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my first mother's day

I sat in my car, in the parking lot of Panera Bread, and sobbed . . .

After a Friday morning doctor’s appointment, I made my way to work, deciding to grab an early lunch while I was already out. I was almost to Panera when I got a got a call from my doctor’s office. "It sounds like you're driving," my doctor told me. "Let me know when you've pulled over or parked so I can go on and tell you about the results of your blood work." That is not something you want to hear from your doctor about 30 minutes from when you left her office. With my heart thumping, I quickly parked and told her to go on. She tenderly told me that my blood test showed I was pregnant but might be having a miscarriage because my hormone levels were low. Since it was Friday I would need to wait and get my blood taken again on Monday to see if my hormones had increased or decreased, and thus show if I was still pregnant or not. I quietly thanked her for getting my blood work evaluated so quickly and hung up.

As I sat in silence in my car, it felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. Then the tears came. The big sloppy tears that run down your face and onto your shirt while you try to catch your breath. I felt like I was living in a movie. This could not be MY life. Shaking, I quickly called Michael and could barely get the words out. "I'm probably having a miscarriage," I finally managed to spit out through sobs. "I have to wait until Monday to find out for sure." Shocked, Michael comforted me and asked if he needed to leave work and come pick me up. Trying my best to stay strong and positive, I said no. After a few more “I love you’s” we hung up and I sat, dumbfounded. For the first time in my life I wasn’t hungry but I had preordered my Panera lunch so I went in and grabbed it, and then headed to work. I didn’t know how to react so I just went through my day which I recall as a blur. I remember my head throbbing, my eyes stinging and my heart pounding. At 5 o’clock I headed to Orrick, my hometown, for my nephew’s birthday party. I cried and prayed during the hour drive, taking comfort in knowing that no matter what, God was in control.

I’m very close to my family but I couldn’t decide if I should say something or keep it to myself for the time being. I didn't know how to feel or what to say or how to act. I wanted extra prayer and support but I didn't want to take the joy out of a family weekend that was before us—my nephew’s birthday party, my cousin’s graduation party on Saturday, and her graduation ceremony and Mother’s Day on Sunday. I also had the slight hope that everything was going to be fine so I didn’t want to rob the joy of a possible healthy pregnancy.

To put it simply, it was the longest weekend of my life. To make matters worse, Michael was working all weekend so we weren’t physically with each other to comfort one another. I ended up telling my parents and sisters, my body involuntarily shaking each time I voiced what was happening.

That Sunday was technically my first Mother's Day. As I celebrated my wonderful mom, mother-in-law, sisters, grandma and aunt, I wasn't sure what was going on in my body or the life of our first child. As the pastor asked all of the mothers to stand up, I was stuck in my seat, feeling like I was betraying my first child as I continued sitting in the pew. For the hour they spoke about and honored motherhood, I tried my best to discreetly wipe away my silent, hot tears which were smudging my vision and rolling down my cheeks.

Luckily Michael and I didn’t have to work on that Monday. So after I had my blood taken in the morning, we went home to wait for the phone call—lounging on our couch while watching The Office. I tried not to think about it. I really did. But every time I saw my bruised arms from all of the pricking, I was reminded of what we were waiting for—either great news, or the worse news. After waiting for hours, we finally got the call—my hormones had unfortunately decreased. And just like that, we were broken. I couldn’t stop sobbing into Michael’s arms. We had a child for a little while but now they were gone, and there was nothing we could do about it.

By nature I'm a planner, and by the grace of God, my life has pretty much gone according to “plan”—do well in school, graduate from college, get married, continue to travel, buy a house and have a job I enjoy. From the outside looking in, my life looks perfect. I am extremely blessed but when my worse nightmare became true (I’ve always had the fear of not being able to have a child) I didn't know how to tell people or if I should post about it online or not. I've had a few months to heal (i.e., I don't cry every day), and I’ve been s l o w l y collecting my thoughts. Piecing together the events and our feelings about it, helps for us to have a little closure. When you have a miscarriage early into a pregnancy, I think any type of “closure” is difficult to find. The grief is so personal and not many people even know what you are going through. There is no funeral. There is no grave to visit. The two parents are the only ones who feel a real connection to the lost child, so it’s hard for people to know how to react. It seriously breaks my heart that there is nothing on Earth to mark the short existence of our first child. It doesn’t seem fair that they are just . . . forgotten.

