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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Remembering with Peace

When you've suffered a loss, it takes time to go through the different stages of grief. As you process emotions and life rushes past you at its hurried pace, you may feel that the memory of your loss is pushed aside. Then when you have time to deal with those memories, the hurt is dredged up again.

It's important to take the time you need to heal and enlist the help of others. In the event of miscarriage, some people may not want to give you any grieving time. They will expect you to be 100% a few days later. It's hard to understand why some people aren't able to comprehend that suffering a miscarriage is a great loss, a death, a pain-filled occurrence.

Do not lose yourself to others' expectations. It is reasonable to expect a full recovery from a miscarriage in a reasonable amount of time--this time varies for each individual.
There are a few things that you might be able to do to help in this time of suffering.

  • Create a memory garden with beautiful perennial plants and flowers for your sweet baby.

  • Plant a lilac bush or a tree and tell yourself that as this tree grows, so will you continue to grow in strength and courage to face each day.

  • If you aren't the gardening type, you can purchase a houseplant. I have African Violets that are ten years old and a variety of houseplant that is thirteen years old that require very little maintenance and grows beautifully.

Most important is to remember with peace. Let go of the overwhelming feelings of sadness and grief and find a measure of peace in this trial. It may take weeks, months, or years, but it is my prayer that you will find and feel peace.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sometimes It Takes a Trial to Recognize Who We Are

I believe that this life is a time for us to experience many things both good and bad. Of course, I'd rather just experience the good, but I also realize why I have trials--to learn. During those hard times of life when I'm facing a trial it is hard to see anything but the grief and agony I'm going through as I try to overcome whatever obstacle is blocking my path to happiness.

I would definitely define miscarriage as an unpleasant trial. During the time when my husband and I were going through the sadness and disappointment of miscarriages, I was wearing the blinders of grief. I couldn't see very far into the future because I felt like I was drowning in a pool of sorrow.
Thank goodness our perspective can change over time. I can now look back at those unpleasant times and recognize the things I learned.

I wanted to share one of those things with you today. I learned that I am of individual worth.
Yes, it's a phrase I repeated every Sunday in Young Women's, but I only understood the surface of that statement. During the years when I yearned and prayed for a baby, I often questioned my self-worth. When I had repeated miscarriages, I wondered if Heavenly Father didn't think I was good enough to be a mother. I often wondered if I was a good enough person to be deserving of a child--was that why my prayers for a baby weren't being answered?
After my first miscarriage and subsequent years of infertility, I was walking through the refiner's fire. I began to realize something about myself and how important I was to our Heavenly Father's plan. It was shortly before my second miscarriage when I finally began to accept the truth that "I am a daughter of a Heavenly Father who loves me and I am of infinite worth." I realized that it didn't matter if I ever had children on this earth--Heavenly Father loves me! Heavenly Father knows my individual worth.

I was able to accept and cope with my second miscarriage in an entirely different way than I had faced my first miscarriage. It was still horrible. I was still sad and grieving, but through all that I was experiencing I could feel a sense of peace about God, about my Savior Jesus Christ, and of their infinite wisdom and love for me.

I want you to know that you are also of individual, infinite worth. Read this line aloud: I am of individual and infinite worth and am not defined solely by my earthly circumstances.

This does not mean that your trials will be easy. It doesn't mean that you won't grieve and mourn when you experience a miscarriage or other type of trial in your life. What it does mean is that no matter what happens to you, despite all that you might endure, this truth will never change: You are of individual worth.

Through my trials, I came to the conclusion that even if I was never able to bear children, I am still of infinite worth. This truth came so powerfully to me that I knew I could keep forging ahead and keep trying despite the pain. Sometimes it takes a trial to recognize who we are--the important thing is to grab hold of that truth and remember who we are for the trials in our future.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Father's Day Thoughts After a Miscarriage

Father's Day is a wonderful holiday, although it usually doesn't receive as much fanfare as Mother's Day.

When speaking of miscarriage, infertility, or other babies and children gone too soon, we often refer to Mother's Day as the "dreaded holiday" full of memories of what could have been, stark reminders of empty arms. I hope that you can read a few of my other posts here on this blog and information in my book, Lost Children: Coping with Miscarriage to help with these feelings. I'm bringing up this subject because I want to shine a light on a holiday that can be just as hard for a man who also has empty arms--Father's Day.

