Tuesday, July 15, 2014
We Are Not So Different
I read an article a few days back, and it truly made me think. I wanted to share my thoughts with you, regarding what I read. Hopefully to help you realize that the responses to early grief after losing a baby, are not so very different from the responses you may have when you become a mom for the first time, or any time afterward.
So all those new moms out there, the first time moms, second time or more moms, and even those who have older children, I hope you can relate to this post. Because the reality is that we are really not so different from each other. Some of you may be experiencing what it means to bring a new baby into your home, and others may have to take a trip back down memory lane to remember those days. But bear with me as I try to explain.
Once you bring a new baby into your home, you just never look the same. Not only has your body changed, but now you look tired, worried, and worn. I too look tired, worried, and worn. But I look this way for a completely different reason, even though the truth is that we both worry. You probably worry about meeting all your baby's needs, and wake up often to check that your precious little one is still sleeping soundly. I worry just because, about anything and everything.
You may look exhausted from the lack of sleep that comes along with caring for a new little baby. After all, your tiny one relies on you for everything. You know what it means to provide middle of the night feedings, diaper changes, and lullabies. I too look exhausted. We both know what it means to live on a lack of sleep. The truth is that I hardly sleep at all anymore. I lay awake, forcing my eyes to stay open. I hate sleep. It brings anxiety, nightmares, and restlessness. Laying in bed only reminds me of what I no longer have. The darkness only fuels the pain, and the reality. Caroline no longer rests safely inside of me as I sleep. She used to curl up against my side as I slept. I used to love waking up, feeling her lay all warm and comfortable in my womb. Now as I lay in bed, I am only reminded that something so important is missing. I miss her so much. Sometimes I wake up suddenly, hearing the cry of a baby. Only to realize that there is nothing beside me, except the darkness. There is no precious baby crying, there is nothing there to need me. I am awake all the time. Just like you. We both hear cries in the night, but yours is a beautiful reality, mine just brings heartbreaking pain.
We all went through the pain of child birth, in one way or another. In some way, all babies must make a beautiful entrance into the world! You probably remember that experience with great joy. I too remember that experience with great joy! There is nothing more beautiful and rewarding than bringing a new life into the world. I cannot tell you how many moms have told me that all the memories of pain disappear, when they gaze for the first time at the baby in their arms. I too lost all memories of pain, as I looked at my beautiful baby resting so perfectly in my arms. But the reality is that I would live that day over and over and over again if it was possible. I would give anything to go back to that Tuesday morning. I would go through the pain every day, if only to have her back in my arms again. I would go through that pain everyday, if only to have my purpose as a mom back again. You will remember that day with a smile, and many happy memories. But you have many special milestones to come in the future, and have no need to go back to that day. You will hold your baby in your arms for years to come, not only for that one day. You will have the purpose of being a mom in the days ahead, not just for that one day.
Do you ever feel forgetful? We all suffer at one point or another from pregnancy brain, and then of course mommy brain. It is all a part of having babies, and raising children. But I too suffer from mommy brain, only most days it is tripled by grief. I typically do not know what day it is, they all just blend together. And just like brand new mommies, I probably cannot on most days tell you the last time I have taken a shower. I struggle to remember what I stopped for at the grocery store, and if I moved the clothes from the washer to the dryer. The truth is that we are not so very different, because even after a year of parenthood or a year of grief, we will probably both still feel forgetful.
Do you ever have days as a new mom when you wear your pajamas all day or at least wish you could? Do you ever have days when you just do not make it out of the house? So do I. Does it sometimes seem like a huge task to wash the dishes that are sitting in the sink, or to make a run to the grocery store? It does for me too.
I bet you prepared yourself for motherhood during those 9 months of eager anticipation. You probably thought you knew everything you needed to know about caring for your new baby. I thought that I knew what it would be like to lose my baby. I thought I was prepared. But nothing, absolutely nothing, could have prepared me for what I am going through now. I never could have prepared myself for the pain, the heartbreak, and the grief.
