A Post that Hopefully Won't Scare You Away

I've been contemplating this post for awhile.  I'm really freaked out about publishing it, and butterflies (buzzing bees?) have been in my belly all day.  Maybe there's no one left out there who still visits here, and I'm scared for nothing!  :)  But I'm compelled to post for many reasons, and I thank two bloggers, a longtime favorite, Holly Mathis, and a new discovery, Linsey of Bravehearted Beauty, for their brave and honest writing that set examples for me.

I was talking with a friend recently and remarked that if your life looks perfect and "put together" on the outside, people will naturally assume that you have everything together on the inside too.  I know that's generally how I operate.  It got me thinking about my blog.  Can you believe I've been writing here since 2008?  Almost seven years!  It used to be that I was more candid with you all about my "real" life.  I let you know when I was heading to the hospital to have our baby boy in 2009.  I told you honestly when I was really struggling with homesickness and loneliness after our move to San Francisco in 2011.  But soon after that I went into hibernation, as I called it, cut way back on my blogging, and basically stopped the personal sharing.

I know many of you just visit me here for the decorating stuff, and I totally get it!  That's mostly why I read blogs too.  :)  We crafty girls have to stick together!  (And I'm still mostly all about decorating here.) But I've started noticing that I really love knowing more about the person behind the cute window treatments or fabulous garage sale find.  Somehow it makes me feel like I know her, and then I become even more interested in what she's up to in her decorating schemes.  I suspect you all are like me in that way.  And, since some of you have been with me for almost seven years...or maybe just for the past seven minutes...I wanted to let you in on what's really been going on.

The photo below was taken in November, 2011.  It was my husband's first half marathon, one he had trained extensively for and, unexpectedly, got injured for, a few weeks before the race.  He crossed the finish line, but due to his injury he had to walk a decent bit and was really disappointed with his performance.  Because of some of the info on his race "bib," the spectators in this race could easily discern what had happened to this young(ish!) guy hobbling by with obvious disappointment all over him.  The bib gave away his age category, his first name, and the "corral" he started in.  Anyone who knew the unique lexicon of reading a race bib could tell that this guy was having a rough race.  He'll never forget the calls of encouragement - very personal and specific sometimes - that got him through those 13.1 miles.

That really got me thinking.  I mean, how many of us are fighting very real battles in our personal lives, ones that don't allow for cheering spectators?  Right before this race, in early October, I had undergone a D&C for a miscarriage late in my first trimester.  I was incredibly far from my midwestern home, living in San Francisco with two little ones and very little support system, family and friends multiple time zones away.  I was already really bad off, as some of you may remember.  I was still raw the morning of my husband's race, and as I watched all these athletes reaching goals and crossing finish lines and slapping high fives, alongside my struggling husband, I said to myself "What would the stats on my race bib say right now?"  Reeling from Miscarriage.  Crippling Loneliness.  Homesickness and Depression. Loss of Hope.  If they made such a race bib for everyday life (and maybe they should), I wonder if we'd all benefit from the honesty.

Ironically, it was that miscarriage that forced me to be honest within the fledgling friendships I was creating in California.  I was amazed at the outpouring of love I received from people who barely knew me.  I had started telling people about our pregnancy because, let's face it, by baby #3 it kind of announces itself before you're necessarily ready to announce it!  So there were quite a few people I had to "untell" when they couldn't find a heartbeat at 12 weeks.  I hated every second of that forced transparency.  I know that if I had had my own choice, I would have dealt with my grief in private.  That's why I dropped off the face of the blogging world, and why no one in this space ever knew what happened.

A few months later, at my husband's office Christmas party, someone snapped this photo.  I guess we look happy.  But when I look at it, all I can see is the utter misery inside, and I'm exhausted even now just thinking about how hard it was just to look like I wasn't about to fall apart. But it's a cute photo and looks like we're happy and fun and lighthearted.  It's so easy for us to let people think we're OK.

The next year was rough.  We encountered unexplained infertility for over a year after our miscarriage.  Living in a beat-up, non-pretty house with a highway in my backyard affected me more than I'd like to admit, compounding the homesickness.  My dad was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer.  (Thank God he is cancer-free today after surgery and six months of chemotherapy.)  Then we had two more early miscarriages.  I started undergoing tests to figure out why my pregnancy "record" was a heartbreaking 2-4. (I had also had a miscarriage before the birth of our oldest daughter, bringing my total at the time to 2 living children and 4 losses.) We discovered I have a blood clotting disorder called MTHFR, as well as a genetic condition known as Mosaic Turner's Syndrome, which, as best geneticists can tell, damaged the chromosomes in some of my eggs, but not all, so that each month became a roll of the dice: good egg? or bad egg leading to unavoidable miscarriage?  It felt like every single thing in my life needed help, grace...fixing.

