Thursday, June 01, 2017

Is miscarriage really that big of a deal?

The moment I see the second pink line, I am all in. In the twenty eight seconds of intense, sweaty anticipation, I know nothing. But as soon as that second pink line shows up (faint as it may be) on the bulk pregnancy test I bought on eBay,  I am fully vested. My mind and body immediately begin preparing for the next Keefe Kid. My brain and heart warp time and I can literally see this baby. I visualize this child. I recognize the teenager. I watch the high school graduate. I'm there at the wedding day. I'm kneeling in wait for the next generation. A whole life. From diapers to diapers. In five seconds. 

Then comes How do we tell Daddy. Pinterest. Google. How do I let Daddy know that you're here and you're coming? And your siblings...oh, how your siblings have been waiting for you! Just wait until they hear you're on the way! I already hear "Please let it be a Boy" and in seven seconds I am completely in love with you. Terrified. But so completely in love. 

It takes about another three seconds before the underhanded and despicable spiritual attack begins. *What If*s flood my already saturated brain with its dangerous and toxic cocktail of estrogen and progesterone. The scared prayers begin. Not my will but yours, Lord. Help me. 

Trauma has a peculiar way of stealing your joy in the instant you feel it. The perpetrator says Don't celebrate.  Don't share the news.  Because What if. What if you don't have this baby. Do you really wanna tell everyone you lost another baby? It's so awkward and weird. Is it really that big of a deal? Maybe they didn't even know you were pregnant. Add to the pain that so many people think you shouldn't be pregnant again anyway. What if you tell them and they are relieved? What if they say that!? What if they say things meant to comfort and only testify to your fear. Maybe I am too old. Maybe we already have too much on our plate. Maybe my body can't handle it. The Lies of trauma are meant to isolate and shame and stunt and shake. 

So we wait. We anticipate. We pray. I freak out. We pray. I drink more water and I eat cleaner. And I start to feel some freedom from the fear. I start to gag when I brush my teeth and Sometimes when I lie down on my left side my heart flips and beats like a bat out of hell and I know. I know it's real and the knitting as forming has begun. You're really on your way. 

Until the blood. The blood comes and it is like I've been shattered from the inside. How can this be. The panic and the disbelief and the fear and the phone calls. The please pray texts. The phone calls and the waiting. And the googling. Is it? Could it just be ok? And 23 hours and 100 trips to the bathroom later it is not ok. And hormones shift and minds bend and husbands still need you to function and children still ask for cheerios and toilet paper and all you can do is blink. Blink and bleed and gush and examine and pray and cry. And I think this is going to kill me. Really though this cannot be right. I think I'm going to need a transfusion and a padded room and I never wanna be in this bathroom again, studying sanded grout and counting tiles.

And then ultrasounds. Occasions that for many are joyous and beautiful occasions. But for the mom who has miscarried, it brings a sick feeling down to the soles of my feet. My joy stolen again by trauma and lies.  My husband reminds me that God's got this and I try not to hate that phrase. 

The warm jelly. The small talk. The wait. Wait. Wait. The concern on her face. The furrow in her brow. The searching. The silence. No...that's my heartbeat. Up to 148bpm lying flat on my back as still as a body can possibly be. More silence. Then the Apology. The I'm sorry. No. No. No. Not again. Please. Keep looking. Please. Let me try. Another apology. The dream vaporizes. And the blackness of loss fills the room and my lungs and I'm sick. Tears. Tears. Tears. Tears. Quiet tears that flood my ears and drown the silence. Quiet tears as not to make Nancy feel any worse. Sucking breaths and spit and snot and coughing cries come later on the drive home that's never long enough. There are no grainy black and white photos to share. 

Several foggy days pass. My doctor gives me options. None of them are good. Wait it out. Have surgery. I've done both. I still have this baby. But I don't. I hold inside me a billion would-be moments and possibilities gone. So I am like a walking coffin. Waiting for a funeral that will never happen. 

