Getting Back to Ourselves

Today's #MoreThan1in8 words are from author Jen Noonan. Jen is the author of In Due Time, a book I cannot wait to read myself (along with the other twenty or so books in my ridiculous nightstand pile). Jen's voice in the infertility and loss community is one I am so thankful for! ~~~

Getting Back to Ourselves

National Infertility Awareness Week is a bittersweet time for me personally. It is an optimistic time when hundreds of thousands of us unite to share our stories, support one another, and advocate on behalf of our brothers and sisters. It warms my heart watching and participating in breaking the silence of a physically and emotionally debilitating disease that still has stigma attached to it.

However, it is also the week that I said goodbye to my incredibly sought after baby. Almost four years ago I walked into a hospital ultrasound room, expecting to hear my thirteen week old baby’s heartbeat.

Expecting to be told that he or she was healthy.

Expecting to see a yawn, a smile, or a hand or leg movement.

When I asked “Is he asleep?” I never expected to be told “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat.”

Nothing prepares a mother to hear those words.

Nothing.

It shattered my world.

I shook. I cried. I screamed in anger.

I worried. I became depressed. I couldn’t eat.

Throughout this life changing event, I had the support of a fellow 1 in 8. Actually, several of the 1 in 8. They offered me comfort, telling me it had happened to them.

That I was not alone.

That they would walk me through the procedure I was about to have. That it would get better. That my heart would not heal entirely, but I would feel better.

And things have gotten better.

The pain has not disappeared entirely, but it has lessened.

Still, every single year that passes, I remember how old my unborn child would have been. I remember when I lost him or her, and I remember his or her due date.

Always.

I hear songs with lyrics that remind me of a life that was never to be. And I cry. Sometimes the tears take a while to stop.

But the pain has lessened.

When I think of the phrase “More than 1 in 8,” I know that we are not just our diagnosis. Or we are not just our lost babies. Or we are not just whatever has happened to us.

There is so much more to each and every one of us, and we sometimes forget this. The pain of infertility and loss is so all encompassing that we often lose ourselves in it. We forget that we’re more than that. We forget that we used to take pleasure in everyday activities. And by getting back to ourselves, our hearts begin to crack open, bit by bit.

I am more than 1 in 8. I am an adventurous soon to be 40 something, who has traveled the globe. I am a dedicated friend who consistently lends an ear to those who need support. I am a passionate advocate of all things infertility related. I am a scrapbooker who enjoys taking photos and putting memories to paper. I am a runner and practitioner of yoga and meditation.

I am so much more.

We are ALL more than 1 in 8.

 
jenno.jpg
 

Stepping Out From Behind the Computer Screen

There is nothing quite like getting the message from a reader thanking me for my work and my story. When that story includes how they were finally able to break their silence and tell their story to friends and family because of my words, it honestly helps me to solidify my purpose even more. I shine my light so bright because I know even the slightest flicker of yours will help you heal, survive and eventually thrive.

Today we have my friend Sondra's story as part of my #MoreThan1in8 project! She writes about going from not sharing her story and writing a blog completely anonymously to now sharing it with the world and therefore being able to helping others even more. We have become friends through the last couple of years and I only hope and pray we get to meet in person one day. Thank you so much Sondra for contributing to #MoreThan1in8 and sharing your family with us! Make sure to go check her out at her blog A Calm Persistence.

~~~

Why was I suffering in silence? Why was I so afraid? Why did I hold so much shame over something that is completely beyond my control? Why did I feel like I had to do this alone?

I can answer all of those questions - I wasn’t ready to share my story and part of me truly believed I was alone in this. It took a long time, a lot of processing, and one terribly brave first step to realize I was one of many.

Last April, I decided to take a courageous step during National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) and share my battle. It started with a simple (or not so simple) Facebook post.

Just months prior, I had boycotted Facebook completely, it was just too triggering. I’m sure most of you reading this can understand that.  Then, there I was during NIAW back on Facebook after another canceled cycle, hitting publish on one of the most personal posts I had ever written on social media. I’ll never forget the way my heart pounded out of my chest waiting for ‘likes’ or replies to reassure me that I had made the right decision.

 
sondrafb.jpg
 

I had been blogging anonymously for over a year, completely anonymous.  Everything about my journey was a secret. My blog readers didn’t have a name or a face to put with my story, nor did anyone in my life know how immensely I was struggling.

I silently found support online hiding behind the screen, but at the time that was enough. I never in a million years thought I would ever share my story publicly. It was my secret life, the struggle only my husband and I understood, and keeping it my own felt secure.

Only, it wasn’t really secure at all. I was falling apart, piece-by-piece, miscarriage by miscarriage.

How do you tell people that you’ve had four miscarriages? That the 4th one was under a Reproductive Endocrinologist’s care and even he couldn’t help you?  How do you tell people that you are completely breaking? That even getting out of bed is a struggle because you miss your babies so much? How do you explain the grief that comes along with losing one child? And, how do you explain the grief that comes with losing 4 in a row?

I didn’t know how to tell others. I was the 1% that had three or more miscarriages. How could anyone in my life even understand recurrent pregnancy loss?

I was 1 in 100.  

Why did I even decide to open up about my struggle?

I guess I got to a point where I had wondered how much longer I would be in the trenches. I got to that breaking point and I was tired of lying, so incredibly exhausted both physically and mentally.  I didn’t want to live this ‘secret life’ anymore.

I always said that if someone would just tell me when I’d have a baby in my arms, I could hang on… I could even be strong and happy while waiting.  I knew I could wait for 2 years, 5 years, or even 10, just as long as I just knew the ‘when’. But that’s part of the struggle with infertility, you don’t know ‘when’ and you really don’t know ‘if’ it will ever happen.  Last April, I had decided if I did have to wait another 3, 5, 10 years or even if I’d never be a mother to a living child, I couldn’t keep living this double life.

 
Sondra
Sondra
 

My ‘when’ ended up being only a year later. I sit here holding my rainbow baby girl in my arms now.  She was born on St. Patrick’s Day only a few short weeks ago.

When I shared that brave post last year, I had no idea that only a few months later I would become pregnant for the 5th time and that time, against all odds, would give me my daughter.

And so, a year ago, during NIAW, I shared our journey on Facebook. I didn’t post details, but I did share. I now know that post had so much importance in my own life. It lead to me openly sharing my blog, taking away the anonymity, and being available to  support others.

I took that first step and when the comments and likes started flooding my Facebook feed and I got notification after notification, I started to realize I wasn’t alone. And there is so much value in knowing you’re not alone.

No matter what step you choose, even if you never decide to share your story the way I have, it’s important to know you’re not alone.

I am one in eight.

Petite Post: Loving Well and Fully in Honor of Them

I have found a special love, and talent for those in the battle of secondary infertility and those in the midst of pregnancy after loss. The other day I had an aha with a client coping with pregnancy after loss. One of the biggest misconceptions of the trying to conceive, infertility and loss community is that a healthy pregnancy is our cure all. I see some of the hardest struggle during this time, which if you think about it, is not that surprising. We've already had the worst case scenario happen, we already know that not everything always turns out. A healthy pregnancy, although amazing and happy, is also filled with anxiety, worry and, if we aren't careful, all consuming fear.

What I am especially seeing in my office is the difficulty for mom to allow herself to attach and fully love the growing baby in her belly,

Because what if it isn't okay? What if I lose it?

To which I say,

Your children before this, although you may have never had the blessing to meet them, made you the mother you are today. You love this baby well because of them. You love this baby fully in honor of the ones who made you a mother to begin with.

The complicated gray of afraid and brave all at once my fellow warriors, loving well and loving fully is what our children deserve, it is also what we deserve.

 
we-love-well-because-of-them-we-love-fully-in-honor-of-them-they-made-us-mothers.png
 

~~~

Don't Talk About the Baby

Please share and support (if you can, every $5 helps) the film Don't Talk About the Baby, our all or nothing campaign is ending soon.