Due date

Photo by Vicki Putnam Photography

Photo by Vicki Putnam Photography

From the moment the home pregnancy test shows that a new bundle is on her way, most moms-to-be  are already trying to figure out the day not so far in the future they will get to meet the new love of their life. The due date. Not always so scientifically accurate and little daunting at times, that red circle on the calendar at least gives the aches and pains of pregnancy a foreseeable climax, a GOAL. But, what if that pregnancy ends before the due date? What if your baby dies? Then that day, the circle that is still prominent on the calendar, becomes a dreaded moment in the future. It’s a day of thoughts of what could have been. It’s a day that, for me, all the feelings I had managed to sort through over the last 8 months come flooding back, with force.

Blue’s due date is today, Tuesday October 14. I kept telling myself that because this is the day before my 32nd birthday and because it falls right in the middle of my favorite month of the year, I would be able to distract myself right out of being sad. And then, I went to Bible study and “my girls.” They just know how to get the ugly cry right out of ya! So, the truth has been revealed and it is…I am so sad. I miss my baby. I miss the little girl I know she would have been and I miss that I won’t ever get to hold her or feed her or smile at her or tell her sweet little face that I love her. I won’t get to watch her and Chuck play and fight and squabble over clothes like sisters do. I won’t get to buy her first Halloween costume or take newborn pictures. Saddest to me is that I won’t get to see her whole and perfect and living….HERE.

I was so lovingly reminded by “my girls” that all of those things, all of that sadness is relevant…here. Here in this life, I will miss her. I will mourn her and she will be a tiny hole in my heart. But, some glorious day, I will get to hold her and see her and tell her I LOVE her, in Heaven. When my Heavenly Father can hold me and tell me himself that HE loves ME, I will be able to do the same for my baby. Until that day, I will hold fast to the promise that Jesus made to His disciples, that He would go and prepare a place for them (and me) in His Father’s house, so that someday, they (I) may dwell there with Him. (John 14:3) What a beautiful promise that is!

Like what you read? Share the love:

Heartbreak and Healing: a Papa’s persepective on baby loss and what comes after

I have been hoping to share a guest post from Hfoe for a long time now, but between his work schedule and the crazy antics of one little Miss Chuckles, the opportunity just hadn’t presented itself…until now. Considering that today is Father’s Day, I thought it would be completely appropriate to have my sweet husband explain, from his daddy heart, just what the loss of our baby Blue was like for him. I know many men aren’t able to fully express how hard life stuff affects their insides, but Hfoe was blessed with a pretty great way with words. So, I hope for anyone, any papa, who has lost a baby and also those who are expecting another after their loss, his words can be a source of camaraderie and comfort.


“I told you it wasn’t going to take long.”  That was the first thing I told Cara when I found out we were pregnant. I’m going to tell you how she let me in on her secret because this story could use as much humor as possible. I had arrived home from work and as often happens after a long ride on the L.A. freeway system, I spread some love and cheer to my two lovelies when I walked in the door then made my way to the restroom. As I was taking care of business so-to-speak I heard the mmm mmm mmm that lets me know I have received a text message. I dug into my pocket to retrieve my phone and there was a photo of my a fore mentioned lovelies, but something was up. I got the message right away. In the photo, my littlest lovely was wearing a new t-shirt that said “World’s Best Sister”. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised at all, even though we had only tried, in my opinion once (the wife says twice.) What did surprise me was the time and place that Cara chose to spill the beans. Evidently my rush to the commode had dashed her original plans, but she couldn’t wait any longer. 

   From that moment, I was over the moon with anticipation. I started talking and singing to our newest creation from the second the secret was revealed to me.  I was so sure that everything was going to be perfect that I didn’t waste any time before spreading the news to family and friends. After all we had gotten through the scares of our first gestational experience relatively unscathed. There was a crazy, beautiful little girl running around my house, reminding me every day that everything would be O.K.  There was a point in the first pregnancy when the Doctor couldn’t find little Chuck’s heart beat and yet hear she was. So what could possibly go wrong with our latest attempt to add to our family? 
   I still don’t know what exactly went wrong, but something definitely did. I honestly don’t remember how my lovely wife told me that something was wrong. I do remember that watching her heart break from the inside out nearly killed me. I do remember that the feelings I was trying to deal with while trying to be everything she needed me to be, nearly killed me. One of the toughest things to do was let myself grieve. I hadn’t been carrying this child. It wasn’t living off of my blood and breath and yet it was still mine.   
What a confusing place to be. My wife needed me and I needed her. There were times when we held each other and wept, there were times when I just had to let her be. I think those were the toughest for me. I’m a fixer, yet I couldn’t fix her, I couldn’t fix me and I most certainly couldn’t fix the baby we were losing. 

