When the Birds and the Bees Aren’t Enough

 

Wow – it’s been over 4 months since my latest post. I haven’t blogged since before Christmas! So far this year life has been pretty hectic for us and I haven’t really had much time to write. First, let me say hello to all of my new followers and readers!

Last year, I shared with you the experience my husband and I had with our miscarriage. Long story short, we had a surprise pregnancy that ended devastatingly when I was nearly 3 months along; I detailed that story here. A whole 15 months have passed since then and so far, most of my blog posts have been centered around this loss. I remember feeling like I was never going to make it through that time of my life! But here we are over a year later and we’re making it through. God has kept us. We’re not over it, I don’t think you ever “get over” something like that. However, we’ve adjusted and we’re okay now. I am okay.

What I haven’t talked much about though is what’s been going on since then. Marcus and I are coming up on 2 years of marriage. With that, people are getting really antsy and for whatever reason feel comfortable enough to ask about our family planning.

“Where are the babies?”

“You must be waiting until you finish medical school. Smart girl!”

“Are y’all thinking of having kids any time soon?”

If you’ve been married longer than 15 minutes I’m sure you’ve heard it all before, too! Usually I just force a smile and say some vague, canned response like “Whenever the time is right I guess”. I can’t really get mad; most of these questions come from well-meaning friends and family who are genuinely interested in my life. But very few people know that Marcus and I are currently trying to get pregnant again, and have been trying again since last March when we were cleared after the miscarriage. I think now is an appropriate time for me to share.

It’s been 14 months of trying. 14 months of failing. 14 months of unwanted periods and negative pregnancy tests. 14 months of wondering what’s wrong with me. 14 months of Facebook pregnancy announcements and baby shower invitations (don’t worry, I’m happy for you. Just sad for me). 14 months of praying and crying out to God.

It’s also been 14 months of amazing baby-making with my husband – so it ain’t all bad. #heyboo

hey boo

Point is we’ve been trying again for over a year and nothing is happening. And as discouraging and frustrating as that is for us, there are so many other couples out there who have it far worse and have been silently struggling to start a family for years. Making a baby may be natural, but that doesn’t make it simple. A lot of people have long and very complicated journeys to parenthood.

1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility

Even though it is common, infertility is just one of those things that people don’t openly discuss…especially within the African American community. It’s often presumed that women of color don’t have issues getting pregnant. Period. It’s a stereotype that has historical origin and is still perpetuated in our community today. I could honestly write a paper on this topic but we’ll save that for another blog post.

Anyway, we assume infertility only happens to wealthy, “workaholic” white women who decide to have a baby a little too late in life. But the truth is, black couples are more likely to experience infertility than their white counterparts; and are less likely to seek medical treatment for it. I think there are several factors that play into this, including access to healthcare, affordability of infertility treatment, lack of reproductive health awareness, and religion. For example, we say things like “God must not want you to be pregnant right now, just keep praying. He will make a way”. Now don’t get me wrong – I am a believer in Jesus Christ and I have no doubts about the power of prayer. However, what doesn’t occur to most is that sometimes “a way” is made through help from others. If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a year or longer and haven’t been able to, that’s infertility; and you should see your doctor.

Many people don’t know that infertility is defined as not being able to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term within 12 months of actively trying

Another reason why I think African Americans are less likely to seek help for infertility is because of the shame and embarrassment they feel. There is an undeniable stigma that comes with having trouble achieving or sustaining a pregnancy. If you don’t believe me, then think about why we use negative terms like “dried up” when referring to an infertile woman; or “shooting blanks” when a man can’t impregnate his wife. An important step in overcoming that stigma is to have open and honest conversations about it.

I guarantee that someone you know is currently experiencing the heartbreak of infertility, whether they are open about it or not. This week (April 23-29, 2017) is National Infertility Awareness Week and I wanted to share my story because I know how it is to feel alone on this journey. Thankfully I have a wonderful husband to fight with me, but as a unit we often feel isolated. I get it. The lost babies, unsuccessful treatments, hospital stays, constant poking for blood work, constant probing for ultrasounds, the bills, the waiting, the uncertainty – it’s hard.

