learning to surrender

On my hands and knees, pressing into my yoga mat, my muscles tense, my mind whirring. Unable to find space, unable to find what feels good. Begrudgingly, I swing my right leg up and back, then forward, laying it across my mat like a blockade, pressing my protesting hips into pigeon pose, one of my favorites, one of my biggest challenges.

The pose pulls through many parts of me. At first, the protestations of my tight hips only get louder as I focus in on them, attempt to bend them to my will, gritting my teeth and demanding they do as I say. Forgetting to breathe. Forgetting to find softness. Finding only frustration and pain.

Slowly, though, I remind myself of why I am here. Why I have come to my mat today. Slowly, my focus is pulled back to the center of my being, the quietude at the heart of me: my breath. As I begin to blur into the rise of inhalation, the fall of exhalation, my hips begin to loosen on their own, melting further and further into the mat, until, gradually and all at once, I find myself resting with my arms on the ground, my forehead on my arms, my hips open, in a pose of recline and supplication.

Surrender is hard for me. Like many people, I want to be in control of as much as possible, as often as possible. I want to take action and know that it will manifest the exact results that I want it to manifest.

I don’t have to tell you that life doesn’t work that way. I’m sure you already know. I’m sure you can think of many occasions when your well-laid plans splintered into pieces only to be reassembled in an image you didn’t recognize. I could never have anticipated the exact route that my life has taken. It certainly wasn’t the route that I planned.

But I do so love to try. I do so love to obsess over the future and how to make it exactly the way I want it. Despite the fact that every plan I have ever made has derailed in some way, big or small. Despite the fact that this way of thinking causes nothing but deep and desperate anxiety.

*

I would have been 34 weeks pregnant if I hadn’t lost my first baby. Or 27 weeks, if I hadn’t lost my second.

I’ve mostly come to terms with that. But sometimes, I am overcome with a tired, half-hearted rage that makes me demand, “How the fuck is this fair? Tell me how.”

It’s not, of course. Fairness has nothing to do with it at all. The universe never promised to be fair.

Still, I get angry with it. I want to know why it’s punishing me (it’s not). I want to know what I did to deserve this (probably nothing). I want to know what I can do to bend the universe to my will to get what I want (I can’t).

I’ve mostly come to terms with my miscarriages, but still, they hurt. Still, I imagine what it would be like to be 27 or 34 weeks pregnant. To be big and uncomfortable like I never was. To know if it was a boy or a girl, to have seen its little black and white alien ultrasound face.

It hurts, but I think about it.

And then, like a fool, I think about what I can do to make sure the universe never screws me like that again.

*

I do not know what the future holds. I cannot know. Right now, I’m planning on returning to school in the fall, postponing my entrance into the ranks of motherhood for a few years.

I mean, that’s the plan. Who knows what the universe will blow my way, though? Who knows how the plan will shift?

Plan. Surrender. Plan. Surrender.

Rinse and repeat.

And so I return to my yoga practice for guidance. Guidance on the best way to surrender to the universe and stop trying to force myself into the shape I think I should be: thinner, more accomplished, more educated, better dressed, richer. A mother. Whatever.

I’m breathing in and breathing out. I am surrendering to the will and the timing of the universe. I do what I can, and the rest is not up to me. I do what I can, then I open my fists and let the universe do with my efforts what it pleases.

learning to surrender

it’s so unfair

We didn’t really tell anyone that I was pregnant again. It felt like a jinx.

We needn’t have worried. The whole thing was jinxed without our help, apparently.

This is my second miscarriage in two and a half months. Logically, I know that I haven’t done anything. That chromosomal mismatch is not something that is under my control. But … still. It feels like my fault. It feels like I am being punished. It feels like I should have done more.

I’m really angry, you know? I’m so angry that this is happening again. Especially so soon. I hadn’t even recovered emotionally from the trauma of the last miscarriage and here I am again, grieving once again. It isn’t fair. It isn’t fair. There are sixteen year olds out there who manage to have babies. There are forty-six year olds out there who manage to have babies. I know, I know, there are many people who have problems. I know. But I think that is deeply unfair too. Why is it so easy for some people and so so hard for others?

At this point, I don’t know if there is something wrong with me that is causing this to happen. Maybe it is a fluke. But I find myself wondering, over and over again, what is wrong with me. And what I can do to fix it.

It is all that I can do not to be dragged under by the tide of my overwhelming anger and sadness. I desperately want to thrash against the indifference of fate, to wail and scream and tear out my hair and have someone say, “You’re right, it’s not fair,” and fix it. But that won’t happen.

All that I can do is focus on letting myself heal, both physically and mentally. I told Bryan early on when we found out I was pregnant again that if we lost this baby, too, I was done for a while, and I am. I can’t go through this – any of this – again for a while. I am going to focus on things that I can control: writing my novel, getting back into running and weightlifting after a long hiatus, saving for another international trip, volunteering, taking a dance class. I am going to focus on living life and being happy, and I will do my best to trust in the universe’s timing. Now is not the time, I guess. Maybe, if I put all of my attention into other things, the right time will sneak up on me.

