Breath of Fresh Air

A Breath oh Fresh Air

Once Upon Your Time

on April 23, 2015

The summer between my freshman and sophomore year in college, I realized the world wasn’t all peace signs and flower power. In fact, I was in a pretty big life sucks stage (ah, the joys of a teenager turning twenty – center of the world selfish, lots of sighing, full of dread, drama, dyed hair, and [about to be ever increasing] piercings – at least in my case).

I clearly remember sitting on the stoop of our front porch, lamenting about something or another to (not with) my mom, when somehow the subject of having children came up. While I can’t remember the context of the conversation, I can remember telling my mom I was not going to have children – I told her I couldn’t bring a child into this cruel world (what kind of cruel I knew at 19 is anybody’s guess). She countered with this, “Jen, if the good people in the world stop having babies, then good people stop being born”.

… Mind-blowing – right??

Even at a naïve 19, the weight of her statement resonated with me, and it stuck. So when it came time to consider children (many, many years later!), it was the voice of reason that I heard. And when it came time to try – we did.

We tried on our own for probably about a year before I had the sense to see a doctor. We did all the tests (so [not] fun!) and everything came back normal. So, like a gazillion* other couples, I started taking Clomid and hormone shots (just as fun as is sounds… said no one. Ever).

Needless to say, for us, (several trials of) taking Clomid didn’t work. At that time, we had to decide if we wanted to pursue (and invest in) bigger measures. We decided to move forward without further fertility assistance, and accepted – without remorse – that we would not have children.

So of course, within a year, I got pregnant out of nowhere. We were overjoyed. We were at the three month appointment (you know, the one that afterwards you can tell everyone your news); (instead,) at that visit, we found out I had miscarried somewhere around 9 weeks (long of the short of a sideways path to a too long awaited D & C revealed that a severe chromosome problem was the cause).

I didn’t really grieve… but I did get really angry, for a real long time. I am the kind of girl who believes that everything happens for a reason, and I couldn’t understand what life lesson I was supposed to learn from this. We had accepted that we wouldn’t be parents; then life showed us the other side, and then it was taken away. I could not find anything to help me grow from this experience.

After much time, I found peace and purpose in a balloon of something bigger; perhaps getting pregnant at all was a sign that we should keep trying, to not give up on bringing that good person in the world. So, we went the fertility clinic route and after much more testing and on the second try, we got pregnant again.

And five weeks later, I miscarried…. again. No chromosome reason, they couldn’t give me a reason. They could tell me it was a girl (and no, I didn’t ask… I never wanted to know that).

And here I am, living to tell you about it, because my life didn’t end; a balloon popped but the rest of the world kept spinning. In fact, these events kind of started us on a (long and bumpy) road to better; a road that eventually led me to here.

So why share this now? The moral of my share is that your stories, the events that happen to you, are yours to interpret; your take away is your own to design. I am sharing because even though I didn’t choose to be childless, I did choose to believe in something bigger that allowed me to be okay with it, and to (eventually) embrace it. I am now actually inspired by this circumstance to do more with my life and my freedom; to become more, and to give and live more. And most importantly to be the best Aunt in my universe to all my nieces and nephews! The story I designed, my interpretation that serves me best, is that not having children of my own means simply I was meant to live and leave a different legacy than I had previously thought. Plus, as an Aunt, I get to borrow and return my kids on my own schedule, AND I never have to say no :-)! I can’t even dream of a better life; I am LUCKY and GRATEFUL.

My story is about an opportunity; this is not a tragedy.

The other reason I am sharing this is for awareness. Sometimes getting pregnant and staying pregnant isn’t easy; having a miscarriage is pretty common. I want to talk about these things in the hopes that you all start to talk about them. I want you to have these conversations with your children when they are ready to start trying; protect them from disappointment by preparing them for all the possibilities. Shit happens, and we can’t let it stop us. Talking about it makes it less scary and less shameful. Taking about it is the only control we have, because talking lets us tell our story in our own way.

Good people need to keep having babies so good people are born; good people who can’t (or just choose not to) have babies are still good people who will deliver their own version of goodness to the world. 🙂

*gazillion- The number of couples that have trouble conceiving is more than you can ever imagine to the 10th power. You are not AT ALL alone if you have or have had problems conceiving. No one talks about it (like miscarriages), but this also happens -a lot. Fertility clinics are big business; try and get an appointment, let alone find a seat in the waiting room, as these places are packed. It is a shame that this subject is so unspoken; this is what makes this all feel so ashamed, disheartened, and deflated when it happens. This is bullshit – there is absolutely nothing to feel badly about, this is just how life goes sometimes; don’t let it be your barrier or source of your breakdown.

Aunt! Some of my kiddos and their moms who help fill my life with hugs and smiles in my own story!

