On Loss

It was two years yesterday since I miscarried our first baby.  Just because that sweet life was an unexpected surprise, it didn’t make the pain any less.  Below is what I wrote two months after our loss.  Looking back to those months is painful, I was in a dark place and I wasn’t sure if I would ever see happiness again.  But I’ve come through to the other side, and the crippling pain I felt then has slowly morphed into a dull ache, a hole where that baby should be.  To anyone going through that dark place following a miscarriage remember you aren’t alone.

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Until you have been there, you can’t imagine the depth of true loss. You can’t imagine what it is like to plead with your body to do what it is supposed to and keep your baby safe.  You can’t imagine the utter desperation felt once you know that you are, in fact, miscarrying your child.

Douglas and I found out we were going to be parents on August 26, 2014.   We were scared out of our minds, but excited to experience this new adventure.  From the moment the test turned blue our entire world changed.  We were no longer just two somewhat-newlywedded twentysomethings, but parents to an a precious, unborn child. We began planning, from nurseries to car seats to prenatal diets to child care.  I quit coffee, caffeine and junk food. I had the model prenatal diet, I knew that my choices were not only affecting me, but my child.  I struggled with exhaustion and other less pleasant symptoms of pregnancy and marveled at the fact that I was growing another human being.  We kept our glorious news a secret, waiting until our first doctor’s visit before we told our families.  We shared furtive glances and almost let the news slip multiple times, but we held on to our amazing secret.

Our excitement grew as my first prenatal visit, scheduled for September 11, crept closer. Finally, we were going to tell our families.  Finally, we could express our excitement and trepidation at this huge journey we were taking.  That joy turned to sorrow the morning of September 11.

Something wasn’t right, as evidenced by the spotting.  I spent the morning in bed, hoping to halt the bleeding.  We left for our doctor’s appointment and picked up lunch on the way.  That’s when it was no longer just a little spotting, but full-out bleeding. My heart broke at that point.  The amazing Nurse Practitioner at my then ObGyn tried to assuage my fears, and did an amazing job at that appointment.  She sent us on our way with a bit of hope and instructions for a routine blood test.

However, that night, the bleeding was paired with cramping. Around midnight we lost our first child. Prior to the miscarriage, I cried over the loss. I tried to will my body to keep its precious cargo safe. But my pleas were not to be realized. The physical pain was surpassed only by the emotional pain. I woke the next morning to what could only be described as utter defeat.  That weekend passed in a blur, we told our parents and siblings of our loss and tried to understand the loss we experienced. I cried in physical pain and emotional pain.  My body hurt as sobs wracked my body, there were moments when I couldn’t breath from the emotional toll of the loss or the intensity of my sobs.

The following week I began a new job and I was able to heal.  It hurt like heck and I am lucky to have made it through that first week without breaking down at work. The doctor confirmed the miscarriage on Monday. We spent the week trying to put ourselves back together.

Since that weekend, nearly two months later, I’m not whole.  I’ve learned to accept that a part of my heart will always reside in heaven.  Losing our child has increased my hope in heaven.  I know that one day I can hold my first child in my arms, they can show me around their home. Our child has met my Aunt Suzette and Doug’s grandparents.  Though it’s not a Baptist belief, I’ve prayed that our baby will tell his (or her) siblings about us. I’ve learned that my baby lived its purpose in nine short weeks.  For the seventeen days I knew I was carrying a life inside of me, I felt love like I have never known. I believe harder in the promises of the Lord.  I know I don’t know what purpose the Lord has for my baby, but I know there is one.  I may never know that purpose, and I’m okay with it.  I’ve realized that my loss was not a senseless one but part of a plan.

Like I said before, I’m not whole.  Photos of happy newborns are hard to escape and pregnancy photos are even worse. Social media tests my resolve every single day.  There have been numerous times I’ve simply had to close social media site because it hurt. Every photo of a round belly attached to a smiling mother-to-be makes me feel my loss even more. I feel empty. Every post of feeling the baby’s movement remind me I should be feeling my child move, I would know the sex and possibly have a name picked out. We would be painting a nursery and getting a birth plan together. Right now it seems like everyone is planning on a birth in the spring of 2015.  The estimated due date of our baby was April 14.  I can’t discuss Duchess Kate’s pregnancy style without being reminded I could have that adorable baby belly.

I’ve been through hell and back with this loss.  I’ve questioned why and cried myself to sleep.  I’ve learned to live without my whole heart and have known the peace that passes all understanding.  I’m thankful for the seventeen days I shared with my beloved first child.

