Thursday, May 14, 2020

Instagram vs. Reality...Postpartum Edition

Instagram vs. reality, here we go. 

It's not unusual to look at social media posts of other mom/families and think to yourself:
-"They make it look so easy" or
-"What a perfect family, why isn't mine like that?" or
-"Why aren't I as good at parenting as they are?"
I think it's actually pretty much become a norm these days to think some of those things when scrolling through social feeds. All of those feelings are legitimate! Some people make parenting look easy...or their lives in general look pretty perfect. And good for them if life is that grand, but I don't want to be one of those people portraying that my life  "is perfectly good and fine" if indeed it is not. I'm here to assure you I'm nowhere near perfect or doing this whole parenting thing “easily”! It takes a village, let me tell you. And this time around, the postpartum period (or 4th trimester as it’s also called) has been extra tough for me. So I hope the photos I posted are some representation of real life ... real motherhood. Dark circles, milk stains and all. Because like I said, this journey has been a bumpy one. Even with having a great support system around me of my husband, family and fellow mama friends.

Let me also disclaim that I am not posting this for sympathy and there is no need to be concerned. I am taking proper measures to get the help and care I need and I will be okay, I have faith in that. 
I am posting this because I want other women who feel like I do to know that it’s okay.  It’s okay to not be “okay”all the time. It’s okay to feel completely and utterly defeated at times.
The first week of Max’s life was probably the hardest of my life in terms of the mental, physical, emotional toll it took on my body.  I just about hit rock bottom on at least one occasion, having a slightly scary mental breakdown. And the guilt I feel for even saying that is real, too. Because I do feel sometimes that I should only be thankful for having brought a healthy baby boy into this world. I am thankful, but if I’m being transparent it’s not all I feel. I also feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and mood swings that have me feeling all over the place emotionally and straight up a mess at times. 
Then there’s the good moments though, where my heart is so full and I feel so much love for Max and Carmella that I’m instantly reminded why I love being a mom and why I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I guess my point is that I feel all of these things. And that’s okay. My body went through some major changes over the last 9 months and it's going to take some time for it to adjust back. I shouldn’t be expected to be back to “normal” right after having a baby. And either should you... if you’re reading this and can relate to anything I said. Let this be a reminder to go easy on yourself!! Being a parent is the hardest most thankless job in the world (in my opinion at least) and we can only do the best we can! We can’t be perfect. So we shouldn’t aim to be. As long as you’re giving your child/children the unconditional love you feel inside, or trying your best to, you’re doing A-okay. Heck. Even better than that. You’re doing the dang thing really well! 👏👏👏and we all deserve a round of applause for that! Especially during a global pandemic! So BRAVO parents, BRAVO! Keep doing what you're doing...because you're pretty darn amazing if you ask me.

Labor & Delivery at the Hospital During Times of COVID-19

Hello friends. I finally got around to putting down all my thoughts and what I remember from my labor & delivery experience, related to the current COVID-19 situation. Only thing to disclaim really is that I know there are different procedures and 'rules' in place at each hospital, so a lot of this may be specific to hospitals in the Ascension network (Providence, St. John, etc.)
Here was my experience at Providence Park Hospital...

