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I Had A Miscarriage

After struggling to conceive, my husband and I sought help from a fertility doctor. After a couple of months, we were elated to discover that our first IUI (intrauterine insemination) was successful! I went in for a few rounds of blood work and everything seemed perfect. Within a week, we told our families and close friends.

I was nauseous and had strong symptoms from the beginning, so that had given me a (false) sense of security. At my first ultrasound, I was expecting to hear our growing baby’s heartbeat. Instead, I found out there was no heartbeat and baby wasn’t growing.

Nothing prepares you to hear the words, “I’m sorry but there isn’t a heartbeat.”

Those next few days were a blur. My HCG was extremely high, so my doctor had me wait another week to do a follow-up ultrasound. During this time, I heard many similar stories where the baby was okay. That gave me more false hope. When I went back the next week, the ultrasound confirmed the miscarriage.

My body wasn’t miscarrying naturally, so I had a procedure the following week. I spent 11 days walking around in this weird limbo of pregnant, but no healthy baby. That was a feeling unlike any other. There is a deep emptiness that goes along with infertility and pregnancy loss. I never understood until it happened to me.

One in four women have lost a pregnancy and one in eight couples experience infertility. These things are happening all around us, yet they are rarely discussed. The stigma associated with both infertility and miscarriage is still prevalent.

These stigmas and misconceptions about infertility and miscarriage have hurt me.

Sometimes I feel guilty grieving this loss because I have a healthy child. I’ve been told to “be grateful” for everything I have, as if missing my baby somehow means I’m not grateful. I know the pain and loneliness that comes with infertility. Month after month of negative pregnancy tests weigh on your heart. I know how blessed I am to have a healthy child, but losing another still hurts.

Miscarriage isn’t losing a pregnancy of (fill in the blank) weeks. It doesn’t matter how far along you were. From the first moment you find out, you begin imagining a life for your baby. Will he love football like his big brother? Will she go to law school like me? Will the baby have my husband’s blue eyes? Your dreams for and about your child are endless. It is earth-shattering when those are lost.

If you haven’t experienced miscarriage or infertility, you likely know someone that has.

Everyone has a different story, but we all have one thing in common. We need support. Don’t try to “fix it,” just be there. Sometimes all we need is a friend to listen and sit with us while we cry. I’ve met some wonderful women that have told me their stories and have listened to mine.

It has been over two months since the day my world came crashing down and it still hurts as badly as the first day. It is so easy to withdraw while you’re struggling with loss, especially when a loved one is pregnant. It can be difficult to balance grieving your loss and supporting your mommy friends. It takes time and patience, so don’t push yourself. Infertility and miscarriage are heartbreaking and I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone.

If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out. There is a whole community of women like you. I’ve read blogs, listened to podcasts, joined Facebook groups and followed Instagram accounts. I gain valuable information from every source. This pain will never end, but I am learning to live with it.

6 Ways to Manage Pain Without Drinking

Pain sucks. I know it well. Aside from a rousing round of tackle football that I played without pads in my early twenties, I’ve been in six car accidents.

My streak began at 17 when I rolled from a stop into the car in front of me. Lots of heartache and guilt, but thankfully no pain. The impact barely affected me or the driver of the other car.

At age 18, I was side-swiped while turning left at a stoplight, and that’s when the pain started. It was on my right side, mid-back, and it felt like I was getting stabbed.

Several months later, I was sandwiched between a Volvo station wagon and a sedan. Post-concussion syndrome took drinking away for eight months while my brain healed, and my back pain intensified until I was visiting the chiropractor weekly. I was young, so my body bounced back pretty quickly.

Once the post-concussion syndrome healed, I had a way to manage my remaining pain: alcohol.

No longer was it just used to relieve social awkwardness and hide from trauma. No. It was a way to avoid the pain, and it was much, much cheaper than chiropractic.

I had a brief respite from accidents until I was 21 and rolled into another car getting on the freeway when I got distracted looking for a tampon. Note: feminine products, though important, are not worth getting stranded on the side of the freeway sobbing because your car now needs a new radiator and you’re flat broke.

I started a new job at an alcohol superstore, and the constant access to booze, combined with the bottle of pain meds I kept in my pocket, made it possible to stand up for eight hours a day running bottles across the check-out scanner.