Livia at 9 Months

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Growth

  • Weight: 22 pounds
  • Length:
  • Clothing Size: 9-12
  • Diaper Size: 3
  • Teeth: 7
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Firsts

  • Night away from mom and dad so we could visit Natchez last weekend (she stayed with Nana and Pawpaw)
  • Olympic Games!
  • Drink of whole milk
  • Taste of gumbo
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Loves

  • Patty-cake
  • Duke
  • The refrigerator
  • Opening our kitchen cabinets
  • Shoes
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Dislikes

  • Mommy walking out of the room
  • Sleeping in the pack and play
  • Zucchini, always zucchini
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Eating

  • EVERYTHING.  She had her first taste of gumbo like a proper resident of Louisiana and loved it.  She would fuss if I wasn’t sharing every other bite with her.
  • She’s been getting bites off our plates the entire month and has yet to have something she doesn’t seem to like.  She had: chili, enchiladas, spaghetti carbonara, gumbo, tortellini soup, potato salad and has liked every single one.  I’m hoping her willingness to try foods doesn’t fade once she reaches her toddler years.
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Sleeping

  • Sleep regression in full swing.  She’s wide awake in the middle of the night wanting to play, crawl around and refuse to go back to sleep.  But, she’s falling asleep easier than ever.  She’s finally learning how to fall asleep efficiently.

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Playing

  • She’s obsessed with patty-cake.  She will wake up in the middle of the night, sit up and start clapping her hands hoping that one of us will play with her.
  • She loves to play chase when she is being “chased.”  Running towards her elicits the biggest squeals and laughs.
  • She’s learned to pull up on pretty much everything and she loves to stand by the back door and play with Duke when he’s back there.

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Health

  • She’s cut five teeth in the last month and is still working on another one.  Everything is accompanied by much more drama than we are used to because she just doesn’t feel good.
  • She spiked a pretty high fever a few weeks ago, which her ped thinks was related to teething because she never acted sick.
  • She’s dealing with her first stuffy nose.  It’s hilarious to watch her try to figure out why she can’t breathe out of her nose, but I feel so bad for her.  She’s spent a few naps semi-reclined just so she can breathe.

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Parenting

  • Feeling tons of mom-guilt because I can’t ever see myself quitting my job to become a SAHM.  I need the mental stimulation to stay happy and getting out of the house does my sanity a world of good.  I know that Livia doesn’t need me to stay home, but I feel guilty because it’s something I’m not sure I’ll ever want.
  • We’ve had to start disciplining because she’s discovered electrical outlets.  Ours are covered, but I want to teach her respect for them.  She’s actually got a decent grasp on “No” for her age, but sometimes we have to intervene because she isn’t listening.  It’s an odd stage to be at because I knew that one day I would have to start disciplining her, but I can’t really believe we are there now.
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Recent Google Searches

  • Jeff Davis 8
  • Longwood Plantation
  • City of San Francisco train crash
  • Daniel 3:17-18
  • YETI ice chest
  • Elderberry
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Looking forward to…

  • Labor Day weekend (an extra day off and Doug took a few days, too!)
  • Pumpkin Spice Lattes
  • Liv mastering standing on her own (but not walking, I’m not over crawling yet)
  • The end of pumping (only three months left!)
  • Cooler weather, summertime in Southwest Louisiana is no joke (still)

Surviving Pregnancy in an Office

Or…What in the world is that thing in your office.

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My exercise ball chair…best purchase of my entire pregnancy.

Pregnancy is such an odd time in a woman’s life.   She’s stuck in an “in-between” stage, she’s a mother, but there is nothing she can really mother yet.  There is another human inside of her (seriously, think about that for a minute, if the wonder of it doesn’t elicit a pause maybe the sheer engineering of it might) and the physical changes that come along with that.  People feel the necessity to make remarks that would otherwise be considered so incredibly rude and ask intensely personal, pointed questions.  It’s no wonder women of yesteryear hid their status under hoop skirts, smocks and tent-like dresses or they spent the last months of their pregnancies in confinement.

Surviving pregnancy in an office environment takes a delicate balance of tact, ignorance, humor and grace.  It’s not necessarily an easy experience, but I’ve rounded up a few things to make it much more enjoyable.

Please, for the love of all that is beautiful in the world, don’t announce your pregnancy on social media before letting your superiors know.  Even if you don’t have anyone you work with on social media, word travels fast, especially in small towns and within certain career fields.  Personally, I let our HR guy know the week I found out I was pregnant in case I had another miscarriage.  I needed him to know ahead of time in the event that I needed to miss work for a few days.  I told a few friends I trusted to keep it secret a few weeks later and told my boss when I was 10 weeks and the rest of the firm within a few days of that.  The big Facebook announcement happened the same day I made my announcement at the firm.  It worked out very well for me and I will probably go the same route with any future pregnancies.

Figure out your company’s sick leave/maternity leave policy early.  I learned I needed to have a week of sick time or vacation time saved if I wanted to be paid before my FMLA kicked in, so I was stingy with taking time off for appointments.  It’s important to find out as much as you can, as early as you can so that you have eight months to plan instead of eight weeks or worse, eight days.  Get all the paperwork you can completed at the beginning of your third trimester or as early as your HR department allows.  In case of an early delivery, you don’t want to be filling out more paperwork than you have to.  I actually forgot to have my doctor sign off on it so I was making multiple trips into town with a newborn in tow – not an ideal situation.