We are currently seeing a specialist at an infertility clinic and received a diagnosis last week. I won’t go into detail in this particular blog post, but the news was bleek. Basically our doctor said he has no idea how we even got pregnant the first time, and it’s going to take a serious miracle for us to conceive again.

Thank God, He specializes in miracles.

 

NIAW


If you’d like to follow our story, I will be blogging more about our real-life experiences with infertility as it happens. Usually people share their battle with starting a family after they successfully have babies. Testimonies are great and very encouraging! However I do think there aren’t enough couples voicing their struggles as they go through them. These blogs will naturally be a little more personal and because of that I don’t plan to post every single one on social media, so make sure to click the “Follow” button to receive updates in your email.

 

Infertility Resources
https://infertilityawareness.org/
http://www.ihr.com/infertility/
http://resolve.org/
Scriptures For Infertility & Pregnancy Loss
Infertility In The Media
Fox 2 Infertility Awareness Week
Michigan Center for Fertility & Women’s Health on Live in the D
Local 4 Shares One Couples Story
Chrissy Teigen & Tyra Banks Talk Infertility

 

 

 

 

 

Things I’m Thankful For After Miscarriage

In life, most of the time it’s easier to dwell on what we don’t have rather than what we do have. This can be especially true if you are going through miscarriage or infertility because your focus is on the baby that seems to be missing. It’s hard to find the good in that, if we’re just being honest. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’ve challenged myself to do some reflecting on the things I am thankful for while on this journey. What I found was that I really do have so much to be thankful for.

I am thankful for the time I get to spend just being married. When we found out we were expecting we had only been married for 6 months. We were just getting settled in to the whole husband and wife gig when bam! – we were suddenly daddy and mommy, too. And while my subsequent miscarriage was not something I wanted, I am still very grateful for the time I have in this season to just be Marcus’ wife.

How precious is that?! I get to focus all of my efforts on being the wife my husband deserves. I get to give him my undivided attention, and more importantly, I get to have his. 🙂 We get to sleep in and cuddle together uninterrupted. We get to spend our extra money frivolously. We get to pick up and go on dates or vacations whenever we feel like it. We get the time to really focus on each other’s needs and wants with no other responsibilities other than ourselves. Having a baby changes all of that.

While it is absolutely my hearts desire to start our family right now, I am learning to be grateful for this special time in our lives when it is just he and I, because – if you really think about it – once we have our baby we will never get this time back. I intend to enjoy and savor every second.

I am thankful that my baby will never experience this crazy world. This sentiment is somewhat of a cliché in the miscarriage community, but that doesn’t make it any less true. This world can be downright cruel and my sweet August will never have to experience it. My baby was never hungry, was never cold, was always wanted, and was always loved. I am thankful for this.

I am thankful for today; because clearly tomorrow is not promised. You can literally be here one day and gone the next, so I choose to appreciate each day as its own. Each day I wake up is a new opportunity to walk in my God-given purpose. To love. To laugh. To just live. I am naturally a planner and somewhat of a control freak so “living in the moment” is something I have to be intentional about. You can make all the plans in the world for tomorrow, but tomorrow may never happen. My miscarriage taught me how fragile and fleeting life really is; and the importance of relishing each moment I have as they come because the next moment is not guaranteed. Thank you Lord for today!

I am thankful for a stronger marriage. My husband and I are far from perfect; but I can honestly say that we are stronger together after going through our loss. That’s a blessing because not everyone can say that. Miscarriage, stillbirth, and infertility so often break couples apart and dissolve marriages. We were young, newly married, had just lost a baby, had medical bills stacked to the roof, our sex life was vulnerable – it was honestly the perfect storm for disaster. But we’re getting through it, by God’s grace.

I’ve never seen Marcus as mature, loving and strong as he has been in response to our loss. We’ve passed some serious tests together; and I’m so proud of his strength and how far we’ve come. He is truly my partner, and I am his. Miscarriage is a part of our love story now and our history as parents, it makes us who we are today. My sweet little angel August makes us who we are today.

