Monday, November 13, 2017

Awkwardly Comfortable

 Related image


Clinical Week 1: Awkwardly comfortable is what came to mind at the end of my second day in clinic as a student nurse midwife.  I've never felt this comfortable in a new role... ever.  With as much as I still need to learn, it felt so right.  A little synopsis of my two days...

Each pregnant belly is amazing in shape and with the little earned nuisances of scars, varying shades of the linea nigra, and tone.  To witness the eyes of 1st time parents light up instantly at the sound of their less than 10wk old baby's heartbeat is magical.  I want to learn to speak spanish well.  Thankful that the wet sticky substance found under a waistband while checking a fundal height was just left over sono gel (phew!).  I can't wait to master the Art of Leopold's Maneuvers.  Surrogacy is an indescribable gift to give another.  Is there such a thing as stylish comfortable shoes?  How amazing it was to witness a defensive, easily triggered Mom-to-be transition into someone who was relaxed and smiling by the end of her visit... she had been carrying fears and mistrust from a previous traumatic birth into this new pregnancy (I hope & pray I get to see a positive birth story unfold for her).  Seeing & feeling a baby move within a belly is just plain... spiritual.  So grateful to be on this journey!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Round Peg in a Round Hole

Wow!  What a week at Clinical Bound!  If you haven't figured out already, life through my eyes will forever be through the 'filter' of our love & loss of Vivian.  It's just the way it is. 

The beginning of the week was rough... As it turns out I wasn't as successful at shaking off the anxiety as I had hoped.  I was a little preoccupied with triggers of being there the first time happy & pregnant with Vivian.  It was tough to focus and let myself relax.  Self doubt took quite a hold too.  Passing my physical assessment as well as I did, was such a boost!  The instructors were phenomenal... encouraging, passionate, funny, wise, and stepped into simulation roles like paid actresses!  Finally connecting with a core group of Frontier friends was a definite highlight too.  We shared: nail biting assessment check offs, fasciculation, never have I ever, shopping for underwear & flipflops, beef tongue suturing, simulations, Red Light Cafe, shack o'shame, sangria & warm beer, laughter & tears, salad with bugs, a syringe squirt gun, hot topics & so much more! 



How perfect it was to wrap up the week at Wendover where Mary Breckenridge lived & pursued bringing nurse midwives to the states.  In Frontier fashion, we circled up to share what we were looking forward to as midwives and where we thought we might serve or go.  It was moving to hear so many different stories & missions.  I shared a bit about Vivian and how my focus has shifted from when I was there the first time.  Perinatal loss will definitely be a part of my focus... where it takes me is yet to be determined.  It's very much a faith piece.  One instructor reminded me that Mary Breckenridge lost her 2 children and went on to do great things.  Those were and are empowering words for me.  To be among 'your people' and to be in that 'place' that fits you is a gift.  I am blessed. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Onward


Headed to Hyden, KY for a second time... what a whirlwind of thoughts.  On my drive, I listened to recorded instructional videos, belted out in unison with Lauren Daigle, and peeked at study notes.  Yeah, you wish you could've been my co-pilot ;)   How perfect it was to drive through a mix of sunshine, rain, and cold.  How very different I thought my path would've been 2 years ago.  Where else in the country can you attend a grad school in the mountains?  The pictures don't do it justice, but the fall colors were amazing!  On the drive here I shook off my fears of not passing my assessment check offs and leaned into being in the moment, relishing in this journey that I'm on.  I won't fail and I trust that great things are coming.  I believe Vivian was taken to derail me from this path.  Instead... I'm leaning in.  Bring on this last leg of my midwifery training! 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

2

2 years
Sounds like a long time but still feels so fresh.  The anticipation of her birthday seems to be the most difficult.  What surprised me this year, was how full my heart felt after opening box after box that arrived on our door steps week after week.  Vivian's story touched many and choosing to pass along her love to future families devastated by baby loss is healing.  We still have items coming in, but the final count delivered to our local hospital was: 41 bears & bunnies, 35 books for Moms & Dads.  It was such an honor to deliver love sent from so many of our family & friends!  An idea for a journal (pictured above) came to me as I was shopping for items to make her cake... when we travel we stay at VRBO or Airbnb sites and they often have a journal you can write a note to your hosts.  It occurred to me how meaningful it would be to have a journal families could write their baby's name in and maybe a note to honor the love they have.  I believe it came from Vivian :)  


 October 21st @ 1:38pm
It was dark when I let our dog out yesterday morning and as soon as I opened the door there must have been 8-10 bunnies in our back yard. The motion light lit up their white tails as they scurried away.  I've never seen so many at once.  I took it as Vivian saying "I'm here".  
We celebrated with close family & friends.  I put my amateur cake making skills in action.  I delighted in making my boys' cakes up until it wasn't cool anymore.  We lit up our front yard with 138 pink luminaries.  It was Ethan's idea to spell out her name this year.  There's definitely something spiritual about seeing her name illuminated in the darkness.   






Friday, October 20, 2017

Nothingness

2 years ago today I heard the worst news of my life.  "I don't see anything".  4 days earlier, I heard her heart beat for the last time.  I was catapulted into a world of nothingness.  I couldn't think straight and I'd say I went to a place deeper than feelings could go and I'm a feeler.  My family will tell you I was in shock.

