On loss

What happens when the worst that you feared, happens?

Last week, that happened. Well, to be honest, I have a lot of fears roaming around in my head, so just one of those fears came to pass. Anxiety and "worst case scenario" thinking are some of my strong suits. (No, I am not proud of that, but hey ... work in progress.) So, this week in particular, as Jon and I walked into the doctor's office, we were once again faced with the words we heard 2 years ago that our pregnancy wasn't progressing and we'd be losing our baby.

Mid-January I took a pregnancy test and couldn't wait to share the news with everyone that Brighton would be a big sister. I was apprehensive because we had been down this road before, but I learned through our last miscarriage that life is meant to be celebrated, so if I only had 6 weeks to celebrate that life, those 6 weeks were still worth celebrating. So we chose to not shy away from sharing the news with our close family and friends. These are the people we do life with, and doing life includes the highs and the lows. 

A few weeks after the pregnancy test confirmed a little brother or sister on the way, I started feeling the same way I did when the first miscarriage happened and I just knew we'd be facing it again. And I knew we'd have to tell all the people who knew the good news, the bad news. Nobody likes sharing bad news, but when I'm the subject of that bad news, I hate it even more. It's extremely humbling to be in a position of allowing the people around you to rally and say, "I'm bringing you dinner", or "Need a night out? We'll watch Brighton." Grief has humbled me and forced me to quit trying to be superwoman and have it all together because sometimes I don't. (Actually, a lot of times, but that's a different story.)

Have you ever had scenarios in your life happen where you just never thought that would be your story? Where it seems like such an out of body experience? For me, the first time I remember this happening was in college when my Nonna was diagnosed with cancer. I remember sitting in a coffee shop with my brother, trying to process what was happening and I just kept thinking, "this doesn't happen in real life", "this happens to other people". Cancer was a far away, distant, unknown scenario that I never fathomed would be a part of my story. 

Miscarriage was the same far away, "not my story" story. Except now, it is my story. Twice. Except this time, I had the sweetest, happiest, most beautiful baby girl leaving the doctor's office with me. While we grieved one life, we had another life in our arms to celebrate. We left in silence, drove home in silence, I went and grabbed a freeze from Pressed Juicery (it's like frozen yogurt, but it's all fruit and veggies, so that's a win) and then I went home and started to make dinner. That's the funny thing about getting bad news: life keeps going. Life didn't stop because of the news we received. Brighton still needed attention and dinner, Jon still needed to go to work. 

As I was trying to get dinner together for Brighton, I slumped over the kitchen sink and the tears came. A few seconds later, Brighton was hugging my leg. I got down on my knees and she looked at me like she understood, and wrapped her little arms around me. Then got up, stroked my face, and then continued to tear apart the kitchen. Kids are incredible. We don't often give them enough credit. We dismiss them for being children, and not "understanding", but when my almost two-year-old saw her mommy crying, she knew something wasn't right and she knew the appropriate response was a hug. So then I got even more emotional because the love that exists between me and that little girl is indescribable. 

Processing grief with a baby like Brighton has been overwhelming. Normally, I'd like to take a day off and lay out the couch with some coffee and Netflix. But you don't get days off when you're a stay at home mom. So through the sadness, I have had to push through and show up for my family. Showing up after grief is one of the most difficult things we can do, but it's also one of the most inspiring and courageous things we can do. My good friend Trish and I had the opportunity to speak at an event together about writing and the power of words, and she was sharing about how the people who live the most inspiring lives are the people who have overcome hardship and taken risks. My hope when I started this blog after my first miscarriage was that my pain would be used to encourage others and that continues to be my hope. My hope continues to be that this mommy blog or whatever you want to label it would be a place where you can come and be encouraged that you are not alone, that God is good, and that we are all just trying to figure life out.  I refuse to let this pain go to waste.

So what happens when the worst you feared, happens? God is still there. God was right there to meet me through the tears in my car. He was there in the hug from my toddler. He was there with me while I showed up for the event I was speaking at even though I wanted to be on my couch. As someone who is constantly fearing the worst, my miscarriage was a reminder that when the worst happens, you'll still be ok because God is there and He is good. 

Be encouraged by these verses below: 

Lamentations 3: 19-33 (The Message)
I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember— the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.
God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.
When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst.
Why? Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return. If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense. He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way

Adjusting the Filter

What's your favorite filter? Come on Instagram users, we all have our go-to, right? Do you like Instagram's native filters? Or do you prefer VSCO? I'm a VSCO girl myself. Ok, in all seriousness, I have been spending the last few weeks thinking about filters and how they affect my daily life.

What filter am I (are you) looking through?

It's funny how easily we get sucked into the comparison game. The grass is always greener, right? So many of us spend our days scrolling through all the numerous ways we update the world on our daily lives, minute by minute letting people know what we are doing, where we are doing it, and why they need to care. But of course we are only showing our best selves in the social world.

Am I posting a photo of my baby crying at 2AM? Definitely not. Am I sharing a video of my house when it's a mess? Nope. What about a photo of my husband and I after an argument with a caption detailing our argument and why he's making me so mad? Not the most romantic thing I could do. We are all showing our lives through the best filter possible, and realistically, who wants to scroll through a feed of depressing posts and "real-life"? We all like the filters. We all love our social media selves. I do think it's important to sprinkle in a little salt though. Important to give everyone some of the real "me" every once and awhile. I recently posted an adorable photo of my daughter (honestly, how adorable is she?!) and seconds later she spit up all over my favorite comforter. So I thought I should caption the photo appropriately, because I realize as a mom, that when I look at all the other moms on Instagram posting perfect photos of their babies, it took them probably 45 minutes to get that one photo, and in between takes they were mostly likely crying, running around, or fighting them the whole time.

