A Confession: I’ve Been Hiding From My Grief

Sad face by Amber West ~ WANA Commons

A lot of the people who stop into More Cowbell on Sundays are writers (and fellow ROW80 pals). But this post isn’t just for writers. This post is for everyone who thinks they can bypass grief.

I’ve got some unfortunate news:  Grief is a slippery little sucker that refuses to be contained.

Stuff it in your pocket, and it’ll chew a hole and climb your frame till it reaches your heart. Bury it and it’ll grow roots like a morning glory and strangle all your growth. Try running away and grief will keep pace…because that’s the way the human condition works.

Why is this coming up in the middle of my Sunday update where I (usually) talk about writing?

Because grief has been jacking up my writing process this month.

Many of you know I’m writing a memoir about high-worry pregnancy (specifically MINE) and, thankfully, I’m on the back half of it, streaming toward the end. My ROW80 pals have noticed that I’ve been a bit quiet of late, and today I’m going to confess why.

I can’t handle the grief right now.

I don’t have time. I’m in a happy place. I’m enjoying my life and my work and my blog. (Blah-blah-blah. Do you SEE the big man or woman upstairs clutching their sides laughing?)

When I discussed this with one of my critique partners earlier this week, it took a while for both of us to understand what was going on. She kept saying, “But you had a baby! And she’s perfect.” She’s exactly right. And it doesn’t matter a bit. There’s still a tremendous amount of post-traumatic stress associated with preemie births, high-risk pregnancies and miscarriages.

High-risk babies create grief.

This is the big dark secret that everyone keeps a lid on. There’s grief if they live and grief if they die…just two very different kinds of grief. The fact is that you worry they will die the entire pregnancy and there is a price for stuffing that down.

Here I am, finishing this memoir when Baby Girl is over two years-old…and the grief is stopping me cold.

And don’t even get me started on the guilt…there are nasty voices in my head that ask:

Why are you mourning the inability to have more children when the one you have is amazing? There are women who would be thankful to have even one child. Why are you grieving the loss of a happy, idyllic pregnancy? You carried a baby past term and everybody lived. GET OVER YOURSELF.

I really want to pop a cap in the owner of those nasty voices. Oops… That would be ME, engaging in that idiotic circular thought process. I’ve been driving myself bonkers.

So, I’m rooting through my Fear-Busting Undie Bin for the loudest, baddest Big Girl Panties I own and strapping those bastards on to write these scenes. I’m gonna get ’em done by the end of the month if it kills me (which it feels like it might). It’s not gonna be pretty but I’m no sissy.

Chances are, if you got this far into the post, you aren’t either.

Are there fears you’re facing right now to achieve your goals? What real or imagined “Big Girl or Big Boy Panties” help you bust through to the other side? How are you doing on achieving your goals this week? Enquiring minds always want to know these things here at More Cowbell!

p.s. Click here to cheer on your ROW80 pals on their goals.

Jenny

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
This entry was posted in Inspiration, Team #ROW80, The Writing Journey and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

92 Responses to A Confession: I’ve Been Hiding From My Grief

  1. Marie Trout says:

    Often getting to the point where we accept that we are grieving is the hardest step to take. From there on it is about moving through it. Not ignoring it. Not fighting it. Walking through it in full awareness and appreciation for the lessons it contains for us. Allowing tears when we need the tears to flow. And knowing that each time we let ourselves feel authentic emotion, we have the potential to grow. We learn. Pain is inevitable in life. It is about not getting stuck – then it turns into suffering. Here is to your willingness to share your journey. You rock!

    Like

  2. Jeff Clough says:

    I play dodgeball with grief; keep moving, hope I don’t get hit. I get hit once, I’m down for days, bombarded with every nasty thing, real or imagined, my mind can come up with. I’ve got the sort of defective-by-design brain that would love nothing more than to lock me in a room and torture me with every regret, bad memory, and failure it can drag up from the basement.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Jeff, I think this comment makes every person that stops in here want to give you a hug. I’m so sorry your grief is hitting you between the eyes. The lucky thing for me is we have a counselor that I go to as needed. It helps tremendously.

      Like

      • Jeff Clough says:

        Oh I have more than my fair share of mental health people on the case. What helps me is finding other things to focus on. Writing, reading, research, exercise, my daughter–whatever keeps my mind and body moving fast enough that I don’t have time to dwell on the negative. That usually works, with added bonus of creating more positive experiences to balance things out.

        Like

  3. Lara says:

    I have no words, Jenny. Just lots of hugs and a shoulder or two. It’s okay to move through things at your own pace. It’s a process and the speed is individual. I’m sorry…didn’t I say I had no words? Hmm. Hugs anyway. I know how you feel, both about the grief and the speed.

    Hugs,

    Lara

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  4. Julie Glover says:

    Oh, honey, I can only imagine what you went through. I do know that if I think about it long-and-hard, I can bring back the emotions I felt when I hemorrhaged like a gun-shot victim and landed in the hospital with a damaged placenta and four weeks of bed rest ahead of me. That doesn’t compare to the pins-and-needles you were no for your whole pregnancy. I wish I could be there to give you a giant hug and cry with you. (Yeah, I’m all “mourn with those who mourn” like that.) And then we could crack undie jokes for comic relief.

    You’re a brave lady to confess your grief and write what you know to help others. Hang in there and know you’ve got a massive posse wishing you the best and ready to offer their shoulders when needed.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I’m a sympathetic cry-er/mourner too, Julie. And as Kathy pointed out below, someone else’s grief doesn’t make yours any less. I’d have been scared spitless by the hemorrhage/bed rest deal. You go, girl.🙂

      I’ll get through it. I just realized I was stuck and figured I should share.

