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My baby’s due date is coming up—but no baby will be born.


My little one was miscarried.

When you’re pregnant, your growing belly is an obvious indicator for the people in your life to check up on you. How are you feeling? Getting any sleep? Are you ready?

But when you lose your baby, there’s no easy way for those closest to you to remember an important day is approaching.

For nearly a month now, I’ve felt nothing short of emotionally unstable. Even the quickest thought about my baby will leave me in tears. I haven’t been sleeping well. I’ve felt anxious and ready for the due date to come and go, hoping that with it some of my grief will also finally pass.

I remember taking the pregnancy test at my parent’s house. I was dropping off my kids so my husband and I could go on a quick weekend getaway. I was bouncing around the bathroom just feet away from my entire family trying to keep quiet while I waited.

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I remember smiling after registering the pink plus sign, and then feeling so proud of myself for keeping it a secret from my family while I said my goodbyes before heading out to pick up my husband from work and hit the road.

I didn’t tell him the entire three hour drive. I thought about it a million times, but this was pretty big news and I honestly wasn’t sure how he was going to react. The last thing I wanted was for him to drive off the road. While we had been talking about baby number three for a little while, we were intending to wait until our other kids were a bit older.

I remember his reaction when I turned down a margarita (my favorite) when we went out to dinner later that evening. I told him to drink up, because he was set with a designated driver for another nine months. He laughed. He asked if I was kidding. Then he shuffled between excitement and panic throughout dinner before settling on genuine happiness. It didn’t take us long to start throwing out baby name ideas.

I remember the first time I woke up and ran to the toilet to vomit. Just like my two other pregnancies, morning sickness came early and aggressively. I quickly got back on my anti-nausea meds that I was all too used to and settled into a routine of puking and rallying to head to work or chase my kids.

I remember my neighbor coming over after work with her two kids so that our children could play together and she could supervise while I lay on the couch trying not to throw up on myself. I was so happy that I had someone I could count on when my husband wasn’t home.

I remember when I stopped being able to make food for my family because the odor was unbearable for my pregnant nose.

I remember thinking it was amazing that my husband had to take care of our kitties’ litter box. It was a small consolation prize for all of the vomiting I was doing.

I remember when I called to make my first doctor’s appointment and found out that they no longer accepted our insurance. I was incredibly frustrated. This was my third child. The last thing I wanted to do was start over with someone new. What choice did I have?

I remember the doctor’s appointment like it was yesterday. It was my first time at a new OBGYN. It was supposed to be a 12-week check up. I was feeling pukey, but fine. Within the first few minutes of meeting me, the doctor had to give me the worst news of my life. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I felt worse for her or me.

I remember thinking how crazy it was that my husband had made accommodations at work to be at that appointment with me. He went to maybe three other appointments between our daughter and son, and most likely just for the ultrasounds. But for some reason, he was with me to receive the devastating news. I remember being so thankful that I didn’t have to sit in the room by myself. Or drive home.

I remember struggling to decide if I wanted the baby to pass naturally or if I wanted to have the procedure done. How was I supposed to decide something like that? What way would you like to lose your baby? Quickly or slowly? Risky or messy? I remember thinking that it was the worst day of my life. I felt sorry for myself. I finally decided to have the procedure. I wasn’t going to begin any sort of healing process with the baby still inside of me. I couldn’t change what had happened. I wanted to move on. My husband called the doctor for me and scheduled an appointment for the following morning.

I remember my three-year-old cuddling with me in bed. She cried with me and asked if she could touch my tummy and say goodbye to the baby. She told the baby she loved him. I’ve never been so amazed by my daughter—her maturity and empathy—as I was that night.

I remember not sleeping. I was scared for the surgery. I was nervous about something going wrong and thought of my two beautiful, healthy children being without their mom.

I remember being surrounded by women. My doctor, the nurses, the anesthesiologist. All women. Several of them grabbed my hand as if it to say they’ve been there. It will be okay. It was overwhelming.

I remember giving my baby a gender and a name. I talked to my husband about it. We understood that we both needed to grieve in our own ways and that naming our baby was a connection that made the loss more difficult for him. It made it easier for me, more personal, so I keep it to myself. It’s just between me and my baby.

