Friday, February 14, 2014

Quick Takes (Vol. 15) Twer.king, Glutened, Retreats and More!

Happy Valentine's Day and Visit Jen for More Quick Takes! 
1. Recently I got home from an evening follow up and I asked my husband what he did while I was gone. With a look of childish excitement on his face that actually made me think he ate a whole bunch of chocolate he says, "I looked up twerking!" Then he proceeds to instruct me on the proper way to twerk "hands on hips, squat a little, push your pelvis forward with your thumbs and push it back with the rest of your hand sticking your butt out just a little bit." At this point I am laughing so hard, I finally calm down and ask him why he looked up twerking. His answer was "don't you remember we were wondering where the term came from? Then I thought why not try it and see what all the fuss is about." Oh the power of and free time is a dangerous combo for my husband. Now I have him twerking all the time; when he gets home from work, twerking the car door shut, when he washes dishes and the best part is he has me doing it too! People have got to be kidding if they think this dance move is attractive, it really just makes you look ridiculous.  It's really reminded me you really shouldn't take yourself too seriously; sometimes you just need to be ridiculous and do a little twerk in the privacy of your own home.
2. Last weekend we hung out with our good friend we haven't hung out with in awhile. We have known him for quite some time, JJ has known him since they were in grade school. It was so good to catch up and build one another up in our states in life. While we were out we went out for a scoop of ice cream at a place that has delicious old fashioned ice cream. I got the salted caramel and didn't bother to ask if it was gluten free. Well it wasn't and about 2hrs. after going to bed I woke up and was so sick! My stomach was a mess the following two days and this week its still felt a little off. I was wondering if it may have been the dairy, although since I added it back in I haven't had any issues. I called the place and they said they do have gluten free ice creams but their flavors that have any kind of candy, cookie or cake flavors are not gluten free. I specifically asked about the caramel and they said it is not gluten free. For anyone who thinks people can't really get sick from only having a little gluten they are SO wrong. I am not faking this I wish I wasn't gluten intolerant, but I so am. Lesson learned always ask or you will be glutened! 

3. I am planning a retreat for couples dealing with IF and or miscarriage/stillbirth. It will take place May 24, 2014 for couples and individuals in the Southern California area. I think it is a great way to reach more couples and cover more topics than what we cover at the support group. There is a priest I asked to speak and I am hoping he is available. There is so much planning and organizing that goes into a retreat and I am not new to retreat planning but I am new to this type of retreat. I love coming up with the flyer and design, that is the fun part. Its nothing fancy believe me, I like doing graphic design stuff but I know I am no professional because it takes me hours just to place things where I want them.

I have talked to our NFP/Marriage Prep. person for the archdiocese who our support group is technically under and she thinks the retreat is a great idea. She is even interested in me speaking with our NFP teachers at the next enrichment day about IF and miscarriage and being sensitive to those who are taking NFP to achieve a pregnancy! The name of the retreat is My Portion is The Lord, once things are more settled with the retreat I will post the flyer and info. Please keep me, the speakers, the retreat and the couples that will be attending in your prayers!

4. Speaking of planning I volunteered to host an engagement tea party in March for my friend M who will be getting married in June. It will be about 10 of us gals and I have come up with a menu. I am not good at decorations so a couple of other friends will be taking care of that. I am so glad we each have gifts and I am happy to admit creativity with decorating is not mine. Give me food, I can do that and I can organize people. I am excited as this is my first tea party I will be hosting! I was going to make invites but I think I am just gonna do evite because I know I don't have the time to make cute invites. I have been looking at pin.terest and I think I am totally addicted to all the cute ideas on there!