Finally, we were able to move back to Ohio, to my hometown, surrounded by family again, in June of 2012.  We went from this (a small snapshot of the scary carpet in our run-down rental home in California):

 To this:

And in November 2012 we discovered we were pregnant again.  The doctors couldn't say for sure if this baby would be healthy or...not.  It wasn't until the 20 week ultrasound that they said with any degree of certainty that we were out of the woods.  After our losses, though, there was not a single minute of that entire nine months that I believed I was going to get a baby out of this.  Not a single "we're pregnant!" Facebook post.  In fact, I cried in fear when my mom brought me a baby gift when I was 38 weeks pregnant.  I had gestational diabetes, scary blood clots in my legs, and "high risk" fetal monitoring all the time.  My doctor tells me that during active labor in the hospital I was still asking if the baby was alive.  Fear can be so crippling, can steal so much joy.

But Vivian Frances did come into the world on August 9, 2013.   My words can't describe my feelings of relief and thankfulness.

Vivi's birth didn't fix everything.  I am beyond thankful for all that God has given me, my precious husband, beautiful children, and forever home in Ohio. But this post is not meant to be a "Hey, I had it real bad but look at me now!" kind of thing.  I have anxiety every day and things are not perfect, never will be.  We all walk around with scars and wounds that have changed the core of who we are.  I share my story partly because of what I said earlier, that I like to "get to know" other bloggers and after seven years here I'd like to get back to making this blog more of a community.  I am full of ideas for future house posts and have some major projects on the horizon.  I'll be posting more regularly for sure!

But if I am going to be posting more regularly, I want to start clean.  Let you in on where I've been, so you're getting more than just the shiny, pretty finished product.  Lately this blog has made both my personal life and my home decorating look effortless, showing a lot of befores and afters, and not a lot of durings, if you know what I mean.  If someone presents a pulled-together exterior, we assume the interior is just as pulled-together.  And I'm done with that.  Honestly, if I had all the money in the world, I still think I'd love the thrill of the project, of bringing something from ugly to beauty, the junky Craig's List castoff being sanded and painted and buffed into something new.  (I think God in His grace loves that too.)  I like the process.  And I thought you might like the process too...both in life and in decorating.  So I'll be showing you more of both, I think.

I'll be back with some fun new house stuff next week!  I'm still the Queen Bee, and I am still (my husband might say, unfortunately) always looking for the next new project!  :)  In the meantime, though, thank you for your kindness, and for reading.


Loui♥ said...

beautiful and honest!
i'd always loved reading your posts..
still will continue doing so!
and so will others!
love and hugs and welcome home!

Andrea said...

I can relate on so many levels. Love this post and love feeling like I "know" you. Thank you for making me feel a bit more normal in all my anxieties of life. Love to you!

Stacey said...

Carrie, I've always loved your blog and now I love it even more. You've been through Hell in the last few years. You should be proud of yourself for hanging in there. Sending you lots of hugs!

We've been through it too in the last few years. I posted extensively about our son going off to college in Chicago five years ago. What I didn't say was that after he got there, if fell into clinical depression and it has taken 4 years to get back to moving forward in a healthy way. Ugh!! I have thought about posting about this lately because it happens to so many people.

Looking forward to what you have to share. You are so talented and obviously you are a strong woman. ♥

The Gathering Place said...

Thank you for sharing your struggles. I think we all benefit from seeing strength in someone else, especially when we have our own trials. I love your decorating taste and look forward to more of your projects.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry that you have endured so much sadness and anxiety and I really appreciate your willingness to share your journey. I agree that nobody's life is perfect--despite appearances-- but sharing our challenges as well as our successes is a good way to build supportive connections among all. :) Hope that you have a great summer, full of fun projects!

LL from KS said...

I'm so glad you are back to posting. I really enjoy all that you share! I'm so sorry for the loss of your babies! I can not even imagine the heartache! I have three kids and 4 grandchildren and I can't fathom the idea of one of them missing. It takes a strong and brave heart to try again and I'm so thrilled you have a beautiful little daughter! One thing I've learned in my 51 years on this earth is everyone is dealing with something! That's why I always try and give people the benefit of doubt when they may seem rude or standoffish. I know I tend to be somewhat shy when I first meet someone- but once I'm comfortable I won't shut up! Thank you for opening up and sharing! I feel like honesty like that will just grow your blog like nothing else will!

EmilyB said...

I'm glad you're going to start posting more regularly again. I've been following your blog since your son was a baby, and I was sad when you said you were stepping back. I remember your talking about how hard it was living in CA. I could relate b/c I am from OH, lived in CA for 7yrs, and live again in OH. Those CA years were very lonely. I remember feeling very empathetic toward you during that time. I'm glad that you are in a better place now and look forward to seeing more of your projects.

LRae said...

I'm so glad you will be posting again. Thank you for sharing. That takes a lot of courage. There are many times I wish I had the courage to be vulnerable I am looking forward to see your projects during and after. Welcome back!

Jboo said...

Oh Carrie -- Have loved your blog since way back when and missed YOU when you were gone. I'm glad you will be back and posting again. I'm so sorry for your losses.

Susan said...

So glad you are back. I have loved all of your post from way back. I missed your posts when you were away and it seemed clear something really tough happened in California. Something more than I miss my family, friends and I live in a place I hate. Thanks for sharing I think it will help in the healing process. Looking forward to future posts!

Sam G said...