      Like

  5. Nadja Notariani says:

    Jenny,
    My heart goes out to you, both for the pregnancy experienced with the ‘no guarantee’ disclaimer hanging over your head, to the helplessness at learning there will be no more pregnancies. I can understand. I’ve not spoken of this, but in light of your sharing and the book you are writing, I will share that I lost a baby boy just past the mid-point of gestation. I hemorrahaged under the placenta. I cried, I wanted to defy G-d – to change his will to suit my wants – but as anyone who has been through this knows, all that is left is a feeling of helplessness. Faith is what carried me through that dark season. But the ache of sorrow doesn’t leave you – and when I discovered myself pregnant a few months later, I was terrified. I spent that pregnancy ready to crawl out of my skin. Being diabetic didn’t help. But my story did have a happy ending. I have beautiful children, and I’m thankful. Time healed me – and I now understand that I lived through that for a purpose. I have met and encouraged and comforted so many women. I commend you for writing your story. You will touch women’s hearts. You’ve already touched mine.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      *sniffling*

      Seriously, Nadja, this one got to me. Good for you on reaching out to help other women. I’m trying, and it’s kicking my ass.

      Like

      • Nadja Notariani says:

        For a long time, I didn’t reach out to anyone but my mother. I wasn’t ready.
        G-d will put someone in your path…and you’ll just …know – and being a comfort to another going through a similar situation probably did more to heal me than anything. But, yeah…until then, it kicks your ass.

        Like

  6. I get this. I had three high-risk pregnancies and it was scary as hell. I take meds to treat epilepsy and have HBP. I would spend two mornings in the hospital each week for stress tests and ultrasounds. Each one of my children had to be induced early . . . the stress was incredible. As was the pain and grief of it all.

    Those three children are fine–no–beautiful now. The eldest turns 9 in a few weeks; the middle one, 8 in November. And the baby–he’s 6.

    Now, as far as grief while writing, I hear you. Ripple starts out with the rape of a 15-year old by her father, and it follows the mother and daughter as they flee from further harm. While it’s about hope and redemption and the Ripple effect of women helping women, I had to explore my own grief and memories to write this book. The process tapped into all of my chronic PTSD. It was not an easy book to write by any means, and I had to use every tool I had to complete it. That includes grieving.

    So what I’m saying is that I hear you and I’m rooting for you. You can do this. You have family and friends and a support system to draw on–keep drawing on it. You can do this . . . and the grieving is a good thing, both for you and in the end, for the authenticity of the words you write.

    Take care, my friend.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      It’s good to know that it’s going to take friends, wine, counseling and some good old fashioned stubborn-ness. It helps to know you did and rocked it. Thanks, El. You’re a sweetie pie.🙂

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  7. amyshojai says:

    {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}
    I have no great advice that might help. And yes, I mourn too for other things, other issues. And I’ve had both writerly friends and acting coaches tell me EMBRACE the shitoke–use it, channel the emotion, get it out on the page or on the stage, be a witness to the horror and you’ll change lives for the better, including your own. Peace, my friend. You will get through this.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      That’s a fine hug, Amy. Thanks bunches. I know I need to “use and embrace” the crapola but damn it’s hard. All this outpouring of hugs and love makes me more likely to strap those big girl panties on with freaking duct tape and keep at it until I succeed. (hugs back)🙂

      Like

  8. Jenny.

    I am there with you right now. Literally, right now. Over the last months, I’ve smiled through my son’s bar mitzvah — which was wonderful and miraculous — because, you know, he stopped breathing 5 times after he was born. And spent too much time in the NICU. So for him to have made it to 13 is miraculous. But I often find myself waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop.

    Meanwhile, I was recently cut off by my former writing partner, a woman I had opened my heart to. I still don’t quite know what happened there. But it is raw.

    And this morning I woke up here in Canada thinking, I am not devoted to my fiction book. I’m just not. There are done great parts, but I’m not really a fiction writer. I’m a non-fiction writer. So do I change? And try to retrofit something? Or leave it alone?

    I’m sad because my husband doesn’t care about any of this. His lack of support is heartbreaking. And lonely. So, like you, I put on my smiley face.

    But as we head off to ride segueways this morning, I’m not so happy right now.

    And I have some other stuff going on too that us much more terrifying. So. I just want you to know that I appreciate your confession as it allowed a space for mine to spill out a little.

    Thanks Jenny. I’m so happy that BabyGirl is here and wonderful. As you know, I have an only. Not by choice, but it is working out to be divine. I pray you find peace in all this. Amazing how writing these books brings up our own demons, eh?

    *weep*

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    • Catherine Johnson says:

      Oh Renee, I think you should go with your gut on the writing and do what gives you the most pleasure. You can always pick the other up later. And as for the unsupportive bit, I’ve started seeing it as a really nice break from the writing life that no one gives a shit. You can think about other things for a bit and if you start daydreaming about a plot or something no one even notices🙂

      Like

      • Thanks Catherine. I will try to reframe my worldview. It’s tough when Hubby expects me to care so much about his passions. But I appreciate your kind words of support.

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        • Now I’m even more determined to make certain we meet in Pittsford on the 28th. Writing can be a lonely pursuit at times but don’t stop believing in yourself and your talent, Renée. Perhaps a change of scene in Canada is just what you need … {{{hug}}}

          Like

        • Catherine Johnson says:

          Now you’ve made me laugh because when I think of all the things I’ve had to listen to about horticulture I mean I’m falling asleep just thinking about it😉

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      OK, first of all…HUGS!!