When you become a part of the baby loss community, you talk to many different mothers with years of grief behind them.  Each of our stories are all a little different, but there are commonalities we share.  I've been told that the season of your baby's death will stir in your soul without you even being conscious of it (this comes from seasoned Moms who are 15+ years out).  2 years makes me still fresh on this loss journey and I can say I felt it.  Last year took me to my knees (ok, it was really a face plant) and I'm thankful this year isn't as overwhelming.  I know it's hard for those who haven't experienced a stillbirth to understand and for some reason it matters to me that others 'outside' of our community at least begin to grasp how life altering this loss is for us.  Interestingly, the last few days I've had conversations and ran into people that added to my personal journey & insights.  Over the last 2 years, I've heard stories of mothers who were in there 90's and in their final days share with their loved ones when they were asked what they were looking forward to in heaven... their number 1 answer?... they couldn't wait to see their baby.  Many struggle(d) with mental illness.  With this all said, I just want to caution you with your thinking or response...  ask yourself if what you're thinking/saying/doing is to make yourself feel better?  I did it too.  I ran into a loss Mom yesterday who interestingly I hardly knew but when I lost Vivian I thought of her and a couple other Moms I knew who had stillbirths many years ago.  I remember my response then... uncomfortable, didn't know what to say, impacted by deep sadness for them, and with one of them I had a newborn and it was as if I couldn't handle thinking let alone doing much for her recognizing the preciousness of what I held at the time.  I could've done more.  I should have.  Being uncomfortable should be our cue to do something... lean in and act. 

Speaking of uncomfortable.  I reconciled with a friend this week.  The grips of bitterness had a hold of my heart adding weight to my journey that just didn't need to be there.  It goes back to an earlier post "The response or lack of from others is life as they know it through insecurities and fears... to recognize this, keeps the grips of bitterness & blame at bay."  She was doing the best she could in the season she was in.  Lord knows, I'm not perfect & have missed the mark (see above paragraph).  Brene Brown's (she really is the bomb) BIG acronym is a freeing motto to live by:  "What Boundaries need to be in place for me to be in my Integrity in order to make the most generous Assumptions about you." LOVE this.  If we could all default to this way of thinking, how would our relationships be?  I'm trying. 

So this is a bit of a mixed post... but such is life :)  We made the decision as a family that we'd do something different each year to honor our baby girl.  This year we decided to ask for bears, bunnies and books from friends and family on Facebook.  We have a great collection to be donated to the hospital I work at to be given to baby loss families in order to help fill their empty arms.  It is absolutely giving purpose for our pain!  Our hospital has a perinatal loss budget from a volunteer group at the hospital who solely funds some of our needs, but it frankly isn't enough.  Many items are donated from several of us at the hospital, either hand made or purchased.  I have to say, it's also been cathartic for me on a personal note, to open Amazon boxes in lieu of what would have been 2 year old birthday gifts for our sweet Vivian.  It has been so good for this Momma's heart.  Those who have given have no idea how much these items mean to me and will mean to the families they're going to.  For anyone reading this who gave, THANK YOU.  For those who added a note with their gift, golden.

That's it for now.  I'll post again later tonight after our donation delivery.  We're a far cry from the nothingness we felt 2 years ago.  Focusing on the love of Vivian!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Brene Brown Brilliance



My husband and I had the privilege of seeing Brene Brown in the flesh in Nashville on Sept 26th and she was AMAZING!  I've given countless dollars to two therapists and I have to say Brene tops them all!  Where are others like her?  My husband says combine her with Beth Moore and we'd have a revolution on our hands!  Her research and insights are brilliant. There is power in her definitions!  The messages I walked away with include:

  • Charles Feltman's definition of trust:  "choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person's actions"  
  • "True belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self acceptance"
  • "Art has the power to render sorrow beautiful, make loneliness a shared experience, and transform despair into hope"
  • "In 1980 approximately 20% of Americans reported feeling lonely. Today it's more than double that percentage
  • "Pain that is denied or ignored becomes fear or hate. Anger that is never transformed  becomes resentment and bitterness"
  • "Belonging is being accepted for you.  Fitting in is being accepted for being like everyone else" 
  • "Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don't belong; you will always find it"

Monday, September 25, 2017

A student of grief




We're big movie buffs at our house.  Early on in my grief journey this scene of Mr. Incredible being attacked by the expanding black balls came to mind.  In my mind it was the perfect picture of deep grief... you can attempt to run, to hold yourself up, to fight it, to muscle through BUT it will take you down.  These moments still come and I don't think I'm any better at not trying to fight grief off.  Sadness, insecurity, fear, doubt, guilt, exhaustion, and forgetfulness are the chains linked to grief. It's debilitating, messy and unpredictable. 

I've come to a place of pause in my graduate school journey.  On the day I took my last didactic exam I broke down into tears.  I felt attacked by the expanding black balls.  Down I went.  It's been a crazy 2.5 years!  I've learned more than I ever thought I would, not only about women's health but about life.  This is what I've learned, what Vivian has taught me:
  • To love deeper, wider & with more fierceness than ever before
  • Our connection to the spiritual world is closer than we think
  • Faith is far more than feelings & isn't to be understood
  • To face the pain, to lean into it 
  • To feel what I need to feel when I feel it & let the tears fall
  • To Listen, to be quiet and really listen 
  • The highs are higher. joy is deeper
  • To be grateful for the few who have remained WITH me in this journey, who are in my arena and not in the stands (Brene Brown's influence here)
  • We suck as a culture in supporting those living with grief
  • To be a voice for loss families
  • The response or lack of from others is life as they know it through insecurities and fears... to recognize this, keeps the grips of bitterness & blame at bay
  • Compassion & empathy are the greatest gifts we can give others