Friday, June 26, 2015

Feature Friday: The Empty Womb

Today's guest post is written by a dear childhood friend of mine, Jamie McWhorter. I reached out to her earlier this week and asked her to compose her thoughts on the subject of infant miscarriage and loss. I am at a loss for words to describe the beauty with which she responded to such an intimate request. Be forewarned, the subject matter is not light and although it is painful, it is important to give a voice to such loss.


When you look up the word miscarriage, one of the definitions is "an unsuccessful outcome of something planned."

I planned you, and although my plans for you were unsuccessful, God's were not. He gave you to me and let me carry you, for however brief....but why?
I've asked myself this one worded question over and over. I have asked the doctor, my husband, and God. 

You needed me in those few short weeks and months, to create a small body. A heartbeat, so that you could return to heaven for a greater work than you were meant to do down here. That does not mean you didn't have a purpose or matter though.

You changed me.

"The Empty Womb" is a photography project I put together of 6 images for a class project on depth. I remember talking to my sister Amanda about it and my ideas, but having doubt in myself that I could ever put how I felt into words. I've always loved making images that told a story--that moved my clients and myself. Although this has been one image that moved me more than anything, and I hope it has you as well. 

This last year was not the first time I have lost a child. When we first got married in 2009, we had thought that I was pregnant, only to go in and learn that there was no longer a fetus.

I hate that word, fetus.

It IS a least, it was. I picked myself up and pretended that it did not happen. We had two beautiful girls later on, who we love so dearly. Two years after our last, we hit a long patch of let downs. 

I was 8 weeks.......

........6 weeks........

.......11 weeks pregnant

and then I'd lose them.

The last set we got to 11 weeks and no longer had a heartbeat. Given no other explanation at the time but that the babies had passed.

Your body is fighting against you. I hated my body. I felt it had betrayed me. I hated myself and I hated God. I felt women were meant to have babies and to give birth to them. I could no longer do the one thing my body was meant to do naturally. No one talked about them, it was like they did not exist.

They were just another unsuccessful outcome of something planned.

With the love and support of an amazing friend and doctor, I talked more about them. I opened up more. I was able to turn back to my Heavenly Father for help--instead of turning my back on Him. 

More women lose a child before 20 weeks than we care to know. But it's every 1 in 4. Those are real numbers, real women. That means your mothers, your sisters, and your friends. They are suffering alone. 
Talking about your babies brings a light on the painful subject. It lets other women and men know they are not alone, and it's ok to grieve.

I remember a funeral of a dear friend's mother when I was young. The speaker said, "We do not ever grieve for the lost. We grieve for ourselves. They have no worries and are no longer in pain or suffering. How can they see cause to grieve being engulfed in our Heavenly Father's peace and love? We grieve on Earth for ourselves, so that we may come to terms with our loss. When you do not allow yourself to grieve and put your burdens on the Lord, it only adds to you own sorrows." 

These words have stayed with me, but I do not ever thing I truly felt their meaning until the day I embraced our family's loss.


Thank you Jamie for sharing your heart with us. I truly believe that the fires we pass through in this life sear a lasting reminder so that we can guide others through that same path. 

I have never experienced this kind of loss, but my heart knows pain. It's an empathy that I've often feared to dive too deeply into for fear of losing myself. 

Recently I have learned that being afraid of the things that make us beautiful keep us from experiencing the most painfully wonderful things in this life. With that in mind, I have decided to add another layer to my doula work.

I have taken the leap of faith and signed up to begin certifying as a birth and bereavement doula with Still Birth Day. My stomach is in knots and my heart is pounding, but the tears in my eyes have the names of the women I have not yet met etched into them. 

 Here we go.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Not Your Gym Teacher's Guide to Menstruation

I'm gonna have to save my media rant for another day, but I'll let you in on a secret: things are only as horrible as you imagine them to be.

It's true.
Attitude makes all the difference.

So my question then is, why have we bought into this idea that a woman's menstrual cycle should be the equivalent to damnation on earth?

Don't believe me?
Walk up to someone right now and say "menstruation". Or "cramps". Or "period blood."

Depending on who you're talking to, the reactions will range from mild curiosity to abject horror.

Words are important.
Women who use hypnosis to manage childbirth pain have this figured out like pros. They talk about waves, power, rushes, sensations, etc.

Does that mean that contractions don't hurt? Absolutely not. It just means they're putting their focus on something besides the pain.

So bear with me for a second use your imagination.

Imagine that when you were 12(ish) and you started your period, that your parents pulled you aside and told you how happy they were for you.
That they said, "Your body is powerful and amazing. You're at the threshold of womanhood and you have this incredibly important sign that all is working just as it should be."
Imagine that you dad said, "I don't ever want you to be embarrassed to talk about it. Almost every woman I have ever respected has experienced this moment. You are special to me, and your body is something to be honored."
Imagine that your mom said, "welcome to the club darling! It's true, there are parts of it that can hurt and even make you wanna swear. But this gift of life we have, it's not anything to be ashamed of. It's part of why we're here. Hold your head high. You are precious. The hormones are a wild ride. Give yourself grace. The blood can be difficult to manage at times. Teach yourself to laugh. And if cramps have you curled up in bed, know that your body is working just as it should and that your mama will always be there with a cup of hot cocoa and our favorite chick flick. Honor yourself as we honor you."


Every interaction with our daughters is a chance for growth and connection. What will you choose?

There is power in knowing yourself. 
There is power in knowing your body. 
It is important that we raise a generation of women who are not afraid to look in the mirror. 

That begins with education. Don't be afraid to talk about these things with each other. Empower yourselves with the knowledge that is out there. 

Most teenage girls don't truly understand what the menstrual cycle is. Heck, most women don't know or care until they are trying to get pregnant. That needs to stop. If we want the world to take our body seriously, then that must start with us.

So here it is.

The average cycle lasts 28 days. 
The Day 1 is the first day of your period. 
Through the next 28 days, your body will prepare for pregnancy and then shed the weeks of preparation when no baby making happens. 

If this is not happening, you should talk to your care provider.

If you are experiencing extreme discomfort, you should talk to your care provider.

If you are bleeding too much, then you should talk to your care provider.

Take control. Track your cycles. Keep a record. Talk to your care provider if you notice anything is off. It is YOUR body. The power of creation is YOU. Honor it, celebrate it, and protect it.