We both have fears. I am sure you worry sometimes if your baby is getting enough to eat, or when it might be the right time to put your baby to sleep in the crib. Is your little baby too warm or too cold? Is your baby sick? I am sure there are many other fears that come along with being a new mommy. Especially on those first few days of bringing your little one home. I too have fears. I am afraid all day while Josh is gone to work, because I worry he may never come back. I am afraid to close my eyes at night, because the nightmares haunt my every breath. I am afraid that each day I move forward, is one day farther away from my little girl. I afraid of the future. We both have fears and worries.
I am sure you have many days, when you just cannot make it out of the house. Things do not always go according to plan, despite your greatest intentions. It is not as easy to just up and run errands, or go out to meet a friend anymore. I am sure that there are many days when you just get nothing done. Your lucky to even get yourself into a clean pair of clothes! Well I have days like that too. Sometimes I have the best intention of leaving the house, but then the sadness hits me like a rock, and I cannot even move. There are moments when I am doing fine, but it only takes a second for those feelings to change. Some days I am just too sad to leave the house. Some days it seems like even the smallest task is completely impossible when the pain in my chest is to overwhelming to even stand. We both have days where it is hard to make it out the door. We both have days when we just do not get anything accomplished that we had planned.
Do you ever gladly except help from others when it comes to caring for your baby? Help with giving baby a bath, changing a diaper, running a load of laundry, or even just an extra set of arms to give you a moments break? Well I need help from others too. Sometimes I just need someone to hold me tight. Sometimes I just need someone to listen. Sometimes I need someone to help me remember to eat. Sometimes I need someone to give me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Sometimes I need a reminder that I still have a purpose, that someone still needs me. You and I both need help sometimes.
In the article I read her words and truly felt like this author was speaking my mind. She said "People tell me all the time how they think they would be or act if this happened to them. They are assured they would be falling apart, more than I am. You must not see me on a regular basis then. I fall apart and then get it back together and fall apart again the next day. Kinda like you did as a first time mom on a daily basis." I am sure that there are times, all throughout parenthood, where you just fall apart. Moments where you wonder what you are doing, if it is right or wrong. There are probably many times where you just feel lost and confused and overwhelmed. But all that is normal, it comes along with the territory of being a mom. But in the moment, knowing that it is normal does not always make it any easier. Going through grief is very similar. There are times when I wonder what I am doing, is it right or is it wrong? There are so many times where I feel lost, confused, and overwhelmed. I have read that it is normal, it comes along with the territory of grief. But in the moment, it really does not feel normal, and it certainly does not make me feel any better.
The truth is that we really are very similar. As the author of the article put it "You have heavy arms. I have heavy arms." Being a new mommy is not easy, but I am sure that it is a wonderful adventure. A day by day learning experience, filled with so many priceless rewards. Being a mommy who has lost her baby is not easy. It is a very difficult experience in so many ways. A day by day learning experience, which sadly does not result in those priceless rewards that truly make all the struggles worth every moment.
New mommy, You and I are going through so many things that are very similar, but the reality is that we are more different than you will ever imagine.
I got the idea for this post, along with many of my thoughts from an article titled "We Are Not That Different: How We All Experience The 4th Trimester, Even In Grief.
This article was so eye opening to me. I had completely expected to be on the other side of this article. I wanted to be the new mommy, experiencing all the joys and unknowns of caring for a newborn baby. But reading this article made me realize, I am not. My journey is so much different, but in some ways, it is just the same. I think that too often, moms who experience the loss of their baby are expected to grieve, but to then move on. But as a new mom you do not just move on with your life, you create a totally new life. A life that now revolves around your baby. It is a great new purpose and meaning for your life. I am also expected to keep moving on with my life. But just like a new mom, I cannot ever go back to my normal life. I now have a new life. My new life does not have all of the fun and beautiful moments to enjoy, but I pray that those will come in the future. My new life involves so much joy, as I remember my beautiful baby. But it also involves a missing heart, a heart that was removed from my life the day she was taken away.
I hope that this post has helped all of us, to see that we are not so different from each other. Maybe in this way we can help each other along the journey that God has placed before us. Supporting each other and caring for each other as we face all of the obstacles, sorrows, joys, and beautiful moments that God gives.