The Root of All Evil

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I used to believe that money truly was the root of all evil. I have always been afraid of money, of its power, and the pain it is capable of inflicting on so many lives. It wasn’t until six years ago that I was forced to face my fear of money. In the Spring of 2012, I applied for graduate school at the Master of Arts in Counseling program at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. After researching and applying to several schools, I chose RTS Orlando because of its curriculum, professors, reputation, and professionalism. If I was going to go back to school and start a whole new career path at age 30, I was going to do it at the best place and with the best people I could find.

Months before I was accepted to the program, I let go of my Midtown Memphis apartment with the best porch view of Idlewild Presbyterian Church (church bells and morning coffee make magic for the soul) and moved in with my parents. I worked full time in sales and marketing and part-time as an overnight nanny for three kids. I didn’t find out that I would be accepted to the counseling program for another four months, but I prepared as if I was already moving to Orlando.

In my preparations, I quickly realized that I had no means with which to pay tuition. It was a two year program, and tuition alone would be about $25,000. I had saved up about $2,000. I knew I would also need a place to live, books, gas, car maintenance, food, and there were many academic fees that needed to be paid along the way as well. In short, I realized that I could not afford to go, and I didn’t know what to do.

Logically, I knew this meant I should wait a year or two and save up more money or take out a loan with hefty interest rates. Spiritually and emotionally, I knew that I needed to be in school at that place and at that time. I just didn’t know how to make the pieces come together. Some people said, “Well, it’s just not meant to be”, but others said, “Well, it looks like you need help.” Several people in my church community encouraged me to make my need known and raise the necessary financial support so that I could go back to school and become a mental health counselor.

I didn’t want to ask for help. I hate asking for help. Asking for help means admitting I can’t do something on my own and it makes me feel weak, embarrassed, and ashamed. I don’t even like to ask my husband to do the dishes because the thought of asking for help – even when it is related to basic home care – ignites a feeling of strangulation and intense anxiety in my body. I am used to fending for myself. I am well versed in autonomy. Asking for help just feels counterintuitive to my very being. (This is partially why we are back in marriage counseling again.)

Raising support to go back to school was a two year process that stripped me of all I thought I knew about money and my relationship with money. I had no idea that I was so afraid of money. I was afraid of people who had it, because then surely they would abuse it. I was afraid of people who didn’t have it, because surely they would abuse others to get it. I wanted to ignite a world wide barter system so we could all just go back to doing things the old fashioned way – two sheep for that donkey, please! Four rows of summer squash for an iPhone 8! Six hours of babysitting for 2 hours at the spa, madame!

But that isn’t how our current economy works. For two years, I depended on the generosity of others to eat, sleep with a roof over my head, go to school, and use my car. I never knew how much money would come in from month to month, and I lived very frugally. In fact, I rented a room in a house with an 80 year old couple. We pretty much shared everything except for the bed. I paid them $300 a month for a room in a safe neighborhood, a place to do my laundry, a partially-shared bathroom, little privacy, and the occasional opportunity to reset the WiFi for the whole house.

I never really knew how I was going to get from one month to another, but God provided through the generosity of others throughout the entire process. I would love to tell you that I learned how to trust God and others in the process and not stress about my daily needs, but apparently I still have some lessons to learn.

Since Tim lost his job immediately after our honeymoon, we faced severe financial stress together for a period of 14 months, and we are just now coming out of that strain. Living off of $20,000 for the last year has wreaked total havoc on our credit scores and our confidence in making financial decisions. (It infuriates me how otherwise good, hard working people are judged solely on a three digit number, but that is another story for another day.) Now that we are moving into a place where we are able to pay our bills, tithe regularly, build some savings, and even do things like eat out every so often, I find myself afraid of having it all ripped away. I am afraid of not having money, and I am afraid of having money. I have learned that money, in itself, is not evil at all. In fact, it is a very useful tool that makes living life in America in 2018 pretty necessary.

When Tim received his job offer, and we started to calculate our new budget based on what would be coming in, my husband lead us in asking one question together: Once our bills are paid and needs are met, who needs this? Who needs this money more than we do? We have been on the receiving end of the generosity of others when it was needed most. How can we pay that forward?

If money were evil, we wouldn’t be asking these questions. I have come to learn that money isn’t evil. The love of money is what kills relationships, tears apart families, and turns men and women into monsters. We could lose everything we have again tomorrow, and it would be painful, but I know we would be ok. We have each other, and we have people around us who care for our well being. No amount of money can replace that.

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Queer Eye for Every Guy

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Fifteen years ago, a show came out on television that had some people balking, some people celebrating, and a lot of people laughing. It was called Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and it was all the rage many circles. It was 2003 and I was a freshman in college, so most of my television obsessions including Desperate Housewives, American Idol, Grey’s Anatomy, Will & Grace, The OC, Law and Order SVU, and let us not forget to honor the last season of Friends. Binge watching didn’t exist then (Get this, kids: There was no streaming because we still had to plug our desk top computers into the wall to get internet. FaceBook wasn’t even invented yet!) so many times we would all plan watch parties at someone’s house and over-imbibe while shouting harsh criticisms of Marissa Cooper’s poor life choices at the television.

I remember watching an episode here and there of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, but it wasn’t my favorite show. If I am being truly honest, I would stop on it while channel surfing, enjoy a few good laughs, and then move on with my day. At that time, the show seemed like a big deal because it highlighted five openly gay men on television who said and did stereotypically gay things, so it seemed funny. I didn’t watch the show to empathize with people who were different than I was; I watched it to laugh at what the funny gay men said.

Fast forward to today. I am turning 35 years old this month, I don’t watch a lot of television, and I haven’t had cable in nearly 10 years, so when I want to sit down and watch a show, I am going to be pretty intentional about it. I have a laundry list of shows and movies people have told me to watch, and maybe one day I will actually put a dent in that list. A few people had suggested I check out the reboot of Queer Eye, so I added it to my mental list, but didn’t prioritize it. I didn’t have anything against it, I just thought it was another kitschy feaux-reality show designed to make people laugh at “the silly gay men”. I am not really a fan of shows that mock people just for the sake of mocking people (The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, every single survival-themed show, etc.).

I could not have been more wrong. So many people started asking if I had watched the show, telling me that it is not what it used to be and that it features really important conversations that need to be happening in mainstream culture. Now that caught my attention! I was hooked within the first episode. The “Fab 5”, or the hosts and core cast members of the show, are five really unique, insightful, intelligent, compassionate men who want to help people become healthier versions of themselves. (I confess, Jonathan is REALLY extra and sometimes gives me a migraine, but his heart is good and his grooming advice is solid.)

During the first episode, the Fab 5 visit a man who could very well be my own father. I was crying within 10 minutes of the show starting. Tom, the man being transformed, is a 60ish year old Georgia “good ol’ boy” who lives alone, eats at the same Mexican restaurant every day, wears the same grungy t-shirt, cargo shorts, pulled up white tube socks, and orthopedic shoes every day, is overweight, has a mangled mess of beard and facial hair, has lupus with bad flare ups, and all he wants in life is to win back the love of his life so that he doesn’t have to face life alone. Tom is an ultra-conservative, redneck type who does not stray from his comfort zone. His friends nominated him for the show because it hurt them to watch their friend – a generous man with a kind heart – isolate himself and physically start to fall apart.

