Love heals.

Well, it’s been two weeks and two days since we lost our baby. I can’t believe the outpouring of love and support that I’ve felt from friends, far and wide. I also can’t believe how many people have been touched by the loss of a miscarriage. One in four pregnancies end this way. I even know a bunch of women who have suffered multiple miscarriages, and by multiple, I mean more than three or four.

So if it’s this common, we need to equip ourselves with tools we can use when a friend, co-worker or someone we know goes through it. Not only that, but in my previous post I touched on some of the stupid things people said, and I don’t want that to be what’s left in everyone’s mind. I can’t believe how loved we are, by our Father, and our friends.

So what can we do when someone loses their baby, before they see their face? I have asked a few of my close friends who have gone through this, and these are the most overwhelming parallels:

1. Acknowledge it.

It’s easy to celebrate and go through the happy times with family and friends. Equally important is being there in the hard times. Just say something. Don’t worry about saying the wrong thing. If you do, say sorry and get over it. It’s way better to say something, than nothing. I can’t believe how many facebook messages and texts I got. They literally sustained me. Knowing that there were people praying and thinking of me, and that knew I was sad and were sad for me made a huge difference. I even got a few phone calls, though I didn’t answer the phone. But I saw it, and it meant so much. I can’t say this enough: Acknowledge the loss. Text, phone, facebook, carrier pigeon: whatever the case may be, if there is someone in your family or circle that is going through a loss, you say something. One said, “Suffering people don’t need space, they need love. . . when we fail to acknowledge, we run the risk of pretending that the suffering did not happen, which is entirely false. Our sufferings are real, and if we are helped through our loss, we have a greater opportunity of turning the suffering into our ever needed desire for growth in holiness.” Always err on the side of love, not space.

2. Be there

To talk, hug, etc. Just let them know you are available, whether they take you up on it or not. Just knowing that you are a safe place to vent, cry or sit beside makes the difference between being alone in your darkest moments, or being loved unconditionally. One of my closest friends texted me on and off the next week, just to say hi and check in. I knew that I was being prayed for, and cared for. Our midwife was AMAZING. She sat with me at the hospital when I was going for final bloodwork. She responded to emails right away with questions I had. She even called me at 9:00 pm to let me know the results, so I wouldn’t have to wait till the next day. She let me cry without feeling stupid, and told me to call whenever I wanted to chat. Honestly, I know I go on about midwives, but you just can’t compare.

3. Shower with love

We were blessed by meals, flowers, gifts. I am still in shock. The meals gave me a huge break in the day, especially when I was in so much pain. Chopped and fresh veggies were also a huge blessing. I had the most annoying, brutal afterpains for almost a week. Having fresh stuff in the house to throw at the kids made life easier.  One of my friends made me a cheesecake with my name on it. A friend stopped by just to hug, and brought beautiful flowers. Cards, visits (if they are wanted), flowers on the table, all of this goes back to the first thing we should do: Acknowledge the loss.

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4. Let them grieve. Don’t offer platitudes.

When a friend dies, no one says, “Well, at least you have other friends!” Or, “You can always make a new one.” There is nothing wrong, and everything right, about grieving over your baby that died. Allow them that. Don’t try to make it better by pointing out blessings. Jesus grieved over the loss of his friend. Grief is a beautiful way of acknowledging life, and a life lost. If you accidentally say something along the lines of trying to help them get over it, or to see the “bright side,” realize what you’re doing and say sorry. Then be quiet and cry with them. “Grief is not lessened by minimizing the value of the life.” Aptly put.

5. Know that no grief is the same, and there’s no time limit.

It can strike at the weirdest times. Years later, seeing a child at the age your baby would be can bring it all back up to the surface. Obviously I’m not at that place, but hearing from other women tells me that most of all, our friends just want permission to be real. To feel pain and grief and hurt, and not pretend it’s not there because it’s been a few months or years since the loss. We are created to feel and love. God didn’t make a mistake there. If a joke that you heard or funny story you lived years ago still has the power to make you laugh ten years later, so too the memory of the baby you lost can still make you cry and feel the hurt just like yesterday.

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6. Genuine help for the friend who’s miscarried:

Some books that have been recommended include Empty Arms, Mommy, Please Don’t Cry and Streams in the Desert. I haven’t read them all, but I’m interested because they have helped friends. Obviously the Bible is full of hope. I’m so thankful I know where our baby is. This song has been hugely helpful to me, and this one has been suggested by a friend who’s been there. Don’t watch that one with makeup on.

