Mothering Through Miscarriage

When we first moved to northern New Jersey last October, I worked really hard to network and make new friends for the boys and I. Like, no kidding, I got on The Facebook and searched things like, “Mommy Groups in [my town],” or “[My town] Moms.” My least favorite thing about parenting has always been other parents, because other parents — mothers especially — can be so judgmental. I strive to be the type of mom friend that, instead of saying, “This is the right way to do it…” says “This is how we do it.” We, as in my husband and I. Not implying that there is a right and wrong way, because I really don’t believe there is. Just sharing what works for us. Finding other parents with this mindset has been surprisingly scarce, but thanks to all those late night Facebook-surfing mommy group investigations, I was able to find an incredible group of 6 other mamas that have truly become my closest friends here in NJ.

My #momtribe, as I call them, has been incredible. We ask each other questions without being judged; we look out for each other’s kiddos when we’re out together; we plan preschool classes and field trips and fun events for our 2 and 3 year olds to do together. We celebrate each other’s joys, empathize during each other’s difficult parenting moments, offer suggestions about anything needed, and in recent weeks… mourn each other’s losses. When I found out I was pregnant, I told my #momtribe early. Earlier than I would announce it publicly or even share it with my long-time friends, because these are the mamas I see every week and the ones to ask about the best OB, what hospitals to deliver at, etc. They know my boys and they know my lifestyle. I also told them as soon as I found out I lost our baby. Within the day, they were quick to tell me that they were cooking our meals for the rest of the week and offered love, support, and wonderful food.

Truth: All I wanted to do was shut down when I found out about our loss. And for 24 hours, I pretty much did. Josh took care of our boys while I stayed in bed. My mama friends took care of our meals. The day Josh went back to work, I sat on the floor with Preston and Troy and just cried and cried while Preston came up to hug me and say in his sweet, little voice, “Hi Mommy. Hi. Mommy? Hi Mommy.” I canceled all of our commitments, classes and appointments for the entire week and just stayed home with the boys, working through everything as best I could.

But when you’re a mama, and you have two little humans who completely depend on you while daddy is at work, you have to keep going.

It’s like Dory says, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, what do we do? We swim, swim swim.”

The day it happened was the day before Preston’s third surgery to have tubes put in his ears again. The week it happened was the same week Troy got his first ear infection, ever. Talk about timing, right?

Each day, it became a little easier. The bleeding was nonstop for 2 weeks, but emotionally, I became more accepting and at peace, little by little. Of course it’s all blown to smithereens when I hear a song like “Concrete Angel” with lyrics like “fly to a place where she’s loved” and bawl my eyes out, hoping our angel baby knew he/she was loved. The hormones during this process? Out of control. Like, hella crazy. Like, my emotions have been from zero to sixty within 60 freaking seconds, at least for 2 weeks straight. I think that’s all normal, though? I think it’s part of the process?

I’ve been doing a lot better as the weeks have gone on. With everything going on in our lives right now, it’s almost impossible to slow down and grieve. I start to feel guilty for even needing to grieve when others in our country have suffered so much recently between natural disasters and mass shootings. I am blessed with two beautiful and healthy boys, a hardworking husband, and the ability to be home for all 3 of them. But still, it’s okay to grieve and it’s okay to move forward. This mess has become my message. Me, mine. This may not be the “right” way to do it, but it’s the way I’m doing it.

I Will Carry You

“I will carry you
while your heart beats here”
-Selah

I can count on one hand the three worst experiences of my life. The first, when I was in my early 20s and my parents separated. The second, when I was 25 and Joshua was deployed to Afghanistan; I received the phone call from one of my closest friends that her fiancé’s humvee hit an IED. The third, just two weeks ago, when I lost our baby at 9 weeks pregnant. 