      Second thing I’ve got to say, Renee… it would BUG me if my life partner couldn’t drum up some excitement about something as big as my books. I know our tendency is to minimize these things but your book is a mongo, huge-o thing that you’ve worked incredibly hard to finish.

      Is there any chance that he’s jealous of your writing? A lot of spouses think of our writing like a lover that claims our attention from them. I wonder if talking about it some more would help at all.

      So, so, sorry you’re feeling battered and bruised right now. This “getting stronger” stuff sucks wide.🙂

      Like

    • MonaKarel says:

      Renee, my husband was a phenomenal artist. Truly blessed with talent, and capable of wonderful work. He seemed to support my writing, but even though he was a prolific reader, even though he told everyone “my wife writes,” he never once read anything I wrote. The day I got the final cover for my first book, printed it out, hung it next to my computer…and that evening when I came home from work he had plastered the walls with his artwork. I’ve make my “family” among other writers who not only understand the struggle but are willing to give up their own time and energy to critique my stories. I’m finding that’s more than enough.

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    • Oh, Renee, Iike Jenny, i have to wonder if he’s jealous and maybe doesn’t even realize it. That said, Have you ever read Gifts from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindberg? It’s my small, go to place when I need to recover and regroup. For some reason, I feel my insides calm and my thoughts clear when I read about her quiet, by-the-sea journey of self discovery. It is a reminder to me that life is not stagnant, that things won’t always be bad, nor will they stay “good.” It’s a journey, a process, etc. I’m quite old (wry grin), or heading that way, and I’ve been married for 37 years. My kids are grown and gone and I have time now to look back and reflect and hopefully see some things a little more clearly. There were many times in our marriage, actually there are still times, where things are, or seem out of balance. Men and women really do see things so differently. Often we don’t realize we aren’t doing something our spouse needs if we don’t tell them. And sometimes we have to do it more than once. And some men just aren’t good at the outward shows of support, but can be quite good at other things. I do know they aren’t ever good at all things. LOL! My hubby has gotten better at many things over the years, and it is my hope that I have, too. But we both made a lot of mistakes along the way. And just when we think we have it figured out, we get to face the challenge of how to grow old together. I also know that others marriages can look perfect when you are looking at them, but they aren’t, because none of us are perfect. Big hugs! It is so hard to be sad and feel alone inside a marriage. I can promise you that even our pain is not wasted. All of it goes into making us who we are, who we will become.

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  9. MonaKarel says:

    First off, any creation, be it a book or a child, can bring us into depression and grief. So much for the analytical side of it. I’ve had no children, but what was supposed to be a good to fabulous later life for us became aloneness for me. I’ve “handled” the grief. I’ve “moved on” and “made something of my life.” Reality is I’m a huge phony but I keep telling myself if I act competent and in control I’ll be competent and in control. I try to keep writing, whether it’s a blog or the new book. It’s my link to the world. Peace Love and Hugs to all my fellow sisters.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Mona, that is not something I would “handle or move on from” easily. You’re not a phony!! You’ve just got a big pile of grief you’re sitting on. That’s exactly what has snuck up on me. I minimized it away for months but, lo and behold, it’s still there (the slippery bastard).

      Peace, love and hugs back.🙂

      Like

  10. Marcia says:

    I’m so sorry you’re feeling this way, Jenny. I can imagine what you’re going through because I had several miscarriages in between my two kids…that’s why they’re 6 yrs apart in age. The grief for a lost baby is devastating and not even the father can know how bad it is. The same as for not being able to have more than one child. It takes time to come to terms with it, but it will happen if you work at it.
    My fear right now is that my writing really isn’t any good and maybe I should give up the idea of being an author. I had my book done except for the last scene; lost the MS and started over. Now I’m having a terrible time trying to write it. I fear I’ll never finish anything I start.
    You have a lot of friends who know what it means to be up against that wall. Take comfort in that and keep moving forward.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I didn’t know you went through all that, Marcia! I know it was long ago, but still…

      Now about this book of yours. It is going to be AMAZING. You will finish it and it will be even better than the first one. But my God…I think I’d have hyperventilated after losing a manuscript. It breaks my heart just to think of it.

      I knew that happened to you, but I didn’t realize it was all except for the last scene. {{hugs}}

      Like

  11. K.B. Owen says:

    Oh, Jenny (and everyone who has commented here so far), my heart goes out to you. I hate to see anyone beating themselves up with guilt about feeling grief. There is no “grief scale,” where we rank how badly one person is supposed to feel vs. someone else. The whole “count your blessings” thing is to help ALLEVIATE the grief a little, not impose a guilt-trip on folks. In my book, anyway.

    I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason. I know that not everyone shares that ideology, but it helps me. A lot of you have grief-stories that need to be told so that others can benefit, whether it’s connected to child-bearing or not. Jenny, you are turning your experience into something precious, and we are all PROUD of you! Marcia, I’m sure it just KILLED you to have lost your MS, but you’re doing the right thing by rewriting it – it will be even better, I know it! P.S. – You’re a writer. Get back to work.😉

    Renee, I’m an only child, and I know that I loved having a special bond with my parents that no sibling can match. And there’s a certain amount of grief that happens for moms when their children hit the teenage years (and I’m not talking about teenagers acting up, although there’s that, LOL) – something about them growing up and not needing you in the same way anymore is painful. When my 11-yr-old hits that stage, I know I’ll be crying buckets and plaguing you guys. I’m also sorry to hear that your critique partner proved unworthy of your trust and that hubster is not on board with the dreams you have for yourself. Both of those are definitely grief-laden circumstances. Try to take comfort from the loved ones who ARE supportive, and keep in mind that you always have us jokers to fall back on.😉

    Take care, everyone!
    Kathy

    Like

    • Thanks Kathy! You always have the right words. I will get through this. I’m certain of it. Like you, I do believe things happen for a reason – but sometimes it takes a long time to figure out or come to terms with those things.