I was so nervous when the Fab 5 pulled up. I was convinced that they would come in, gay guns blazing, tear the guy’s life apart, and shred is confidence to bits. I COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MORE WRONG. They entered this man’s home with respect, extended him endless dignity, wept with him over his lost love and loneliness, asked him about the disease that wrecks his confidence, kindly inquired about his diet and lifestyle, and asked him what HE wanted out of this experience.

Over the course of a few days, the Fab 5 took Tom to stores that were affordable for HIM, found a grooming routine that worked for HIM, and helped him do the things HE wanted to do to improve his overall health and wellbeing. Antoni, the Food and Wine specialist on the cast, taught Tom how to make healthier versions of his favorite foods as opposed to telling him he just needs to change his whole life. Tears were welling up in my eyes during the entire show.

I am almost finished with season one, and am in awe of the honest and raw conversations that the Fab 5 have with the men they are transforming. They talk about family discord, faith, death, the tension between the Christian church and homosexuality, the tension between police officers and black men, divorce, parenting, hope, grief, shame, body issues, cultural issues, and so much more. And they hold these conversations in a way that are vulnerable, true, impactful, and transformative for all parties involved.

With all of the junk that is on television (like most of the shows I used to watch), why aren’t there more shows that highlight what is actually happening in human hearts and lives? Where aren’t there other shows that teach us how to have really scary conversations without hurting each other or creating more polarization? For me, Queer Eye has very little to do with sexuality or fashion or grooming tips. It has EVERYTHING to do with people treating other people with dignity, which is so rare right now in any context of life.

In church yesterday we sang a song called Open Up, and it made me think, “How different would the world be right now if we all did just that: open up?”

May your love cause us to open up
Cause us to open up our hearts
May your light cause us to shine so bright
That we bring hope into the dark 

Regardless of what political ideologies we align with, how we describe ourselves, where we call home, how much money we have, what faith we do or do not practice, where our kids go to school, where we give or don’t give our money, whether we use turn signals or not, or who we do or do not agree with, my prayer is what we all – myself included – learn to open up and have hard conversations that matter while extending dignity to others.

Home

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I know, I know, you have all been wondering, where has Tim gone?  Actually, you probably haven’t been wondering that, but hey, in my mind, you have.  So here I am.

Well here’s a little information on what I have been up to recently.  As many people know, I started a full-time job working for the House of Mouse here in Orlando.  I have truly entered into my dream company.  This job has brought so many blessings to me and my family.  But mixed in with this happiness, we have had a few tough times.  We lost Sebastian and Penelope, two cats that have been with me for the past 13 years, over the course of three weeks.  I find it crazy how closely attached we get to our pets.  They truly become family members and it rips a piece of you away when you lose them.  And yet we continue to pursue them and love them.  Last night I found myself especially struggling with the loss of Penny especially.  I find myself questioning whether or not I was a good Dad to her.  Unfortunately, I was unable to be there when we let her go and I find that I am feeling some guilt over that.  Part of that comes with addition of a new kitten to the family named Piper.  Piper looks nothing like either of the other two cats, but we have seen so many traits that she shares with them.  Is it just because she is a cat or is it something else?  I have my theories on this, but I will let you draw your own conclusions.  But having a kitten is its own experience.  If you see Lindsey and I, especially in shorts, you may be wondering if we have gone running through thorn bushes. Nope! That is the price of having a fully clawed kitten that LOVES to play and play ON us.

The biggest thing that I have been working on, aside from the job, is how we get out of the debt and problems associated with the past year.  Lindsey’s description of coming out of a shelter after a tornado is about right.  I really find that I am looking at an aftermath.  We have put together an action plan to solve the problem and are sticking to it, but it all just can’t happen fast enough.  But it is thanks to God that we even get the opportunity to get out of it at all.

The one question I keep asking now is “How in the world did we survive all of that?” (“That” being the lasts 13 months of life.)  If you think about it, from the time Lindsey and I met to the time that our world fell a part was about 17 months.  We did not even know each other before that.  17 months!  Aside from the support of God and friends, which was critical, it was the rule that Lindsey and I live by that got us through and kept us together – 100% honesty rule.  We told each other that this was something that was non-negotiable.  I have A LOT of trouble trusting people and have lost more friendships and relationships because of lies.  And when I decided that I wanted to pursue another relationship, I knew that this would have to be a cornerstone.  I HAD to be able to trust her.  Thankfully she felt the same way.  We continue to be open with each other, whether it is about money, feelings, decisions, or actions.  Every question is always on the table.  (By the way, if you ever want a good laugh, ask Lindsey what her VERY FIRST question for me was once we started dating.)  A great way to picture it is to use the tornado metaphor.  Picture like in the movies when a tornado is there, people huddle together and hold on to each other like there might not be any tomorrow.  That’s the best way that I describe it.  We were both ready to give it all for the other.

This is going to seem like a shift for a second, but just stick with me.  The other day I was working on a project at work putting together some animations for a concert series that is a part of a festival that happens here in the late Summer and Fall.  As I was going through the list, I stumbled across a group that I didn’t know so I decided to look them up on YouTube.  The name of the group is Blue October.  The song that caught me is called Home.  Click here to check it out.  As I listened to the song, I found myself tearing up.  The song is all about your Home, whatever that looks like.  A good portion of it is about kids which brought thoughts of the miscarriage right to the forefront, but more than that they talk about Mom and Dad being together and loving each other.  This really struck me hard.  One of things that this insanity of a time brought out was how much I love my wife and how much she loves me.  It is one of the things that keeps me going.  We had no choice with it, many times it was just her and I.  But what about now?

That one question just slapped me in the face.  Without getting too much into our private and personal life, the miscarriage has had some side effects on our intimacy.  I have found myself not wanting to get too close to Lindsey or be too close to her.  This is crushing me.  I don’t want to lose everything that we just spent the last year relying on and building.  I find myself lost.  You would think that the introduction of some of the freedoms this job and the money that it brings to us would cause us to celebrate one another.  But it seems that in some small little ways, I find myself wanting to go back to the tornado shelter.  I want that part of me back who that gripped so tightly to her.  The guy that looked into her eyes and said we are going to do this together and we are going to be ok.  That has truly become my struggle now.  How do I love my wife better now?  How do you love someone during peace without the adrenaline of the struggle to fuel it?

Do I know the answer right now?  Nope.  I think some of it is that I need to make some different choices then I have been making.  I have been so concerned with getting us out of debt and the aftermath, that I have forgotten the whole reason that I am doing that.  I also think I need to relay more of what I am feeling to Lindsey.  My insecurities, my troubles, my needs and wants.   I need to remember that she is the most important thing in my world.  I think I need to allow myself some time.  Some time to heal.  I ripped myself to shreds over the last year, mostly from a place of feeling that I was the cause of our situation and that I was not giving Lindsey the life that she deserved.  I know that I cannot do this on my own, I am going to need His help and strength through it all.  And I think that is really the key: none of us can do this on our own.

In our house we have a plaque that says that “Home is where you take your pants off”.  But I still believe that home is truly where the heart is and my heart is no longer with me, but with Lindsey.  So therefore, she is my home.  And I NEVER want to forget that or take that for granted.

I love you, Honey Bunny!

