Each year when young women post their stories for October’s “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month” on social media, I hesitate to share my story of infant loss.
Why? Okay, this is a bit embarrassing.
Well, because it’s been almost 28 years since my daughter, Jacquelyn, was stillborn. I should be over it by now. (What? Did I actually just THINK this ??)
Wait a minute. What ??? I love younger women, and I love to support and encourage and love them through difficult circumstances, and I would never, ever, ever, ever tell anyone whose had a stillbirth, a miscarriage, or even been unable to get pregnant not to worry because eventually they will get over it.
So – why did I just tell that to myself ????
Just as soon as I caught myself thinking 28 years was not worthy of me expressing on social media that my heart still aches, I posted a piece of my story. I’m not looking for “Sorry for your loss” comments. I’m not looking for comments at all. I’m hoping with every fiber of my being I can give someone hope in the midst of their heartache, when in the middle of the night they wake up after an infant loss of any kind, and their arms ACHE so badly that they don’t know how they will get through the rest of the night. Or the next day. Or how they will react when they see their friends’ or family member’s new “bump.” Or how they will scroll through Instagram without being sad when they see the progression of those bumps over the months to come. Or how they will ever be able to hide their sadness, while trying harder than they have ever tried before to do anything, to hold someone’s new baby and express their excitement for them.
This is one of the most difficult, heart-wrenching things I’ve ever had to do! I’m sure it is for you too! Because…….
I so clearly remember. In fact, I have a sore throat right now from holding back tears. And my face is swollen already from the tears that want to come out, but I’ve got to get through this blog.
I remember what it was like when everyone in the room watched me as I handed my teeny tiny baby to the women in white coats who were taking my daughter’s lifeless body from me – forever. I remember standing in the chapel before leaving the hospital and not feeling my knees. I remember no one knew what to say to me. I remember walking out of the hospital. I remember getting in the car. I remember the long drive home from the hospital with no baby.
I remember running into countless people who did not know what had happened, who saw that I was no longer pregnant and wanted to know what I had. How much did she weigh? What was her name? No one said the right thing. No one.
I remember the empty nursery.
I remember my body thinking we brought Jacquelyn home. And I remember that horrible, excruciatingly painful ache in my heart that somehow seemed to radiate to every bit of both of my arms in the middle of the nights. Many of them. They ached. My arms ached so, so badly.
I wish I had the right thing to say. I don’t.
I wish I could tell you time heals this wound. I can’t. It doesn’t.
I wish I could tell you that you’ll have more. I can’t. I don’t know if you will.
I wish I could tell you exactly how long it will take before you go a day without crying. I can’t. We are all different. I’m crying right now.
I wish I had all of the answers and could tell you with great confidence just how long it will take before life is normal again. I can’t. Life is different now. And you will be reminded of that for the rest of your life. Every time someone says, “How many children do you have?” You’ll answer, but inside you’ll know. You’ll just know.
But, there are some things that I CAN tell you with great confidence. But first, let me tell you a story.
I have a 5-week-old grandson. His name is Owen. When my 2-year-old granddaughter came to the hospital to meet her baby brother, she saw nothing in the way of she and that new baby. She never took her eyes off of him from when she realized her Mom was holding him, and she without effort climbed on the bed, stood up, and cupped her little 2-year-old hand so gently behind his teeny tiny head. She was without words and all she could keep repeating was, “Ohhh, ohhhh, baby… baby….” I have never seen a more gentle toddler. Her lips quivered. She was absolutely overwhelmed. It was one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever witnessed.
I realized that day we have these motherly instincts IN us right from the time we are born! My little 2-year-old granddaughter has the heart of a mother already bursting in her. And even now, though she obviously needs supervision around her baby brother, she is so attentive to his needs and overwhelmed by his newborn preciousness. It just blows my mind as I watch her grow.
My point is – it’s just IN US to love our babies. We can’t help it. It’s been in us since the beginning, long before we carried them in our wombs. It was God Himself who knit us together in our mother’s wombs, and it was He who weaved that kind of love in us. No wonder this hurts so badly!
I don’t know why God allows certain things. I don’t have all of the answers. But I do know that He has allowed me countless times, opportunities to walk alongside young women who have lost children, or comfort those who’ve not been able to have any, in ways I otherwise may not have been able to. So 28 years later I’m able to take my grief and use it to comfort others. I’m so grateful for that opportunity!
Though it feels as if no one else “gets it,” and perhaps we may not in the very same way – It is God Himself who puts people in our path who’ve walked nearby roads, through similar circumstances, in order to hold our hands and walk with us, and just listen. He never lets us walk these roads alone. Never. Not only is He there as our Comforter – He gives us each other. Who is near you?
If your arms are aching, perhaps it’s time to take hold of someone’s outstretched hand. And give God the other one. I mean – really, really give Him your hand.
I don’t know why He took His Jacquelyn home, but she was His long before she was mine. I don’t know why He brought your son or daughter home either. But I know He loves you, and I know He knows what He’s doing. Maybe He won’t explain any of that this side of eternity, but please take His hand and let Him comfort you.
As far as you and I ever “getting over” the loss of our babies? Oh my goodness, I pray we NEVER do!