      I’m not sure what to do with some of the other things I can’t control: hubby, writing partner, other stuff. It hurts, actually and I’ve been doing some soul-searching on these things of late. So I may never be a published author of a book. It’s okay. Not all my dreams have to come true. Some things are not meant to be. And it’s okay. I just have to find my joy again.

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      • K.B. Owen says:

        Finding joy: first priority. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dreams if you don’t want to. However you find your bliss is okay with us!🙂

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    • Marcia says:

      🙂 thanks, Kathy for the sweet, kind words! I hope everyone has someone who is loving and supportive nearby. As for all of us online friends, we’ll just continue to support each other and move forward with our own issues.

      Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Kathy, I know I already called, but thank you for your kind words. It really helped me to hear that you loved being an only child.🙂

      Like

  12. Pingback: August 19th Slow Renewal « Leavekeeping

  13. prudencemacleod says:

    Far too often our own fears are our worst enemy. Don’t hide from it, share it with the rest of us. When you are too tired to walk we can carry you. Just look at the healthy child and write.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Prudence. Y’all DID carry me this week. Getting this post out was cathartic, but your responses? There are no words to convey how much better you guys made me feel.🙂

      Like

  14. Jenny, and all of you feeling grief, my heart goes out to you. I have been there, in many instances, and on several counts. I hope all of you know that you are part of a very supportive community. Feel free to call on me for any help, sounding board, shoulder to cry on.

    Like

  15. Adriana Ryan says:

    Hugs to you. I can’t even imagine all the repercussions that come from worrying about your baby to that extent for nine whole months. Take care of yourself. You absolutely deserve and need to grieve, to process what you’ve all been through.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Adriana! I think I’ve been trying to talk myself out of it for so long that it just snuck up and bonked me on the head this month. I’ve been reeling, and y’all are helping me get my balance again.

      Like

  16. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    Jenny, I’m so sorry the grief monster is haunting you. Those emotions you lived through are going to come back probably every time you read your book, even after you write it. Just thinking about it brings those feelings back. I love your descriptions, “Stuff it in your pocket, and it’ll chew a hole and climb your frame till it reaches your heart. Bury it and it’ll grow roots like a morning glory and strangle all your growth.” You’re an awesome writer.

    You’re spot on about not hiding our grief. There are times we’re grieving and don’t even realize it, and I think those are the times we try to bury those feelings, not knowing what we’re dealing with. We went through a rough patch with one of our teens for years. I can’t get into it here, but I went for years where I was unable to cry. I know some meds cause this, but that wasn’t the case. I just held everything in and paid for it with chest pains all the time. I went to see the movie “The Passion of Christ” and didn’t shed a tear. During the parts I felt like crying, my chest clenched up tighter and tighter. I even ended up in the ER a couple times, thinking I was having a heart attack. It was grief, the loss of the relationship with my child and the fear of that child ending up dead. And the loss of family life as we knew it because our entire lives were turned upside-down.

    I’ve now learned to let the tears flow, even though I’ve never been much of a crier. But your post and these comments sure brought on the tears, and I’m glad I’m wearing waterproof mascara because I’m leaving for Punkin’s 1st BD party as soon as I finish this lengthy comment.

    I never had a miscarriage, but with each pregnancy, I had a fear of it. I knew it would be so hard to experience, but I never realized how awful until my daughter had one in early pregnancy, but she landed in the hospital due to her BP being so high. Well, the hospital personnel were amazing. A minister came in to talk to us. A grief counselor came in and gave us pamphlets for the mother, one for the father, one for the grandparents, on how to deal with the loss and to acknowledge the child and grieve, not hide the feelings. Since then I’ve talked to so many women who dealt with miscarriages, but they didn’t talk to others about their grief, how deeply the loss affected them. It’s heartbreaking to hear their stories. And right now, each day I tear up thinking about a young couple I don’t even know. My friend asked me to pray for their newborn baby a couple months ago. He was born with cancer. They started him on chemo at 4 days old. He only survived a couple weeks. How awful. But then I learned the mother had three miscarriages before this baby and this was their first. A few days ago I asked how the parents are coping. I learned they’re devastated (of course) and are unable to return to their home. They can’t handle seeing all the baby clothes and furniture. I’m praying for this young couple. So sad, and there are so many others.

    Jenny, let those tears flow as you write those chapters. Don’t hold them back. They’re healthy. And your baby girl is adorable and I was hoping to see more of her when we got together, but poor Baby Girl needed her sleep. What a scary time. I was amazed you were up to having people at your house and then were such an awesome hostess. And your hubby, too. I can totally relate to the fears you went through with her being sick. It’s the hardest thing of being a parent. And as writers, our imaginations do get carried away. I’ve had a few heart-stopping moments when holding my grandchildren. If they stopped moving and stared off at something, I freaked. I have two grandkids and this happened with each of them. Now I care for Punkin full time and I still have those moments, have to check on him while he’s sleeping to make sure his chest is rising and falling. I wish my stinkin’ imagination would knock that crap off because it sucks, but there’s that fear again of what if. We just can’t let our minds wander off like that.