In my book, I have a special chapter,  
Husbands Have a Right to Grieve.
Here is an excerpt from that chapter:

Whenever someone mentions miscarriage, our thoughts usually turn to the woman who is suffering. She has gone through a terrible experience and we try our best to help and comfort her. But what about her husband?

The husband also has the right and need to mourn. He may experience some of the same or different emotions as his spouse. From my own experience, I remember I was so overwhelmed by my initial grief and pain that I couldn’t focus on anything else. I am so grateful my husband was able to explain to me that he was hurting too. Because he was willing to confide in me, my perspective shifted significantly so I was able to see that the suffering was not just my own, but ours to endure together.

It helped me to know that not only was my husband concerned about me, but he too was grieving the loss of our baby. He was not always as verbal about his feelings as I was. There were days I would forget he was grieving because he mourned in such a quiet way.

Men are very different from women emotionally, and particularly in how those emotions are expressed. Women usually find it therapeutic to verbalize their thoughts and emotions, whereas men tend to resolve them by thinking them out and bringing them to a mental resolution. Our differences can and should complement each other instead of causing discord.

Many women shared with me that their husbands wished someone would acknowledge they were hurting too. During my research, I have learned that many husbands often felt overlooked and forgotten during the mourning and comforting process. One man said, “It was my baby too and I am hurting just as much as my wife. I know it’s different but I’m not only hurting for the loss of the baby. I’m hurting for the pain my wife is going through.”

Even though husbands do have a need and a right to grieve, most will grieve differently than their wife. Because the woman experiences all of the physical changes of pregnancy and miscarriage, it is often hard for the husband to identify with the same emotions. He will likely feel grief, but he may not express his feelings as openly.

I talked to many husbands who felt they needed to be strong for their wife and family. Some felt that if they could temper their hurt and disappointment it would help their wife deal with the situation better.

You can read more on this subject in my book. My hope is to create awareness that it is not only the woman who suffers after a miscarriage. We can be sensitive to both the husband and a wife in this case and remember that even though women are the emotional creatures, men have feelings too.

With Father's Day approaching, I hope that you will have a chance to make new happy memories. If there is sadness in your life right now because of loss, I hope you can take a moment to ponder how you can help a father who has suffered and how you can both walk the healing path together.

If you have questions, feel free to email me: RachellethewriterAT

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Introduction of Lost Children: Coping with Miscarriage for Latter-day Saints

I'm posting the introduction of my book below. Please note that there have been some minor changes made to the published work. Lost Children: Coping with Miscarriage for Latter-day Saints is now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and more bookstores near you.