We tell the siblings. Some cry. Some cry quiet tears. Some cry gut wrenching sobs. Some smile and hug. Some ask why we never told them. And I wonder why and I hurt for keeping something so precious and wonderful and exciting a secret from them. I want to shield them from pain but I rob them of the joy that makes it all worth it. They pray for me and the baby with Jesus. Alex keeps his hand on my shoulder. Mine should be on his. His pain is just as painful. The severity of loss for him can be even more complicated than mine.  Condemnation and guilt and shame and sadness know no bounds. 

So we walk around stunned and shocked for a few weeks.  Or years. I try not to think of what could have been. I try not to think about how I never want to go through this again. I try not to make any rash decisions about any aspect of my life. I pray and thank God for friends who cry along with me. Who remind me that my baby was a real person. A real person with a divine soul and a sacred purpose. A real person with a family that grieves the loss and feels the absence. 

And for this reason I am so grateful to the State of Florida for recognizing the authentic losses women and men face everyday in miscarriage. I'm thankful that healing can begin for so many just with the acknowledgment of the humanity of our babies. 

With acknowledgement of loss I gain the perspective of my children who have an invincible faith and hope in the reunion of Heaven. When people marvel at our seven children, my kids  quickly reply that We have four more. People balk and gawk and kids say The other four are in Heaven. With Jesus. We'll see them one day.  We know one is a girl. 

Yes. Our seven becomes eleven. And we are eternally grateful for each and every one of them. Each has made an indelible and eternal impact on our family.  They were Keefes. And they always will be. 

Prayers and blessings and handholds and neck hugs for those experiencing pain and grief and loss today.  Praying you will feel confident and hopeful in the day you're reunited with your little one. 

Sidenote: What doesn't make sense to me are the parameters chosen for the miscarriage law.  Most babies are miscarried between 7 and 12 weeks and yet the state only acknowledges miscarriages between 9 and 20 weeks. Why place parameters on the certificates? 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy Birthday, Marriage.

My marriage is twelve today.

Wow. Twelve years ago today I pledged my life to a young Air Force Pilot that barely made it to the wedding. Twelve years ago I thought a white dress, a big fat diamond and a DJ meant marriage. I dreamed of no longer sneaking around, being free to see my man whenever and wherever we chose, not having to explain where I was or how I got there. It meant the end of phone bills I paid with my credit card(s) and the beginning of beautiful, blissful mornings and never having to say goodbye.


So our marriage is twelve now. And I can’t stop thinking about what twelve looks like. It’s sixth grade. It’s braces and training bras and changing voices. It’s learning when to talk and when not to. It means still making silly mistakes and hoping no one sees them. It’s awkward. And that’s where we are. We’ve moved out of our toddler/early childhood stage and we’re working into awkward pre-adolescence. We are becoming. We are moving. We are growing. And as long as we are doing this together, that’s all I care about. I know this marriage is essential to the well-being of four little girls. They depend on this marriage maturing. And it is. We are learning to adapt to our new roles, shift our perspectives to the common good, to release the safety in selfishness. And I’m so excited and thankful for what we are becoming.

And I’m so very thankful for the man my husband is becoming. And I’m really thankful that he sees my (ever annoying) shortcomings and looks past them. Especially lost ATM cards, dirty laundry, costly procrastination and disorderly conduct. And that all happened this week.

So when I think about what my dreams were for our marriage, they are just a little different now; now we have our kids sneak around, we have the best conversations oceans apart and we spend beautiful blissful mornings surrounded by four beautiful babies. We say goodbye, but we do it with smiles instead of fearful tears. And I love that. I love how this marriage has aged.

And I love you, Alex, for your commitment to this family, for your dedication to this marriage, for your patience with me, and your faith that makes all that possible. I love you so ferociously and I want to be better at letting you know that. Happy Anniversary, Big MAK! I love you!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Watch Your Ankles, Lady.

Pizza Buffet. Four tired little girls. A pre-menstrual Mom. And a mean old lady.

That’s what’s got me spinning tonight.

