Remembering Little Lentil

Yesterday, October 27th, Little Lentil would have been one year old. All the writing, all the painting... everything I've done has been for LL, everything has been for me. In honoring LL and myself and all my feelings of loss, grief, joy, courage and the full spectrum of emotion and living, I'm re-posting one of my first writings about my radical miscarriage, Dream Journal.

Dream Journal

4/1/14 Tues 3:53 pm

I wake up in our bed, weak, so weak. It’s warm in the room. Our curtains are closed but the afternoon sun heats and still gets in. I feel warm and safe and in the heat of our bedroom, the air is full, a wholeness.

I wake up and remember my dreams. In them I tell my family and friends that the baby died. They look like the faces on the Look Kin side, my father’s side, but they are everyone. I’m in their house - Auntie Yuk Moy’s? - with people friendly, happy but some have questions. And some are so frustrated because they didn’t get the email - What’s going on?! Tell me!? So I tell them. We’re looked at with awe and horror.

I bolt awake and realize I forgot to cancel with my Spanish teacher.

I go to the bathroom for peeing and pooping and The Blood. I write this to Billy: Thank you Billy. We’ve been sleeping and I dreamt of telling everyone what happened. Even in my dreams the truth is present. Thank you for thinking of us on this strange and beautiful and horrible day. Much love to you and Savi and Lena - wow, she lights up our hearts. xoxox

Savi called. Barbi left a voice message. I want to call them but I don’t. I don’t feel like talking to anyone right now. I spoke with Rita but she doesn’t understand though she’s trying. Everyone is sharing their love with us the best way they know how. Sometimes, though, it’s more for them than it is for us. Even when we shared our joy of discovery of this baby, it was wonderful love and response but also a reflection of that person and their feelings and who they are.

I know I’m in shock. At this I break down, falling down a crumbled person. And then I’m calm and philosophical. I can’t help it. And I feel very protective of D. This is hitting him very hard - as excited as he was when he found out - and the the opposite. Deep sorrow. I feel it too. I’ve never seen him cry before. He cried and cried. We’re confused. We’re sad. I’m disappointed. You try to anticipate what you’re going to feel - you can try to be prepared for some things but not for everything. That’s not the point. We have no control. We are powerless, but we are also powerful. I found a new person inside of me as this little person was growing, and she was powerful, almost limitless mama/earth/crab powerful. And creative, so creative. A person who does have a green thumb, who loves life and helping things to grow. And making food - baking banana bread (albeit from a Trader Joe’s box but so delicious) and mashed potatoes for the first time. Hungry + fearless + road-rage-filled on her bike, barking at everyone and that felt good. Being honest + open in a way I haven’t been before. Loving my body. She loved her body. Growing out the hairs, reclaiming her hairstyle. Loving this body: curves + curves + belly + boobs + thighs + beautiful. Trusting the inner wise self - she is there, she is alive, she is here. Accepting things. Becoming more patient. Communicating even clearer than before.

I’ve thought a lot about this quote I read on a doula’s website + I think of it now: “Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers - strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.” - Barbara Katz Rothman

Even though the baby is gone, a tiny little thing that looked like a miniature person, I am still here. This mother is here and she is strong. She is sad and she is strong. Strength is knowing that crying and sharing our sad emotions is ok. I won’t try to “heal” soon. What happens is what happens. As I have throughout this pregnancy, I will listen to my heart, as I am right now, and listen to my inner wise self because she is always there inside of me and she is me. I will know what to do and how to feel and it’s all ok. It’s all ok. It’s all ok.

My Inner Wise Self Gives a Pep Talk: Shit Happens

The anger takes up so much of my time.

I wake up and I remember that I am here, I have a purpose, I can make choices for how I will choose to live this life. No, I'm not in control but I can choose how I will react when shit happens - there's awesome shit and messed up shit but SHIT WILL ALWAYS HAPPEN.

Are you loving yourself? Like, IN LOVE with yourself? Fuck obsessive cleaning. Fuck all the bullshit. And fuck shame, insecurity, judgement and all the rest. I am here, I am alive, I am fearless, I am a writer - write! Be fearless! It takes courage AND YOU'VE GOT IT!

YOU DO!

It's there. It's always been there. Fuck all the rest, you know what I'm talking about. You're here. You're alive. Live!

What is your purpose today?

LIVE YOUR PURPOSE.

Warrior Survivor, watercolor, 11" X 14", New York, NY (6/14/2014)

Warrior Survivor, watercolor, 11" X 14", New York, NY (6/14/2014)

Roar aka Fuck Bikinis, Bras + Shaving aka I just want to be free

This week, Danny and I are in Miami visiting his family, his birthplace and also to have (hello!) a long, sunny vacation, and some beachy treats especially after the month that we’ve both experienced.