 
   Seeing her so mad, so very angry at the world for things that were out of control was heartbreaking. I knew she didn’t mean things that sometimes came out. I knew that I could never understand what was happening inside her. I prayed with everything that I had for patience and healing and love. I felt like a jerk for feeling like
“What about me? I’m losing something here too, you know?!!!” For the most part I choked those feelings down and really tried to be the husband that I knew needed to be. Even if I couldn’t fix things I could at least assist in the healing. 

 I would love to say that I am a new man and the grief is gone, but that would be a lie and a disservice to anyone who has gone through this. I know we all handle this type of thing differently, but the truth is, it just plain SUCKS. The other truth is, and I firmly believe this, the Lord has used this experience to not only strengthen my marriage, but more importantly strengthen my faith in Him. There were times when I wanted to run, when I wanted to drink, when I wanted to rip the door off of my house and throw it into the street, but I didn’t. I prayed and prayed and prayed and God gave me strength that I didn’t know I had. He gave me clarity when I was confused. He gave me patience when I was hurt and angry. He revealed to me what I was supposed to be for the woman He put in my life. I hope I did it right. I can’t be the judge of that, maybe my wife could tell you.

   Shortly after we lost our baby we were blessed with another pregnancy. Everything has gone without a hitch, at least physically speaking. I still struggle emotionally, trying to connect with the baby bump that grows every day. I know in time things will feel more normal and I’m confident that this pregnancy will be without major issues. Hopefully next time I share my perspective it will have to do with juggling a crazy, beautiful toddler and a newborn while trying to let Mama get some sleep.
 


 

With love in my heart,
HFOE

 

P.S. 
If there are any husbands who are dealing with this and would like more input, I’d love to offer any help that I can. 
  Don’t be afraid of what you are feeling, you are losing something too.
Like what you read? Share the love:

7 Things I Have Learned Through Grief

I have been keeping a running journal in my head for the last couple of months about little life lessons learned through grief. In my head it’s titled, “Laugh, cry, make inappropriate jokes.” But here, I will keep it simple.

1.       It may come in stages…all at once

When you are pregnant, people kind of expect you to be crazy, laughing one second and crying into a Kleenex in the next. But, when your baby dies, I think laughing weirds some people out. For me, it’s a coping mechanism. I found it kind of confusing that I would be sobbing in wretched pain at the thought of what was happening when a flash of anger so strong would hit me that I couldn’t stand to be around another human for fear of lashing out. Then two minutes later I would say something about my uterus being an inhospitable chamber of doom to any fetus who chose to take up residence and my poor husband would nervously chuckle, not sure if this was another one of my shock value “jokes” or if I was truly ready to launch myself off the nearest cliff. Man, grief is exhausting! But, I think we have finally made it to the final stage- acceptance, mostly intact, ailing reproductive organ humor and all.

 

2.       You are not alone

You know how before you buy a car, you look around and you think, “I’m going to get a Nissan Sentra. It’s a sensible family car and I don’t see 4,000 of them on my commute every day.” Then you buy a Nissan Sentra and you see 5,000 of them on your commute EACH WAY. Or, like me, you thoughtfully choose a traditional, yet UNcommon name for your baby girl and once she is born you meet 5 other babies in your immediate circle with that same name? Grief is like that. Before you go through something terrible, it seems like those things are so horrible and rare. You may even think, “Gosh, how in the world would I cope if that was me?” And then it IS you and all the other grieving folks come out of the woodwork and your eyes are opened to just how common this really is. It’s both sad and comforting to suffer together.

 

3.       People still say cliché things

“Everything happens for a reason, dear.” “God only gives you what you can handle.” “I’m sure God will bless you with another baby in time. He just needed this one in heaven.” Those are just a few of the gems I have heard, not including scientific reasoning and urgings to just move on. I could write a whole novel of what NOT to say to someone going through a miscarriage or, really, ANY grief. But, I won’t. For the most part, people are well-meaning and loving and just trying to help. You have to give them the benefit of the doubt and just know that at one time, YOU were probably the one making trite comments. I know I have been! But, if I take one lesson away from this experience, I hope it is that the only truly sincere, helpful response to a person going through such deep, lonely waters is, “I’m so sorry you are going through this.” You can add on, “I will pray the Lord heals your heart,” as long as you truly mean it, but don’t say it and then walk away to forget. I cherished prayers from friends, because in the midst of the pain, my prayers didn’t sound very coherent. The Lord is the best healer and only HE has the correct words. So, rather than stumble around, leave it to the Master.

