A Band of Sisters

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Last night I danced.  As L took her bath last night, I plugged my phone into the dock in her room, and a song that just makes me happy played.  So I danced around and sang with L as she splashed in the tub, and it felt refreshing.  Dancing it out always feels good, even if you only have the energy to do it just a little while.

Dancing it out might not seem like a big deal to most, but you must understand that Monday afternoon I was in so much pain that I had to have Bart take me to the ER.  I tried to wait it out, knowing full well just how painful miscarriages can be, but eventually it just got to the point where I couldn't.  Ironically, almost as soon as I made it into the ER, the pains stopped.  Thankfully, I haven't required any additional help medically with everything.   Though I won't go into all the gory details, Monday was a very difficult day and took a huge toll on me physically.  I was still exhausted when I went in for my follow up with my regular doctor yesterday afternoon.  Being able and wanting to dance to "Then He Kissed Me" by The Crystals like Elizabeth Shue in Adventures In Babysitting was just awesome.

I wanted to share this, because miscarriage and child loss of any type are still basically taboos in our society.  We don't talk about it.  We don't want to talk about it, but that often leaves those of us who have experienced it feeling very alone.  Often, as I've experience this time and during my first experience five years ago, people will privately share that they too have gone through the same.  I'm thankful when they do share, but I don't believe it is something that needs to be kept private.  There is no shame in pregnancy loss.  This isn't Ye Olden Days when it was assumed the woman did something wrong or committed some heinous sin.   You did nothing wrong.  It happens far more often than most of us are publicly aware.

Sister, you are not alone.  Did you understand that?  YOU ARE NOT ALONE!  It sucks.  It hurts, physically and emotionally.  It's okay to grieve, to be sad, to be angry, and to just feel lost.  You might not know how you're going to survive this, but know that you aren't alone in this.  You needn't hide away in shame and pretend it didn't happen.  It happens to a great many of us.

Last night in bed, my background in Shakespeare came to mind.  I thought about the St Crispin's Day Speech from Henry V.  You know, the "Band of Brothers" one that gave way to the title of the book and miniseries about the 101st Airborne?  There's this one part:
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
Cut out the "happy few" part and change every "brother" to "sister" and "he" to "she," I think this works:
From this day to the ending of the world,But we in it shall be remembered-We few, we happy few, we band of sisters;For she to-day that sheds her blood with meShall be my sister; be she ne’er so vile,
After all, we are in a manner a Band of Sisters.  Let's be open, honest, and lift up each other in prayer and encouragement.  We'll all be healthier for it.  Then, maybe we can all dance it out, because  there is still so much to be thankful for and happy about.  With time and support, we can take the strike out of the "we happy few," because I can assure you that "Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5b)."

Why We Shared So Early

Monday, April 27, 2015

About a month ago, Bart and I shared a picture on Instagram and Facebook of Ladybug wearing a shirt that read, "This Is What An Awesome Sister Looks Like."  It was our announcement to the world that another Gilbreath was coming in November.  We were all thrilled, even Ladybug.  At first we weren't sure if we wanted to make it public, because it was so early, and we know from previous experience that things happen, especially in the first trimester.  We chose to announce it anyway though, for a grand number of reasons.  Even though we today we received news that there won't be a baby come November, after discussing it, we're still glad that we did it.

The first reason we shared that we were expecting was because Ladybug is a very perceptive and smart three-year-old.  There was no keeping the secret from her.  Any way you turn this thing around, she would have picked up on something.  Since we had to tell her, we had to tell everyone, because Ladybug is not a child who can keep a secret.  Seriously, don't take her Christmas shopping, she will tell the person you're buying for exactly what you've bought down to the tiniest details.

The second reason we chose to make it public is because we both believe that prayers are more important than privacy.  I still believe that.  I don't believe in the power of positive thinking, but I know just exactly how powerful prayer is.

Lastly, there is this common-held belief that you shouldn't say anything until at least the second trimester, just in case.  Then you can suffer your miscarriage alone in silence.  Sister, brother, I have experienced that in the past.  I don't know if there's anything more hurtful than having people assume that you don't want kids and say so to your face after a miscarriage that they weren't aware of.

Mostly though, we weren't made to weather our storms alone.  We were made to fellowship and minister to each other.  As I mentioned earlier, I believe in prayer - through the good and and bad.  Therefore, we must also open up and make ourselves available to be ministered to.

I will not say that I am not saddened by the news we received today, but I am so very grateful for a Savior who loves me and carries me when I can't walk, a husband who loves and supports me, a beautiful child who makes me laugh and smile through every tear, a doctor who is beyond supportive and compassionate, and friends and family who love us all.  Believe it or not, all is well with my soul.  Oh, and please, please, PLEASE don't stop sharing your baby news and pictures with me!  They don't hurt me a bit, because each is a blessing.  We have dear friends having a baby probably this week, we should get to meet our newest nephew finally this week, and friends from church have just had a baby.  I believe they are all blessings, and I don't begrudge one a bit.  Don't tip-toe around us.  God has us in His hands.  We won't break.

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.
    • It is well with my soul,
      It is well, it is well with my soul.

Rainy Day Randomosity

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I think Ladybug and I really needed today's rainy, cool weather to just stay inside and be.  It seems our days have been filled with some activity or craziness for far too long, and we kind of need to slowly melt into our winter groove.  Yet, I'm not entirely sure what our winter groove will be.  We're going to have to find some sort of activity for the cold months to get out of the house for some fun at least once a week!

We had a yard sale Saturday.  Bart's parents came up with a truckload of stuff, and we attempted to rid ourselves of several things that were more or less just taking up space.  I sold a couple of L's baby things, but the treasure-trove of baby clothes, play-things, and such was largely untouched.  I'm just not ready to part with any of it yet.  I still hope for one more sweet baby before I'm ready for them to go to other families.  I did sell my bike.  I didn't intend to, it just happened.  Now I'm trying to decide what I want to get to replace it.  I will get another soon, because that is how I exercise, and it has become an integral part of my life.

We went to Dickey Farms to find this year's pumpkins Sunday.  We took L to Farmland Adventures a few weeks ago, but we loved Dickey Farms so much last year that we went back there to actually pick pumpkins.  I hope it's a tradition we can continue for years to come.  I think we all look forward to it - at least those of us who remember it.

Bart picked a couple of odd-looking gourds.  I call this one Jimmy.  You in the know about VeggieTales get it.

I need to go back through all of my blog posts and clean up my labels.  This is not something I look forward to doing.  It may take until Doomsday, but I will do it.

I'm thinking of writing a children's book or series based on Dory, her abandonment, her rescue, our adoption of her, and several other moments in her life that I think would be great material.  Of course I have no artistic skills, so if this does come about I will be looking for and illustrator eventually.

We're really starting to plan Christmas gifts, and I'm even trying to start planning L's birthday now, because once the holidays hit, her birthday just comes too quickly for a party procrastinator like myself. I think this year we'll just invite a handful of her friends and her cousin who may actually be in state then.  I also wouldn't be surprised if it had an A League Of Their Own theme, so she can use her Halloween costume again.

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  In some respects, I feel that this deserves its own post.  Ladybug should have a three-year-old brother or sister that we lost at eight weeks in January 2010.  There's a quote I remember from Grey's Anatomy that Cristina told George when his dad died: 
CRISTINA: "There's a club. The Dead Dads Club. And you can't be in it until you're in it. You can try to understand, you can sympathize. But until you feel that loss... My dad died when I was nine. George, I'm really sorry you had to join the club."
GEORGE: "I... I don't know how to exist in a world where my dad doesn't."
CRISTINA: "Yeah, that never really changes."
That's how I feel about both the loss of a parent and also the loss of a child.  People can try to understand and sympathize, but until you feel that loss you just can't.  I hate that anyone has to know that kind of loss.  A part of your heart always has a hole in it.  I'm very thankful for my life that I have, but I will always wonder what he would have been like.  I wrote a letter to him last year around his due date.  I think of him every day.  I'll know him someday though, and I am so very thankful for that.

