Pain can be paralyzing…
There’s a point in all grief where you have to answer the question “but will this level me? Will I allow it to take me down?”
This doesn’t deny anything that you’re going through. It instead faces head-on what the reality of life has presented to you and you get to choose how you will respond.
I knew. The ultrasound started, and I knew. Intense fear and devastation and grief gripped my whole body as I tried not to hold my breath. Her head was different. Her body was different. Then… there was no heartbeat. Uncontrollable sobbing. My husband said, “just wait… we don’t know yet…” I knew.
I had felt it a couple of weeks earlier. I had terrible dreams one night. Kept waking up in terrible fear and tears and my stomach seemed to have shrunk. He, my loving husband, comforted me and told me it was going to be fine… shake it off, it was just a bad dream. But for two weeks I desperately asked “God, please let me get to hold her” as I tried to patiently await my next ultrasound.
Leaving the dr.’s office was awful. The transparency of my tear-streaked face, no longer baring mascara, it was long gone. I knew they knew. They knew something was wrong with my baby. Every person I walked past… I could feel their empathy, shock, shallow sadness for poor me.
As I walked into the hospital, imagining my dead baby inside of me, I consciously left my sunglasses on. I wondered if I’d ever wear that shirt or shorts or shoes again without thinking about this moment.
I couldn’t even speak at check-in, but the lady wouldn’t let my husband check me in. It’s as though she thought he was trying to control me instead of understanding he was just trying to console me.
There weren’t enough tissues in that waiting room. I had to keep going to the bathroom as each bundle turned into a sopping mess.
Waves of heart-wrenching tears would come and go over the next few hours as they prepared me to deliver my baby. The pounding headache… the swelling… I could barely open my eyes.
My husband went home and brought our kids to the hospital. I wanted to be the one to tell them. It wasn’t as hard to get the words out as it was to watch them sob uncontrollably as I had just after the ultrasound. “I’ll never get to see what she looks like!” “Now I’ll never have a baby sister!” “Gavin will never get to be a big brother!” “This is the worst day of my life!”
My heart… torn between comforting them and just sobbing right along. I couldn’t make them feel better. I didn’t know how I was going to feel better. I told them as a family we would heal, and she’d always be their sister… but Jesus was holding her instead of us.
As I laid in bed alone in the dark… waiting for my body to kick into labor… hoping it would be quick, my thoughts scattered. All the preparation. Wall painting. Going through clothes. Assembling furniture. Now what? Do we try again? Can I bare that? Are we meant to have more? The hole. There’s a hole in our family. No way to fill that. I had already mentally prepared myself for wearing a baby with toddler hands on each side of me. I hope my body heals. I hope there are no complications with delivering since I haven’t had an easy one yet and now, I’m post two c-sections. God? Are you with me? Do you love me?
I had desperately wanted to have a vaginal delivery this time. I wanted to labor in peace. My two c-sections were chaotic and stressful. But I knew my body couldn’t take the risk at this point. Now I laid … taking deep breaths… trying to have a peaceful delivery… as my heart was breaking.
The contractions increased over the next long hours… by 2:30 in the morning I couldn’t bear the pain any longer. My body was so tense that I felt further from delivery than I had many hours before. At this point, I was pacing and rocking and crying because the pain was unbearable and insult to my already injured soul. I got an epidural and drifted off to sleep for the first time.
5:10 am I woke up. I was delivering her.
It was the least traumatic and most peaceful it could have been. Zero complications. Best case scenario for such a devastating task. And then… I got to hold her. I got to hold my dream in my hands and caress her feet and hold her hands. She was whole even after all that time. I cried over her and over my answers to so many prayers that happened in that short time.
I’ve always said that healing happens in layers. We tackle something and then something else shows up. As I’ve watched people tackle a hard heartache and then come back disappointed that something else has surfaced, I’ve always reminded them… we’ll always be on a journey of growth. We’ll always have something to tackle. It’s part of life. Having to tackle this now is a sign that you’re ready now and perhaps you weren’t ready then.
So much of the healing we experience is tied to our choices. We have to choose to heal. If you’re walking through a divorce right now – the pain of him choosing a path without you, I know – it’s devastating. But healing is your choice. It’s your choice to not let it bring you down. It’s your choice to crumble into bitterness. It’s your choice to continue the suffering or grow past it.
If you’ve lost a baby. It’s your choice to heal. Does this sound cold?
My heart is submerged in the deep sorrow of the loss of an infinite number of dreams that will never come to pass. I cry a hundred times a day. The swelling in my eyes is evidence. Every time I go to eat something and think “I can’t eat that I’m pregnant” and remember I’m not… I sob. I walked out to our swimming pool and remembered the bathing suit I had for her… I sobbed. This is all day… the reminders that she’s gone and there’s nothing I can do about it. I hold my stomach and feel the emptiness and the ache and the devastating reality that I will not get to raise the little girl I have dreamt about for years! I named her over five years ago. My daughter has begged for a sister for at least that long.
I still choose to heal. This is my current reality; sorrow. It is not my permanent state.
I had a purpose before I became a mother. I am not defined by my fertility, my job or my marital status. If I was single with no children and no job would that make me of no value? Nope.
I have had countless messages from men and women who have lost their children, sharing their stories in hopes to console me. I had no idea. So many of them must have gone through it nearly alone or in silence because I had no idea so many around me had gone through such horrible experiences. It is no small thing that is happening in modern society. I don’t know the statistics, but it seems far more common now than ever before to struggle with fertility.
My heart has ached for years for my friends struggling to get pregnant and then hoping to carry to term when they did. I had cried tears in prayer for them to experience motherhood and heal from heartache. I have several friends who have had multiple miscarriages, two for sure that have had more than SIX! What?!
How does a heart recover from such devastation?
My claim is not that the journey is easy. It is not that it’s fulfilling or fun. However, it is not only possible but calling out to you.
The journey to healing. The journey to having a whole heart. The path is different than you thought. So, your first mission is to accept that it’s different. Accept it. You can’t change what has happened. You can only choose how to move forward.
What does that look like?
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It’s never more valuable to wear a reminder like this than when you are hurting. I’ve had to remind myself that my life and my future are worth fighting for.