My Fear Factor

“When your fear is currency

And you feel that urgency

You want peace but there's war in your head

Maybe that's where life is born

When our façades are torn

Pain gives birth to the promise ahead.”

(Jon Foreman) 


I can’t help but notice the level of my fear lately. It’s at an all time high. It has a stranglehold on me, and I can scarcely take the next breath to come out if it’s death grip. It has truly been all consuming.  Recognizing it’s dominant presence in my life calls my attention to my girl’s delivery day, and the intense amount of fear I endured in order to physically bring her into the world.  I don’t know how I survived that day, or the next, or the ones that followed...which have all led me to today. 

I’m reminded of the alarm I felt when I awoke at 3 AM and turned over. Why isn’t the baby moving?  The baby is always active in the middle of the night. 

I’m reminded of how disturbed I felt when I awoke two hours later and attempted to have a morning prayer time, fitfully repositioning myself in order to feel something.  God, I could really focus a lot better right now if I felt some sort of movement. 

I’m reminded of the panic that began to set in, as the morning turned into a fog over my head, as I dressed the kids, fixed their breakfast, and fed myself.  Still. Nothing. 

I’m reminded of my confusion as we drove to school, and I did kegels like a mad woman. What is going on?  The baby is not responding.

I’m reminded of settling into my office chair, taking a deep breath, drinking a glass of orange juice, and waiting.  I’ve been so busy this morning.  I’m probably just exhausted from being home alone with the kids all weekend.  I must have rocked the baby to sleep.  

An hour goes by. I’ve been awake for five.  I haven’t felt the baby move since I went to bed last night.

I remember the hesitancy to call my doctor’s office and my anger at their request.  They want me to go to the hospital?  If I go to the hospital, then that means something will be wrong.

I’m reminded of the distorted the world began moving in slow motion as I walked out of the door of my office. My husband picking me up, us driving to the hospital...his confidence. There are no guarantees that everything is going to be okay until you deliver a live baby, and it’s placed in your arms breathing.

I’m reminded of the frustration as we walked into the hospital building.  My husband patiently reassuring me, and my not believing him. Everything is not going to be okay if there is a dead baby inside of me.

I’m reminded of the disbelief as I checked into the labor and delivery wing to get monitored...because my baby wasn’t moving after 38 weeks of a perfectly healthy and complication free pregnancy.   I cannot believe we are doing this. 

I’m reminded of the isolating panic that coursed through my body as the triage nurse placed the fetal heart monitor on my belly.  And moved it. Then moved it some more. NO SOUND.  WHY IS THERE NO SOUND?! 

The panic in my eyes as they darted quickly to my husband who was still so hopeful, staring at my belly with eager expectation, as my heart pounded and sank into my stomach simultaneously.  OUR BABY IS DEAD.  OUR BABY IS DEAD!  OH MY GOD.  OUR BABY IS DEAD...

The wave of nausea that washed over me as they tried the Doppler.  “Sometimes it takes a while.”  It NEVER takes this long. 

I want to vomit. I want to scream.  I want to die. I‘m going to pass out.  I cannot believe this is happening.  I need a trash can.  I need a priest!  I need to wake up.

I’m reminded of the ultrasound that gave the final heart beat.  My wailing. My tears. My hard cries.  My laments. My screaming. My becoming so physically sick. My begging for it to all be wrong. My disbelief. My confusion.  My saying over and over and over again through my deluge of tears, as I clung to my husband, I CAN’T BELIEVE OUR BABY DIED!  I CAN’T believe our baby DIED...  WHAT HAPPENED?!

My mind wouldn’t leave that room for months.

I’m reminded of the fear of induction, an epidural when I’m used to natural-unmedicated birth, and the endless wave of uncertainty. What happened?  I want answers. How will I do this?  I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M DOING THIS. 

I remember the fear of waiting, of having to tell our children, of finding out how our baby died, of wondering if it was my fault, of meeting our dead baby, walking away from her and leaving her at the hospital, of planning a funeral, permanently sealing a granite stone in front of her body, and how to go on with life after this day.

But ultimately, I remember the all consuming fear of the final two hours—the physical and emotional pain.  It was also so mental and spiritual.  How am I going to do this?  I don’t want to do this. I CAN’T do this.  God, I am crucified on the cross with you.  TAKE THIS FROM ME.

But I did do it.  And it was beautiful. And she was just perfect.  And her presence filled and broke my heart at the same time.  I will never, ever forget that day.  Nor do I want to.

But even though the event has ended, the fear still remains.  I can’t escape it, nor the flashbacks.  And it effects my everyday functioning, my ability to trust, and my ability to hope for a future.  And while I hate it, I can’t move past it, because it literally takes over me, and I become completely irrational.  I give into the lies encircling around me, and their voices, loud and blaring, taunt me until I can hear nothing else...especially not the whisper of Truth.

Learning to live after stillbirth/trauma/burying your child, is also learning how to overcome fear.  I’m trying each day to surrender in small ways, but I am discovering that I am not very successful. Honestly, it’s never been my gift.  It stems from childhood wounds when I wore fear like a blanket, attempted to use it like a shield, and thought it would keep me hidden.  I’ve been accustomed to having it around. Furthermore, this new wound touches the old wound, and I’m utterly terrified of ever being hurt again.  They bleed in unison, as scars gape back open again—wide and obvious—and the new afflictions fester and ooze into every aspect of my daily life. The nightmares exist whether I am awake or asleep, but do I really think I can prevent myself from ever being wounded again?  Is my fear so pervasive that I will always attempt to live in “survival mode” attempting to protect myself from the inevitable?

I guess as it is with one breath at time, it is with one day, one moment, and one experience at time with not allowing fear to win.  But I’m also really scared to do that...

So here’s to trying again tomorrow.