Saturday, June 27, 2015

Feeling is Healing- Part 3

In just a few short days we would have been celebrating 11 months with Olive.  I'm finding it harder and harder to believe that a full year has almost come and gone. In the past I've written a couple of posts trying to explain my thoughts and feelings on a daily basis.  So often, my posts reflect a specific feeling or emotion that comes up and pulls at my heart strings to dig into a little deeper, but lately it's just the everyday occurrences. 

You see, even though 11 months has come and gone, I am reminded daily of our loss, especially now that I'm pregnant with a baby that we most likely would not have been trying to conceive if Olive were still here.  If you thought this was an emotional rollercoaster before, throw that guilt in there!

After therapy on Monday I had some realizations, and since my main purpose for writing is to help myself process these feelings I thought there no better place than here to drop them off.  I apologize in advance my thoughts are all over the place - that tends to be how I survive these days. I'm just going to leave some thoughts I've been having so you better understand that while the tears don't come everyday like they used to - the reminders still do.

I'm sad

I'm sad that simple things like taking a bath brings me back to those long hours of laboring in the tub, and I'm immediately transported back to a day that was both beautiful and heartbreaking - leaving me feeling empty and lonely.

I'm sad that when this baby is born our first family picture will be missing a grinning 17 month old, proudly wearing her new "Big Sister" shirt.

I'm sad that I'm not in the midst of planning a first birthday party.

I'm sad at how empty and quiet our home is.

Bringing up the tub of maternity clothes, just worn a short summer ago, makes me sad and happy that I need them this soon. Unfolding every piece brings with it a memory - whether it was the dress I wore to my baby shower or the nursing bras that never got their full use, it's amazing how clothing can evoke such emotion.

I'm mad

Yes, I know I say that I don't want to be angry, but there are some things that still make me mad.  I'm mad that I can't enjoy this pregnancy the way I enjoyed the first.

I'm mad that I've had to search out more doctors and specialists and make new decisions regarding my care that I didn't want to have to make.

I'm mad that I feel awkward around people now that I'm pregnant again. It's as if I can't genuinely be happy when someone comes up and congratulates us or wants to touch my belly because I'm too busy feel awkward that they are being overly excited for us because of our loss. 

I'm mad that I can't yet connect with this baby the way I want to, the way it deserves.

I'm mad that the innocence that comes along with being pregnant is gone.  I know too well how quickly this journey can turn at any moment.

I'm mad that I'm having to research things like breastfeeding, baby wearing, etc. when I should already know how to do these things - after all, I am having my third baby.

I'm confused

I'm confused as to how my relationship with God falters day by day.  I still feel very close to him, but I'm back to questioning things that I know are a slippery slope to question, but I pray it helps to continue to draw me closer to Him (and I ask that you pray that for me too!)

I'm confused at the hormonal and emotional feelings of guilt, fear and frustration that I'm feeling this time around, feelings I never had with Olive.

I'm still confused as to what to do with all of the baby stuff we have.  If Olive were alive we would naturally use it for this baby, but it still feels like her stuff - her stuff that was never used by her - and that brings about new levels of confusion and guilt I wasn't prepared for.

I'm fearful/frustrated

I'm frustrated at how I will learn to parent a child who will have to share me with a sibling they will never fully know.

I'm fearful I will not be able to connect with this child for a short time after it's born (which is very normal and natural for mothers who have so recently lost)

I'm frustrated for the times my emotions catch me off guard and leave me a sobbing mess when I least expect it- simple things like driving to a client that requires me to pass by Children's Hospital, a song that takes me back to a specific moment in time, walking down an aisle of a store and catching a whiff of the packaged diapers that I haven't been buying for the last 11 months.

I'm hopeful

I'm hopeful that the support groups and resources I have will help me along this journey.

I'm hopeful that I'll have a healthy baby just in time for Christmas.

I'm hopeful when I hear about how one of you was able to have a discussion with a friend or stranger about loss because our story has helped you to see that, even though you can't relate, you can offer so much to someone who is hurting.

I'm hopeful that I feel as though I'm beginning to see more purpose for my life through all of this (even if the details are still not entirely evident).

I'm hopeful that I'll be able to feel stronger kicks and movement from the baby in no time (already feeling little flutters!)

I'm thankful

I'm thankful that I'm healthy and that this baby is healthy at this moment in time.

I'm thankful for a husband who "gets it" and helps me through some of the guilt and frustration I feel.

I'm thankful that I get to see posts and pictures of children so close in age to Olive as it helps me to humanize her and keep her memory alive by allowing me to identify with milestones she would be experiencing.

I'm thankful for the love and support of so many of you that continue to shower us with your prayers and well-wishes.

I'm thankful that it's butterfly season and for the reminders from God they bring that Olive is safe and happy.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

I Don't Deserve a Baby

The response after my last post was overwhelming.  It warms my heart so much to know just how many of you are following along this journey with us.  When I started this blog I never intended to do anything but help myself journal through what was certain to be one of the most difficult seasons of my life.  The fact that so many of you continue to pray for us and shower us with love - the way you are now keeping this new life in your thoughts - is, well, humbling.

So many of you reached out to offer well wishes and congratulations.  Many others of you were so overjoyed because you felt as though we deserved this baby.  Those comments really got me thinking.  They've actually had me thinking for quite some time.  After Olive died we were told that we didn't deserve to lose her.  When we lost our second baby we were told that, too, was a loss that was undeserved.  Over and over these comments hang in my mind, and what I've determined is that if there is anything I don't deserve - it's a baby.

As I've thought about this for the last eleven months or so I've had lots of thoughts swirling around in my head - but could never figure out how exactly I wanted to write this post.  I didn't want to seem ungrateful, I don't want to say something to offend someone else, but it weighs so heavy on me that to not say anything at all wouldn't feel right.  Then one night this past week I was reading in a book I've referenced before on this blog, The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie, and she began to speak to my heart.

"We live in a world that teaches us, "The early bird gets the worm," "No pain no gain," "There is no such thing as a free lunch," and "You get what you pay for." We're comfortable in this world where people get what they deserve, at least in theory.  But when pain invades our lives, we quickly say, "I don't deserve this!" and claim our right to justice.  Believing we have a right to fairness, we feel violated when we think we haven't gotten what we deserve.

But if we open our eyes to the rest of the world where most people do not live with even the basics of comfort and security that we enjoy, or if we look back on the living conditions and daily-life realities previous generations lived and died with, we realize that to assume we deserve a life free of loss and pain is not only unrealistic, it's arrogant."

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - we were never promised a life without pain.  We are certain, absolutely certain that we are all going to die - every single one of us - yet when we lose someone or something, it shocks us.  Many have heard me say that I firmly believe all of our days are numbered.  Psalm 139:16 tells us, "your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Job 14:5 says, "A person's days are determined, you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed." Whether you believe in God or not - you know you are going to die.  You know your children are going to die.  Yet, when it happens - if it happens at a time when YOU are not ready for - well, then you don't deserve it, right?

Nancy goes on to say that in a perfect world there is no room for grace. Or mercy. "Suffering may be undeserved, but so is our redemption. A fair world might be a nice place for us to live, but it would only be as nice as we are. And we know we're really not that nice."

"Suffering may be undeserved, BUT SO IS OUR REDEMPTION."

One could say that this new life is part of the brighter side of our story, and I wouldn't disagree with you - but that doesn't mean I deserve it. There are so many couples who have suffered much more than my husband and I have.  So many women who, month after month, receive a negative on that pregnancy test. Women who have suffered miscarriages, still births and infant loss - combined - in this one life! Why do I get a baby and they don't? Why do you have living, breathing, healthy children and your neighbor's one and only child is suffering from a life threatening illness?  Why is the person who never takes care of them self healthy and free of disease but the marathon runner who is vegetarian is battling cancer? Does one really deserve anything over the other?

Yes, I feel thankful. I am humbled and honored that God has chosen us to have an opportunity to parent another child on this earth.  Whether it be for a day, a month or many years - we will happily take on this responsibility no matter what the plan is.  But I do not feel as though I deserve it. If there is anything the last (almost) eleven months have taught me it's that I need to stop questioning life.  I don't know the answers to the above questions. I will never know the answers. The only questions I should be asking is: How will I respond? Am I responding out of love? Are my actions bringing God glory?

There is much to be learned from our pain. Maybe we didn't deserve to lose Olive, but her life wasn't about what we deserved or what she deserved - it was about bringing glory to God.  So is my life. So is yours. That's a tough pill to swallow when you feel like you're at your lowest point. When Olive died I had a choice and I've chosen to glorify God through this journey - and remarkable things have happened, none of which I deserve but all He has freely given.