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9 responses to “Once Upon Your Time

  1. Niki says:

    Jen,

    I love your writing and the honesty of your posts. I am sorry for your losses, and I admire your positive attitude and peace with being the world’s best aunt, wife, sister, friend …

    Looking at my FB, you would know that I have two boys — but not that I have been pregnant five times. I did 4 rounds of Clomid before #1, suffered an ectopic pregnancy after he was born and lost a Fallopian tube, and was told I would never get pregnant again without IVF (#2). Two other miscarriages came after. I write all this here (instead of in a private message) because I didn’t talk about my fertility struggles for a long time, and now I share your attitude that we should be open about this subject, that it should carry no shame. We need to form a community to support one another so no one has to go through infertility feeling as alone and scared as many of us have.

    This blog really is a breath of fresh air! I remember (and loved!) that 19-year-old Jen from this story, and I love that you are sharing your journey to the you that you are today. Miss you!

    Niki

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  2. jpearl19 says:

    Niki,

    Thanks for reading and for sharing your own story. I admire your courage and love your idea of a community of support. The more people that share this post on their own pages, or share their own experiences, the more opportunities we have to break the silence and help someone who is suffering.

    And.. you don’t have to miss me! Let’s get together – we have been talking about it forever, let’s do it. I will message you on FB.

    xo

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  3. Jo says:

    Hi, Jen. I didn’t know. When Kitty was about 5 years old, I had a miscarriage, and it totally pulled the rug out from under me. Depression runs in my family and the summer after the miscarriage, in retrospect, I was depressed. It was the future that worried me,and without another child to distract me, It didn’t feel good! Eventually I realized that that wasn’t a good reason to have a child – I would have loved the third child as much as the other two, but I couldn’t just keep doing that to postpone the inevitable! so it was a learning experience. AND you are a FANTASTIC aunt, which is a very honored role. It is a win-win-win situation for you, the children, and the parents. Keep up the good work. (Your Mom is so wise, isn’t she?)

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  4. jpearl19 says:

    Jo,
    Thanks for reading, and for sharing your experience with us. I am glad you are in my life; Ali did good marrying Andy, and we got a bonus getting you in the family too! I feel very connected to you, and maybe this is just another reason why.
    xo
    Jen

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  5. Erin says:

    Jen, thank you for sharing your story. As you may know, I too had a miscarriage. 2 actually. One was super early and with my first husband and I was able to move on quickly. The one I had a year ago was at 12 weeks and because of a chromosome abnormality. I really struggled with that loss and I think part of the reason for that was the stigma that is women are to keep these losses a secret and just move on. I may have never met that little girl I lost but I fell in love with her as soon as I got that positive, fell more in love with her when I heard her heartbeat, then felt she was part of the family when I saw her moving on an ultrasound. Then to then lose that…it’s a real loss.
    I am fortunate to have a child and so close to hold another one. My heart aches for those who aren’t as lucky. My heart aches for you but so glad to hear you have found the positive. You are definitely one awesome Aunt. I know first hand that 2 of those nieces think you are pretty awesome!
    I feel hope when I see other women who are brave enough to share their story. I finally shared mine and for the most part got a positive response. One person (who I love dearly) made a comment that made me regret posting. I wish it wasn’t that way.
    Anyways…hugs to you during this week. And I hope your courage and positive mess rubs off on many other women.
    Erin

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    • jpearl19 says:

      Erin,
      Thanks for reading and for sharing your own experience. And to the person who made you regret… regret is a wasted emotion. Our instincts usually guide us towards the right path for clearing our own conscious. I believe strongly that this was what yours did; showing the way to your peace and to promoting peace for others. HUGS back to you!
      xo Jen

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  6. Jane Lewellen says:

    Hi Jen! I loved reading your story. I shared with Matt our experience with Peter. I feel you have survived with beauty and grace. When I lost Peter I felt like a true failure. But being as stubborn as they come, I got pregnant with Matt. So glad because you are in our lives! Bridge Over Troubled Water was a popular song at the time. I knew my bridge was my Savior or Higher Power. He has also carried me since Mike died. We need to do the best in our lives with what is given us. I have found that tutoring in an elementary school has helped me get my focus on someone besides me. Heavenly Father loves us and will help us endure. Love you and Matt SO much and so thankful you keep busy and find time to share and do so many things. Keep your smile, keep hugging your nieces and nephews, sister and family. Sharing that loving hug is so precious. Love Mom L

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    • jpearl19 says:

      MOM “L” – thanks for reading and for sharing your story – and your son- with me! “Bridge” is a great song – I usually use song titles for my blog titles (and try to choose songs that echo my message) and that one would have worked well! Letting go and letting God has done a lot for me as well; sometimes I have to remind myself of that, and your kind words served as my reminder today. Love you! Jen

      Like

  7. […] always our plan (but it certainly seemed to be someone else’s). Long story short (or not, click here), Matt and I tried for many years to have kids. We did everything short of IVF, and miscarried […]

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