- I was scheduled to come in at 7am for an induction. We entered the hospital through the main entrance where we were screened: asked questions, given new masks, they wiped our bags down and directed us to registration on main floor; then after answering typical registration questions we were sent up to labor and delivery (3rd) floor.
- Once on that floor we were met by someone to check our temperatures before entering the actual Labor & Delivery ward. And then we stopped at the nurses desk for them to show us down to our room. I got undressed and into the hospital gown,  our nurse took my temperature again, then setup my IV and hooked me up to the continuous fetal monitoring machine.
- We were told we must keep our masks on at all times while in the delivery room—to be safe—and we weren’t allowed to leave that room. This was the first time it bothered me that things were different this time around. Not only did it suck to wear a mask the whole time (especially later when I’d get into having intense contractions) but being stuck in the room, there was little I could do to keep moving throughout my active labor. I had wanted to be proactive and try different things (exercises, walking, etc) while in active labor to help things progress on their own. They did bring me an exercise ball to sit and bounce on, but being hooked up to the fetal monitoring machines, my range of motion was limited to about 3 feet —a small area between my hospital bed and the IV/machines.
-As mentioned above, you and your support person aren’t allowed to leave the room, not even for water or coffee runs so you have to rely on asking nurses for any and everything. Our nurse was amazing and had the sweetest demeanor and attitude, and fully understood the nature of the situation so she made us feel as comfortable as possible with the situation and didn't make us feel guilty every time we needed something, so we lucked out with that.
-Another just weird thing to get used to... with everyone wearing masks it’s hard to tell what people look like and just felt a little strange and impersonal. I totally get it’s for safety, just noting that it feels weird and one point I didn’t even recognize one of my own OB doctors at first who came in for a checkup.
-Once baby was out, they still honored my wishes from immediate skin-to-skin, and holding off measurements/tests/etc. until that first "golden hour" was over.
-Afterward, once we were moved into our room where we'd stay the night, we were able to take our masks off and they didn’t tell us they had to be on or anything . They had actually taken mine after delivery because I somehow got blood on it. 😆 All staff continued to wear masks at all times that entered our room of course.
-Overall, I would say there were less doctors/residents/etc coming and going from our room, compared to what I remember with the delivery of my daughter a couple years ago. I had mentioned I preferred not to have med students coming into my room to assist or for any "learning experiences" and I'm pretty sure my OB doc said they had temporarily discontinued that anyway. However, in our overall 27 hour stay after our baby was born, it felt like about just as many different 'visits'/checkup's/etc in terms of nurses or doctors checking on me, checking on baby, taking baby for tests/circumcision, birth certificate personnel and that sort of thing. So it was a pretty busy 24+hours. Which leads me to my next thought... 
-This is completely just my opinion but in an effort to try and find a positive or some light to a somewhat uncomfortable/uncertain situation, I found it slightly helpful and less stressful to have it only be me and my support person (my husband) with me in the hospital--and no other visitors. Because my stay was so short, I feel I would have had pretty much zero chance to rest while I was there, and I already felt like I didn't get many chances to with constant feedings and staff coming in.
-Lastly, as mentioned I stayed at the hospital about 27 hours after giving birth. This was in part due to their efforts and me (and especially my husband-ha) being ready to go home. They did not force us to leave around 24 hours, in fact, we were waiting on them to finish a few things in order to get the formal discharge paperwork ready to go. They typically do at least a couple tests after the baby has passed the 24-mark, and they were running behind on doing some of those. So we ended up actually being ready to leave before they were ready to discharge us. And I remember the staff saying if we wanted to stay on an extra night they would have allowed it.
-Oh and one more thing...about food! My husband and I were not a big fan of the hospital food (some was okay, some just not so good) and since you’re not allowed to leave or have outside food brought to you, you’re somewhat stuck with what they’re offering. I’d “sneak”/bring plenty of your own snacks or essentials in your bag so you have backup options if your food isn’t to your liking and/or to tide you over since sometimes it took over an hour after ordering to actually get the food. And another side note 🙂 ... I brought some individually packaged snacks/treats (i.e. rice crispy treats, goldfish, Milano cookies) to offer the nurses as a small thank you gesture. Some took it, some did not. But I felt it was the least I could do for all their help taking care of me during my stay. 
Hope this was in some way helpful to you! Feel free to ask questions or let me know if I left anything out. 
 I don't mind answering pretty much anything you may want to ask. Sending love and strength to everyone during this challenging time 💕

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Carmella Joy's Birth Story

Carmella’s Birth Story/Timeline

First off I want to address the importance of not having high/set expectations of how you will deliver your baby. I was gearing up to deliver vaginally and really really wanted to do it naturally (without drugs). I read up on natural child birth, took the class on it, looked into hiring a doula (even though my husband wasn't a fan of the idea) and was trying to mentally prepare for this kind of labor. When that didn't end up being the case for me, I was pretty disappointed and it affected the progression of my labor/delivery.  Because of my history and what happened in my previous pregnancy, my doctor stressed she wanted to be overly cautious and didn't want me to go past my due date. She urged me (and I felt pressured) to be induced in my 39th week. Although I had the opportunity to object, after deliberating for awhile I agreed to set an induction date, and hoped she would just come earlier and on her own. I do regret not going with my gut and sticking to my guns about letting her come when she was ready...but I've learned my lesson for next time (hopefully) and still consider myself lucky to have delivered her vaginally. Plus it's important to remember that in the end all that matters is baby arrives safe and sound. 