    So writing about all the feelings you dealt with through your pregnancy is taking a toll on you.Now you know what you’re dealing with and talking about it is healthy for you. Just know that what you’re doing is going to help other women, and dealing with grief like you are now should be added to your memoirs.

    Sending hugs and prayers your way. You have my number, right? Call if you need a shoulder to cry on. XO

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      A thousand times…thanks, Lynn! I so appreciate you taking the time to type that long loving response. And I hope you get to continue to enjoy a ton of time with your Punkin.🙂

      Like

  17. Grief is so insidious and we can’t just let it go and get over it. and even when we do and go on with our lives, it comes back at the weirdest times, making simple losses into big deals.

    I don’t have anything to relate to with pregnancies, Jenny. I’m sorry you had to go through all that. But I learned an important lesson about grief when my dad died. He wasn’t one of those ‘father knows best types’. He was one of the others and i hadn’t spoken to him for at least 10 years when he passed. But driving to the funeral I so remember my confusion. I didn’t want to grieve his loss or feel sad that he had died. I mean after all, more kids are safe now, right? but a little girl inside me grieved the loss of her daddy – the man she loved more than anyone, in spite of what he did.

    so grieve and yell and scream and feel. You’ve had substantial losses and you need to feel those feelings. God Bless.

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  18. Catherine Johnson says:

    That must have been so frightening the whole time and aren’t we at our most vulnerable then anyway. I feel for you going through all that and now having to re-live it to write it. *hugs*

    Like

  19. Such a brave blog post! Too often we spend time trying to feel what we “should” instead of giving ourselves permission to feel what we do. I waited eight years between child one and child two (with lots of people, including me telling me to be happy I had one healthy child). Then when the pregnancy was hard, I was told I couldn’t complain because I was so lucky. hard things are hard, even when you’re grateful for them. Learning to deal with the things we feel in healthy ways prepares us for the challenges throughout our lives. No one can dictate where you are in the process of your challenges but you. We can encourage each other and offer support, but we can’t rush through life. It just has to be lived. And that includes dealing with grief and joy and everything in between. Big hugs!

    Like

    • K.B. Owen says:

      Nicely put, Pauline!🙂

      Like

      • Thanks, K.B.🙂 I think women are particularly susceptible to guilt. It is easy to give advice (that is even true) and add to the burden weighing someone down (because it isn’t true for them, nor not true yet). I know I’ve been guilty of it. All I can offer is what worked for me, but I tell my friends, toss it out if it doesn’t help! I am at a point in my life where I can look back and see a good bit of it and even feel grateful for the hard things, because dang, I did it. I’m still standing. LOL! I really am grateful for those hard lessons, because I’m going to need them as the hubs and I go into getting old together. I was once asked to give advice to a new bride at her shower and my advice was : Pace yourself. Life is long.🙂

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  20. *hugs* You are so brave to relive the difficult times and the grief to give others the wisdom and strenght to go through their tough experiences. I’m in awe of you, Jenny. Take care of yourself and cry and talk every bit of the sorrow out.

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  21. Jenny,
    I just want to fly over to your house and give you a great big hug!
    I want you to know that its okay to grieve. Its okay to let those emotions go – they don’t need to be buried inside you any longer. You are a strong, beautiful soul and its time to move on to the next phase of your life’s experiences. So give yourself permission to deal with these emotions, so that you can begin to heal.
    I’m so proud of you, not only because you were able to face this but also because you shared it with others. Now they know they are not alone in how they feel, just like you are not alone either. We are all here for you!
    Give yourself a big hug for me – okay?

    Like

  22. lynettemburrows says:

    Gulp. Jenny your writing is beautiful and evocative. Grief is hard. And unfortunately it’s not a done once and over. It revisits when you least expect it. Mine hit me today as I read your post. I did not have an official miscarriage. If I miscarried it was too early in the pregnancy to know for sure. I had extremely irregular periods spaced so far apart that I’d begin feeling symptoms of pregnancy. I grieved each time regardless. Ultimately I was fortunate, I had one successful pregnancy. No one told me I couldn’t have a baby after that, but I didn’t. Big sigh. It’s been years since I’ve thought of those times. (My son has children of his own). Grief is a sneaky bastard. I’m sorry he’s got a hold of you. Big girl panties or not, it hurts. {{{{hugs}}}}

    Like

  23. Jess Witkins says:

    *With my arms outstretched* I want nothing more than to scoop you and all those commenters into a big inviting room with a fireplace and some coffee and let everyone have it out once and for all. Just talking about it, shows your bravery, and while I know how vulnerable it makes you feel, you’ve truly given your readers and friends a gift with this confession. You’re being honest, you’re letting it all out there, and that’s why we respect you and care for you the way we do.

    I believe the best friends in life are the ones who listen to the hard stuff and don’t judge you for the decisions and choices you make in response. They support unconditionally. And sometimes that comes from family, but more often than not we’re too close to the situation. I’ve struggled with my own perceptions on what my sister should do with her life. She’s recently overcome cancer for the THIRD time, which is great, but that pain and those bills, and her marital problems…none of that goes away just cause the test results are good now.

    I haven’t had children yet, but I can tell you that I’m here for you. And I respect and justify those feelings you’ve shared with us. You should too. They’re real. They’re honest. They’re part of the MORE in More Cowbell. Maybe you gotta shake that bell and let out all the frustration and guilt and unhappiness because it’s human to do so! And I bet Kathy and I could scrub up some cymbals and a harmonica if you want?

