I can’t believe that it was almost a month ago that our tiny baby River was born via induced labour, still and without a heartbeat. I had the privilege of carrying him for 17.5 weeks. My heart and mind are still working to process the loss of a life that we prayed for so often throughout 14 months of confusing infertility issues and health concerns.
For over a year I struggled with dysfunctional uterine bleeding that caused anemia and adrenal fatigue and eventually put me on a wait list for a hysteroscopy, which in my case, was very likely going to be the step before a hysterectomy. I had so many reasons to give up and honestly wanted to often but a mama’s love for her unborn child is fierce and I continued to pray for strength to keep trying. My husband is my hero for walking alongside me during this time and giving me support as needed. It was not easy for him.
We’ve said a painful goodbye to pregnancies in previous years, the first at 9 weeks and the second time at just 5.5 weeks, but we’ve never laid eyes on our small and almost perfectly formed baby and been told that we would have had another son. I’ve never experienced delivering a baby and then having to walk out of the hospital without a bundle in my arms. The moment when I reached the car with my hospital bag and purse in hand is one I’ll never forget. I couldn’t open the door for a minute because it felt like I was missing something. Someone. The shock was starting to fade and tears fell so hard. My heart ached like I’ve never felt before.
So many little things that trigger the sorrow exist in the first few weeks. Those moments that bring you back to reality when daily life, mainly motherhood, has proven to be a relatively good distraction. When maternity clothes arrive in the mail and you have to send them back as a return. Or when you find the baby wrap that you had ordered excitedly and experience the harsh realization that you won’t get to use it. While laying down on your stomach for the first time in weeks, instead of feeling happy and free to do that again, you feel tears start to form. When the gender reveal ultrasound date that had been circled in a heart on the calendar has to be cancelled. Those moments are so hard.
Is there a secret to mothering 3 young children and finding the time to grieve in a healthy way? I don’t think so. It’s definitely not easy and there isn’t a right or wrong way either. Often emotions have to be kept in check. Sadness stifled when a child needs attending to. Tears denied when the last thing you want to do is explain (again) why you’re crying while folding laundry or cooking dinner. After a while the tears don’t threaten to fall as often and the days don’t feel quite as grey, but the feeling of missing something, someone, remains. It’s become clear that grief shows up at unexpected times and that’s taken some getting used to.
So far I’ve learned that you just have to do your best and let life slow down for a while. You have to let others help even though you may be extremely independent. You have to admit after a few days that “getting back to normal” just isn’t possible. There is a new normal now. For your babes not a lot has changed and so you work hard to be patient even though some days it feels like you’re failing miserably. You try not to get upset as your oldest asks for the 10th time when you’re going to have another baby. You welcome their questions and try to be honest about how you’re feeling without making them feel burdened. You comfort them when they need comforting. Build train tracks and Lego. Sing silly songs and make muffins. Then when they’re in bed asleep at night you pray for peaceful dreams, kiss their soft, warm cheeks and thank God for the gift that each one truly is.
Some days are easy, some not so much. I’m thankful for the lessons in kindness that we’ve learned from family and friends. I’m thankful for the light and joy that our children bring to each day. Even in the most difficult moments I’ve felt wrapped in the arms of a Father who is greater than any other source of peace. He lifts me up. He makes me stronger than I feel like I can be on my own strength. I don’t really question “why?” but I do ask “what’s next?” almost daily. Knowing where to go from here is very difficult for many reasons. Each day I have to remind myself that it’s okay to feel confused, feel disappointed, feel heartbroken. It’s all so raw still but time will heal as it always does. Even more so I know God will gently lead my heart back to a place of peace and rest.
He always does.