So anyway here's how things transpired to the best of my memory...

Sunday 7:30p.m.- Jason & I arrived at Beaumont for my “scheduled” induction to begin. We checked in at triage and were taken to a bed with a curtain. A resident did a quick exam, and told us I was dilated to 2cm by his measure. He then also did an ultrasound to check baby’s size and told us she was measuring about 8 pounds! My reaction was, yeah right, she can’t be that big! He then also proceeded to tell me we probably would be skipping the step of prepping the cervix my doctor told me would happen and going straight to starting Pitocin. I told him that wasn't the plan that came from my doctor and he said you just have to trust us. Whatever Dr. Wu! **Word to the wise, if you aren't comfortable with something the doctors want to do, tell them you need some time before you make a decision so you can give yourself time to process and dont have to make a rash decision.  

9:00p.m.- Next we got checked into a labor & delivery room, got settled and met our first nurse, Jamie. We went over my preferences (from my birth plan) and I was hooked up to a fetal monitor and IV. She also informed me I couldn’t eat—clear liquids only; which was another thing different than what my doctor said and did not make me happy!
10p.m.- They started me on the first oral drug that "ripens" the cervix. The nurse told me I was having contractions early on, but I couldn’t feel them for the first few hours. By what I would estimate was halfway through the night I was having contractions that felt like mild to moderate menstrual cramps. Enough to feel uncomfortable and unable to sleep but not bad at all in comparison to what was to come later. In between contractions I felt the baby moving around quite a bit. Needless to say, I couldn’t sleep. 

~1:30 a.m. I snuck a granola bar out of my backpack because I was starving and I figured I had a long way to go. Jason also brought me popsicles from time to time when he was awake. Not much else to note about that first night into the early a.m. I remember texting my sister-in-law a lot since she was up in the middle of the night with my two week old niece and watching TV ( the Olympics). 
4:00a.m.  Up to just 3cm by this point and Pitocin is started in the lowest dose; Contractions start to get more intense. 
7:30am-The nurses shift change occurred and we met our new nurse Kendel. Not much change in my labor other than stronger contractions due to higher doses of Pitocin. 

8:30a.m.-Labor is progressing due to another increase in Pitocin and contractions continue increasing in intensity and becoming more and more painful; 

9:15 am-dilated to 4cm, serious contractions from them upping the dose; I start to vomit in between contractions which seem to be coming every couple minutes. I ask my mom to leave the room because things are getting rough and having her there makes me feel like I should hold back in front of her, and I can tell it's uncomfortable for her to watch me in this kind of pain. 

10:30am-still at 4cm and contractions are at the absolute worst yet. I try using the bouncey ball and getting in the shower to get me through contractions and hold off on the 

10:45a.m./11:00a.m. After a couple hours of pure hell, I decide an epidural is absolutely necessary and request it ASAP. Within a few minutes of them giving it to me, I feel enormous relief physically and am able to relax. Contractions become practically painless. I also feel woozy and tingly, like how I remember feeling when being on strong pain meds. Like I was almost too comfortable and numb.
11:30a.m.- My parents and parents-in-law come in to see us since I'm feeling well enough for visitors. I try to take a nap but am unsuccessful. Apparently when I was just about to drift off to sleep my blood pressure would drop too low, which would/could lead to baby's dropping as well, so they decided I needed to stay awake. So much for that NAP! 

