Mountains & Valleys

Alright. So. Let’s talk about the last two weeks.

Content warning: this post is about pregnancy and miscarriage.

On Monday, Sept.23, Lori had her first scheduled appointment about her pregnancy.

Gosh, I just realized, I hadn’t even written about that here. Yeah, we were expecting. It was only a week before that appointment that we’d started telling everybody, and I made a highly dorky announcement photo for our social media accounts. This pregnancy had been challenging, because Lori felt much more sick than with Cassidy, so I was picking up as much slack as I could while she rested and slept. Everybody was exhausted, but sharing our news with people marked sort of a turning point where we were starting to get excited ourselves.

Wait, let’s back up even further. We’d been trying for a second child for almost a year, actually. If I can be candid, our first pregnancy did not take much trying at all, so we were confused as to why the second time around was taking so much longer. We took things a step further and both had tests done (at Lori’s doctor’s urging) but nothing about the results showed that anything was obviously wrong. In fact, when we discovered we were pregnant again, we were at a pretty low point about the whole thing, discussing whether to give up entirely for now or go to the next step and schedule a fertility clinic appointment in Winnipeg.

All that to say that until we started telling people, we ourselves were honestly not terribly thrilled. But we were getting there, pulled upward by the joy and excitement of friends and family. And Lori felt like she was turning a corner in terms of her nausea and exhaustion, which was heartening.

So, September 23rd. Week 11 for us. The staff at the clinic weren’t able to locate a heartbeat on the fetus, but that in itself wasn’t cause for panic, as it can be tricky when things are that early. They suggested an ultrasound the next day, but that’s Lori’s birthday and we had tickets to see Michelle Obama. She asked for a day reprieve, and they agreed that another day probably wasn’t going to make a difference either way.

(Michelle O. was very good. Interesting, funny, and really encouraging.)

We were concerned but trying to stay positive. Wednesday’s ultrasound happened, but the technicians are not supposed to interpret results, and because of an administrative mixup, we didn’t hear anything back on that day or the entire next one.

On Friday the 27th, the clinic called and asked Lori to come in at her earliest convenience, which is like, Oh. If things were fine, they would just tell us over the phone. I went in with Lori this time and we were given the news that the baby had made it to about 10 weeks, 6 days. The grief didn’t hit all at once. It sort of rolled over me in waves for the rest of the day, and I can say that by now it’s gone down from big stop-you-in-your-tracks waves to little ones, gently lapping at my feet, not consuming, but not gone.

For Lori there remained the matter of getting the baby out, which I won’t go into in detail, except that after waiting the weekend to see if her body would work on its own, we ended up checking in to the hospital on Monday. There is still considerable pain and discomfort to deal with even at this early stage, but thanks to our family taking care of Cassidy and the pets I was able to be with her while we waited.

For both of us, there was also the difficult matter of telling family & friends what had happened. Knowing that we had just asked people to celebrate with us made it hard to follow up with such unfortunate news, and yet, Lori and I have both talked about how glad we are for the timing of our announcement. Firstly, as we’re both peacemakers, it’s our first impulse to keep pain & suffering to ourselves, in order not to “impose” on others or “make trouble”. Sharing our happy news forced us, in a way, to share the sad news as well, which has led to so many people coming forward to share our grief, sympathize, and lift us up with prayer, kind words, and gifts. I was able to lead singing with my worship team on Sunday morning, and I’m convinced it’s because God answered the prayers of others to heal me and give me strength.

The second good thing about the timing of our pregnancy announcement was that, like I said, the joy of others helped us to feel joyful and positive. Had we not been buoyed by that joy, I can’t imagine how much more difficult this all could have been.

So this week I’ve mainly been feeling okay but deeply tired. Lori is on the mend, and she and I are, I think, doing a good job of continuing to communicate about what we’re feeling, and trying not to judge our thoughts and reactions as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but just sharing them as they are. We weren’t anywhere close to a name for the baby beforehand, but just yesterday we felt like we’d landed on something we like, but that’s not something we’re broadcasting either. Not sure why.

Some challenges I’ve had this week involve Marvin, my Low Self-Esteem creature, who’s been nattering at me about two main things; one is whether or not I am displaying the appropriate amount of grief, as though there were rules about such things, or somebody watching and judging me for talking too enthusiastically about Untitled Goose Game. Ridiculous when I say it out loud, but definitely a worry that I’ve been grappling with.

The other thing Marvin would like me to know is that I don’t deserve people’s care and support; that I haven’t done enough for others in their times of grief (and at one point I seriously found myself reviewing the past and feeling guilty about how much I did or didn’t support people in my life), or that people are being Too Nice and I just…haven’t earned that, for some reason.

Again, ridiculous. Nobody is “keeping score” about these things. I can get out of my own way and accept what others offer with simple, sincere thanks and no assumption of personal obligation being paid, or created. We are, as I’ve said several times, extremely grateful for the support we’ve been offered, and I think that all that I need to “do” in response is pay forward that kindness and support to someone else in the future.

I suppose that underneath both of these things is a fear that I’ll come across as disrespectful or selfish. That by not being sad enough, or not returning others’ “investment” of support I won’t meet their expectations and they won’t want to associate with me at all. I think Marvin’s afraid of that, and I need to gently remind him that he can take a seat, and we’re going to accept help as it’s offered.

Thing I Saw: I took a day off to serenely wander around the St. Vital mall yesterday, and learned that EBGames’ are like two-thirds geek-adjacent merchandise and about 1/3rd actual games. Digital distribution must really be eating their lunches.

Thing I Learned: A float spa tank (also tried yesterday) can really help you focus in on your Super Metroid run and think through ways to optimize it. Then you become distracted by keen awareness of your own heart moving blood to all parts of your body.

I’m Grateful For: Once again, friends, family & community. In good times and bad.