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Thursday, August 19, 2010

The struggle for hope

I cried at my doctor’s appointment today.

My regular doctor had an emergency at the hospital, so I saw the midwife for the first time. She was incredibly nice and upbeat, but came to a pause when she saw this was my third pregnancy with one living child among them.

“Do they know what happened?”

That’s all it took. The tears were streaming down my face before I knew it. I didn’t know what to say, so I just shook my head and swallowed a few times before I could tell her that the final diagnosis was a cord accident…but no one knew for sure.

My sudden tears took her by surprise, I could tell. It was a necessary question, but one I was unprepared for. And, here I thought I was handling things so well. It struck me then that I hadn’t talked about my grief out loud in quite a while. I’ve blogged about it, thought about it some, shed a few tears. I thought it was testament to how far I had come in the grieving process these last months, the fact that I didn’t really need to talk about it anymore.

In reality, the band aide of my silence had been ripped off unexpectedly – leaving my festering and previously buried pain wide open, exposing it even more to the plain fact that I’m afraid. A fact that I had ignored with the help of my silence. If I don’t talk about it, maybe it isn’t real. If I don’t speak the words out loud, they won’t have an impact this time around.

It’s time to put my big girl panties on and face reality. Today’s unexpected breakdown was of my own making and not only unacceptable to me, but probably unavoidable as well. I can’t expect to avoid situations like this while acting as I do.

So, now for another truth: I am currently in “coin” status. I’d like to think I’m a quarter, but with the respect I’ve given to the loss of my son these last few months…I think a penny would be more apt. A wooden one, at that.

One side of me is the happy every day wife, mother and friend. I’m not the woman who lost her child; I’m not a grieving mother. I’m functioning, pregnant and looking towards a bright and happy future.

The other side is the side left unturned: I don’t show it anymore. Because it hasn’t been exposed to sunlight, it’s become dark, dingy and ugly. I don’t look too closely at it, but I know it’s there…I can feel it. Just beneath the surface. I can hide it, but I can’t erase it – so, I ignore it.

The result? Days like this, where me – the coin – suddenly gets that unexpected flip, that slap in the face that my reality isn’t what I made it to be in my head. I AM a woman who lost her child; I AM a grieving mother. These things cannot be divided from me or hidden, because they are now a part of who I am…and cannot be separated. All of me.

So, then I ask myself…how did I let this separation happen? Honestly, I get tired of being “the loss mom”. I don’t want that to be all that I am – most days, I don’t want that to be any part of me. That’s not realistic. What I’m dealing with here is the struggle between moving on without leaving the past behind. Who does that??

WE do that. Loss mothers do that. It’s a fragile mingling of our future lives while incorporating our loss into it in a healthy way. Remember without being devastated. Look back without losing it. Make our lost children a cherished and loved member of our family without reliving “the day” or the months following.

I’m not there yet, obviously. I’m still learning how to intertwine these two events – past and future – without becoming disillusioned, set back or grief struck.

The day will come when peace will find me. I still search my heart for forgiveness every day. I beg Brayden for forgiveness. I hope with everything that I am that I won’t have anything to ask of this new life we are creating, save that he grow big and strong and fight with everything he has to overcome my fear that I will fail him.

Tonight, I’m going to let the side unturned be turned. I can’t promise anything beyond saying I’m going to keep trying to find my balance. Maybe there isn’t one…but it’s worth looking and fighting for.

I’ve read blogs and stories from loss moms who are years and years out from their loss…and thought, “I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want to feel this way for the rest of my life. I don’t want to live each day remembering the horror and sorrow.” But, how to avoid it? Maybe I can’t.

This is my journey to find out. I started this blog to give other mothers hope that life does continue after a devastating loss. There is hope. Now, I’m realizing that although I’ve been candid and honest throughout this process, hope doesn’t come so easily. Time doesn’t just hand you a basket of hope after a while. Before hope, there is peace; before peace, there is forgiveness; before forgiveness, there is acceptance; before acceptance, there is anger; before anger, there is sorrow.

Sorrow; anger; accept; forgive; peace; hope.

I still battle between the first two…sometimes visit briefly on the third. I still have a long way to go, and rushing it will do no good. Time is a factor that bounces in-between these things, so in the end…only time will help give me what I need, if I have the courage to work through the rest.

Hope is there waiting for me – patiently - and I’m slowly making my way there.


  1. Bless your sweet heart. I just came across your blog and I am so, so sorry about your loss. We share many feelings.

    Something that has scared me since my son died was knowing how this will change my life forever and that knowledge comes first-hand from my mother. She died a few years ago herself, but since Matthew has died, old family wounds have come back to light. 32 years ago, my mother gave birth to my sister...who was born still at 39 weeks due to a cord accident. (They sadly and scarily run in our family.) As my mother was dying (breast cancer), we talked of her plans for her death. She wanted to be cremated and have her ashes spread over the grave of my sister. At the time (7 years ago), I was angry that she could choose her dead, hardly-known child over the three of us, her living and raised children for something like that. (That's how things were so long ago...babies who died weren't talked about or acknowledged, really...they were just those babies our moms had that had died before they got to be 'real'--obviously my heart grieves the loss of my sister in a way it never did before.)

    I had no idea of what she'd gone through in those years after my sister died, because though it certainly was not immediate, eventually, the mother I remembered from before was mostly the mother I had after.

    In hindsight, I know she was drastically different...but as a child, who knows? My mother laughed and enjoyed life and I didn't know much differently...but as an adult, in talking to her about her final wishes, I realized that she still, 25 years later, was grieving the child she lost so much that she wanted to rest with that child forever. Then I couldn't realize that didn't mean she loved us, her living children, any less...just how much she loved the one who left us far too soon.

    And I know that my heart will always, always feel the same about my Matthew...it is a battle, and you are right--rushing it will do no good because I think time just allows us to acclimate to what our lives have become...but certainly doesn't heal anything.

    But the hope IS there...and it's ok to embrace it as it comes.

    Thank you for sharing your story...thoughts and prayers to you.

  2. Lori - I'm so sorry for your loss as well, and the loss of your mother. This road we walk is not an easy one, and we did not choose it. I can sympathize with her wishes, having given her life so fully to her family and wanting her final resting place to include the one she didn't get to see in this life. I hope you found peace in her decision, and maybe in some small way it helps you to deal with your own tragic loss. HUGS <3

  3. You have written the words that I have been feeling! Lately, there are two sides to me. The "I am a functioning, pregnant again, mommy" and the other "I don't want to be a mommy with a dead baby". The feelings are always there, just not as talked about...whether is from lack of opportunity (cuz not a lot of people ask about Amelia anymore!) or just the MASK I seem to have mastered putting on.

    Well said ~ your post is well said!

  4. I think I'm still stuck at the forgive part. It will be a real hurdle to get over that one. Who knows how long? Who knows?

    My coin was flipped a couple of weeks ago and it brought me way down...so unexpected...but you said it. This will happen until I find peace. Your post had a way of putting it so I could make some sense of where I'm at. Thanks so much. I'm still so troubled but like you it hides beneath the surface and comes and goes as it wants to...so hard.

    Today Julia would have been 4 months old if born on her due date. I miss her something terrible.

    Thanks Dawn, I'm sending you lots of hugs. :) XOXO