Lincoln would have been 4 months old yesterday. How did 4 months go by? I have had many people say to me “I don’t know how you are getting through this.” My response to that is, I don’t have any choice. I can’t sit down and let life go by me. Instead I was pushed into this river of grief and I ride the current every day. I think that some people feel that I should have started to move on by now. But I will never move on. A river has no real end. And some days the waves and current are stronger than I can handle. But I ride them as best as I can. I go to sleep and dream of my child and I wake up and think about him every day. I don’t live in the moments when we lost him but they are still clear as day to me. I remember when the doctor told me he was sorry, that my son was gone. I remember Kyle holding me as I cried the first time. I remember the bed I laid in as I labored. I remember the darkened room, with classical music playing in the background, while I pushed my lifeless child into the world. I remember our parents coming in the room to meet him and say goodbye at the same time. I remember kissing his cold, soft cheek as I said goodbye. I remember the next morning I did not cry when we left the hospital but as soon as I walked into my house, I just held my mom and let loose for the first of many times in the next days. These memories will never go away. I hold them to me, as they are the only memories I got to have with my oldest child. As I mentioned last week, I will never get to have all those firsts in his life. His first smile, first laugh, first words, first steps, first day of school, first date. Instead I have lasts. The last moment I saw his face, the last time I kissed him, the last time I held him and handed him to the nurse. I know some days I seem perfectly “normal.” And sometimes I almost feel that way. I am back to enjoying my days at work and Kyle and I are stronger than ever in our relationship. But I will never move on. I will continue to ride the river and move forward.
Before you were born, I started dreaming of your life and what you would be like. I hoped that you would be smart and silly, like your cousins Henry and Caleb. We knew you would have a big head like your dad. I wondered if you would be as hard headed as him, as well. Your dad and I would fight over whether you would be a Packers fan or a Bears fan (a Packers fan, of course). You would love baseball and be a Cubs fan. I felt you move for the first time during the World Series. I hoped you would be tall and play football. Your dad made fun of me once while I was carrying you, because Eric Church’s “Like Jesus Does” came on the radio. I began to cry; (when didn’t I cry when I was carrying you?) That song was played when your dad danced with Nana at our wedding. It made me think of your wedding and how we would pick a song and dance. Now I wonder if some girl out there might take a little longer to find her soulmate because you aren’t here. I wonder if you would have been a good sleeper or if you would have kept me and your dad up all night. Would you have been a daddy’s boy or would you have preferred me? Would you have laughed and giggled with your Crazy Grandma? I wonder who you would have looked like. Your dad thought you had my lips and you definitely had his nose. I wonder if your feet would have continued to stay big. We aren’t sure where you got that trait. I wonder about the color of your eyes. I hoped you would be a snuggler and love to read books with me. I would have taught you to love Harry Potter, and The Lord of the Rings. How could you not? They were the theme in your nursery. I will never know these things. But I do know that I will always love you. And you will always be my perfect, handsome, little man. Your dad loves you too. We will always keep a space for you in our hearts.
Twice this week I had someone say to me: “that’s not you.” One in response to my post from last week and one who commented that I don’t smile as much as I used to. I had to admit to both of them that I wasn’t the same as “before.” In this world of “after,” everything I do, say, think is touched by the hole in my life. My lifetime has been broken into 2 pieces. When having conversations, I delineate life into before and after. I am more somber. I cry more easily. My emotions frequently run amok. Some of the new me, I don’t like very much. I am easily angered and very intolerant of groups of people. Family gatherings have become something I dread. I feel a strong animosity towards people, who I may have mildly disliked in the past. I make random morbid comments that make people uncomfortable. I use the word “if” instead of “when” when referring to the possibility of having children again. I also have a very real sense of my own mortality. I have lost some of my human invincibility. Sometimes a lethargy roles over me so that I am unable to get out of bed. I dread grocery shopping or going places in public. I prefer the comfort of my house and my husband. Some of the new me, I can’t put into words. I just know that I am different. I am a mother without a living child. I am mothering a child I can’t hold. While I was pregnant, I prepared for my life to change. And it has, just not in the way I expected. The biggest thing I want people to understand, I will never go back to the way I used to be. I ask for patience as I fit into my new skin and don’t be surprised if I am not “me.”
This is a difficult post for me to write, as typically I am very private about my faith. But it is one of the most difficult things that I have dealt with in this dark time. We all have arguments with people. And I am sure there are times where you just needed some space and didn’t want to talk to the other person. During this time for me, that is God. I have only said 2 prayers in the time since I lost Lincoln. The first was last Sunday, when we thought my mom was having a heart attack (she is fine now, still not sure what caused her symptoms, more testing to come). The second was following my first counseling session last Thursday. Both were very, very brief. The first thing I usually hear from people is to trust in the Lord, or believe that He has a plan, or whatever platitude they feel will bring me comfort. I graciously accept them and move on. But right now, I don’t like God very much. I am so very angry at Him and I constantly want to scream at Him and ask WHY??? Why did He take my child? And please don’t tell me that He needed another angel. God does not search the earth to take people to heaven. That is the exact opposite of his teachings. I just cannot take comfort in Him right now. I have suffered through many trials in my life. It seems I rarely get things right the first time. Graduating from college, my choice in husband, my career, to name a few. So why hasn’t that been enough? Have I not always been faithful? I suddenly find myself feeling very unworthy. My faith has been shattered by this tragedy. I have been faced with the realization that God does in fact give you more than you can handle. This is the heaviest thing I have ever had to carry and even though some days I just want to put it down, I can’t give it to Him. He has already taken too much. My rational, Christian educated mind says I am crazy, that I need God to find peace. My broken heart disagrees. Some day, after I continue to heal, I hope my faith returns. Also, I do hope that you all continue to pray for me. Pray that I find comfort in God’s love; pray that I will be able to have babies of my own, pray that I accept the plan God has for my life, pray for my husband and our families. For right now, I just can’t.
