Thankful

2022 hasn’t been the year I thought it would be. (What year is, right?) And the latter half, especially, has been challenging and stressful and sad and just not great at all. But as we come into this week of Thanksgiving, I’m still thankful for this life.

I’m thankful for my loving family and my supportive friends.

I’m thankful for Graham. All of him. Every day.

I’m thankful for Gatsby and Annie, and their wonderful chaos, and their sweet faces.

I’m thankful for a beautiful old house that just refuses to fall down.

I’m thankful for you, kind readers, who keep coming back and reading what I put out into the world.

I’m thankful for this day, and the one that will come after, and the new chance every morning to create something good.

I’m not perfect. I’ve struggled in these last few months with some darkness I honestly didn’t know I had in me. But I know that I’ve still got so much to be thankful for, and my heart is just full of gratitude. It really, truly is.

I hope 2023 is better, but I’m still thankful for 2022 and what it’s taught me: There is always light.

Tired

It’s what we are around here today. This fall has been a whirlwind – some good things, some not so good things, some I plan to write about, and some that I’d rather not – and as we come into the holiday season, I’m just feeling a little run down. I’m sure everyone can relate. It happens. But my gosh, I just really can’t believe it’s already November, and before we know it, we’ll be looking at 2023 on the horizon.

So, on that note, we’ve had a visit planned with Graham’s family for a while anyway, so I’ll be taking a break for the next week. I’ll be back on Friday,  November 11th. In the meantime, as we move from autumn to winter, and from spooky to festive season, I wish all of you rest, comfort, warmth, joy, and happy creating!

Sunday Supper #10: Thank you!

My sweet, wonderful friends and followers:

Thank you so much for your kind words, for your outpouring of love, and for sharing your stories. They have been a source of strength and healing, and knowing that you’re thinking of us has helped us more than I can say.

We’re doing better, feeling better – though some days are better than others – and focusing on loving each other and moving forward the best that we can. No one can say what the future holds, but whatever that is, we know that we’ll be in it together, and we know that we are loved, supported, and surrounded by kindness.

Gratitude isn’t a strong enough word.

Just thank you. Thank you, thank you. Graham and I are everlastingly, infinitely grateful for all of you.

I Had a Miscarriage

Trigger Warning: Pregnancy Loss, Miscarriage. I invite you to read this story, and I hope if you’re seeking support or connection, you find it here. But please feel free to step away, if you need to. Healing looks different for everyone. I needed stories like this, but my world isn’t the world. I just hope that if you’ve had a similar experience, you know that you are not alone, that you are loved, that your feelings are valid, that your loss is real, that it is not your fault, that your pain matters, that you weren’t foolish to be hopeful and excited, and that you deserve to be happy and whole again.  

I’ve gone back and forth about whether to tell this story.

I was pregnant.

Our positive pregnancy test.

I’m not anymore.

I had a miscarriage.

Every time I say it, every time I think about it, it hurts all over again.

This is not the news I was hoping to share. But I write stories, and so I’ll write this one.

Something More

I don’t remember ever really wanting to be a mother. I do like children. I just never wanted my own. Until I did.

My husband and I have been together for close to fourteen years. We have a good life. And for about thirteen of our years together, we felt like nothing was missing. We’ve traveled together. We’ve made lots of friends, and we’re involved in our community. We own an amazing, if needy, old house in a beautiful historic village. And we’ve got the two strangest, most wonderful pets in the world. We are happy. We usually spend our weekend days exploring the countryside, driving down dirt roads and finding new places to visit. It was on one such weekend, back in February, when things changed.

We’d spent a lovely, warm Saturday with one of our best friends. We visited a local distillery, had a drink in the sunshine sitting by a little river, and ate dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.

A photo of me, taken on the day things changed.

It was a good day. A great day, even. But when we got home in the evening, we both sort of paused walking up the stairs to our bedroom and looked at each other. In that moment, we felt the shift.  

I said, “I think I’m ready for something more.”

My husband said he was, too.