When I discovered I would become a mother I never imagined anything would go wrong. My husband and I were overjoyed and excited to be pregnant with our first baby. We had been married for almost two years and felt ready to start a family; so we immediately began preparing for the day when we could bring our baby home.
It was an exciting time. Each day I awoke with a smile, thinking about the new life within me. I immersed myself in baby books, magazines, and any information I could find about pregnancy and becoming a mother.
About six weeks into my pregnancy, I was overcome with fear and anxiety that something was wrong with my baby. I began crying uncontrollably. My husband was concerned for me, and asked me why I felt that way. I told him, “I don’t know. Maybe I’m just emotional, but I’m afraid that something will go wrong with my pregnancy.”
He gave me a Priesthood blessing to overcome feelings of doubt and depression and I felt at peace. I went to my first doctor appointment for my ten week check-up and was told that everything looked good. My uterus was an appropriate size and I was in good health.
Over the next few days, I felt better and was once again excited about my pregnancy. We went shopping for a few maternity clothes. It was so fun to try on the little pregnancy pillow to see how I would look at five months pregnant. I thought back to all the Young Women lessons I had heard about the joys of motherhood and the sacred and specials blessings we as women are given to be mothers. My joy was full.
When I was about eleven weeks into my pregnancy, I began spotting. I called my doctor’s office and the nurses reassured me this was common for a lot of women. After it continued for a few days, I insisted on seeing the doctor.
I prayed constantly that all would be well, but I worried about the appointment. My doctor tried to find the heartbeat using the Doppler instrument for several minutes. When he couldn’t hear anything, he explained that sometimes it’s hard to find the heartbeat in the first trimester of pregnancy. He sent us over to the hospital for an ultrasound.
I was nervous as we were admitted to the ultrasound room. The radiologist worked quietly and passed the ultrasound transducer over my abdomen. He kept looking at the fuzzy black and white images with a furrowed brow. Then he asked me, “Have you been on any fertility drugs?”
Surprised, I said, “No, this was our first try at getting pregnant.”
He nodded his head and continued looking at the screen.
My husband and I watched anxiously as the radiologist enlarged the picture on the screen and three small sacs came into view.
“Is that triplets?” I asked in disbelief. He only nodded and then I observed him make a small X in each of the three sacs. My heart sank as I watched him silently working. He didn’t offer any explanation and I was too afraid to ask. All I could do was stare at the screen with the three X marks. I wondered if he was going to wait for our doctor to give us “the news.” My fears were confirmed when he finished the ultrasound and told us he would have some pictures for us to take back to our doctor in a few minutes.
I knew something was very wrong with my pregnancy. I had three sacs in my uterus but had heard no heartbeat. Still, because the radiologist had said nothing I held on to some insane shred of hope.
My husband and I returned to our doctor’s office with pictures of our ultrasound. The doctor looked them over and said, “I’m very sorry, but there was no heartbeat evident and no sign of a developing baby.”
He explained that I had been pregnant with triplets, but they looked to be possibly three separate blighted ova, a pregnancy failure which has occurred so early, no clearly defined fetal tissue has formed. He explained that sometimes a pregnancy ceases to develop several weeks before the uterus actually “miscarries.”
The doctor said that the gestational age looked to be about five or six weeks, which is too early to see a heartbeat. He asked that they draw my blood and then again in two days to check if the hCG or pregnancy hormones in my blood were dropping. This is how we would know for sure that I would miscarry because in a viable pregnancy the hCG levels double every two days.
He offered his condolences and told me to go home, rest and try to deal with the loss of our pregnancy. I didn’t receive any instruction as to what I could do to ease the process, just a warning that if the bleeding became too heavy I should head to the emergency room. 
When my husband and I returned home, I didn’t want to believe I was going to have a miscarriage. Somewhere in my mind, I argued that because I had not yet lost the pregnancy, there was still a chance my babies could survive. I prayed that things would look normal with my blood tests—that maybe something was off with my cycle and I wasn’t as far along as we thought. In the back of my mind, I think I knew the truth but I didn’t want to let go of hope.
I thought about all the family members who knew of our pregnancy and how excited we had been to make that announcement when I was about nine weeks along. How would we tell everyone we were no longer going to have a baby?
It was difficult for me to sort out my feelings. For the past eleven weeks, I had been on an emotional high, preparing to be a mother. It was hard to believe that it wasn’t going to happen. Physically, I felt fine and kept hoping some miracle would take place. At the same time, I could hardly believe I had been pregnant with triplets. What an amazing event! We couldn’t help but talk about what it would have been like to have three babies at once. My husband was still in college and I had recently graduated. So we told ourselves we could never have afforded three babies at once in our little trailer home. But this make-believe consolation didn’t offer any comfort.
After a few days, I experienced intense pain and cramping. I was bleeding heavily and couldn’t stop dry heaving from the pain. I called my husband at work and told him I needed help. He rushed home and took me to the emergency room.
That was the worst day of my life. I felt lost. While I waited in the emergency room, my body writhed with pain, which was all the more devastating because there would be no reward for any of it but sorrow.
After I was treated, we returned to our empty home. We were devastated. I spent an entire day lying on the couch crying and asking the Lord why He let this happen. My husband was deeply saddened by our loss. He worried for me and the pain I had gone through and the recovery ahead. After months of pure joy and excitement, we were now left with emptiness. We were in a young married student ward where almost every couple had children. I didn’t know anyone who had experienced a miscarriage, and I had never expected to go through this trial.
All the tears I cried could not wash away the insurmountable level of grief surrounding me. I received a priesthood blessing, but this did not completely take away my grief.
As I went through the grieving process, I was left with many unanswered questions. I wondered what had happened to my babies. Were they developed enough to house a spirit? I was told by many people that I would have a celestial baby to raise in the hereafter, but that didn’t bring me comfort because I couldn’t find church doctrine to support the claim.
            The following is a quote from my journal written a year after my first miscarriage:
“I felt prompted to write about how to deal with miscarriage because maybe I could help someone in need.”
At the time I didn’t know that the someone would be me. The Lord was preparing a way for me to face another challenge in my life.
Ten months later I wrote:
“The temple holds such a beautiful and peaceful feeling. It brings life into perspective. All I want is to have a baby. I know the Lord will bless us soon.”
After my miscarriage, people gave me all sorts of advice and although they meant well, much of it was misinformed. I struggled with going to church because it seemed there was always someone asking, “When are you going to have kids?” or offering suggestions and distorted doctrine. I searched for answers to my questions, received priesthood blessings, and met with my bishop to help me through the grieving process.
My husband and I were married for nearly five years before we were able to have our first baby. I experienced two miscarriages and problems with infertility. Finally, our first daughter was born on a beautiful April day nearly three years after my first miscarriage. Two years later in August, we were blessed with another beautiful daughter and three years later a son. Though nothing brings me more joy today than my children, I still remember the deep sense of longing and loss I felt when I had no children.
This is why I have written this book. I hope the information and experiences I have gathered from many books, doctors, and people who have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infertility will help you through your time of sadness. I realize there are many who have suffered greater tribulations than I have experienced. For this reason, I have studied diligently to uncover truths which I hope will also help you through your trials.
 I have a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and I know my Heavenly Father has a plan for me and for each of you. He loves us and He will never leave us, if we will but ‘come unto him.’