    To Renee and Marcia and Jenny, you are some of the loveliest, most giving, and talented women I know. I support each of you in your journey, good and bad bits along the way. Each of you is feeling lonely and questioning the next step ahead, my story may be different but I completely identify. My life is nowhere like I thought it would be. I’m working in a corporate sales environment where my heart just doesn’t belong. When I’ve applied for other jobs, I’m not even getting interviews cause over 200 other people are ahead of me in line. And I worry that even though my work ethic is a strong one, no employer is going to take notice because now my only background is in sales. And this job takes up all my time and I’m too tired to write most nights. I want desperately to move, find a new job, and make writing my focus, but my boyfriend’s whole life is here and he would not go with me at this time. It’s easy to say “go it alone,” but we’ve spent 6 years together already. I worry I don’t have the guts to take control of my own future.

    And my blog is called THE HAPPINESS PROJECT! HELLO??!

    I have tears in my eyes writing to each of you. All my love and prayers to you and your families. And somehow, one day at a time, I know we’ll each survive. But if you’re having a particularly hard day, the liquor’s on the top shelf and I’ve got neon colored straws! 😉

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You’ve got the guts, Jess. It’s just the “big-ness” of these big life decisions that gets overwhelming. My money’s on you, one baby step at a time.

      I expected to get a few comments on this post. I did not expect the gigantic outpouring of love that I’ve received. Yes, it’s making me sniffle, but it’s also helping to prop me up at a time when I sorely need it.

      Reach for your heart’s desire and the help will come. I believe that, for you and for me.🙂

      Like

    • Marcia says:

      Aw, Jess! You’ll find your way to your dreams. I promise. It just might take a little time. Hugs to you and thanks for your love and support!

      Like

    • K.B. Owen says:

      Jess, I know you feel hemmed in right now, but please know that we are all pulling for ya. Funny, unexpected things can come your way, when you least expect it, and it sounds like you are staying open to them. Hang in there!

      Like

  24. Juliana Haygert says:

    *hugs*
    My baby girl wanted to come out when I was only 28 weeks pregnant .. I spent the rest of the pregnancy in total bed rest. It was terrible. She was born the first day of the 37th week. Still premature, but not to worry. She had to spend a few hours at the PICU right after birth because she couldn’t control her body temperature. At least, her daddy was allowed to stay in there with her.
    If I think mine was bad, I can only imagine what you went through.
    And you really gotta remember: she’s fine and perfect now!❤ *hugs*

    Like

  25. Coleen Patrick says:

    Jenny I’m teary reading your post. I’m only days away from another anniversary of a pregnancy and birth that wrecked me–but a grief that I definitely hide from. It’s the kind that is coupled with guilt like you said, because i ask myself, how could I be sad from that loss when I thankfully I have 2 healthy children? So, so hard to deal with grief when it is attached to other things like guilt or anger–and especially grief that I feel I am “supposed” to do in private. I admire your courage, Big HUGS Jenny.

    Like

  26. Diana Beebe says:

    Jenny, thank you for sharing this. I had a miscarriage between my two girls. I stopped writing for about 4 years because I didn’t truly deal with my feelings about the entire event. I’ve overcome the guilt, and I’m extremely grateful for the strength I gained from it. I’m grateful for my two wonderful girls and for your little one, too!

    Like

  27. Karen McFarland says:

    Oh, wow, see now that I read this post and then Coleen Patrick’s comment above, I want to send you all big hugs all around! Going through a high-risk pregnancy or miscarriage is a horrendous loss. Can you imagine how some women feel years later after an abortion? I say some because there are those who live with regret. That’s heavy.

    Well, I am not dealing with those issues, but I do have my own. And most times we wouldn’t want to trade our own problems for someone else’s problems. Most would say they’d be happy to deal with their own. But I do know all about PTSD. Stress and grief can break our creativity. Yet, time heals all wounds they say. So worry not my friend.🙂

    Like

  28. S. J. Maylee says:

    I’ve got tears in my eyes right now. Mothers are so incredibly strong. They amazing me all the time, but we never give ourselves any of the credit. My scary story came with my first, he came out with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. They took him and didn’t say much for a bit, the seconds ticked by like slow quick sand. Each second I didn’t hear his cry were pure agony. It was probably just a couple of seconds by it felt like hours. He was fine, no lasting trauma except my own panicked heart. He’s turning 6 in 3-days. The panic never leaves, but each memory they give you pushes it farther away. (((bughugs)))

    Like

    • K.B. Owen says:

      Wow, S.J., your story reminds me of how scared I was when our first child was born. His heart rate kept dropping between contractions, they gave me oxygen in an attempt to boost his levels, and they had to put an internal heart rate monitor in his scalp while he was still inside me. No amount of reading/Lamaze classes can prepare you for that stuff, especially when it’s your first labor/delivery, EVER. But it’s a happy ending, and he’s now a 6-ft-tall 19-yr-old! So glad your outcome was a happy one, too!

      Like

      • S. J. Maylee says:

        Oh, man, that’s a scary memory. You’re right, nothing prepares you for the sudden on set of fright. 6-ft-tall, nice🙂 hard to remember, I bet, how small he was when he was born. Every birth is a miracle.

        Like

  29. Mike Paulson says:

    I’m new to the RoW community, so I can’t claim to understand the grief that you’re going through, but believe me when I say that I empathize with you.

    Last weekend, my 93-year-old grandfather, my last living grandparent, fell and cracked his pelvis. While I know that there’s a chance that he can recover from this injury at his age, as weak as he was before he fell, I understand that there’s a significant chance he’ll never leave the facility he’s currently at.

    I’m still working through the initial stage of grief on this – denial. I’m adamant that he’s going to make it through this, as he did when he broke his hip two years ago. I know, though, that he’s not in the same shape, not the same strong person, he was then, and it’s going to be so hard if I lose him.

