Pregnancy loss

Mother’s Day: Brand New… Or Is It?

It’s five days before Mother’s Day - my “first” Mother’s Day.  I’m perusing through Target pushing a stroller. I catch the wheels on a rack as I turn the corner, again, and it’s clear this is still a little new for me.  I look down and the most adorable little face I’ve ever laid eyes on looks back at me with big, round, blue eyes. Eyes that remind me of my own, with lashes for days like his Daddy.  My heart skips a beat - bursting with love and amazement - I coo at him and continue to look for infant-sized sunglasses.

I notice a happy song is playing the background.  At first it registers simply as familiar, then I come to recognize it.  Then comes the pit in my stomach, my heart skips a beat, my throat chokes and tears spring into my eyes.  It’s “Brand New” by Ben Rector. It’s the song I played at full volume and sang to my baby I never got to meet.  My second pregnancy. My second loss. That baby took hold of my heart from the moment I saw the positive symbol on the pregnancy test. That was “our” song. When I hear it, my heart hurts. My soul hurts. I already knew this, but it is reaffirmed that the love I felt for him was real.

I quickly check myself and bring myself back to the present moment. This moment, this day, this week, this year has been filled with blessings and love and absolute wonderment thanks to baby Lucas and my incredible little family.  Everything I prayed for. But even still, in that same moment, I’m acutely aware that I carry those two losses before him with me along with my joy.

No single experience in life defines us.  A doctor of mine once gave me a powerful analogy to a chess board that has stuck with me.  We are the chess board - steady and constant. Each game piece is a life experience. Some are good and some are bad.  They move around and sometimes the good are in the lead, sometimes the bad are in the lead. Each piece is critical to the game, but the board does not change.  The board - we - always stay the same no matter where the pieces go. The pieces, our experiences, do not define us.

I’ve learned that the good and the bad can, and do, co-exist.  It’s entirely possible, and ok, to feel joy and sadness at the same time. To be grateful beyond belief and have grief pop up all at once. Especially in the case of motherhood.

I have said it before - Motherhood begins the day you decide you want to become pregnant.

And so, as I approach my first Mother’s Day since my son was born, I have already had three Mother’s Days along my motherhood journey.  On this special day, I will celebrate my son and my family with a very special appreciation. My heart is overflowing with love and gratitude. Lucas and I will dance to our song, “No Such Thing As A Broken Heart” by Old Dominion as loud as the volume will allow. He is my best bud, my love, my little miracle. I will also inevitably remember the babies I never met but who remain in my heart forever.

To those of you reading who have lost a pregnancy, I know Mother’s Day has meaning for you as well. If this day is difficult for you, that is perfectly ok. Talk about it. Acknowledge it. Seek support. Know that you do not have to push through it alone. Also know that it’s ok to find joy on this day wherever you can and feel it along with your sadness. Your experiences do not define you, and the good will inevitably be in the lead again.

What feelings and emotions are coming up for you this Mother's Day?  I welcome you to share with me in the comments below, or send me an email at ashley@feelfireflow.com .


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Holiday Survival: The Perfect Answer to “When Are You Going To Have Kids?”

It’s Thanksgiving Week!  I hope you are looking forward to a little break from work, great food, good drinks and loving company.  But what if you’re not… exactly?  It is possible to look forward to spending time with family and friends and dread it at the same time.  If you’ve recently experienced a miscarriage or pregnancy loss, ended a very much wanted pregnancy, or are having difficulty conceiving, the holidays can sometimes have a way of sparking loneliness, sadness and longing, despite our best efforts.

It can be painful to spend time among families with babies or to hear all about an old friend or family member’s pregnancy or birth.  And I know just how much you’re looking forward to getting the influx of holiday cards with pregnancy announcements or all those new, tiny humans’ faces looking back at you from the inside of a stocking or gift box under the Christmas tree.

Among the worst of triggers is the inevitable question from a well-meaning family member or old friend, “when are you going to have kids?” or “when are you guys going to have number two!?”  The thing is, those who have been out of the fertility game for years or whose journey was different than yours often do not realize how painful these simple questions can be - or how complex the truth really is.

So how do you get through the holidays without drinking a bottle of wine and crying yourself to sleep at night?  There are some tools to get you through:

1. PREPARE. People will ask. The cards will come.  It’s inevitable and uncontrollable.  What you can control is knowing these things are coming your way and deciding ahead of time how you’re going to deal with them, mentally and emotionally.

2. BE COMPASSIONATE WITH YOURSELF. Is it painful?  Yes.  Do you wish things were different?  Wholeheartedly. And the best you can do is talk to and treat yourself as you would anyone else who was experiencing what you are.  Do not beat yourself up.  For every negative thought you have, make sure to think another one of love and acceptance towards yourself. 

3. TRY NOT TO COMPARE. Comparing your journey to someone else’s is the kiss of death. Notice when you find yourself comparing and distract your thoughts with again, self compassion.  Remind yourself that you deserve happiness just as much as anyone else, and while your path may be different, you will get there.