I remember going back to my parent’s house after the surgery so that I could rest. Like my pregnancy, my miscarriage became incredibly public. Not because of any decisions I felt liked I’d intentionally made, but when you’re as sick as I am during pregnancy it’s pretty hard to keep hidden for long. Just days before my doctor appointment, I finally put our pregnancy out there on social media, but it was hardly news to anyone at that point. I sat in the dark in the guest room of my parent’s house composing an email to my coworkers. I shared the email on my Facebook page. It wasn’t news I wanted to share for my own benefit. I was trying to prevent an awkward foot-in-mouth moment for everyone in my life.

I remember going outside to play with my kids that afternoon when I got home. Surprisingly, my nausea and exhaustion subsided immediately after the procedure. I wasn’t pregnant anymore.

In the days that followed, I received hundreds of private messages, phone calls, emails and text messages. Dozens of women reached out to offer sympathy or even share their own miscarriage stories with me. Some I knew about and others were complete surprises. It was strangely comforting to not feel so alone. As my mom said, “it’s a really big club, but one I’d hoped you would never have had to join.”

I remember secretly wishing that people would stop saying things like, “God has a plan for you” or “everything happens for a reason.” The truth is, while I’ve attempted to console friends with those same cliches, I just wanted to feel sorry for myself. I wanted to be sad. And angry. And confused. I wanted someone to say, “this totally sucks.” I didn’t want any reasoning. An explanation wasn’t going to bring back my baby.

I remember thinking that life is uncertain. All of the plans we had made for the new baby over the months we knew about him shifted out of view. This lack of control gave me an inexplicable amount of courage; I quit my job the next week. {Something I had been thinking about for months but was too afraid to do until the timing was “right.”}

I remember the first time I brought up my miscarriage casually during a conversation with friends. I could see them growing uncomfortable, shifting eye contact or body language, not sure how to respond. But I still did it. It helped me to acknowledge what had happened.

I remember the first time I felt simultaneously happy and heartbroken. With each baby announcement or gender reveal photo that pops up on social media, my body aches a little bit and I wonder what if my baby’s story had played out like that. It’s strange when someone else’s joy can bring you joy and pain, but I’m getting used to feeling it.

I remember when I got to hold my neighbor’s new baby for the first time not even a month ago. We told each other we were expecting at the same time last summer. We were supposed to go through out pregnancies together, our babies’ births together and all of the milestones to follow. Except I won’t. Her son is healthy and beautiful and I am so happy for her. But it also reminds me that I am sad for me.

Throughout the last seven months, I’ve come full circle. I had stopped crying every day and now I cry every day again. In the months in between, there were even some days with the chaos of day to day life that I didn’t think about my miscarriage at all.

It really had gotten easier, but then my due date crept closer. The day that would remind me of the baby that I’d lost.

The baby that I will always remember.

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As a mid-Spring holiday, we never knew exactly what to expect from the weather on Easter when I was growing up in Michigan: Would we get to wear our new Sunday dresses without coats? Or would we be hunting for eggs while wearing snowsuits?

Although what the temperature had in store was really anyone's guess, there were a few special traditions my sister and I could always depend on—and it won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite memories revolved around food. After all, experts say memories are strongest when they tie senses together, which certainly seems to be true when it comes to holiday meals that involve the sounds of laughter and the taste of amazing food.

Now that I'm a parent, I'm experiencing Easter anew as my children discover the small delights of chocolate, pre-church brunch and a multi-generational dinner. While I still look forward to the treats and feasting, I'm realizing now that the sweetest thing of all is how these traditions bring our family together around one table.

For us, the build-up to Easter eats is an extended event. Last year's prep work began weeks in advance when my 3-year-old and I sat down to plan the brunch menu, which involved the interesting suggestion of "green eggs and ham." When the big morning rolled around, his eyes grew to the size of Easter eggs out of pure joy when the dish was placed on the table.

This year, rather than letting the day come and go in a flash, we are creating traditions that span weeks and allow even the littlest members of the family to feel involved.

Still, as much as I love enlisting my children's help, I also relish the opportunity to create some magic of my own with their Easter baskets—even if the Easter Bunny gets the credit. This year, I'm excited to really personalize the baskets by getting an "adoptable" plush unicorn for my daughter and the Kinder Chocolate Mini Eggs that my son hasn't stopped talking about since seeing at the store. (You can bet this mama is stocking up on some for herself, too.)