We didn’t plan to have them this close together. I was shocked when I found out I was pregnant. Shocked, terrified, scared, and then excited. Before announcing it to anyone other than a few close family members, we got right back into planning. We had the sleeping arrangements worked out for our two-bedroom townhouse; we had the minivan chosen that we would trade our RAV4 in for. (Yes– minivan! Who would have thought…) We had baby names– two for a girl, two for a boy. I made a small list of the simple baby items we would need. We had our announcement video idea set, and the day to film it was marked on the calendar.  I was feeling all the pregnancy symptoms earlier than with my first two. We were preparing. We were getting ready. 

I knew something wasn’t right when the spotting I’d been experiencing since my 6-week ultrasound didn’t stop. At that 6-week appointment, I saw and heard our sweet baby’s heartbeat. It was a tiny flicker on the screen, a beat of 145 bpm. I measured 6 weeks and 3 days at that appointment. 

But by the end of my 8th week of pregnancy, the spotting had turned bright red. I went in to see my OB at 9 weeks pregnant, and still, she said it could be normal. She sent me for an ultrasound. 

When I went in for the appointment, the ultrasound tech asked if I wanted to see the screen. I told her yes, mentally preparing myself for the worst but still hoping for the best. It sucked being there alone, but Josh was home with the boys and I’m glad they weren’t with us. 

I watched as she marked her measurements, then zoomed in on our baby. I didn’t see the flicker. I saw the shapes of the baby’s eyes and hands, but no heartbeat. Then she turned on the sound and heart rate monitor. It was a flat line. It was silent. 

Up until that point, I’d still been cautiously hopeful, not knowing how I would react if this were the outcome. But then as I stared at that flat line on the monitor, I felt my own heart just ache. And then a slow, stinging sadness took over.

This loss is unlike any I have experienced. It’s such a personal, private loss. It’s the loss of the life inside me. It’s the loss of a future. It’s the loss of a heartbeat. 

I held it together until I was able to get back to my car. I called my doctor before I called Josh because, like me, he likes to have a plan in place and I wanted to know what to tell him. I knew logically what I would have to do if I had lost the baby, that somehow I would have to pass it, but my OB gave me 3 options: 1. Let it pass naturally, 2. Take a pill to make it pass, or 3. Have a D&C surgery to take it out.

Hating every option, I chose the second. I hated that pill. I hated that I had to take it twice because it didn’t “work” the first time. I hated knowing what it was supposed to be doing. I hated the word “tissue” and the phrase “when you pass tissue” even more. But more than that, I hated the idea of surgery and I hated the thought of it being weeks before the “tissue” passed on its own.

I feel guilty for thinking I might feel relieved when it happened, but all I feel is sadness. I feel heartbroken. I feel devastated. 

I’m trying to remind myself that this must be part of God’s plan. There must be a reason that such an unexpected blessing was given to us, and then taken away. I need constant reminding. I still may need a D&C, but I couldn’t make it to my follow-up appointment this week because Troy is sick, so there might be more to come. Hopefully not. 

My heart aches for the mothers I know who have lost their babies before they got to meet them, who I couldn’t be there for because I didn’t understand. 

I understand now. If you’ve been through this or you go through this in the future, I’m here for you. Whether I know you personally or not. Whether we talked yesterday or haven’t talked in years. Whether you want to cry to someone, or just say it out loud to someone. 

I’m so incredibly sad, sorry, and heartbroken. 💔

“I will carry you
all my life”

Open Hearts, Fresh Starts

It’s been a rough go for our little family lately, and I am so grateful for a new month and a fresh start. It’s been an endless summer here in northern New Jersey and we’re all craving cooler days and sweater weather! Out sweet baby Troy turned one year old last month and our darling little Preston turns 3 years old next month. Where does the time go?!

So far, our October bucket list includes apple picking, pumpkin painting, and lots of visits to the local farms. Can’t wait!

Why PK?

pkp-whypk-29november2016

Once upon a time in 2007 when Joshua joined the Marine Corps, he graduated from the School of Infantry as a Lance Corporal and was sent to his first unit at Camp Lejeune. His team leader decided that his last name, “Ploscik,” was too complicated to spell or say, and he took the first and last letters and began calling Josh “PK.” It stuck, and the other Marines also called him PK. When we started dating in 2008, his friends started calling me “Mrs. PK,” which I secretly adored. Together with our little family, we are the PK posse!

