The Healing Project: Remembering

Today is October 1st, and for a lot of people, it symbolizes a new season, better weather and pretty scenery, great activities and foods, new yarns and patterns, sweater knitting and Christmas gift crafting, as well as the approach of the holidays. In years past, October would hold no other significance to me than these things as well, but this year is different. This year I know what it means to lose my baby, so now I know that October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

It’s been over 3 months since my miscarriage, and although things are better, not a day passes that I don’t think about my baby. I often wonder how far along I would be now, what I would be doing to prepare for birth and our baby’s arrival, and all the other things that come with pregnancy and a new child. But instead I have been filling my days with other things, and I still feel sad about that. I always knew it would be hard to go through a miscarriage, but that didn’t prepare me for when I would actually go through one. A loss is a loss, and losing my baby has hurt me deeply.

About 2 weeks ago I finished The Healing Project blanket. It felt good to be done, as though I had finished the roughest chapter of my loss and now I am ready to move on to the next one. I won’t ever forget or be able to replace my first child, but my fear of losing another one is outweighed by my desire to have a baby in my arms, and I am hopeful that I will hold my own baby someday. But for now, I remember my first baby as it starts getting cold enough to cuddle under this blanket I made as a way to process my grief.

October 15th is the International Day of Remembrance, in which people around the world light a candle at 7 PM in their time zone for one hour, with the idea that a candle will be constantly lit for the entire day to remember the lost babies. I already have my candle ready, and I invite everyone else to do the same, whether you have lost a baby or not as a way to remember.

Now that the blanket is finished, this will be my last post in this series. But just because I may not talk about my miscarriage on my blog, doesn’t mean I have forgotten. I will always remember. Thank you for reading this series as I shared a glimpse into my grief.

The Healing Project: Week 8

I took a break from crocheting on the blanket for a few weeks, while I finished up some other projects (including my Anna’s Shawl). It wasn’t intentional, per se, but often the fascination I have for a project ebbs and flows. Also, practically speaking, it’s been pretty hot around here as summer is still holding on strong, so since this blanket is now covering my entire lap, it can be a bit unbearable to work on during the day, thus slowing progress down.
I am reaching the point where I am ready to be done with this project. And I feel ready to move on in other ways too. My husband and I will be moving into a house next month that we will be renting closer to his new job, so I’ve been busy making preparations and packing up our stuff. I’ve gotten packing down to a system now, since this makes the third time in the last two years that I have moved, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t dread the process any less (in fact I probably dread it more). I’m ready to stay put in one place for a few years, so here’s hoping this will be our last move for awhile. 
We are really excited to be able to move into a house (pictured above). It seems as though the last two months since the miscarriage everything around us has fallen into place the way we were hoping they would before we got pregnant. It’s bittersweet to realize that things would have worked out just fine despite the surprise pregnancy, but now we are just better prepared for the next one. Since everything else is ironing itself out, I have finally reached a point where I am not as fearful of the future as I have been the last few weeks. Yes, there will always be some fears, because now that I’ve experienced loss it will forever taint my perspective on pregnancy. But I trust that God knows what He is doing, and that He has great plans for us; He is always good, even when things seem bad. This can be a hard truth to accept in the midst of grief, but it comforts me to know that God is in control, and He has good things planned for us amidst the bad things that come our way.
As hard as it is to accept what happened, I realized that the miscarriage is just one more thing in my life that has made me stronger and more compassionate towards other hurting people. It has also made me realize how truly precious life is, and how quickly it ends. I want to celebrate my life, my husband’s and family’s life, and the lives of my future children for as long as I can, and I think part of that is not letting fear rule me.