At the same time, Easter as a parent has opened my eyes to how much effort can be required...

There is the selection of the right Easter outfits for picture-perfect moments.

There is the styling of custom Easter baskets.

There is the filling of plastic eggs and strategic placement of them throughout the yard.

But when the cameras are put away and we all join together around the table for the family dinner at the end of the day, I can finally take a deep breath and really enjoy—especially with the knowledge that doing the dishes is my husband's job.

This article was sponsored by Kinder. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


Our Partners

Starting this weekend Target will be limiting the number of people allowed in its stores to give shoppers and staff more space to spread out and adhere to social distancing recommendations during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Beginning April 4, Target will actively monitor and, when needed, limit the total number of people inside based on the store's specific square footage," the company notes in a news release.

You'll also notice staff wearing gloves and masks over the next two weeks as the company steps up its coronavirus protection measures.

Many people are choosing to stay home and order groceries online, but that's not an option for everyone as long lines at some Target's prove.

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"We're incredibly proud of the commitment our more than 350,000 frontline team members have demonstrated to ensure millions of guests can count on Target, and we'll continue to focus our efforts on supporting them," says Target's Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, John Mulligan.

Target is open this weekend but—along with Costco, Aldi, Publix and Trader Joe's—Target stores will be closed on Easter Sunday to give the essential employees in these stores a much-deserved break.

I was blissfully asleep on the couch while my little one was occupied elsewhere with toys, books and my partner. She got bored with what they were doing, escaped from his watch and, sensing my absence, set about looking for me. Finding me on the couch, nose-level, she peeled back my one available eyelid, singing, "Mama? Mama? ...You there? Wake UP!"

Sound familiar? Nothing limits sleep more than parenthood. And nothing is more sought after as a parent than a nap, if not a good night's rest.

But Mother Nature practically guarantees that you are likely to be woken up by a toddler—they're hardwired to find you (and get your attention) when you're "away."

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According to attachment theory, when you respond to the needs of your child, a strong bond is formed and woven into their personality, serving as a basis for all future emotional ties. So your kids love and depend on you. And they can feel anxious when involuntarily separated from you, like when you are asleep.

Child psychologist Esther Cohen suggests that it is fairly universal that infants and toddlers try to open the eyes of their sleeping parents. Her theory is that when you are present, but with your eyes shut, you are not responsive, and on some level this causes your child a form of "emotional distress." So the best and easiest way for them to feel better is to wake you up.

Cohen believes that reestablishing eye contact bridges the gap between your physical presence and your emotional presence, making the situation feel normal again. Your kids are relieved that you are alert and there to interact with them—and that you are available to protect them.

Kids are hardwired to seek our attention all the time.

At birth, your brain is only about 25% of its adult volume. Born particularly vulnerable, you depend on years of loving care. This prolonged helplessness has resulted in the evolution of certain behaviors—like baby coos, smiles and crying—that increase your odds of survival within your family.

By the toddler age, they've developed a sense of who you are and what you can do in relation to people, and realize when they are separate from their parents. Toddlers also have what's called object permanence—they can understand who or what is, or is not, present. That means they'll search for objects and people. (And wake you up when they find you.)

Bottom line: When you sneak off for a nap and your toddler looks for you, know that this is a natural instinct for them, and they will grow out of it. But for now, when you are asleep, you are not there, so your kids must. wake. you. up.

And for an extra fun fact: Research indicates that this also could be why it's so hard for you to ignore your partner when working from home. They are there, but technically not available, so you

continually find reasons to interact with them—just like waking them up from a nap. 😉
Life

Navigating family dynamics during or after a divorce is already a tremendous challenge. Throw a highly transmittable virus and a global pandemic into the mix, and many parents will be left with more questions than answers. Matters of custody, financial stability and mental and emotional health take on new significance—and new challenges—under these circumstances. But you can do it, mama.

As a divorce attorney, I've worked with numerous families during these past weeks, in various stages of the divorce process, all of whom are learning to navigate and negotiate unfamiliar dynamics created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are my tips for co-parenting in the context of COVID-19.

1. Show children that you are calm.

Parents know better than anyone how perceptive children are. Even so, we often forget how our moods and anxieties can unintentionally affect our children. To keep the calm in the household, let children see things are under control: Ensure that potential disagreements with your co-parent are kept in conversations between the two of you (not in front of the kids), and give yourself time and space to manage your own stress and anxiety. Stressed children mean stressed parents—and the principle applies in reverse as well.

