Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Happy.

Our beautiful family and maternity photos were taken by photographer Candice Dartez in Laguna Beach, November 2015.



 


 

    

 
 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fragile. Seeking Forgiveness After Miscarriage


At two weeks we knew there was life. At nine weeks we knew there were two. At twelve weeks we knew something was wrong. At thirteen weeks, after a drive to Los Angeles for a long needle through my abdomen and meetings with specialists, there was hope. At almost sixteen weeks we knew it was too late. At what was supposed to be four months into our pregnancy I was sedated and emptied, and once again alone in my body.


Three. That's how many babies we've conceived and lost in one year. My new therapist offered to call them embryos if it would make me feel better, but it wouldn't. Embryos are what they would be if they were not intended, not loved, not cared and dreamed for. These were our babies and always will be. I consider myself a mom of four, even though three of them never made it past the second trimester. But I can't say that. When people ask me how many children I have the answer is, of course, one. One perfect 6-year-old daughter. And when other women who I know have had miscarriages and stillborns and infant losses are asked how many children they have, of course the answer is the number of living. But we all know the truth in our hearts.

I didn't name them. I probably would have if they'd made it to 20 weeks. For some inexplicable reason, that's the point where it made sense to me. Maybe because we were hoping to make it to 20 weeks, when fetal intervention surgery may have been an option to save at least one. But the mass growing in the chest of Baby A causing pressure on her developing heart and lungs grew too rapidly. With a shared placenta her sister couldn't handle the change in blood pressure, so within hours of each other we lost them both, much sooner than even our doctors expected. The routine visit showed not the squirmy twins I'd loved watching only two weeks prior, with beautiful profiles and feet that were kicking each other like I'd hoped they would do for years to come, but instead lifeless little bodies with still hearts. I felt my own heart stop for a moment with them, forever  just "the twins," our Baby A and Baby B.

Only weeks ago yet forever ago I was assembling hidden inspiration boards on Pinterest that I intended to make public as soon as we were confident enough to make our happy announcement. Clothes, registry items, products and advice we'd need in the coming months and years was being curated as I lay in bed or on the couch or on the bathroom floor, my body too tired and sore to do much else. I'd finally broken down and purchased a few maternity basics as there was no hope in buttoning any of my regular size jeans, and I often wondered if I would ever be able to again given my age and the multiple pregnancy.  Projects and trips had been cancelled, put on hold, or sped up to accommodate both the official due date and a more realistic expected one, and real estate in two different states was analyzed in the hopes of making some very big decisions quickly. I went to sleep at night with my hands on my belly trying to feel those first few flutters expected at any moment, and I woke every morning wondering how much they'd grown while I'd slept. Now I place my hand on my soft abdomen and miss them so much it's hard to get out of bed.

The last miscarriage was hard, this time was harder. Is harder. It will take longer to bounce back into the land of the living and although physically there is no permanent damage, emotionally that is not the case.  I am still getting promotional emails for formula and cord blood registries and car seats. Alerts pop up on my phone telling me that my baby is now the size of an onion and what nutrients I should make sure to be getting this week. I delete the apps and unsubscribe from the mailing lists but more keep coming. My body is late getting the message as well, ready to nurse infants that aren't here. There suddenly seem to be more babies around than ever before. And so many twins. And everyone I see seems to be pregnant. I resent the once forbidden wine, sushi and unpasteurized cheese that I'm now able to have after months of craving them.

I am heartbroken. I am angry. But mostly I am really really sorry. It doesn't matter how many doctors tell me that it wasn't my fault, that there was as a one in a million chance of the anomalies, or that neither my body nor our genes caused the problems. In my mind I failed these babies by not giving them the best chances for survival. I don't know how but somewhere something went wrong and it happened inside of me. I am sorry that my amazingly paternal husband still does not have his own child, one with features and gestures that he and his family can compare to their own. I am sorry that my daughter still does not have a half-sibling like we have now twice promised her she would have, and who instead has a mother who cries all the time.

