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An unintentional gift.

4 Jan

If you haven’t already, please head over to Jjiraffe’s post to read “The Devastation of Pregnancy: A Profile of Courtney…,” where she describes my history with pregnancy loss in order to profile what it really means to live with infertility.  If you’re not familiar with Jjiraffe and her fantastic and inspirational blog, for months she has been tackling the New York Times’ inaccurate coverage of what it means to be infertile.  She is a brilliant writer.  I’ve been trying to figure out why they’re not busting down her virtual door and begging her to write these profiles for them.  Oh wait…that’s because she’s not interested in highlighting the 1% of infertiles who can afford unlimited IVF treatments just because they thought it would be cute to have another baby well into their forties.  Right.  So please, if you haven’t yet read her piece, please do so now.

I was lucky enough to get a chance to read this before she posted it, and as I read each beautifully crafted word, tears fell in a steady stream down my cheeks.  For the first time in two years, I was getting to view my story from the outside looking in. As I read about this woman and her devastating pain from each of her four losses, I was profoundly sad for her.  I cried for her and what she had gone through.  I was awed by her resilience.   I wanted to reach out to her and wrap my arms around her, to tell her how very sorry I am for her losses.   Not once did I get angry at her for “allowing” those babies to die.

Ever since that fateful day in February of 2010 when I lost my second pregnancy, I have blamed my body for being inadequate, for not doing what it’s supposed to do.  That blame, of course, was heightened when I went on to lose a third and a fourth.  I refused to be kind to the body that stopped my babies’ hearts.  Through what feels like hundreds of sessions, my therapist has been urging me to be kind to myself, to nurture my body and support it like I do for so many other women going through this.  But despite our work, I’ve been unable to find the compassion for myself and for what I’ve experienced. I can’t get past the fact I feel like I’m to blame, that my body failed me.

When I read Jjiraffe’s post, the compassion I’ve been seeking for myself and my unimaginable loss, came flooding in.  Although the post was meant to highlight the inadequacies in the NYTimes’ coverage, it did so much more for me.  It was a gift.  After reading her words, I want to take care of that woman and her grief.  I want to nurture her and love her, not berate her and blame her.  The woman in her story doesn’t deserve that.

Jjiraffe, I will never be able to properly thank you for the gift you gave to me with this post.  The woman inside of me that has had to deal with my lack of compassion for two years straight, thanks you.  I’m wrapping my arms around you, too.

Now, if you still haven’t read it, what are you waiting for?  Go now.

Gratitude.

4 Dec

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I’m smiling today for the first time in a few weeks, and it has everything to do with these girls.  Esperanza and I helped Jjiraffe celebrate her birthday yesterday, and we had such a great time.  It takes a lot to get me out of the house these days, but I’m so happy I went.  It’s been hard for me to find girls around here that I connect with, but not any more.  These girls are my girls.

Thanks for helping me smile today, E and J.  I can’t wait until we get to do it again.  Mmwah!

(Now go check out some fun pics from Esperanza.)

Not-Penny’s Baby Shower

24 Oct

When I first came across Runny Yolk, I had just had my 3rd miscarriage and I was finally reaching out to the blogging community to find others that had experienced similar loss and frustrations.  After just one read, she made it onto my reader.

I soon discovered she wasn’t just someone who had experienced pain, her voice was unlike any other I had read.  It wasn’t what she was writing – since she was talking about the same thing we were all talking about – but it was how  she said it that hit me.  Her words were raw and honest, evoking emotion that inspired readers in this community to want to come together and fight this as one.  She never apologized for her emotions, and as a result, gave me a confidence to do the same.

When I found out I was pregnant for the 4th time, Elphaba was the first person in the community I told.  She had just found out she was pregnant 7 weeks prior, so I knew she would be able to help me navigate the first few scary weeks.  If it weren’t for her, they would have been nearly impossible to make it through.  When I found out the baby had no heartbeat, she was there for me without hesitation.  Throughout the next few weeks, she and a few other incredible women in this community, came together to show me love that I didn’t know could exist with this kind of grief.  During this entire 2-year battle, it was in these moments I finally felt the support I so badly needed all the other times.