I am thankful for my next child. Having a baby may be natural, but that doesn’t make it easy. A friend told me to “just pray and stay positive” and it will happen. My, how I wish it were that simple! It takes prayer, patience, strength, time, money, medicine, blood, sweat, tears and dang near selling your soul for some couples to fall pregnant.Trying to conceive after miscarriage has been exhausting for us and there are many days when I just want to quit.

But thinking about my rainbow baby literally makes my heart burst with excitement. There’s something about putting in work for what you want that makes you appreciate it so much more once you finally have it. I don’t take starting a family for granted anymore and I am already overflowing with gratitude for the life of my next child; however that child comes to be apart of our lives.

I am thankful that God is using me to help others through their losses. I think this is one of the big ones. I am so grateful that my pain has been useful to somebody else! Someone messaged me and told me that they wouldn’t have made it through their miscarriage without me. Someone else said that reading my story helped them to confront their own feelings about losses they’ve experienced in their past. I’ve also made friends with a mother who originally contacted me for prayer after her miscarriage, and now she intends to name her next baby August as inspired by my little one! This single tiny human who never even made it into the world has inspired people. Wow! All glory to God, who is able to work all things together for good!

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It’s easy to be thankful for the good stuff, but what about the things that are not-so-good? The things that have you up and crying at night, can you still find a reason to give thanks in spite of? I challenge you to find a reason to be thankful, no matter your circumstance! Miscarriage & infertility can leave you bitter and cold – if you let it. Today, however, I choose gratitude.

Rainstorms & Rainbows

“My Little Angel Baby” is changing to “Rainstorms & Rainbows”. The content will be the same, but I felt inspired to change the name of my blog for a couple reasons.

First, I really do believe that one day God will give me and my husband a healthy child. “My Little Angel Baby” only focuses on the one unborn child I lost; and while I will never forget my sweet August, losing that baby is not the end of my story. Battling infertility is only for this season. There’s a rainbow coming; and when that happens, I want to continue using this blog to document those pregnancies, births, and our journey together as parents.

My hope is in Jesus and He promises to work all things together for my good. That means He can turn my lemons to lemonade, my mourning into dancing, and my rainstorm into a rainbow. And I’m waiting with expectation for that promise.

 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

 

Lastly, I don’t believe that my baby, who was once a tiny human growing inside of me, is now an angel. I do believe that the souls of babies and other loved ones who die in the Lord go to be with him in heaven, but not as angels. I think a lot of people use that imagery as a form of comfort when they lose someone, which is okay, but it is not to be taken literal. So, I changed my blog name. Splitting hairs, I know. I’m a deep thinker 🙂

Oh yea, I also added something new to the site! Inspired by Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month, I wanted to create a wall of remembrance where you can submit a form to have your baby added. Check it out!

 

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Love always,

Nikkie

5 Ways You Can Help Someone Who Has Had A Miscarriage

 

When someone you love tells you they’ve had a miscarriage, it can be very hard to figure out what to do for that person. I know firsthand there are things that family and friends did for me that helped me tremendously! Here are a few suggestions!

 1. Send a card 

…or a text, email, letter, smoke signal, carrier pigeon; something to let that person know that you are thinking of them regarding their loss.Acknowledge birthdays and would-be-due-dates. Have those awkward conversations. I get that sometimes it’s just plain hard to find the words to say, and the topic is understandably sensitive so you may think saying nothing is best. Some avoid talking about it because they think bringing it up to you will remind you of the pain. Let me let those people off the hook – this grieving mother or father is never going to forget losing their unborn child. It hurts more to think my baby is forgotten. For me, acknowledging the loss reminds me that my baby was alive within me, and his life counted. And those are sentiments I am desperately trying to hold on to. That’s why I believe that you don’t have to say anything lengthy or profound, but saying something to acknowledge the loss is very important!