To My Unnamed Child

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Dear Little One,
Today or a day very near this one, you would have been two years old. It's hard to imagine that we could have a toddler running about, that we could be trying to potty-train you, and that you would probably try to be helpful with your little sister.
I don't know if you are a boy or a girl. You went away from us too early to know. We hadn't even grown used to the idea of you yet, and then you were gone. You did exist though, I know it. On two different occasions I saw your little heart beating via ultrasound. I have pictures somewhere, filed away to prove it.
Some, at the point in which we lost you, would say that you weren't a person - just a clump of cells, but that isn't true. I saw your heart beating. I couldn't feel you move yet, but I was aware that you were there, and I just remember the horrible emptiness I felt once you were gone -how your dad and I really already knew you were gone before we saw that empty ultrasound.
Your dad and I talk about you more now that we have Firecracker. She didn't replace you, but her being here does make it easier. I've learned that talking about you is good. Even though over two years have passed since we lost you, I've started attending a grief share group with a friend, and even now it still helps to talk with others who have similar experiences.
We're taught to hide early pregnancy to make it easier if miscarriage happens. The problem with that is that when that happens, few people talk with you about your loss. I don't know how many times people didn't tell me things I wanted to know about, because they thought they were protecting me. People withholding their good news for fear of hurting me only hurt more in the long run.
Since we lost you, I had to make some changes in my life. I had to decide to go after what I wanted, which was and is a family with children, rather than just allow life to happen. I had to cut off unhealthy relationships, some very close, because I realized that I was never going to have my own family and really life I was too busy being sucked dry by others. I stopped taking (pardon my language) crap from anyone, especially those closest to me. I finished growing up when I lost you. I lost what was left of my innocence along with you that bitter, cold January.
I have had this dream since at least high school of a particular Christmas morning. I always loved Christmas as a kid. I loved the magical, warmness of Christmas. Then your grand-dad died when I was ten. Christmas suddenly became a holiday about wanting and trying and never obtaining. When I was younger, I thought possibly it was because I wanted certain gifts, didn't get them, and had to live with disappointment. As I grew older, I realized that I didn't want things, I wanted that warm, magical feeling of when my family was whole. Then the dream started.
There was this dream of Christmas morning with a happy husband and two tow-headed kids running down the stairs to see what was under the tree. Three years ago at Christmas, I thought that dream was coming true, because I had you. Then you were gone, and Christmas suddenly became that much harder. Even last year when your sister was on her way, it was still so difficult at times. I'll never be able to listen to "Silent Night" without thinking of you. This year will be easier and happier, because your sister is here, but knowing that dream could have come true this year.... Knowing that you're not with us will always be with me.
As your sister reaches milestones, I can't help but wonder how you would be the same and also different. Would you have blue eyes too? Would you also have reddish-blond hair that sticks up straight no matter how much we brush it? Would you be a squealer like your sister or maybe a chuckler? Would your first word have been, "Momma?" Your sister's is "Da Da." Would you like carrots and squash too? Would you spend your days chasing Lucy and Dory? Would Mickey Mouse Clubhouse be your favorite TV show also, or would you prefer something more like Jake and the Neverland Pirates?
By now, you would probably be talking nonstop, asking millions of questions daily, reciting stories from memory, and just being a crazy, crazy kid. I wish I could read you a story and sing silly songs with you. Time is both my friend and enemy in regard to missing you.  The pain hurts a little less with time, but every day, every week, month, season, year that passes since you were here with us carries us further apart the emptiness of your not being here is sometimes more evident.  It was difficult accepting that time could and would go on without you here.
I wish that I could hold you, hug you, kiss your sweet head, and let you hear how very much I love you - will always love you. I miss you, dear Little One, but I know you're in a wonderful place and will never know pain or sorrow. Someday, I'll meet you there. We'll know each other, and it will be like no time has passed at all. You will always be my first baby. You will always be in my heart - the child of my heart.

I love and miss you Little One,


The Waiting Game Part Two: The Mating Game

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Okay, so now that you've waited what seems like forever to find and marry the right person, it's time to think about starting a family, right?  Heaven knows that the moment you get married you can't so much as have a stomach bug without people asking you if you're pregnant, after all.  When, if any, is a good time to start a family?  Anyone can have kids, can't they?  At least anyone most of society would deem unfit seems to be able to pop them out in regular fashion.

B and I were married when he was twenty-one, and I was twenty-three.   B still had a year of college to finish, we were dirt poor, and that was obviously not the right time for us.  If it had happened, we would have stepped up to the challenge, but thankfully it didn't.  We weren't ready then, and we enjoyed just being together for quite a while.  We weren't in any hurry, and frankly I had the same idea many young women these days do and was fine waiting on kids until I was closer to thirty, though I didn't want to get started too late.

Five years after we married, B had finished his MSEE, we had a house, stable jobs, and were finally settling down a bit after having moved about once a year those first years.  We even had Lucy for year, and though she was/is a bit neurotic, we were pretty good dog parents.  I was twenty-eight, and B was twenty-six.  It seemed that if there was ever a good time to start trying for a baby, it was then.  As they say, all of our ducks were in a row - so we thought.

So I stopped taking the pill in either August or September of 2008.  We were partially afraid that we would be one of those couples who would get pregnant right away and also afraid that we might never get pregnant as well.  For us, it seemed that it would be the latter.