    I think it’s incredible that you’re writing memoirs of this difficult time so that your child can understand later what a miracle she was. I’m praying to lend you whatever strength you need to complete this process, to finish working through your grief.

    I wish you the best of luck.

    Like

  30. Amber West says:

    Everyone is making such beautiful comments. I feel like I can’t really add much to the conversation, other than offer a long distance hug.

    I am the type of person that feels guilty when I feel badly for myself in any situation – no matter what it is, I beat myself up with the “you have it so much better/easier than so many others”. And then I suck it up and never allow myself time to grieve anything.

    It’s not healthy.

    I wish I had words of wisdom to offer, but any that I could would feel a bit hypocritical since I can’t seem to take my own advice.

    So, instead, I’ll say that you are not alone. And Dudley (the sad faced pup) is available for licks and hugs anytime.🙂

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I wish Dudley lived closer (and you too)! I so miss having a dog. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who gets the “should” disease…I’m thinking we need to stop it.🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to stop in and ring your cowbell. Y’all are bowling me over today with all of your kindness.

      Like

  31. Wow! Jenny, your powerful words and those in all of these comments would make a beautiful resource for anyone struggling with grief. I can’t add anything more to what has already been said except to offer you my love and support along with the rest of your Cowbell posse. Without question grief is the most intense and debilitating process we can experience and there’s no ‘right’ way to deal with it. Everything written about grief suggests that the support of friends and loved ones is critical to each of us finding our way through the pain. Trust me, you certainly are blessed with that. {{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}}}

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  33. Stacy Green says:

    Thanks for sharing this with us, Jenny. I do understand what you’re going through. I have a chromosome translocation that increases my risk of Downs and caused a miscarriage in April 2004. I was only 7 weeks, but I still mourn that baby despite the awesome 6-year-old I’m blessed with. And even though I know the decision not to have any more is the right one for us, it still makes me feel sad – and guilty – that Grace doesn’t have a chance to have a brother or sister. And I will sometimes get really jealous of families with 3 or 4 kids. Seems so unfair. And then I think how selfish I am, because as you said, there are millions out there who can’t have a child of their own.

    I think facing your grief is the right thing to do, and most of all, it’s okay to feel the way you do. Good luck!

    Like

  34. amyskennedy says:

    Oh Jennie — of course you’re grieving. Let yourself grieve, and I would even write about the grief you feel, to let other people know it’s normal. We all have our grief, if you don’t embrace it every once in awhile, you end up with an eye twitch and an ulcer.

    We’re always trying to be so strong and carry on-ish, but I say it’s okay to end up in a fetal position on the floor bawling your eyes out. As long as you don’t stay on the floor.

    Like

  35. Gloria Weber says:

    All I can say is : HUGS!

    I do not have the same experience as you, but I can relate to the fact there is an experience/situation which breeds a grief others can have a hard time understanding. So…

    Hugs!

    Like

  36. Debbie Morella says:

    I have been grieving for a loved one for a year and a half and sometimes it feels like the hole in my heart will be there forever. A friend said to me – “Aah, the dreaded grief emotion takes you down a long winding road. You have to Feel it -share it – understand where it’s coming from and not until you can appreciate what you learn from that understanding will you get to the other side of it”. Sounds like you are in the middle of the road, ready to make a bee-line to the other side. You go girl! I’ll meet you there…

    Like

  37. Natalie Bahm says:

    Jennie, I can totally relate to this. I have a two-year-old who was premature after an extremely scary high-risk pregnancy, and though he’s perfectly healthy now, I still get caught up in the memories and fears of that year. It was an incredibly emotional time and getting past it has been way harder than I thought it would be.

    I am writing again, but I write happy-go-lucky stories for middle graders. I have a very difficult time writing anything too serious or anything that would require me to draw on the emotions of that time.

    HUGS! Best of luck with your memoir.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Natalie! I’ve always written a ton of comedy, with some pathos stirred in. This memoir is a huge departure for me, and I’m really having to fight for it. Thanks for your kind words!

      Like

  38. Emma says:

    Like Amber I wish to offer a long distance hug! I guess I haven’t thought much about babies and pregnancy and the fear, happiness and every other emotion that goes along too much yet.
    Congrats on strapping on those Big Girl Panties. I must do the same when it comes to figuring out what exactly I want for myself in this life.

    Like

  39. zkullis says:

    Jenny… I can’t and won’t pretend to understand the amazing dynamics that tie and bind a mother to her children (born and unborn). A man can can only try to give his heart, compassion, and a shoulder when it might be needed. If you don’t mind, I would like to offer my shoulder.

    My brother and his wife lost a baby (she was a tiny premature doll) about 4 years ago. Every year, at the birthday for the sweet little Kenzie, they have their other children release balloons into the sunset. My sister-in-law cries each time. I used to wonder why she did this to herself, but then I paid closer attention to their little family. It is true, it opened that bitter wound, but it teaches their other children tenderness, it teaches them that loss isn’t something to be afraid of (despite the pain it brings), and the children are able to see that after little Kenzie has received all of their balloons, the sky is still pretty, and the hugs and kisses they receive from their Mom are more intense and full of meaning.

    I believe, Jenny, that we gain a greater appreciation for the beauty of what remains when we pass through these dark times that require us to strap on our big girl/boy panties.

    I’m sorry for your grief. But I also envy you for the bright moments of perfection that only a two year-old Baby Girl can bring. Cherish her, continue with that tender memoir, wear those panties and don’t fear the grief.

