I have been so inspired by friends that I have made on Twitter and through this amazing blogging community. If you honestly embrace this community for the real-life people that encompass it, the possibility of being inspired is great. However, if you just use social media as a platform to further your own agenda you are missing out on the sweetest reward.
I blog with a very specific goal. To tell the truth about my life. I openly share things that are difficult and are sometimes embarrassing to admit. Baring my soul, I suppose. But I do it because I know that others are going through the same things. I’ve stopped questioning “why” overwhelming events hit my life. They just do. They always have. They always will. I’ve chosen to embrace them. Perhaps they happen for a reason. Perhaps not, depending upon your spiritual beliefs. But one thing is for sure – if I kept them to myself they do not have the power to help someone else. But they certainly have the power to cripple me if I bottle them up.
I have several stories that I have purposely held back and not shared. Although recently there is one that keeps coming to mind. There are times I feel like I have the nerve to put it out there into the cyber world – but my real life – my real WORLD, draws the words away and sucks them back into the vacuum.
Lately, I have had some very significant things said to me via my friends on Twitter. Things I will never forget. Things that have struck an inner chord with me. I had tweeted an apology for being out of touch from Twitter. (It is very easy to feel out of the loop if you are not continually participating and Twitter can feel deafeningly silent. As if you are tweeting to save your life, and while everyone sees your tweet flip through the feed – no one is willing to say anything back…and the mood of your day can change in a heartbeat, though you may not be honest with yourself as to why this is happening. You may not be willing to see how much credence you are giving this social media thing.) But this particular morning someone did. Someone not only saw my apology but they heard me and validated my feelings – then assured me that all was okay. And what was said in return really touched me.
“No worries, Vivienne. Despite the way it can sometimes feel, Twitter is not real life. We will be here when you get back…”
I read that tweet over and over. Twitter is not real life.
No it’s not. It is not where I raise my children. It is not where I embrace my husband. It is not where I celebrate birthdays or pray over my hardships. It is not where I look into the eyes of those that I love or those that need me.
But it is where I bring my real life to share with complete strangers.
And knowing that those complete strangers will be there when I get back from tending to my “real life” affirms I am on the right track. I am choosing to trust those “strangers” with my inner most feelings for nothing more in return than the thought that I am making a difference for someone else. That I have endured the ridiculous circumstances of my life so that someone else can benefit from my experience.
Because while I deal with my “real life” – others are waiting to hear about it when I get back…
For me, a cynic at heart, that was an utterly uplifting thought. And believe me it’s hard to lift me up.
Furthermore another friend shared a tweet with me this morning that again, touched me.
Her: “just wrote a post and thought of you ... when I have heartfelt posts, I think of you ... a compliment.”
Me: “Aww. You are so kind. :) Sometimes I worry about TMI - but it's who I am and how I write -couldn't change if I wanted to. :)”
Her: “and you really shouldn't, it is what draws me back, reading the real you, wishing we could be sharing a table and talking it thro”
Bingo! No one could have said anything more perfect to me. Wishing we could be sharing a table and talking it thro. That’s it. That’s what it is all about for me.
Hearing those words this morning, I reach into my real world – into the vault of locked up stories too emotional to tell and I draw one out.
As all of you are aware I have 4 children. What you may not be aware of is the fact that I had 3 miscarriages as well. It’s not something that you talk about really. Well unless someone says that they have had one and then you sort of chime in with your “me too”. Then the next thing you know it becomes a back and forth. You know, just like birthing stories and pregnancy cravings. Those things that women find quick kinship with and begin to flap their gums in a quick back and forth of words like a wicked tennis match.
Miscarriage is a difficult thing to have a conversation about. It involves such a huge spectrum of emotions that it is often just easier to remain silent than to have to speak about it. The most misunderstood concept of miscarriage, in my opinion? Every miscarriage is personal to every woman. Each miscarriage signifies something different. No two are alike. They can’t be compared or contrasted. They are definable only to the one to whom it happened. There is no point that a true connection can be made. You can have sympathy or empathy for a woman who has experienced one but you don’t feel what she feels and you never will. The only thing you have in common is the act of the miscarriage. Even then they can occur in such a variety of ways that again – it is hard to really share it. A miscarriage happens to one body and it is hers alone to deal with.
A few short months after I married my husband, we were pregnant. We were thrilled. We had started trying right away as my husband is 9 years older and he warned me that 40 was his cut off. He wouldn’t have any more children beyond that age – so if I wanted many children – it was time to get busy. So we did. Successfully. Well, so I thought.
Without going into all of the physical details of the miscarriage because frankly they are unnecessary to tell this story, we made our trip to the doctor’s office after indications that the pregnancy may not be ideal. It was at that time that I learned that everything had just stopped. In July, at 10 weeks, it looked as if things had stopped around 8 weeks.
I was 23 years old and devastated. I would be scheduled for a D&C because for whatever reason it had been two weeks and my body was still holding on. It was not a healthy situation. I struggled with trying to come out of the fog that I found myself in. We were scheduled to go on a family reunion vacation for husband’s family two days after the procedure. The family expected us to be there. As hard as I fought it, the pressure to go was too much. My in-laws lived on the west coast, my sister in law in the Midwest and the rest on the east coast, so this vacation happened once a year for family to see each other for the 11 cousins to bond and for my husband’s daughter from his first marriage to see her grandparents. My miscarriage was a blip on the screen.