Since we are talking about being out of the office: find a day and time that works well with your schedule and make an appointment at the same time for each, if you can.  I learned that morning were not a good time for the OB I was seeing in the first half of my pregnancy, she was super busy and there was always a pretty significant wait.  After tweaking the time over an appointment or two, I learned that late Wednesday afternoons were the best time to schedule an appointment.  The office was quiet, I got in to see her quickly and often I was the last appointment of the day – so I got more face time with the doctor.  Find what works for you, as well.  I liked to schedule appointments where I either went in before work or left work early to see the doctor.  Be mindful of how many hours of leave you take.  It’s so easy to call in during the first trimester, I was so tired, I was nauseous and I just didn’t want to be at work – but I knew that I had many doctor’s appointments (14 to be exact) and the week of unpaid leave at the beginning of my FMLA time.

Staying comfortable while at work is the key to having an enjoyable pregnancy.  Find clothes that fit properly, are comfortable to wear all day and (hopefully) cute.  I purchased a striped maternity dress from Motherhood (see above) around week 20 and wore it at least once a week for the remainder of my pregnancy – it was super comfortable and it made the oppressive late-summer heat of Louisiana a little more bearable.  Some people say buy a few expensive pieces that will last from one pregnancy to next, but I bought things that were less expensive because there is no telling which season I’ll be pregnant in (or how much weight I’ll gain) next time so that really cute pair of expensive maternity pants may or may not fit, might be out of style or might not be warm enough next time.  Investing in a exercise ball chair was the best decision I made the whole time I was pregnant.  My hips started hurting early in the second trimester and sitting at work was nearly unbearable at the end of the day.  Enter Amazon deal of the day for a exercise ball chair…my hips, core and butt never felt better.  Additionally, get up and take a stroll a few times an hour, it helps prevent stiffness and keep the blood flowing to your feet (this is a good time for all the time, not just pregnancy).

Most importantly, have a sense of humor about your body and pregnancy.  The last few weeks my belly was the topic of many break room conversations.  My co-workers would ask questions that normally one would consider obscene, but in all honesty, they were just excited for me and to meet my baby.  I knew going into those last weeks questions about my body’s “progression” would start cropping up and I was fully prepared to deal with it.  You will hear horror stories of epidurals go awry, nightmare c-sections and tears that required surgeries and physical therapy to fix – tune it out.  Smile and say “that’s interesting,” and let it go out the other ear.  You don’t need that negativity rolling around in your head leading up to the birth of your child.  And if all else fails, create a countdown calendar.  Crossing off each day felt like a victory in itself.

Pregnancy in an office can be an awkward, annoying and uncomfortable experience, but it doesn’t have to suck.

How I Meal Plan and Favorite Recipes


Meal planning saves my sanity.  I’m already pressed for time in the evenings after work, and having a plan set in stone (or ink) makes my day go by that much more smooth.  I can’t recall the first time I started to meal plan but it was within the first three months of being married.  Having a clear idea makes grocery shopping on the weekends a breeze.  I know exactly what I need and how much of it I need.  Having a plan is one of the best ways to save my sanity during the work week.

First a few setup steps for the process.  These came to be part of my weekly routine organically, but if you are starting from scratch there are decisions to be made. Continue reading “How I Meal Plan and Favorite Recipes”

When Motherhood is Heavy


When I found out I was pregnant I put on the burden of motherhood.  It was light then, I could go about my day without being weighed down by it.  As Livia grew, so did it, it became heavier, it made it harder for me to move around, both literally and figuratively.

After her birth it was suffocating.  The first weeks with a newborn are hard: little sleep occurs, diaper pails overflow and feedings stretch for hours.  And all of this on top of recovering from what is, at best, equivalent of running a marathon and at its worst major surgery.  I remember feeling trapped by early motherhood.  I remember crying in the shower one day during her first week mourning my pre-baby life.  I desperately loved Livia, but I wasn’t sure if I made a terrible mistake bringing a child into my life.  I cried when the sun went down because I was exhausted but knew I would get maybe an hour or two of sleep between feedings.  There was a heaviness in those early days I couldn’t shake. Continue reading “When Motherhood is Heavy”

Breastfeeding Essentials for the Early Weeks

Those early weeks of motherhood are rough. Livia had her days and nights mixed up for a few days and postpartum hormones will do a number on you (especially if you aren’t prepared for them).  In those early days I definitely had a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding.  Livia wanted to eat all the time – which is normal, but that doesn’t make it any easier to be up for hours at a time in the middle of the night.  Thankfully, the hard part ended by the time she was six weeks old and it became second nature.   Continue reading “Breastfeeding Essentials for the Early Weeks”

An Open Letter to July 2015 Sara,


Dear Pregnant Sara,

Hey there!  I know that the days seem so long and December seems so far away.  But, I promise you the next twenty weeks will go by unimaginably fast.  I remember how scary those last few weeks before viability were – the nightmares, the constant worry when the baby wasn’t moving the same as they had been the day before – especially now that you’ve had the big anatomy ultrasound and everything looked perfectly healthy.  I know you are still questioning if being surprised by the baby’s gender was the right decision, and I want to let you know that is 100% the right decision.  There is nothing like hearing Douglas proclaim, “It’s a girl,” in the delivery room, oh, that’s right, the baby you are carrying in your womb is a spunky red-headed little girl, just like the one you’ve seen in your dreams.

Continue reading “An Open Letter to July 2015 Sara,”