12:30ish- No change in dilation when they check me. After about 3 hours of what seems like no change or progress, I become very frustrated that this isn't going like I think it should be. It seems like things are not moving in the right direction and to me that felt like our girl just might not be ready to evacuate! I ask the nurse if it's possible to stop all the drugs, wait for them to wear off and take a break so I can eat, rest and regroup. She says NOPE! There's no turning back now...which was a letdown but at the same time I think it allowed me to let go of expectations and come to terms with what was happening in the moment. I had to accept I couldn't control the situation and needed to just let things happen. 

1:30p.m.- Jason leaves to get lunch, meanwhile my water breaks after I change to an upward position (with assistance) in bed.
1:45p.m.-A doctor came in to check on me and baby since heart rate was hard to read and it ended up being because I was at a 10 and she had started to drop into position! I quickly ordered Jason back up STAT. But as it turns out, we had to wait for awhile as they wanted me to feel the urge to push, both during contractions and during the in-between time. 
2:45 p.m.-A midwife stops by and suggest we start doing some practice  pushing...she talks me through some positions/techniques and I start doing some pushing ... which goes well and when they see some forward progression we move on to full blown pushes
3:19p.m. Carmella Joy enters the world and minutes later our lives change forever when we get to hold her for the first time!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Confessions of a Preggo Lady :-)

For anyone out there who’s been curious how my pregnancy has been going, here’s a brief synopsis! I’ve been blessed to have a happy and healthy pregnancy and I’ve hit 39 weeks. The second trimester (~week 14-27) was awesome and I fully recommend taking advantage of that time to stay as active as you can and to get things done that you may not be as anxious or comfortable doing when you get well into the third trimester (like the nursery). It’s the sweet spot so to speak…where morning sickness and fatigue has faded away, you get a great source of energy back and your belly isn’t quite big enough yet to cause you very much discomfort. That’s not to say that the third trimester is going to be awful though. I was surprised at how good I felt for the majority of this too. I really couldn’t complain about anything until around 37 weeks. And even since then, there’s days that I feel good, content and pretty much no different than being a non-pregnant person. Those are mixed in with days, usually at night, that I have felt pretty uncomfortable…where neither sitting, standing or laying was working well for me. But all-in-all, I feel lucky to have had everything go smoothly.

Here a few things I did that I think really made a difference in me having such an easygoing pregnancy:
  1.      Stay active however you can for as long as you can. I went on a walk almost every single day of the first trimester (it was summer), a majority of the second—up until snow was on the ground and temps were too cold to go outside—and throughout the third trimester (which was winter for me) I found ways to move inside whenever I felt up to it. I suppose it’d be even easier for those with a treadmill or gym membership, but since I lacked either, I chose to do prenatal yoga routines at home and go to the mall or other big stores like Target or Meijer and walk laps or weave through all the aisles to get my steps in. I occasionally mixed in some strength training exercises using lightweights for arms and doing lots of squats. Stretching regularly was also extremely beneficial to my hips, legs and back as they started to feel stiff and often cramp up later in the pregnancy.
  2.      Everything in moderation. When I first found out I was pregnant I was in the middle of a detox that had me eating cleaner than I ever had my entire life. I did my best to finish the 30 days of it I had committed to, making slight alterations to be safe, but once that time was up I slowly regressed to eating many things I had just spent a ton of effort eliminating from my diet. But I took it all in stride. For one, many of the foods I had gotten used to eating all the time starting sounding repulsive all of a sudden (like chicken, sweet potatoes, kale, cashews) and secondly, I knew I had to still fuel my body with something to get me through the nausea—not to mention develop a growing fetus. So I let carbs back in. Not long after dairy followed and within a couple more weeks processed snack foods were in the rotation as well. The key was I would let myself indulge if I was craving something but I kept myself from going overboard. And the thing I recommend always abiding by is to take note of the amount you eat. Any time I ate beyond the point of being satisfied, like being overly full, I regretted it later. Especially when baby gets bigger and is pressing on your stomach and everything else down there…making gas and bloating twice as bad as having it without a baby in your belly.
  3.    Staying regular. Typically an uncomfortable thing to talk about, especially for me personally, but gut health is a big part of your overall health and I’ve heard lots of women and sources say that constipation can become a big pain in the butt (literally and figuratively) during pregnancy. I was worried because of all my past problems that I’d be a top contender for this. Surprisingly, I was able to maintain regularity for the majority of my pregnancy. A couple things that I think helped were: drinking lots of water (morning, noon and night), eating six small meals/snacks every day (an apple was usually one of my snacks), taking my prenatal vitamin and a fish oil supplement at night right before bed (which usually seemed to aid in delivering a BM come morning) and lastly as I already mentioned, staying active. Even a 10-minute walk can help and is better than no activity at all.

