As a business owner in an industry where sharing personal life details is the norm, it can be tough to strike the balance between informing your audience — who often view me as a friend rather than a “vendor” or corporate entity — and maintaining some semblance of privacy. Not that I’m all that private a person, though I strive to keep my focus on my readers and customers and yes, friends, rather than on myself.
So when something happens in my life that doesn’t necessarily affect my business, I often err on the side of leaving it out of the public eye. My mission as a business owner and advocate in the scrapbooking industry is clear: To provide information and resources to help women make their memory-making and -keeping simple, fast, and fun. If something doesn’t fit that mission, chances are I’m going to leave it out. Not because I want to be secretive, but because it doesn’t serve you, my reader.
Which is why I’m putting this post here on my personal blog rather than on Layoutaday.com.
So let’s get on with it.
I’ve been a bit reclusive of late, not posting as regularly on Layoutaday.com, cutting back on my podcasting, and even limiting my business activities — a rarity for me, who usually has the strength of ten Grinches, plus two more! When asked, I’ve evaded a direct response, instead citing non-specific “health issues.”
Well, now’s the time to be a little more specific. Bare with me here, as I’m trying to get this down right.
In late January, I started feeling “funny.” Just not right. Low energy, nausea, just plain icky. With the flu going around, a busy work schedule, and a drastic change in my diet (I was doing a 30-day Paleo-type diet that excluded soy, dairy, wheat, alcohol, gluten, sugar, sugar substitutes, blah blah blah) I figured it was something I was eating/not eating or doing/not doing.
And then it occurred to me, “I feel like I did when I was pregnant… TEN YEARS AGO.”
Yeah, some people might have connected the dots a bit more quickly. But please remember that at this point I was 43 11/12 years old, and not exactly trying to get knocked up. So pregnancy didn’t occur to me immediately… until I started doing a bit of math and realized I was late. Not obscenely so, but enough so my wheels started spinning.
Let’s flash forward a bit. Yes, I was pregnant. Yes, my husband and I freaked out. Yes, I immediately started thinking about applying for my own reality TV show called “The World’s Oldest Mom.” Yes, we realized that adding a baby to our household would mean a drastic shift in how we live our life. A new car, a possible live-in nanny, a reduction in work hours… And a lot of that would start immediately.
At the “advanced maternal age” of 44 (which I was by this time), the risk of miscarriage is over 50 percent. And the risk of other issues is correspondingly high. So I immediately put myself on modified bed rest – which was easy to do because I didn’t feel like doing anything but eating Lucky Charms and sleeping anyway.
And this is probably where you noticed something was up. Where were the new blog posts? Where was Lain on the message boards? Why is she logging in to chats from her bed? What the heck is going on? So now you know. I was quietly resting up, dealing with 24-hour-a-day “morning” sickness, and trying to imagine being 62 at my youngest child’s high school graduation. (Would I need a wheelchair? Could I get special seating in the front row? Would I qualify for a coveted handicapped parking place?)
During this time we started to get excited. Babies, in our home, are always a blessing. So Callie began researching names, Kinsey brought me my Lucky Charms, and Ben declared that as long as it wasn’t another girl, he’d be fine with the whole thing. So I watched tons of reruns of Criminal Minds and the entire 10th, 11th, and 12th seasons of Law & Order: SVU and gained 15 pounds. And went to weekly OB appointments to check on “Speck,” as Callie called the baby-to-be. We became cautiously optimistic as each week passed and things looked better and better.
I knit two baby blankets and invested in a few Liz Lange maternity tops from Target. I began researching six-passenger vans.
I also had a very good chuckle at the fact that my One Little Word for 2013 is “BIGGER.” Yeah, God has a funny sense of humor. I was thinking of living a bigger life and growing my business bigger and he goes and makes ME bigger with a bigger family…. haha, God! Score one for you!
We still kept things very quiet, telling only a few in-person friends and family members. Not because we were hiding anything, but because we knew the risks were high and we didn’t want to jump the gun. You have no idea how hard this was for me. As I said before, I consider each and every one of my readers, listeners, customers, and online connections to be friends, and I didn’t like keeping such secrecy around a big part of my life, but I knew it was for the best.
Oh, and yeah, I was dealing with this while I was deep in the middle of leading 450 women through Layout a Day (LOAD) 213…. planning the first live True Stamp event… and hosting the first-ever “Lunch and Scrap with Lain.” To say it’s been a little stressful around here is putting it mildly. In this time I did not one load of laundry, went to the grocery store only when absolutely critical, and slept approximately 18 hours a day. Oh, and the temperature in our bedroom was not allowed to be set above 65 degrees. My husband is a saint.
Flash forward again to this week. As of this Tuesday (yesterday), I was 10-1/2 weeks along and due for a full blood panel and ultrasound. I went into the office, confident that in just a few weeks I’d be able to share the happy news with everyone as I passed out of the risky first trimester.
This is the hard part.
To put it bluntly, the doctor was not able to find a heartbeat on the ultrasound. I was sent immediately to the hospital for a higher-definition ultrasound, but we ended up with the same result.
Sometime over the weekend, the littlest member of our family’s heart just stopped.
There is no reason. There is no apparent cause. It just happened.
I did everything “right.” I took my prenatals. I rested. I stopped going to Bikram Yoga just in case the heat and higher body temp would be problematic. I didn’t eat shellfish or drink alcohol, I didn’t overexert myself or smoke or expose myself to toxic fumes. I went to my doctor’s appointments and did what I was supposed to.
It just happened.
So what now? We’re very, very sad, of course. But we also believe with all our hearts that God has a plan. I don’t have to understand it or like it, but I rest safe in the knowledge that everything has a purpose — and sometimes it’s up to us to make that meaning. I can choose how to handle this. I don’t deny my grief or even wish it away. It contains a sweet kernel of joy in that I am capable of loving in faith before I even knew this child.
The hardest part for me is that as a mother, I’ve always believed with all my heart that I would know if something happened to one of my kids. I love them so deeply and passionately and completely that how COULDN’T I know if they were hurting or in trouble or needed me? I am their mom, their protector, their biggest fan. But when this little one’s heart stopped, I had no clue. And I just don’t understand how that could be — that I could not know, for days even, that something was wrong.
And that’s where I am now. I am sad and grieving, but this will not destroy me or my family. Do I like it? No, not at all. Am I glad it happened? Still working on that one. But whenever I am confused or overwhelmed, I ask myself what I know for sure.
I know for sure that any opportunity to love is a gift.
I know for sure that we are bigger than our circumstances.
I know for sure that I am not fragile, nor is my relationship with my husband, nor is my family.
I know for sure that Friday night, the five (six) of us went to a play at Ben’s high school and sat in a row and laughed and enjoyed being together and being a family. And the little one was part of that. When the end came, he or she was loved, safe, and warm, and cuddled up with me. And as a mother, that’s really all I could ever ask for.
If you’ve read this far, thank you. Thank you for your friendship and support. And thank you for understanding that this is my story — not one I project on anyone else. We each have our own tales to tell, and I appreciate your giving me the chance to share one of mine.