So to sum it all up: this girl pretty much rocks.  I’m so thankful she’s in my life and I can call her my friend.  And even though she’s about to give birth, the voice that originally spoke to me never once got buried in the midst of the pregnancy glow, and she still continues to inspire.

And now onto the present and the only baby shower I’ve looked forward to since all this mess began!

I originally thought of the idea when looking at the pictures of her nursery and I was inspired by the colors she chose.  Also, I noticed her walls are suspiciously bare.  Since I can’t seem to buy people presents when I can make them one instead, I immediately knew what I was going to design.

For your wall, Little Elphie:


Once the little one is born, I will obviously replace “Not Penny” with Little Elphie’s real name, as well as her actual birth time, weight, city and province (except, Elphaba, I think I should win a prize if this really is her weight!).  It will arrive to your door in an 8 x 10 frame and will be packed with love.  And of course, it is open to changes if you would like them, Elphaba.

Congratulations, Elphaba…I couldn’t be happier for you and Mr. M.  Thanks for being not only such a strong voice in this community, but for being an incredible friend through all of this.  I can’t wait for the day I get to give you a real-life hug.

To read more of the lovely ladies partaking in this virtual baby shower for Miss Elphaba, please head over to Mommy Odyssey’s blog.  And thank you, Mo, for organizing this.  We’re I’m not worthy!  We’re I’m not worthy!

To read Elphaba’s response to the shower, click here.

When blogger friendships become real-life friends.

17 Oct

I’ve had this post in mind for a while now, and was hoping to snap a picture this weekend to accompany it, but someone was missing and it wouldn’t have been complete.  This weekend, as some of you may have already heard, was a 30-something-year-old sleepover planned with myself, Jjiraffe and Esperanza.  At the last minute, Esperanza couldn’t make it, and hearts from Bodega southward sank.  I did for a split-second think about not going because of the distance, but had been looking forward to it all week, so I decided to hop in the car and go see my friend.  I needed a night with someone who I can be myself with, someone who I can laugh with and talk endlessly with.

But first, let’s rewind a little bit.  Actually, let’s rewind a lot bit.  Growing up, I didn’t have the greatest luck with female friendships.  I was a part of a group of girls from the very beginning, except I was the low one on the totem pole for reasons I’m still trying to figure out.  If I had to guess, it would have to do with the fact I cared a little too much for other people and wasn’t willing to be the jerk that talked behind the other girl’s backs or laugh to their face.  When I did, it felt wrong and I was filled with instant remorse.  So instead, I was the girl the jerks talked about behind my back and laughed at to my face.  And yet, I still stayed friends with them because I felt I had no other option.  Of course I did, but I lived in an extremely small town in Maine, and these were, after all, the cool kids.  Why wouldn’t I want to hang out with them?   Oh peer pressure, why are you such a bitch?

If I could go back and tell my then 6- to 17-year-old self anything, (yes, I remained friends with them for that long, and in some instances, still am friends, as thankfully, people grow) it would be to stand up for yourself.  Because you have heart and a conscience, it doesn’t make you a lesser person.  In fact, it does the opposite.  Because someone thinks something you do isn’t cool, screw them.  Do you think it’s cool?  Well good then, that’s all that matters.  I would also tell myself to spend more time with that sweet friend of yours with amazing talent, or that group of musicians you felt a pull towards, but just didn’t have the guts to break away for.

It wasn’t until I met my friend Liz at 13 that I really understood what it was like to have a real friend.  Someone who would stand-up for you and didn’t care what others thought while staying true to who she was despite what was cool.  Then once I was a Sophomore in college, I made an incredible group of girlfriends who are unrivaled to this day.  It is because of these friendships – and very much the first set – that I have a difficult time making friends as an adult.