Here’s hoping.

it’s so unfair

Five Hours

WARNING: This might be triggering for those of you have experienced the pain of miscarriage. <3

We had already been waiting for five hours. Five hours, just to get ultrasound results. Five hours in which we’d been moved to three different waiting rooms, seen many other patients come and go, and still heard nothing. Five hours in which the pain became increasingly hard to bear and no one would even give me a Tylenol until the doctor had seen me. Five hours in which my frustration, anger, and sadness mounted to a fever pitch.

We both sat on the ER bed, listening to the woman on the other side of the curtain explaining her symptoms to the doctor, saying, “It might just be the flu, but I need to know, because I work as a Costco sampler, you know, and my boss needs to know if it is contagious.” My legs were pulled up to my chest and I rocked back and forth, trying to breathe my way through the ripping, cramping pain, while Bri rubbed my back and I resisted the urge to rip open the curtain and punch that other woman in the face, screaming, “You think it’s just the flu?! Why are you here?! Why are you keeping the doctor from seeing me with your stupid flu symptoms?”

Five hours they made me wait to tell me what I already knew: I was losing my baby.

Earlier in the day, I’d lain on a bed in a dimly lit room while a sweet ultrasound tech with a raspy, comforting voice named Lindsay rubbed a wand over my belly. I couldn’t bring myself to look at her face. I did not want to see what was written there. I scratched at the corner of my eye and she asked if I was doing okay. Said, “I know it is not an easy thing.”

After that first abdominal ultrasound, the doctor elected for a vaginal one, as well. An intern joined us in the room as a camera wand was inserted between my thighs and craned around at all sorts of strange angles. I had a momentary, insane urge to laugh.

Five hours later, and I was still waiting for the results of that procedure.

The pain in my pelvis was escalating quickly, and I could feel strange pulses of liquid between my legs. They finally moved us into a private room. It was for eye exams, and Bri spent five minutes rifling through the drawers to see what treasures they contained, pulling out plastic-wrapped medical tools and reading out their absurd names. It helped to distract me a little as I bowed over in pain, tears running down my face. I loved my best friend, and I was so grateful that she had driven an hour and a half so I would not be alone, but I wished my husband was there, too. Instead, he was waiting by the phone, a province over, in the middle of an island, waiting for any news at all.

I went into the washroom. There was so much blood. My early pregnancy nightmares of oceans of blood washing over me were coming true. The doctor came in a minute after I returned to the room and confirmed everything I had known all along.

Miscarriage.

No fetal heart rate.

No development after 8 weeks.

As she talked, I noticed that the rippling pain in my abdomen had stopped. I wondered if it was over.

She told me a bunch of other things, too, under those eye exam posters, as I sat curled up in the opthamology chair. I couldn’t process much of it, or really do more than nod. Bri asked a few questions, thinks that made me think, Yes, that would be good to know. But I couldn’t process the answers.

Then we gathered our things and left.

I didn’t let myself cry right away. I forced myself to act calm, to keep my voice as steady as possible as I uttered any inane thought that entered my head. I didn’t let myself go until I was walking to my car, alone. The sobs clenched my heart and shook my core. I couldn’t breathe.

I lost our baby.

Bryan called as I was pulling out of the parking lot. I sobbed even harder at the sound of his voice. All I could get out was, “I’m so sorry.” To which he responded, low and fierce and full of heart-rending grief, “You have nothing to be sorry for.”

I know it’s not my fault. I know I didn’t do anything. But I still feel an awful lot like it’s my fault. I lost our baby.

Bri and I sat in Boston Pizza. The AC was on high. I tried to be normal. I might have even laughed some, I don’t know. Bryan called again. He was the one crying this time.

As we stood up to leave, I realized that the hem of my shirt was oddly wet. I looked down at my seat; it was drenched. My chest constricted and things slowed down as I swiped at it with a napkin; it came away bright red with blood. I stared at Bri, unsure what to do, my brain grinding to a painful halt as I hovered there. She waved a hand at me and said, “Go, I’ll deal with this.” I balled the bloody napkin in my hand and hurried across the entire length of the restaurant to the washroom.

The whole back of my pants were soaked in blood. I mopped at myself, crying again. I checked my reflection; it wasn’t even noticeable. But now that my pants had been off, they were cold and wet against my skin. Not damp. Wet. Would the pain and frustration and humiliation of this day never end?

I just wanted to go home.

It has been a few weeks now. I feel okay, considering. It hits me randomly every so often; as I bound up stairs without wanting to collapse with exhaustion, as I order a beer at a bar, when I notice pregnant women and tiny infants on the streets. Oh, right. I’m not pregnant anymore. But I’m coping with it better than I ever would have anticipated. Which brings a whole other slurry of emotion with it; why aren’t I more devastated? What is wrong with me that I am this okay about losing my baby? Am I a terrible person?

I am sad, and I am not, and I am okay, and I am not, and all of that is okay. There is no right way through this pain. There was a baby, and now there is not, and I feel horribly, thickly sad, and I also don’t. I don’t know if that will ever go away.

But one thing never changes: I wish I could have my baby back.

Five Hours