The Road to Rivendell

‘Alas! there are some wounds that cannot be wholly cured,’ said Gandalf.

‘I fear it may be so with mine,’ said Frodo. ‘There is no real going back. Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same; for I shall not be the same. I am wounded with knife, sting, and tooth, and a long burden. Where shall I find rest?’

Gandalf did not answer.”

Lord of the Rings. J.R.R Tolkein

For those who can’t remember what happens to Frodo after he meets the Nazgul, he is wounded by the Witch King (the leader of the Nazgul) when attempting to escape the Morgul Blade by putting on the ring and escaping to the ‘wraith world’ (not knowing that the Witch King can still see him in the wraith world). He is stabbed in the shoulder and the Nazgul are fought off by Aragorn who arrives just in time to help the Hobbits.

But Frodo is poisoned by the blade and Aragorn must take him to be seen by the Elves at Rivendell.

It’s strange how we can draw parallels from the most bizarre of things. I am not sure whether it is a gift that I generally can turn most life situations into something nerdy – or whether it just shows my nerdy, pop culture side off more. Nevertheless, I feel the parallels help me to word things better and for others to understand.

Life after loss. Regardless of whether it is a pregnancy loss, or the loss of a family member or beloved pet. It’s all the same to me in a way. Grief comes with so many emotions – sadness, anger, resentment, melancholy, shock, disbelief, guilt, shame, loneliness… I could go on. It occurs to me that most of us have experienced this in some way or another. So I guess we can all take comfort in the fact that grief is something that so many identify with – regardless of the cause.

I have, in the last few years, changed the way that I look at emotions. I grew up believing in ‘negative emotions’ (such as sadness, anger, frustration, guilt, shame etc.) and ‘positive emotions’ (such as happiness, joy, kindness, enthusiasm, empathy). I believe that positive emotions were good – and I should always show these to people and strive to live in this state. I told myself that negative emotions were bad, I shouldn’t show them to others because that makes me a bad person and will cause them to think ill of me. I spent my life trying to ‘be positive’ and constantly striving to tip my emotional see-saw into positive. I thought happiness was the natural state for human beings and that in order to live a full life I NEEDED to be happy. Not wanted, but NEEDED.

This is ridiculous.

In order to live, we must accept that we, as humans have a FULL array of emotions we will experience in our times. Happiness is one emotion, but there are so many others.

Emotions can be positive OR negative depending on the context. Think about it…. fear can protect us from danger, anger can help us to fight against problems, love can cause us to hurt. If you a grieving it is GOOD to be sad and all those other emotions – that’s what grieving is. I read a book that my husband recommended to me a year or so ago called The Happiness Trap by Dr Russ Harris. This book talks a lot about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which basically means “learning how to open up and make room for difficult thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations, urges and memories… learning how to open up and let them flow through you without getting swept away by them and without getting into a battle with them. And ‘stay present’ means learning how to engage fully in what you’re doing and focus your attention on where it needs to go”. **

**If this sounds cool to you – check out this page for more information.

I could go on talking about this for ages, but that’s not why we are here. I just needed to provide you a little insight into my crazy brain and how I view the world so that you can better understand what happens next in our story.

I had resolved to accept my emotions for what they are, knowing that they will come and go like the seasons and I will not be ‘stuck’ in this situation forever. I thanked my brain for allowing me to grieve and allowing me to be sad and angry and I took that time to do so. I didn’t pretend that I wasn’t, putting on a face (especially an emotional one) is exhausting and I think being allowed to be emotional is fine. As long as you acknowledge and connect with WHY they are there and accept them without trying to escape them. It’s learning to respond to emotions in a healthy way.

Now, don’t for one second think that I sailed through this whole thing like Chuck Norris riding his mindfulness T-Rex and tearing those ‘negative emotions’ a new asshole with his powerful positivity roundhouse kicks…. although that sounds amazing. I didn’t … but I understand why I had to go through these emotions, why they were there and why I needed a good fellowship around me to help me heal.

That Morgul Blade wound was poison. It cut deep. I could feel the emotions pulsing through my blood stream, trying to take over every part of me until I become a wraith like Frodo was becoming. Fueled by hatred and consumed by grief.

The choice to announce our miscarriage on Social Media was not something I ever thought I would do. But I did. And I am kind of glad. Now, you are entitled to think and do anything you like to help you cope with your own grief, but here’s how it happened for us.

After the post we received countless messages of support, love from people I haven’t spoken to in years, messages saying ‘me too’ and ‘ I understand. As my husband so rightly put it, this was over 400 conversations we didn’t have to have. Only a week after my miscarriage we were back at rehearsals preparing for a huge concert for which we were a part of both in organisation and performance. Everyone knew what had happened but no one made a point of it, people just gave us hugs, said ‘Welcome back’ and let us carry on with our lives. This was SO helpful for me.

I think a lot of people don’t know what to do when someone is going through grief. My advice? Send them a message, let them know you are thinking of them and that you are there. That is enough. It is so much more than you think.

I didn’t want anyone around me apart from my Samwise. I wanted our bubble and so did he. But that bubble was reinforced by the love and support of our fellowship. It’s what kept us strong.

You will feel helpless, useless and lost for words if you know someone going through loss of any kind. But I think you need not do much more than simply letting them know they are loved and that you are there for them when they are ready. We eventually came out of our bubble when we were happy to and we are so grateful for those who gave us time to do that on our own terms.

Things that weren’t helpful for me (personally) were:
– “At least you can get pregnant”
– “There is always IVF”
-“You need to take [insert natural therapy here]. Here is a link to all of them”
-“At least you weren’t very far along”
-“It just wasn’t meant to be”
-“My friend had two miscarriages and now they have two kids. You’ll be fine”
– “Have you been checked for bla bla bla?”
-“Your body is just doing its job”
-“You know 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage?”

