April 8, 2010

Our Second Glory Baby

A letter of grief written in three parts

To My Baby:
We saw you on Friday- your little heartbeat was like a twinkling star on the screen- and it seems we lost you on Saturday. A mother knows when something is wrong with her child and deep in the tucked away parts of my heart, I knew on Sunday that you and I were not going to meet the way I had hoped. So when it was confirmed on Monday that you were no longer with us, there was little surprise but just the heartbreaking realization that a mother’s instincts are often right.

My sweet second baby dead in my womb and raised to heaven in the arms of Jesus on Easter weekend. How very appropriate.

I could not bring myself to look at the ultrasound screen as the midwife and technician looked for your heartbeat. But on the way out of the room, both your daddy and I took one last look at you on the screen as we left the room. There you were in all your splendid creation- so tiny and wondrously made by your Maker. It pained me to know that when we left the room the lights would be turned back on, the linens changed, and the screen erased so that the room could be ready for the next patient. Didn’t anyone want to sit in that room and weep over you like I did?

The morning after we learned of your passing, there was a thunderstorm in the city and I think it was especially for you- creation was mourning you. Heaven put on a fierce display of tears and loud and angry booms and that, my sweet baby, was a perfect reflection of your mom’s heart and spirit. It still is.

We chose to come home and wait for you to make your passing out of my body- I can’t tell you how much agony this still brings me, for the thought of you and me being separated like this is unbearable. You were conceived naturally and in this home and by God’s grace and provision, you passed naturally and in this home. I felt the pains of you being separated from inside of me and while I have never been one for pain, I chose this way because it was the only way I could think to honor your too-short life. It was the closest I would ever get to delivering you.

You are loved so very much by me and your daddy. You were not a replacement to our first baby, but rather you were a happy second addition to our family. It does a mom’s heart good to know that her babies are with each other in the presence of Jesus. Oh sweet babies, how loved you will always be; I eagerly await our reunion.

And now we are left to grieve you and cling to and try to make sense out of God’s promise that He works for the good of those who love Him. It’s hard to see the good in your not being here and I suspect it’ll be that way for as long as I live.

You are gone from my womb and I am left to wonder what I could have done differently to have kept you longer. But I know there was nothing in my power that could have kept you here. Your daddy wonders if you were too perfect for this world. Maybe you were.

There is no replacing you. You will always, always be my sweet second baby. And I will always be your loving mom.

To You, Reader:
Nothing can prepare you for the time when life leaves your womb lifeless. Nothing.

I have learned some things about myself and done/said some things through the process of losing two babies and it’s not all that good, really. I have come to think that I can negotiate with God and barter with Him with the hopes that He would let me keep me just one of my babies. What can I give up that would make Him want to give me a baby of my own? And if there is ever a next time, should I pray more and ask for more specific things like “Please God, let my baby have a heartbeat and be in a normal size sac so I don’t have a higher risk of miscarrying”?....I was just praying for my baby to have a heartbeat all this time. I have found myself telling the Lord that I would find it appalling if He did not give me children of my own. I have suspected that He has been withholding His favor from me in this area of my life and have quietly argued with Him while other women go on to have second, third, and fourth babies. I have questioned whom He gives babies to and I have told Him in no uncertain terms that I should be at the top of His list. I have wondered if there are only so many babies to go around and if that’s the case, where do I sign to put my name on the list for consideration? And in moments of desperation, I have shamelessly pleaded with Him to tell me what I need to do to have a baby of my own, as if He would have me answer some silly riddle to figure it out.

What am I to do? How can I have hope after losing two babies? Does anyone out there know the deep, deep sorrow I feel to have lost two babies and come home to a quiet house?

Unfortunately yes, there are people out there who know how this feels and to you, I ask: Is there a book I can read or a song I can listen to that will come at all close to putting into words what I cannot? When does hope come again? And when it comes, will I know it or feel it or see it? Will the day come that I do not want to crawl into a hole every time I see a belly swelled with baby? Did you cry each time you reached for your pre-natal vitamins after you lost your babies? Do you ever wish people would hurt as much you hurt? How long will other people’s baby joy bring up my own pain? And back to the subject of hope- how long will I feel hopeless? Is it normal to feel bitter towards women who are pregnant yet feel equally drawn to them because they are experiencing something I can only dream of, something that all together eludes me? Do I look like someone who lost two babies- am I marked for life? I don’t feel like laughing or smiling- is that okay? Will Mother’s Day be as horrible as I am expecting it to be this year? Seriously, is this really happening to me?

After my first miscarriage, I had to endure some really insensitive comments and while I know people mean well, I think people end up saying the most insensitive things in situations like this out of ignorance. So let me help you know what not to say, not just to me, but to anyone who has ever lost their baby.

Please don’t tell me that I will have a baby someday- you don’t know that. I am promised nothing.

Please don’t talk to me about the hope of future babies- in case you haven’t heard, I don’t have a lot of hope right now. And I am not ready to think about that. I was still grieving the loss of my first baby and now I am grieving my second baby. My two babies are all I can think about now.

