2015 is the Year

I’m trying to understand where an entire year went. I increasingly feel like 2015 is like a piece of paper folded in on itself so that each end touches one another. All the things from this year compressed in on themselves and instead of having lived another 365 days I am walking across them from one December 31st to another. A phrase I have used a lot this year is “I just don’t know where time went.” It feels like I have lost days, weeks, and even months where I know things happened, I know I did things but instead they all seem irrelevant or non-existent.

I am taking this moment to make it all relevant and exist.

2015 is the Year I Advocated for My Mental Health

This is the big one. After two very specific years and many others before that, I have struggled with depression and anxiety. I have struggled silently and alone. I thought it was a character flaw. I thought I was broken. But this year I advocated for myself. I told my nurse practitioner how long I have been suffering and she prescribed me SSRIs that have changed my life. This daily pill brought me back to me. I also started weekly therapy this year that is so emotionally hard but also amazingly rewarding. I started sharing my experience outward and the response has been overwhelming from friends and strangers who become new friends. I am at a lack of words to express how grateful I am for everyone’s support and honesty about their own mental health struggles. I’m not alone anymore.

2015 is the Year Gary Died

Gary was a cat like none other. I miss him. I’m still sad that he suffered without my knowing. I still wish I could have done more for him. I wish he was here to curl up with me and read books with his quiet, loving nature wrapping around me in kitty loveliness. Gary loved love – a notion that I strive to live life by.

2015 is the Year I Reconnected with Home

Until this year, I had not spent any significant time in my home town for six years. My feelings about home are complicated by lack of contact with my mother but growing relationship with my father. Visiting him this year has taught me that home can be safe, accepting, calm, and non-judgmental.

2015 is the Year I Claimed My Bisexual Identity

I spent a lot of time being scared about this. I didn’t come out to myself until I was already in a committed, long-term relationship with my husband. I wasn’t sure what he would think of me, what others would think of me, what I thought of me. I wondered if it was worth being open about. But, like so many things I try to keep secret because of shame, I knew I had to embrace this for myself as well as others. This is who I am. Bisexuality is important. My queerness isn’t attached to who my partner is or not. My queerness is about me and what I know to be true about myself.

2015 is the Year I Read 39 Books

That’s 9 more books than my goal!

2015 is the Year I Watched 121 Movies

Of those movies, 35 were written by women and 23 were directed by women.

2015 is the Year I was Paid to Write

2015 is the Year I Lost My Job But Found Another

2015 is the Year I Valued Making Art

2015 is the Year I Embraced the Power of Selfies

2015 is the Year I Biked Further and More Often than I Ever Have

2015 is the Year I Dyed My Hair Purple

2015 is the Year I Decided to Live With Intention

2015 is the Year I Asked for Help

2015 is the Year I Learned I am Resilient 

2015 is the Year I Valued Self Care

2015 is the Year I Started to Challenge Shame

There is more. There is always so much more. But these are some of the things that stand out in my mind. 2015 was the year that I fought for myself shoulder to shoulder with people I love and who love me. I want 2016 to be the year of love. I want to accept love and give it and know that the more I do that, the more I will understand I am deserving of love.

 

You Are Not Alone: Lisa’s Story

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Photo by Lisa

This story is not mine. Is republished with the permission of my lovely friend Lisa. When she shared her story in full on Facebook this week I was so moved I asked if I could share this more widely. She is a warrior woman.

This is Lisa’s story of a miscarriage she experienced this fall. She was very open about sharing her pregnancy news early so that whatever may happen, she had a support system around her. Many women suffer alone and silently after a miscarriage – Lisa doesn’t want them to. 

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At the end of July of this year, I was very excited to find out I was pregnant. I was thrilled for my darling daughter to have a sibling, and to experience a pregnancy through her enthusiastic eyes. I wasted no time in telling those I am close to as well as all my coworkers. I was a little worried that maybe it was too early to announce, as I had experienced a miscarriage when my daughter was about 4 months old, but, whatever was to come, I didn’t want to experience it alone.

At 5 weeks I was already feeling nauseous and dizzy. By week 7 the nausea was interfering with my ability to function. As time passed I grew increasingly depressed as I was unable to perform my daily responsibilities. My daughter and I spent a lot of time watching Netflix while my boyfriend was doing my housework and taking our daughter on outings as I could not. I started to doubt that I could do this. How can I take care of a three year old all day when I can’t even take care of myself? How can I keep her in daycare when I’m too sick to work? My daughter is such a handful as it is, how is a newborn going to fit into my life? Will I have a life? How will this affect my relationship? Will my employer understand? Can I afford maternity leave? How much will a new baby cost? Depression sank in as my nausea and vomiting increased. I started to wonder, do I even want to have this baby at all? Would it be better to just end this all now?

At around 10 weeks, I saw an OB and she prescribed Diclectin for my nausea and vomiting. After a few days adjustment, I was able to function and feel human again. I started to feel more hopeful about the little being inside my swollen belly. My daughter would kiss my belly daily and look in my belly button for her sibling. It was incredibly sweet. I was excited but I couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe I was not ready for this.