Fasting social media may not be the most spiritual fast for the books (or at least, not everyone's go-to), but I think it's important to readjust the filter I'm using. Step away for a moment, and make sure I am looking through a God-filter. Cheesy, I know, but all too true. I spend my days scrolling through hundreds of posts (most of which, I could really care less about), but then I find myself so discontent with my own life and resentful at people I love (and of course some people I don't even know). "Must be nice to have all the time in the world to be at home with your baby." "Must be nice to be able to get paid to travel and take pictures." "Must be nice to have a house with a yard and not share your room with an infant.""Must be nice." I don't think I'm the best version of myself when I spend too much time on social media, because I get swallowed into the comparison pit. I'm Alice, falling down down down the rabbit hole, confused about how I got here, curious about what's happening around me, wondering how I can get out.

I read something recently about digging into your jealousies. The author touched on the idea that so often, we are encouraged to run away from being jealous, turn it off, and confess it. But when we actually dive into it, what we really find is longing. She said, "I'm learning that envy can be an extremely useful tool to demonstrate our desires, especially the ones we haven't yet allowed ourselves to feel, and so I committed to learning from my jealousy." And then she asked, "What makes you say, 'Must be nice'? What longing might your jealousy lead you to, if you're brave enough to listen to it before you push it away?" As I was fasting from social media, I took some time to write down the things that have been making me so "jealous" and when I read them, I realized she was right. So as I look at these things, scribbled on a page, I see these "jealousies" in a different light. I see pieces of a life that I long to be mine.

Although God is in control of our lives and His will is greater than ours, there are many aspects of our life that we do get to determine. When I look at someone and think "Ugh, they are so fun and adventurous. I wish I was that fun and adventurous." What's stopping me? It's up to me to decide to be a more fun person. I don't need to pray about that. What is holding me back from being the person I want to be? From being the person God wants me to be? Sometimes I think comparison keeps me trapped from flourishing, because I will never be as good, as talented, as creative, as ____ as whomever.

The reality, however, is that I do have control over the filter I see my life through. And I do have control over my attitude. I have control over my choice to be grateful for where God has me, and to thank Him for wherever He will take me (whenever that is). So the next time you or I find ourselves envying one person or the next, let's dive into it. What desire might we allow ourselves to feel and be brave enough to explore? Better yet, what new filter can we choose to view our lives through so that we can be grateful and not resentful?

Just 10 Seconds

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is probably one of my favorite shows. I don't know what it is about the ridiculous humor, but I can't get enough of it.

In one of the episodes, Kimmy is trying to encourage the woman she nannies for and says "You can do anything for 10 seconds." (Then flashback to Kimmy being held captive in a bunker, spinning a wheel for no reason and repeatedly counting to 10.)

Currently, my life revolves around 3 hour segments. So I find myself jokingly wondering what I can do for just 3 hours. "Ok, Brighton just fed, so I have about 3 hours to do something fun until she feeds again." It's pretty insane how quickly the days fly by and how I find myself already half way through maternity leave and shedding tears at the thought of it.

Motherhood is crazy. Straight up crazy town. We got blessed with an incredible baby. She sleeps. She's not fussy unless she's gassy or hungry (I mean, who isn't). She smiles at us. 99% of the time it's heaven. Of course there is the 1%. Where she keeps throwing up on me and keeps soiling burp rag after burp rag and outfit after outfit. Or blows out of her diaper. All of this when we don't have laundry in our 1-bedroom apartment. I know we should always be grateful, because it could always be worse. But I know if we are all honest with each other, it's very easy to get discouraged when things aren't going as planned. When you can't get that extra bedroom just yet. Or you have to bring your laundry to a laundromat. Or maybe our careers aren't where we thought they would be. Or our relationships.

At 28-years-old I know I don't have anything figured out, the least of these being motherhood. But I feel like among the many lessons parenthood will teach you, it's about being present and grateful. Because I really can't operate outside of 3 hours at a time. So, like Kimmy Schmidt, I find myself saying, "You can do anything for 3 hours".

When working through my anxiety, my counselor once told me to ask myself, "what do I know right now?" Instead of allowing myself to think too far ahead, or to create all these improbable scenarios and outcomes in my head, I have to stop and ask myself, "what do I know right now?" I know that today, everything is fine. In this moment, my baby is calm. In this moment, she is healthy. In this moment [insert truth here]. I have a tendency to think so far ahead into the unknown future that when I can't see how all our dreams and plans will come true, I just end up discouraged and angry and without hope. Recently, I was reading through this She Reads Truth devo and found hope to counteract my bad attitude that day.

The writer said,

"Here’s the difference between Paul and me (as if there’s only one): I believe God has good plans for me, but I assume His plans fall within the boundary lines of my own. In other words, God’s good plans for me are His expert version of my first draft. Paul knew better.....Paul knew this, too. He knew Scripture is true—not in part, but in whole. He knew the gospel of Jesus is true—not in part, but in whole. Paul knew God is sovereign and good—not sometimes, but all the time. Not within the boundaries we give Him, but through all of history and time and space. Our hope does not die when our hands are chained or when life seems at a standstill. Our God is sure and faithful."

Even when life seems at a standstill, I can trust that God has plans for me beyond my wildest dreams. I can remind myself to take life moment my moment, or just 3 hours at a time, to soak in the blessings that exist today.