I think Jenna Kutcher put it so well in her blog post HERE as to why these phrases just weren’t helpful at the time. Even if you mean well. Don’t forget, we are poisoned with our own emotions and acting and thinking about things rationally is really a huge ask at this point. If you’re not sure why some of these phrases really got to me – please message me or comment or reach out and I will explain (I just don’t want this post to be an extension of War and Peace!).

When in doubt. Keep it simple.

It’s not that I don’t want to understand the good place you are coming from when you say these things. It’s just that I can’t be completely rational right now and the emotions (being as raw as they are) are not allowing me to react calmly. Worst thing is, I said to most of these people “thanks so much” and just internalized the fact that they had really hurt me and struck a nerve. But I think that’s a gut reaction for me at the best of times.

One of the other sad reactions from this journey was making the decision to unfollow a lot of my friends on social media and actively try and avoid certain people and conversations. It will hurt to see your pregnant friends on Facebook and even more so when you see pregnancy announcement after pregnancy announcement. It will hurt to see your friends sharing pictures of their families and pictures of their newborns. It will hurt bad.

In no way do I want to discourage my beautiful friends and family from sharing their journeys!!!!!! Remember, we have a temporary solution on social media called an unfollow button which I can use to filter my feed so it helps with my coping. When I am ready, I will be able to enjoy your pictures and pages more. But right now, seeing someone complain about their pregnancy aches and pains really hits a nerve when all you want is to still BE pregnant. I am sure you can all understand this. It’s one of the most horrible outcomes of a miscarriage and it smacks you like a freight train out of no where when you least expect it. I actually feel kind of horrible writing this part, but anyone who has gone through this will likely be able to sympathize with me.

I have said “no” to baby showers. I am sorry.

I have said “no” to visits with my friends who have newborns. I am sorry.

I have said “no” to social situations that may involve friends who are pregnant discussing their upcoming due dates or symptoms. Or even situations where all my friends have kids and discuss how tired they are and what pests their little ones are being today. I am sorry.

I am so sorry.

I truly am. Being super blunt, I actually feel like a total dick saying this and admitting to it. I feel like an even bigger dick by clicking “unfollow” or saying “no”.

But right now I need this poison to leave my body and that will take rest, time, love and my bubble.

But it will heal. I will never be quite the same. But I will be ok. And (spoiler alert!) I was ok.

Scraping the bottom of the barrel of classic memes…. this was me. I was grumpy cat.

I actually started writing this post 6 days ago and it has been quite difficult to finish and post. I guess the emotional aftermath of these things is so different for everyone. I feel like I am treading a fine line between my own emotions and feelings and being conscious of offending those around me in terms of what was said. I never took any personal offence to anything that was said but there were things that were helpful and not helpful. At the end of the day, everyone finds it hard to know what to say and do around someone who is going through a tough time or grieving so it’s never easy.

I also realized that there is a lot of feelings of negative focus as a woman during times when you are getting fertility tests or going through a miscarriage in the sense that there is more tests/reasons for things to be something wrong with your system than the males. However, interestingly enough, after a miscarriage there is a lot of positive attention directed at the woman with the man being often (and not intentionally!) neglected of how he is coping and feeling. We were lucky as our friends and family almost always asked how the both of us were doing. But I think it is still an interesting point to make.

Although I was off work, my husband went back almost immediately. Running your own business means you don’t have the luxury of carers/sick leave unless you want to forfeit your income. I did ask my husband how he felt during this time. He said he was glad that he worked from home and knew that he was able to check on me or help at any time. He said he couldn’t imagine how much harder it would have been had he needed to leave home to work each day. Which I think is a fair point to make as our situation is obviously different in that way. He said that he could “handle the grief” as I think grief is something we have all felt at some point in our lives. But he said watching me go through the physical and mental pain was the worst part of all – especially when he was feeling so helpless.

So, if you are going through this too – tell people if they are being helpful as chances are they most likely think they’re not.

It’s hard to eloquently and systematically put into words what the emotional journey is like after a miscarriage. I was so upset, angry then frustrated, then lonely, then overwhelmed, then relieved, then anxious…. Needless to say that it wasn’t dissimilar to Rivendell where we went through some healing with the help of friends and family. A Fellowship was formed and we felt protected, supported and loved and ready to tackle the next phase of our journey.

For those wondering, it took 3 weeks after my natural miscarriage for my cycle to return. You often need to get blood tests every few days to ensure that your HcG is dropping as it should. Your cycle can be a little different afterwards – think of it like your body flicking a switch off and on again. I actually lost all my usual PMS symptoms and my years of 1 – 3 days of horrible period pain. So I guess that is a definite silver lining!

I kind of stopped counting, following cycles and apps after this miscarriage. Mainly because I was tired and also because my cycle had become a little unreliable – such is the case after miscarriage. I went from every 28 days to between 26 and 31 days so it became a little anxiety causing to try and predict things.

On our 3rd cycle after the miscarriage our adventure became a little exciting again… but that’s a tale for the next post….

To all those who have read or are reading this journey. I thank you.

Thank you to our Fellowship (you all know who you are) for walking with us and supporting our journey.

Thank you for all the messages, love, support and cards/gifts during our tough times. Even if you didn’t know what to say you all helped so much. Sometimes keeping it simple is the best way to go.

I feel so humbled and privileged to have such an amazing lot of people surrounding us. To all those who sent us messages and told me of their losses and their journeys… THANK YOU. THANK YOU SO MUCH. You made me feel like I wasn’t alone and that is so precious.

 “You can trust us to stick to you, through thick and thin – to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours – closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo.” 

Merry to Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring.

I hope this journey can do the same for others.

Onwards…… to the Misty Mountains and the Mines of Moria…

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