For a few months after the miscarriage I battled depression and simply didn’t want to talk to people. My dear hubby fielded a lot of phone calls and texts when people wanted to check up on me – and I remember and treasure every last person who reached out in some form. Even though I wasn’t up for talking, I knew that they cared and that outpouring of love helped to get me through! A simple “Thinking of you during this time” or “I’m sorry for your loss. I love you!” will do just fine. I even had a friend tell me “I’m sorry I didn’t reach out sooner, I really just didn’t know what to say but I wanted you to know I’m praying for you guys”. This was a breath of fresh air and incredibly honest, I appreciated that.

There is a small caveat, there are some things you should avoid saying and I blogged before about what not to say – you can find that post here. Above all, remember that this person just lost a child…neglecting to acknowledge that loss ultimately hurts more than saying the “wrong thing”.

2. Just be there.

Because sometimes my first tip just doesn’t cut it for you. Maybe you truly can’t find the words…that’s okay! There is so much power and ministry in just being there for someone.

It’s a common thing to say “I’m here if you need me” when someone you love is going through a hard time. It’s not as common to make yourself available for someone whether they need you or not. Listen when (if, in some cases) they are talking to you about the miscarriage. Check on them today, and then check on them again tomorrow –  and then again next week. Months later when you’ve forgotten about the loss, remember that they haven’t, and then check on them again. Ask if you can drop by just to give them a hug; and if they decline today ask them again tomorrow.

I’ll be the first to say I didn’t exactly make it easy for people to “just be there” for me after our loss. That being said, when you tell them you are going to pray for them, actually pray for them! So many people toss around the platitude “Praying for you during this hard time” but never actually talk to God about anyone but themselves. I’m guilty! But I believe in the power of prayer and I know I wouldn’t have made it through without the prayers of my husband, family and friends. That’s why when I tell someone I am praying for them, it’s usually because I already have.

3. Bring them food or offer to take care of errands. 

Miscarriage is physically and emotionally draining. The last thing a grieving couple wants to think about during this time is doing the laundry, walking the dog, or cooking dinner. But, these things still need to be done – and that’s where you come in! My sisters helped dog sit on multiple occasions. Our parents sent us grocery money and they even had food delivered to our home once, which was incredibly nice! A classmate gave us a gift card to a nearby restaurant that we redeemed online so we could pick up dinner curb-side. All of these things were appreciated because for a little while after the loss I was physically unable to do the everyday things I normally did, like cook and clean. And though my husband is perfectly capable of manning the fort on his own, he was grieving too and also taking care of me. It was a huge help when our friends & family stepped in and did simple things like this for us.

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My cohort at school came together to get a nice gift for me; it included this journal, tea mug, and a scented candle.  So nice of them!

 

4. Make or buy them a small gift.

I’m not saying spend a fortune, but a small gift helps to show your friend that their loss is real and valid to you, too. For example, my classmates came together and bought me a journal, candle, and over-sized tea mug – all practical things that I used when I needed to relax. Also, my sister bought me a Pandora charm with my unborn child’s birth stone in it. Sometimes I look at it and smile, and other times I look at it and get a little teary eyed, but having something tangible to hold on to after the baby is gone helps! My mother in law sent me and hubby gift cards to go shopping – she said it was an early birthday gift… though both of our birthdays were literally months later. I think she was just trying to brighten up our day 🙂 My parents sent chocolates and I also received flowers. While none of these material things could ever take the pain away, it helped to put a smile on my face if even for a moment.

5. Give them time. 

Grief is an essential process after loss, let it run its course! After our miscarriage I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. So not only was I bereaved, I was also dealing with dramatically altered brain chemistry and hormonal imbalances that come with being pregnant and then suddenly, not pregnant anymore. This made it just plain hard to function as my normal self. There was a physical and mental aspect to my grief after the miscarriage that most people don’t consider.

I was mad at the world and this went on for months and months. Now that I am emerging on the other side of that phase – I have resurfaced to find that some people simply could not handle or accept the grieving process and how I expressed my pain. The Psalmist said “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning”. In the words of a friend, it may not have been this morning, and it may not be tomorrow morning either – but one day your friend or loved one will make it through the grieving process and you want to be there when the morning comes. Don’t give up on your grieving friend.