The Healing Project: Week 5

The blanket is still slowly growing, getting big enough now that it can’t fit into the whole frame when I take a picture. And that’s how I feel right now too; there are a lot of emotions I’m dealing with privately that can’t be seen in the whole frame. I think that’s true of anything that you write about or blog about or post on social network–there’s so much more going on than what you see in the frame. I could never express all that I’ve felt in the last 5 weeks: fear, anxiety, sorrow, happiness, anger, hope, hopelessness, fatigue, energy, loss of innocence, and the list goes on. The only way right now that I’m able to face each of these emotions as they come is to keep writing, to keep crocheting stitch by stitch, and to keep living, day by day.
This week was my first full week of being a stay at home wife. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a long time, and now that it is here, there is a part of me that feels weird. Weird because I know there is still something missing: my baby. I should have been past the first trimester by now and my days would have been spent preparing for baby. Instead, I’m spending a lot of time organizing, sifting through items, donating, selling, and overall trying to declutter our life before we move again soon. I’m filling my time with lots of projects and tasks to help distract myself from fixating too much on what happened and what might happen in the future. Each day I’m trying to just focus on the present, to live in this day that God has given me, because I know how quickly it can end.

Another project I’ve started is a shawl for myself. The pattern is my own design, Anna’s Shawl, that I created for a friend two years ago when she was dealing with her own miscarriage. For some reason at the time, I felt such sorrow for my friend that I wanted to show her some comfort in the best way I knew how: by making a handmade gift. I had no idea that I would now be facing the same thing that she had to go through, that so many women end up having to go through. This design has been my most popular one, with over 86 projects on Ravelry, many of which are made as prayer shawls for other women facing hard times. Whenever I think about this pattern, it reminds me that something beautiful can come out of something terrible. It reminds me that I am not alone in my suffering, that so many other people need comfort too.

The Healing Project: Weeks 3 & 4

The past two weeks have been pretty busy, so it’s time to catch up on my progress. I worked on the blanket a lot during Week 3, which included several big things: 1) my husband and I celebrated one year of being together as a couple, 2) we got official confirmation of my husband’s new teaching job, and 3) we went on a weekend getaway to Flagstaff. We had been wanting to go up north all summer, but between the surprise pregnancy and then the unexpected miscarriage, our plans kept changing. After we lost the baby, we decided that as soon as I felt physically up for the trip, we would go. It was nice to get out of town, hang out with great friends, and just spend lots of time talking with each other during the long car ride up and back. One of the great things to come out of the sadness lately is that the communication between my husband and I has grown and deepened. We’ve been able to talk in a way that we never have before, which we have found to be essential in helping each other grieve during this time. It’s nice to know that we are not alone; we have each other. Sometimes it’s hard to continue to talk, but it’s necessary to help maintain our relationship and move forward toward the future.

This past week I’ve had less time to work on my blanket, as I’ve been working more on knitting up mittens for Christmas gifts (posts to come later about them), as well as finishing up my part time job. I have 3 more days left, and then I will be staying home full-time again. I’m relieved to have this opportunity, and I’m looking forward to being able to focus on domestic tasks and my fiber arts for awhile. For some reason, being at work since the loss has made me feel like a zombie, like I’m just going through the motions to get the tasks done, and I don’t like to be that way. I’m ready to have some time to work through everything that has happened by being productive in more creative and self-directed endeavors. I am grateful for the job this summer, but it’s time to move on.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the progress on the blanket as I’m crocheting, but then I step back to look at the weekly pictures and realize just how much it has grown in the last 30 days. I am so glad I decided to start this project, because it mimics my grieving process. Some days I come undone by the sight of 5 pregnant women within 30 minutes at one restaurant (true story), and other days I feel as though more than a month has passed and it’s hard to believe that the miscarriage even happened at all. It feels as though some days, time speeds up, some days, time slows down, and some days, time comes to a dead stop; only someone who has experienced loss and the grieving process can understand what I mean. But still I keep going forward, just as the stitches keep building on the blanket one at a time, one day at a time.

