Sunday, September 30, 2007

Leaping Lepers

A sweet friend is polling the opinions of her friends with regards to the possibility of adding a new baby to their family. When I logged onto her blog, I was really excited to see this option on the table. When I was pregnant with Zachary, she sent loads of incredible baby gear over to us. At the time, they were thinking it would be a while before they would consider any more additions, and I remember when she said that really feeling like it was so unfortunate. She is so sweet, her family is so precious, and if you could see any bunch of people bursting with sweet babies, it's this family. Of course, I loved all the gear, but I was sad for the terms under which I was getting it. To see her poll today was very exciting.

I voted (yes, by the way) and then followed with an e-mail to make sure she knew that to be my opinion. But as I was writing it, I felt so weird. Here's what I said:

Dear Friend:

Blah, blah, blah. General encouragement. Raunchy joke.

I want to say I'll be praying for you, because I will be, but I'm
hesitant to put anything out there like that when it comes to baby issues
because I don't want people to feel like they may be cursed because I'm a part
of their prayer chain. I know that has to sound goofy, but it's a genuine
thing. Just like people don't really know how to approach me with regards
to babies or baby issues anymore, I don't know how to approach

Because I trust you, let me ask you -- is it freaky, scary,
crazy or any other unpleasant descriptive when I talk baby? Be
honest. I can take it. :)

Your friend, Amanda

So, is it scary or strange or generally unpleasant when I comment on all things baby? I want -- no, I need -- honest opinions here.

Many posts back, I wrote about how we had gone to visit another church one Sunday morning because of the fear of the weirdness we would face in our own. I don't care who you are -- when someone dies, it's hard to know what to say, and that feels weird. That's what we were facing, but with the bonus of controversy. Was he a baby or a fetus or what? Was that whole deal just a glorified miscarriage? How could they be so sad about losing someone they never really knew -- it's not like losing a REAL child, and they should just be grateful for the ones they have, and they are young and can have another and you never know what was wrong with that baby or could have been wrong with that baby if he WOULD have lived and they should just really be thankful that they aren't burdened with caring for him for the rest of their lives because a vegetable is all he would have been anyway, so this is all really for the best and a part of God's better plan. And on and on, as you can imagine.

Foot-in-mouth syndrome is so prevelant when a baby dies. Probably when anyone dies, but I'm sensitive here. Plus, I'm not shy, and I'm rarely meek, and I'm a mama bear. Big time. You come at my kids, you come at me, and that includes my dead ones. When people would make comments that they really didn't know better than to make, I would TRY to be gracious, and thank them for their consideration. I would TRY to be patient and understanding that they had no understanding of our struggles and our pain. I would TRY to remain remain meek and accomodating, but I would often find myself defensive of my babies or my experiences, and would often find myself drawing a chart of my uterus, which really doesn't ever go over well. FYI -- not fun at parties.

So, I have this cluster of sweet, sweet friends (some of you stalk me here) who love me in the absence of meekness, and who are ok that I am working through some rough stuff. But as I am working on these things, their lives (thank God!) move forward. They have babies, and it is so weird. I think of it like this:

A friend and I apply for a job. We are equally educated, equally experienced, equally qualified in every way. They get the job, and I don't. Time passes, another opportunity opens, and I go for it. This time, same scenario, different friend. Again, they get the job, I don't. I've even gone through the second or third interview and have toured the building, but they get the job, and I'm still spending my day in the Unemployment Office doing Sudoku. No one can get me a job, no one can explain why I haven't gotten the job -- particulary when it was essentially promised to me -- and when I call in for an explanation, I get transferred round and round with no clear understanding of why I am unemployable.

That's my best analogy of the baby journey I've been on.

I began this blog to ask a question, and think I've answered it for myself. It *is* weird to involve me in baby things because I'm so weird about it. I don't have answers, and the open-ended questions are hard for those around me. And despite the fact that I've always loved babies and have always volunteered in the 0-9mo. nursery (when involved in preschool ministry), I'm sure people who don't know that bit of history wonder if I'm now some weird baby stalker. And then there was the baby shower -- DeDe's shower -- where I cried. Not some tender, intimate, sweet little tear rolling down my face, but the blubbering, snotty, messy weeping I did and made her do that I'm sure had to alienate an entire room.