Speaking of pin.terest, it is a recent discovery and I love it! I am not the craftiest person but I like that I can get ideas from it. That is definitely an app that has been a great discovery lately, two other great apps are songza and ibreviary. Oh my goodness there is an ibreviary for the ipad, my heart swoons! I can go on there at anytime and get the mass reading or the liturgy of hours. Since my daily prayer depends on my schedule for the day I love that I can click on the day prayers and get them for ANY time of the day. Songza has been great for working out and other things. It picks a station based on the activity that you are doing. I have learned that when I am doing work on the computer the "happy pop" station keeps me going and when I am in the kitchen "cocktail jazz" or Ella Fitzgerald and Louie Armstrong duets are my thing. Someone suggested it in the IF group, so thank you!  

5. "You don't have time for invites" you say, "well why ever not?" Well because I am starting the paperwork for my FertilityCare Centers of America affiliation and my AAFCP certification. Which means lots of paper work and organizing my files making sure they are in tip top shape. I am usually organized with my client files but I just want to make sure that everything is filled out. Oh.the.paperwork. Paperwork is my least favorite part of my job and I am terrible at being motivated to do it. While I am doing paperwork I really do feel like I am being tortured by a medieval stretcher device. Ok it may not be that bad but it is still tedious.

I will be affiliating as a satellite center of this already existing center! I am so excited and I think it is only appropriate as the lead practitioner here was my practitioner. She is my wiser practitioner sister and I am so blessed to have her prayers and support. More prayers would be appreciated as I go through this process.  

6. I had my spiritual direction appointment today and I am excited to be moving forward in my discernment. It was a shorter appt. than the 1st time but so beneficial. I don't think I am someone who is suppose to have long term spiritual direction, I am pretty self aware and I think to guide me in my spiritual life would be too much of an undertaking for one priest. That's why I like going to certain priests about certain questions. There are some things that have come up in my prayer and journaling that I wanted to hammer out with Padre and get some feed back but it just wasn't the right time for the appt. Those things are for a whole other blog post. It really does help to have a priest that I trust to walk with me and guide me through this discernment where as a melancholic I can often get lost in the details and ideal that I never actually move forward with something. I analyze and over analyze, then I process what I analyzed which this all done internally. It is no wonder that I was able to pursue my vocation, I know it was God's grace!

Speaking of spiritual direction, I am reading this bible study book with a group of women. It has been so good to give me some focus! The 2nd chapter is called Sacrifice: The Way to Joy and they use the story of Hannah and I could not get through that chapter yet so I know it hit a soft spot. I have some reflections about sacrifice and feeling self righteous when you feel you have already suffered/sacrificed so much. Purification, sometimes it hurts but it is so good.

7. Lastly, thank y'all so much for the support and kind comments on my last two posts about the miscarriage. I do read them although I don't always respond to them. Sometimes I want to respond with a whole new blog post about your comments and all I really want to say is thank you! You can read Part one here  and Part two here if you haven't yet. It is difficult to share our struggles so openly sometimes but I hope someone somewhere gets comfort and knows that they are not alone. I am working on part 3 but I have been so busy it has been difficult to string together a good reflective piece right now.   

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

2 Years Ago (Part Two)

So in Part One I talked about my miscarriage physically. Here I will be talking about the emotional and spiritual struggles that happened to me. I know that miscarriage is not a pretty thing and it makes people uncomfortable. It should be uncomfortable because it is a sad event but that doesn't mean we should not allow women to talk about it or shush them because it is a hard subject to talk about. For most of these women including myself, there is a great comfort in being able to share your heart with someone. Yes you share with your spouse, but there is something about being able to share my experience/trials sufferings with women because there is a bond that is completely beautiful and completely feminine. Women can easily be the most compassionate and empathetic towards humanity in specific toward other women or they can be unsympathetic and prideful in comparing their struggles with another woman's struggles. My point that I am getting at is we should not think our own sufferings are much mightier and worthy of more compassion than another woman's.

