Sunday, December 30, 2007

By Definition

When Zachary died, our pastor's wife came to the hospital to visit. She cried with us and held our dead baby before going home. She could understand to some degree the pain that wracked our hearts and split wide our souls, as several years earlier she'd lost a baby at the same gestational age. Something she said during her visit still haunts me. I've commented on it before, but I'm commenting again.

She related to me that when her baby died, her mother (who had not lost a baby, from what I understand) asked her if this would be the thing that defined her life, her dead baby. For her, the answer was no -- it was part of her life, but not the defining factor of her life.

I think she was telling me this in an effort to bring me some comfort -- a womanly chuck on the jaw, a Christian-y sort of "Buck up, Buckaroo." Additionally, she may have been wondering if I intended to crack under the weight of grief and would become unable to fulfill my ministerial commitments. I think her intentions were pure, and overall, she wanted me to realize there was more to me than this, my dead baby.

I've carried this edification around in my guilt baggage for the last eight months. Already, I bear a load of guilt for a luteal phase deficiency, hormone issues, and a body that won't work right for anything. I feel incompetent because of my incompetent cervix. I feel like a hypocrite by referring people to my perinatologist for a shiny new transabdominal cerclage, particularly since my post-surgery pregnancy didn't make it to nine weeks. I feel guilt for not knowing I had rights to my dead miscarried babies -- or to the "products of conception" as they were so tenderly referred to by my old doctor on his way to the incinerator.

Additionally, there's guilt for the medical bills that still chomp away at our budget, guilt for the reduction of relationships with those who have newborns (because I can still take only so much without turning into a blubbering, snotty mess), and guilt for the smudged glasses through which I see the world. Last, but certainly not least, I carry around a guilt-filled carry on for just not wanting to try anymore, of wanting to be "normal," of wanting to move forward, of being beyond all this -- though every holiday, every birthday, every anniversary day -- every day -- is filled with pain, loss, frustration, anger, sadness, and regret.

There are some days that are not a constant struggle, but those are usually days that are so filled that time dissipates before I can take notice. Normal days, every day sort of days, are still generally more hard than they're not.

She attempted to encourage me from the influence of her experience, but having borne four living children along with the one dead, her experience was vastly different from mine. For her, the loss of her baby was an unfortunate experience. For me, dead babies are a way of life. Regardless of what happens in my life -- if I by some miracle become pregnant and carry to term, if we adopt another child, or if we chuck the whole mess and move to Aruba -- I am a woman who struggles with unexplaned infertility, evidently unmanagable known fertility issues, and recurrent loss in both the first and second trimester.

In the midst of my daily struggling and not struggling, her comment has resounded within, haunting me as I think "Surely, I must me more than this, there must be more that defines me." What I've come to terms with is the fact that there is not. This is what I am. Infertility struggles + dead babies + loads and loads of guilt = Me. It is indeed the sum of my parts, and this is me, by definition.

Missing you, baby.
Each of you.
Every moment.
Every day.

To have you with us again.
Even if only for a moment.

What is this?


  • The Dukes Family

    So many thoughts here and I'm terrible at saying any of them and I hope none of them come out wrong. Knowing "the pastor's wife", I think she'd be torn up if she knew that her comment had haunted you. I hate that you have any guilt at all for any of this ... guilt is for those who make choices to do something, not for those who have things happen to them. I know it isn't as simple as that, but it should be. You are defined by these experiences and it's senseless to think that you wouldn't be ... we're all defined by what we experience in life, both good and bad. Is it okay to be defined by what's good (a great marriage, a great family, etc) but not by what's not? That isn't logical. So allow yourself to be who you are, a woman who has endured great pain and loss. We all love you for you.

  • Emily

    You know what? If "THIS" is you... that is okay! I hate that it is...for your sake, for your heart, for YOU... I HATE it! But if this is the person that you are, God will use you - all of you - to make something beautiful for His glory. You are who you are... and I love that person and the person that you are becoming!

  • Amy

    I just realized that I was logged in with my sister's computer when I wrote yesterdays's comments... sorry.

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