I just got off the phone with “Jane”, a volunteer through PLSP, a person who herself has experienced a pregnancy loss, and who I’ll get to have one more free phone counseling with before I’m eligible for their bereavement groups. The first time we talked, I was on a retreat with D & my mom, feeling very vibrant, and feeling the love. This time was different, because I am different. I now find that every day has its difficulties and I am crying daily again. I never know what will spark (inspire?) the crying, the sad feelings and although I always go with whatever emotions sweep over me, I feel I have no control.

When we were at the airport getting ready to board the plane to come down here, there were all these families with little kids, little girls. A father extended his big finger, as a steady hand, for his daughter to take in her hand and walk around. I went to tell D how sweet this was and in that split second that I turned to tell him, I found myself crying and sobbed and sobbed into his shoulder. He understands; we just express things differently.

500 year old trees at  Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

500 year old trees at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

We started planning this trip when I was still pregnant. I would have been pregnant at that moment in time - this is how I dreamed it. And I lost my baby. We lost a baby. His parents and my mom lost a grandbaby. His siblings lost a niece or nephew. So did our friends-family. That is the truth. I don’t have any physical indicators any more to show that I was pregnant, or questions into my physical health, the easy questions. All I have is my own sadness, taking me to new heights and depths. I walk around every day now with the my own shadow of darkness following me, living below the surface, simmering inside of me. Jane asks me what the triggers are but I never know when its going to happen. It just does, and I allow it to. I allow myself to feel. I allow myself to be free. I am free. And in achieving this freedom, I see in these difficult weeks, this is another transformation - I keep changing, becoming new people, emerging from multiple cocoons, shedding old ways and taking on new ones - but I’ve been here before, I’ve said these words, this is all familiar and I am awake.

I’ve been wanting to write a blog post for days and art comes when it comes and when you make time for it. I announced the title of this post to D and he said, Why don’t you tell us how you really feel? And that’s why I love him! And that’s why he loves me. So let me explain. It started as Fuck Bikinis, Bras + Shaving because yes I am on vacation in the land of the sun and when you go to the beach you wear a bathing suit and most often a bikini. Now, even before I knew I was pregnant, I was taking a Spirit Bath (before I started calling them that), and said, When I’m pregnant, I’m not going to shave anymore. In fact, I’m starting now. I had read that Busy Phillips  stopped waxing because she wanted her little girl to look at her and know that "grown women have hair on their vaginas". I want to be a role model to whoever was going to be born, one that allows their body to be natural and to be free. But there was one thing I was going to cut - the hairs on my head! I also decided, in that space and time when I was weeks pregnant but had no idea, that this long in the middle, shaved on the sides is the hair I’ve been wanting for years and that though I love it right now it its shortest stage, I will also love it when the middle grows long. I want to have a long mane of hair down the middle when I am laboring and joyfully giving birth to our Rainbow Baby (inspired in part by SQUAT).

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

And so here I am presented with Naples/Miami bikini season and here is my futuristic-post-modern-post-misogyny-hairy-body and ohhh I’ve got dilemmas. I am comfortable with the leg, cooch and armpit hair but I don’t know how to navigate these waters on a clothed beach with my family. I know that society thinks it’s ugly because I’ve thought the same. While, I would love to wear what I’ve brought and let it all hang out, I feel like a parody of this offensive SNL skit I once heard which goes I’m Helga the German Waitress with the very long armpit hair. Oh Helga, your armpit hair is in my soup! Ohhhhh sorry!! My armpit hair is not that long, but my - I honestly do not know how to refer to the stretch of jungle growing in between my legs. Well, my snatch hair is growing - I’ve shaved for years so I have no idea how far it will go. But it looks pretty comical with a string bikini worn over it. I borrowed a tankini from my mother-in-law (mine were oddly stretched out and the string bikini top...no) and wore little hot pants shorts over the bottoms. While walking on the beach with D, I showed him what was going on downs-below and he was shocked. Yes it is shocking! He asked, Did you bring a razor? And I said, No I’m not shaving! But I need a different bathing suit (or a nude beach!). Everyone wants to feel beautiful and confident and sexy especially at the beach and this was an awkward barrier to that for me.