Whatever It Takes

Whatver It Takes

I am a fan of the band Imagine Dragons. Their songs are catchy but powerful. Their recent hit, “Whatever It Takes”, hooked me from first listen and it seems very appropriate for where Tim and I are in life right now. We have had a helluva first year of marriage…two rounds of unemployment, severe financial distress, crazy family dynamics, battles with depression and anxiety, the death of two pets, a pregnancy, a miscarriage, and serious health issues are just some of the things we have faced together over the last 12 months. It’s been hard. Really hard. And that doesn’t even include the average struggles a couple faces in being married for the first time.

We are now coming out of the tunnel and into the light when it comes to our circumstances, but in many ways it seems like we are just now able to see all of the rubble and damage from the last year. After a tornado or hurricane, families emerge from their safe places to take stock of what has been damaged or lost. That is where I feel like we are right now. Most of the damage was financial. There were weeks over the course of the last year that we had to choose between buying groceries or paying for gas so that we could get to our jobs. We ate a lot of noodles from Aldi and peanut butter. We went into total social lockdown for about 12 weeks so that we didn’t spend a dime on anything other than minimal gas and food. We had to cancel a lot of plans and tell a lot of people we just couldn’t do things for the moment. For me, it became very isolating because I am somewhat of an extrovert by nature and need to be able to get out of the house.

There were several weeks when I had to figure out how to feed us both on about $40 and that is, sadly, really difficult in a large American city. Gas prices kept rising and most days started and ended in total panic for us. There were many days when we just looked at each other and said, “We are going to do whatever it takes to make this work.” Short of doing anything illegal, we both exhausted all of our options to pull together over the last year or so. I picked up extra work here and there doing everything from walking dogs to contract work. Tim did freelance gigs, worked for a friend, and even did a three month stint in one of the worst retail environments I have ever seen just to keep us afloat. And that was just financially. Relationally, we really had to dig deep into the wells of our own hearts to find patience, compassion, and kindness for our selves and each other when we just didn’t have any relational capital left.

But through it all, we knew we were not going to give up. We knew we were in this together and that neither of us was jumping ship, no matter how hard it got. We knew the other person would do whatever it would take to hold us together. And believe me, some days got really ugly. I have a long menu of health issues that also lead to really bad spikes in anxiety and Tim had to navigate that in the midst of working at a really demanding job. And there is just the fact that Tim and I do a lot of things very differently. We have two totally different personalities, we come from two completely different backgrounds, and we were raised about as differently as two people can be raised. Sometimes our differences are a huge asset because we complement each other so well, but sometimes our differences are difficult to navigate because just don’t approach circumstances or conflicts in the same way.

I believe what works for us is that we took vows to do whatever it takes to navigate life together. We agreed, even when we were dating, to be completely honest with each other in all situations, regardless of how easy or painful the truth may be. And y’all, this is a really hard policy to maintain! There are days when it just feels like it would be easier to not talk about things, to ignore feelings or emotions, or to cover something up with a little white lie. Sure, it may be easier to ignore things in the moment, but those issues will always come up somewhere and bite us in the butt. Eventually, it all catches up, so we have found it is better to just face our issues on the front end as best as we can.

Through everything we have experienced over the last year, I have come to see just how far my husband is willing to go to do whatever it takes. He has weathered extreme physical, emotional, psychological, and relational stress. We both have. And I am so thankful for him and our mutual willingness to face really hard things together.

I guess, at the end of the day, there isn’t really a formula for how to do all of this. I just know we have both agreed to do whatever it takes, and love each other in the process.

Living in the Hyphen

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I realize that the gaps between posts are getting longer and longer here, but I like to write about what I have learned in life so that I may share it with others. I have come to realize that everything I am learning in life right now is deeply personal, both to me as well as to others, and sharing it in a public space isn’t always the right solution. I write a lot for my own purposes, and some day these things may make it into a more shareable form, but for now much of my life learning feels deeply intimate and vulnerable.

That said, I have been learning more about a phenomenon which I have never understood before. I call it “Hyphen Life”. I have the incredible opportunity to meet with people from all different cultures, backgrounds, and walks of life in the counseling setting. I’ve always enjoyed being around people who are not like me, but I find myself growing more curious about what life is actually life for people who walk in different shoes.

I’m pretty much just a white girl. I don’t mean that in a negative way. There’s nothing wrong with being a white girl. But I am a middle-class white girl of some European descent. I am also from the South, but other than that there isn’t a culture I own or embrace with a lot of enthusiasm or allegiance. I mean, I am an American, but what does that mean? I speak English in a primarily Spanish-speaking area of Central Florida (which is its own culture completely) and I am not even from this area of the country. There aren’t really any hyphens in my life. I’m just a Caucasian North American female. I don’t have to think too hard about who I am or how I come across to others or if anyone will be able to relate to me.

There are many people, however, who life Hyphen lives. I know several African-American women who have black skin but live in white worlds. They struggle with how to be comfortable in their own skin when their skin looks so different than everyone else around them. I know a Korean-American woman who carries the rigid rules of her family while trying to fit into the “you just do you” culture of the West Coast. I know a Latina woman who lives in Florida and she speaks English at work and Spanish with her family while trying not to be “too Spanish”. I know many people who are working so hard to not be too white, or too black, or black enough, or white enough, or not too Asian, or Asian enough, or too Latina but Latina enough, or too Caribbean or African or Iranian…you get the point.

One young woman I know put it perfectly by saying she is “living in the hyphen” and doesn’t know how to be true to her native culture while still being relatable to the people she interacts with on a daily basis. This is something I have never truly had to contemplate. I just wake up every day and proceed with being who I am. I have never had to question if I will find someone who looks or thinks like I do.

This hit me hardest one day as I listened and cried while a young black woman told me about the first time she had “The Conversation” with her parents. When she first mentioned it, I assumed she meant the sex talk, but that didn’t seem to fit into our conversation. “The Conversation” she was referring to was the one where her parents sat her down and explained to her that some people may see her differently because of the color of her skin. People may think she is less intelligent, more angry, or less capable of work than others because she is black. Her parents wanted to prepare her for potential rejection in life based on their own experiences in the world.

As this woman spoke, I sat in stunned silence with tears streaming down my face. I didn’t know this was a conversation that many people experience. It never occurred to me that many parents need to sit down with their kids and tell them that they will, most certainly, feel less-than because of how they look.

I had no idea how to respond to this. So I just listened as I wiped tears from my eyes. As she told me what it’s like for her to live in the hyphen between being a black woman and working and living in a very white culture, I started forming a long list of questions in my mind.

A few months after this interaction, I joined a national group that brings people from all backgrounds together on one platform to educate each other on racial reconciliation. Upon being accepted to the group, I had to make one promise: that I would not speak, comment, or produce content for three months. For the first three months of membership, all I am allowed to do is absorb, listen, and learn. Whether I agree, disagree, or have questions, all I am allowed to do at this point is to listen.

This is vital, and also really hard. I find myself wanting to comment on EVERYTHING! But I made a promise to listen to what others are saying, and learn what life is like in their shoes. I am learning about other people’s hyphens, and what it feels like for them to live in the spaces between accepted and rejected.

The more I get work work with people from different cultures and backgrounds, the more thankful I feel for my job. People trust me with the most intimate parts of their lives, and that means I get to hear some of the most beautiful but also horrific stories of rejection, abuse, persecution, hatred, death, and devastation. Some days it is hard for me to maintain a belief that we are all made in the same image, and that we are all capable of love. But then I meet these people who are living in the hyphens, and I see how courageously they face adversity, and it restores my faith in people and in how people treat each other.