My heart goes out to you for all you have gone through. Thank you for sharing your struggles. I am so happy to hear you are coming back to blogging more regularly. Yours was always one of my favorites. I love to read about the house projects, but it is also great to "get to know" the blogger as well.

Holly Robinson said...

Ohh Carrie. I've been a long time reader and have missed you.

I noticed that you kind of fell off the radar. I went through a tough time a few years ago so I know exactly what you are saying. Thank you for opening up to all of us. We all care so much. And I'm sure it took a lot of courage.
So glad you're back!
BTW I bought some of your buffalo check curtains awhile back...they look lovely in my diningroom. ;)

Buzzings of a Queen Bee! said...

Oh, thank you all so much. Truly. I have tried to respond to each of you individually, but if you don't have an email address connected to your comment then I want make sure I say Thank You here. I hope you'll come back to this comment page to see how sincerely I appreciate your sweet words and grace. Thank you!

The Writer Chic said...

Oh, Carrie. I could have written this post. Right down to the sickly husband (Jim had a stroke at 33 in Nov '13) and the rainbow baby that I thought would never come to the moving (TN to OH) and the deep desire to be writing at my blog but feeling like I couldn't, for masking the deep suffering and heartache going on with the REAL me on the other side of the screen.

We've connected before online over the years, but maybe this summer could provide an IRL meet up. I bet our kiddos would click, and I feel that we'd be kindred souls. Cinci and Toledo are much too close!

Hugs, sweet Internet sister. I'm so glad you've shared. You've inspired me to consider the same....

Juice said...

Carrie, thank you for sharing your story here. Like many of your readers I've followed you for years and I'm glad to know the story behind the lessened blog posts and simultaneously heartbroken that I didn't specifically know to pray for you during that time. Thanks you for making yourself vulnerable here - I know others will be blessed by your words.

Buzzings of a Queen Bee! said...

Juice, I just stopped by your blog to say thank you and I see you're no longer blogging...good for you for making the choice that's best for you! I hope you visit here to see my sincere thanks for your words though. Wish I could say them in person to all of you! :)

Mandi said...

I too have a blog clotting issue and lost a baby in the 3rd trimester. Thankfully, I was able to have two healthy babies after that. I'm so sorry to hear about the pain and struggle you went through. Thank you so much for sharing. I really appreciate your openness. I've enjoyed your blog for years and I'm glad you are back to posting

Buzzings of a Queen Bee! said...

Monica (or the Writer Chick!), I just tried to email you and it keeps bouncing back, boo! If you can, email me privately, I'd love to get together. Thank you so much for your sweet comment...it "filled my bucket," as my kids say! :)

Victoria said...

Beautifully written! My sister and I both sent your post to each other to read the day you wrote it! HA.

I, too, struggled with years of infertility and miscarriages and wearing a "happy face". I stopped blogging and struggled greatly with depression. It's refreshing to see that I was not alone. Thank you for your real words.

By the way, my 2nd living child was born in 2013, 8.5 years after his sister and he is such a little blessing to us all! I know you are enjoying your little Vivian just as much!

Linsey @ Bravehearted Beauty said...

SO honored to have inspired you, Carrie. When I stop and think about it too much, sharing my heart on the internet with people I don't know feels crazy, but if I keep my heart to myself, I miss out on the joy and privilege of knowing that God uses our broken stories for so much glory and goodness. Proud of you for stepping out of your comfort zone here. Blessings to you!
P.S. Holly Mathis is a friend as well. I love her style and her heart.

Buttercup Bliss said...

Thank you so much for sharing this post. I know it must have been hard for you. I think I may have said this before, but your blog was one of the first I ever read when my friend first introduced me to the world of blogging. It is still one of my very favorites! Thank you for being so real.

I, too, suffered a miscarriage at 12 weeks. I also had unexplained infertility. We have a precious 12 year old son and a sweet angel, Caroline, in heaven. It gives me great joy to know I have a baby to rock for all eternity!

I look forward to your future posts.

Cathy Kirkland said...

Hello! I am catching up on your blog after a long hiatus and just felt compelled to comment on this. I am always reminded to take all of my perceptions of others with a grain of salt because I know people of perceptions of my life. I have a successful career, two children, 20 and 10 and am married to the love of my life. I have a lovely home, car, etc. From the outside, my life looks like a great set up! I AM happy, I LOVE my children and my husband, I am GOOD at my career. What people do not know is that I grieve for my parents after 4 and nearly 2 years, I have high anxiety and have suffered from depression for many years. From the outside, things look perfect. My life is not perfect but I DO strive to live a better life, accept the things I cannot change and deal with challenges the best way I know how. Thanks for reminding us that things do not have to be perfect to be manageable and happy. :)

Buzzings of a Queen Bee! said...

Thank you for commenting, Cathy, and I couldn’t agree more. I want to be the type of person who “shows her hand,” so to speak. There is just no way any of us have it all together but we certainly try to fool each other! :) I’d rather let people into the mess than present a perfect exterior. And I am happy for you that your life is manageable and happy despite your unique challenges. Truly, thank you for sharing them with me.