bird2.jpg

That night we got vegan food and I saw this brightly lit superstore of touristy beach wear and bathing suits. I was elated. I want to swim, I want to navigate mainstream waters and not freak people out (too much) before they get a chance to know and like me - this is part of the reason why I decided to continue to wear a bra in public - but only until I get pregnant and have a baby!! So we went in and they were actually about to close. I scoured the racks for hot pants/underwear in my size - this place runs so small just like American Apparel that I got a Large but needed a non-existent XL. D helped me find matching tops and it is all a hot mess, running around, time time time against (or for?) me, bathing suit tops not fitting. I definitely tested D’s patience, as I do every day but not his love, he said. This is why we love each other. And, I got my hodge-podge-bikini: blue hot pants underwear bottoms that conceal the va-ja-ja forest and a badeau top that's easily adjustable, won't let my boobs fall out and has palm trees on it. I did have some crazy revelations in the race to try them on. Shopping for bathing suits (jeans or bras) is one of the most horrible experiences for a female bodied person, at least for this one. Regardless of how skinny you think other people are, or how people often refer to me, I am not skinny. I have a lot of curves that do not fit into skinny people clothing. I was at an Indy party once and a (weird) girl approached me and said You have a womanly figure. So there you go - I have a womanly figure! But don’t we all? Anyhow, I tried on these hot pants which are electric blue and so comfy and cover up the comically offensive hairs and then I start criticizing myself because I got this muffin top thing going on. I think Oh no oh no! Not long after I realize the irony of wanting to be free and getting something to cover up that freedom only to be ashamed that my body doesn’t fit into these freedom pants. So I said to myself, If I can deal with this muffin top, so can everyone else. It has to be less culturally unacceptable than the growing terrain beneath it and the store is closing and we gotta go.

A log provides new life at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

A log provides new life at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

We come back to the (incredibly fancy) hotel and just chill there. I finally get my Bloody Mary and it’s more perfect than my fantasy because it’s me, D + his Vodka Tonic with our legs in a hot tub. I submerge into the hot tub for a while and then go swimming in the pool. I lay on my back there, staring at the stars, at bright Mercury or is it Jupiter, D knows. I look back at the universe, the dark sky, the lights, so vast, I see my baby there, when all of it came out of me that day, and saw the universe that had been growing inside of me and I cry and cry into the lake of the pool, of myself, floating, floating and I fall asleep. I am very good at floating.

The following day we’re packing up to head over to a protected Everglades swamp and I decided to pursue a song I heard on D’s parent’s car radio. The song is Roar by Katy Perry. As I was packing, I listened and watched the music video and found myself sobbing. This song, this video spoke directly to me. I kept watching and playing the whole thing until it wouldn’t make me sob (which was about 4-5 times). That is now one of my mantras. I went to read about it and discovered another related song, Brave by Sara Bareilles. Last night after the Mogwai show with Team Danny, between 2 and 4am, I listened to many versions of this song, a duet with Carol King melded with her song Beautiful and one two three different videos of people dancing to this song. I went to go into the backyard but the door was locked and I didn’t know where the keys were so I quietly put the music on in the living room and danced there.

jungle.jpg

Coupled with the temporary phone therapy, therapy with a social worker, bereavement groups and support from friends-family, these are my song mantras, they make me stronger, I sing them in my head when I wake up in the morning, they help me to maintain my confidence in myself, living this life fully, leaning into the discomfort, the pain of the loss of losing this baby, this tiny life that was growing inside of me and birthed a new Dawn, that is me, and knowing that I’m not alone and I am powerful and I am weak and there is courage in my vulnerability because one can’t exist without the other, they are all parts of me, all feelings are valid, all living things are valid and we all deserve freedom.  

Living tree at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Living tree at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Compassion for Lindsay Lohan aka How To Empathize With Your Neighbor

I have been dismayed that I haven’t been able to write up my daily Radical Miscarriage Blog post. Yesterday I finally went to CityMD where they told me, by just looking in my throat, in my ears and by talking with me, that I have Bronchitis & Post Nasal Drip. The doctor said everyone freaks out more than they need to - it just means that I have a sore throat and that mucus is dripping down into my lungs - fun! - and I need to sleep for two days! But yesterday, when Danny sent me a link about Lindsay Lohan, I knew I needed to write this post.

When (and if) you hear about Lindsay Lohan’s recent miscarriage, be kind and be compassionate. Regardless of your opinions on her acting or her life, when you think of Lindsay, think of me. Because now she and I have something in common; we’ve both had miscarriages.

I read this article yesterday right before taking a 4-hour nap to do my self care, my healing, doctor prescribed and Danny-enforced. I cried and cried. I can’t imagine the whole world knowing something so tragic in my life without my choosing to share it first. And I was mad. I felt like people were going to judge Lindsay, blame her, shun her. Again, think of me if you think these things and be kind and loving.

My friend Jessica, who I mention often, has said to me that we are from a generation that is more open than the Baby Boomers, more open than other recent generations in regards to so much and how we deal and journey through life. As a media figure, Lindsay no doubt was forced to reveal her private experience (while filming a reality TV show based on her life, meta!), but nonetheless is possibly one of the first celebrities or public figures to share their story of pain, vulnerability and transformation.

Last night, while coughing and not able to sleep and drinking a lot of tea from my mom + Danny, I watched Brené Brown’s TED talks and was especially moved by the animated short, The power of vulnerability. This short film should be required viewing for everyone, especially those who know someone who has experienced any kind of loss, and especially those who know someone who has experienced a miscarriage.

