Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter.
Somehow, life continues to go on, without my sweet little Gabriel. Sometimes, it seems like a dream. Was I really pregnant, just over a week ago? Did I really just bury my third child a couple of days ago? It seems like someone else's story, like a dream. Part of that is, of course, what you need to do to survive grief. You need to make a space around it, if you are to go forward. I have two other children to raise, a husband to walk beside - I can't spend all my time in tears.
Nighttime is hardest, of course. I've had a number of friends who have had miscarriages or stillbirth reach out to me and remind me that grief is unpredictable and looks different for everyone. Somehow, most of mine seems to come rushing in at night, especially as I lay in bed or on the couch (the two places where I spent most of my time during my HG pregnancy with Gabriel). Then the tears linger in the corners, and my sweet son's loss is all too real.
But there have been some beautiful consolations that have emerged. Flowers and fruit sent to our house. Meals delivered by friends. Fudge from one of the kindest women I have ever known. And a beautiful spiritual enrollment for Gabriel, just like what was given to each of his sisters at their baptism.
And there are my other two children. In the two weeks in between my first and second ultrasound with Gabriel, I was battling both intense anxiety over whether or not he was alive and miserable with hyperemesis gravidarum level nausea. I was not at my finest, and my poor daughters (especially my secondborn) took the brunt of that. But now, after losing Gabriel, I look at my other two children with fresh eyes. I see them, really see them, for the first time in a long time.
I was looking at Therese the other day, and remembering when I was six or seven weeks pregnant with her and had some spotting. I remembering laying on my bed and sobbing, begging God to spare her. He did. I remember how they had a difficult time examining Maria's heart on her anatomical ultrasound, and I spent several weeks in agony, hoping she didn't have some sort of serious heart defect. She didn't. I spent weeks praying for Gabriel, too, but God didn't answer those prayers the way I expected. And some days I really, really wrestle with that.
But then I look at my girls and realize that they are such a blessing. I know dear women who are begging God for even one living child, and I have two. I know of women whose small child is or has been desperately ill. Mine aren't. And I think that, before losing Gabriel, I never appreciated what a miracle that was. I am so grateful for my all three of my children, and I realize what an incredible gift it is to have all three of them, even if I have one of them in my life in a very different way.
I've spent the past week looking into my two year old's eyes and really trying to hear her. And our relationship is completely different than it was a week and a half ago. It also helps that she is probably one of the snuggliest people I have ever meant. When we hiked up to the seminary for their end of the year softball game, that little love wanted to ride on my back in the Ergo. And as we walked, she snuggled the heck out of me. I told Andrew that if I had to have this long wait without a baby, God knew what He was doing by sending me Maria.
Then there is this crazy, wonderful seminary community that we're a part of. There's the fact that it's basically a miracle that they are now our community for the foreseeable future. I can never really share all the intimate details behind it (including some dramatic twists along the way) but it really was a work of the Holy Spirit. God opened doors, windows, storm doors, skylights, and everything you can imagine to enable us to be at the seminary. The other day I told Andrew, "I am so glad that you ended up at the seminary." And he said, without a moment's hesitation, "Me, too."
I spent a good month mostly in bed and on the couch, battling my third go-around with hyperemesis gravidarum. And now, just over a week beyond delivering Gabriel, my episodes of nausea are finally starting to dissipate, and I'm getting my strength back. I was hiking this crazy hill earlier, realized there was a storm coming, and had to run full throttle down the hill to get back to the main trail. As I was walking back to the car, gasping for breath, I realized that that was something I couldn't have done when pregnant. More and more, there are things that I'm doing, food that I'm eating, etc. that can't be part of my life when pregnant. (It's harder for me to even sit upright longer than a few minutes when pregnant, without having a dry heaving episode.) There's a bittersweetness in that - the same relief I experience whenever I have delivered a baby, but the sadness in knowing I would gladly have endured seven more months of nausea if it would have meant having Gabriel.
I'm the kind of girl who sees everything as being black and white. But grief - especially grieving a child, even one as small and young as Gabriel - isn't linear. It isn't clear cut. It is filled with ups and downs. It is filled with unexpected obstacles and inexplicable moments of relief.
I'm learning that all I can do right now is try to trust God (the thing I struggle with the most!!!) and to just keep trying to take baby steps forward.
(I want to throw out one thing, though, because it's something I think most moms who suffer miscarriage don't know. Post-partum depression is possible after a miscarriage. I'm living through my third bout right now, thankfully with abundant support and resources at my fingertips. So be mindful of that, and don't be afraid to ask for the help you need! End of public service announcement.)