I am also sorry that when a woman sat next to me at the cafe with her beautiful baby in her arms, I didn't smile and ask her questions like everyone else did. Instead I turned away and tried to work through the suffocating emotion without making a scene. And I'm sorry that I abruptly stopped and walked the other direction when I saw a couple on the beach with twin toddlers. Sorry that I didn't attend the PTA meetings, dinners, and trunk shows where I knew someone would be pregnant or showing off their new family addition. Sorry that I couldn't really go anywhere, worried that the tears would suddenly start streaming down my face and I would have to explain why. Sorry that I couldn't bring myself to comment on friends' sonogram images, pictures of their babies in Halloween costumes, or their beautiful new maternity photos. So so very sorry that I can't share in their joy. But they have friends, family and strangers smiling at them, approaching them, touching their bellies and asking about sleep training and onesies and siblings and strollers. I have a void. Literally a void in my body where new life is supposed to be growing. Figuratively a void in my life that baby showers, kicking, mock-tails, registries and birth classes were supposed to fill right now. In a few months I will feel the void that infant crying, midnight feedings and diaper changes were supposed to fill. But how do I tell them, these happy sleep-deprived people, how bitter I am? I can't, and I won't. But the ache is constant. I miss my babies and the dreams I had for them. I miss being exhausted and sick but knowing it was all for a good reason. I miss the anticipation of their arrival in our lives.

I know that I am still living, that my heart is not the one that stopped. I hope to one day forgive my body for these cruel betrayals. I hope to receive forgiveness from the friends and strangers who didn't get the happy version of me they were expecting, and who didn't know why. I hope that one day my husband and I either find the strength to try again, or find peace in not taking the chance of more heartbreak. I can't comprehend either at this point but I am grateful that we do have options, knowing that it could all be much worse and is for so many. If our life consists of only my daughter, our beautiful marriage and supportive family, then it certainly isn't something to complain about. I know.

I am sorry that in my fragile heart right now, it's not enough.






Friday, February 14, 2014

Feel.


寧為太平犬,不做亂世人

For my non- Mandarin- speaking friends, this supposedly translates to "It is better to be a peaceful dog than a chaotic man," which is considered the basis for what we call "The Chinese Curse": 
May you live in interesting times. 

Anyone who really knows me, meaning that they've taken the time to do so, knows it's been one hell of a year in the life of Jayne. I don't really have any boring years in my adult life past, but this one could certainly win the proverbial cake. 

I married the man of my dreams. I now live in a city that I not only love, but that has welcomed me in a way that has been quite frankly overwhelming. My daughter is at the perfect age of 5, when we can have brilliant conversations but she still wants to crawl into my lap with her blankie. I have been allowed to use my creative personality to support the causes that I love, and I feel more appreciated and intellectually stimulated than ever before. Most importantly, my husband and his family have been so supportive and loving that it scares me more often than I usually admit. But...


...there has been what I would call a tragedy trifecta over the last six months. People who know me personally are probably aware of one. Some know of two. A select few know of all three. Suffice it to say, each one was truly and without exaggeration traumatic. Each one knocked me down hard, without having fully stood up again from the last blow. I keep getting permission from loved ones, acquaintances, complete strangers, and professionals to grieve; to mourn the losses that are very real, the ones hoped for, and the ones felt so deep in the soul they feel real. 


I have. I have mourned. I have mourned more in the last six months of my life than I had in the entire thirty-five years prior. I am pushing through, but with every few steps forward there's another step back. Another reminder: a song, a memory, a speech, an email... which inevitably lead to a complete meltdown of my composure. I sob on my knees on the kitchen floor. I sob while sleeping, and only realize it when I awake to a wet pillow under my head. I sob in the car on the way to a meeting, and in the bathroom while brushing my teeth. And I am so fucking sick of being sad. 


I'm told it's good. I'm told it's healthy. I'm told it's necessary. My sweet husband, my angel, keeps telling me I need to face it and let it out and that it's ok to cry. He encourages it and holds me and gets the tissues when the tears start flowing. He makes me feel loved even through the ugly cries. There are a lot of ugly cries. But I feel guilty, because I know I have so much to be happy about, and despite my outward appearance I really am aware of how blessed I am. Which makes it worse! It does, because I know how happy I should be, and to waste my time crying feels incredibly selfish and self-absorbed, which of course makes me cry more.