The Longest Year – What We Learned in Our First Year of Marriage, According to Tim

So it’s Tim coming at you again, live and in stereo (well, screen).  Our world has once again been rocked.  Almost immediately after finishing my last post, our world began to rock again.  Let me just say that last weekend ended up being one of the worst ever in the history of our little Horvatich family.  

After going to dinner last Saturday to enjoy an evening out and toasting to moving forward, we got up the next morning as usual and prepared to attend church.  We had decided that we would attend the Summit Waterford campus (as opposed to the church campus we normally attend), which has special meaning for Lindsey since that is where she started her relationship with Summit Church.  We heard a powerful sermon by Kailey Newkirk on a very difficult subject.  Lindsey had to disappear a couple to times to use the restroom since she was still dealing with aspects of our loss, but we didn’t think much of it.  I was excited for our after church activities because they would include looking at the new apartment complex that we want to move to and looking at the house the I had been going gaga over on the internet.  

So in the early afternoon, we drove down to the Hunter’s Creek area and visited the apartment complex and fell in love.  This is the place we plan on moving.  It is exactly what we need during this transition period while before we buy a home.  We left the apartment and drove down the street to the new housing development to see “the house”.   We sat down and talked to the sales guy for a few, explaining what we were looking for, learning all about he builder (and I do mean ALL… the dude wanted us to know the history, philosophy and brand of toothpaste that everyone in the company used. Ok, slight exaggeration, but only slight.)  During that time, Lindsey got up to use the bathroom a couple times.  As we finally began to walk around the house, she kept having to run to the bathroom and I was thinking, “Well, I guess the Chinese food from last night has decided to visit.”  I COULD NOT have been more wrong.  The next 5 hours would be some of the most difficult and devastating we have yet to experience in our marriage.

Let me start this off by saying that marriage and pregnancy are NOT for wusses.  And those who go into either lightly are kidding themselves – and probably the reason the divorce rate is as high as it is.  Lindsey finally told me that we needed to go home, there was something wrong.  We got into the car and she immediately leaned the seat back.  She was in pain.  I didn’t understand what was going on.  Did she have gas?  Was she stuffed up?  I couldn’t have been more removed from what was happening.  Lindsey was having contractions.  Yes, those contractions.  Full on labor contractions.  WHAT?!?!?!?  I thought the baby was gone, that it had been lost the day before.  In my lack of knowledge, I didn’t understand that what had happened the day before was only a precursor.  We get home and I was still confused.  I just did not understand.  What is this pain she is having and what the hell can I do about it?  Luckily, during this time when Lindsey was laying bed writhing in pain and crying, a dear friend of ours texted to give us an update on how she was doing.  She had just given birth to a beautiful baby girl a couple days before.  Lindsey couldn’t talk so I immediately began to ask questions.  This friend had also gone through very difficult miscarriages herself, and the image of our friend almost dying from her experience went straight to the forefront of my mind.  Would our year of struggle lead to this?  Was I losing my wife, the woman for whom I had waited 44 years?  Our friend began to advise me on what we should do next.  We moved Lindsey to the bathtub hoping the warm water would ease her pain.  This is also when I learned what was really happening.  Lindsey was going through labor, but not the kind that anyone wants.  Her body needed to remove the non-living tissue from her body and the only way forward was to push it out. 

This took another 3 hours.  My wife endured contractions every 30-60 seconds.  Once again, I could do nothing.  I called the on-call doctor at our OB office and she made me feel like a stupid idiot.  (Tip for all the doctors out there: generally if someone is calling you seeking emergency help, it most likely means they are going through something they have never experienced, so please have a little compassion and don’t make an uneducated husband who already feels helpless feel even more stupid because he doesn’t understand or know what is going on.)  What the hell could I do?  

I did the only thing that I could.  I grabbed a chair and sat it next to the tub and held Lindsey’s hand for 3 hours while she did what she needed to do.  I don’t say that to toot my own horn or think that I am something special. I say it because I want to relay the extent of my helplessness.  The ONLY thing I could do was hold her hand and the entire time I prayed.  “Please take this from her.  Please help her to relax.  Please let us NEVER experience this again.”

Eventually, it was all over.  Or so I thought.  The reality was that this was just the beginning of a process that is still ongoing and will continue over the next weeks and months.  The physical side of the miscarriage is done and Lindsey is healing and not suffering any side effects, but now the emotional healing has to begin.  This is another area where I can only scratch the surface in understanding.  I am still learning in this process. 

We entered the week in what I felt was a bit of a somber, but normal mindset for us.  For context: My employment situation has been a bit in flux over the last couple months.  Since losing my job last July, I have done a contract stint with The Mouse himself which we had hoped would convert to a full-time position, only to find out they would be entering a hiring freeze and cutting me lose at the end of the contract.  I then did a few freelance gigs, which is not uncommon since I am a Motion Graphic Designer (if you are not sure what that means, you may visit www.timhorvatichjr.com).  We needed more steady income, so I took a retail job at a popular toy store that sells colorful building blocks, which meant eight hour shifts of standing on concrete while surrounded by screaming children…and adults. I would leave many days feeling like I had been at a rock concert because my ears would be ringing and my body would be in so much pain.  Lindsey kept Aleve and back rubs ready to help ease the physical pain, not to mention my bruised ego.

After three months of retail, a dear friend of mine offered me a position at her production company doing motion graphics.  This was great because it got me out of my $10-an-hour-physical-beatdown and put me back in the world of doing what I love and in my career field.  It would not be an ideal solution in the long term as far as providing for my family, but my friend would get a heavily experienced motion graphic designer, and I would be back in my field and working with some of my favorite people on the planet.  We both knew going into it that this was a temporary thing.  Little did we know how temporary.

Two weeks into the new job I received a message from my old boss with The Magic Mouse.  Did I have time to talk?  Sure!  I wonder what this would be about.  So Lindsey and I thought, “Ok, maybe he has some freelance gigs available.”  Once again, I COULD NOT have been more wrong.  My former boss wanted to know if I was interested in returning to work for The Mouse in the same role that I had been in as a contractor.  However, I would not be returning as a contractor, but a full-time cast member with benefits.  WHAT?!?!?!?  All I could think was, “This is my dream job and dream company and they are calling me?!?!” So they began their recruitment process which ended with an official offer this past Friday – an offer that has blown our minds!

Almost one year since the roughest year of our life began, we are walking out of the fog and into the light.  While we know that tough times will still happen, and money doesn’t solve life’s problems, we have survived twelve months of being kicked down WAY more often than feeling lifted up. We have faced two rounds of unemployment, a flea infestation, financial crisis, depression, anxiety, a first pregnancy, and a miscarriage, in addition to all of the normal struggles and conflicts that come with being newly married.

So what are we taking away from all of this as we approach our one year anniversary?  I think the number one thing is trust.  We really had to learn to trust each other.  We are truly approaching our second year of marriage stronger than we went in, not just as individuals, but as a couple.  We have said that we could not have gotten through the miscarriage had we not been through what we had and built the bond with each other that we did.  More importantly, we have learned to trust in the Lord.  There were countless times when we didn’t know where the next tank of gas was coming from just to get to work, or how were we going to eat that day, or what job was I going to have, or how were we going to survive another week with less than $10 in the bank.  But let me tell you, He had our six. EVERY.  SINGLE.  TIME.  Whether it was friends stepping in to offer us this help or a random freelance job for me, help always came.  We would receive a random check in the mail or get a gift card from someone so we could buy food.  EVERY TIME without fail, He provided for us.  It wasn’t in our timing, but it always happened. 