Please don’t try to speculate what went wrong this second time around. Don’t assume it is anything I did or didn’t do. Or because we did not wait long enough to get pregnant after my first miscarriage. We waited exactly the amount of time we were told to and there was no reason to think that we were putting our second baby in jeopardy by getting pregnant when we did.

Please do not quote statistics or tell me that this is normal and happens all the time. I could give a hoot about statistics and there is nothing normal about seeing your baby in a toilet bowl. Absolutely nothing.

Please do not compare your pregnancy with various complications with my pregnancies. If you ended up with a baby in your arms and got to take them home, there is no comparison.

And to God:
I am quite speechless. Words elude me and only grief finds me when I come to You. I might be angry with You, but I don’t know if I am…..yet.

You say that you work all things together for the good of those who love You and while I believe that for others, I don’t believe that for me. Why are You asking that I go through this again? I feel like You are torturing me.

Do You see the agony this is causing? Do You see how I struggle to find something in my day to look forward to? Everything was so much brighter, so much happier before. And now, everything appears dull and barren.

Do You find it ironic as I do that not only do I not have any children of my own, and apparently won’t any time soon, but I spend most of my time taking care of and making plans for other people’s children? I don’t know if that’s a blessing in disguise or…..or what, I don’t know.

Do You know how much I loathe being the person whose story others will read or hear about and then they will go on to say things like, “I am so glad that is not me…..I am so happy that I have my children……Thank goodness I never had to go through that”?

I don’t know what to make of this and I feel too weary to walk through this with You. You’ll have to carry me most of the way, maybe even all of it.

In the mean time- and I don’t know how things work up there, but if it’s possible- please give my babies a kiss for me and tell them I’ll be home soon.


Anonymous said...

Wow Justine, I really appreciate your raw feelings and words. You have put into words thoughts and feelings that touch my heart and help me to have perspective of what you are going through. I love your heart, thanks for sharing and I am so sorry for your loss. I will be praying for you.

Jenn D

megan said...

I'm at such a loss...I just want you to know I am aching and crying and grieving with you, and for you. Having lost two babies and having had to wait for years for Carter, I know when there are aches that are far bigger than words. I wish we could simply sit on your couch and let you be: heartbroken, frustrated, angry, silent, a momma who longs for her babies--but in all things, loved. I know about the jealous ache and grief that consumes your heart with the swell of another's belly. I just pray that love will be all around you. Your authenticity is a gift to people. Once upon a time when my heart was full to the brim with the same kind of grief, a good friend said to me:
"I know it hurts too much for you to hope right now but let me hold onto that hope for you."

That's what we'll be doing Justine. We love you guys so much.

Amy White said...

I am so, so sorry for your losses. Reading your beautiful and honest words reminded me of a CS Lewis quote my sister showed me: "We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be." We love you so much.


Anonymous said...

My friend told me about your blog and how much you blessed her heart. I lost my first pregnancy in September after we had tried 10 years for that baby. Your post about the conversation you had with God mirrored exactly how I feel and made me weep. You've really touched me today in a way no one else can. It's strange because I've been asking God lately, "How am I going to handle May 18th?" That was my baby's due date. I can't thank you enough for writing so openly and emotionally. You've helped in my healing and help me know I'm not alone. I'll be praying for you. "He gives beauty for ashes". A verse He gave me the week I was waiting for the miscarriage to be complete.

Adrienne said...

Justine, I am so sorry. I know words do not justice, and certainly don't bring healing, so I won't even try.

I understand. You asked for references, things that have encouraged others' hearts. Recently, and I hadn't been a listener for years, but Steven Curtis Chapman came out with an album called "Beauty Will Rise". It is like the man reached down into my guts and puts words and beauty to my heartache and hope. Even though I didn't have as much time with our sweet babies, or our son Noah who lived outside the womb as he did with his daughter, I still am able to imagine my heart singing out to the Lord, crying out to Him, in all the words SCC has chosen. And, as far as music goes, do you remember Elizabeth Hunnicutt from NWC? She has an album out right now called "On The Way". Though she does not write from a mother's perspective, the words are rich, real and from the heart. These 2 have been a great place for me to "go" when all I want to do is cry out to God.

As far as books go, grief looks differently for everyone, even different for you and your Jason as it has been for me and my Jason, though we have all experienced the loss of children. I read them all with a grain of salt, but truly, my own journey in writing has been and continues to be, a healer. With each book I have read, some only part way, others to completion, I'm not really sure what I am searching for other than to read another person's story, wishing beyond all hope that I did not share such grief with anyone.

Your heart is beautiful and your words are not a secret to God, so sharing them openly and candidly brings Him honor. There is no such thing as a secret. God knows I would have planned my life differently than the way it has soared along so far...yet, as you have even written above, and this is what I am finding, He does know and see a bigger picture...and I am choosing to trust that even though it includes sharing in the suffering of Christ, I do not live for only here...and I can tell you, my heart and hope, even though it lives today on earth, has NEVER hoped and longed for His return as much as it does because I want to be with those 3 kids...

Sorry, this was a marathon. I will be praying for you and Jason.

Jessica said...

I grieve with you friend.