Thursday, February 17, 2011

1 Year

I didn't think I would write this.
I woke up at 5 am this morning with the stomach flu and all the loveliness that stomach flu entails.
My kids have been sick for the past 2 weeks, I have been up nights with coughing children, fevers, aches and pains, and long days of tired, sick kids.
I have been utterly exhausted, but I thought I had escaped the sickness myself.
But I had to get the stomach flu.
And I took dinner last night to friends who just had a baby.
And we had other friends staying with us.
And if I get every one of them sick, including my family, I am going to feel so, so bad.

So, I thought this was not going to get written and I felt bad about that too.  Because I wanted to remember that little life that was a part of mine for such a short time.
And even though I am achy and tired, it feels good to be sitting up, so here I am.

It was a year ago since I visited the dr. and learned my 4th child had died.  Only 11 weeks old, but already such a part of me and our family.
A few days later I wrote this post and was awed by the outpouring of love showered on me.
People I didn't even know sent me cards and notes.  I saved them all.
I'd wake from a nap to find flowers or baked goods on my front porch.  People brought dinner.  They came and sat with me and let me cry.
I was blessed and humbled and felt less alone.

But as the months passed, it became lonely again.
I couldn't talk to Aaron about it because he was still sorting through his own grief.  The subject was so loaded with hurt and sadness that we almost stopped speaking of it.
I felt self indulgent discussing it with anyone else even though I wanted to so badly.
I'd mention it on occasion here, but eventually even felt that it was too much.

Then I got pregnant again and there was so much joy in my heart.
Everything went just as it should, we saw the baby's heartbeat at just 6 weeks and there was weeping afresh, but a new kind.
There was a scare at my 12 week check up.  The dr. couldn't hear the heartbeat and although she was very cool, as she searched my belly, she began to ask those questions again.
"Have you had any spotting?  Any cramping of any sort?  Everything seems normal?"
She gave up and said we needed to do an ultrasound.
It was just like the last time.  Except Aaron was there with me and that helped.
I could see in his face that he was scared.
She found that baby right away and she let us watch it move and kick and jump around.
It was  a relief unimaginable.

As I began to show, people started to ask, "wow! so how many do you have?"
That is when I discovered a new part of this journey that I was still on.
Despite my deep and abiding joy at the new life growing in me, I was still mourning the life that was lost.  It hadn't even been a year and I was, am, still sad.
So I wanted to answer every time, "5.  This is my 5th baby."
But when I had all my kids with me, except the 4th, they'd ask where the other one was.
And that was awkward.
But I felt disloyal somehow to say this is my 4th baby.  Because it isn't.
My 4th baby lived such a short time, but that baby was real, and a part of our life.

Grief is such a difficult thing.
Especially in the face of a new happiness.
I felt sad for the one thing and happy for the other.
But my happiness didn't take away the sadness that the other happened.
I wasn't sure how to sort through all of it.

A couple of months ago, a friend at church shared something with me that helped me more than she could have imagined.
We hadn't seen them in a while and they were asking about our pregnancy.
"Was this planned or a surprise?" she wanted to know.
I explained that we had gotten a surprise pregnancy and lost it and afterward discovered we did indeed want another one--it just took some of us longer to discover that!
When I spoke about losing the baby, I couldn't keep the tears from coming to my eyes.
She looked at me and said, " I lost a baby between my 1st and 3rd pregnancy and even though it's been 20 years, I still feel the loss.  And I still mourn for that baby."

It was so liberating.
I felt like she was giving me permission to grieve still.
And I am so grateful to her.
We never know how sharing a little piece of our heart will encourage and lift someone up.

In the past few months, I have read the story of Lazarus several times.
I have taken great comfort in that little verse found in the story:
"Jesus wept." (John 11:35)
He knew Lazarus would not stay dead.  He knew the miracle and the joy that was waiting before Him.
But it did not take away the horrible sadness of that moment.
Because death is sad.
It doesn't matter if it is an unborn baby, a grandma, a pet or a teenager.
It doesn't matter if it is someone who will be alive again shortly, like Lazarus.
Death is a tragedy.
And we are supposed to weep and mourn when it comes.

So here I am, feeling joy with every kick from my sweet 5th baby.

But still mourning the loss of a tiny one that I never got to feel kick.
And that is OK.
Thank you for being on this journey with me.
Your love and support have been a comfort and a blessing.
I have learned a lot.
It is my hope that I have a softer heart to others in pain.
It is the way I honor my tiny babe.

Love from,

Daffodils.  I received many bouquets of daffodils last spring.
I love then now and have been waiting for them this spring.
They are a sweet reminder for me of my little one and the love showered upon me.
Thank you for caring for me.


Summers Family said...

Such a beautifully honest post. Sending you lots of love and hugs.

Pam... said...

Aww. A hard season in so many ways with the sickness and serving and flu; and grieving on top of it all.
But God. He is especially in our midst when we are broken and contrite, and have no where to look but up. And He is able.

So look up, my friend Greta, to his loving face. Let him be a lifter of your head. Let him do the exchange of beauty for ashes. Let him do the work that changes us and transforms us in our sorrow, to a people of compassion and hope to others. Rest. Be still and know that He is God. His mercies are new for you to take every morning. Great is His faithfulness. May he give his angels charge over your home, to guard you in all your work.

Betsi* said...

My heart understands your's, sister. I still grieve for my little one too. That God provided you to walk through this with me, even just through your blog, is proof to me of his infinite love and grace. Keep sharing, keep being transparent. That's when I feel his grace through you the most. You aren't alone in your journey. You are part of a vast sisterhood of mothers; mothers who need validation and permission to grieve. When you allow yourself to still feel the loss, you allow us to as well.
Love you. May the Lord bless you and keep you!

katie said...

I love what your friend from church shared. So true.

valerie said...

beautiful post and hope you feel better....momma needs to be well....hugs to you and have a good weekend if you can!:)

Kylie said...

I so hear you on "that question". I dreaded it during my 2nd and 3rd pregnancies (lost my 1st).

Jennifer said...

I am new to your blog. What a beautiful space it is and what a similar heart yours is to mine.

I lost a baby too, at 10 weeks, between my two daughters who are here with me.

It's been over 5 years and I still think of that sweet baby every single day. I also blog about it, so please feel free to stop by anytime you want to be reminded that you are not alone.

My flower that reminds me of my baby is the tiny blue forget-me-not.