Photo by  sydney zentz  on  Unsplash

As the questions about your intent to have a baby come, you essentially have three options as to how to answer.  Options being the keyword here.  You are in control of and can choose how you want to react, what you want to share, and who you want to share with.  You can either be honest, lie, or throw a bit of a curve ball.  Let’s explore these options:

1. BE HONEST. This can take on whatever form you are comfortable with but you do have the option to share your truth, to whatever extent you want.  You can explain that you’ve actually recently experienced a loss or that you are in fact trying IVF.  Often times when this information is shared, you learn more about the person that you’re sharing with than you would expect.  Fertility issues are so incredibly common that it only takes one person to open up to get others to share what they’ve been through.  You could be that person.  Also, it can feel good to be open about such a big part of your life and not feel like you have to “fake it.”

2. LIE.  Yes, here is permission to lie - but there are stipulations.  You don’t have to share anything at all.  You can easily dodge the conversation with the wave of a hand, say “we’re not ready yet,” and ask a question of the person you’re speaking with that will turn the topic on to them.  If you choose to keep your journey personal, that is your right and completely understandable.  But - do it because it is your right and it is personal, and not because you feel embarrassed, are disappointed in yourself or where you’re at, or are worried others will be uncomfortable.  Here is where the self compassion comes in again.  You are doing the very best you can every day.  You are stronger than you know.  This is your story to own.  How others feel about it is their business.  What matters is doing and saying what will help you.

3. “WHEN (Life/God/the Universe) FEELS WE ARE READY.”  (Use whatever higher power speaks to you.)  

It’s out there, right?  Hear me out.  It’s deep enough to end the conversation with those who can’t understand it, and yet for those who can understand it, it says everything.  In one sentence, it sums up that you do want a baby.  In fact, if you had complete control you’d have one in your arms right now, but it isn’t nearly that simple.

I’ve actually tried this one a few times and I can attest that it does either shut down the conversation, or elicit a knowing and compassionate nod.  In that case, either not much else needs to be said or it leads to support and inspiration from some of the people you’d least expect.  

In the end, your journey is an incredibly personal one and you must do what you are most comfortable with.  However you prepare and decide to handle these tricky interactions - make sure that, above all else, it feels right for you and that you make your choice and go forward with confidence.   

What’s the most awkward question you’ve received and how did you handle it?  

Share your story below!

Welcome October with Fall Transitions, Sage Smudging &, Of Course, Food!

Welcome October with Fall Transitions, Sage Smudging &, Of Course, Food!

We are just a few days in and October has already made itself known with cooler temperatures and leaves beginning to change to the colors of the season.  Be sure to take in the beauty of the transition and relish in the mix of greens, oranges, reds and yellows!  What transition do you feel happening in yourself right now?

The sunny days and fresh air this week make it a great time to open all the windows and fill your home with fresh air.  To literally “clear the air” in your home, consider this quick sage smudging practice - an ancient ritual used to cleanse and realign your space and/or self.  Smudging is a great thing to do to get rid of lingering negative energy from a pregnancy loss, an unsuccessful IVF attempt, tension in the home, an illness, or major life event.  It is symbolic of a fresh start.

How To Help A Friend In Pain

How To Help A Friend In Pain

As the rate of fertility issues remains high and awareness grows, we are learning of more and more stories of loss, frustration and battles with fertility from everyone from the people closest to us to distant friends to public figures and celebrities.

The openness about these life changing events is fairly new, while the struggle is not new at all. Women who choose to share their experiences more often than not discover people they never dreamed of have gone through a similar heartache of their own, including family members, coworkers and dear friends.

Whether you’ve experienced a miscarriage or infertility yourself, or not, I know that learning of someone’s heartache is always a careful situation.  It is natural to not want to say the wrong thing and the truth is, there is nothing that can be said that can make the situation better - unless you’re a stork delivering a healthy pregnancy and baby.  So, not likely, sorry.

TV Series 'Nashville' Schools The Public On Miscarriage

Last week’s 'Nashville' episode was a tough one.  For the record, not very long ago they killed off the main character and now this - they’re in serious competition with 'This Is Us' and 'Grey’s Anatomy' for the show that makes you sob the hardest.

"It is perfectly OK to not be OK right now."

This beautifully written piece by Big Bang Theory's Melissa Rauch is extremely honest, relatable and inspiring account of her path to motherhood thus far which includes a heartbreaking miscarriage.

She touches upon all the major pain points from the shock and intense grief, the feelings of guilt and hormone rollercoaster, to the social awkwardness put on women today when it comes to reproducing, all in a very empowering way.

I encourage everyone to read it, whether you have experienced pregnancy loss or know someone who has. And if you have - please know you're not alone and have my support.

Thank you, Melissa. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Actress Melissa Rauch Announces Her Pregnancy and Reflects on the Heartache of Miscarriage

By Melissa Rauch, JULY 11, 2017 12:00 PM