4.     Listen to your body. Some days you may not feel like doing anything, while others you feel like you can’t sit still. If it seems like way too much effort to exercise in your free time, take the time to rest or nap if it feels good. And don’t feel bad about it! If you can manage the aspects of your life so that none of them become too overwhelming at once (or at least not more than one part), your body and mind will thank you for it. Stress has such a huge impact on every aspect of our health. I know it’s often not possible to avoid stress in some situations but it’s so important to recognize when it’s becoming potentially harmful to you and take a step back to see if there’s any way to alleviate some of it.  There’s almost no situation where you can’t at least step away for a few minutes, take a break to get some fresh air, reassess how to move forward, change direction or do something else entirely and come back to it.   I can’t stress enough how much I feel being active and minimally stressed has helped me feel this good this long. Exercise helped me keep discomfort and back pain to a minimum AND get nearly full nights of sleep until the very end, with the exception of getting up to pee once a night—which I’m pretty sure becomes unavoidable.

Some other thoughts…
·      Now that I’m in my final days and looking back, I wish I would have documented more of the pregnancy and my feelings about it throughout. I think I was so set on getting to the end (or the full term mark) and anxious to know things would be okay with our baby that I was mostly wishing time would go faster instead of enjoying each part of it. Each pregnancy, each life really, deserves to be celebrated. And although at times I felt myself holding back on bonding with this baby because of fear or worry, I don’t think that would make it any easier if something were to go wrong. And it doesn’t make me any less human for having those worries, in fact it probably makes me more like any other parent, wanting the absolute best for my offspring so much it hurts. 
    Don’t worry about what other people say. Some times you might have to completely ignore it (Cue: "You're HUGE!" in reference to your growing belly). But do expect people to ask you questions like: When are you due? How far along are you? Is this your first? Boy or girl? What names do you have picked out? Over and over. And be prepared for them to share their opinions whether you want to hear them or not. I wish we would have not shared any names we liked with anyone at all because I did not always appreciate people’s reactions or opinions of ones we liked. People are nosy! But just because they ask doesn’t mean you have to share. 
    Educate yourself. On the pregnancy as a whole but definitely about childbirth and your options. You’ll have lots of questions throughout the process and it’s always better to be prepared than in the dark. Keep track of your questions so you can ask at your appointments. I’ve found that some doctors of modern day medicine tend to recommend what’s best/convenient for them. If your gut is telling you something different than what your doctor recommends don’t be shy about voicing your concerns and standing your ground. I’m in favor of natural childbirth at the hospital and looking back, I wish I would have found a midwife instead of a traditional OB who is so quick to turn to drugs whether for induction or an epidural.
    Childbirth. Let’s change the stigma/stereotype! It bothers me that through movies, media and word of mouth most people (myself included before learning more) have an awful perception of what childbirth is like. Sure it’s not going to be painless or an easy stroll through the park but I have read and heard about many experiences that were very positive and in fact pretty much the opposite of what you’d expect in a birth. Even while striving to prevent horror stories from altering my feelings on childbirth, I still must remind myself to keep an open mind on all aspects of the process. Drugs for pain and induction, cesarean deliveries…all are not among my preferences if I could choose my ideal delivery but that’s the thing, a lot of times things don’t go to plan and you don’t have a choice. So I’m trying to stay flexible. Keeping in mind that as long as the end result is a healthy baby... the journey there shouldn’t matter. 