After I moved to California, I met a group of girls who had already known each other for close to 10 years.  They had the kind of friendship I had with my college friends, and no matter how hard I tried, I never truly felt a part of their group.  They professed their love for me and tried to make me feel a part of it, but as a direct result of my earlier years, I often felt I was the one left out and the one talked about behind my back.  (I have no proof that this happened, and most likely, it did not, but those scars from my youth run deep – it’s nearly impossible for me to believe it’s not the truth.)  We’ve since had a bit of a falling out due to the last two years and what I’ve gone through, and it has made me re-evaluate what it is I recognize in a true friend.

Fast-forward to meeting Jjiraffe and Esperanza almost a year ago.  I had just started seeking out other bloggers who had gone through similar loss as I, and found both J and E* through ICLW.  Once I figured out both were in the Bay-area, the stalking commenced.  We eventually met and hit it off.  I knew instantly we’d be friends because in the short time I had known them, I was completely myself – something I had never been able to be with the girls here.  I’m sure it had a lot to do with what we had in common, and the fact they had been reading me for a few months before we even met (so they were essentially already inside my head), but I instantly felt like they were it – I had made the girlfriends I felt I so desperately needed here.  If it weren’t for the distance between us, I’d be begging these girls for twice-weekly get-togethers.

A few months ago, J and E had planned to get together for a sleepover and wanted me to join them.  Unfortunately, it was the very same weekend my friend Liz (from above) was in town visiting, so I wasn’t able to join.  I haven’t yet told them this, but as happy as I was to be with my friend Liz, the whole night they were together without me, I thought for sure they’d bond so much in that one night, they’d decide to leave me behind from then on.  The pangs from youth creep in and it’s so hard to shake that feeling that I’m once again being laughed at and talked about.  In my mind, they were now the cool kids and I was, once again, the low man on the totem pole (even though they didn’t once make me feel like that, it was 100% all in my head).  If I hadn’t of been with my best-friend at the time, it would have been an even more difficult night for me.

Then skip ahead further to this weekend, tables were turned and I was the one there and another couldn’t make it.  We ended up having a fantastic time.  I got to know Darcy and talk to him about food (my favorite subject) and blogs, I enjoyed the incredible food he made pizza we ordered, and even danced a silly dance in the hallway for her sweet twins.  Yes, we laughed a whole lot, but not once did we laugh at E for not being there or talk about her behind her back; instead, we Tweeted and texted with her all night until all of our phones died, feeling like someone was missing and that we weren’t complete. Then the fact she was having such a horrible night while we were together having a great time, just wasn’t right.  We needed to cheer her up and give her love and support, and we couldn’t.  This is why I was never truly like those girls.  It just didn’t feel right having one of us hurting so much.

I’m not sure my hang-ups with friendship will ever completely go away from inside of me, regardless of the people in question. But I do know that I’m now a part of these girl’s lives and feel absolutely blessed to have found them.  This community has not only given me support and love and friendships all over the world, it has now given me in-the-flesh** friendships that I hold dear to my heart.  These are the friends that if something went wrong and I needed someone, they’d be the first ones I’d call.  Or if something fantastic just happened, I’d want them to know immediately.

I have a feeling if given the chance to meet all of you out there that I now call friends, it would be a very similar story.  Except in our case, I would totally know if you were talking about me because you’d blog about it and then I’d totally write you an anonymous comment about how you’re a jerk-face and should die and you would have no idea it was me because it would be ANONYMOUS and all.

Because, as you can tell from my past, that’s totally the type of person I am.

(And E, please know that you were greatly, greatly missed, and I wish you had been there….but lucky for you, we’ve got an entire lifetime ahead of us.  This is only the beginning.)