Yes, dear reader, I’m speaking to you. Because I’ve been open about my miscarriage from the first day, horribly, ironically on April 1st, 2014, with over 100 people and then posting my story online as My Radical Miscarriage Blog and on Facebook (!!), I have experienced a wide and varied response of support. As soon as I sent out an email to the 100 friends-family that already knew I was pregnant, I received many many emails of love and support and kindness and deep empathy. I also received emails that tried to “silver-line” my experience (coined by Brené Brown!). Since “coming out” on Facebook as well as in person to people who didn’t even know that I was pregnant, the response is the same varied reactions.

The other night I told a friend, a friend who has been through a lot, and she “silver-lined” my experience again and again, meanwhile with a big smile on her face, even when I told her this has been very painful and tried to open up that kind of “feeling” conversation and connection. It made me so angry. Part of me knew why I was so angry but I had to search in myself a little bit for all the reasons why. Watching that short on vulnerability and hearing and seeing the words “empathy fuels connection; sympathy drives disconnection” (Brené Brown) gave me the words and imagery to understand why it is that it bothers me so much when people don’t want to talk about or let me focus on the deep pain that I’m in. It helps me to understand why others, who do have “the best of intentions”, get so uncomfortable and defensive and dismissive when I bring up topics of Shame, Failure, Embarrassment, feeling like an Outcast and a Leper in relation to my experience of having a miscarriage. So let me tell you now: all feelings are valid. All feelings are valid. Repeat after me, shout it out loud: ALL FEELINGS ARE VALID. (Another close friend, who had a miscarriage last year, told me that and it’s now one of my mantras.) And all these feelings, I’m sure, have a place in a history that is repeatedly fueled by misogyny, these feelings have a place in ourselves - otherwise why would I be feeling them? I (and I’m sure many others who have suffered a loss) feel these things. I feel all the feelings. I don’t feel them every day, but they are apart of me and apart of what gives me courage to speak out and break the silence around miscarriage and loss in our daily lives and simultaneously inspires in me art and writing and singing and creativity and connection and joy.

1 in 4 women have a miscarriage. 1 in 200 women have a stillbirth. This is what my new OB told me. He said, Every year I deliver 200 babies and every year there is a stillbirth. This is heart breaking and it is also eye opening. In my mind, it should not be Pregnancy and Miscarriage and Stillbirth. It should be the Wide and Varied Spectrum of Pregnancy. If pregnancy loss is so prevalent (hello folks, that translates into 25% of the human female population on the planet earth which is A LOT of f-ing people!!) than we should not be separating out the horribly lonely experience of (in my case) miscarriage.

I am open so I tell everyone this and of course, hear the wide and varied response. Often I hear that people think this is such a painful time in a woman’s life (and it is! Believe me I KNOW) and that she will not want to talk about it. I’ve also heard others say that they know a friend who had a miscarriage and she didn’t take time off of work when it happened (which translates to me as she didn’t take time for herself) and “pushed on through with her head held high” or something like that. Well, I want to talk about it. It happened to me. I had a miscarriage and I want to talk about it! I know that I’m not the only one. I know that I’m not the only one who doesn’t want to feel the deepest sorrow in my life all by my lonesome self. I know that I’m not the only one that doesn’t want to enter a place of horrible darkness not knowing if I will come back out, how this will change me, if I will become self destructive and all the unknowns. I know that I’m not the only one who doesn’t want to do this alone, feeling the feelings, sometimes it seems, 25 all at once. I know that I’m not the only one who wants to talk about my feelings to others, who are open to truly listening, to going inside of themselves and tapping into their pain and empathizing with me and facing our deepest fears together.

If it wasn’t already blaringly obvious, I am on a mission. I am on a Crusade To Make Crying Ok + Courageous. And I’m on a mission to make a space, to create a world in which we do not need to be ashamed of our feelings, of our bodies or our experiences or our loss. I am creating a world with you, in which a woman or female-bodied person doesn’t need to wait until the 2nd trimester (approx 11 or 12 weeks into the pregnancy) to announce that we’re pregnant for fear of a miscarriage. I am creating a world with you where, as soon as any of us become pregnant, we can be open and share it (if we want) and will be supported and loved and given resources and access to an abortion, post-abortion doula care, prenatal care, midwives, birthing options, etc etc if we want it. What is choice anyways? The ideologies of liberals and lefties and the term “Pro-choice” (which was recently changed and abandoned by Planned Parenthood because it is so limiting and promotes a binary that shuts down the conversation of women’s and female-bodied people’s agency in their own lives) and which I followed for many many years, do not cut it any more. I believe we need to be bold and courageous and fearless and turn this world upside down and inside out. And we can do that together. I am doing it right now. You may be too. Join me!

4.22.2014 1:51 PM