my pregnancy. 

I can see how it would be easy for you to think so. I was pregnant on Everlee when she died. But I never refer to it in that way, and I don’t even come close to thinking of it in that way. My daughter died. I didn’t have a miscarriage. I didn’t lose a pregnancy. Like anyone who loses a child at any age, I have a room full of her things. I have a closet full of her clothes. I have an album full of her pictures. I held her in my arms. I stroked her hair. I kissed her face. I counted her fingers and toes. I know how she felt in my arms. I know how she smelled. I know that her fingers were long and definitely not like mine. I picture her beautiful face every single minute of the day and know it looked exactly like mine, red hair and all. 

Oprah said that all pain is the same, how we deal with it is what makes the difference. I truly believe that. Maybe a miscarriage is something you can learn to live with a little easier. At least that’s what my experience in talking to other mothers has taught me, and not a conclusion I have jumped to on my own.  I’ve been off work now for 7 months. I still cry in the middle of the night. I still wake thinking I can hear her crying for me. I still hate my body with every ounce of my being for doing this to her. Most people who have miscarriages get pregnant again on their own very quickly and have completely normal pregnancies afterward. That will NEVER be the case for me. Not only can I not get pregnant on my own ( a completely separate issue), I will never have a normal pregnancy again. Each subsequent (if I’m even lucky enough to get that far) will remind me of getting so close to bringing home a smiling baby girl only to have her stolen from me at the 11th hour. There will never be a moments peace with being pregnant. There is no sigh of relief at 12 weeks for me. Because I know now how easily pregnant women are lulled into a sense of security. Because I know that being 34 weeks pregnant isn’t a promise of having a baby in that meticulously arranged nursery. 

There’s no magic in baby making or pregnancy for me. Doctors appointment, after test, after ultrasound after appointment. Waiting on baited breath. Heart beating. Blood pressure rising. palms sweaty. pins and needles. And I haven’t even made it to the high risk specialist yet. This new normal I am searching for isn’t anything close to normal. But it’s my life. 

I’ve started the process for returning to work. It will be a few weeks before I begin my ease back, but the plans are in place to begin with a few half days a week and slowly working myself back up to being a full time functioning member of society. The newly-acquired social anxiety is still there, a monster rearing it’s ugly head when I least expect it. In preparation for my reintegration into the world of the living I’ve been making an honest attempt at getting out of the house more. I have resolved to not say no to anyone who asks me to do something unless the panic about it is so bad I feel like I might perish (If I have been blow you off lately, and believe me there are a lot of you, now is the time to try and drag me from the house).  

I have also had the most amazing and good-for-the-soul little house guest for the last number of weeks. My sister is in the process of moving into a new house, and has just gotten a rescue puppy. Being that at the moment she still lives with my parents and our childhood dog (who is a ripe 17 years old… cantankerous and stuck in his ways like any old man), the pupper – Opie – is currently staying with me. He has been, by far, the best medicine I have had. his puppy kisses and boundless energy and quirky antics make me genuinely smile and laugh again. He is better than any pills my doctors could give me. I’m so thankful to have him for this short period of time. 

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 Someone once told me that in order to start getting back to normal I need to “fake it until you make it”. Sometimes I heed that advice. I try my best to paint on a smile and I bite my tongue from screaming at people “Don’t you know my baby is dead” when they expect me to behave as if nothing life altering has happened to me. But most of the time I don’t want to fake it. I don’t want to deny the profound turn my life has taken.This is who I am now. Of course parts of me are the same. Some things will never change. They’re who I am. But my core, the very centre of my being has shifted. I am a mother now. A childless mother. And absolutely, I will go through the motions of life, and fight back the tears with a smile on my face, because that is what you do in baby loss land, and I will hope, that even if just for a moment, my smile will feel good, and genuine, and real. 

I hate posts like this. Ones where I have no wisdom to offer, or comfort or inspiration to give others on this journey. I’m just sending thoughts out to the universe, because honestly, no matter how many people I have surrounding me with love and support, sometimes I feel so desperately alone. But I’ll keep moving, and keep hoping. There’s still got to be some hope out there.

Ten Years Later – Class of 2003

I’ve been slacking on writing here lately. It was never my intention to let this slip. it hasn’t been for a lack of thoughts or feelings. My mind races every second of the day and night. But a lot of those thoughts have become redundant. reliving every day as if I’m in the movie groundhog day. Reliving the same painful day over and over. Doing whatever I can to change it, only to wake up and face the same reality once again. Nothing I can ever do will bring Everlee back. Ever. 

