What I've Learned from Baking Bread: An Untold Story

**I share these parts of our story, not to draw attention, sympathy, or trigger another person but to share what I have held in for so many years. This is mostly for me (so bear with me). If you relate or have a friend who may relate, my hope is that you can find peace, hope and courage in these words. Most importantly, I hope you know that your babe(ies) mattered and you are not alone. This is the story, from my perspective, I've never shared in its entirety.

It's fall again and while I love the change in season, the colors, cooler nights, crisp apples, pumpkin patches, and all the smells of autumn; this is also a very hard time of year for me, personally. My body usually reminds me before my brain catches up. I start getting antsy, moody, and edgy. Anxiety heightens. Then it dawns on me what my body has been through and how it all started in October. This is the month, nine years ago that we found out we were pregnant for the first time...

Terrified, excited, and surprised we were anticipating our future as a family of three. We were picking out names, balancing work-school life with nausea and exhaustion (mostly me), and wondering how we were going to make it all work when our little one made its arrival. It wasn't until the Monday after Thanksgiving that we would learn our sweet baby's heart stopped beating.

The emotional and physical trauma that followed are difficult to share and even more difficult to forget. We had to come to terms with the fact that we would no longer need to pick out baby names, figure out the type of crib we wanted, or think about buying maternity clothes. I had to figure out how I was going to continue through my clinicals, focus long enough to pass my board exam, and find a job. Luke was in the middle of his program; he had to keep going and the world around us did not stop.

My body froze. Emotionally and physically. I focused on the things I could control; school, boards and my career. The rest just 'stopped.' Until it didn't.

Months later, I found myself driving in the middle of an ice storm; by myself in an unfamiliar city, checking myself into the ED for hemorrhaging and waiting for my husband to drive the hour distance through the ice storm. (We were placed for clinicals in separate locations). The room was cold and had white cinder block walls. I was left alone by the medical staff as there was "nothing they could do." So I waited. Waited for my husband and waited for all of it to be over. I was released home to let things "happen on their own."

I went into what I now know was labor, by myself, three months after we heard those painful words, in a hospital room; "I'm sorry." I raced from our apartment in Ohio to my parents' in Michigan in pain and crying the whole way. I'll never forget rushing through the door, to the bathroom, where I sat crying on the bathroom floor; angry, confused, and living my worst nightmare. I got to hold our baby for a brief moment that day.

About a week later, I was hospitalized for an infection; essentially from carrying our baby months after his/her little heart beat for the last time. I was pregnant for eleven weeks. My body did not let go until February, the following year.

So I'm baking bread this fall. It's a new skill. It's therapeutic and keeps my mind and hands occupied during a difficult season. Baking bread is a half day event. You have to be patient with it and give it time to rise, kneading the dough between the rises. It's a slow process, but reminds me to slow down; even though I want to run and busy my mind.

I've been struggling with 'action.' Having clients scheduled or other tasks/activities that others are depending on me for are easy to keep. However, when it comes to initiating a task or being diligent in my own work; I'm stuck. I can neither run or fight. Making bread helps. It gives me the time to process what I need to process. Remember the babies I'll never know here on Earth. Then, it gives me small incremental time to get small activities done. A give and take. It might be weird, but it's helping.

I still struggle with anxiety this time of year more than I do any other time of year. I still have very vivid memories of sitting on the bathroom floor, holding our little 'nugget,' and remembering the doctor placing her hand on my knee and saying, "I'm sorry, this happens sometimes." I wouldn't know at that time that 'sometimes' would turn into 'most times' for us. I remember saying, "I could never go through that again." And then going through it eight more times.

Even as I bring this post to an end, I'm terrified to publish it and share. I'm afraid it will be all over the place. I'm afraid it will be judged. I'm afraid it will trigger another mom who has lost. Yet, I will post this and I will post it with the intent to share our story, honor our babies and all unborn babies, to push to end the stigma encircling miscarriages, and to give hope to others. You are allowed to grieve your baby. You are allowed to remember them on special days. You are allowed to share your story. You are a mother.

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Every year at 7pm, people around the country light a candle for each of their babies gone too soon to honor their life. We remember.

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