Friday, March 29, 2013

What Does Normal Look Like?

As Jared and I have gone through some of the most trying times of our lives since we've been married (moving, changing jobs, church planting,etc)  nothing could have prepared us for the loss of our child. It has now been almost 3 months since our precious little one went to be with the Father. At the start of the grieving process, I contemplated quitting my job and was glad when I finished my 2 weeks notice. I prayed for a low stress job and ended up landing a delivery gig for a local florist. I am currently only allowed to do arrangements for the owners of deceased pets (it's okay to laugh)- among other things, but I will be moving up as my skill level increases! I am so thankful for this job, but in it I have begun to wrestle with delivering flowers to funeral homes. At first, it didn't bother me. But with Easter coming up, I am reminded that God knows our pain of losing our only child, I have been thinking about how our own child may never be remembered the way others who lived long lives do.

Now, I don't want you to think I am writing this to get sympathy or flowers or what have you. No, I am writing this because of how culture tends to see miscarriages. There is usually a condolence given and then nothing more. I'm not sure if it's because no one knows how to handle the loss of a person that was never "born" or if women are holding themselves responsible and thus grieve behind closed doors - ashamed to tell others that they couldn't bring forth life. It's a hard one to sort out. And each woman has her own way of grieving, just as each person has their own way of showing sympathy.

But I urge you. Don't forget them! The mother and the father are still trying to find what that normal in their lives should look like. This precious gift that was given to them and taken too soon was loved just as much as any other child they may have. So think on those who have had a miscarriage. Whether it was recently or years ago. Write them a note. Send them a letter. DO SOMETHING   to let them know you recognize their child. Last night, I came home to find a gift on my back door step. Inside was a beautiful blanket and 3 cards. 3 couples wanted to remind us that they were praying for us and show us they cared, knowing that we were still trying to grasp this new reality without our baby. Today as I sat wrapped in that blanket, I prayed for these couples that God would bless them more than they had Jared and me.

My own mother had 4 miscarriages. 3 were fairly close together and a friend wrote a beautiful poem/letter to my mother as if it were written by her children. This was framed and hung in the hallway for all to see. I remember reading it many times as I grew up. Mary, Joseph, Faith, and Isaiah were all remembered in our house.

What I am asking of you is please not to forget those children lost to a miscarriage. Reach out to the moms and dads.

p.s. Celebrating the life that was is helpful too. See where the mother is at, and let them dwell on how big their child would be now. Give them a place to share their joy along with their pain. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Shattered Dream, Broken Hearts

A lot has happened in my life since I last blogged on here. I’ve learned and grown a lot over these past 9 months of marriage. Not just about myself, but about how my husband and I work together through everything we promised we would in our vows. 

Life is crazy and messy and sometimes it hurts more than we think we can handle, but the truth is… God is good through it all. Now, there was a time when I would have scoffed at that statement and said, “Yeah right. How good is a God that allowed me to miscarry our first child?” Truth is, that was a dark time for Jared and me. Well, there are days it still is. It’s only been 2 months, but the hurt is still there and very near. I’m getting ahead of myself, let me back up a bit.

It’s mid December and I just started working at Bashor Children’s Home in Goshen. This was my first real job since college and I was about to learn how intense it could be – working with mal-adapted children that have been abused, abused others, or used drugs definitely has its stressers! Earlier that week, I’d been feeling funny. My stomach had weird twinges and I was more hungry than normal. Thanks to my handy dandy charting for Family Planning, I was able to realize sooner than most that it was time to take a pregnancy test. We had some on hand from bridal gag gifts so I got up on a Saturday morning and went straight to take a test – Jared had no idea, he was playing a video game or something.
When that second pink line started to show up, I yelled “Jared! Come Here!” He came thinking he needed to kill a bug for me, but it didn’t take long for him to put 2 and 2 together with the pregnancy test on the counter and my shocked expression. The conversation went like this…

“Are we pregnant?!”
“umm… yes?”
“This is crazy.”
“Holy cow we’re pregnant!”
“We are having a baby!”

A few days later, we went and saw our family practitioner who suggested we see a Dr. who could help determine whether my hormone levels were high enough, but other than that we were good to go. We announced to my in-laws at our Christmas gathering with a black onesie that said “Baby Gregory August 2013” Less than a week later, Jared had chest pains and fainted, so we went to the ER. He was released soon after – it wasn’t heart issues, PTL! – but then I was checked in. I had been bleeding and wanted to make sure the baby was ok. We had a VERY early ultra sound and 3-D ultra sound. Little did we know these would be the only images we’d have of our baby. We were about 6 ½ weeks along. Everything checked out ok and I was released with an understanding to keep an eye on the spotting and take pre-natal vitamins. 

The next day we told my family and 2 days later, we realized that all 4 of us older siblings were expecting in 2013. My older sister, Lindsay, and I were only a week apart. We’ve always been close so this was an extra fun surprise for us! 

Now it’s New Year’s Day and I was working at Bashor again… I had just eaten dinner and then it happened. There is nothing more inhumane to me than having to flush your unborn child down a toilet as you sit there helplessly knowing there’s nothing you can do for something so small that you love so much. Words can’t describe the helplessness, disappointment, loss, pain, and guilt. It’s hard to not wonder what went wrong. “Why did my body reject such a precious gift?” There could be a million answers to that question, but I chose to not blame myself and I’m not going to hate my body for it. 

3 days later, my best friend got married and I was able to stand beside her as her matron of honor. In the middle of the reception, my oldest sister gave birth to my 3rd niece(on the Smith side), Emily Mavis. I am very grateful that the LORD gave Jared and I the grace and strength to see her 2 hours old. It was hard at first, but I’ll never forget how it helped my hurting heart just a little bit to hold that tiny bundle. I know it meant a lot to my sister and brother-in-law as well.

 It’s hard not to cry as I type this. It helps to go over the details… re-live the good things. Healing is a process and Jared and I are learning how to go through it one day at a time. Let me leave you some ways you can help us heal…

1.       PLEASE! Do acknowledge that Jared and I are parents. We may not have living children, but we do have a child… birth certificate or not.
2.       Please do NOT tell us anything you wouldn’t tell parents that lost their 4yr old. To quote Doctor Seuss, “a person’s a person, no matter how small”
3.       Also, please refrain from saying things like “you can try again” or “the next egg will stick” or “you’ll have kids and they’ll be such a blessing”. I know all these things. When these things are said, I honestly want to hit someone. So this leads to my next helping point…
4.       Sometimes saying nothing means more than speaking when you’re not sure what to say.
5.       Acknowledging in some way that we’ve lost a child is more meaningful than anything.
6.       Please refrain from telling your whole story if you have gone through the same thing. I know you understand my situation, but my hurt is different. Please do not compare. Simply saying, “I have miscarried as well, and know it’s a hard healing process” is really all I need. If I invite you to share your story... feel free!

For now, we are finding our “new normal”. I hate it, but am learning to go through it anyway and some days I think about our child more than others. Sometimes I have to refrain myself from turning green when I see pregnant women. Just depends on how I’m doing that day. But I am healing…. One day at a time, one hug at a time, one tear at a time.