    Zack…

    Like

  40. Well, you don’t want to hear it, but I’m gonna say it anyway – consider yourself lucky! I had to have a hysterectomy before I was 30. I’ve never been a mother nor will I ever be. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Other times, not so much! I’m gonna be the old lady in the nursing home who has no visitors.

    But, I do get it. I completely understand what you’re saying. Let yourself grieve even if it’s for the glass of iced tea you spilled on the kitchen floor (wait, that was me), but get it out then move on. Have a pity party with ice cream and chocolate. Then get over it. We all have those days and the harder we try to fight them, they harder they are to get past. Just let the grief out, then fill up again with happiness and sunshine.

    You are an amazing woman! This too shall pass! I’m routing for you.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

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  41. charitykountz says:

    A therapist once talked to me about this very thing. It’s akin to survivors guilt – my life is perfect, so why aren’t I happy? Other people are struggling – jobless, homeless, persecuted. In comparison, I have nothing to be unhappy about. But you know what? That’s wrong. Because there are no wrong emotions. If you’re feeling sad about the inability to have children, it’s ok. You can be grateful for your beautiful child and still sad about your loss and you don’t have to feel bad about it. We humans are such complex creatures – unlike other animals who seem to only have one mode (happy, angry, sad, scared), we humans can be a mixed bag all at the same time!

    So grieve for that loss. Then go hold your beautiful daughter and cry tears of joy for the blessing in your life. And know that grief takes time to heal and your joy over the things that are right in your life can help you get through it. Don’t compare yourself or your emotions to anything or anyone else – not even yourself. Your feelings are what they are and the more you fight them, the longer they take to heal. You ever pick a scab as a kid? It took weeks to heal but if you just accepted it, put some neosporin on it and kept going, it would heal in a third of the time. Give yourself permission to grieve, to cry, to be sad for a while – acceptance will come easier and before you know it, you’ll be back to appreciating the wonderful parts of your life again. That grief will always be with you to some extent but it won’t be as crippling.

    How do I know all this? As an abuse survivor, I spent ten years running from my loss and grief over losing my childhood. Once I finally realized and accepted that I was different, it was okay that it would never change, and it was okay to be sad for the loss of my childhood, that pain lessened and freed me to embrace all the rest of what’s right in my life. I hope the same can happen for you Jenny!

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  42. Chiming in late to say what may already have been said. Whatever you feel is “right.” You’re a brave woman to write about a scary time in your life, and I applaud you for doing so. I know what it’s like to have legitimate worry (capital letters) for a child. And afterwards, if you have an afterwards, that fear doesn’t just evaporate. Lots of us understand.

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  43. Hi Jenny,
    My pregnancies were not so high risk as yours, but there were definite complications that meant we had to make some hard decisions about having more children. I’m lucky enough to have two, but when you’re holding your infant daughter and the doctor starts yelling at you for even having her, well, it makes you realize how lucky you were to push the envelope and still be alive with that precious bundle. But I came from a large family and always wanted a large family, so even with my two, I still grieved the loss of not having more. And it took years. Years of listening to other’s talking about getting pregnant, and having children. But I am finally past the grief.

    All those times i said I loved having just two, how we fit into a car and I’m done with diapers etc, and I held back those tears, are over. Now I don’t cry anymore. I actually feel happy to be where I am, and I can’t imagine what my life would be like any other way. It got, not just better, but It became what I’d been faking: being truly happy and content with what I have.

    But it took way longer than I thought it would. Years. And my husband had it too. I don’t know if he’s where I am, but men don’t talk about that stuff. It came up though, over the years, he felt the loss of our potential, too. So you might have someone who understands, right next to you.

    Go ahead, wallow in the grief when you need to. You deserve your grief, it’s yours, no one else’s. Yes, you have a baby (not such a baby anymore!), but that doesn’t mean you don’t get to grieve the loss of what you thought you wanted. But along the way, remember, someday there is the possibility you’ll lose the grief and truly feel happy about the freedom and flexibility of one child. It’s all good in the end.🙂

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  44. Beth Camp says:

    My daughter just had the most beautiful baby who’s now 12 weeks old after a difficult pregnancy and alternating moments of absolute terror and joy. Thank you so much for writing about this particular fear, for I will talk with her. Right now, Leda brings such joy to us all. Your heartfelt piece reminds me of all the times I’ve worried about my daughter and felt I couldn’t protect her. That may be part of parenting. Being able to write about this suggests you will embrace the future with love and courage and hope. As I try to do each day.

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  48. Looks like we’re both having a fine week, eh? Thanks for your comment. As you said, our paths don’t cross much, but I really feel like they should! Well done you for getting through the tough time, and for going back to relive it for your writing. I’m having to relive other times for my current novel and it’s a sod, having to go back and go through the crap. That said, if you really tap into that stuff, it makes your writing so much more powerful. You know they say there’s a reason for everything? Well, I really believe that, and when it comes to writing I wonder if the reason us writers have been through shitty stuff in our lives is so that we can write about those emotions and let other people who feel them know they are not alone. The thing I realised about my post, and I think yours works that way too, is that people read it and realised they weren’t the only person to feel that way. I’ve had a few people message me saying that they now realised they weren’t alone, and knowing that is such a powerful thing.

    Kudos for you for putting this out there. I know how hard it is to write this stuff down and put it out into the wide world. Sometimes it’s the only way to get it off your chest so that you can actually write. I know mine helped me. Looking at the comments, I’m guessing this will have helped you too. *hugs* for you. Grief is a natural part of life. You’re going to be just fine🙂

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