For the last few weeks I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the past, and the passage of time in general. Tomorrow night is my 10 year high school reunion. I’ve been converting our prom video to DVD to be played during the evening, and in watching the video I have gained a new appreciation for a lot of things. Looking at the 17 year old version of myself with the whole world and whole future in front of me is kind of spooky when viewed through the lens that is my life right now. 

It’s hard not to be hopelessly optimistic around prom time. The most significant chapter of your life thus far is coming to a close. What has been a routine for 13 years is no more, and there is a degree of uncertainty and excitement about the future. With a head full of dreams and a heart full of bravery you’re set to march out into the big wide world and become what everyone has always described merely as your potential. 

When I left St. Kevin’s ten years ago I had so many dreams. Like most girls, I thought I was going to marry my high school boyfriend. We has been together 2 years at that point – a lifetime in teenaged years. I was going to go to University. I was going to be a geologist (HA!). I was going to make a mark on the university the way I had made a mark on high school – by being involved and by being a big fish in the sea of students. And most important to me, as it always was, I was going to have a family. I wanted 7 kids. 

But, as no one prepares you for in valedictory speeches, life throws you curveballs. Plans change. Friends change. Love changes. And ten years later you’re only a shadow of what you thought you would be. 

Shortly after my first year of University I left my high school boyfriend. I realized that you had to be good at Math to be a geologist. And I realized that being a big fish in a big sea took A LOT of time. (It would eventually become the only thing I even came close to accomplishing on my list of goals for my undergraduate life.)

After first year I took a semester off, almost moved to BC and stayed because I fell in love (for what I now realize was the first time). He broke my heart. I went back to school.  I met my husband-to-be. I got a BA. I got a job. I got married. I got a masters degree. I got pregnant. And then came Everlee. The best and worst thing to ever happen to be rolled up into a sweet 5lbs 1oz package of sleeping perfection.

 My life in summary in the last 10 years. 

It’s true what John Lennon wrote. Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. The days drag on, but the months and the years fly by. And before you know it you’re sitting here looking at yourself, full of hope, piss and vinegar wondering where that passion for life went. I don’t have less dreams but life has seemingly stood still and zoomed past all at the same time. And I’m sitting here, missing my baby girl more with every passing second waiting for life to show me what I’m supposed to do next. 

Everyone endures tragedy. I may be the only one of our 90-odd classmates that has lost her child (and subsequently her heart and soul). But others have endured their own battles. Won and lost their own wars. Life has thrown them curveballs. Their Plans have changed. But, at the core, are we all still fundamentally the same? Do we still look toward the future with dreams in our heads and bravery in our hearts. 

 I do. I have to. What other choice do I have?

Inch By Inch

To those of you who have been following my story, whether it be from right beside me, or only via my blog, you would know that around the same time that Everlee was born (within 6 weeks) both of my very best friends had babies as well. Claire was Born in January, and Danny was born in the wee hours of the first day or February. As a psychiatrist I spoke to once put it, it made a dreadfully tragic circumstance that much more painful for me to deal with. We were supposed to enter a new chapter of our lives together, like we did for high school, post-secondary and marriage. We’ve done everything together. And this was supposed to be the start of another generation of friends.

Don’t get me wrong for a second, I am over the moon happy for A and K. I love their children as if they were my own blood. They are wonderful babies. But knowing that my two best friends who I have turned to for everything in my entire life were now moving onto a stage of life that we were supposed to journey on together, without me, has been beyond heartbreaking. In spoken and unspoken ways we have been all in a delicate dance for the last number of months.

How much do I share of my sorrow without becoming too much?

And how much do they share of their joy without feeling like they’re hurting me?

Most times we don’t have to talk about this agonizing tango. It’s been hard. On all of us. Not just me.  But both of them live at a distance and going through this without them nearby has been worse than I could imagine.

So when the stars aligned a few weeks ago that we could all be together again for the first time in over 2 years, I swallowed my pain and booked a ticket to Halifax so that I could spend a week with my three best girlfriends – two of them with their same-aged children.

A lot of people were worried about me. Including myself. Mostly myself. How would I deal with being in a house with two babies the same age as Everlee should be? Would their crying cut me like thousand tiny knives? And would I be able to look at them without feeling the pain of every one of Everlee’s missed smiles?

Surprisingly, spending time with the kids was not the hardest part of the week for me. What was harder to swallow was the fact that my two best friends has grown into the most wonderful mothers. Watching them cooing over their beautiful babies, and kissing away every tear, and falling in love all over again over every giggle was what was most painful. Their shells were the same, but they had found a new love in the eyes of their kids that has awakened a beauty that I had never seen in them before. Their smiles were brighter, and they glowed with pride. And the jealousy I felt was almost more than I could bear sometimes. And I fought with myself, So overwhelmingly happy for them, to see them oozing with pure joy. And so sad for myself, who should be feeling all of that love for my Everlee, but instead feeling them exact opposite. Hot, burning painful sorrow of her absence.