Well, that’s all this preggo brain can muster up right now. If you have any tips to share for having a healthy happy pregnancy or birthing experience… feel free to leave a comment!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Finding a New Normal for the New Year

Going through a miscarriage, the loss of a pregnancy (or infant) or getting the news you won't be able to have a child naturally can turn your life upside down. And if you're anything like me, the grief and every other feeling that comes with this devastating news/experience can hit you intensely in the beginning, then take a backseat where it remains there quietly, but to no less magnitude.  For me it was as if the pain started to seep deeper inside my mind/heart/soul, little by little and unnoticed at first (or maybe I chose to ignore it), until it reared its head and felt like it had consumed me.  It can do this whether you try to work through it or not I've found from my own experience! I remember sometime after our loss when I started seeing a therapist thinking and even saying to the therapist, "I'm ready to tackle this head first, just tell me what to do and how to get better and I'll do it." I figured if I followed a few pieces of her advice I'd be happy and 'normal' again. Little did I know that there is no formula, no shortcuts and no step-by-step instructions to get through loss. I found the only way to get through is just that, to live through it and do the best you can to find your way through each day, while trying to hold onto the positive pieces in your life that still exist. 

I want to stress that I'm not a mental health professional or any sort of proclaimed expert. I'm not trained in grief or loss, but I do speak from the experiences I've been through personally and what I've also learned from others along the way. Looking back on where I was a year ago, here are a a few things that I learned and that I wish I'd figured out sooner: 