And that was that. We didn’t know what the journey might look like, but we knew that we’d be in it together, and we hoped that by the end, we’d be parents.

Was This Too Easy?

Things didn’t take long. By June, we were pregnant. The day I took the test, I wasn’t expecting a positive result. I’d been having some stomach pain, which I attributed to a busy weekend and a temporarily poor diet, and I thought it would be wise just to rule out that I might be pregnant before I took medicine or called the doctor.

The result: Two little lines.

So much hope and joy sitting in that space between two little lines.

But there was also fear.

I knew that things would be harder and more risky, given my age – 35, at the time. I’d read the statistics about chromosomal disorders and early miscarriage rates. My husband shared my anxiety, but we tried to stay positive. We got through the long days and nights together, dreaming of what our baby might look like, sound like, which of our quirks baby might share, and who this new little human would be. I was certain we were having a girl. My husband wasn’t so sure, but he was excited at the idea of tea parties and learning to braid hair. He’s a good man, and he felt so ready to be a dad.

And somehow, days turned into weeks. I was nauseous and exhausted all the time. I figured that was a good sign. But I couldn’t help feeling like it was all a little too easy. I’ve had so many friends struggle to conceive, and I felt guilty that our road had been so short. And the fear never left me.

The day of our first ultrasound, when we saw a tiny flicker, I felt relief and joy and hope like I’ve never felt before.

Our first ultrasound.

Baby was measuring exactly where it should be, with a strong, steady heart rate of 159 beats per minute. We finally felt okay to be excited and eager. It finally felt really, truly, tangibly real.

We left for a two-week vacation shortly after that first ultrasound, feeling like we could enjoy it. And we did. We visited family – my parents and my husband’s – spent time on the beach, shopped for small baby things because we felt like we finally could. And we came home the day before my 11-week ultrasound. We promised to update everyone after the appointment. In my head, I was already planning our announcement, and I was so looking forward to sharing our happy news.

The Worst Day

I couldn’t sleep the night before. I was anxious. I was excited. I knew that we’d learn the gender soon, and that the blood test we’d scheduled would tell us more about our baby. I was hoping for good results.

The morning of the appointment, I woke up early, wrote a note to our baby, and took several deep breaths. We drove to the doctor’s office, signed in, I got blood drawn, and then we waited to see the doctor.

I knew something was wrong when she couldn’t find a heartbeat with the doppler. She told me not to worry, and sent us back for an ultrasound. But I knew. I just knew.

The baby was too small. It had stopped growing at 8 weeks and 6 days. There was no heartbeat. I had miscarried, and my body hadn’t gotten the memo. I never realized anything was wrong.

They call it a missed miscarriage.

I haven’t seen my husband cry in years. He cried that day. I cried, too. I’m crying now. All that hope, all the dreams, the life we’d started planning, all of it, just gone, in the span of an hour. You have lots of time to get used to being pregnant, and to wrap your mind around being a mother. When you miscarry, you have no time at all.

August 15th.

I will remember that day forever, because it was the worst day of my life.

What Happens Next?

I am so grateful for my doctor. She is kind, casual, and easy to talk to. She told us our choices. She sent me home to think about it. She talked with us again later in the day, to answer our questions and help us choose our next step.

Because my body hadn’t registered the miscarriage, I had two options: a pill to help things along at home, or a D&C. I won’t go into details about how either one actually works, because I am not a doctor and I don’t want to share inaccurate information. I chose the D&C. I couldn’t imagine sitting at home, in pain, bleeding out my pregnancy. I just wanted things to be over.

It was scheduled for August 18th.

I am grateful to live in a time and in a state where treatment options are available to me without judgment or interference. I am grateful for the medical team that cared for me. I am grateful that the procedure was quick, and that my physical recovery has been easy so far.

My heart hasn’t healed. I know that it will, with time.

I am grateful for my husband, who has supported me and held me and walked this path with me. I hope that I have supported him, too.

Moving Forward

The only way out is through.

