Monday, February 9, 2009

Good Grief

I wonder if it seems strange that so soon after doing a post about having a new joyful perspective, I'm now writing about grief. Oddly enough, that post really got my wheels turning about not just having joy all the time but having balance. I think it is good and healthy to grieve. There is most certainly an appropriate time for joy and for grief, as the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:4 "... a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance..."

Having experienced six early pregnancy losses, I've done plenty of mourning. As a woman who suffers from recurrent loss, I can tell you that it's not just the current loss that is painful but all past losses and potential future ones too. It's not only the death of the child you were carrying, but the fear of never having a successful pregnancy. Each loss puts you closer to mourning the death of your hopes of ever becoming a parent. No, the ability to conceive is no comfort when it doesn't result in having a baby. Pregnancy becomes associated with fear, pain, and sorrow.

One of the hardest things to go through after a miscarriage is not having people recognize your loss. For some reason it seems that most of society can accept any other loss of a loved one, including a pet. But when it comes to a miscarriage, many don't know how to respond. I remember feeling so angry and frustrated when, after one of my miscarriages, I felt like there was a time limit on my grief. People started getting antsy because I wasn't "back to normal" yet, I hadn't been back to church, and they hadn't seen me in a while. The most painful part was that the concerned party hadn't called or come by to check on us. Instead, they started calling around to friends of mine, asking where I'd been lately and why I'd been absent for so long (being fully aware that I'd had a miscarriage). I couldn't help but think that my long absence wouldn't have been as much of an issue had I lost a parent or close friend.

The truth is that miscarriage is a loss. It's the death of a family member, a loved one, a child. YOUR child. No one else knew our babies as personally as we did for those precious few weeks. There was no funeral, memorial, or grave. Someone was there and suddenly is no longer there. A heart that was beating is no longer beating, and a child is no longer growing. Your plans cease and there will be no baby shower, no birth date, and no celebration. It is a harsh reality and it is a very lonely place to be.

A few weeks ago I was visiting another blog and came across a wonderful post on the topic of grief. My blog friend Stacy (I wonder if people try to put an "e" in her name - they usually leave mine out) truly has a gift of expressing herself with words. I love reading her blog and I have been so deeply touched by the amazing story of her son, Samuel. It is a blessing to me every single time I stop by her blog, but this particular post really resonated with me. I hope you'll click over and read her post called What I've Learned About Grief. (Maybe even offer congratulations as just last week they legally welcomed Samuel into their family!)

I wanted to write this today as a bit of encouragement for those who have experienced miscarriage. It's ok to grieve that loss, and don't let anyone try to rush you along. For me, the best thing was having my family and friends acknowledge my pain, mourn with me, and keep me company in the weeks that followed. The length of time that I grieved was different for each loss. I don't think this can be estimated, and although I never felt like I was "all better" or that time had healed the wounds, I did eventually feel stronger and more able to move forward.

I don't have any idea what's up ahead for me. The pain of my miscarriages is still around every day, and I suspect it will be to some degree even after I become a mother someday. I'm trying to wait as patiently as possible for my weeping to turn to laughter and (as uncoordinated and rhythm-less as I am) my mourning to become dancing.


Dan & Hillary and little Russell said...

Thank-you for writing this so eloquently. My heart mourns every day for our many losses as well. I can't go back to the person I was before the m/c's but I hope God will continue to remake me into someone better (not bitter). Blessings to you. Hope to meet you someday.

Life In Mazes said...

Beautiful thoughts and much needed. It took me many years to learn these lessons. Sometimes I think that some of my friends still do not understand or my family really know what DH and I lost the day that our first child was miscarried. I have recently discovered a song by Natalie Grant (I think) called "Held" Have you heard it? I really expresses the emotions I was feeling immediately after learning the child I was carrying was no longer living in my womb. The is a line in there that says "This is what it means to know that the sacred is torn from your life and you survive." That described me. I survived by my little one did not. Even when I prayed! I will pray for you to have a pregnancy that can allow you to have a perfectly healthy baby one day soon.
I use the Creighton Fertility Method and work with a Doctor in Omaha that I learned about from a lady who experienced many early miscarriages. She told me that once she found out how her hormones were working, they were able to have five more successful pregancies! Just a little inspiration for you and if you want some informaiton on this doctor, let me know.

onemorebaby said...

What a wonderful post... and so honest and truthful. I am always aware that the pain of loss I feel is just under the surface of my everyday life. I cherish the very brief time I had with each of babies that I had with my for too short of a time.

Thank you for posting this so thoughtfully!


katdish said...

Oh Stacey, I'm so very sorry for your loss. You don't become a mother at childbirth, you are a mother when a child begins to form inside of you. I remember getting some bad results from an ultrasound that lead the doctor to believe that my son would not survive to term. I was devestated. He is 11 years old now and is okay, but reading your story brings back the memories of preparing for the worst. The grief is real. It is not diminished because the child died inside the womb. I pray that someone else's insensitivity would not make you hesitant to mourn the loss of your child. I don't know what else to say except that I think of you often and you and your husband are in my prayers.

Andrea said...

You take the words out of my mouth in so many of your posts. I could go on and on agreeing with you and telling you exactly how I relate, but I think you already know from reading so much of my blog. *HUG*

Teresa said...

I friggin love you so much! I always feel like a sally because I still cry almost every single day and it's almost been a year. It IS crazy how people mourn their pets for so long but mourning a lost baby for "too long" seems so taboo. You touched my heart again Stacey. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post StacEy! :-)
I agree, I don't think we'll ever be completley grief free but I have found that the more time passes the less sharp the grief is.
Perhaps one day it will dull down to an ache we'll be able to live with?

twondra said...

