I seem to be having an even harder time after the due date of the baby I lost in March than I did during the days leading up to it. I can’t recall (and don’t want to spend any time trying) this experience with my first two miscarriages, and I can’t yet speak to how I will feel after the upcoming estimated due dates for my most recent heaven babies, but this seems to be a unique experience so far.
With each fun family thing we do, each non-breastfeeding-friendly article clothing I wear, and each full night’s sleep or nap my two boys let me have, I am reminded of Shiloh’s absence.
When we design our Christmas cards, a gender-specific name we would have chosen for Shiloh had the outcome been different will not be included.
Even the kicks I’m currently experiencing from the baby currently occupying my womb– the kicks I so longed for after back-to-back-to-back loss– remind me that Shiloh, Sky, and Rain aren’t here, couldn’t be here, for this baby to exist.
Last night, I had a panic attack.
They don’t happen often but didn’t start until after my first miscarriage in 2015. With each one, everything– the loss of each baby until that point– comes flooding back. Despite my best efforts to gasp in a full breath of oxygen, I just could not get my lungs to inflate. Not for myself and not for the baby inside me depending on my oxygen supply for his own. The gasping woke my husband– the exact thing I was trying to avoid– and the paradox of feeling unable to breathe and crying, “I can’t breathe” (meaning I must have been breathing) went on for several minutes.
Last time I had one was during my very short pregnancy in April. It was one of my first symptoms because with that panic attack, the hyperventilation caused me to vomit– a rare occurrence for me which has never happened even during pregnancy, but I knew.
As I regained control of my breath, I gazed down at my open Bible which I had been reading minutes earlier in an effort to prevent a full panic attack, at which point the phrase “growing seed” within the heading of one of the parables triggered a blinding flood of tears, and the gasping ensued.
Now, feeling my lungs finally filling with oxygen, I looked down at my Bible, which was now somehow opened to the book of Mark, probably from my mindless flipping and desperate searching for something that would calm me down.
Jesus Calms the Storm
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4:35-41
The waves calmed, still surrounding me but not overtaking me, and I was able to get to sleep.
Recurrent miscarriage mental health update
I explained to Anthony days ago that it feels like I’m operating at a B. Not a terrible grade. Not low enough for most to worry about. In fact, many would be happy with a B. Above average. But not my average. It feels low for me since I’m used to operating at an A, but I don’t feel like I’m doing poorly enough to earn a tutoring slot, so to speak.
The panic attacks may be rare, but the fact is they didn’t start until after my first miscarriage and the near breakdown of my marriage. I’ve been trying to be very mindful of my thoughts, feelings, and mental health, and I’m starting to realize that some of the effects of loss upon loss actually are impacting me daily. I want to get a hold on this. Like my husband said, “Why should you be at an F for someone to care enough to help you?”
Thanks to my faith and family, I do have a lot of joy. But as I shared on a recent Instagram post, I’d be doing a disservice to the loss community if I made it look like I was all better now that a few months have passed. I still have my moments when I feel anxious and my nights when I have to curl my Shiloh bear into my chest to fill an emptiness keeping me from sleep. Overall, I’m doing really well, all things considered, but I’m ready to get back to an A.
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Yesterday, I showered in silence for the first time since March, and it’s kind of a big deal. Since losing Shiloh back in March- my third miscarriage- I haven’t been able to stand the combination of being alone AND in silence. Maybe because those are the circumstances under which I lost Shiloh- just after laying the boys down for their naps and 30 minutes before Anthony returned home from work that day. Thirty minutes alone and in silence. I’ve always been fine with silence. Enjoyed it, even. I’m perfectly content getting lost in my own thoughts, and too much noise for too long has always been overwhelming for me, so this has certainly been out of character for me. I don’t even know what I thought would happen if I was left alone in the silence. I guess the point is I COULDN’T think with the constant noise. And it couldn’t be just music. It had to be podcasts. People talking. Something my mind could really get into. Mostly this new habit hasn’t been an issue except when I DO get overwhelmed by the noise but refuse to turn it off. That’s when I realize this is more than just a new love of podcasts. Besides that- and I’ve known this all along- the constant chatter doesn’t allow room for God to speak into and fill the silence. Maybe it was all I could do to focus on the words I had already read and received from God. Or maybe the fear that He WOULDN’T fill the silence was greater than the potential comfort or sanctification of hearing from Him. Yesterday, I showered in silence. It was quick. I still listened to my podcast as I undressed and dressed again, but it was a step away from the version of myself created by grief and a step toward the version of myself that is whole and redeemed. I share this because I don’t want to do anyone a disservice by making it seem like I’m all better now. It’s important for me to show that just because someone has joy and seems to be recovering doesn’t mean she isn’t still struggling daily behind closed doors. Keep checking on your loved ones and always be kind. #mentalhealthawareness