 

 4.       You don’t have to answer the door

Usually on Sunday mornings I am at church bright and early, but during the miscarriage and for a couple weeks following, I just couldn’t pull myself together to face our church family. So, I stayed home and learned this lesson….just because they knock doesn’t mean I have to answer. I saw them walking up the driveway because the blinds were open and I was sitting alone on the couch watching Dr. Charles Stanley. It was probably too late; I’m sure they saw, but I dashed to the bedroom anyway, frustrated with myself that I hadn’t turned the volume down on Dr. Stanley. They knocked once and my heart raced. I imagined these two suited men standing on my porch, feeling hurt that I was avoiding them because surely they knew I was home. They knocked again and I had to physically restrain my puffy-faced, snot and tear laden self from feeling the conflicted obligation to both open the door for these Mormon brothers because I was home on a Sunday and the distinct fear to, because of course I already go to church….well, not today. But usually. Oh, the snot? Yeah, sorry about that. I promise I’m not a heathen. In the end, they left and I sighed, relieved and guilty. I will have to apologize if they come around again (NOT on a Sunday, of course) but I think at the time I did the right thing.

 

5.       Coffee will SA-A-AAVE your soul

My favorite scene in any Friends episode is always when they come together in Central Perk. Some of the best one-liners are dropped over a cup of joe. I think the same is true in life. Especially in the midst of grief! Although, my hair never looks as good as Jennifer Aniston’s, I learned an entirely new appreciation for a hot mug of java as my closest friends gathered around to comfort me during my grief. Of course, we brought the coffee shop to my house, but there really was nothing better to lift my spirits than a text that said, “I’m stopping at the ‘bucks. What can I get you? I’m coming over.” In the comfort of my own poorly lit living room I could freely cry and giggle and make uncomfortable broken womb/dead baby jokes to those who know my true heart and could cry and giggle right along with me. No judgment. No pity. Just hugs and encouragement and sometimes, complete empathy. Ok, so maybe it’s not the coffee alone that will save you, but the warm trickle down your throat into your cold, dark shell will surely start the process!

 

6.       Kids give two flips about grief

Being sick while taking care of a sick kid is pretty much the absolute worst state of parenting I have personally experienced. Parenting while grieving is like that, except the kid feels fine and still wants to jump on you and run with you and be read to in high pitched, squealy voices. Hfoe, bless his heart, was the most perfect partner during everything because he took over many “mama” duties despite his own pain, so that I could recover. But, there is no substitute for “mama milk” and just when I thought all the life had left me, she would latch and suck out a little more. It reminded me of a saying I saw on a sports motivation poster once, “When you think you’ve given your all, give a little more.”  But, looking down at her sweet, quiet, suckling little face sure did fill my heart with love. Tons and tons of love. And after all, isn’t love the Neosporin to grief?

 

7.       The tears don’t last forever, but the ache might…and that’s ok.

It’s been two months since I started bleeding and I no longer cry every day. In fact, I don’t cry most days and it feels nice. The first day I didn’t feel the lump in my throat I remember clearly. Chuck and I were at the mall one beautiful Saturday morning while her Papa was at work. I just needed to return a couple of things and I decided since she was being a trooper, we would grab lunch while we were there. As we chewed our French fries, I looked over at my beautiful, growing, spunky little girl and I thought about what her sister may have looked like. I thought about how they may have been best buddies and how Chuck would have loved to “help” with the baby. I remember smiling and feeling a little pang in my chest, but no lump rose up in my throat, no tears welled in my eyes. It was nice. I realized at that moment that remembering and honoring our little blueberry didn’t mean I had to live in a state of depression over her. I could still live my beautiful life and love every second of what God has blessed us with. That wasn’t a disservice to her or a neglect of what was. It was actually the best way to honor her memory…with love and joy. And, it is the platform for moving forward. I am thankful for that day.

 

 

 Ultimately, through this grief process I have learned so much about myself and my family, life and love and our heavenly Father above. I appreciate the overwhelming comfort we have received in the way of cards, letters and books to read. People are good. So, so good. And maybe that is the purpose of grief….to remind us of that.

*Sidenote…a book that has been SO comforting to me through this is Safe in the Arms of God: Truth from Heaven About the Death of a Child. I absolutely recommend it to anyone looking for scriptural truth regarding the fate of their child in Heaven.

Like what you read? Share the love: