Compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder that is just beginning to be understood. As a hoarder, I have acquired things over the years with a specific purpose in mind at the time of the acquisition, used some of those items for their intended purposes, forgotten the goal for different objects, but now that I find that they have outlived their purpose in my life I am struggling to rid myself of those same things.

You can read the start of my journey here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Life, loss and letting go.

For years, I've had trouble holding onto things.

Obviously, or I wouldn't be a hoarder, right?

Now that I'm back on my medicines and thinking more clearly, I'm making hard decisions about some of those things. With other things, my decision is not to make a decision right now.

For example, I've decided not to get rid of the ultrasound pictures of two of my pregnancies that ended in miscarriage. I didn't get an ultrasound the third time. By then, I knew what was happening, and I didn't want the heartache of seeing what was happening on a screen. I didn't want a picture to remind me. I don't regret that decision, but I also don't regret the decision of getting the pictures of  the first two.  

The pictures still bring me back to the loss I felt at the time...

The physical and emotional loss of the miscarriages themselves was hard enough. After all, we'd wanted every single baby I carried. But to be told that the little sac was empty was about more than I could handle. To know that our little ones had stopped growing just shortly after conception somehow made it worse. To know that they'd never even had a chance just killed me. 

It also made me feel like I had nothing to mourn. That I hadn't actually lost a baby, because there had never been a heartbeat. It didn't help that others actually told me I'd never been pregnant, since the sac was empty. That I didn't lose a baby. 

But I did. 

Three times.

I don't know, if they thought they were helping by minimizing my loss, but their words made it no less real. If anything, they made it worse. 

So I've kept these ultrasound pictures all these years. They are the only proof that we lost our babies. The only proof that they ever existed in the first place. Somehow, I feel that letting them go is saying they were never important to me. That somehow it's saying I didn't love them. That I didn't start thinking of names, imagining the nursery, picturing our babies' little faces in my mind the very moment I knew I was pregnant. 

I'm still not there. I might be someday, but only time will tell.

In the meantime, I've made some progress.

In the last several days, I've sorted through two small boxes that had each held six boxes of baby wipes, two apple boxes, and two  18 gallon totes full of paperwork. I've filled two huge black contractor bags with trash and ten more grocery bags with shredables. Five of them went out the door on Friday, and the rest will go out the door tomorrow. The stuff I've kept has been sorted into 3 categories. 

A small crate holds bills, paystubs and medical miscellaneous that I will scan and eventually toss into the shredables. A small box holds greeting cards and letters from loved ones that I will eventually scan. I don't know that I'll actually ever throw them away, but I will be scanning them, so they aren't lost forever, if something should happen to them. And the third is an apple box less than half full of drawings the girls did, stories written, IEPS and other miscellaneous things I'll be scanning when I get to it. 

My goal is to discard as much as possible once I've scanned it. Normally, I would try to scan it all as I sort it, but I've got to get through the boxes as quickly as possible, so I can find the birth certificates and social security cards I need. If I could just go down to the courthouse and order more, I would, but all 3 girls were born out of state from where we live now, and it's not as easy as it seems. It would take several weeks and $30 to $40 each to get copies, so I'll just keep working on the paperwork and scan things later.

I'm making progress. It's slow, but it's steady.

And I'm learning to let go. 


  1. From the moment you know that baby is there, it's a baby. I do not care what science says. What medical people say. What other people say. In this situation, the only person you need to listen to is yourself.

    I am sorry for the loss of your babies, I can't imagine how heartbreaking that is.

  2. Funny. I just went through a box of the boys old school paperwork from kindergarden and preschool.

    I scanned it all and am printing it into photobooks for them. I know it's not the same, but it's easier to keep, and still just as fun to look through.

    I am so sorry about your babies. But they were real babies, regardless of what anyone told you to try and make it easier. And it's OK to mourn the loss. Which you can do, with OR without the photos.

  3. I still think it's a baby and you have a right to mourn. I wouldn't give those up either. Some things you keep. You don't have to throw everything out.
    I too lost a baby, 28 weeks along he tangled in the umbilical and died. It hurt me more than anything else ever had. Took me years to get over. I have a picture of him before the hospital staff took his body and I won't let it go. I scattered his ashes, so the pic is all I have left. I TOTALLY understand why you keep those ultrasounds.

  4. As you know my daughter had three miscarriages as well before Sophia was born. She describes the loss the same way you did. :( A couple of ultrasound photos is not going to get the hoarding ramped up. Save them if you need to.

  5. You just do for you ...what you have to do!
    You're OKAY, I'm OKAY !
    We all march to a different drummer m/f. (((hugs)))

  6. I'm so glad you have those ultrasound pictures! And, I think you are totally legit in keeping them.
    I'm sorry about your babies and I'm sorry that people were insensitive in their responses. People can be so stupid. But, people can also be wonderful.

  7. I have no ultrasound pictures of my babies that I lost , but I agree with you . They were just as real as any baby that I could have had , the loss was very real, and YES I WAS PREGNANT just because I lost them both doesn't mean it never happened

  8. Wow. Some people can be really insensitive in their innocence. Of course those pregnancies/babies were real!! I don't blame you a bit for keeping the ultrasound photos.

    As for the other stuff you mentioned... HOORAYYYY!!!! You are doing SUCH a great job, Judy! You're getting there, you really are. Well done!!

  9. Oh girl, it sounds like your baby steps are turnin' into great strides.

    People who have never miscarried just do not get the loss we feel. Yes the babies were real and yes you are untitled to grave and morn those losses. There's not a day goes by that I don't think about the angel babies I lost. It's truly normal I think.

    I dropped out this summer and was just tryin' to do the unachievable and catch up. I always did like a good challenge! Heehehhehe!!!

    You have yourself a beautifully blessed day sweetie!!!

  10. Good girl!!! You are making it happen! Go girl - you have cheerleaders in France applauding your courage!!

  11. They were babies. I've miscarried, worst experience ever. I didn't get a picture from the ultrasound, I wish I had one. I found out I was pregnant 3 months after we were married. 2 weeks later I started bleeding, they did an ultrasound and we heard a heartbeat. Christmas came and I got lots of maternity clothes, New Year's Eve came and I started bleeding again and lost the baby.
    You are doing fantastic, keep up the good work!!


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