There is no cure for this kind of pain.

The latter half of August has been a blur. We have good moments and bad moments. At our worst, we are angry, sad, and hopeless. We are deeply, relentlessly worried about trying again and losing another pregnancy. At our best, we are hopeful, and we’ve been able to smile and laugh and be happy. And then we feel bad all over again, because being momentarily happy makes us feel like this experience wasn’t real, like we’re not treating this tragedy like we should, like we’re forgetting the two months that we spent loving the new, growing life we’d created together, and like we were foolish to even think this might happen for us.

I haven’t blamed myself. I know nothing I did caused this, and nothing I could have done would have prevented it. But in my darkest moments, I have struggled to see the way out of this grief. Before, I could visualize a future with our child. Now, that future is hazy, foggy, and wrapped up in a trauma I know I’ll be processing for a long time.

But there is a future.

There is.

I know that if we are meant to be parents, it will happen.

We’re going to try again.

I know we can’t control the outcome. It’s a risk we’re both willing to take, and we’ll take it together. I don’t know when we’ll feel ready, but I know that day will come.

In the meantime, I’m focusing on being kind to myself, on supporting my husband, on getting back to normal, on writing and reading and creating, and on giving myself grace and forgiveness when I slip into that dark, angry, hopeless place.  

I will heal. We will heal. There is light and joy at the end of this. It’s there waiting for us. I don’t know exactly what our future looks like, but I know that we’ll be happy again.

Why Did I Write This?

I write when I’m happy, and when I’m angry, and when I’m sad. I write to process my emotions, and to share my thoughts, and because I love stories. I write because putting words together in just the right way is its own kind of magic.

I wrote this because I needed to. I needed to get this down on paper. And I wanted to do that now, when these feelings are still fresh – painfully fresh – because I wanted to be as honest and as open as possible. It’s not the most eloquent thing I’ve ever written. I don’t care.

I also wrote this because I sought out stories like mine, and reading them made me feel less alone. It’s an isolating, terrifying, traumatic experience, losing a pregnancy. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. But it happened to me, and it’s happened to so many other women.

And I wrote this because we live in a time when the future of women’s reproductive care is frighteningly unclear, and I need people to understand that pregnancy is not health neutral, and it’s not certain, and positive outcomes are absolutely not guaranteed.

But more than anything, I wrote this because women deserve to tell our stories. What happened to me could happen to any woman. It’s not a shameful secret, though I don’t enjoy talking about it. I have been amazed at the number of women who’ve comforted me, and told me that they’ve gone through this, too, or worse, or that someone they love has had a similar experience. I had no idea there were so many of us. I hate that there are so many of us. But here we are, just taking one breath after another, living with this pain and not saying a word.

So, here are my words. I hope they help someone. I hope they reach you, if you need them.       

Happy Monday, Gatsby-cat!

Happy Monday, y’all! Here’s a picture of Gatsby, taken with Graham’s new camera earlier today.

I just had to share, and I hope his handsome face makes you smile.

Gatsby’s sixteen, and in addition to the eye issue he’s been dealing with, we know he has a heart murmur and kidney disease, which is not advanced, thankfully. He’s also had some digestion issues in the past couple of years, which seem to have settled for now.

I adopted him when he was a kitten and I was nineteen.

We’ve basically grown into adulthood together.

It’s funny, watching a beloved pet get older. I still look at him and see the scruffy little kitten he was, even though he’s going gray and he’s slowed down quite a bit. He used to play fetch. He used to play at all, for that matter. His days now are filled with naps in the sunshine and cuddles and snacks. It’s quite a life.

It’s been a quite a life.

I don’t know how much longer this sweet old man has, but I will treasure every second I get to spend with him.

Groundhog Problems

Don’t be fooled. He might be cute, but he’s a nuisance.

Let me back up.

We’ve always had a groundhog on our property. They’re very common in Virginia. The year we moved in, he was living under one of our outbuildings, and we’d see him poking around the yard and eating grass and just generally doing groundhog things. We didn’t think much of it.