But despite all of this, which I suppose was somewhat expected given what has happened, there has been an unforeseen side effect: I also break down at beauty. I break down at joy. I break down at anything that topples my already-at-capacity emotions and I feel. everything. to it's fullest, even the really great things. It's odd, because it is such a thin line between joy and sorrow that sometimes I can't tell the difference. Frustration and overwhelming emotion all feel the same; it just needs to burst out of me. But the part that makes me feel better is that I feel hope when I cry for beautiful reasons. 


I cried a few nights ago while cooking dinner, watching my husband carry my daughter around the living room as they played "Olympics" (it was the luge, you see).  I cried when I looked around the table at a benefit that hit really close to home yesterday, realizing that the people around me were the most beautiful human beings, inside and out, who contribute to their communities and to each other in a way that is unsurpassed, and who love me and each other like family. I wasn't exactly happy, in the traditional sense, but I was hopeful.  


I cried tonight, witnessing what I could only describe as "magic," as a brilliant author and a team of brilliant theater professionals described how they took a novel and turned it into a musical that is sure to bring so much to so many in the coming months and years. That creative energy, the possibilities, and the emotions that will come out of the work that they are doing is so much bigger than anyone realizes. My heart was bursting. How could it not? 

The world is full of so much beauty, and we have so much to be happy about and to appreciate. We are growing as a species; we are developing beautiful works of art every day. I wouldn't wish my tragedies on my enemies if I had them, but I will own what I do have like I own my short stature and my less-than-voluptuous backside. They are mine, and they make me me. 

My tragedies have shaped me, and based on the surge of emotions that consume me fairly often these days, they will continue to shape me. Would I let go of all of this beauty in order to lessen the pain of the awfulness? Probably. Because it really hurts. But while I work through it I will let that painful joy consume me as well, and hope that in the end, it will be victorious. 






Thursday, November 28, 2013

Home.


As far back as I can remember, I dreamt of distant cities and countries, places where people talked in different languages and accents, where food and fashion were foreign and nothing was assumed or expected as normal. I dreamt of an adventurous life moving around like a gypsy with a bounty on my head. I dreamt of a string of international lovers, never settling down in one place or at one job or with one person for long. That life, that lack of connection to any place or person, was what I thought I was meant to live, and I sought out to fulfill that destiny.

The place that I was supposed to call home for so many years is a place that, regardless of rights or wrongs or truthfulness or memory, I never felt that connection to. Everyone's memories are clouded by their own experiences and perceptions, but as the Good Prophet Doctor Phil teaches us, the only thing that matters is how you felt, and how those feelings shaped you. And the simple matter is that this home was a place I never felt welcome or comfortable. It was useless to try to explain why, no matter how hard I tried. Obviously, I thought, the reason that I couldn't connect to any places that were supposed to be my home was the common denominator: me. I had to have been the problem so there was no escaping this destiny.

But something remarkable has happened in recent years. I stopped searching. I stopped running. I stopped trying to find where I was supposed to be, and instead I just was. Maybe I was simply ready. Maybe I'd gone through enough and was just too tired to keep trying to be something I wasn't. But I know that when I met the man who is now my husband, I let myself learn for the first time what it was like to not be judged on what I was or what I was supposed to be for other people, but instead to be appreciated for who I am. Instead of a life where nothing I did was right, no matter how hard I tried, I found myself in a life where everything was right because it was truth. It was me. I did what felt right and so it was.

And I found peace.


The life that I have found in the city that became mine exactly two years ago is a life full of amazing people doing incredible things. Supporting their friends, their families, and their community, and allowing themselves to be happy. It was hard to accept for a long time and I still find myself doubting it occasionally, but thankfully at increasingly longer intervals. I know that I have never felt so free to follow my passions and dreams, and I have found others who feel the same way. Maybe it's this specific place that was founded by crazy dreamers who wouldn't take no for an answer. Maybe it's just that I subconsciously choose to find people who are like me. Or maybe I just notice these things now and hadn't before.It doesn't matter why I feel this way, only that I do. And now that I know what it feels like, nobody can take it away from me no matter where I go.