Accident five waited until I was successfully moderating my drinking. But then, just as I was learning to live life without overdrinking, an Acura SUV smashed into me going 50 mph. My little blue sub-compact was crushed between her bumper and that of the car in front of me. I stumbled away from the scene, severely concussed, barely able to stand.

For the eight months that it took me to get back on my feet, I drank the pain away.

The sixth (thankfully much smaller) accident came and went, but my coping mechanism was there to stay. It sucked. I didn’t like it. But it was necessary. The pain was indescribable, and I sobbed through the days. Then one day I got tired of it. I got off the couch, wiped my tears, put down the bottle, and took my life back. It was tough. It was sometimes painstaking. But it was so, so worth it.

Here is what has worked for me:

Exercise

I still have flare-ups, and on my worst days (or weeks), the only thing I can do is lie in bed and hug my knees to my chest. Ice, knee stretch, get up and walk, lie back down at a slight incline with my legs over a pillow. Repeat. This may not sound like exercise, but it’s something. If I can do something—anything—physical without causing more harm to my body, I will. That day I put down the bottle, I joined Crossfit. It took a long time. Months. It took gentle, careful exercises. It took listening to my body, but not giving up. It took reminding the trainers there that I have a significant injury. I’m not being lazy. I’m taking care of my body.

Stretching

This goes with number one, but stretching and rolling out my muscles is so helpful. For my favorite lower backstretch, I lie on my belly for 60 seconds, relaxing, and then raise myself up on my elbows, holding for 60 seconds. Breathing. Calm. I’ve been through many rounds of physical therapy, and I’ll go back from time to time just in case my therapist has anything new to teach me.

Meditation

Years ago, after the fifth accident, my doctor steered me toward a mindfulness meditation class that met once a week. We did yoga and Qi Gong, and meditated. At the end of the eight-week class, we all spent a full day together without speaking. I thought it would be hard, but it was amazing. It’s something I still do to this day, nearly nine years later. When I have flare-ups, I sit and I breathe. I meditate on the meaning of pain. I remember that though the pain will always be there, and this flare-up is temporary.

Medication

Painkillers were not my addiction, but I still have to be careful with this one. Even in sobriety, I’ve abused painkillers chasing relief, because avoidance of pain and suffering is the human condition. But the medications do help, as long as I take them mindfully. I usually take my painkillers before bed and do numbers one through three throughout the day to remain calm and as active as I can be. If I don’t feel like I can be safe with painkillers, I have my husband hold on to them and give them to me as needed.

Eating Healthy

For me, eating less processed food and more fruits and vegetables helps my pain and inflammation. A lot. I can feel a huge difference with even a day or two of breaking from this habit.

Be Gentle

Nobody wants to be in pain. When I’m caring for my children, it’s even worse because they’re little and wild, and they don’t care if I’m hurting as long as they get their Goldfish crackers and Daniel Tiger. So I’m gentle with myself: with my body and mind. I keep in mind that I’m going to get better, it’s just not right now. And I remind myself I’m not a bad person. I’m not a burden. Because that’s immediately where my mind goes.

Not all of these will work for everyone—but I’ve learned that being injured does not mean I can’t be strong. I just have to go about it differently than other people.

After ten years, I get major flare-ups two to three times a year. This is when I’m incapacitated for anywhere from an hour up to six weeks. Minor flare-ups happen several times a month, resulting in me backing off my exercise routine and just doing a lot of walking instead. But then, as soon as I can, I’m back at it. Slowly. Carefully. Strong. Able. I can’t change what has happened, but I can change how I respond to it. I don’t need to drink or abuse drugs to avoid pain, because for me avoiding pain isn’t the goal. I will never truly avoid pain, I will only manage it. And so that’s what I do, one step—or gentle stretch—at a time.

My Family Was in Crisis and I Wanted to Use

On November 28th, one hour before Thanksgiving dinner, my water broke and my placenta tore. I was rushed to labor and delivery and had an emergency C-section. At 6:52 PM, my beautiful miracle, Liliana Anne, was born. She was a month early, but she was healthy and safe, or so I thought.

Apparently, sometime during my five-day hospital stay, my baby and I came in contact with someone who had Pertussis (whooping cough). I was never offered the DTap shot, so I didn’t get the booster.

When my nine-day-old “Lil Bean” started coughing, I got worried. I took her to her doctor and then to the ER the following day. Eventually, they transported us to Children’s Hospital almost 100 miles away from our home, and placed her in the PICU.

She was put on oxygen, IVs, and medicine. The Center For Disease Control quarantined us both for six days.

All I could do for six days was watch my baby fight to live, and pray that her next breath wouldn’t be her last. The doctors warned us not to get our hopes up that she would survive. She was in extremely critical condition, and her chances were not good. One week later, my chances weren’t good either. While coughing, I cracked, broke, and ripped the cartilage between my ribs. Then I split my C-section incision and had to have it re-sutured.

The pain was unbearable.

Did I think about using? You bet your ass I did. Some nights I cried myself to sleep with the urge to go to the ER and beg them for something, ANYTHING, to ease my pain. I thought about drinking until passing out just to numb myself, but I knew I couldn’t. I was still struggling to breastfeed, and I didn’t want to hurt my baby, so I didn’t cave. I thought about it almost minute to minute, but I didn’t give in. I did a lot of praying and calling, and crying.

And I fought the urge.

For weeks, I would watch her get better then take a turn for the worse again. I couldn’t keep anything down because of the coughing, so I became dehydrated and started losing more weight. Eventually, I lost the ability to breastfeed because I was so sick. This alone damn near drove me mad! On top of being sick, I was a failure. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right! I had managed to nurse Lil Bean for five weeks and, that in itself, felt like miracle!

We spent Christmas in the ICU. Then we spent New Year’s Day in the ICU. I spent a lot of time crying and making deals with my higher power to get us healthy. We came home after five weeks because, even though we both still had a cough, it was manageable. We both now have immunity to pertussis and will most likely never catch it again, but I won’t take any chances. We’re all immunized in this home.

Unfortunately, our story does not end there. Nine days after coming home, my significant other called me on his lunch break, like he always did. He said his right arm was as if it had fallen asleep, and it was moving into his leg. Fifteen minutes later, he called me back and said it was now in his face. I begged him to leave work and go to the ER, so he did. The ER thought it might be caused by the terrible headaches he had or even a pulled muscle. The next morning, he woke up and couldn’t move, walk or talk. I called EMS and they took him back to the ER. It was then that we found out, at the age of 46, he suffered a right side partial paralysis stroke.

My first thought was, “Man, do I ever need a drink!” But I resisted. Again.

He spent five days in ICU and is home now. He has constant appointments and therapy and has since lost his job. I only get SSI, so I don’t know what we’re going to do. The thought of losing my house and kids is too much to bear, but I will keep going as long as I can. Sometimes I still think to myself, “I want that drink! Or maybe a pill!” Then Lil Bean wakes up and I realize she will be the only one getting a bottle tonight.

Lil Bean and I are finally on the mend and her Daddy is slowly recovering. It will be a long road for the three of us—months for me and Lil Bean and probably years for her Daddy—but we all are alive and have been given a second chance at life. That’s all that matters.

When I was asked to write this, I didn’t know why anyone would want to hear about this messed up part of my life. Then it hit me: I want to hear it. I want to read it. I deserve to let out a HUGE sigh of relief knowing that I did all this, I went through all this, and not once did I put something in my body to make me feel numb. I’ve faced a lot of fears and dealt with a lot of challenges over the last year, but I have not picked up a thing. So, please remember, whatever comes your way, you can do it. You never need to use or drink ever again.

I am living proof that as long as you believe in yourself, anything is possible – even sobriety.

We would like to thank Dianne for submitting this brave and amazingly inspirational post. She is a recovering addict and alcoholic with four years of sobriety.

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My Transition to Not Drinking Was Not As Easy As Turning Off a Tap

For at least four months after I made the decision to quit drinking, I found myself in a strange purgatory.

I didn’t want to be drinking. I didn’t want to not be drinking.

I wanted all the “mores” of being booze-free—more money, more time, more energy, more self-respect—but those “mores” seemed like an easier thing to do later. Like tomorrow. And I could have just this one more beer today.

I held rational thoughts (like you’d be better off without beer) and irrational thoughts (one flight of craft beer is no big deal) simultaneously.

I was sure I could have fun without drinking. I was sure I didn’t want to try it.

All the back and forth exhausted me, almost as much as the drinking had.

I’d like to tell you I had a magnificent turning point. That one day God switched on some lightbulb in my brain. Waters parted. Angels swooped down. I suddenly thought alcohol was gross and stupid.

What happened instead was I kept slogging through purgatory with this immense mental weight strapped uncomfortably to my back.

