A journey of hope and healing after a decade of infertility and two maternal near-misses.

Someone I Used To Know

November 21, 2017

I ran into her in the middle of the baking aisle and my first instinct was to give her a hug.  It’s been more than two years, yet seeing her again made it feel like it was yesterday.  It took a second for her to place me; we were in the grocery store after all, and then the gaze of recognition set in.  

“Oh my gosh!  How are you?  Wow, you look great!”  

All it took were those last three words for a mixed bag of weird, sad and heavy to set in.  Of course, I know she meant well.  Most of the weirdness was on my end.  Everyone who says it means it as a compliment but her acknowledgement of the changes she saw in me physically would feel so much different if they were because of a new set of fitness classes I had been taking.  Or running.  Or anything really.  Anything but the real reason behind the drastic transformation standing before her.  I could feel the tears welling up the second the words left her lips.  

“Um, thanks... it was because of the stress” 

I wanted to say it.  I wanted her to know losing 50 lbs on top of the pregnancy weight wasn't on purpose, like knowing that seemingly insignificant fact would somehow paint a clearer picture of what I had been through.  I just smiled weakly instead.  

I am pretty sure she knows some of the details of my harrowing ordeal but she played it off like she didn’t.  My status at my former job has been shrouded in mystery for a long while because of protocols and policies.  And I get it.  I really do, but I feel like my former coworkers have been kept in the dark for far too long.  I told her what happened and then her eyes glazed over.  Maybe she didn’t hear me over the soft rock playing overhead through the grocery store.  (Has anyone else noticed they are starting to play much better music these days?  Maybe it’s just me.)  I guess I was waiting for a reaction from her but it never came.  When we parted, I felt like I had said too much.  I always say too much.  Then somewhere in the middle of the produce aisle, I heard His voice.  

“It’s okay to show them your vulnerabilities.”

I admit it's hard for me to do.  God has told me this plenty of times before this interaction but I loathe the feeling that rolls in after I’ve let my guard down a little too low.  I know this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach is rooted in our society's success driven, rat-race culture.  Success is built on perceived strength.  Survival of the fittest!  Why don't I have it all together yet?  And while her eyes got sad when I told her “They don’t want me back.  I’m not the same as I was before.", the sound of this truth uttered out of my own mouth reverberated in my ears. 

I’m not the same as before. 

Let’s take it a step further and be even more real: NOTHING is the same as it was before.  I know it's true and yet it's such a hard and bitter pill to swallow sometimes.  I’d be doing myself and the maternal health awareness cause a huge disservice if I acted like my near-misses haven’t shaken me to the core.  How seriously are people going to take what I'm saying about the crisis if I can’t be honest about the long-lasting physical, psychological and emotional impact they have had on me and the vulnerabilities they’ve left in their wake?  Yes, I’m not the same because of the intense sleep deprivation and mommy-brain that has crept in like a dense fog but it’s also so much more than that.  It’s like the razor sharpness I once had is gone too.  Where I was once strong, now I would be weak.  I used to feel confident in my ability to juggle one hundred things all at once, especially at work.  I thrived on it.  The troubleshooting?  I craved the challenge.  Being able to handle it all and do well was a rush sometimes.  I know I don’t have what it takes to do that anymore.

Present Day

This frightening reality that I have felt since my hemorrhage solidified when I met with my surgeon again after two years this past December.  She asked me how my memory was because- of all things- she remembered that I said I was having a really hard time remember things early on in my recovery. 

“I still feel like I’m in a haze a lot.  I joke around with my husband that it’s because of oxygen deprivation.”

She shot me a look and then sat down.  It's always bad when they sit down.

“When there is massive blood loss, your body concentrates the blood volume to your heart to keep it pumping. You may have experienced cerebral hypoxia.” She continued softly, “Did any of your doctors ever do a brain scan?  It's also possible that you had a mild stroke because of the DIC.”

Good freaking grief.  My eyes got wide and I felt like all of the muscles in my body froze as her words hung in the air.  What the heck happened to me?  How the heck is this my life?   

If you’ve been following along over the last two years, you know that my faith has played an enormous role in getting me through the single most challenging time of my life.  Truth be told, it’s still helping me limp along through the innumerable questions that have surfaced since my unborn son and I were carried out of my office on a stretcher.

Why did God allow this to happen?

Why has the aftermath to be so cruelly challenging too?

What am I supposed to learn from all of this?

Is there even a purpose to it?

I could easily list one hundred more questions like these.  If you are honest with yourself, you probably have a long list swirling around in your mind about a hardship you’re facing too.  There is a lot of vulnerability in admitting to it and even more when we allow other people to see it.  

And this begs the question:  What if we were a little more transparent about what we are struggling with?  I’m guessing we would find more commonality than expected and it would be refreshing to know we weren’t the only one wrestling through some really hard things.  I think it would start to blur our differences and maybe even make it easier to give other people grace when we feel wronged.  Perhaps that is one of the purposes in suffering to begin with:  God is doing His greatest work in our hearts through our deepest vulnerabilities.  

There is a swelling storm
And I'm caught up in the middle of it all
And it takes control
Of the person that I thought I was
The {girl} I used to know

But there, is a light
In the dark, and I feel its warmth
In my hands, and my heart
Why can't I hold on?

It comes and goes in waves
It always does, it always does

We watch as our young hearts fade
Into the flood, into the flood
The freedom, of falling
A feeling I thought was set in stone
It slips through, my fingers
I'm trying hard to let go

It comes and goes in waves
It comes and goes in waves

And carries us away
Through the wind
Down to the place we used to lay when we were kids
Memories, of a stolen place
Caught in the silence 
An echo lost in space

It comes and goes in waves
It always does, it always does
We watch

Mood: There is beauty in brokenness, right?
Music: Dean Lewis- Waves
Stay Tuned for Part 18: Even Unto Death

Previous Post:  Part 17: Waiting and Fading

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About the Author: Casey Cattell struggled with infertility for more than a decade before giving birth to her son, Nathan, in 2015. She is a two time Maternal Near Miss Survivor writing about her experiences to give hope to women in the midst of their own hardships. Casey and her husband live in the Northeast, USA and in their downtime like to explore new places and hike with their young son. If you liked this post or were encouraged by it, please consider passing it on. Find Casey on Instagram and Twitter.

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