You may think after a few weeks this person should be “over” their miscarriage by now, but everyone handles things in their own way. Some people like being surrounded by others when they are grieving, others (like myself in this situation) may prefer to be left alone. Some women may sort through their loss quickly and move on, while others may be devastated long after the pregnancy is over. Either way, giving your loved one the time and freedom to feel whatever it is that they feel – for however long they feel it – is one of the best things you can do for them!

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Please, share in the comments things other people did for you that helped you cope with your miscarriage or infant loss! I always reply back, I look forward to connecting with you!

 

xoxo,

-N

5 Things I Did To Cope With Pregnancy Loss

Losing a loved one can be awful. When that loved one is a child, whom you never had the chance to meet; it’s proves to be a very unique type of loss.

I struggled (and still do) with our miscarriage. It is just a different kind of loss. There are usually no funerals, no announcements on Facebook, no bereavement days off from work. Life carries on as usual even though your private world is crashing down. It’s rough. 

But, here we are 5 months later and I am making it. My marriage is stronger than ever and I don’t cry 2-3 times a day, every day, anymore. I’m making it through. And it feels good to be able to say that.

I want to share 5 major things I do/did that I believe help me cope with the loss. I know everyone handles loss [in general, and miscarriage in particular] differently, so these things may not work for you. But, I did just want to share what has helped me heal, and I invite you to share what has helped you, too!

  1. Name your baby –  We gave our little nugget a name! The saying by Dr. Suess, “a person’s a person no matter how small” has never been more relevant in my life. Picking a name was a way for us to honor the life and little person that was, and also helped provide a small sense of closure. Naming helped to make a familial connection with the baby and gave me a way to reference him without saying “the baby I miscarried”. We picked the name August. I don’t really expect anyone else to call my unborn child by that name, but it helps when I can say to my husband “I miss August”. I’ll blog more about the name choice some other time! 
  2. Go on a trip – We got away, just hubby and I! We went on a short weekend trip to Chicago, and it was a great opportunity to get out of the house, try to relax, and forget about our circumstances; if even for a moment. After the miscarriage and subsequent surgery we couldn’t have sex for a little while, which was really hard on us, but the trip helped us to reconnect and spend uninterrupted time just enjoying each other’s company. A change of scenery never hurts, even if it involves a day at the beach or staying the night at a local hotel. Just get away!
  3. Online forums – People just don’t talk about miscarriage. Society has thrown ‘miscarriage’ into a pile of dirty words and no one likes to discuss it. This is why I started this blog; reading about other people going through the same thing was a huge outlet for me…and I hope to be that for someone else. I spent so much time searching for blogs, forums, and online support groups that allowed me to connect with other women going through pregnancy loss. Knowing that I was not alone in my grief and feelings helped tremendously. 
  4. Allowed myself to grieve – Possibly the best thing for my healing process was recognizing that it was a process and allowing myself to feel whatever it was that I felt during that time. When I wanted to cry, I did. When I was happy, I rode that wave for as long as I could. People tried to push me to “get over it” and people were also offended when I didn’t want to talk or spend time with them while I grieved. Some people felt as though my reaction was too intense and I shouldn’t be so down. But at the end of the day, you have to do what works for you. Focus on yourself and do (or don’t do) whatever you feel like. I remember feeling so much pressure to “be okay” even when I wasn’t. When I finally stopped forcing the process is when I truly began healing. Take care of yourself! 
  5. Make plans for the “hard days”  – So there are those days that come around that remind you of the loss. Those anniversaries and would-be-due-dates that loom over you as the calendar days count down. Make plans for those days. Hubby and I are planning to do a balloon release on August’s due date. Looking forward to that helps me to keep my head up when I’d otherwise be dreading the day. 


What are some things you did to help cope with your loss? Thinking of trying any of my suggestions? Maybe you didn’t have a miscarriage but you helped a sister, friend, or whoever cope with theirs; what did you do? Comments are welcome! Let’s talk!