I had a miscarriage in the summer of 2008. It was over before I even knew I was pregnant. Six months later, I was pregnant with Theo. So while the pain at the time was very real and pronounced, it was short-lived. Reflecting on it five years ago, I even wrote “everything happens for a reason,” believing that if that pregnancy had carried, I never would have met Theo.
I believed that, then. I don’t believe it now.
There was a shred of me that still believed “everything happens for a reason” when I became pregnant again right away following the loss in September. We knew that something was very wrong with my pregnancy with Nelle due to the growth restriction, but before we even had a chance to process through the possible outcomes, she was gone. I was able to convince myself that becoming pregnant again would minimize the pain of losing her. That some of the ache with passing my due date, holidays, her birthday, could be replaced by the joy of another baby. That had been my experience, however many years before.
And then, without any warning, we lost Iris. And there is was again: the searing, soul-crushing pain of grief. Pain from losing Nelle that had somehow become tolerable by being pregnant with Iris. Now that pain was released, magnified, doubled. I had felt these babies move. I had seen strong, healthy heartbeats. I had ultrasound photos. I had endured months of morning sickness and been wearing maternity clothes. I had to suffer through induced labor and delivery. I have two death certificates. I will have two sets of dates to commemorate each year.
I do not often write about my faith. It seems that in the wake of death that comments about faith are inescapable. People will pour out the words “I am praying for you” or “your baby is in heaven.” Everyone believes what they believe. Me? I do not believe that everything happens for a reason. Not anymore, not even a little bit. I believe in God, and I do not believe that he is punitive. I do not believe that this horrible, life-altering thing happened to us so that we could understand some deeper wisdom of the universe, or emotionally grow as human beings, or that we have been dealt this hand for some past wrong. Sometimes bad, terrible, unfair things happen, and that’s life. And faith is there to help us make the decision to survive it. The faith is simply that I can survive, however changed I may be.
Looking into the future is very, very hard right now. I also do not believe in praying for the things that I want. Praying for something I want feels false, because if something can be granted to me, then it can also be taken away. Life just happens, good and bad. Instead, I find that I pray for acceptance, in a modified version of the Serenity Prayer “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” Though I am nowhere near serene, I have to accept that while I have been pregnant five times, and given birth four times, that I have two living, healthy children. I have moved in and out of many of the stages of grief: denial/isolation, anger, bargaining, depression. I can see the last stage, but I have not yet moved there: acceptance. Acceptance that this did indeed happen to our family. Half of the time it feels like a dream from which I will awake. Acceptance that a third child may not be in the cards for us. Acceptance of the families that surround us that have what they wanted. I am still far away from this stage.
It has taken me hours to write this. More like days, since I began thinking about it earlier this week. I write a bit. I walk away. I come back. I am struggling with the isolation. Returning to work and routine will likely be good for me. Recurring therapy will hopefully keep me balanced. Writing will continue to be an outlet, though I am also struggling with writing about anything other than grief at the moment. But aware, ultimately, that I will go back to the day-to-day recapping of our lives.
Having been through this once before, I know that incrementally each day will become a bit easier. Never the same though. I look at photos from even just a year ago and marvel at my own face. Even photos from two weeks ago have taken on a different meaning. How completely different. How unknowing.
|My four children.|