I walked away from drinking and toward not drinking, and found that it was like any other landscape change: gradual. You don’t start in a marsh and five steps later end up in the desert. There’s a transition. You must travel through that. If you don’t, you can’t get anywhere.

As I got farther away from the scenery around drinking, I started appreciating the scenery in the non-drinking landscape.

I learned to cope with things without drinking. I started to face my pain and fear instead of ignoring it. I found the fun in everything, instead of just the fun in drinking. I embraced a bigger life because I could see the whole thing more clearly.

And one day, I was finally able to say, nope. I’m good.

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Have You Ever…?

Have you ever had that moment when you just had an instant connection to someone?

I have. I had that moment today. I spent a couple of hours with four other amazing women at a Sober Mommies group. We talked about real things, we laughed about stupid stuff that people who haven’t lived it cannot understand. We laughed about the fact that there was no way I could sanely pour booze down the drain the last time I drank; that my mind told me that that was not okay and I had to finish it.

They understood me. They understood what it was to be a mother in sobriety.

They understood that there are many aspects to personal recovery. They did not judge me for my faith being the largest part of mine. They did not tell me that instead of going to church on Saturday and Sunday (and many other days) I should be at a meeting. They did not have a problem with the fact that outside of therapy, my main support system consists of two priests (one my spiritual father and in all ways that matter to me—my father), a bishop, and a nun. They thought it was awesome I had such support.

The things we talked about were amazing, and we all talked. The meeting went over 40 minutes and I missed my ride, so I was offered a ride home. We ended the meeting, and then these awesome women helped me carry my walker down three flights of steep stairs; offering me an arm as I braved down the last set of outdoor stairs. We hugged each other as if we had known each other for ages.

We had a connection. I had a connection. I was not alone.

I need to tell myself that if I can just make myself reach out each day, especially on the days where that feels like the hardest thing to do. Those are the days when I want to the least and the phone feels like it weighs four hundred or so pounds. I can make it if I just keep reaching out, if I share my story, if I impart my experience, strength, and hope. I’ll get through if I listen to others and allow myself to feel that connection and relate.

Did I mention that it was amazing?

On the way home we talked, and I shared letters and poetry I had written. We talked about our shared experiences and pain that we both understood. We talked about our pasts and how much they hurt. We talked about our healing and strengths. We talked the whole way. We never ran out of conversation.

We got to my house and got out of the car. Lighting up our cigarettes, we talked some more, and I heard things I really needed to hear. I heard that I have hope to offer others, regardless of how much fear and anxiety I have. I heard that I am a fighter.

I heard that I have more strength than I ever see. I heard that I am blossoming and that it is amazing to witness.

As she teared up saying these things to me, my heart broke; but in a good way. I let someone inside of it. I trusted. I took a risk. I agreed to reach out to others. I agreed to share my story. We talked about how there may be others who feel the way I do, but don’t know how to express it. We talked about my mother telling me that I really am a fighter even if I don’t always know it and that maybe I can inspire someone else who is scared to be a fighter too. I don’t know (and I don’t think) that I am all that and a bag of chips, but it was amazing to hear that I do actually have something to offer to others, even with my measly fifteen days of sobriety.

The thought that my words could help and touch another was amazing and healing to me. The idea that on the days when I am afraid to cross my threshold (because that still is going to happen, I will not heal and be awesome overnight), I can still cross the proverbial threshold of the inter-webs, and reach out to other women who feel just like me.

Even if our stories are not the same. Even if are mistakes are different. There are still so many “me too” moments and so many feelings that are the same. Not only that, but we are able to respect our differences and realize that for each of us, recovery looks a little bit different; that it doesn’t have to come in cookie-cutter shape and form. We can build our own programs and define our own recovery. If mine looks a little different than someone else’s, that is okay. We all need to recover in our own way and then come together to help and support and love one another through it all.

Unconditional love? What is that? I have never had that in my life.

I am learning what it is. The idea that I can be honest and still be loved is amazing and so healing. The idea that I don’t ever have to be alone again unless I choose to be is off-the-charts awesome!

So I ask you, have you ever had that moment when you had an instant connection to someone? I did. I have. I will. I am blessed. I am amazed at the way God works through people in my life. If changing my past -my pain – my mistakes would change what and who I have now in my life I would never do it. Never. I would not trade the people in my life for anything on the planet. Not even if it meant I could erase all of the pain of the past.

My past made me who I am today, and I am starting to see that although she needs some work, she is not such a bad person for me to be.

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