Asking for Help- Victoria’s Story

Asking for Help – Victoria’s Story

by Victoria Salerno

e2ebb-photoThere have been a lot of serious conversations taking place in my household over the last two weeks. In my last post, I discussed how Jason and I are discussing the possibilities we may be facing

1. Getting pregnant on our own

2. Getting pregnant through the use of fertility medications

3. Getting pregnant through IUI or IVF

If these options fail or we reach a point where we have decided it’s enough, then we have to consider:

1. Going through genetic testing to determine if there is a genetic issue

2. Getting pregnant with the help of an egg donor (friend or unknown)

3. Surrogacy- private or through a friend

4. Adoption- private or through foster care

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One Day at a Time- Victoria’s Story

For so many things in life, there is an “easier” way to do things. Drive-Thru at a restaurant, ordering online, instructional videos, navigation on your phone, personal shoppers, text messaging, church online, steam-in-bag vegetables….

It’s human nature to find an easier way to do things. Look around you, there are so many ways you simplify your life each day, without even realizing it. 
Grieving. It is one aspect of our lives we have no “easy” way around. There is no way to short-cut through grief- try as you might, it comes right back around to stare you in the face. You can bury it or ignore it, but somehow, it always comes back until you work through the process.
Grieving has been very difficult for me. By nature, I am a very happy person who only wants to see the best in life. I am the strong person; I am at my strongest when things are at their worst. I thought I could handle anything. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Miscarriage, losing my babies, brought me to my knees.
They say grief has 5 separate phases that are universal:
1) Denial/Isolation
2) Anger
3) Bargaining
4) Depression
5) Acceptance.
In my personal experience, miscarriage was unlike any other grief I had ever dealt with. I have lost many loved ones before, but never have I felt pain like I did with the loss of my babies.
For me, my grief went through a different series:
Terror/Anger/Depression
Depression/Bargaining
Depression/Isolation
Depression/Anger
Admission
Following my miscarriages, so many people told me to work through each emotion. How was I supposed to do that? If I worked on my fear, it made me angry. If I confronted my anger, I was overcome with sadness. If I tried to move through my sadness, I began bargaining with myself and God. Bargaining just made me angry all over again. In my experience, it has been a vicious cycle with no end.
I don’t believe my grieving has truly ended. Notice, the “last stage” of my grieving is currently admission. At this point, I can not accept what has happened. I admit that it has happened, I acknowledge our loss. At this moment, I feel as though acceptance equals moving on, and I am not capable of doing so. The thought of moving on strikes fear in my heart- I never even got to hold or see my babies outside of an ultrasound. They never knew what it was like to feel me hold them or kiss their sweet fingers and toes. If I move on, I am so afraid they will think I never loved them.
My feelings may change again, but this is where I am at right now. This is my journey and for right now, it is one day at a time. I want you to know that is okay to be- just okay. It has taken me a long time to accept just being okay. I don’t want to give you the impression I am never happy- most of my days are filled with more happiness than sadness- but there is always a little piece of my heart missing.
I wanted to share some of my methods of moving through my grief:
1) Have someone to talk to-  I have mentioned before the importance of having at least one person you can turn to with your feelings. It needs to be a person you feel like you could say anything to without judgement. Sometimes, just being able to release your thoughts and emotions is all you need to work through a particularly difficult day.
2) Music- I have days where I am so overcome my emotion, I am not sure how I really feel. On days like this, I put on music that soothes me- Andrea Bocelli and Chris Botti are two of my favorites- and sit in a warm bath to calm myself and relax my mind.
3) Remember your baby(ies)- Sometimes I just want to talk about them. I talk about the first time I found out they were to be, the first doctor’s appointment, the first ultrasound, morning sickness- the happy memories. Talking about them leaves my heart feeling so much lighter and filled with so much joy. 
4)Write- For me, writing is very therapeutic. I may not be able to put my thoughts together out loud, but I can always work through it on paper or on the computer. I don’t even always publish what I write. I have a Word document on my computer that is strictly for writing whatever comes to my head. Just seeing it all down on my paper and working through my thoughts gives me relief and often helps me sort out how I feel.
5) Happy box- This has absolutely become a lifesaver for me. I am going to do a whole post on it on Tuesday, but the “Happy Box” is something I came up with when I was having a really bad day. I had found all kinds of quotes and prayers on Pinterest, but I wanted to print them out and have them handy. I decided to put them in a box next to my bed and look at the sayings and quotes whenever I needed a pick-me-up or reminder. Since then, I have added whatever makes me happy to the box. I have quotes, prayers, pictures of loved ones, magnets, a baby outfit, cards from friends, and a lot more. I will show you everything on Tuesday, but I highly recommend one of these. My “Happy Box” grounds me and reminds me I have so much to be thankful for and that God really does have a plan. I am still struggling with my path, but I need to trust in God- and everything in my box reminds me to do so.
I pray you can find your own peace in your journey. One day at a time.