As always, a great post sweetie! And very true. I know I'm not in the same boat as you, but I feel like we lost 4 babies during our IVF and it still hurts so much. I think about them every day.

I know I keep saying this, but I'm sooooo blessed that we met. I'm so glad to have gotten to see you and Chuck and it was great getting to know you better. I've been showing our picture to lots of people. :)

Amy said...

Oh Stacey,

I am so sorry for the losses that you have suffered. You are so right that it seems almost taboo to mention the loss of a baby. I have been through that myself.

I still grieve. I most likely always will. I will not ever have children. The thought of that hits home a little more everyday. But for you I pray that you will NEVER have to face that. We are still mothers just not in the conventional sense, but we are mothers none the less.

I pray that you continue to find strength in the word, and love and support through this blog. I believe for you the family that you have prayed and planned for. I will speak it everyday. God does have a plan for your life, and I beieve for you and with, you that you will have all the blessings that you so deserve.....

Many (((HUGS))) and blessings to you.


Jenn said...

Stace, you have such a gift of writing. Although I have never been in your situation, you draw me in with your words and I feel pain because of your situation. God has really blessed you with a writing ability.

Andi said...

I'm currently doing training classes at a grief resource center and have recently been sharing your blog with particpants. (You are touching even more lives than you know!) Looks like now I'll be sharing Stacy's blog on grief as well! I was so happy to see how she emphasized that passage about Job's friends.

Anonymous said...

I loved reading this, Stacey. I have been on both sides of the coin. I still think about my miscarriage 11 years after the fact. Many people did not even know I had a miscarriage at 12 weeks, because of a mix mess of emotions I had. For me, there was a lot of shame, the crush of pride that came with failure. I'm not sure if that played in to your experiences, but it is still very real to me even now. I still think of the loss as an utter failure, even with all the other successes and blessings in my life. I agree that people feel very uncomfortable with miscarriage and struggle for the right words to say. We told Andy not too long ago about the baby before him, and he struggled with the news. He cried and asked lots of questions. The wound resurfaced for me. So there is no time limit on grief. No one "gets over" something so traumatic. Lots of love to you and Chuck! I think of you often.

I Believe in Miracles said...

Beautifully written Stacey! I'm praying that your weeping to turn to laughter and your mourning to become dancing soon. I know God is continuing to hold you and walk you through your journey.

Amy said...

Beautiful post, Stacey. Thanks for sharing your heart, and your lessons on balance. Yes, there is joy in our hearts. Yes, we mourn and grieve. It is as He intended for us to do.

Connie said...

You know...I was just thinking about ol' Job and his friends. I've often felt like those guys. I've felt such a strong desire to comfort you but didn't know what to do or say. I just HAD to be WITH you. Forgive me for not being the eloquent one in the family and oh so very very often stumbling all over the words I want to say. Know that I would sit with you for seventy times seven days. You're amazing and I love you!

dreambaby said...

What a beautiful thoughtful post.
I read your comment on Tammy's blog and it inspired me to check yours out.
I too, have only lost babies and never given birth to a child of my own.
Prayers and hugs to you, that God will see how special you are and see fit to make you the wonderful mom you are destined for, SOON!

TRS said...

Oh Stacey I'm so sorry!!

I wish more people understood the pain of that loss. Almost all of my closest friends have had miscarriages from their first pregnancies. So I know about their pain, their loss, their fear with subsequent pregnancies.

In fact, when one friend started announcing that she was pregnant the minute she found out -(seriously, no kidding. She took a pregnancy test in the loo in her Grandmother's hospital room, then told Grandma she was pregnant!! Who does that?!) - I worried and prayed for her - almost chastising her for taking it as fact.

Of course, she was the ONE who had NO complications. Everything went perfect.

Another friend miscarried, then concieved again almost exactly a year later! She's due in April -YAY! But she has been so scared for the first part of her pregnancy - she's only just now pretty confident that she'll meet a baby this spring!
I fear saying all this sounds like rubbing salt in your wounds... but what I want to say is... she has a friend who snottily emailed her saying "I had to find out you were pregnant from your mom. How come you didn't tell me?"

To which my friend replied... "That's because Mom can't keep her mouth shut. I wasn't telling anyone (because I'm scared to shit that it won't last.) And oh- I didn't tell you about my previous miscarriage because guess what - it HURTS! It's PAINFUL! Emotionally AND physically and oh - guess what else - it isn't about YOU!"

Jeez, some people!

Gee, I don't know if any of that was a comfort - but hopefully it made you laugh a little - or something you can relate to!!

Anyway, I'm stopping by after seeing your comment - and I wanted to share that our church recognizes all women as mothers on Mother's day because our priest recognizes that 1) we all nurture and 2) many women yearn to be mothers but not everyone is so lucky.

On the other hand, I got word today that Fr. is not going to include a petition for the single because he's not including one for marrieds on Valentine's day.
I can see his reasoning a little - but I think we should have a prayer for singles every week! I mean they pray for the widowed --- and I often feel like a widow without the fond memories!!!

Okay - I'll get out of your hair now!

Love and kisses!

Abe said...

Hi, Sorry for the long lapse in contact - been far too busy for my own good...

Having only lost one IVF pregnancy we have limited experience of what you talk of in this post, but I remember the period immediately after discovering our IVF failure how I didn't feel like I could really tell anyone what was going on at work. But there was no way I felt I could take any time off work to grieve the loss. Yet somehow it was ok for other staff members to have days off cause they were so stricken with grief over the death of a dog. Sure a dog can be a love member of the family, but because our baby hadn't lived a day outside the womb - somehow it didn't deserve time out.

mkwewer said...