In the three months, that have gone by since Lincoln passed into another world. I have been plagued by two words, about things I could have done differently and about the future.
What if I hadn’t traveled so much during my first trimester?
What if I hadn’t been sick and taken medicine in October?
What if there were signs that I missed, like decreased movement?
What if I had gained more weight, might the placenta have gotten bigger?
What if I drank more water?
What if my mom hadn’t been at my house that weekend?
What if I called the doctor the week before when I was having a small amount of discharge (that I thought was my mucus plug)?
What if I had called the doctor when I had my fender bender in the post office parking lot?
What if I only have girls and Lincoln is my only boy?
What if this happens again?
What if I lose another baby to miscarriage?
What if I can never carry a baby to full term?
What if we have to try to go through the process of adoption?
What if I never get to be a mom to a baby that I carried and felt grow?
What if, what if, what if….
I have been fighting my body for close to 15 years. But what woman hasn’t been. We all see areas we want to improve, our round middle, thick thighs, arms that jiggle when we wave. I feel as though it is almost in our DNA because even when I look at a woman and think […]
I have been fighting my body for close to 15 years. But what woman hasn’t been. We all see areas we want to improve, our round middle, thick thighs, arms that jiggle when we wave. I feel as though it is almost in our DNA because even when I look at a woman and think wow, I want to be like her, she thinks she needs to go on a diet or do more push-ups. I had dreams last year of taking off more weight, before we decided to get pregnant. I didn’t want to add more weight to my already heavy frame. However, I let the same old excuses get in my way. And then I blinked and I was carrying my first child. It all felt surreal. During the first trimester, I didn’t gain any weight. Food was not appealing. I never threw up and was only nauseous on the rare occasion I smelled something rotten. As my belly started to get a little bit bigger, I wanted nothing more for it to round out and look pregnant, not like I had just gained more weight. Then somewhere around 27 weeks, I took a belly pic and went whoa! Suddenly, for the first time in a long time, I liked looking in the mirror. I felt beautiful as I was growing this little life inside of me. Then 10 weeks later, that all changed. Within a week of coming home from the hospital, I was back below my pre-pregnancy weight. I only gained 20 pounds and most of it was baby. But I couldn’t look at myself. I have stretch marks now and my belly is a little rounder than before. Those don’t really bother me all that much. Instead, when I look at my body, I feel betrayed. My body didn’t do what it was supposed to do. During my time with Lincoln, I was a believer in the thought that my body was designed to carry a baby. I was good at being pregnant. Then I wasn’t. We received the results of Lincoln’s autopsy Monday and we have some answers. His placenta was a little on the small side and the umbilical cord was shorter than normal. Additionally, my placenta showed signs of irritation, almost like an immuno response. My body didn’t do what it was supposed to do to support my baby. How could it do this to me? Didn’t my body get the message, that I was born to be a mother? No, it failed. My OB was very encouraging about our chances going forward about being able to conceive and carry to full term. I will be monitored closely and more than likely induced early. So for now, I am back to doing more push ups in the hopes of being healthier for when it comes time to try again. But there will always be that doubt in my mind. What if it happens again?
Losing Lincoln has opened up doors that I never could have imagined existed. Suddenly, I am a member of the worst secret club you can imagine. I am learning a whole new vocabulary: bereaved mother, still father, born silent. In the weeks following Lincoln’s birth, as I shared our loss I had many open up and tell me that they had a similar experience. Cousins, family friends, co-workers, even sisters. How did I not know of these losses before? Why don’t we talk about these events? In this day and age when mental health is a major topic, it seems backwards. But unless you are in the club, you really can’t even begin to understand how that other person is feeling. In one instance, I want to shout from the roof tops that I am a mother and my child is in heaven. I feel as though it is almost something invisible that I wear and I hope that people will ask about my children. But I don’t want to bring someone down or have them pity me. I met someone new last week and when she asked if I had kids, initially I said no. That immediately felt wrong and I grappled over finding the right words to explain that my son died before he was born. It is also an unspoken element as I travel for my job. People ask how I am, tell me I look good, give me hugs but never really ask about Lincoln. When I returned to work, I requested that people let me lead. I would talk about Lincoln when I felt moved to do so. Now I feel like I shouldn’t bring it up. They aren’t in the club. I don’t want them to worry about me or judge me thinking that I should have moved on by now. A story shared by one friend does make me thankful for the progress that has been made. Her mother lost her brother late in her pregnancy. As a mom, she was not allowed to hold the baby or go to the small funeral held for him. My friend shared that her mother never really dealt with the loss until recently when a neighbor suffered a similar tragedy. I cannot imagine suffering in silence for almost 50 years. But even now, I seek out another loss mom when I want to talk. After all, we are members of an unsought, terribly elite club.