I enjoyed my week. We shopped. We laughed, we drank beer and talked about the past and the future. I love my girl friends more than almost anything in the whole world, and my pain did not and will not ever overshadow our lifetime of friendship. Long before children were on the immediate radar, the three of us dreamed of a scenario where our kids grew up together, close in age and close in proximity. We imagined our babies crawling around together, our toddlers fighting over toys, our pre-schoolers trading sentences. It’s only natural, of course, for us to wish the sort of closeness between our kids as we share ourselves.  I grieve for that loss. But I am so thankful for their amazing supportive friendship. I am so incredibly lucky to have had these beautiful women in my life for the last 24 years. And nothing – NOTHING – will ever change that.

A, K, MD: I love you endlessly and thank you for being exactly the kind of friends I have needed every day of my life. And thank you for being there for me for that last week in Hali. You’re support and patience with me helped me more than you could ever understand, even if I never speak it aloud.

As I’ve changed -or maybe as my friends have changed- so have our relationships.  Sometimes we’ve stayed buoyed to each other and sometimes we’ve floated away, each pushed along by the tide of our own lives.  The friendships that have stuck and have followed me through my life despite all the changes, both theirs and mine, are the ones in which we’ve continued to find new places in our lives for each other.

I am not the same as I was seven months ago and neither are all of my friendships.  There is no more animosity for the ones who could not stay but there is so much gratitude for the ones that did.

Being Everlee’s Mom

A thousand times in the last three weeks I have wanted so badly to sit down and type out my feelings. I have had house guests for the last three weeks, and although it was nice to have people around me (as I’ve been spending an increasing amount of time alone whenever I can) I’ve felt myself hiding behind a mask to make everyone more comfortable around me, pushing everything into a bitter little ball inside of me, and using all of my force to keep that little nuclear bomb of emotion safe and hidden. It has been incredibly emotionally exhausting. So for the last few days that I’ve been home alone, I have essentially hidden myself away. I’ve barely been on the computer and I have spent countless hours just sitting in my backyard staring at the rose bush I have planted for Everlee. 

 

Somedays, I feel like I am making strides forward. It’s not as hard to get out of bed, I don’t have to remind myself every 28 seconds not to cry, and I can go out into the world with minimal anxiety. Then there are the majority of my days, where I lie awake most of the nights in my bed and still can’t manage to force myself out of bed without having several emotional breakdowns. I spend at least an hour hyping myself up to leave the house. I hate when I see people I know. I’m sick. But not the kind of sick that keeps you bed ridden and contagious, but the kind of sick that tangles up your mind and fogs your logic and self control. On the outside, sometimes I’m sure I look perfectly fine with my mechanical smile and makeup on. but on the inside I’m all cobwebs and dust. And no matter how hard I try to get myself out of the house, and how good I may  look to those around me, every motion I go through in the run of a day isn’t without pain and suffering. 

 

For the majority of my career I have worked in student affairs at the post secondary level, where mental illness and people in crisis are almost an every day conversation. I really thought I understood what mental illness was before. I honestly had no idea. I didn’t know to the extent that a person could be sick, while remaining perfectly healthy. 

 

I ran into one of my coworkers from the University where I worked before my current role. It was the first time I had seen her since shortly before I went on maternity leave. We had worked very closely together for two years and shared the same office space in that time, so we know each other quite well. In our discussion she pointed out to me that I shouldn’t feel guilty for being away from work, and taking time to heal myself right now. I have always been the kind of person who was willing (and quite often did) stay into the wee hours of the morning to make sure my students received the very best care. And now, I had to be willing to do the very same thing for myself. I don’t have a cough, or a cold, or even a bad back or high blood pressure. My sickness, and my problem isn’t something that can be seen on an X-ray, or in a blood test. And to a lot of people, they’re probably wondering what could possibly be wrong because I don’t LOOK sick. 

 

My awesome group of doctors and psychologists have diagnosed me with reactive depression, generalized anxiety, mild agoraphobia and post traumatic stress. I am a strong person. I always have been. Having Everlee hasn’t changed that. Being sick doesn’t mean I am not strong, it just means I am so very tired from having to be so strong for far too long. As I posted on Facebook a couple of nights ago “You never know how strong you can be, until being strong is the only choice you have”. I am so lucky I have an amazing group of people that I work with that understand what mental illness means, and how much I need this time to heal right now. I am no good to my students, if I am no good to myself. 