Before we ever got pregnant, Josh originally wanted to name his son Joshua. I wasn’t a fan of the idea because I thought it would be too confusing/annoying at home, so I told him if he really wanted a Joshua Jr. then I would call him JJ, which he was super against.

Fast forward to when we chose the name Preston for our firstborn. We were trying to come up with a middle name, and I’ve always loved the name Kade. Josh didn’t like it as a first name, but when I suggested making it the middle name so his initials would be “PK” (after daddy), he loved it! It’s also the perfect nickname for Preston, our first baby PK.

Essentially, all of us are PK’s, but Preston gets the honor of carrying on that nickname without any explanation!

Making Things Happen

In early November of 2015, I had the privilege of attending the Making Things Happen conference in Chapel Hill, NC. Here is a bit of paraphrasing from the event description, because I can’t really say it much better.

This two-day conference, led by Lara Casey, author of Make it Happen, is designed to fire you up and set you on a powerful path. During the conference, led by Lara Casey, attendees dig deep, establish priorities, uncover a purposeful vision for their life and business, set goals, and discover how to make what matters most happen. Making Things Happen was founded on the idea that you have the choice to change your life. It was designed to fire people up to make bold decisions towards their best lives and empower them to step into their fears instead of away from them. Even those who have gone through the Making Things Happen experience have a hard time articulating it, but that’s okay – alums are encouraged to let their actions explain the powerful changes they’ve experienced! 

The conference was enlightening for me. It helped me figure things out in both my personal and professional life in ways I didn’t even think I needed. It helped me uncover what really matters to me, what matters most. And it gave me the wisdom and clarity to make “it” happen. “It” is something different and personal for everyone. For me, “it” became balance.

I’ve had a little over two months to digest everything I learned, and while I don’t plan to do a big long post about the conference, I do plan to incorporate bits and pieces into my posts here and there.

I went to Chapel Hill feeling so overwhelmed and exhausted. I left feeling purposeful and encouraged. I thought I went to figure out what to do in my career. I work from home full-time as a graphic designer and social media strategist for a government contractor out out the NoVA/DC area, which has never been my dream job but has provided a stable income for my family for the past four years. Since giving birth to Preston a year ago, I had come to resent my job for taking time away from Preston. I recently learned that I’ll more than likely be losing my job in the next 6 months or so because the contract I work on was not renewed with the government. It left me terrified and scared about not being able to contribute to our family’s income. I’ve always wanted to own my own business, but after I failed at my first freelance attempt several years ago and went into a bad depression, I’ve been scared to try again. I felt overwhelmed with what to do next. Everything has been piling up — chores, housework, work, fights with Joshua. At the conference, Lara shared a story about one morning when she yelled at her young daughter because she was so stressed out with work, and that was the first point in the conference when I broke down. I’ve done this, I’ve done this more than once. I’ve yelled at my sweet, sweet baby boy, for no reason other than being too stressed to handle whatever the situation was in a positive and intentional way. He never deserved that from me. I’m crying as I type this, because I hate that I’ve done it. I hate that I filled my tank with so much of what doesn’t matter that it took over what does matter.

::deep breath::

I know now that work and business are not my first priority. It’s my family. It’s my husband and my baby. They are my reasons for it all, and I want to make balance happen. I’ve been working on it everyday since leaving the conference, and I’ve already messed up several times. But as I also learned, sometimes your mess becomes your message. And my mess is becoming my message. Somehow, after setting my priority as family and giving myself permission to keep them at #1, everything else has been falling into place. I don’t understand it, and it’s crazy and messy and not totally how I pictured it, but it’s all happening.

I am so grateful to Lara Casey, to my breakout session leaders, and to the new friends I made in those two days for changing my life and giving me perspective and purpose.

// Photos by Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography