“You were unsure of what was worse...the shock of what happened or the ache for what never will.”
Sometimes, the pain is so raw. It’s surprising. It’s shocking. It appears out of thin air and stops you motionless.
It could have been a “good day”...an easier day. Nothing obvious. Nothing at the forefront. You are just living. Trying to be present to the now.
Then something triggers it. It could be a thought. A word. A fear. A lingering question. The possibilities are endless. Because grief, grief is relentless.
Last night, for me, it was a fear. Fear for the future. Finding myself currently 13 weeks pregnant with a new baby, less than 6 months postpartum, I am desperately struggling to hold on to some kind of hope. I want to hold on to SOMETHING. (Is that even possible?) Thoughts of, What if something is wrong with this baby? We’ve had five healthy children, and we lost the last one due to a “freak accident.” Would God do that? Would he take another baby? How could I survive that? I don’t think I could.
So my mind went there. It went to potential images of 6 months from now, my being back in the labor and delivery room, reliving what I have come to learn is a reality—Women deliver dead babies. And no sooner had I entered that space, was I transported back to what was my reality 168 days ago.
They are so intense.
...The room was dark. It was time to push. I was so unbelievably terrified. My baby had become breach. “Sometimes that happens after baby’s pass in the womb,” my doctor said. That was another sting of stillbirth.
The pressure. The intense pressure. The manipulation of my baby’s body. I just wanted it to end. “Push, push, push, push, push...” the nurse chimed. If I just keep pushing this will all be over. And out she came...feet first, her sweet face bruising up. No sooner had she come out, had the panic crept in. NO. WAIT! She’s out. Put her back in! A piece of me would forever be missing. Then, followed the immense regret.
I see the double nuchal cord, then the true knot. There was the answer. “What is it?,” my husband somehow remembers to ask. The response, a double edged sword... “It’s a girl.” A GIRL. All this time we were fooled. Losing our little girl, our children losing a little sister. That only seemed to make the pain worse, but the news was also the only pleasant surprise of the day.
I watched everything, numb and in disbelief... They laid her on the cot, instead of in my arms. (I wish I could change that moment. I longed for the skin to skin contact.). They weighed her, measured her... 6 lbs and 19 inches of perfection. Then they needlessly swaddled her, placed a cap on her head, and finally placed her in my arms. It felt like an eternity to get to that moment. I removed the cap to soak her features into my memory. Her hair was dark, wavy...beautiful. Her lips the color of smashed strawberries. She looked like her sisters, but with her little big brother’s lips. She was such a sight of perfection I could hardly stand it. Something this beautiful should be ALIVE. It hurt even more to look at her, as the reality set in that she would not be coming home with us. The hole in my heart began growing into a gaping valley...
Last night my mind stayed in that moment for a long while, as my husband held me, and I became physically sick from the intensity of my tears and grief. The pain went through my core and reminded me of the early days when it would immobilize me and become an audible lament buried into my bed sheets.
And it felt so...RAW. So primal. It took me by surprise and literally knocked the breath out of me. Eventually, I was able to move from the memory and away from the moment, but I felt completely defeated and depleted after it was done. Sometimes, the hurt makes me feel like I’m back at day one. I’m right back in the moment, reliving the nightmare of my life. Then I remember the good counsel of my therapist who says, “It is not day 1. Invite Jesus into this moment. THIS is a new moment.”
When I awoke this morning, I almost forgot the flashback had happened. Is that part of the healing process? The pain gets rubbed raw and reopened as you enter into the space, then tears and heartache intertwine to wrap you up into a tapestry of wholeness again?
I’m learning it’s good to be raw. Being raw is being real. And if losing our baby has taught me anything, it’s that life is too short for false pretenses and acting like everything is “okay.” EVERYTHING IS NOT OKAY. So when the pain does sneak up on me like a spark, and burns my already tender heart, I will enter into it, then move from it...because I know it will be back again, and I will be able to come out if it, and maybe one day it won’t take me by surprise after all.