Also, a ceremony can also be a good way for closure. A lady whom I treasure has been through six miscarriages. She spoke of having her own ceremony, with a balloon for each baby. Eventually, she had to cut the string of each balloon and let them fly away. She said that it was like cutting steel; but it helped her in letting go.

Another lady spoke of sending white roses down the river; watching the water carry them further and further away. Being surrounded by nature in its rawest form can be such a meaningful way to say goodbye.

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And one last strong woman spoke of asking Jesus to show her the four babies she lost. “Healing truly came when I asked Jesus to show them to me and He showed me a picture of these 4 little boys sitting in His lap – all different ages – big brown eyes – blond curls!! It was beautiful!! They looked so happy! I know they are waiting for me….”

It is so easy to love each other in the happy times; to attend weddings, celebrate with showers, host a dinner because of a new home. Let’s not shy away in the dark times, but be friends and family through it all, not being afraid of the beauty of deep love, emotion and grief. This is where love is.

Thank you for everyone who’s prayed or loved on us. We’re okay. Super sad, but okay. Today the pretty one was sitting on the floor crying. Impatiently I asked, “What’s the matter?” 

She replied, “I just miss my baby.”

I get it, girl.

I know there’s a plan. I’m not mad. 

Darn, I just miss my baby.

Life hurts.

It just does. As surely as there’s life, there’s death. They go hand in hand. 

I knew I was expecting three days before my period was even due. When you do natural family planning, you kinda know. It was so crazy: I ovulated twice in one month which completely came as a surprise. We were ready for the first, the second time (after Googling if it was even possible) we knew that God had a different plan for us.

Nonetheless, I am nothing but frugal and waited exactly 24 hours from when my period was due. I was up the whole night before, dreaming of our new baby. At 5:30 am, it was positive, and I waited for my handsome hubby to wake up. I let him take two sips of coffee before I bubbled over.

We were slightly overwhelmed, but by the end of the day, pumped. We kept it quiet for the first bit. I made plans to school through the summer so that we could be done when our baby (a boy, I’m sure of it) arrived in March. After all, isn’t that what homeschooling is all about? Making school fit around your family?

I was sick, but not as sick with the girls. They were a special brand of possibly-on-the-verge-of-death sick. This was more of a queasy, walking on a ship at sea after eating three Big Macs sick. I found that the better I ate, the better I felt. Almost all whole foods, with some grains mixed in for convenience. I drank liters of water.

All the while, we smiled at my growing belly. It goes quick, with the fifth. My pants stopped fitting at a month. Leggings and low rise jeans got me through the next one. Imagine if it were twins? How funny!

Finally, even the No Frills ladies were commenting on my new accessory. Yes, this is a baby bump. Yes, we’re excited. Yes, I know where they come from. We realized that all our acquaintances and the people who see me on a regular basis now knew, but not family.

We were so excited. Each new life that God has given us we have received as a total gift. Each pregnancy seems to go faster and faster. I LOVE being nine months pregnant. I love how close my emotions are to the surface: I feel so genuine in my feelings, and how they regularly spill down my cheeks. I love being a woman, an ambassador for life. It’s never “easy”: we have dealt with breech babies turning, a car accident at nine months, falling down the stairs at 6 months, Braxton Hicks, salsa that MUST BE HAD RIGHT NOW, nursing while pregnant, missing heartbeats (that later turned up after a few weeks) and ultrasounds, pee tests, blood work and glucose testing. Never have I needed to go for an ultrasound in the first trimester: I always know my dates (of conception and last periods). 

Pregnancy is bliss. After all, we can throw our charts out the window, because you can’t get pregnant twice! Life is good. Kids are excited. Life is crazy, but with the two of us and a whole lot of Jesus, we can swing it.

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Flash forward.

Sitting in the hospital for three hours, feeling my baby leave my body and not being able to stop it. Waiting through every person that gets called to hear MY NAME! Please, call me back. Please, do something. Please.

An acquaintance comes in. “Well, if you wouldn’t have told anyone, you could have pretended it didn’t happen.” 

Finally, they call me back. They tell me that the ultrasound tech is on her way home. I lose it.

They are frightened, call her back. She examines me; tells me that I don’t need any more children when I already have four! But I love THIS ONE. They are all different, and I love this one so much already. Please, tell me if it’s alive or not.