We spent the whole day out running errands today. Mostly returning stuff to our usual places and getting a little lunch out. There’s this little Pizza Joint that ‘s a pseudo Cici’s that we love to eat at. Unlimited food seems to be a big pleaser for this family.

Some days the girls are just off. Especially after a night of not-so-good sleep or a morning of too much TV or just not enough structure or attention. These days suck. They suck the life out of me because my kids and I aren’t speaking the same language. It’s like even the subtitles are in a different language. I say “Please sit on your bottom” and they look at me as if I’d just said the Pledge of Allegiance in Mandarin. So I was NOT happy when I had to pull Edie out from underneath the thirteen HUNDRED dollar grill and tell Sophie to put down the sprinkler flags for the fifteenth time. All I kept thinking was that I needed food in my belly and everything would be ok.

…onto lunch.

White pizza, soup, salad, dessert. Unlimited cherry coke and mello yello. For real. Do you see why this place ranks high? We made our way to our tables and picked a place where we could park a stroller next to our table. We enjoyed lunch…Telemundo and Cartoon Network on the plasmas and we all just kinda vegged. Edie finished first and decided to take Lil A for a lil stroll around the table. I was at most 2 feet from her at all times and as the lady bussing tables approached, I told Edie to come back with Audrey….


We get compliments all the time when we are out in public. People always ooh and ahh at our four girls and smile and wave and gush over how cute and sweet they are. We get approached in restaurants by people all the time…people say ‘oh, how well behaved your girls are.’ And ‘oh, what sweet little girls you have’. ….


….Edie rounds the stroller in a circle and the bussing lady has to wait for me to corral her…at this time I look up at a woman sitting across the row from us. She is making eye contact with the bussing lady. Her eyes say it all. She looks with disdain and disgust at Edie. She rolls her eyes and looks to the bussing lady for confirmation. The bussing lady looks at Edie and smiles. I apologize to bussing lady.

I turn to Alex and explain what just happened. I watch the (mean old) lady get up to get more food. I am seething. Edie has done no harm.

Then I go bad.

“Edie, go take the stroller and run into that old lady.”

Oh yes I did. I told her to purposely crash the stroller into the ankles of that bitter old woman. I TOLD MY CHILD to take the stroller and use it to cause bodily harm to another human being. And I was not playing.

And she looked at me and said “What, ma?”

And I regained my composure and said
“nothing, babe….nothing.”

Before she left, the lady made it a point to go to the table next to us where sat a father and his two girls that were at least 10 and 12. She gushed about how well behaved they were and how kids these days have horrible manners.

Just as the estrogen in my blood stream, my temper spiked and I thought I would get loud for a minute and give this lady a piece of my mind….that I would tell her to not judge me….that I would tell her to walk a mile in my nursing bra.

But I didn’t….I left there discouraged. I left feeling like a terrible parent. I left feeling like I’d let my children disappoint me again with their behavior. I left there thinking all the thoughts of someone that was looking for favor and approval from perfect (or imperfect) strangers.

But tonight... now…? I am remembering what makes my kids so awesome and my family so different: Sophie leaving the dinner table saying her cheeks hurt from laughing so hard; Charley sharing her favorite Barbie with a sister who could so easily snap Barbie’s neck and leave her permanently disabled; Edie offering Audrey a toy she ‘can spit on’.

So it’s not all about how my kids behave in public….it’s not about how proud they can make me….it’s not about how many compliments old ladies give me…it’s not about who can get through Home Depot without jumping out of the cart.

It’s about their hearts and whether or not they know to love others as they love themselves.

Even mean old ladies.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dear BP


Dear BP, I think I know what will stop the leak. Rice Crispies. P.S. Does anyone have a pick axe or a cetyline torch I can borrow?

Monday, June 07, 2010

Only a Girl Named Julie....

Yesterday was a great day at church. Even though my jeans were too tight, and Charley couldn’t find satisfaction in any of my shoe choices for her and Edie had a glob of conditioner in her hair from last night’s shower, we made our way to Journey Church at our new location at Park Vista High.

I learned a lot yesterday. I learn a lot every Sunday there….even if I don’t step foot into the Sanctuary. Just getting there teaches me patience.