I vividly remember being a few days late that Thanksgiving and stopping in Russellville to buy a pregnancy test on our way home from spending the holiday with B's family in Little Rock.  We had taken a vacation in late October and hoped that we had gotten pregnant then.  That was honestly the first of many months of disappointment.  It's funny how much you want your period when you're not trying for a baby, and how much of a failure you feel like when it comes.  Clear Blue Easy made a mint off of me, what with pregnancy tests and ovulation tests.

Most of everything you read says to try for a year on your own before seeking fertility treatment.  So, we decided to wait a year until we would speak to my OB/GYN about the dreaded word of infertility.  I have to admit that was probably one of the most difficult years of my life.  I turned twenty-nine in May, had my former OB/GYN make the comment that I was no longer a spring chicken in reproductive terms a week after that at my yearly appointment, and it seemed that everyone around me was having babies.  To top things off, I had family causing me very unnecessary stress, and B was working ungodly hours and had even started teaching adjunct at a nearby private university.  That meant our free time together all but disappeared.  Whenever he was home, he was grading or sadistically planning tests that were far too difficult for his students.  Actually, it seemed that it was impossible for us to even be in the same state when I was ovulating.  I tried to keep a positive outlook, but frankly it was just Lucy and me more often than not during that time.  So, I focused on the dog; dog toys, dog food, dog forums on the internet,  dog blogs, dog walks, you name it.  I even talked B into adopting Dory that autumn.

My attitude was less than stellar then, I know that it was - at least at times.  I was depressed and in denial of it.  I think I remember even telling a very good friend at work once that I "hated my life."  I didn't hate my life, but I was certainly tired of basically feeling like I had no control over any aspect of it - tired of feeling like a failure.  Quite honestly I just felt tired.

Things didn't help when people would assume that since I was twenty-nine, had been married almost six years, had a house, and didn't have children that I didn't want children.  Some people even assumed that I didn't like children, which is the furthest thing from the truth.  I love children.  I've always loved children.  It was all I could do at times to not pick up a child I knew and get all Lennie from Of Mice and Men or Looney Tunes Abominable Snowman on them.  Seriously, I want to hug them, and squeeze them, and name them all "George."

So, we decided to see the doctor about our infertility after the New Year.  God had other plans though, and when I took a pregnancy test on our sixth wedding anniversary, it was positive.  It was positive, and I thought that I was going to need a paper bag to breathe into long before I woke B to tell him the good news.  We went to watch The Blind Side that night, and I felt all warm and mothery.  It was five days until Christmas, and all anyone could talk about was how they couldn't wait until the next year.  I had about a week and a half of pure bliss, but in the back of my mind I felt something was wrong.

Then I awoke on New Year's Eve, and noticed that I started to spot some while getting ready for work. I went in to work, called the women's clinic, and then left to take blood tests.  The blood tests showed that I was low on progesterone, so I started taking suppositories every night to get those levels higher.  Also, I was told to relax (ha!).Things seemed ok, for a little while.  Honestly, everything now seems muddled together and fuzzy, because I had an ultrasound the next week, and I almost forgot about it.

I guess it was around a week later that we had a crazy, busy day at work due to lots of snow and ice and I felt it.  I was full-on bleeding.  I went back to the doctor and had another ultrasound.  We saw our baby's heartbeat, and felt a little better.  However, the baby wasn't growing at the rate it should have been.  I was told to take it easy that day, but not put on bedrest.  I had an appointment for another ultrasound in a week and a half.  I probably should have gone in multiple times before then but didn't really know if my bleeding was heavier than a period and tried not to worry.  All I could do was worry though.  At my next ultrasound, there wasn't a baby any more.  I had lost the baby, though I'm not sure when.  At least I was spared having to go through a D and C.

After that, I tried to just carry on like normal, but something had changed in me.  I was sad, but I was no longer depressed.  I had decided to enjoy life again, and I did.  I also decided to stop allowing people, especially close family to stop treating me without respect and honestly causing a lot of the stress that probably contributed to both the infertility and my stress.  I stopped putting so much pressure on myself to get pregnant again, and just tried to enjoyed not trying not to get pregnant.

In the mean time, I didn't want to buy clothes, because I was always hoping to need to buy maternity clothes.  Well, honestly at first I didn't want to buy clothes, to cut my hair, or change much of anything, because I didn't want things to change from what they had been while I was pregnant.  To do so, seemed to take me further away from then.  I had to realize that life was going on anyway, and that I needed to be a part of it.  Still yet, I was always hesitant to buy clothes, for fear it would be wasted money.

