And I don't necessarily mean that it is good for you, although that is unarguably the case. We all know that. It doesn't necessarily make us do it.
I'm talking something much more base, much more immediate, much more self-serving...and something I want to remember forever, when I'm tempted to forget. When I'm tempted to stop exercising--as I always am--I want to remember this:
Exercise makes me feel better.
So this post is to my future self, the one who will decide that:
+ she's too tired (Remember, you feel much less sleepy when you exercise!)
+ her back hurts (Remember, it hurts less when you exercise regularly!)
+ she doesn't have time (Remember, you have lots more energy when you exercise!)
+ it's too cold (Remember, you can use the treadmill or the elliptical!)
+ it's boring (Remember, there's always Netflix--the inferior motivation for us "less-spiritual-than-Ann-Voskamp-who-listens-to-Scripture-read-aloud-while-she-exercises" types!)
Remember, future self:Exercise makes you feel better!!!
Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
On this day every year I remember, with a bittersweet mix of grief and
gratitude, the five little ones our family has been blessed with since
our fourth child was born.
One day we'll meet you in heaven, dear Jordan, Eden, Carlan, Quinn, and Ellery. Though we never properly met you, we miss you just the same.
Three years ago, in late July, I wrote of the loss in a post entitled Losing Ellery: Well, as I sit here
recovering from the grogginess--general anesthesia yesterday, dozing in
and out of sleep all morning--I pause to capture a few emotions. The
nurse yesterday told me the anesthesia would be in my system for at
least 24 hours, and that I shouldn't drive, cook, operate machinery, or
make any important life or financial decisions during that time. The
last one made me smile. Does getting on the computer to post emotions
to the world on a blog count?! At any rate, here they are--groggy, confused, and "under the influence"--but this is what I'm thinking about on this day.
This D&C was the
first I've had performed under general anesthesia. In some ways, it is
much easier, emotionally, that way. Well, at least during the
The natural miscarriage
that was our first one--at thirteen weeks--was really horrible. There
was lots of bleeding (as in "you might as well just sit on the toilet"
bleeding) and excruciating pain (as in "this feels just like labor, but I
don't get the joy of a baby at the end of it so it is even worse"
pain). We had been taken aback by that first miscarriage--shocked,
really--because I had never had any trouble before. The kids and we
were so excited about the baby, and we were all pretty devastated when
it died. We called that baby Jordan.
The next miscarriage was
my first D&C and was actually two procedures since they didn't get
all the tissue out the first time. I was awake for these
procedures--and the barbaric nature of it all is in your face as you
listen to the grinding motor of the suction machine, wince under the
pain of the scraping and poking going on inside you, hear the sounds of
the "uterine contents" that is your baby make its way into the jar
attached to the machine. It really does seem like something out of
early last century; you'd think this technology would have progressed
beyond blind scraping and sucking with a machine that looks like
something you'd use to blow up your air mattress. Anyway, this is
different from the natural miscarriage that lasts days in your home, but
still emotionally difficult as well as physically uncomfortable, and
you tend to cry all the way through it, too. Nurses and doctors who
want to be compassionate but who do this all the time give you small
smiles of pity, and you just want to crawl away somewhere and bawl. But
you put on a brave face and assure them you're fine, and yes, they can
keep going. We called this baby Eden.
My third miscarriage was,
mercifully, more like a very heavy period, just six weeks along, a mere
two weeks past the positive pregnancy test. By three-in-a-row, you're
getting a little jaded and numb anyway, so it was nice to have this baby
leave us in a little less emotional way. By this time, I began to
realize that I was dealing with the pain of the loss separate from the
procedure of the miscarriage itself... it was more of a lengthy,
philosophical journey of "processing" and pain and prayer and tears.
Saying goodbye to little babies you'll never meet is difficult
business...this one we called Carlan.
Our fourth miscarriage
ended with another D&C; that time, like this one, my body was not
getting the hint that the baby had died and that all this pregnancy
stuff it was growing was not needed. The moment the machine started
up--though it had been years since the last one--all the emotions of the
past D&Cs returned, and I relived the loss of all our
babies even as I had to listen to them "remove" this one. It is tricky
stuff, trusting God in the pain of our lives, receiving His will when it
seems so out of sync with what you think you would prefer. This fourth
little life was relinquished a couple of years ago now, at a little
over ten weeks along. That child we named Quinn.
For a couple of years
after this, I did not conceive. I had begun blogging by then, and was
processing a lot of the emotions of these losses onscreen. I find it
therapeutic, having to capture all the myriad of thoughts and emotions
into some sort of coherent thing that I can come back to and read. I
remember my 41st birthday
being particularly difficult, as I faced the reality that my advancing
age may, in fact, rob us of the joy of another child born into our family.
And so now, at age 43, we
say goodbye to another baby. I've really processed the emotion of this
loss over the past several weeks, and so by the time I got to surgery
yesterday--this time under general anesthesia--the goodbyes of my heart
had been said, the tears shed. It was rather a perfunctory-feeling
thing yesterday, since they put me under and I woke up with it all
over. No bleeding and pain, no grinding machine, no reminders of what
was happening to me and to a little baby-who-would-never-be, at least on
And so I sit, a little
groggy and a little sore, with a little spotting, toying with letting the
tears which tickle the corners of my eyes, come... but not so sure I
want to cry anymore. I remember one particular morning, a few weeks
ago, when iivo and I just sat and wept--both of us--as we read the poem
I'd written as I wrestled with letting another little one go before its
time. The goodbyes were really processed then, and the nature of this
miscarriage really allowed the event itself to pass without emotional
fanfare. I embrace the part of that that is a mercy and respite, and
yet I mourn the part of that that maybe doesn't mark it pointedly
enough. Your departure from us, little Ellery, is just as bittersweet
to us as those of your lost brothers and sisters were. And we are sad
that it is now fully completed.
We release you to the One
who loves you more than we ever could have, even if we had gotten to
hold you in our arms and mentor you through this world with all the love
we could muster. We look forward to meeting you one day.