The anniversary swooped in like a bat on Halloween night, and I found myself just a couple days away from the 27th of October- the day my husband and I were told our baby no longer had a heartbeat. We were just a few days shy of 20 weeks and finding out the sex of our baby, and even though something seemed amiss, we hoped that the precautionary ultrasound just meant finding out early if my belly contained pink or blue. The next day, I delivered our baby boy, and we left the hospital with empty arms. It was tragic to us as it was the first major loss we had both experienced. I know others have been through far worse which I can’t even begin to imagine.
This year marks year two since that life-altering event, and people say it all the time, but I think it’s true: time heals wounds. Also true is that time never fully takes them away. This year I was feeling especially strong and removed from that horrible October; I even have a ten-month old beautiful baby boy in my arms today. However, the last week has been rough and, well, I found myself sitting on the floor with my back against the couch bawling after a miniscule argument with my husband over the phone. Perhaps grief has a way of sneaking up on us like an unpredicted wave. Here’s five things I’ve learned from [my] loss:
1. Always be careful what you complain about.
A couple months after delivering my angel baby, I was out with some girlfriends. Some of the ladies there I didn’t see as often so I was updating them on what had happened. They asked some hard questions, and as I started to answer one of them I got choked up. I was still healing and the pain was raw. A few minutes later as the conversation had switched, I was standing next a to a friend that was still pregnant at the time. She began to go off about how miserable she is when she’s pregnant. She flippantly explained she was not one of those people that loved it and just couldn’t wait for it to be over. All I could think about was the fact that mine was over, and that I would have given anything to still be pregnant. If I’m being completely honest, this complaining hit a nerve in me and made me feel hurt and angry. I know I have accidentally done the same to others, but I think it’s important to remember that sometimes the very thing we’re complaining about is the same thing someone else so badly desires.
2. Understand that others may be invisibly hurting.
You can see the lady with her head wrapped in a pretty scarf, a child in a wheelchair, or someone with a broken leg, but what you can’t always see is a broken heart. Days after losing our baby, I had to return to normal life. I still felt like I was in some kind of twilight zone, and of course, I didn’t want it to be my new reality. No one checking my groceries at the store, pouring my morning coffee, or cutting me off in a line of traffic knew what I had just gone through. I clung to warm smiles, sweet voices, and kind eyes. Simple gestures of kindness were like medicine for my wound. I try to remember this now. I wonder what kind of day people are having, what rain cloud may be hovering over their life right now that no one knows anything about. I’ll just end it with this quote I’m sure you’ve heard before: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
3. Don’t be too easily offended.
On the flip side of the “I hate being pregnant” scenario, I have to add that sometimes we just need to quit being so dang offended. Yes, I took way too many things personally after our loss. It’s hard not to when your heart has been ripped open, but now that I can see from a different vantage point, I know it was a problem. People often offer suggestions, advice, or something meant to be comforting that comes across wrong or perhaps is just taken wrong. And don’t take other’s happiness personally. What do I mean by that? Realize when something is a “me” problem vs. a “them” problem. For example, shortly after my pregnancy loss it was hard for me to be on social media. I would see pictures of siblings together and I felt offended and hurt. Don’t they know what I just went through? How could they rub that in my face? You know what I realized? This was a me problem. I started to try to be genuinely happy about others blessings even if I was so jealous and hurt I wasn’t experiencing the same thing for myself. And on this same token, don’t take things people say so personally either. Many times people don’t mean what they say and maybe because of our own experiences, insecurities, or doubts we turn it into something it’s not.
4. God takes things away.
Now stay with me for a minute here. I’m thinking of the verse “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away”, but I didn’t fully understand this until now. Shortly after the loss, I would have thought of it this way: God took my baby away for a reason I may never understand. I felt punished at times. I wondered what I’d done wrong. Perhaps I wasn’t ready to be a mom of two. But the truth is clear to me now. I can see now what God gave me; he gave me peace and strength when I didn’t have it. He gave me hope when I had none. And if he took anything away it was hopelessness and depression. His ways are higher, and I know that, but I’ll never forget something my aunt wrote in a card to me after we lost our baby and that is “some things we’ll never understand on this side of Heaven”. I don’t know why God allows certain things to happen for unknown reasons, but I can choose to focus on what He gives.
5. Good people are everywhere.
The news is filled with horror stories of disgusting and filthy people, but you know what the truth is? Beautiful people with souls that match are everywhere. We encountered many on our journey. My doctor sat in the hospital bed with me and played with my pony tail while we waited for the medicine to induce my labor. Our nurse, Shannon, was an angel and even sent us a card a year later. The chaplain at the hospital sad beside my bed, and told me how he lost a baby girl that would have been about my age now. Complete strangers wrote us encouraging messages. We even found a large anonymous check in our mail one day. And one time a complete stranger prayed with me at the store before he even knew our story [for more on that visit this post]. Kind, thoughtful, generous people are everywhere, and I think they just glow that much more when we’re hurting.