A question asked and answered:
I am not contagious, but I freak people out.
I don't have a disease, but I make people uncomfortable.
I'm not a plague on a pregnancy, but I'm sure people feel less innocent when I'm included.

It's so incredibly sad, because not only have I lost my own babies, but I've lost connections to my friends. I've lost a part of what I've always been known be or to do. I've lost the freedom to ooh and aah over babies without people wondering if I'm infectious or if I'm planning my great escape with their little one. And I'm not really a good baby shower guest anymore, though I really like cake and mints and passing things around in a circle. Crying is not a party favorite.

I am just so furious at how encompassing these losses are. Isn't having a dead baby enough? Isn't the empty cradle, the empty arms, the unused diapers, the unworn clothes, the unhung pictures, the unread stories, the unfulfilled dreams -- isn't that all enough? Why is there more? Why am I now relegated to this camp for dead-baby lepers?

Does all this hardness to go into that Isaac bundle?

I don't like living a life of pain and sacrifice. Crosses suck. They're thorny, and they're heavy, and they're hard to carry, and they don't go with any of your clothes, and they make people look at you funny and say mean things to you and spit on you. They make you fall down, and they weigh you down as you get back up. I am so thankful for the cross that was carried for me, but I really dislike carrying my own.

Thank you all for coming to my pity party.
Please take your goody bag on the way out the door.

"There was given me a thorn in my flesh...
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you,
my power is made perfect in weakness."
2 Corinthians 12:7-9

"Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink,
He will still be with you to teach you.
You will see your teacher with your own eyes.
Your own ears will hear him.
Right behind you a voice will say,
'This is the way you should go,'
whether to the right or to the left."
Isaiah 30:20-21

"Therefore I will not keep silent;
I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit.
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul."
Job 7:11


  • Amy

    I am crying for you right now... I am right here with you. Beside you. Always! Even this far down the road. This many chapters into your story. I am here! Relating to you and accepting you right where you are.

    I understand you! I understand the frustration... "The pain of the loss is not enough. Now I have to live this 'different life'?!? Now I've lost myself and my friends too?!?" It is all so unfair!

    You are not weird or a leper or scary or strange or unpleasant or infectious. You are Amanda! My friend. My friend that is learning to live a new life. A life that you did not plan or want. A hard life.

    He was a baby! They all were. A real live child! You have every right to know that and accept that! You knew the plans and dreams that you had for him just like you know the plans and dreams that you have for your 2 very obvious kids at home. He was yours!

    You are a great friend. A fun person. A caring person. A wonderful person. A different person than you were a few years ago. That is okay.

    I love that you put your feelings out there. They are beautiful and real.

    You are going to make it to a place of peace. I promise.

    'My grace is sufficient for you,
    my power is made perfect in weakness.'

    I love you. All of you. Right where you are.

  • The Dukes Family

    I really could not love you more. You're so brutally honest and that's truly a good thing ... whether it makes people uncomfortable at times or not. For those of us who have never lost a baby, it's hard in a whole different way. We so want to encourage you, to uplift you, to ease your pain - things that are impossible. And so we're left feeling completely helpless, TERRIFIED of saying the wrong thing, so we say nothing. You lost a baby ... more than one (very real babies, regardless of their ages when they died). And there is no easy answer to that process, and no magic words to heal. You have every right to go through any and all of these feelings. It may make us all uncomfortable at times, but it's OKAY for you to bawl at a baby shower ... and we, as your friends, can handle that. We want to handle that. Make no apologies for who you are, for how you feel and for where you're at ... and know that although we always want to have the right words, we probably won't. But we pray for you and love you and will walk the path with you.

  • Amanda

    My sweet little one was a real baby, I know. My rambling in my blog was my attempt at portraying all the thoughtless things said to James and I when times were harder and even still.

    As for the new normal we now live in, we're still trying to work that out. We know we have love and support from our circle of friends, but it's necessary to determine for ourselves what we can and cannot do any longer.

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