Test is inconclusive. Fetus may be dead. Fetus may be viable. Come back in a few days.

Two days of cramping, bleeding, but possibility.

Monday rolls around. “We must have school today! We want to be done before Baby comes.”

Halfway through math class I am bawling in the bathroom, feeling the hope drain out of me while the other kids fight and bang on the door.

“He hit me!”

“She was bugging me!”

“Juice! Mom. Juice!”

Please, give me five minutes to say goodbye to our baby.

After another hospital visit and more pain than I thought, our baby is gone. A life is gone.

Well if you wouldn’t have told anyone, you could have pretended it never happened. What a nightmare that would be. Because he was here. My baby boy was here, and now he’s not, and I’m sad. But he was. And I’m so thankful that I was excited and proud of my baby for the time he was in my body. What a privilege it is to have had him for as long as I did. I don’t know why any of this happened. But it did.

The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord! 

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Advice on Advice

If only this were possible. . .

 

 

Dear me, on the occasion of your first pregnancy,

 

This is so exciting! I know that your mind is filled with all kinds of dreams and hopes. You are embarking on a new stage of life, and there is no turning back! I know it all seems like gumdrops and unicorns, but I just wanted to let you know a few things to save you some heartache and stress.

1. During the pregnancy, and through the first few years of Baby’s life, you are going to get LOTS of advice. Now that the world is smaller, you will be hearing it from more than just your mom and Granny. People in the grocery store, people at church, Facebook, Pinterest, everyone will have something to say to you. Here is something you need to understand:

JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE GIVES YOU ADVICE DOESN’T MEAN YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.

I can’t tell you that enough! They are just trying to help. They forget what it’s like to be on the opposite end, or they are just trying to show you another way to do things. YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE. They don’t think you are, either. You have two choices: File the tip or info away to think about later, or smile and nod. They are both just fine. Do not argue, it may have worked for them.

2. Every single item of pregnancy, childbirth and childrearing is a potential Pandora’s box of controversy. Seriously. Here are some things that will be argued about in nurseries, blogs, facebook, and every other location in MommyLand:

Breastfeeding/Bottle feeding

Diapers/Elimination communication (If I knew how to link up blogs, I would show you your old friend Kathleen’s. She never really had to wipe a baby’s dirty bum. And she’s a real person.)

Cloth/Disposable diapers

Rice cereal

Baby weaning

Scheduling/On demand feeding

Co-sleeping

Baby wearing

Expired car seats

Organic foods

Rocking to sleep

Baby reading

Potty training

These are just a few of things you will argue about. It’s okay. None of these things are God given directives.  You could maybe make a case for one or two, but in the long run, none of these things will be important. None of these will grow your child into a mature, well-rounded individual. That’s where the parenting and relationship you have with your baby will come in. God knew how you felt about organic foods, or rocking your baby to sleep. And He still gave you this specific baby. So ask Him if you are really worried about it, research it, talk to your Handsome Hubby, and then just let it go. You will develop your OWN opinions on all of these. Keep them to yourself, unless someone asks. This leads into number three. . .

3. No one has the right to judge you about how you grow your baby. Just like you have no right to judge them, either. So feed your two year old a hotdog. Or don’t. Let your three year old decide when to potty train. Or don’t. But do not judge others for how they raise their children, and if you think others are judging you, pray for them. It’s a hard world. Concentrate on your own family.

4. Your HH knows stuff. He may not know all the philosophies, he may not have read all the books. But it’s his baby too. It is never too early to let him lead his family. If he thinks the baby is hungry, feed him or her. If he wants to snuggle the baby through the hockey game, let him. You are going to make LOTS of mistakes. Give him grace and space to make his own.

5. You can’t do it all. Give up now. It will make it easier later.

6. Write it down! You think you are going to remember all these special things. You will forget them all! Especially once the next one comes (Yes, you will have more than one. Go get a pedicure and paint the master bedroom, NOW, or it will wait for six years and counting.) Seriously, don’t worry about a special “book” or format. Write it down on a piece of paper, and stick it in a binder. Done. Memory saved.

7. Back up your pictures. You will lose them all for your second baby. Make sure someone actually takes them, too.

8. Go to a midwife. Doctors are for sick people.

9. Never, I repeat, NEVER say the words, “I will always,” or “I will never.” They taste terrible later. You will eat a lot of them.

10. I know you aren’t going to find out at the ultrasounds. So, just so you know, your first one is a boy. You will love him.

Love, 

Me.