The Healing Project: Week 2

It’s been 10 days since the miscarriage, and life is starting to get back to normal. I think the hardest thing about the first week was realizing that the baby was really gone. Since it was my first pregnancy, everything was new and surreal. It took me a couple weeks to even feel as though this was really happening, that I was really having a baby, and then it was all over too quickly. Today was my first day back to work, and I caught myself before I could text my husband “we’re here,”  or “we’re headed home now,” as I had gotten in the habit of referring to myself in the plural. But now I’m back to just me, and I feel sad about that still.
In some ways it helps to get back to my normal routine, but in other ways it’s hard to go back to the way I was before I was pregnant. This pregnancy was supposed to change my life, and even though I don’t have a baby in my arms, I feel like my life is still supposed to change. And it will change. Part of that is due to the fact that I’m making some lifestyle changes to eat healthier and get more active. The other part of that is the fact that I was pregnant, there was a baby, and now that baby is gone. I can’t help but be changed by that.
Something that has helped me get back to my normal routine is crafting. Crocheting this blanket and participating in Tour de Fleece again this year have been great distractions for me right now. Watching the slow progress of this blanket as it grows stitch by stitch brings great comfort to me. Since it’s just single crochet over and over again, the process of making it seems very soothing and meditative. I find myself praying, thinking about the future, and filling up with hope. As I’m working on this blanket, I think a lot about my favorite poem by Emily Dickinson:
“Hope is the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul
and sings the tune without the words
and never stops at all.”
Sometimes there are no words, and that’s why I like that I have this blanket to also process my grief and healing. I feel that little bird of hope perched in my soul; sometimes it sings, sometimes it is silent. But it’s there, and I’ve found that through all the heartache and loss in my life, I still am able to find hope. 

The Healing Project: Week 1

(Warning: this post contains sensitive material 
and may be hard to read for someone who has experienced the loss of a baby)
A few weeks ago, I announced on the blog that my husband and I were expecting our first baby (the post has been removed now; read on to understand why). Last Thursday we had our first ultrasound, and what was supposed to be an exciting time to see the baby and hear the heartbeat, turned into my worst nightmare. The baby stopped growing at 5 weeks, even though I was supposed to be almost 9 weeks along. My body hadn’t realized that the baby had died, and kept “pretending” to be pregnant as though everything was still okay. On Friday I got my blood test results that confirmed that I did indeed have what’s called a “missed miscarriage,” which just means that at some point in-utero the baby dies but the body doesn’t realize it and doesn’t initiate a miscarriage. After I received that phone call, I kept telling my body “it’s okay to let go.” That night, I had a natural miscarriage. Although painful physically and emotionally, it was also very quick and very peaceful. Our baby is in heaven now, and I’ve slowly begun to heal.
My husband and I are devastated beyond words. Suddenly our surprise pregnancy that we became so excited about has now turned into a surprise loss. I never knew I could love someone so much that I never even met, who was only in my life for a short amount of time. I don’t regret announcing to the world about this pregnancy, because we were able to celebrate the joy of this precious life, even if it was so brief. 
Although it is hard to share our loss so publicly now, I also don’t regret that either. I have had so many private messages from women who have lost babies, but miscarriage tends to be a very private and hush-hush topic. I understand that the loss of a baby is so very painful, but for me, I think it also makes it harder when no one talks about it. I am hoping that by sharing my story I can help someone else who is going through the same thing. I am a mother now, even though my baby is in heaven. I am proud of that precious little baby that my husband and I created together. Our baby was so very loved, and we were grateful to be mommy and daddy for our baby’s short little life. Being public about a miscarriage is not for everyone, but for me, I feel like this is part of my grieving process. 
Over the next few weeks and months, I have decided to go through a special crochet project that I’m calling “The Healing Project.” When my sister died 4 years ago, it helped me to sort through my thoughts and emotions by working on knit and crochet projects. I’ll be writing from time to time about my progress on the blanket and a bit about my emotional healing. 
As you can see from the above picture, I’m crocheting a chevron blanket in gray, white, and two shades of dark blue. These are all yarns I have had in my stash for a long time now, so it feels good to be making them into something useful. I decided to use single crochet, because it is a slow stitch and can sometimes take a long time to show progress. This blanket will be big enough that my husband and I can cuddle under it together this winter. I like the idea of making something that will bring comfort to both of us.
Thank you to everyone for your thoughts and prayers through this time as we continue to grieve and to heal.