It’s Just Not That Easy

I know I’ve mentioned a couple of phrases or questions that make me cringe, but today I’m going to address one that I loathe. I’m a firm believer in forgiveness, so if you’ve asked this question to me or someone else, I forgive you. You don’t need to email me to apologize for it. You don’t need to comment saying that you had no idea this was hurtful. You just need to never ask it again. Ever. Why? Two reasons. 1) You have zero idea the reproductive history of the person you’re asking (even if you think you do–miscarriages and infertility are not always obvious) and 2) It is none of your business.

“Are you going to have any more children?”

Variations include “When are you all going to have kids?” “When is So-and-so going to become a big brother?”

When someone asks me when Benji is going to be a big brother, I just say “It’s not that easy for us” and move on. I’d like to hand them a copy of what I’ve written below…

Besides burying my son, being pregnant with his brother was the most terrifying experience of my life. I can’t speak for other parents out there, but I think when something takes the life of one of your children, you live with a fear that something awful will happen to the one(s) you have left. I’m convinced that fear never really goes away, but I think, for me, the worst of it is behind me. “The worst of it” left me clinically depressed and underweight. If you’ve seen me lately, you’d know I’ve managed to overcome one of those things.

At ten weeks pregnant, we were in the center of town raising money for the children’s home when I had a major hemorrhage. We flagged down an out-of-service cab, headed for the hospital, and called my doctor–that succession of events sounds way less frantic and scattered than it was, trust me. I cried on the way there. I sobbed when I saw my doctor (the same doctor who delivered Silas) and she assured me that sometimes this kind of thing happens.

To my absolute shock, the ultrasound confirmed that our baby was okay. It also confirmed that something wasn’t quite right and I was sent home with orders to get in bed and stay there. The next six weeks were iffy, at best. I’d have a few good days when it would seem like everything was normal, then I’d have a couple of days when I was certain no baby could survive what my body was doing to it. Because I was so scared of losing our baby, I had a very hard time connecting with it.

I’m not sure when it happened, but the lonely days laying in bed started to get to me. Blake continued teaching classes and serving as the interim minister at a local church. He tried to be with me as much as he could, but it was never enough. I was terrified that something would happen every time he left the house. The four walls of our bedroom felt like a prison cell. I read books. I watched t.v. I posted on message boards. I did everything I could to keep my mind off of my situation, but it didn’t work.

Not knowing what was happening inside of my body was so difficult. Being powerless to prevent another tragedy was maddening. I couldn’t sleep at night, afraid something would happen while I was sleeping. I couldn’t eat. Instead of starting to gain pregnancy weight, I lost fifteen pounds. I wanted to eat for the baby, but I could only stomach a few spoonfuls of mashed potatoes or a few sips of Gatorade. I got what felt like a stomach virus a couple of times, but I’m convinced now that it was just nerves. Even though I don’t believe God deals with death, I begged God to take me if the baby didn’t make it. That way, I reasoned, I could be with both of my babies. When I started wondering if I even wanted to live if the baby didn’t make it, I probably should have told someone. But I didn’t. I continued to suffer in silence.

Going to the clinic for appointments was a nightmare. Before each one, I’d have to walk past the room where Silas was born, the nursery he never slept in, and down the hall to the room where my doctor first couldn’t find his heartbeat. We’d find our way to the waiting area and I would stare at the floor, shaking. Blake would hand me his phone to play on or take my hand in his own, but it didn’t help. One time we heard a baby crying down the hall. I sat there choking down silent sobs, tears running down my hollow face.

At my last appointment before I returned to the United States, my doctor handed me a prescription for Zoloft. I was grateful that she took note of my tormented state and did something about it. I was relieved that the burden of suffering from depression and anxiety was no longer an untreated secret. I knew I needed help.

That’s a snapshot of what pregnancy after loss (PAL) looks like. Every moment of it is terrifying, as you try to appreciate what you have at any given moment. For me, the struggle was worth it and I have sweet Benji now. Sadly, not everyone gets a happy ending to their PAL. Lightning does strike twice, three times. It’s heart-breaking and it’s unfair.

Will Blake and I have more children one day? It’s just not that easy.

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Joy After Unspeakable Heartbreak

A year ago I called my eight-year-old niece to wish her a happy birthday. Or so she thought. It just so happened that her birthday fell on a day that I desperately needed to call my sister. Since I needed to call my sister at 6:30 in the morning, I decided to play it cool and act like I was calling MaryGrace. That day, on Facebook, I posted “Today I am grateful for the niece that gives me hope that there can by joy after unspeakable heartbreak. I need that today. Happy 8th Birthday, MaryGrace!” Continue reading

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Calling My Big Sister

I remember, well, the day Blake and I saw two pink lines appear on the home pregnancy test. I had left the test in the bathroom and paced back and forth in the hall. Blake had stopped my pacing for a hug and, I’m sure, a quick prayer. I peered into the bathroom from around the corner, as if the test would work better if it didn’t know I was watching. I saw the lines, ran into our room and shrieked “What does two lines mean?” We didn’t have the forethought to read ahead of time what we were looking for, but it didn’t take too long for Blake to find the answer. Continue reading

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When “Bad” Days Really Aren’t

The following is what I consider to be a “word vomit.” Grammar, spelling, and other things that I normally feel are important are not espoused in what is below. I change tenses. Several times. I use periods. Where I shouldn’t. I would go back and edit, but I’m tired and I want an ice cream bar. Feel free to fix it in your head, or edit it and send me your revisions. I will happily re-post a cleaner version. : ) Continue reading
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Piles of Clothes

There are times in this journey, when my grief pops up out of nowhere. Sometimes I nod my head to acknowledge it. Sometimes I run past it to something else to occupy my mind and body. Sometimes I am paralyzed by it, unable to focus on anything other than what death has taken from me. Continue reading

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What’s in a name?

I meant to re-post this a few days ago… Here’s a recent blog by Blake.

Thoughts of a Recovering Seminarian

As many of you know, our family grew a little larger on October 17 with the birth of Benjamin Young. As you also know, our family, while bigger, is still incomplete as we continue to mourn the loss of our dear Silas, who would have turned one today. Some will say that having Benjamin (Benji) makes it all better. They think that Benji can in some way erase all the pain of losing Silas; that our grief will be erased by the birth of our second son.

That’s simply not the case. 

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A year ago

As I sit and watch my newborn son try to figure out thumb-sucking, I can’t help but think of his older brother. Would he have preferred his thumb or a paci or would he have cared for either? It seems that whenever Benji, as young as he is, expresses an interest or preference, I think of Silas. Would Silas have been stubbornly opposed to breast-feeding? Would Silas have preferred to be swaddled with his arms tucked in or out? Would his hair be strawberry blonde like mine was or orangey red like Blake’s? Continue reading

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