Updated an hour or so later because this post isn’t quite long enough already: I just realized I left someone out, and that was not my intention.  I’ve also been able to meet Starfish Kitty Dreams, which has been equally as wonderful.  Hers was one of the first blogs I found on RPL and she helped to introduce me to the information available at a South-Bay university.  We’ve since met up a few times and have enjoyed one another (well, I guess I can’t speak for her, but I’ve enjoyed her company) and I felt a connection instantly to her as well.  One of these days, we’ll have to all 4 meet up!

Updated 10/24/11: I have also met Marie  and feel just as much love for her as I do these other women.  Unfortunately, when I wrote this, my mind was focused on Bay-area bloggers that I get to see regularly, and I unfairly left her out.  I hope that she accepts my apologies and know that I feel like an asshole.

* Do you ladies realize how difficult it is to type both of your names together over and over?  You couldn’t have just gone with Jane and Sally?  So you may just be called J and E from now on.  Hope that’s okay with you.  

** That made it sound kinda kinky.  No, it wasn’t that kind of sleepover.  Sheesh!

An update and some gratitude.

13 Oct

Thank you so much to everyone who sent prayers and good thoughts to my friend last week.  She ended up finding out that her baby boy tested positive for encephaloceles and she had to make the horrible decision to terminate the pregnancy.  She had the d&c yesterday afternoon.

My heart has been hurting and my mind solely focused on her since she found out.  I heard from her today and she said she’s come to peace with the decision and knew it was the right thing to do.  She even felt a strong presence of her baby boy after the surgery letting her know he was okay and that he loved them very much.  When I heard that, I cried…both in relief and in grief.  It’s just not fair he was taken away too soon…that any of our babies were taken away like they were.

I know she’ll still experience many emotions in the coming weeks and months, but I do know that your words of support helped make a difference.  I am, once again, blown away by the women in this community.  When I first heard the news from my friend, I knew instantly I wanted her to feel the support you have so selflessly given to me these last couple of years.  And that was exactly what you did.  I wish there was a way for me to express how lucky I feel, but something tells me I don’t have to…I think you all know exactly how I feel because you feel it, too.  I’m going to see her in a couple of weeks, and when I wrap my arms around her, I’ll make sure she knows it’s coming from all of you as well.

Joy.

29 Sep

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Lake Glenville, North Carolina.

Aaaaaaand….32 it is!

27 Sep

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Today, on my 32nd birthday, I’m filled with hope.

I look back on the last 2 years and think of the hell that I’ve been through, and today, I feel strong.  Stronger than the woman 2 years ago that didn’t yet know pain.  And although, even now, the pain of each loss is still so vivid, the devastation so clear…here I am on the other side and I’m still breathing.  My breath may be weathered, but it now knows how to fight for the air I need to survive this little life of mine.  I’m left with scars that will forever be on my soul…but I’m able to sit here and tell the world about it.  For that, I’m proud.  I made it through it all and came out a better person.

Maybe I feel this way today because I just spent the weekend with an incredible group of friends, who gave me the energy to feel empowered.  They love me for who I am and always will, and a weekend of laughter with my favorite girls in all of the world, is a good way to get your energy back.  It was a weekend full of babies and pregnancy and consistent talk of both….and although in the beginning it was difficult, the love I have for them far outweighed the struggle that was going on in my head and I succumbed to it.  And I honestly think it’s just what I needed.  (It helped that my friend’s babies had smiles that could melt even the toughest of hearts.)

My life may not turn out the way I had envisioned it, but it still has the possibility of being great.  I have so much love in my life, and I feel so incredibly grateful.  And maybe that’s enough for me.

My horoscope today says: “Today’s New Moon in your sign signals a sudden break from your past if you are ready to place your new intentions into action.” I think it sounds like a good plan to break from my past today, and I’m ready to put new intentions into action.  2 years of this is enough, wouldn’t you say?  I’m also thinking the fact the New Moon is falling on my birthday is an even greater omen.

Today, I have hope.

32 may just be the year it all turns around.

—-

One year ago today: Hello, 31.