Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Grief over a Girl

I am trying to stay away from Blogger this week, but today I feel extra pensive and thought I should post. I've been struggling once again, and having this outlet affords me the opportunity to gather my thoughts in a concise enough way to pray. Again, this is much like my journal, so here goes:

Yesterday, I spoke to a very dear friend of mine following her much anticipated level-two sonogram. My friend is nearly midway through her pregnancy, and just found out she's having a girl. After two very boisterous, rambunctious boys, a little pink on the horizon is just what she needs. This is a successful pregnancy for my friend after three losses at 6 weeks gestation.

When Zachary died, my friend spent a lot of time here at my house talking with me about loss. Zachary was my third loss, and though his circumstances were quite different than a first-trimester loss, I had two of those at the time to compare (now, three). She was in the midst of a struggle because three losses wrenches a heart in a way that cannot be explained, but she was torn because she wanted to press on. Despite the losses, despite her age, despite many obstacles in her way, she wanted -- needed -- to press on. For some reason, she needed my assurance that she wasn't nuts. She wasn't.

We had been advised to wait three months to pursue another pregnancy after Zachary died. At the time, I thought, "Three months, that's all?!" It was so incredulous to me that after only three months, the body, the mind, the heart, and the spirit could be returned to such a place that it could be stretched again. I was still in the midst of having to remind myself to breathe, to not die. In that moment, I knew we would wait three months times three months at a minimum, and likely more. As we waited, my friend waited. She wasn't waiting to try to conceive with me, but rather she waited for God to resolve one very prominent obstacle, which He did. As I healed, I prayed for her.

In July, after three months, something changed in me. There was something about that time frame that made it insanely necessary for us to try again, so we did, and we succeeded. I was completely freaked out, but so excited to be pregnant again after little effort. What a blessing to have another chance. I shared my new pregnancy with a few very close companions, but not this particular friend. She should have known, I should have told her, but I knew she was waiting, and I didn't want the waiting to be any harder.

When we found out, the appointments began, supplements started, and orders were made. I was in and out of this office or that, and by appointment standards, I was many weeks along (that is to say that the appointments I undergo in a few brief weeks are more than is required in an entire "normal" pregnancy).

At 6 1/2 weeks, I was leaving by OB's office yet again, and my friend called utterly thrilled. She was pregnant! They were on vacation and she'd just taken a test. "What should I do?" she asked. I made sure she had told her husband (hopefully before me), and she had. Then I suggested she next call her OB for a progesterone supplement in hopes that it would resolve the recurrent loss. I still didn't tell her that I was pregnant, though I was at the pharmacy right then increasing my own progesterone prescription. At that moment, my lack of disclosure was in an effort for the excitement to remain all hers.

My friend called her doctor for the supplement, her doctor complied, and after follow-up blood work and weeks of fatigue, she made it through the first trimester with no threat of loss at all. She moved forward, but one week after her good news, I lost again. I was 7 1/2 weeks, two weeks further along than my friend. What I had suggested to her failed me. Afterwards, I told my friend of what we had shared.

Now she's at 17 weeks, and just found out about that girl. While I am beyond-the-moon thrilled for her, it is so hard not to compare or to remember what is missing around here. My life is full of anniversaries I don't care to celebrate. Despite my wanting or not wanting to participate in those dates, they cannot be avoided. Even last night as I was tucking her in, Gracie needed to know exactly how long until her birthday. From now, these are the days we mark, but she only heard the ones not parenthesized:

Bub's Birthday
(2005: Positive for pregnancy #2, First Loss at 6 weeks)
(2006: Positive for pregnancy #4, Zachary)
New Years
Valentines Day
Spring Break
2007: Zachary's Birthday, 22w1d
2007: Zachary's Dying Day, 3rd loss
Gracie's Birthday (Pregnancy #1, 36w1d)
2002: Adoption Day -- Bub
My birthday
(2007: Positive for pregnancy #5)
Our Anniversary
(2006: Positive for pregnancy #3, Ainsley)
(2007: 4th loss at 7 1/2 weeks)
2001: Bub joined our family
James' birthday
(2006: 2nd loss at appx. 9 weeks, Ainsley)