I will always have wanderlust, but I no longer travel in search of that elusive connection or in search of other options. I have finally found what I was always looking for, what I thought I would never have. And although I found it here, it no longer matters where I am, whether it's Dallas or New York, Atlanta or Miami, California or Paris or Cape Town or Shanghai...

With this knowledge, with this peace, I've found my home. And for that, I am truly thankful.



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Heart.


One of the most wonderful things about Dallas is its philanthropic spirit. Within six months of moving here, the opportunity to volunteer my time, services, and connections for causes that were near to my heart started to present itself. With each volunteer position, I swore I would not take any more, but soon afterwards another would come along and I could not say no. As an award recipient said the other night at a gala for Minnie's Food Pantry (another favorite cause), one should not be lauded for simply doing what's right. And although I do not enjoy  fundraising, there are many, many ways to help and we can always find the time for something or someone we care about.

Last summer, shortly before the biggest tragedy of my life, I was approached by a spirited and intelligent young woman about joining a new group that was forming as the young professionals branch of an existing non-profit. The cause? Raising awareness and funds for Chiapas International, a Dallas-based organization that provides microfinance loans to impoverished women in Latin America. As much as I love my new community, I'd missed working on projects on an international scale, and I have always fully believed that giving women education and resources is the key to bringing all of humanity out of poverty. I was hooked.

I knew I would be one of the oldest of this young group, but they were appreciative of my experience and connections and I was inspired by the spirt and brilliance of them all, most of whom are new to this city as well. I accepted the position offered but soon after had to leave for reasons most readers of this blog know about. This group was sensitive and patient, and insisted on keeping me on for when I was ready to come back. I did come back, and in a very short time we've put together an event to announce ourselves to the Dallas community. 

It's a "birthday" party, celebrating the 10th anniversary of Chiapas International and the amazing 30 women who started it after a trip to Chiapas Mexico, where they learned about the benefits of microfinance loans. They are having their big gala dinner, and we are hosting the afterparty. It will be fun, it will be glamorous, and it will be for one of my absolute favorite causes. 

Read about Marie Pie, Milan, and Rose, just a few of the success stories, and see if you are moved as I was:  https://chiapasinternational.org/about-us/success-stories/ 
As a side note: 97% of microfinance loans are paid back globally. These are not handouts; these are opportunities for those willing to take them. What better gift to give?

Dallas friends, I hope you will join us on Thursday, November 21st at the Belo Mansion. To purchase tickets, please go to: 
and buy your afterparty tickets for a mere $75, which includes open bar, live music, fabulous people, a special raffle opportunity, a photo booth, and the knowledge that your night out with friends is doing some good. A 20% discount for Uber car service is available once you purchase your ticket. And please- if you have any questions, I'm happy to answer them. From the heart.




Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Reflect.

Over the past twelve years, I've avoided the "where were you?" conversations and kept any thought or discussion of the event to a socially appropriate minimum. Perhaps because of the recent dramatic events- both very good and very bad- in my life, I was ready this morning to remember. I hadn't planned on doing anything to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11, but when I woke up today I had an urge to crawl into the attic, into a big blue bin of my past life, and find the scrapbook that I kept twelve years ago. 

I was living in New York, technically in Jersey (Hoboken), with three other would-be performers in a tiny railroad apartment with three windows and no A/C. Thankfully we had a good supply of wine. I slept in that morning and woke to a phone call from my mother making sure I was ok. She knew that I often took the PATH train downtown, like most of us did occasionally. I was 22 years old and worked in a bookstore in Chelsea, but wasn't scheduled to work that morning. 

It wasn't a close call for me, but it was dramatic. Scrapbooking was my way of coping in the weeks that followed, and this morning for the first time in twelve years, I looked through the scrapbook that I'd kept, and I remembered. And I was ok.