 

As an update, I have now gone through mostly all of the tests I need to have to start the fertility treatments we need to make Everlee a big sister. I now only have to wait to see the Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialist. Unfortunately, because I am not already pregnant, and therefore not seen as high priority, I have a longer wait list to face to see her. There are only two MFMs in the health board, so my appointment isn’t until January 20th. That being said, my fertility doctor has gotten me onto a waiting list and hopefully I’ll be able to see her much sooner. I have made it known I can be there in 5 minutes if they need me to be. 

 

It’s extraordinarily hard for me to feel like I am making any forward movement when I am teetering on this edge of uncertainty in terms on my fertility. I have said for a very long time, I won’t feel like I am moving forward until the fertility treatments start, and I still feel that way. I was born to be a mommy. And I am. I am Everlee’s mommy, which is more challenging than I had ever foreseen motherhood to be. I love her more and more every day, even if she isn’t here to feel that love herself. I have so much love to give my baby, so I look forward, and long for the day when I have a child in my arms, to be a little brother or sister to the baby I will always have in my heart.

Every step.

It’s no secret to anyone, especially those of you who read my blog, that I have had body issues my whole life. I hate my body.

When I was 15, I got my first tattoo. A dove done in rainbow colours on my shoulder blade. It represented something that changed me, and something that meant love to me, my time in England and the friends I made there (I took part in something called the PEACE project, dealing with racially motivated violence and conflict resolution). I thought that if I could use my body as a canvas for all of the beautiful things in my life, that then my body would be beautiful. (Editors note: the tattoo was actually poorly done, and right before I got married
I had it redone by the wonderful Alicia at Trouble Bound who made it the beautiful piece it should have been)

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Since that first tattoo, I have gotten comedy/tragedy masks on my ankle (for my love of performance and to remember the lessons I learned from my high school teacher Tony Duffenais). And last year I had some colourful stars with the words “live laugh love learn” on the inner side of my forearm, in my dear friend Roxy Peterson’s hand writing. All things I began to accept into my life because of him.

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Today I added to my art collection and this is by far my most beautiful and meaningful of all of my tattoos. Huge thank you once again to Alicia at Trouble Bound. Now my little girl will literally be with me every step I take.

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Five Months.

It’s peculiar, people often ask me why I’ve chosen to write about Everlee, our family and my feelings on being a childless first time mother. It constantly amazes and humbles me when I see people and they make reference to reading my blog. Neighbours, friends, family and colleagues, but most surprising to me, dozens of other moms that have found themselves in this very lonely and sad club that we never wanted to be a part of. I have received emails from all over the world, and have found support online where there has been a void in my every day life. In the very early days it was simply to find my lost voice. To find a way to express those most deep raw emotions that could only bubble on the surface of my consciousness.

In the last 5 months this blog has been viewed by over 50000 people, and from what I can gather, has about 500 regular readers who read every entry. At the beginning, I didn’t care if anyone ever read what I wrote, but now I see that this space has become so much more to me than a place to let my words spill from my soul.

To a lot of people, Everlee was only ever a bump on my belly. A fun little (slash not so little) roundness that I carried around and made me waddle. She was something that made my tummy go thump and made me love chicken wings and flakies. But in writing this blog, I have been able to give people a glimpse into the person she was, and could have been. She was spirited, and active and she was loved more deeply than I ever thought I was capable of loving. She made me happier than I had ever been in my entire life in her short time with us. And losing her will always be the most painful thing I have ever had to endure. But having her, even for the shortest amount of time that she was with us, was the happiest I have ever been.

And that’s why I continue to write. So we never forget a beautiful little girl who brought an unimaginable amount of joy for a much too short time.

Happy 5 month birthday, baby girl.

Breathe

What a difference a new perspective can make.

I spent the night awake, worrying, wondering, hoping.. anxiously awaiting my appointment with my new doctor this morning at 11am. If you’ll recall the last one didn’t go so well:

https://everleerose.com/2013/05/13/i-dont-know-how-much-more-i-can-take/

After that appointment I ended up meeting with the managing nurse at the clinic I go to and complained about how I was treated. She was so apologetic and suggested maybe a fresh set of eyes and a fresh start for us would do well. And boy was she right.

In the time that has passed since I wrote that entry I have lost 27.3lbs (probably a little less since I did some celebrating today..) and have spent hours upon hours working on my own mental health, and overall well being.

I spent the night last night in agony wondering would all of my hard work be in vain? Would I be sent away again only to be told that my size was the only diagnosis I would be given? Would my health even be given consideration this time around?

My new doctor was a breath of fresh air. She said she wanted to do a number of tests (bloodwork mostly) to rule out anything that may be a risk in any subsequent pregnancy, if we’re lucky enough to get to that stage. She wants me to see the Maternal fetal Medicine specialist (essentially an extraordinarily high risk pregnancy doctor) to determine how we’ll approach a pregnancy next time around, and she said once that is done and we have a clear slate in front of us, we can start fertility treatments. Right now that looks like either August or September. With this sort of thing, it always a matter of timing.

*I* had to bring up my weight. She said I had done an amazing job, and that she knew I lead a healthy lifestyle before I was pregnant and she wasn’t at all concerned. She told me to keep doing what I’m doing. She said another 15-20lbs wouldn’t hurt, but she’s not concerned as long as I was healthy and mentally ready to move in this direction.

Night and day.

It has been so long since anything positive has happened for us, this day was everything we could have hoped for. So after 2 solid months of agonizing over every morsel of food I have put into my body, I had a cheeseburger, a beer and an ice cream! (Back to healthy clean eating tomorrow I promise!).

Darcy and I had promised ourselves that no matter what happened today that we would do something we both loved and enjoyed, so we spent the afternoon out on the water whale watching in our beautiful province of Newfoundland. The air was clean and crisp, the whales and birds were plentiful, and there was even a rainbow brought too us by a playful humpback. And for anyone who frequents baby loss blogs or groups, like I know so often many of my blogging friends do, they know the symbolism of a rainbow. And I think my little Everlee had something to do with bringing one to us today, even on the most sunshiny day… We caught a glimpse of our rainbow.
This is what hope feels like. I missed this feeling.

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A Little Help From My Friends

Darcy and I often joke about my twice weekly visits to the psychologist. We’ve dealt with just about every situation in our lives using humour. It’s how we cope, and this isn’t very different in that respect. Often, after our appointments together we’ll look at each other and say “still crazy? yep.” and chuckle and move on to face whatever that day has to hold. On the outside, we put on our bravest faces. On the inside, usually we’re both barely held together by the seams. 

“How the hell do you think I am?”

How many times have I wanted to scream that at anyone who cares to ask how I’m doing?  People wouldn’t ever expect me to react that way. They’d know I was crazy. Alternatively, how many times have I wanted to meet their eyes, all calm, cool, and collected, and say that? Just say it– no forced smile, no nothing. How many times? I’ve lost count. And how many times have I actually said it? None. But none of us are any good at this. Sometimes people don’t know HOW to ask how I’m doing. And sometimes, I really don’t know how to answer. 

Why is that, you think? 

I think part of my need to appear sane isn’t about me at all. It’s not about my pride being hurt if I’m pitied; looked at like a sad puppy in the pound at the SPCA. It’s not about being patronized with idiotic advice on how to make things all better. I think some part of this is about the need to have Everlee seen as profoundly cherished, and not just some event that has driven me to the brink of insanity. I hold it together so that when I choose to talk about her, I am not dismissed. I think one of the things I want most is for others to understand my grief, just a little bit. It’s not an overreaction. It’s a deep love for my child who has died, and that warrants the most hurtful and deep sort of grief there is. It’s messy. and hard. But it’s far from an overreaction. And that’s hard for others to see sometimes when they haven’t been here. I know that I am slowly finding my footing in this new world I’ve found myself in but it is, by far, that hardest thing I have ever done (and will ever have to do, one would hope) in my life. 

I have so many wonderful people in my life who regularly check in on me. I still don’t spend much time with people. I find it so difficult. It gives me anxiety to the point where I break into sweats and have to actively think about how to breathe. It’s getting easier than before, no doubt, but it’s still a challenge. That’s why I am so thankful for things like Facebook that allow me to still maintain those relationships that are so important to me (and, it seems, meet people who have families like mine).

“Hi Rhonda, I just wanted you to know that I am thinking of you, Darcy and Everlee today. Love you xo”

So simple. So easy. That very tiny bit of love, sent regularly by keyboard, lets me know that my friends care,even if they don’t completely understand. It soothes my beastly bitterness at how the world slights this type of loss. Facebook, of all things, has saved some real friendships, by helping me let people off the hook for not being better at this.

No part of this has been easy, and more than occasionally I have been teetering on the brink of losing it. However, there is not a doubt in my mind that it is that love from the amazing people in my life that has hauled me back from the depths of grief stricken hell. Am I insane? No. Do I often feel like I might be? Absolutely. But one thing is for certain, and that is that without my friends, and my family and my Darcy I wouldn’t be able to put on that brave face and keep my seams from bursting apart with all of the pain inside.