Mending Softly – The Book that I’m Writing About Recovering After Ectopic Pregnancy Loss

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:

MS Cover 300dpi

“Preface

“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.” 

Gathering Wild Inspiration

Just a short pondering for today….

The other morning, I stood there at the water’s edge in the gentle rain. Willow trees drooped around me and raindrops danced on the waters surface. I breathed in the peaceful earthy scents of wet trees and earth as I gathered inspiration for my writing, quietly listening out for wild stories and earth whispers. My heart came alive in a special way and in that moment,  I understood so clearly what John Muir meant when he said….

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” ~ John Muir

Where do you go to witness beauty or gather inspiration? And where do you find your peace and healing?

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Restoring the Rest of the Wild Forest

It’s crazy to think that this time last year, my husband and I were away on a forest getaway and I was working on the final chapter of my book, Wild Essence. It was such a special time to reach the end of a writing project that seemed like an impossible dream for so long. In light of this, I thought that today would be a good time to share an excerpt from that chapter:

“The forest…oh the forest,” I thought to myself writing my morning musings.

It’s been a bearer of so many exquisite blessings. We’ve spent our mornings here taking forest walks and exploring every corner of it. It was made up of a mix of pines, eucalyptus, blue gums and acacia trees. Yesterday, as we entered the forest at a section of pines, it was as if a golden carpet of fallen needles rolled out before our feet. I felt honored that the wild Earth would be so kind to weave such delicate beauty for us to tread on. The forest was full of intricate textures, the canopy top reaching for the sun, the artwork of peeling bark, fallen branches, dark green undergrowth and mosses, scattered brown leaves and pine corns. It’s a splendid mesh of chaotic loveliness, coupled with soothing sounds and the earthy scents of wildness. I loved the sound of the wind blowing through the trees and watching them sway from side to side as Cyrus and I walked under them. It’s like music, a special language of trees that only the seasoned ear can understand. I imagine that the birds we’ve seen flying amongst the tree branches, the rabbits, the buck, as well as other unseen creatures of the forest have learnt to interpret it. I found myself wondering if the passing breezes allow the forest trees to experience different worlds. If the wind has travelled far and wide, coming in from the ocean miles away in the East, or from across the Savannah and bushveld North of here, do the trees get a taste of these distant lands when they dance with the passing gusts? Perhaps one day, with enough deep practice, I too will understand the language of the wind and forests more deeply.

For the moment I remained in awe of the forest energy, the community of the trees, all its inhabitants and the cloudless azure winter sky overhead on a windy morning. After spotting buck droppings and spores for a couple of days, yesterday I finally stumbled across an elusive young buck. We were walking along collecting fallen sticks and pine corns, when we noticed that some of the sticks had randomly falling into the shape of crosses. It gave us an eerie feeling and I wondered if somehow the forest was letting us know that the ground here was holy. Then minutes later and a few paces forward, we spotted it. The young buck seemed to be eating low hanging new leaf growths from a tree. Just as soon as we spotted it, the buck turned to give us a quick glance. She spooked and swiftly bolted off in the elegantly graceful manner that only young buck can. I felt the warm feeling of joy stirring within.

Centuries ago, this land would have been teaming with buck and wildlife. However, so much of the land in this area has been cleared for farming and mining over the years that spotting them here is a rare treat. Although this is not an indigenous forest, it’s fortunate that the owners have allowed it to grow wild somewhat with a life of its own. As a consequence of giving the forest space to become untamed, the natural wildlife has found a place to call home too. It somehow made me think that each of us is a beautiful tree in the forest of life, rooted in the essence of our own being, our branches reaching for different dreams. You are at the center of your own story and the driver of your life. At the same time all life is interconnected. The impact that you are making by re-wilding your soul goes beyond reversing the chains of damage and returning to the freedom and peace of your wild essence. Your individual efforts play a significant role in restoring the rest of the forest to its natural dignity. What you do impacts on the people around you. The people whom you share your life with, the world and Mother Nature all experience the ripple effect of your actions. Think for a moment of how you feel when you meet someone who inspires you – a role model fighting for a worthy cause, your favorite author, a successful person at the top of their game or any larger than life person who moves you. What kind of emotions do these people stir in you? These people inspire us just by living their purpose and making the choice to follow the whispers of their wild essence. You hold the potential to the same. One of our ultimate aspirations is to touch each other’s lives in a meaningful way and inspire them. You will find that each time that you follow through despite your fear, not only will your life be richer for it, but so will the lives of those who you touch along the way. We are collectively realizing our full potential as individuals, as communities and as society. “

forest mandala