 This is a big lesson that I learned from losing Cecilia. I learned that I was not alone in my suffering and that my suffereing didn't merit me anymore points from God than a mother who could not get her toddler to sleep. Yes, sleeping trials and miscarriage trials are very different but God loves us all the same. Learning this lesson about compassion and pride was a hard one to learn and it did not come easy the days, weeks or months following the miscarriage.  It is easier to unpack the physical aspect of the miscarriage it is much harder to explore what happened on the emotional and spiritual level. 

I am such an internal person that there was a period of time after the miscarriage where I felt like I was in my own world, even away from JJ. I would wake up in my thoughts and go to bed in my thoughts. I was still seeing clients about a week after the miscarriage as I was a new intern and had just gotten my first clients. It was hard to teach women and couples about their fertility when I felt like my body was betraying me. Even as I was working and learning there was a part of me that I shut away because it was broken and hurt. The mothering part of me was in shambles. Some may think this pretty extreme, I mean we never even saw our baby or held our baby. Well what those people don't understand is that life is so important in all it's stages. Life means there was an undeniable soul, spirit, energy that exists that has touched your life in a profound way and it becomes part of you. Our baby touched our life in a profound way, she came from part of us; not just the physical part. She was sprung forth from the fountain of love which JJ and I share which ultimately has it's root in God. This all sounds deep and epic, well God is deep and epic and so much more. So since all life has it's root in God then this doesn't sound so dramatic, it sounds appropriate. Make sense? Good. 

I first went through a shock when we miscarried but I feel like I was not all that surprised given our situation. The day after the miscarriage started we went to the church and lit a candle on the St. Joseph side for our baby. I wore black and green which have been the colors that I associate with our little one. We knelt down and prayed there, JJ led the prayer, it was the middle of the afternoon so no one was in the church. I cried a little but I mostly felt numb, like was this really happening. It all happened so fast that I was trying to make sense of what was going on. We saw a friend outside the church when we were leaving and it took all the strength within me to not tell him what was going on especially because he is a really good friend. I didn't want to share because I just wanted to go home and crawl back into bed. I felt alone and I wanted to be alone. 

The weeks and months after the miscarriage I still felt very alone and I allowed myself to feel that way. There was defintley wallowing in my own self pity that went on, even accusing JJ of not being on my side. I felt bad for myself when I saw pregnant women and walking near the baby isle in the store. I thought "wow I have suffered so much, these women don't even know." I also thought of wanting to isolate myself from all pregnant women, yeah not very practical. I just didn't want to be reminded of what I had lost (my baby), what I could not do (get pregnant) or who I could not be (a mother). Part of this was because we had already been dealing with IF and a lot of those feelings were wrapped up together. Losing our child really forced me to face my feelings about IF which I thought I was hiding pretty well prior to the miscarriage. 

I had to face the grief and sadness I felt about not being able to have children. I had always wanted to be a wife and mother. I would think about what kind of man I would marry and how many children we would have. I remember shocking my friends in high school with talking about wanting a big family and they would always say I'm crazy. I remember my friends in college saying that I was "such a mom" because I always had food if they were hungry or I just exuded motherly qualities. When I was engaged  a lot of my friends would say what a great mom I would be and expected us to have children right away. I worked in parent education with mommies and babies and I was really good at it. I was good with the kids especially with the 12-24months children. So a lot of my identity was wrapped up in becoming a mom. When I finally got pregnant it is as if I breathed a sigh of relief that yes, being a mom is who I am meant to be. So when we lost the baby, I was reliving all of those fears and anxieties about who I really was. If I am a wife I must be meant to be a mother, right? I was questioning my worth to the world, to my husband and to God. 