That, apparently, was a mistake.

Six years later, he’s invited his friends to move in. Now we have three groundhogs. And one of them can climb trees. Did you know groundhogs could climb trees? Because I didn’t.

I did some Googling to see just how urgent an issue this is, since I generally don’t like to intervene with nature when I don’t have to.

The good news: Groundhogs are typically not aggressive or violent.

The bad news: They can wreak havoc on a property, and they’ve been known to carry fleas, ticks, sometimes rabies, and various diseases, though they’re more likely to cause property damage than to make people sick.

So, I think we need to make some phone calls. I don’t know if the situation we have here warrants their removal or not – they’ve stayed away from the main house, and from us and our dog. But, I think we’ve reached our groundhog limit, and I know there are ways to remove them humanely, if that’s necessary.

After all, you know what they say: Three’s a crowd.

Am I a writer this week?

It’s been a week, y’all. Last week was a week, too. I don’t feel like I’ve been able to focus and spend time on the projects I care most about lately, including my writing. In fact, I don’t feel much like a writer this week at all.

It’s not a great feeling. And it’s also not true.

On weeks like this, when I’m tired and stressed and when my impostor syndrome gets the better of me, I remind myself that creating is fundamental to who I am. It’s part of me, just like my hair and my nails and my eyes and that weird little wrinkle I get in my forehead when I think too hard about math. It’s like breathing.

Every day, I’m thinking about a story, or an idea, or just some words that fit nicely together. Even if I can’t do anything with them RIGHT NOW. Unfortunately, we live in a world where RIGHT NOW is often table stakes, a requirement of any job and an expectation in any undertaking. There’s just not a lot of value placed on someday soon, or on letting your mind meander even when your hands are busy elsewhere. It seems, in many ways, we’ve lost the will or the way to appreciate the art of daydreaming.

So, I’ve not gotten much writing done this week. But I am a writer. I can’t turn it on and off like a faucet. I wouldn’t want to.

And if you’ve had a week like mine, this week or in the future, I hope you remember: You are a writer. Even when things get in the way, and even when it feels like you’ll never get back to your trusty old pen and paper (or laptop). YOU ARE A WRITER.

In conclusion, TL;DR – Yes, I am still a writer this week. And I wonder what next week will bring.

Our First Apple

A happy Monday indeed! Here’s why:

A couple of years ago, we planted some baby fruit trees.

They’ve had a tough go so far, and a few of them didn’t make it. We honestly weren’t sure whether they’d ever actually produce any fruit at all, so imagine our surprise and delight when we discovered our very first apple!

Really, there were two, but the deer (or one of the other little creatures that frequent our back garden) must have gotten to one of them before we could. I’m happy we even have one, though, and I hope it’s a sign of even more to come. There’s a special kind of magic to watching things grow, isn’t there?

Staring Down a Busy Week

We all know the feeling:

It’s Monday morning. You wake up, crawl out of bed, find the caffeine, open your laptop, and there it is – the list. Or maybe that’s just me. I make a weekly to-do list in Excel. It’s color-coded. At any rate, you look at your list and think, “Oh man, there just aren’t enough hours…”

And that’s me, this week.

My color-coded list is full of time-consuming tasks, and I don’t know how I’m going to manage. But I will. I’ve done it before. And I’m excited about the work I’m doing (including my short story for June!), so I’m grateful. But man, I wish I had more hands and more time.

Don’t we all?

Weeks like this remind me to be thankful for the quieter times, and to really soak in those still, carefree moments. I’ll get back there eventually.

But for now, to work! Happy creating, y’all!

A Weekend Break

Graham and I will be spending time with family this weekend. We’ve not seen some of these folks in ages, and we’re so excited. 🙂 So, in light of that, I’ll be taking a short break from posting. I’ll be back on Wednesday, June 22nd, though, hopefully with some good stories to share and good memories to keep.

Be sure to check back next week, and in the meantime, happy creating, y’all!