And during this time we did everything to remain faithful, both to each other and to God.  Does that mean we didn’t get angry with or yell at Him (or each other…)? No. I remember screaming at God one night at the top of my lungs asking for help and then not getting any answers.  But as we began to trust more, the light began to creep closer.  My dad would tell me some days, “you know, one day you are going to come out of this and He is going to rain down His blessings you guys, I just know it.”  Let me say that my dad was almost right… He (God) didn’t make it rain, He has backed up massive dump truck and dumped on us.  But in all of this we still want to remember that EVERYTHING that has been given to us is not ours, it is His, and we should NEVER become complacent or take anything for granted.

Going forward, we know that all of this comes not with a price, but with a calling.  We are planning to use our experiences to hopefully help others who may be going through what we did.  We hope that God will lead us to those who need help so that we can do for others what was done for us.  For those who answered His call during our time of need, THANK YOU for being faithful to Him.  My prayer is that He has backed the dump truck on you as well.  If you are currently going though that time of struggle, remain faithful!  Trust that He is there.  He may not answer or He may tell you no at times, but He is there.  You are NOT ALONE!  It won’t be easy, it won’t be fun, in fact there are times it will seem down right cruel, but keep your focus on Him and I guarantee that you WILL come out the other side.  And hopefully He blesses you beyond what you could possibly dream, because He is the God that can take our small dreams and hopes and turn them into something truly incredible and beyond anything we think possible.  He will show up for you, because the truth is, He never left in first place.

Wedding Photo

Photo Credit: Tonya Malay http://tonyamalay.com

What I Wish I’d Known

Disclaimer: This is a very honest post about a very difficult topic. While I won’t go into every detail of my experience, I will share what this miscarriage was like for my husband and I, and in sharing I will include some details regarding the physical components of what happened in our miscarriage. If you are squeamish about bodily functions, please don’t read further. It’s ok. I get it. My hope is that in sharing some of these details, I am able to help someone else who may be going through this for the first time.

Shared Grief

“Shared Grief” by KarenW

I promise not all of my posts moving forward will be about pregnancy or miscarriage, but this is my reality right now. And, from what I can tell from the 200+ texts, comments, messages, phone calls, and emails I received after my last post, it sounds like this is where a lot of other people are, or have been, in life as well.

I would not wish a miscarriage on my worst enemy. It’s horrible. I know the experience is different for each person, but I haven’t met anyone who said it wasn’t horrific for them. A miscarriage is a mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual nightmare. I have talked with people who nearly lost their marriages because of one or multiple lost pregnancies. Each person and each couple is going to experience this tragedy differently, but I am going to try to hit the overall themes of what I have learned, and what I wish I had known before it all started.

Your Healthcare Provider is Essential
When I found out I was pregnant, there was only one person I wanted to see through out the pregnancy. A friend suggested Kate as an OBGYN to me when I moved to Orlando six years ago, and for that I am so incredibly thankful. Kate has walked me through well woman exams, PCOS issues, Hashimoto’s issues, fertility questions, and now a pregnancy and miscarriage. It’s not my place to share her story here, but I will say she is one of the most caring, compassionate, and knowledgeable women I have ever met. She cried and prayed with us and for us when we found out the baby had died, and she has been an incredible support since that moment. I trust her, and know that I don’t need to become an internet troll looking for answers since I am in her care. There is no reason anyone should see a healthcare provider they don’t trust. Shop around. If you are pregnant, you are about to go through one of the most formative events in your life. Find a doctor or midwife who knows their stuff, who is kind, and who is compassionate.

Your Spouse is Essential
I could not have survived the last two weeks without my husband. Tim has been more amazing than any superhero that has ever even invented. Like he said in his post, he has never been around pregnancy or babies, so he had no idea what to expect in this process. He has cried with me, prayed with me, loved me, and lead us so well in this process. When he didn’t know what to do, he would ask for help. If he couldn’t ask me, he would ask someone else. In the middle of the worst part of the miscarriage, he called the emergency on-call doctor and texted a friend of ours who had, unfortunately, also experienced two really scary miscarriages. Tim was strong enough to stay by my side, and humble enough to get help. He witnessed me in the most unflattering state possible, short of a full childbirth. I know it was hard for him. I know he felt totally helpless. I know he may have even been a little grossed out. But he never left my side. I knew I loved and respected my husband before, but damn if I don’t find him the most amazing man in the world now. If you are going through a miscarriage, I hope your spouse is with you 110%. They don’t have to know the answers, they just have to show up and be willing to do really hard things.

Every Body is Different
Ok, here’s where things get personal. Every body is truly unique. No medical professional can tell you exactly what your experience will be like because it is truly different for everyone. I know someone who was the same age and at same stage of pregnancy as I, and she only experienced mild cramping through her miscarriage. My experience was an absolute nightmare, and no one could have prepared me for it. I was offered the options of taking medication to speed up the miscarriage process, having a dilation and curettage (D & C), or letting my body process the miscarriage naturally. Tim and I chose to let the process happen naturally.

We found out that we had lost the baby on a Tuesday. I had already started bleeding at that point. Over the next 2-3 days, I started bleeding more. I had been told to expect that. On Saturday morning, I didn’t feel well and the bleeding had increased, so I went to lie down on our bed. Tim came in to join me and just to talk. I felt a rush of something and when I got up, there was blood on me and on the bed. I went to the restroom and I was horrified. In hindsight, I now know I had passed the sac. I thought it was the baby, so I got in the tub and just started weeping. Tim came in, sat on the side of the tub, and just rubbed my back and let me cry into his lap.

I thought things would slow down after that, but I was wrong. We went to dinner that evening, and I felt a pushing-type-pressure in my lower abdomen. The next morning, we went to church and I had to sit through the service. I was having waves of pain that would come and go. I thought I just needed to lie down, so we went home and I rested for a while. We had planned to go look at an apartment and a house that afternoon, so we went to do that. While we were walking through a model home, I went to the bathroom three times, thinking I had an upset stomach. But nothing helped. The waves of pain were so bad, I could hardly stand up without holding on to something, so I told Tim we needed to go home. I had been taking Motrin as directed by my doctor, but it wasn’t helping at all.

I started having what I can only describe as contractions in the car. They were about 2-3 minutes apart, and excruciatingly painful. Tim got us home as fast as he legally could. By the time he parked the car, I felt like I was going to faint and I needed help to get up the stairs to our apartment. When we got inside I went to the restroom, the bleeding had increased. The waves of pain grew even more intense and closer together. I tried to lie down, but that made it worse. So Tim drew a hot bath (with Lavender Dr. Tiell’s in it, of course) and I remained there for about an hour. At this point, the “contractions” were 30-60 seconds apart and more painful than anything I had ever felt before. Tim called the emergency on-call doctor who said, “Yes, the cramping and bleeding is normal”. CRAMPING MY ASS! I wanted to scream at her that this was no “cramping”. I wanted to die in the tub because I didn’t think I could handle the pain. A friend had suggested I squat if possible, and that did help some. My body naturally responded with long, deep breaths to push through the pain. I screamed, I cried, I begged for it to be over.

My husband sat with me the entire time, and it was not a pretty site. I was sitting in a tub full of warm water, deflated bubbles, and my own filth. I totally lost control of my bodily functions and I felt like something was ripping my body in two. I wanted to go back to a seated position because my arms had gone numb and I was shaking so badly. After more waves of pain, I felt something pass and I knew it was over. The pain stopped immediately and the bleeding slowed significantly.

I felt empty, thirsty, hungry, exhausted, and very weak. Tim helped me clean up and get back to bed. I didn’t know if I could ever move again. He ran out and got us some food and made sure I had plenty of water.

I stayed in bed for the rest of the evening and the majority of the next day. I felt incredibly sore, weak, and just deflated. I could hardly process what had happened emotionally because I was so physically drained.

Take Time and Space to Recover
I don’t like being sick because I don’t like being unproductive. My brain told me I needed to be up and getting things done in the days following the previously described ordeal, but my body was screaming, “LIE DOWN!” I have had to cancel some things and give myself time and space to recover physically, but also mentally and emotionally. I asked a friend to come over that Monday morning so that I wouldn’t be alone all day, stewing in my thoughts and emotions. I am so glad I did because she helped me feel less crazy. She just sat on the couch and talked with me, then prayed, and that is exactly what I needed. I needed to feel somewhat “normal”, whatever that word means. I was still really thirsty and hungry so I made a good breakfast and drank tons of water. I also ended up downing some Powerade Zero because I knew I was dehydrated. I continued to take Motrin for the pain and kept reminding myself that my body needed rest. However you find rest, you must find it in this place. Work can wait. Chores can wait. After physical trauma, your body will demand rest. And you can’t outsmart the body. You may be able to trick it for a while with denial or pain killers, but ultimately the body knows what it needs and it will fight to get whatever that is. Be kind to yourself and allow a recovery process.

It’s OK to Be Afraid
I am still processing the emotional consequences of everything that has happened. What I really want is for God or a medical professional or someone to tell me that this is never going to happen again. But no one can give me that assurance. I am angry, hurt, scared, sad, and so many other things right now. If you ever have to go through this (and I hope you never do), surround yourself with a good support system. Talk to people. Journal. Cry. Scream. Go to a counselor. Do whatever you need to do to move through the scary emotions. You don’t need permission and it doesn’t have to be pretty. In fact, if you’re being honest in the process, it won’t be pretty at all. And that is perfectly acceptable. If you are afraid, it’s ok. Like Brene Brown says, “Do it afraid.”

I remember the game Bear Hunt, and it reminds me of what needs to happen in times like this. In pre-school, we played Bear Hunt by going on a scavenger hunt throughout the school while meeting different obstacles along the way. It was my favorite activity because it involved receiving Gummy Bears, which happen to be one of my most favorite treats ever. We would follow large, construction paper cut outs of bear paws that were strategically placed throughout the school and sing:

We’re goin’ on a bear hunt 
(We’re goin’ on a bear hunt) 
We’re going to catch a big one, 
(We’re going to catch a big one,)I’m not scared
(I’m not scared)
What a beautiful day!
(What a beautiful day!)
 
Uh-uh! 
Grass! 
Long wavy grass. 
We can’t go over it. 
We can’t go under it. 
Oh no! 
We’ve got to go through it! 
Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy!

And the “hunt” would continue with different obstacles such as snow storms, large rivers, you get the idea. You could never go over the obstacle. You could never go under or around the obstacle. You had to go THROUGH it to get to the bear and earn the Gummy Bears.

This is kind of the same thing. Trying to avoid something as tragic as a miscarriage won’t work over time. You can ignore it or go over it or go under it for a while, but will still be there, and the pain won’t subside until you go through it, preferably with someone or some people who are safe, trust-worthy, and empathetic and kind.

Ask for Help
I am so glad I reached out to people when the worst happen. Our friends and family were amazing. No words can take away the pain of the circumstances, and the most helpful responses we received from people were not words, but gestures or just a simple, “I don’t know what to say. I hate you are going through this. I am with you in it.” Some sweet friends sent flowers. My friend Jessi sent me a box of pickle juice popsicles (she just gets me). Maybe you need someone to run and get dinner or pick up some pads or Motrin. You may want to ask your doctor a million questions. That is OK. You don’t have to do any of this alone. In fact, you shouldn’t do it alone!

It’s Ok to Not Be Ok
And it’s ok to talk about it. If you are out and someone says, “Hey! How are things?” it is ok to say “You know, it’s actually a really hard week for me.” Personally, I believe that sometimes “Fine” is the worst four letter word in the English language. I know for me, as well as many others, there is the temptation to just smile through things and hide our pain so that we don’t make other people feel uncomfortable. But you know what? I would prefer to be honest, and I would prefer others to be honest with me. It’s ok to be uncomfortable. I would rather people be up front with me than try to make things copasetic. You don’t have to blog it or share all the details with everyone, but it’s ok to be messy.

 

I knew miscarriages were horrible before two weeks ago, but I had no idea just how horrible or how much one can invade your entire life. It makes sense to me now. If I’ve learned anything from others and from my own experience, I guess it is this: healing is a process, and no two people will walk through this process in the same way. Have compassion for others and for yourself. Don’t “should” yourself through the process and don’t compare your experiences to that of others, or vice versa. There isn’t a manual for this. Take one step at a time, and let others love you in the process.

“Moving Forward”…A Husband’s Experience with Pregnancy and Miscarriage

“Dude, seriously?!?!?  What the H?!?!?  After the past year this is how things are going to roll???”

These were the thoughts that were immediately running through my mind last Tuesday when we heard the words “there is no heartbeat”.  We were having a miscarriage.  

Allow me to back up.

In case you haven’t noticed, this is Tim.  Lindsey said I could write a follow up to her posts from the last week week.  Many times when I write in it is because something that we have talked about has sparked something in me.  I found myself thinking, “what should I write about?  What does she want me to say?”  Her response was simple: “write what you are feeling.”

I guess, let’s start with the pregnancy.  NOBODY ever told me what all was going to be involved in this.  Just a quick history, I am an only child who has NEVER been around babies and has never held a child younger than a year old.  That fateful day that we saw the 2 lines on both sticks, I felt a mix of joy and fear.  The joy came from the fact that we could conceive.  One of the things that we had worried about was whether or not we could, whether because of her health issues or my ability.  I mean, “Cool!”, I thought, “I am not firing blanks!!!”  This fear was a mix of whether or not I was ready to be a dad and, as Lindsey has mentioned, we did not expect to get pregnant right away  The other part of my fear was, “Will I make a good dad?”  Here is a new life, a new life for whom I am responsible.  HOLY CRAP!  As the weeks went by the question of being ready was pretty much rendered mute because it didn’t matter if I was ready, Squirt was on the way.  (Side note, Squirt is the nickname we gave the baby since we did not want to know the gender and we REFUSED to call the baby an “it”.)  