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2. Be transparent with your co-parent.

Communicate as openly and honestly as possible with your co-parent about yourself and your children. Keep your co-parent updated about you and your children's location, home education and health (physical and emotional). It is critical that, in the case of an emergency and in everyday life, both parents be fully aware and in sync regarding children's whereabouts and welfare. Transparency breeds trust; secrets breed mistrust and animosity.

3. Keep your rules.

Because this moment feels so uncertain and some of our regular norms have fallen by the wayside, there can be a tendency to let other household rules start to slide. Make sure everyone remembers their responsibilities within the family.

School might be at the kitchen table now, but having children make their beds, get dressed and brush their teeth in the morning helps maintain a sense of normalcy that can be helpful for children when things seem tumultuous. Maintain chore schedules, eat dinner together and continue to follow rituals and rules that remind children (and parents) of the responsibilities we have.

4. Consult your health care provider when disagreements arise.

If you disagree on social distancing measures, I usually advise both parents to telephone their child's pediatrician or health care provider and agree ahead of time to follow their advice. Parents can also consult the CDC measures and agree to follow those protocols. Educating your co-parent can be the most helpful thing to do now.

If you are divorced and work with a parenting coordinator, they may also be a helpful resource. If not, a third party, like a mutually trusted friend or relative can serve as an impartial mediator to help you come to a reasonable agreement.

5. Maintain boundaries.

For parents and children in this time, it is important to maintain a degree of personal space. Many of us have been directed to self-quarantine, and isolation is not easy. The nationwide efforts to keep us apart in order to contain the virus have put many of us in closer contact with those around us than we may be accustomed to.

Constant shared space and time can certainly introduce new stress into an already tense environment. While these small measures may not seem significant, taking time to yourself to be alone—even just in a separate room—can be healthy and good for group morale. Take a walk, do some yoga, whatever it looks like, take care of yourself as a parent right now.

Be flexible with your co-parent.

Flexibility, transparency and reasonableness need to be at the forefront of all decisions. Remember that this is an unprecedented situation, and it calls for flexibility, especially in scheduling.

Both sides need to be reasonable if someone becomes ill, of course. If your co-parent can't travel due to illness, then you need to be understanding about this issue and work with them to provide makeup time for the future. But the situation also calls for transparency by the parent who is sick. That parent should provide the information necessary to make the co-parent feel comfortable that they have appropriate resources and are taking proper precautions to keep children and adults safe and healthy.

Plan ahead.

While immediate concerns may be taking center stage right now, planning for the future has never been more crucial. Make time to sit down with your current or ex-spouse and take stock of your respective finances, your job security and your co-parenting schedule management as soon as possible, and create a plan (and a backup plan) for going forward. Though it may not be comfortable, transparency with your current or ex-spouse is essential.

Be smart, plan ahead and above all, stay safe.

Love + Village

As a mom of three and former social worker working for many years in the fields of adoption, Sara Ester of Sara Liz Photography knows firsthand the importance of family time. When she learned that families all over the country are self-isolating due to the coronavirus outbreak, she knew it was the perfect time to capitalize on moments of connections. Her mission was simple: promote family time to ease stress and promote happiness.

Liz reached out to dozens of families on social media asking if they would like to be photographed on their porch for a "Front Porch Session" and the responses were huge.

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Photo by: Sara Liz Photography

"Amid all the COVID-19 stuff going on I asked if families would be interested in a quick five-minute session on their front porches to document what a crazy experience it has been to be quarantined at home," Ester told Popsugar. "The people participating ran with it! So many families made funny or encouraging signs, showed up in their pajamas or yoga pants, and just really embraced the whole 'quarantine chic' idea. It was really reaffirming to see how everyone is in the same boat. We're all just trying to do the best we can with a crappy situation!"


Photo by: Sara Liz Photography

We're living in perilous times and it's nice to see families using the lockdown as an opportunity to bond. After all, it doesn't matter how big or small your house is, it's the love inside that counts.

Photo by: Sara Liz Photography


"Photography, specifically documentary photography is a big part of how I see and function in the world a lot of the time," Ester shared in an Instagram post. With everything being so overwhelming the last week or so, it has helped me to also keep in mind that what we are dealing with is historical."

News
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