My doctor ordered my first ultrasound for just after my twelfth week. Finally, I was going to get a look at this little guy or gal causing me so much grief. My boyfriend asked that I be sure to get pictures and I excitedly told our daughter that we were going to see Mommy’s baby on the TV. I laid on the bed with a full bladder, jelly on my belly, my 3 year old at my side. The technician placed the wand on my belly. I saw the very little shape of a baby, it wasn’t what I was expecting but it was exciting none the less. I pointed to the TV exclaiming ” Look! There is Mommy’s baby!”

I saw a look of panic on the technicians face…I thought to myself “where is that flash? The heartbeat…maybe they have the sound turned down because I don’t hear it either?”

It turns out that although my belly was swollen, and I was feeling sick, my baby had stopped growing in the 9th week and had no heartbeat. This meant, that although I had miscarried, my body hadn’t realized it yet. The doctor explained to me my options while I stared at her in shock. I could let nature take its course, take medication to facilitate the expulsion of tissue or have surgery (dilation and curettage). I stared in disbelief as she explained what a D&C involved, then came the tears. I mean I had had my doubts about having another child but to have it taken away so suddenly was devastating.

I was mad at myself for getting excited, mad at my body for not being able to grow a baby or even miscarry properly, mad that I had been carrying a dead baby in me. I had been walking around like a total and utter fool rubbing my belly thinking there was a healthy growing child but instead it was just a lump of tissue and cells. I was so angry. I just wanted this to be done with it.

I spoke to my doctor two days later and I asked for the D&C. She strongly urged that I try the medication as it was a more natural approach, as the surgery could affect my fertility due to possible scaring. I told her I didn’t care, I didn’t ever want to be pregnant or miscarry ever again. She felt that in the future, my feelings may change. So I filled my prescription, and reluctantly took the meds the next day. It didn’t work. I bled but it definitely was not what I was expecting….a week later, my next ultrasound showed the same little figure attached to side of my uterus.

Nothing had changed. I was still sick, still swollen, bleeding, and my baby was still firmly attached…my OB could see the emotional toll this was taking on me. I was an emotional wreck. How much longer would this go on? She scheduled an emergency D&C and I was admitted to the hospital. When I woke after the surgery I cried. I cried with relief. This is finally over. I can move on with my life and have my body back. I was told to expect bleeding for about a week and then it would taper off. It didn’t taper. I called my doctors office repeatedly. I called emergency and telehealth and they all said it was normal….I knew it wasn’t. Every time I went to the bathroom I hoped the bleeding had stopped. “I don’t have time for this” I thought. “I have to go to work, pack, move, it’s Halloween and my daughters 4th birthday.”

I bled for four weeks.

Four days after we moved I decided to take my daughter to the park before my shift. We played for a bit and suddenly I realized something was wrong. I was wearing black pants and couldn’t see anything, but I could feel something thick and warm running down my legs. I touched my pant leg and my hand was wet with blood. I panicked. Will I make it home? Do I call an ambulance? What do I do with my kid? What if I pass out? I told my daughter we had to leave right away because I had to go to the hospital. She gave me a hard time and wasn’t ready to go home. I realized I’d have to find a house and ask for help. I stumbled across a man doing some work on someone’s house and asked for help. He got the owner who immediately helped me and my child into her house and let me clean up. She drove me home to change my blood soaked clothes and brought us to the hospital where she stayed with us until my daughters father could pick her up. How fortunate to have had help from such a wonderful and caring stranger.

By the time I got to the hospital the bleeding had slowed and I was not considered an emergency. I arrived at 2:45pm at the Gatineau hospital emergency, I was seen by a doctor at 8:30am. 17 hours in the waiting room and no sleep. I was about to leave when they finally called me in. They ordered blood tests and an ultrasound.

My pregnancy test came back positive and my ultrasound showed that my D&C had been unsuccessful.

How much more would I have to endure? Will this ever end? How can I move on? The doctor wanted to put me on the emergency list again but I was exhausted and wanted to see my daughter and well, sleep…she sent me home for the night with orders to come in the next morning for surgery. I went home, saw my beautiful girl and slept like I’ve never slept before. I went in the the next morning for my second D&C in a month.

I continue to be left with only questions: Will this be the end of it? I’m scared to go out and do anything. What if the bleeding starts again? What if this time I do pass out? Will my daughter be ok? Will I be ok?

This has been a tough few months. I wanted to share my story because only when I started talking about it did I realize that I wasn’t alone in this. I think it’s important for me to share my experience so that others who may have gone though this realize they are not alone nor are they at fault. I am feeling better, and am very hopeful for the future. I feel some relief and sadness at the thought that I most likely will not become a mother for a second time. But I am eternally grateful for my daughter, my life and the support of all my friends, family and coworkers. I’m still feeling scared. The experience was traumatizing, but knowing I am not alone gives me a strange sense of comfort. I am not looking for sympathy, just looking to share my story with someone who needs to hear it.