I don't know why I wind up here again and again. I just want to be happy for my friend, but it is so difficult not to be angry or jealous. (Not at her, but just in general.) In my heart, I just want to celebrate and rejoice with her, but I completely cannot. I don't know what I need to do to move forward, and I don't necessarily need suggestions or sympathy. It's just so difficult not to look through the glasses of experience, no matter how smudged they may be. It's hard to look through these glasses to something bigger and better and beyond all this, and in that, or in the lack of that, I find little but frustration.

I know I'm not alone. Consider Amy -- she's had a living child after losses, and yet the pain remains. Consider the woman I wrote about in October, the one with the regret: she has grown children and grandchildren now, and her sense of loss is as intense as ever. Consider our pastor's wife: she has healthy children, a successful ministry, a wealth of good things, and yet when she saw Zachary and held his dead body, she couldn't help but weep for her Rose and recall the gap where she belongs.

It is clear that this will never be over, that I will never be "over it," but when does this pain become productive? When do I not crumble in Wal-Mart when I pass by baby-scented sections? When do I not weep at the deli while having lunch with my family when someone comes in sling-toting a baby in the pattern I picked out? When do I not feel like vomiting when a diaper-shaped invitation arrives? When does the immediacy of reaction go away? When does this negative knee-jerk response disappear? It's that time I'm waiting for.

"For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want."
Galatians 5:17

"Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief."
Psalm 31:9

"Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Relent, O LORD! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days."
Psalm 90:12-14

"So with you: Now is your time of grief,
but I will see you again and you will rejoice,
and no one will take away your joy."
John 16:22

"Weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning."
Psalm 30:5b


  • Amy

    Sweet friend, it will happen. You will make it to a day that you can handle all of those circumstances. You will! I promise. You are just still huring and still healing. There is no timeline for this process. You are doing great. Just keep enduring.
    Grieving With You,

  • Kendra

    I am so sorry for your losses and the reminders that come in everyday life. You have shown me what it means to praise Him in every season of life, good and painful. While I can't actually be there often, know that you are being prayed for and rejoiced over. You are a blessing and a gift to so many.

  • Christy

    Of course we never forget, but the pain does eventually fade. We reach a point in our healing process that only the strong reminders, like grieving with a sister or a friend over her loss brings the pain to the surface.

    I focus on taking joy in the children I do have and try not to dwell on the losses. They grow up so fast! With our fast-paced schedules it's hard enough to find quality time to spend with them. It wouldn't be fair to them to have that time spoiled because I'm haunted by the ghost of "what could have been".

    We just have to suck it up and remember we will have an eternity to spend with ALL of our children one day in Heaven.

    On a sillier note, I try to remind myself how much I actually HATE children on those days when I want to strangle mine! Those sweet innocent babies don't stay little and/or sweet for very long... They become whiney, manipulative little creatures and you can't wait for them to have children of their own who will torture them just as much (if not more) than they have tortured you!!!

  • Amanda

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Amanda

    Kids are hard, that's a given. But even in the challenge, they're such a blessing. I'm sure you would agree that it's far better to have an irritating child than a dead one, Christy. More than anyone, you know.

  • MJ

    It seems cyclic, does it not? It sometimes seems that just when you think you have gotten into a place where the pain is not so hard, it all comes rushing back. Why? Someone wise once said (my paraphrase) that when you've done all you can, you stand. I think that applies here-you just stand because there is nothing else you can do. And stand, doing nothing else, as long as you have to.

  • amy

    praying for you - today & every day...

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for posting. I am feeling the same way right now as so many of my friends and acquaintances make their announcements. I feel guilty for my ambivalence (or resentment) too.

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