The Vanderhorst Family

The Vanderhorst Family

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Etiquette of Miscarriages

I was talking to one of my close friends a couple weeks ago and she was telling me that she just barely went through a miscarriage. I wasn't there in person as I was talking to her over the phone, but I sincerely wished that I could've just thrown my arms around her and given her a shoulder to cry on. As she explained to me her feelings through a choked up voice, I began to get teary-eyed as I could remember those feelings of loss and what could have been. She began to explain some frustrations she had about sharing her miscarriage with other people, and that she didn't really feel heard, understood, or that her emotions were being validated (mostly because she wasn't that far along, and she is still a young, healthy girl, so she still has time--this is what others have told her).

I wrote a blog post a while back about my experience going through a few miscarriages, and because of that I had quite a few of my friends confide in me that they had gone through the same thing and didn't really feel like they had a safe outlet to talk about it--mainly because of insensitive comments from people they DID talk to about it.
Now, I will admit, I did not really understand what this felt like until I went through it. We didn't have miscarriages before we had Andrew, so I didn't know what it felt like to try to start of a family and not be successful on the first, second, third, etc. pregnancies. I will also say that as I was going through my miscarriages, I felt like I couldn't really be as sad as those who didn't have any kids yet because hey, at least I was already able to start my family. Shouldn't I have been grateful for the one kid I already did have?
I wasn't expecting it to be as hard as it was, and I know that everyone handles miscarriage differently. I think everyone who has one mourns, but some people get over it more quickly than others, and for some people, it's something they never really get over. Neither response is "correct." One is not more noble than the other.

But understanding that people handle trials differently is SO KEY to helping everyone cope with what life has dealt them.
With all of that said, many of my friends and I heard a lot of the same comments from different people, and we collectively came up with a list. Here's a list of what NOT to say when someone has a miscarriage...
"At least you weren't that far along." (Most of my friends were still in their first trimester when it happened, so true, they were not that far along. However, this comment stings because it's the loss of what would have been your child, so when you say this it kind of discounts that possibility of what might have been. I think this is the hardest thing for people going through miscarriages to deal with--what might have been).

"Oh, one of my friends had 5 miscarriages and another one of my friends had a still-born baby." or "One of my friends delivered a super-premature baby that didn't live." (I think people might say these comments to let their friends know that they aren't alone, and since they haven't ever experienced a miscarriage they feel like they can't really understand, so they try and tell them about someone else they know that went through a similar experience, but it kind of sounds like you're one-upping them, and you're also taking the hurt away from them. Trust me, those who go through miscarriages won't be self-absorbed in their hurt forever, and they will eventually realize that it could have been worse, but in the moment, it feels like the worst thing in the world. One-upping their story will not make them feel better.)
"It's just your body telling you that there was something wrong with the development." (Scientifically and logically, yes, this makes sense. However, when people first go through a miscarriage they don't need a scientific explanation--they need an empathetic response. Those who go through miscarriage know all the science behind it, and eventually it will help them cope, but that's not what they need right away).
"Miscarriages are more common than you think--they pretty much happen to every woman at some point in their lives." (True, I read a statistic once that 80% of women will experience a miscarriage. While it might seem like it should be a comforting fact--that it's normal and it happens often and to not be discouraged, this comment can again feel like you're diminishing the hurt that someone is going through in that moment).
"Well at least you already have a kid/kids." (Ya...but they would like to add to their family...)
"This is just the Lord's way of telling you that the timing wasn't right." (Try this line out on someone who has had an engagement called off on them--do you think it'd turn out super well? Probably not, and it wouldn't in this situation either. Yes, the timing clearly wasn't right, but that doesn't make it any easier when you already had it set in your mind that this is when you were going to have a baby. Also, please don't tell them to have faith in the Lord's timing. Just because you are going through trial and having a hard time dealing with it does NOT mean that you lack faith).
I've learned from talking to my friends and from my own experience, that really all people need is just a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, and someone to listen. If you haven't been through a miscarriage and you can't really understand, try saying, "That must be so hard--I'm so sorry this happened!" If you HAVE gone through a miscarriage (and you may already be over it), just say "I went through a miscarriage and I remember it being really difficult at the time." You don't need to go on and say how time will eventually heal this wound or anything. Let the other person lead the discussion and if they'd like more information about your experience to help them cope, they will ask for it.
Miscarriage and infertility are such tender subjects, and to have someone open up to you about their experience means that they trust you and are looking to you for comfort. My dear mother-in-law posted this picture on facebook and I loved it.

Friday, February 7, 2014

17 Weeks!

Wow! This pregnancy is flying by! I cannot believe that we are almost half way done with this one!

Here's the update so far:

