Still Standing is a magazine on babyloss and infertility. It is for those of us who have lost our babies to miscarriage, stillbirth (like me), SIDS, trisomy, or any of the other many ways death can claim our precious children before or shortly after birth. It is for those of us who long for children, but whose wombs remain empty and unoccupied. And it is for those who are friends and family of the grieving, of the empty armed, who bravely ask, "Why?" right along side of those of us who long for the children we had too briefly, or not at all.
You probably know my story of loss -- of my first and (at this moment) only daughter, Eve, who died without warning, without known cause, and was born dead on November 20, 2011. But I have had my own brush with infertility, too, making Eve's short life even more of a miracle in my mind.
In 2008 I began receiving outpatient treatment for anorexia (which later was joined by bulimia and compulsive overeating). Although I did not understand it at the time, I was afraid that my new husband would leave me or not love me if I was anything less than perfect, so when we we began dating in 2006, I went about the business of trying to make myself perfect. I tried to have no needs, including physical ones. I began to restrict my food intake while ramping up my exercise. Soon I was doing over two hours of intense exercise daily, while not eating nearly enough to sustain such an active lifestyle.
At first I just thought I was "getting healthy," as I began to lose weight. But soon my new "healthy" look morphed into one of starvation and disease. I looked like a skeleton, although I thought I had finally achieved perfection. I looked like I was one step away from death, and I probably was. My hair was falling out, my skin was dry, and my chest ached and I sometimes experienced sharp stabbing pains to my heart.
I stopped menstruating. And stayed stopped, for years. Even after I had gained a great deal of weight, after I had reached the point where, if my period was ever going to start back up on its own, it would have. My doctors and therapist told me to get used to the fact that I had probably ruined my body's ability to have children. I felt crushed and unsure what to do.
One day, however, in the summer of 2010, my period returned. On its own, with no help from birth control pills. I was elated, but still my doctor warned that it was likely that I would ever be able to sustain a pregnancy, after the strain the eating disorder had put on my body.
And then, miraculously and without trying, about one year later I found myself feeling awful and nauseous, and wondered -- could it be? I hardly dared hope that my pervasive nausea could indicate new life growing within. After all, wasn't I have supposed to have basically made myself infertile? And yet, there it was -- a positive pregnancy test, the first definite sign of Eve's existence on this earth. I felt ecstatic and afraid and so, so grateful that God would take the damage I had done to my body and heal it so completely.
Until Eve died, and I found myself lost and confused and so very alone feeling.
I wish that Still Standing Magazine had been around when I was grappling with apparent infertility and then loss, so that I could have drawn comfort from the fact that so many women have experienced the devastation of babyloss and infertility, and yet are still standing.
I find it miraculous that I am still standing today, exactly five months after my daughter's stillbirth.
I hope that you will join me and my fellow writers as we introduce Still Standing Magazine to the world before the site officially opens on May 5. If we have to experience such a terrible, special kind of grief, let us do it together, friends.