  • Take care of yourself. Translation: slow down and listen to what your body is telling you it needs. Sounds simple but for some reason this is one of the most overlooked tasks for all of us, but by far the most important in my opinion. We often get so caught up in our routines, taking care of others or all other aspects of our lives (i.e. work, bills, social functions) that we put ourselves last. This is completely backward! I've always had the habit of convincing myself, I'm fine, I can do it/I can take on more and just power through...neglecting to really stop and process if that's true and instead usually finding myself overwhelmed. But it's OKAY to NOT BE OKAY and okay to admit if you've got more on your plate than you can handle. I'm sure you've heard the saying, "You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others." When is the last time you set time aside for yourself? I bet its been too long.  hat's required to take care of ones' self may be different for each of us. It could be reading a book, writing a journal entry (a.k.a. venting), taking a bath, crying your eyes out, going on a long walk, or indulging with a mani/pedi, massage, etc. Whatever it is your mind and body are longing for, make a habit of setting aside time to tend to it.  Treat yourself to something that feels good; because you deserve it! And I'd recommend taking some time to be in a quiet, peaceful environment, where you can open your mind, and listen to what your heart tells you. There are no wrong answers, thoughts or feelings here.
  •  Confront your feelings, then try to process them or find a way to express them.  Also a difficult thing to do, since acknowledging your feelings will most likely lead to actually feeling them. But I believe that that's the only way to start healing the wound and working your way through this dark cloud you may feel like you're in. If you're comfortable, talk to someone who's a good listener...emphasis on the listening part. Find a counselor, therapist or perhaps a support group of women who have been through similar situations to what you have. To me there’s nothing better than finding someone who understands first hand what you’re going through that you can connect with in ways others just haven’t been able to help or relate to you. And again from experience, I found that many of the people I'm closest to in my life, including my husband, usually couldn't relate to what I was feeling and either had no idea what to say or said things they thought would help that felt more like they were trying to "fix" me or make the pain go away--which they aren't capable of doing. Or, if sharing your feelings is totally out of your comfort zone, find another way to release all the pent up stress and/or sadness you’re carrying around. Maybe exercise or writing down everything going through your head would help. Just don’t keep all your feelings to yourself, where they can get bottled up. 
  • De-stress and de-clutter . Get rid of the negative (people, things, thoughts) and make room to let in more positive ones. Take this as an opportunity to look at what may be working in your life and what really isn't. Have a friend or family member who is more of a hindrance than a help? Take a step back from your relationship and give it some room to breath, a break or if it's really not a healthy one, consider moving on without it. Been miserable at your job for months/years? Why not find a new one? Or better yet, take a brief hiatus from work, either a few days/ a week of vacation or a more permanent step, like putting in your official notice, to give yourself time to rest, recharge and reevaluate what should be next for you. Maybe it's time for you to reinvent your life in ways you can control and find something for work or a hobby that your more passionate about. I realize this can be risky, scary, unfeasible (in some cases) or all of the above, but there has to be something you can change in your life that will alleviate some stress and allow you to focus on improving your quality of life. Life is too short to not keep your health and happiness at the forefront.
  • Keep living your life and doing things you enjoy. I made the mistake of trapping myself into thinking I couldn’t plan a trip (especially anywhere Zika could be) or find a new job because “by then I may be pregnant” or something along those lines. This tendency to stay in the same routine and not go after something better or take that trip I'd been wanting (needing) potentially held me back from making progress. Have you had something on your to do list for months but been putting it off? Make a plan to put that task in action. Try something new or dig deeper into one of your hobbies or passions. Whether photography, yoga/fitness, writing, traveling, etc. As difficult as it is to be at peace with not having your lifelong plans and dreams actualized, there may not be anything you can do to change what's happened or happening--or maybe you've already done everything you can do to try. The circumstances are most likely out of your control, whether you think about it constantly (obsessively in my case) or not. I'm not in any way trying to say "just relax" or "stop thinking about it", because that didn't work for me and I know that's just not how it works. But I do think if you try to redirect some of that energy into something else that's constructive, it can give you some relief...and maybe even some moments of peace, even if it's purely from distraction. Try to  take the focus off of what you don’t have (a baby or pregnancy, YET) And concentrate on what you do have and what you can do to enjoy your life right this moment. For me that meant making a career change and starting a holistic health and wellness regimen that, although challenging, was the best thing I ever did. It wasn't easy and I faced some plenty of weird looks and awkward convo's with people when I told them I was leaving my job without another one lined up, but it was worth every bit of that to feel the healthiest and strongest I've ever felt. **Remember though,  it's okay to have bad days and times when you're not up for doing things you used to. Don't push yourself to do something that doesn't feel right or to take on more than you can handle. If you're hesitant to say yes to something, ask yourself what you think is giving you pause, and decide what's the best decision for you.** 
  • Try to accept what's happened and make peace with your circumstances. This is probably by far the hardest thing to do. No doubt it is easier said than done, and also not something that will happen for most until after a significant of time has passed, and the wounds have begun to heal. It doesn't mean you have to be okay with what happened or give up on your lifelong dream of having a baby, starting a family. But it does mean to  try to accept that you can't change what has happened, you can't go back and undo or redo anything to change the outcome of your situation. And you should try to let go of any feelings it was your fault.  I was so fixated on getting pregnant, I pretty much convinced myself that was the only way I'd ever be happy again. I would stress about whether or not I could even get pregnant again and torture myself over why it wasn’t happening for me while it (seemed it) was for everyone else. For months it was on my mind much of the day, every day. Again, I would never tell anyone to just relax and stop thinking about it, since that's the last thing that will help. But I would say that trying out some of the things I've mentioned, like reflecting on your circumstances and come up with a new plan of action or taking something else off your plate that could be weighing you down, can alleviate a small part of your unhappiness and potentially allow you to feel lighter or fill that space with something else that makes you feel a little more hopeful and life feel more manageable. One thing we did to help make peace with our loss was finding ways to acknowledge Elle Jay and keep her memory alive, such as talking about her and to her in prayers, acknowledging and celebrating times she would be heavy on our mind (like her due date and the day she was born) and looking into planting a tree in her memory.   
  • And lastly, know that things are going to get better...eventually. It can be hard to see your way out of a dark and lonely place while you're in the middle of it. But knowing you are not alone and there is help out there if you need it can bring a lot of comfort and hope to your situation. And while "someday" may seem so far away, every day that passes -makes you a little bit stronger (hey- you survived another day!) and brings you one day closer to feeling like the happier version of yourself you once knew.
I hope you've found at least one thing in this post to be helpful to you. And as I've mentioned before,  feel free to reach out if you're interested in finding support through a group or share this with someone who you feel may find it helpful. Wishing you all a holiday season filled with love, light and laughter and hoping we can all go into a this new year with a positive mindset!