Sometimes, out of nowhere, I get completely overwhelmed by emotion. I’d say it’s probably been more frequent since my Dad passed, and even more than that since we lost Ethan. But since I’ve been pregnant… it’s a whole new ball game. You add the ridiculously unpredictable factoring in of pregnancy hormones and, let’s just say, you should all feel a great deal of sympathy for my husband- and even my kids at many times. That’s not to say that every pregnant momma is that way, nor every mother that has lost a child. But I can guarantee you, that underneath that smile and the chit-chat and small talk- there are some really deep, really intense, and quite frankly, really scary emotions. Now when I say scary, I don’t mean, “hide your children” scary. But literally emotions built around fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of the future, fear of the past, fear of inadequacy, the list could go on forever. All of these fears, combined with about every other emotion a woman can feel (multiplied exponentially) make for a tumultuous 9 months for these moms.
I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but can’t imagine that I’m far off base when I say that what mothers need, particularly those who’ve experienced loss, is grace. There are times when people ask me how I’m feeling and I have chosen to put on a smile, stuff those fears and unpleasant feelings to the deepest place I possibly can, and bold face lie. Because do they REALLY want to know that I miss my son with every fiber of my being? And that I’m scared to death that this little girl is going to begin to fill a space in my heart that I always and forever WANT and NEED to be only for him? Do they really want to be reminded that even though we may only have 2 children living in our home, I am aching my way through my 4th pregnancy? That as I approach the arrival of this baby, I’m filled with joy and sadness, all at once? We’re preparing to bring this baby home, Lord willing, which was something we knew from the beginning we would be unable to do with our sweet Ethan. For mother’s who had that rug completely swiped from under them, prepared for their babies, only to be unable to bring them home and have to undo all of their carefully planned preparations- do they want to know the feelings of fear that they are experiencing? And that I’m SCARED to death of labor. Even though I’ve done it 3 times already! And I don’t remember how to take care of a newborn. And, and, and… I could go on and on.
The closer we get to the arrival of our baby girl, the more the memories of my pregnancy with Ethan begin to resurface. I play the “big” moments over in my head, and have relived his birth and death more times than I can count. The feelings and emotions are still right there, waiting at the surface in the chance that I will let them escape. And I do, from time to time, most often when I’m alone or with John. I was talking to my sister the other day about how deeply I was hurt recently by the oversight of this being my our 4th child. Now, before you jump to any conclusions or judge me for being too sensitive… please know that I am well aware that I am closer to our situation and recognize that I live in these memories daily. Not everyone does, and I understand “out of sight, out of mind”. But that doesn’t mean that it hurts less when I’m reminded of his absence in our lives, and the impact that has on his memory.
I’m getting sidetracked- my sister shared with me that often times people think that it may be better to ignore the loss than confront it. That bringing up your lost child, spouse, parent, or friend would only cause you more pain, so they choose to avoid it completely. I’m not asking for a therapy session, or even an awkward conversation. But what I do think is appropriate it to not pretend that our family is smaller than it is. John and I are parents of 5 precious souls. We lost one at birth, and one shortly after its little heart started beating (though I recognize that that could make even the most comfortable of people a little uncomfortable), but we do not have 2 children. I am pregnant with what we share with others as our 4th. So, in addition to showing us grace, when you ask a pregnant mother which pregnancy she’s on, or how many kids she has, be prepared for the answer. And if you don’t want to know the details, don’t keep pushing. I will answer to anyone and their mother’s brother that this is my 4th child. And when they ask the ages of my kids, don’t think, for a second, that I will leave Ethan off. He would have been 2 this past January but he passed away when he was born. If you can’t graciously and gracefully handle that answer… I strongly advise you to employ a filter when interacting with parents. Blunt… I know.
I’m not sure exactly what my intention or purpose was in writing this today, other than to share some perspective and insight from the mind of a pregnant mother of angels. A friend of mine wrote about similar feelings recently. Divinely, this has been on my heart for some time… I think God wanted us to share these pieces of our story. I hope I haven’t stepped on toes, but if I have, I’ve done it in defense and protection of this group of women (and men) who have experienced the deepest of losses. Ones they will NEVER forget. You can memorialize these losses by also never forgetting. There is no greater honor you can do a parent than remembering. And there is no greater courtesy you can show a mother (especially ones carrying their “rainbow” babies) than to extend the utmost level of patience, love, acceptance, and grace. In any situation, to any emotion… please understand that there is a constant battle going on within them. And it’s exhausting on SO. MANY. LEVELS.