I never really got to wrestle with the question of getting over the fear of being a good dad. But as for my experience during the pregnancy, I would say that it was difficult.  Not knowing anything, I was constantly asking questions and many times feeling kind of stupid.  I had to learn all the things that Lindsey’s body was going through and then stand by and be able to do NOTHING about it.  I was a bystander at this point, an active one, but a bystander nonetheless.  So I began to focus on the things that I could.  What carrier did I want? (For all the dudes, Mission Critical is totally cool.)  What are all the things a baby might need?  Stroller, crib, playpen, changing table and everything else one needs.  These were things for the baby that I could do.  We were going to need a new car (mine is a two-seater and I surely wasn’t going to bring the baby home in Lindsey’s shitbox…Sorry babe, but let’s call a spade a spade.)  We need a bigger place and ultimately a home.  These were the things that I could focus on and in the meantime do what I could do to get a better job.  

But all of it came crashing down on the Tuesday.  Everything else in life was looking up.  I was in a new job.  Lindsey was looking at joining a new private counseling practice.  The fog was beginning to clear.  Why would God give us this incredible joy, only to take it away?

Linds and I had driven separately to the appointment.  I had a job, a job that needed me to show up and do the work for which I was being paid.  Not that I couldn’t have called my friend and said I needed to stay home, but I NEEDED that job for us.  After the appointment, I held Lindsey for a while while standing in the parking lot, both of us letting some of the tears flow, but something still felt off.  I WANTED to shut off.  I didn’t want to feel.  Even as I write this now, I feel a sense of shame.  Should I have stayed with Lindsey?  Should I have gone home and let her continue to cry on my chest or my shoulder?  I did tell her that I wanted her to stay in communication with me through out the day.  I wanted to know she was ok.  I was concerned about what was going to come, i.e. the body’s natural response to removing everything that was now no longer living.  When I got home that night, I had to take another phone call regarding our future that sort of required me to shut down for a little while. At this point, I was jammed pack full of emotions.

In that moment, I made a choice.  I looked back over the year we had experienced.  God had truly had taken care of us.  There were many times when some problem would present itself and we would look at each other completely lost and ask, “How are we were going to solve this?” And poof!, something would come in the mail, someone would call, or something would happen that would allow us to solve the problem in front of us.  And I believe all this happened because we had learned to trust.  Trust each other.  Trust Him.  So I made the choice to trust and I was going to do everything thing that I could to stay on the positive side of things.  I NEEDED TO do this.  Lindsey can tell you that due to her upbringing and other circumstances, she is a bit of a “glass half empty” girl.  I needed to be the half-full-glass for both of us.

But let’s be real for a moment.  I am also the only one who could be in that moment.  Over the last several days, Lindsey has had a constant reminder of our loss as her body has excised all the remnants of the pregnancy with it all coming to a head on Saturday.  At the very worst moment of the miscarriage, I found her in the bath tub sobbing.  I pulled up a chair and just sat there allowing her to rest her head on my lap.  Here again was something I could NOTHING about.  I couldn’t take away the pain.  I couldn’t take away the reminder.  I couldn’t bring Squirt back to life.  I was helpless.  The only thing I could was rub her back.  I will NEVER know what it is like to have a life inside of me and then realize that life has ended.  I will also never know when that life continues and is born, the bond that will happen between my wife and our child.  That is something special that God has given to a woman.  But what I can do is support her and occasionally try to make her laugh.
So what does life look like moving forward for us, you may ask?

Even though this weekend has been a rough one for us and especially for Lindsey, I am proud to say that we are both maintaining a positive outlook on things.  Only the direction and focus have changed.  We firmly believe that we WILL conceive and raise the children that we believe God has for us.  In some ways, this has been a little bit of a blessing, due to the “insurance” we have for Lindsey, this pregnancy was almost not covered.  That would have been a little rough.  We now have to wait to try again.  Our doctor is recommending that we wait at least two months for Lindsey’s body to heal and to help reduce the chance of miscarrying again.  As for our focus, we are now looking at where we want to move while ultimately looking to buy a house.  (I have totally found one that I want, but also want to make sure we put all the ducks in a row at the right time.)  I have been so incredibly proud of Lindsey, because even though this past week has been rough, she is still maintaining her positive attitude.  Lindsey is looking at growing her counseling practice, and I am looking at what He has set up for me job-wise and what that could mean for our next try at having kids.

One thing that I hope happens from these words is that someone reads them and realizes that they are not alone in anything that they do or are going through.  God is always there.  You and I may not see it.  You and I probably won’t understand it.  But as sure as the water is wet, He is there watching our six.  That was one thing that Lindsey and I both agreed on as we sat at dinner Saturday night in Epcot.  After our waiter brought out our drinks, we both held them up and started to throw ideas around as to what we should toast to…new jobs, a fresh start, coming out of the fog, but nothing seemed to fit.  And then it hit me….

“Here’s to moving forward…..”

 

IMG_0157

The Miscarriage Post

These are the words I never, ever wanted to write. But here we are. When I found out we were pregnant, I was sure my next post would be The Pregnancy Post I had written to accompany the immensely creative video announcement Tim has been working on in his head for the last few months. But today, we find ourselves in a very different place.

I don’t like the word “miscarriage”. It seems to imply that someone messed up or did something incorrectly. If I “mis-carry” my groceries, it usually means I dropped them or the handle broke so they fell to the ground. A mother has no active role in a miscarriage unless she is engaged in behaviors that are dangerous to the baby (drugs, alcohol, smoking, MMA fighting, etc). Some miscarriages follow abuse or violence. Most miscarriages come with no reason or blame at all. The term “miscarriage” fails to identify what is actually happening: the death of an unborn child.

Right now, there is a tiny, dead human inside of me and I have no idea what to do with that information. 

I was an estimated eight and a half weeks pregnant when Tim and I went to the doctor for the ultrasound. I had experienced a little bleeding the night before, but that can be normal in pregnancy. We told ourselves that we weren’t going to panic because we would be seeing the doctor first thing the next morning. Tim put his hands on my belly and prayed for a strong heartbeat and a healthy child. 

He repeated this sweet ritual as we prepared to walk into the medical center the next morning. I hate to admit it now, but I knew something was wrong, deep down in my gut. It also didn’t help that the building administrators were testing the fire alarms that morning, and an alarm was piercing our ears the entire time we were being examined. 

We walked back to the examination room, and I prepared to get on the table. I knew something was wrong the moment that the ultrasound image appeared on the screen. I could see it on my ultrasound tech and my doctor’s faces. There was a tiny baby in there, but there was no heart beat and he or she was too small. I saw the tears in Tim’s eyes before I felt my own. A piece of me thought, “Just wait a minute more! He or she will come through!” but I know that is not how it works. 

The baby was there, but he or she was no longer alive. We had lost our first child. 

So many dreams and prayers and hopes came crashing down in that little room with the fire alarm still blaring in the background. We had already become so attached to the tiny fetus in my womb. Dozens of people had been praying with and for us. None of it made sense.

I finally got up and just stood in the exam room in a haze. I wandered around for a moment looking for a tissue and sort of blanked out. Tim gently suggested I put my pants back on so that we could gather our things and go home. 

As we walked out of the office through the waiting room, I realized we were THAT couple now. We were the husband and wife who had walked in at 7:45 am with all the hope in the world and now we were walking out with our red faces covered in tears, fumbling for our sunglasses so we wouldn’t have to look at anyone. 

Tim held me in the parking lot and we cried together. We had driven separately since we had to go in different directions after the appointment, but he was in no rush to leave me to myself. We assured each other we would get through this, and just be in contact for the rest of the day. 