Yesterday PScott talked through 1 Samuel. He challenged us all to find our Goliath. I’ve been staring down my Goliath for weeks now, slowly slipping into the armor, only to find that it’s too big and too cumbersome and way too heavy to allow my arms to cast stones. All I need is a sling and a stone.

Yesterday I got my sling.

Today I’m going after the Goliath of Perfectionism in my life.

He whispers to me every morning.
Why get up…you’re already so far behind?
You know if you start this, you’ll never finish.
You know what people will say if you don’t finish.
What will people think when they see another one of your fine messes?

It screams to me through half-hung curtains, wrinkled dresses, and dirty fingernails. It shouts to me through my unmade bed, a glob of toothpaste on the bathroom sink, and the gap between my teeth. It screeches to me in the piles of upaid medical bills and birthday cards I never send.

For me, perfectionism paralyzes me and silences me.

So this morning, I’m answering back.

Because people are depending on me.
I will finish…and I won’t take twenty years to do it.
God loves me anyway....even if you don't.
It will be my fine mess. To His Glory.

So this….THIS is one of my stones. I’m picking up this stone. And I’m chucking it.

See ya, Goliath, I’m about to hit PUBLISH.

Perfectionism isn’t a problem because it does too much, it’s a problem because in trying to do too much it causes us to do nothing at all. Dustin Wax

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Seriously, Venus?

I thought it was Halloween for a minute.

Caption Please.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

Thirty four years and eight months ago my parents made the decision to keep me. Though their lives were full already with two beautiful children, they decided to take a chance on one more. And today I am very grateful for that.

Their lives were already very full. They had a brilliant six year old that blessed them with her amazing perspective on life. Amy was energetic and precocious. She loved her little brother immensely and was a big help to her mom. Richie was a precious, loving little boy that was born with a genetic disorder that would have him hospitalized often for many different reasons. He was needy but happy, and Dad had his boy. And yet, they took a chance on having another baby. And they welcomed me in March.

Little did they know how that decision would affect the rest of their lives. And the rest of mine.

Six months after I was born, our lives shifted. As a result of pregnancy, my Mom got very sick. She could no longer care for my sister and brother and I. She was hospitalized on and off for the next four years. Sometimes it was for a short period to stabilize her health. Sometimes it was longer. Time was frozen and hearts were broken. I can’t imagine how it must have changed our family’s dynamic. I can’t imagine the grief she felt, handing over her six month old baby to endure hours, days, months of treatment. I can’t imagine the torture my Dad felt having to admit his beloved and leave her behind. Amy was six, and had to quickly become a little woman, while her little heart was breaking inside her. Richie had to give up his Mommy and the precious care that only she could give him. The threads of our family unraveled the day that Mom was admitted.

And yet, my Mom says this on her facebook status:

“well tomorrow at 11:51 a.m. my second oldest daughter will be 34 years old. How time flies! I am so happy and thrilled that she is mine! I love you Julie> Love and many, many kisses-Mom”

And at 7:11 this morning, my Dad sends me this email:

“Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday Dear Midget. Happy Birthday to you!!!!!!! I'm sure that the day you were born, God looked down from Heaven and said, "Am I good or what!" I just want to wish you a wonderful day and to tell you how proud I am of you. We are truly blessed.I love you.Dad”

My parents endured severe emotional and physical pain to have me. They didn’t know at the time that their lives would be affected the way they were. My Dad didn’t know he’d be shaking his fists at God for years to come. He also didn’t know that one day he would trust God with his life. My Mom didn’t know what blessings were to come in hers either, yet she trusted.

So today I am praising my God, who gave me parents that believed enough to bring me into their family, who has taught me so much about His grace and His sovereign plan through my parents, and who can restore brokenness like no other.

Thank you, Jesus, for allowing me this life, for allowing me to feel the miracle of parenthood, for blessing me with a husband that hears you and loves you, for amazing daughters that test and try and teach me. Thank you for this celebration day. The glory is all yours.