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

You're invited to my book launch

I'd like to invite you to the launch of this special book that has been years in the making. Lost Children: Coping with Miscarriage for Latter-day Saints is so important and dear to my heart.

I will be signing copies of Lost Children at the Orem, Utah Barnes & Noble on May 14, Friday from 6-8pm.
Please come and support this book that needs to be in so many people's hands. 1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage and everyone will be touched by miscarriage, infertility, or stillbirth in some way--either personally or because it happens to someone we love.
Have you been looking for the perfect gift to give to that someone who is suffering? Have you been wondering how you could help, what you could say? This book is for you.

Please check back to read the first chapter of the book here on my blog.
Do you have questions about this topic or would you like to schedule a speaking engagement? Please contact me at Rachellethewriter AT

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cover of Lost Children: Coping with Miscarriage for Latter-day Saints

I am so pleased with the cover of my new nonfiction book. I hope that you like it too. I am so grateful that this book will finally be available to so many people who have questions and need comfort or want to know how to comfort others suffering from a miscarriage.

Lost Children: Coping with Miscarriage for Latter-day Saints will be released May 8, 2010.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A New Year Is Born

It's difficult to begin a new year with a monkey on your back. It's hard to look forward with hope for accomplishing new goals with grief overshadowing each step.
It hurts to look at an empty calendar and feel the emptiness inside an abdomen that should be stretching, reaching toward that due date in March--the birth of the new spring--a beautiful time for a baby to be born. My first pregnancy--my first baby--was supposed to be born in March. I don't think I coped very well at the time, to the days passing, months passing, and all I had to carry with me was emptiness as I didn't conceive. My baby's due date passed, an entire year passed, and still I wasn't pregnant.

That was nine years ago. Nine years ago that I started a new year that passed without fulfilling my hope of becoming a mother.Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and whisper to myself, "Rachelle, you will become a mother on April 29, 2003. It will be one of the happiest days of your life."
But I can't do that and it's probably for the best. The experiences that shaped me, that shape each one of us, make us who we are.

I hope that you will look up at that cloud of grief shading you from the sun and find strength to face this new year. Make some goals. They can be simple, they can be complex, but they must be goals that you will strive to achieve. Work towards goals to keep yourself growing through life's experiences to become your true self that lies hidden in the tears of sorrow, adversity, and grief--the true self that is strong enough to overcome this trial and face another year.

If this is your new year facing loss, please reach out to someone for help and comfort. Leave a comment, send an email to rachellethewriterAT if you'd like, and keep reading this blog. I will continue to update through the year with more of my story and tips to help you as we approach the release date of my book in May 2010- Lost Children:Coping with Miscarriage.
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