I faced the natural feelings of losing someone you loved. I missed our baby and wished she were still with me. I wished God would take away our IF and give us children. I thought I must've done something wrong like eat what I wasn't suppose to or I exercised too much. I knew the reality was that I had done nothing wrong but I still felt shame. Oh shame, that horrible feeling. I felt like I was bad because I couldn't do this one thing that most women can do. Shame is not good y'all it takes away the dignity of who you are and that is not ok. The biggest battle I fought spiritually and emotionally was overcoming this shame that I felt. If not for the grace of God, I would still be in that pit. I also had a lot of anxiety after the miscarriage. Thinking about if we'd ever get pregnant again and if we did would we lose that child too or thinking I would lose JJ filled me with anxiety. Each time I got my period after the miscarriage I would be reminded of that horrible day and the sadness would creep back in.  I clung to the cross and asked Jesus to help me with the shame and anxiety. Lent was shortly after the miscarriage so I prayed part of the stations every day. 

As the time came near to go back to my non CrMS job with mommies and babies JJ and I decided that it was just too much. I could not be around that environment anymore, it hurt too much. So I focused on CrMS which was a lot of work anyway. When I went up north almost 6 months after the miscarriage to my second education phase for CrMS my body was a mess and so was my heart. It was so hard to be there to learn about how to help women know about their fertility and get the help they needed when I felt like I was a total wreck. I had a hypoglycemic and anxiety attack in the middle of the night on my 2nd night there. I called JJ and he came up in the morning and spent the rest of the week there making sure I ate and got to my classes. JJ was becoming my security blanket, I needed him with me. I felt so weak in all aspects and he was really the one who was so strong for the both of us. I got through EP2 because of God's grace and my husband. As we were all saying goodbye one of the other interns pulled me aside looked me straight in the eyes and said "I know you're sick and hurting. There is no one else that can take care of you like you can take care of you. You need to get better for yourself and your husband needs you. You can do this and I am praying for you." Her words pierced through my heart and they stung a little but she was so right. I needed to start climbing out of the pit of self pity and allow God to strengthen me through this. 

I felt like I was climbing out of a pit and needed to get to a mountain top without any gear, compass or a trail to follow. How do you start to move on from grief? How do you heal from a miscarriage without feeling like you are ignoring the life that was created? I had no idea. I just started to focus on others instead of staying within myself. I started to turn that grief into actions of love toward my husband. I tried to be the best practitioner I could be for my clients. I cried when I needed to cry and I laughed when I needed to laugh. I took my time to be sad and angry without putting any expectations on myself to be the perfect Christian who was happy all the time. Life is not always happy, there is suffering. Once I started to surrender to the suffering and unite it to the suffering of Christ then my world and perspective started to change. I started to see that I was not the only one who has gone through this nor was I the only one suffering. I saw that other people are dealing with their own crosses and we should all be compassionate toward others. Even if I felt like my cross was bigger than theirs it didn't matter they needed compassion and understanding too! 

The shame and self pity started to melt away as I started to lean more on God and His grace, not my own. If I were relying on my own strength I would still be in that pit. I had a great amount of support from my husband and close friends who prayed for me and comforted me. I know there are women who go through this and don't have the same support. Sure people said some things to hurt me, unintentionally of course, like "at least you know you can get pregnant now" or "the next pregnancy will go better" or "be thankful your baby is in heaven." Those statements were not helpful especially if they were coming from people who don't know what it's like to go through a miscarriage. I haven't been able to get pregnant again, I don't know if I'll ever be able to get pregnant again and I didn't want my child to go to heaven yet I wanted to meet her and hold her first. If you have children, which one would you choose to send to heaven right now? Probably none right? You want them safely with you until you were ready to let them go. 

Each woman goes through grief from a miscarriage or stillbirth differently, it is so important that we not ignore this heartbreaking event in a woman's life. I have gotten so much support from women who have had miscarriages, they have shared their stories with me after they found out about ours. I have gotten so much prayer and support from amazing people and I am truly blessed with lots of love. I pray that I can be there for women going through this tragedy, walking with them and praying for them as they go through a very devastating time. In part 3 I will share where I am at now, two years after the miscarriage. I think it's good for me to share where I am at now to see how far God has brought me. God truly is amazing.