I wanted to go on Clomid as soon as I could after the miscarriage, because I was afraid that I didn't ovulate regularly.  My thirtieth birthday was coming, and I was feeling the time ticking away in my biological clock.  However, my doctor advised against it since I did have a spontaneous pregnancy.  When, after another year had passed, we once again discussed seeking infertility treatments.  I just wanted to get being a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding over with first.  Somehow, I knew that I was going to get pregnant the next month, and I did.

I believe in prayer, and so many people prayed for us to have a healthy baby for so very, very long.  I will be eternally grateful for that.  I prayed for it as well - at times all alone in a room with my knees to the ground I cried out in prayer.  Like Hannah, weeping bitterly in the temple, I cried out for a child of my own.  Yes, I love children so much that I want to hug them, and squeeze them, and call them George, but all I really wanted was my own baby - whether biologically or even eventually by adoption.

Once I found out I was pregnant, one of the first people I told was my dear old friend, Melissa.  She shared with me a prayer that I prayed every day for Firecracker while I was pregnant.  "Dear Lord, please let my baby be healthy, happy, and whole."  She was.  She was worth the wait.  She doesn't replace baby #1. She can't, and I don't want her to.  She is her own, special little person  - quite the little person with so much to say at that.

The wait for her made me really grow up and take charge of the kind of life I want to live and who I want in it.  I think it has made me into a better and wiser person, and I hope that in reading this someone else who is waiting will know gain a little hope themselves.  Good things do come to those who wait, they really do.  However, the road is definitely not an easy one.  It has peaks and valleys, but the climb really is worth it.

Sunday Seriousness: Mother's Day

Monday, May 14, 2012

Today is my first Mother's Day - in a way.  In some ways I think that my first Mother's Day was two years ago though.  You see, the Firecracker wasn't my first pregnancy.  My first pregnancy was one of the one in four (or three depending on some estimates) that ended in miscarriage.

B and I had been trying for a baby for a little over a year when we found out that we were pregnant on our sixth wedding anniversary, which is also five days before Christmas.  We were thrilled and shocked, and unfortunatley by New Years Eve, I started showing signs of complications.  We lost that baby at eight weeks, and though we never got to meet that baby or even know whether it was a boy or girl, I think of it and know that I'm still his or her mom, just as I am Firecracker's.

B and I were discussing just a week or so ago how it's hard to believe that really we have two kids.   Unfortunately it's easy to not really forget but just to not think about the first one, because it does still hurt some, and quite honestly he or she was gone before we really had a chance to get used to even the idea.  Our lifestyle hadn't really changed much in such a short time, and it was easy to fall back into out old routines.  I was changed though.  I realized then that just because the child you love is no longer here, doesn't mean you're no longer a mom.  Once you're a mom, you're a mom for life and beyond.

Today, B and I started talking about what we don't like about Mother's Day, because to us it seems that it can cause more pain to those who have either lost children or parents than joy it can give to those who haven't.  That first Mother's Day after my miscarriage my own mother, whom I will be honest and admit that I don't have the best relationship with, was unhappy with me because we were both unable to and didn't really want to go to Oklahoma to visit her.  So she did what she often does and said something very hurtful to me about my miscarriage, ripping open the wound, and hoping that I would need to be comforted by her in order to feel better.  From that point on, everything mentioned about the day made me feel very angry and extremely sad at the same time.  I kind of feel that the way some people carry on about Mother's Day having to be a celebration of mothers is like society as a whole doing to women who have lost or are infertile what my mother did to me.

Then there are the people out there who had much better relationships with their mothers than I have with mine and can't celebrate them because their mom has passed away.  I do still have my mom, but every Father's Day since I was eleven has been horribly awkward and a little sad for me, because my Dad died when I was ten.  So, I can really empathize with how they feel.  I have relatives and friends who genuinely miss their mothers terribly on this day.

So, I'm not gung-ho about this being my first Mother's Day with Firecracker.  I know that it is an honor to be her Momma, and I recognize just what a blessing and gift from God she is.  I thank God for her every day and pray for her health, her well-being, and so many other things.  I also remember the child who would be a rambunctious toddler by now.  I think of so many friends of mine who don't have their children with them, and those who miss their mothers and pray for them. .

You never know the hurt someone else is going through.  You never realize how something so seemingly innocent and even wonderful can be just the opposite to others.  If anything today and every day - have compassion and love for all.  Honor the people who are important to your life every day.  Don't look for Hallmark to tell you to do so with a card.  Show love and respect to everyone, but especially to those you love so often that you don't have to make a big deal out of Mother's Day or any other holiday the card and flower companies promote so heavily every day.  Make it to where Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day and the like aren't needed and no one would have to go through the pain such a day can actually cause.

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