It wasn’t until I called my mom and had to voice what had happened that I completely fell apart. I could barely get the words out when the heaving sobs began. My poor mother had to sit on the phone, 800 miles away, and listen to her baby girl fall apart and there was nothing she could do. I know it must have killed her. I couldn’t see her, but my mom was beautiful in that moment. She was kind, strong, empathetic, and wise. She didn’t try to “fix it”. She didn’t say “At least…”. She listened and cried and hugged me from afar. She was with me in my sorrow. 

I didn’t feel like talking, because I didn’t want to say the truth out loud. My mom and Tim graciously handled letting our close family and friends know what had happened. When my dad called, he was amazing. He was kind and gentle, and so loving. I could tell it hurt him to hear me hurting. I can now only imagine what that feels like as a parent – to feel your child suffer from afar.

I was able to reschedule appointments for the rest of the day so that I could go home and rest. I was experiencing a lot of physical pain in addition to the mental and emotional agony that had already begun to set in. I tried to eat something, but that just made me feel sick. I tried to sleep, but could not rest. I decided to watch Wonder Woman and let the strength and integrity of Diana Prince ooze into me vicariously. I exchanged texts with a dear friend who experienced the loss of a baby not too long ago. She has been my rock, not only in this experience but in many areas of life. 

I finally started reaching out to people who had been praying for us and knew we were going to the doctor that day. I was so scared that someone would come back with the venomous “At least you know you can get pregnant!” but no one did. Everyone who reached out said the one that actually felt the most loving: “There are no words to fill this space.” 

And they were right. Just like in any death or loss or tragedy, there are no words that can fill or heal or fix the pain of loss. Most people fumble to try to find the “right” words only to cause more hurt in their effort to escape the discomfort of pain. But we have amazing friends and family who just sat with us in our grief and pain. And for that, I am so incredibly thankful.

The loss of an unborn child is something I never wanted to experience, yet here we are. I have grieved with so many friends and clients who have been through this as well, and it does not get easier. The pain is physical, mental, and emotional. As I sit at home with bleeding and cramps, waiting for my body to rid itself of the child that I should have been holding this coming December, the lies start to creep in: “What if my body can’t ever carry a child?” “What did I do wrong?” “Does God want me to be a mother?” The fear of trying to get pregnant again is already real, even though we have been advised not to try for a few months in order to let my body heal. 

And I know it is killing Tim to watch me go through so much physical pain. He is doing such a good job caring for me, but at the end of the day he can’t fix it and he can’t take it from me. We just have to sit in this, together. 

I know some people reading this have lost children, maybe even multiple times. Some of you may be pregnant right now and anxious about your little one. Some of you may be in the long journey of infertility and praying for a chance to conceive. Some of you have one or several healthy children and are holding them tightly. Some of you may be completely unaware of fertility and pregnancy and the emotional roller coaster of parenting. Where ever and whoever you are, I encourage you to practice empathy today. If you need some help with that word, go back and watch “Empathy vs. Sympathy” by Brene Brown. This little video is one of the greatest tools out there for teaching us how to love each other well.

Today I am so thankful for all the people in my life who know and practice empathy. I am thankful for friends and family who are willing to sit in this pain with Tim and I. The pain will pass, but the support of others lasts a lifetime. Even in the midst of grief, I am grateful for love.

The Pregnancy Post

Please note: I wrote the following post before we had the chance to announce our pregnancy. Tim never got to do his wildly clever announcement video, but he will one day. I am posting this in tandem with my post on miscarriage because I think it is important to do so, and everything we have felt and experienced is still valid. It is heartbreaking to post this now, given the circumstances, but it is also helpful for me to remember the joy I felt before we knew we had lost the baby. It encourages me to be brave to try again and not be afraid of death. Maybe it will help someone else, too.

In case you haven’t seen my husband’s insanely clever announcement yet, we are pregnant!

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While we have known for a little while now, it is fun and exciting to share the news with everyone we know and love. Having been on the pregnancy sidelines for several years, I must admit I had no idea what this would really feel like. I have walked alongside many friends during their pregnancies, and have heard all of the good, the bad, the ugly, and the downright terrifying. I have known for a while that every mother and every pregnancy is truly unique, and (just like in every other area of life) comparison is a killer. I thought I would be pretty prepared when my time came and go into things with an open mind and a full heart.

Everything changed the moment I saw those four pink lines (I took two pregnancy tests back to back. I just needed that assurance.) I had my suspicions. For a week or two prior to peeing on those two fateful sticks I had been experiencing nausea, sore breasts, and changes in appetite. This is something Tim and I both wanted, but were not sure we were ready. I know, I know, no one is ever READY, but our current circumstances are still really unpredictable and we are not exactly sitting on a pile baby fund money. We live in a tiny apartment, we have one reliable car, and at the time we found out we were pregnant both of us were only working part time jobs. Neither of us have health insurance. I am a part of a faith-based, cost-sharing network for medical needs. On paper, we are far from ready to be parents. 

The whole reason we even started trying to get pregnant was because we were sure it would take MONTHS, or if it would even be possible to get pregnant at all. I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) as well as Hashimoto’s Disease, which both greatly affect my endocrine and reproductive systems. I was convinced, for many solid medical reasons, that my dream of being a mom would be a long time coming. So you can imagine our mutual shock when we saw two positive tests after just one month of trying!

After the first test, I came out of the bathroom with my hands over my mouth and tears in my eyes. I could hardly form the words to tell Tim that it was positive. Tim wanted to be the one to check the results on the second test, and his reaction was nearly the same. We held each other, cried, and prayed. We were completely overwhelmed with so many emotions!

Now, please know I say this with great compassion for those who are and have been trying to get pregnant for any length of time. Just a few months ago I wrote another post about entering the world of infertility and all of my fears, questions, and concerns about what may follow. While I did everything in my power to try to make my body “conception friendly”, I have known the whole time that I am not in control of this process. I changed my diet and lifestyle, started taking prenatal vitamins months ahead of time, and attended to any medical and health issues. None of this however would reverse or eradicate my present medical conditions. I just wanted to do my part. And I know there are MANY, MANY women who are going above and beyond to do the same. 

I can’t tell you why or how we got pregnant as soon as we did. I have been praying for so long that God would entrust me (and then Tim and I) with the gift of children and allow us to conceive. Once we knew we were pregnant, we decided to go ahead and tell our families so that they could pray alongside us for a healthy baby. I know most people wait longer to tell anyone out of fear of miscarriage, but we had a lot of long conversations about this and we decided we wanted our families to be with us to celebrate if things went well, and with us to grieve if something were to go wrong. We also just found it really hard to keep such a big secret! 

As we prepared for our first prenatal appointment, we found ourselves filled with so many thoughts, emotions, questions, cares, concerns, thrills, and fears. We are STILL filled with all of these and more. I am going to let Tim take over soon to share his side of the story. He is already an INCREDIBLE father, and I can’t wait to see him hold our little bundle.

I want to share our story as it unfolds and be honest about our process. Pregnancy is a hot and sometimes taboo topic, and I want to create a space to tell the truth and help relieve some of all that shame that seems to surround families who are having babies. I have incredible friends who have been super honest with me about all aspects of their pregnancies, and I am so thankful for these women. If I can be an encouragement or support to someone else along the way, then I will consider it a very sweet privilege.