I remember how resentful I was. The anger that I had to go to this reunion at the beach while I bled. How angry I was that my husband was going to go whether I went or not – his allegiance to his family and daughter rather than to me. Well at least, that is how I saw it.
During that trip to the Outer Banks, I got to spend time with my sister in law. She shared her stories with me. She had lost two babies. Her story much more heartbreaking than mine. She eventually gives birth WAY too early. Not once but twice. She delivered, named and buried two sons. She now had two boys after having her cervix sewn shut and put on bed rest. Again, my situation paled in comparison. So why was I struggling?
The hospital gave me pamphlets on a local miscarriage group that I decided to attend. I think I was searching for someone who was feeling what I was feeling so that I would know that I wasn’t crazy. But the truth was I met dozens of women that had had miscarriages but all of our situations were different. Attempting to connect with them over the physical act of a miscarriage was not going to happen. Each woman saw their circumstance as the most horrific. How did my 10 week miscarriage compare to the woman who lost at 22 weeks? How did my first miscarriage at the age of 23 compare to the women who were 40 and had several and still had no children? I didn’t want to hear how young I was and how much time I still had to conceive. I didn’t want to hear how lucky I was that I didn’t actually have to give birth to a fetus. In return, I felt like my miscarriage had not been severe enough to warrant my being with this group. A few women maintained a relationship with me after I left the group but once I became pregnant again – they drifted away – my success in conception was more than their own hearts were ready to accept.
In November, I learned that I was again pregnant. Beneath the excitement, the fear I had was palpable. History began to repeat itself. All of the same physical issues returned. They put me out of work and on bed rest. I was given progesterone suppositories and I followed all of the instructions. But things persisted.
I was brought in for another doctor appointment and again through a sonogram at 10 weeks, we learned the truth. I had twins. But one of the twins was not progressing like the other. There was nothing that could be done. We would just have to wait to see.
The physical symptoms persisted. Another sonogram revealed that the smaller twin no longer had a heartbeat. There was nothing to do. The doctor’s explanation reported that the thriving would just absorb its lost twin. If I had a nickel for every time someone said, “Thank God you had two.” But I never felt that way. I worried and I wondered. How does this affect the survivor? The medical professionals were persuasive with their talk that everything would be fine. But I secretly wondered throughout my entire pregnancy what the effect would be. To this day, there are things that I wonder about. Things about my eldest son – that he could have been affected by his beginning. I’ve never forgotten that twin. I’ve often wondered if it was a boy or girl. How our lives might have been different had we had those twins? How my oldest might be different with a twin to share his life. How my eldest’s life is different because of the genetics involved…
My eldest was born in 1994, the second in 1996 and the third in 1998. When my third born was 8 months old, I found out I was pregnant again. I cried. It was not planned like the others. I was not ready. I was thoroughly enjoying my baby at the time and truly felt completely overwhelmed by the 3 boys I had under the age of 4. I struggled with acceptance that there would be a fourth so soon. But inside I held a secret. I was extremely disappointed that I hadn’t had the chance to “try” for a girl. I had told my husband that after 3 boys, I was buying the book “How to Determine the Sex of Your Child” and that we were going to follow it step by step. I began to have a real concern that I would never have a girl.
I knew that my husband would turn 40 in 2000. That had been the cut off back in 1993. I knew the deal. I believed this would be my last baby. Part of the anxiety I felt over not having a girl, stemmed from the fact that my husband had a daughter with his first wife. Perhaps this shows unkindness about me – but the thought that I wouldn’t have a daughter and that my husband’s only daughter was with another woman was an emotional thing for me to wrap my head around.
I cried for a full month about that pregnancy. I didn’t openly show it. I smiled like I always had and used my little jokes to continue on. I wouldn’t let anyone know what I truly felt. After all, I had been blessed with a life and after having lost two, what kind of person did it make me not to be anything more than grateful?
This pregnancy had been easier. I wasn’t sick. I thought that perhaps I gotten the hang of this whole procreation thing. We went for the appointment for the sonogram and again at 10 weeks we received the news. No heartbeat. Had not been a heartbeat for probably a week and a half…
I was devastated. Completely overwhelmed with grief. Enveloped by guilt. I had not been happy. It had been something unwanted. I was selfish. It was now lost. It was my fault. It was one of the hardest things in my life to come back from though I don’t think anyone in my life realizes it even to this day. Not even my husband. I had experienced the same loss 2 times before but not with the magnitude that this one shook my world. Additionally, I had children now to explain a loss to. That had never been a factor before. Different dynamics were at play in this one. Such an emotional flood. I truly felt that I didn’t deserve another child.
I have a picture taken on my third son’s christening on Mother’s Day of 1999. I am in my favorite navy blue dress, navy blue stockings, and navy blue heels with my gold chain holding 24 karat gold silhouettes of 3 boys around my neck. My third born is lying across my lap asleep. Precious in slumber. You cannot see my face in the picture as I am looking down at him watching him sleep. If you pay attention, you will see a tissue tightly clenched in my right fist held at my temple as I rested my head upon it.
In that picture I am pregnant with that fourth child. In that picture, is a moment of me crying but no one is really aware. For anyone else to see that picture – they would be clueless. It looks like nothing more than a mother completely in love with her baby. And it definitely was that too. But it also holds the secrets inside a mother’s heart. One that I will never forget. It is one of my favorite pictures ever despite the painful memories that it brings to me…
Because it is the truth of my real life parenting.
Thanks for sitting down at the table today to talk about this with me.