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.
I know this is supposed to be about my journey. But I have a partner in this loss. And on this day that was supposed to be his first big day of recognition by Lincoln, I want to draw a little bit of attention to him (even though he won’t like it). I purchased his first Father’s day present back in February. It was a big gift but I wanted to show how excited I was for him to be a dad and I am that sure that he will be an amazing dad. The Cubs bleacher seats are still sitting in my mom’s garage. When I was pregnant, Kyle joked that we had to have kids of our own because our younger nieces and nephews are not terribly sure of him. That beard is pretty scary. One of my worst moments came after watching him play with our nephew. I felt physical pain that his arms were empty, too. I spent quite a bit of time crying out my anger in our camper. He would have been such an amazing dad! After going through labor, he told me how amazed he was that I was able to push so quickly. I made it seem easy, he said. In the days after, he was very attentive, making sure I was eating, helping me accomplish small tasks, sometimes just holding me in the kitchen while I cried. All of his focus was me. Now that a couple of months have gone by, when he talks to people, they ask about me but rarely do they ask about him. He is my rock. I can’t say enough how much I love him and how thankful I am that this has brought us together, rather than tearing us apart. So on this day, I want to say Happy Father’s Day to the best husband ever and to all dad’s out there, whether they can hold their babies or not!
I survived Target the other day. It is only the second time I have stepped in the store since Lincoln was born. That is saying something considering it used to be one of my favorite places. The sticking point is the same can be said for all moms out there. There were 4 babies and a pregnant woman. I didn’t cry this time. Being in public or attending functions is a whole new experience for me. I wonder if people might recognize me or if they haven’t seen me in a while, do they know what has happened. When they ask me how I am, are they making conversation or do they really want to know? Do I even want to talk about what I have been living and see that sadness creep into their eyes or do I just give the standard answer of fine and move on? I also get eaten up with envy of the sweet babies the other mothers are carrying or pushing and the ripe pregnant bellies carrying new life. My body aches for those moments I dreamed of with Lincoln. I never got to cuddle or soothe him during a wedding when he was fussy or try to keep him entertained as we waited in a long checkout line. I think back to the days that I felt him move, how he would kick me or push into my ribs until I could hardly breathe. What I would give to feel those moments again. I know the next time I walk into someplace I may see a baby and have to hide in the bathroom while the grief and pain passes. But I will consider this a step forward for now.