It’s a journey- a road we are on together.

Uneven Ground- Victoria’s Story

I apologize for the delay in posting this. This was much more difficult to write than I anticipated and I wanted to make sure I got it right.

Now that you know more about my husband and I and our story, I thought I would share more of the emotional side of what we are facing each day.

Today, I want to focus on my relationship with Jason after our losses. I think this is a topic that even some of the most wonderful books on loss, gloss over.

Prior to our first loss, Jason and I were still very much on top of the world. Of course we had our ups and downs, just as any other couple moving towards marriage does, but 98% of our relationship was amazing. We were on the same page about (almost) everything! It felt like there wasn’t a thing in the world we couldn’t conquer together. We had difficult times financially, dealt with some very heartbreaking family situations, and even faced being separated for 5 months following a major surgery I had. (I had to move home to be with my parents, who live 4 hours from where we do now. I needed 24-hour assistance for several months, and we couldn’t afford to have Jason quit his job and move with me). Through all of it, we came out on top and stronger for it.

When Jason and I decided we were ready to start our family, we never imagined we would have any difficulty. Of course- you hear about miscarriage, you realize there is always a chance for complications, but, if you are like us,

“We didn’t really think it would happen to us”.

Our first loss was very painful. It was only the 2nd time I had ever seen Jason cry. My heart broke 10 times over watching him cry and knowing there was nothing I could do. Some of my guilt, at the time, stemmed from that moment- watching my husband cry and knowing it was my body that had made him cry.

The first week after our first loss was filled with a lot of emotion for both of us- sadness, anger, guilt, frustration, and confusion. Something changed after that first week though; Jason was suddenly back to “normal”.  I recall the first time he said:

“I don’t want to talk about it”.

That very moment was the moment everything changed.  He didn’t want to talk about it anymore, he seemed frustrated by my continued sadness, and he was ready to move on. This moment was a major turning point in our relationship. It was the first time we were not on the same page- I would dare to venture we weren’t even in the same book.

My heart was still reeling from the loss- my emotions were all over the board and I was truly unable to step outside of those emotions. My husband rebounded very quickly from our loss and it made me angry. I was angry he wasn’t showing emotion, angry he didn’t understand me, angry he “forgot” our baby so quickly, and angry because I was angry.

Each subsequent loss followed a very similar pattern. We would be on the same page for a week or two and then a switch would flip, and he would be fine and I was not.

I would be dishonest if I didn’t tell you this has caused problems with our relationship. It has added stress and tension like we have never known before. It has only been within the last few weeks that I have finally accepted our new “norm”. I have finally been able to step back and acknowledge that it is okay for him to be “okay” and be moving on, because it is also okay for me to feel as I do- torn and still grieving.

Nobody really focuses on what baby loss does to your relationship. Nobody wants to mention the tension, the stress, the pain, and the anger that it can introduce into your marriage. What I want you to know is that it DOES get better. You CAN figure it out.

Here are a few things I have learned along the way, that I hope will help you in your own relationships:

1) It is absolutely okay to feel the way you do. It is okay to be fine one moment and sad the next. It is okay to cry when something triggers your sadness. It is also okay to allow yourself to be happy.

2) Just as it is okay for you to feel and express your emotions, it must also be okay for your partner to do the same. While it would be a perfect world if they felt exactly as you do every step of the way, it is not realistic nor is it fair to have that expectation.

3) Communication- is EVERYTHING. If you are having a hard time with your partner’s emotions- tell them. Chances are, they have no idea they are causing you pain. If you don’t express how you feel, they won’t know how to help. Even though my husband doesn’t feel like I do, if I tell him I am having a bad day, he will be more sensitive to my emotions and more cognizant of his actions. It took me a long time to realize that he isn’t a mind reader and it’s not fair for me to expect him to be.

4) Find someone you can talk to. Sometimes my husband needs a break from talk about TTC, miscarriage, babies, and sadness in general. It is okay for him to need that break- I need it too. It has been so helpful for me to have met Heather and to have her to share stories and emotions with. It takes the pressure off of Jason to be the only sounding board in my life. Whether you find someone in a support group, a pastor/spiritual leader/minister, or seek out a counselor- it is important to have someone you can go to outside of your partner.

5) Step outside of the situation and analyze the expectations. While it would be a perfect world if we could all consider only the needs and emotions of others, it is not realistic. I was trying to force my ridiculous expectations on Jason. I was demanding he feel as I did, grieve as I did, and always be on the same wave length. Looking back, I am clearly able to see it was completely unrealistic and unfair of me to do so. I had to put aside my emotions and recognize that we both grieve differently.

I love my husband with my whole heart. We are perfectly imperfect together and that is okay. We have struggled, but we are strong.

I pray you will find peace with your partner along this journey we are all on together.