Miscarriages are still a taboo subject. I know everyone means well, but I've learned there's usually nothing “right” to say. In my experience, a hug and listening ear is best (and maybe some chocolate and flowers). Hearing about loss is always a shock, and in the past I have thought the same things about miscarriage, such as: -Luckily you weren’t very far along so you weren’t able to get attached. -You weren’t trying to have a baby, so the loss isn’t as hard. -You’re young and still have time. -There was probably something wrong with the pregnancy, so this was actually a blessing. -At least you hadn’t told people yet, or posted about it online.

-You can adopt. -You have healthy children now, so all is well.

Now I know the above logic does not make sense. Once I felt the GRIEF of losing a child, no matter how small, I realized just how real it is. I felt grief that I didn’t know I could feel. I will never forget our first child and what could have been. I don't care that it likely happened because it wouldn't have been a healthy pregnancy. I know this happens A LOT and it is pretty "normal." That doesn't make me feel better. It actually makes me more sad because most people think they have to sweep miscarriages under the rug. The fact that we did have a child--

our very own child--and then with a blink of an eye, they were gone, is numbing. It breaks my heart that our first child's name will never be on my mom's "Mumzy" shirt or the FAMILY print with all of our names on it hanging in my parent’s house. We will not know if we had a son or daughter until we leave this world and meet them in heaven. It simply makes my heart ache.

Not long after we found out we had a miscarriage—like seriously the next day—I thought, “God is going to use this for good.” I started immediately brainstorming for ways I can use my experience to help others going through the same thing. The more it consumed my mind, I realized I was thinking about death and loss ALL OF THE TIME. It was too much. I like to think I have control over my life and my emotions, so I threw myself into trying to help others when I myself still needed help. I was trying to skip the difficult but necessary step of healing. The doctors said I should feel like myself again within three months. The three month mark came and went and I still felt shattered. Some days I felt like myself, and other days I simply felt damaged. The passing of the medical grief-timeline made me feel like a pathetic cry-baby. At least once a week something—usually seeing someone’s post online about their pregnancy, gender reveal, etc.—will trigger me and without warning bring me to ugly-crying. I go back and forth from wishing someone would bring up miscarriage so I can talk about it to pushing away the very thought of it because it is so depressing and close to home.

Writing out the short story of our first child has been therapeutic for me. I think about what could have been EVERY SINGLE DAY, and getting it out into words has helped me piece my heart back together. We would have known if we were having a son or daughter by now and I would be sporting a baby bump. We would be posting online about our child's progression, and our anxiousness for their arrival. From the dawn of Pinterest, I have saved ideas of how to tell our loved ones we were expecting—years before we even began to think about actually having a child. I always thought I'd be pregnant at the same time as one of my sisters. We would sport our growing bellies in a photograph together with the caption #squadgoals.

On May 16th, I posted the above "LIFE HAPPENS. prayer helps." photo and said, "I like to plan. However, life does not always go as planned. I had planned to post another photo today but instead I am posting this. I haven’t had the best week. It hasn’t gone as I have planned. The significant word here is “I”. Even though I don’t always understand why things happen, I do know God is in control. God has a plan. God is A LOT wiser than us. God’s timing is perfect. God loves us and wants what is best for us. And that comforts me. You can make many plans but the Lord’s purpose will prevail. -Proverbs 19:21 Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing but someday you will.” -John 13:7

If anything, this year has shown me how blessed I am to have a supportive husband and loving God. I honestly don’t know how anyone gets through loss without having support and faith. It has also shown me what is truly important in life. After learning we had a miscarriage I thought, "I can't believe I felt inadequate last week because I gained like 15 pounds since I stopped modeling and I was stressed because I felt like I needed to post more on Instagram and get more Likes. Like seriously? Who freakin cares??" At the end of the day, life is not about Likes on or looking perfect in the best clothes. It's about God and relationships. That's pretty much it. I thank God for the lessons as we continue to heal. ❤️

If you are in the Kansas City area and would like support with pregnancy or infant loss, Alexandra's House is a loving resource.

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