It’s so strange to think that around this time last year I was pregnant. Of all the things that have been thrown my way, I’d never imagined that I’d ended up having ectopic pregnancy and face the fallout thereafter. Needless to say, it’s been a tumultuous year, one where we’ve dealt with one obstacle after the next – from the pregnancy loss, to my husband being retrenched and everything in between. It took a lot to remain grounded and positive when it felt like everything was falling apart. This is way I am so grateful to have come to a much better space, feeling inspired and stronger that I’d imagine possible.
One thing that was very striking for me was how different the experience of ectopic pregnancy loss was from previous miscarriages. I was also stunned to find very little information and supportive resources around the recovering from such a traumatic experience. This force me to do a lot of research and apply the many self-care and emotional healing tools that I had in my toolbox to my own situation. I ended up documenting my own healing journey and along the way felt guided to write about book about my recovery process. This is how my upcoming book, ‘Mending Softly: Hope and Healing After Ectopic Pregnancy Loss, was born. In this book I share my experience and the steps that I took to support myself through the process of grieving, healing and ultimately learning to find hope again. During my quest for healing, I connected very deeply with various analogies about pottery and the art of mending broken pottery pots or ceramics, something that I’ve woven into the various themes throughout the book, and something that in part also inspired the book’s title.
The Mending Softly book is due to be release in June 2020, mostly likely around the solstice. In the meantime, I am would love to share a little glimpse into it’s contents:
“Imagine that your life before infertility was a vase. One day a loss or trauma tips that beautiful vase to the ground. Tiny and large shards of glass are everywhere. What are you going to do with these glass shards?” ~ Joanna Flemons
I wish I’d fallen softly. Light and graceful like a feather drifting slowly to the earth on a warm and dreamy summer’s day. I wish that I’d landed softly too. But there is nothing soft or graceful about that devastating moment when the worst has come to pass. The unavoidable truth is that it is hard, cold and brutal. All that you know to be true and good in life shatters in an instant. You feel like a delicate pottery bowl violently tossed from your place of rest, watching yourself crash and scatter across the hostile dark earth. The sound is deafening. Time stops. Inside, the quiet ache of shock and heartbreak slowly makes its grip known. They cut deep, these jagged edges of broken sherds. You gasp for air hungrily, yet somehow forget how to breathe.
Is there any point in breathing if this is what the world is asking me to face? You think to yourself.
Somehow though, whether through madness or magic, you find a way to. You keep breathing even when you don’t think you can. You surprise yourself.
The fall is hard – the crashing, the breaking, the scattering of your broken clay body. What I found however, is that the mending is slow, soft and although somewhat ungraceful still, you sense yourself being held by an unseen force, something greater than you wrapping you in its balm. Remember this on those days when it feels like healing will never come. Perhaps it is true that you may never be the same again going forward. Innocence is lost after all, the innocence of hope and the innocence of a joyful or easy pregnancy. While I don’t want to diminish the depth of your hurt, trauma and fear of an uncertain future, I do want to offer a glimmer of hope for the possibility of finding healing and wholeness beyond the pain. No one likes hearing that healing comes with time, but the truth is that it does.
Over the years, I’ve read many stories about how ancient sherds of broken pottery are mended. In the aftermath of my ectopic pregnancy loss I kept revisiting literature about this mending process with great fascinating for reasons I couldn’t understand. There’s a slow and mindful art to carefully piecing back together each sherd in order to recreate the remnants of what the original artefact once was. A deeply thoughtful and somewhat intuitive art, if will. Something in this process of mending broken pottery seemed to resonate in the context of my quest for hope and healing. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why at first, but the deeper I reached in search of meaning, the more clearly I saw just how it mirrored my own unravelling and how it offered itself as a metaphor for my potential to mend myself. Each individual piece with its distinct shape, with its unique lines and curves is a memoir of its own, a tale of what was before. Like a quiet whisper it narrates the story of the devastating blow that was dealt and gives insight into how things fell apart.
Then comes the restoration, the time laboured effort to gently rebuild what’s been broken. The act of mending asks three important things of you – patience, trust and surrender. The fractures, the cracks, the staples and the revealing swaths of glue stand out boldly like the wounds in my heart and soul that cannot be hidden from sight. And the missing pieces, those gaping holes are anecdotes of the things that are lost forever – my baby, my fallopian tube, a piece of my dignity and fertility – the things you learn to live without. Or perhaps I should say the things that you learn to carry on living for in spite of what has happened, because through surrender and acceptance you discover the power of your personal strength and resilience. Something profound happens when you wake up in a calm green pasture on the other side of the treacherous storm you thought would end you. You discover who you are beyond the unimaginable. You discover what you are made of. Suddenly, the thing that may have broken you becomes the very thing that empowers and emboldens you.
Granted, this is difficult to imagine when you are at your lowest point. However, in the moment of my deepest despair I found myself faced with a choice – either I would sink even lower into the dark and scary place I felt I was losing myself to, or I could find a way to reach towards life. The depths of depression scared me more than the idea of living. Ultimately, I wanted my would-have-been-baby to mean something and for their memory not to be swallowed by a black hole of persistent misery. So, I began my path to mending softly, willing myself to breathe again, moment to moment.
I’ve had to dig deep to re-establish my sense of self and unearth the person I had become on the other side of tragedy. And writing this book has been part of my heart’s mending. I offer the words upon these pages in the hope that sharing my story with you as honestly as I can will bring some kind of comfort to own quest for healing. I want you to know that you are not alone, darling heart. I walk this road with you. While I don’t know how the rest of the journey will unfold or how either of ours will end, I do know that we are both survivors and thrivers. Keep breathing. May you find your place of peace through you own process of mending softly.”
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