How Far Along: About 17 weeks.  Who's counting? haha
Size of Baby: According to my baby is 5 inches and 5 ounces (the size of a turnip--how cute!)
Maternity Clothes: What's considered maternity clothes? I'm in that awkward stage of pregnancy where you don't have a cute round bump, but you don't have a flat stomach either. You just look like you've kind of let yourself go a little bit. Anywho, so I'm not in maternity clothes, but there are some of my tops that I don't wear anymore. I can still wear all my jeans and skirts, but I had to go get some tops that were a little looser around the stomach area for this awkward stage.
Gender: I'm sticking to my original guess of it being a boy, and Grant thinks it's a girl. Just a funny story about this: The OBGYN office that I go to has 3 locations. The one I normally go to is in Northern VA, but they also have one in DC that's about 5 minutes from Grant's work. So I already set up the 20 week ultrasound at that office so Grant could be there during his lunch hour to find out the gender with me. Well, last week I went in and they did an ultrasound, and the tech offered to tell me the gender of the baby! I just about died! I was SO TEMPTED to find out the gender and just act surprised when I went in with Grant, but I know I couldn't have kept it a secret for a whole month from him. So, alas, I had to pass on finding out since Grant couldn't be there with me, but it's been killing me! I cannot wait till March 3rd!
Movement: So with Andrew, this is when I started to feel some flutters, but with this baby I started feeling flutters about a week and a half ago, and just recently have felt more direct movement. I've been lucky that with both pregnancies the placenta has been behind the baby, so I have been able to feel both Andrew and this baby pretty early.
Sleep: Lots and lots of sleep. Thank goodness Andrew sleeps well at night, and he takes wonderful naps during the day. I do think I'm going to get some vitamin B though--I really shouldn't be this tired during the second trimester. I took some vitamin B with Andrew and it really helped with my energy level.
What I miss: Being able to exercise. I didn't miss it so much the first couple months (because really, who wants to exercise while they feel nauseous?) but exercise has always been a great release for me and way to clear my head. So, I do miss that outlet, but Grant is always good to give me a break and let me get out of the house while he watches Andrew.
Cravings: Hmm, the cravings have slowed down quite a bit. Once in a while I'll crave something really random, but I feel like my eating habits are basically back to normal.
Aversions: OK, so they're back to normal except for the aversions. I still can't eat anything super saucy. This probably won't change until baby #2 is a couple months old (same thing happened with Andrew).
Symptoms:  Hmmmm, except for me getting a little more fat and being tired, nothing too bad :)
Best Moment: So, a couple weeks ago we had a bit of a scare. I went into preterm labor with Andrew, so this pregnancy I have to get progesterone shots. Long story short, I was having contractions a couple weeks ago (yes, at 15 weeks--you read that right), so I went in and they gave me a shot, but originally my body wasn't responding. The doctors were concerned that I wouldn't make it to 26 weeks if my body wasn't responding to the progesterone shots, but after a couple days and one more shot the contractions started to calm down. That was the best moment! I may have to get shots more often or take supplements, but I don't care. I've put myself on an unofficial bed rest. I still move around the house and do light housework, but I also lay down as much as I can. I just want my body to carry this healthy baby as long as it can, and I cried out of happiness when the shots started working. Scariest 2 days of my life, but Heavenly Father answers prayers.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Why go to church when you have small kids?

Ever asked yourself this question? Especially after you've been roaming the halls for 45 minutes trying to catch glimpses of talks or lessons? Especially after taking a screaming baby out of sacrament meeting? I know I have!

There was an article about this in the January Ensign, and I thought it was inspiring. It's from a young mom of 6 kids whose husband has a demanding calling, so she needs to get all the kids ready for church by herself while her husband is at meetings and help them stay reverent for all 3 hours of church--much of the time she's out in the halls and she hardly hears a lesson taught or a talk given. A sister asked her "Why even come to church?" As she thought about it, her response would have been "Because that's what we do on Sundays--we go to church."

I want to take this faithful woman's response even further, and explain why it is so important and imperative to continue going to church (even when you feel like you aren't getting anything out of it). Why it's important to establish this pattern.

All throughout the scriptures, patterns are taught. The Savior teaches the pattern of baptism, of the sacrament, we learn the pattern of the pride cycle and how to avoid it, the General Authorities teach us patterns of receiving revelation and personal inspiration. Patterns are all around us. Why is it important that the pattern of going to church weekly is established?

First, your kids learn the importance of the sacrament. Grant and I try to hold Andrew on our laps and not let him crawl around until the priesthood holders have finished passing the sacrament. We are trying to teach him at an early age that being reverent during this special time where we get to reflect on our weeks and renew baptismal covenants. I will admit, this is quite the battle and we are not always successful--but Andrew has made progress and it is getting easier. We are constantly pulling out new toys and books for him to read, but so far it's been a success to keep him quiet and happy during those first 20 minutes of the sacrament meeting. We are hoping that as we establish this physical pattern of sitting still and being reverent, that in the future it can lead into WHY we need to be reverent, and we can then explain the importance of the sacrament at a time when he understands. Going to church and establishing that physical pattern of putting on your Sunday best every week will then help your children establish spiritual patterns of using church to help them rejuvenate their spirits for the rest of the week.

I also firmly believe that even though young babies and toddlers might not always understand what is being said, that they can still feel the spirit. Andrew always enjoys when the congregation sings together because the music is touching his spirit. Going to church doesn't always have to be something where you understand the words being said, but you can definitely feel your spirit being touched. Kids need that every week.

The whole reason why I'm writing this post is because this is something that I've struggled with. Why am I even going to church when WE are not getting anything out of it?  Grant and I are either walking around trying to get Andrew asleep, or trying to distract him in class so he won't get frustrated. Since I'm working with the Young Women, Grant is kind enough to take Andrew during the 3rd hour. He rarely hears an entire Elder's Quorum lesson, and spends much of his time in the back while Andrew crawls around. I then realized that I've been focusing too much on ME, and not enough on Andrew. As I've started to change my focus, my Sundays have been so much better. Nothing has really changed. Grant and I still don't hear much of talks or lessons (just like every other parent), but I've been content to realize that I'm doing an important work in helping my kids establish these important patterns.

So, if you're in the same boat as me and you've been struggling too, just know you're not alone :) You are helping to establish an important pattern that will shape your kids testimonies and lives. This stage of life is hard because it will be a while before you can see the rewards of your diligence, but I know that they will come. I'm grateful that we get to go to church every week, and even though I don't hear much of anything, I'm grateful for the spirit I feel, for the chance to renew my baptismal covenants, and for the patterns that I'm instilling in my children.