Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What Not To Say Part VI: The Grieving Friend

Grief; deep sorrow, especially that caused by someones death. Misery. Sadness. Anguish. Pain. Agony. Heartbreak. Desolation. Despair. Torment.

Those words are so real to me.

Maybe they are to you, too....

And I was going to wait for this post because some might see it as a cry out from me or a complaint... But really, I just have too many hurting friends. It's needed.... I needed it then and they need it now.

Grief is what I believe to be the most raw and unforgiving emotion in existence. It follows you.... a dark shadow that you wish you could run from. In moments when the light seeps in, you know in the back of your mind that it's still right around the corner... waiting. It's a memory full of now fruitless hopes and dreams... a wish that came true in the cruelest of ways.

A lifetime without feeling the reality of those words wouldn't be long enough.

There isn't a rule book or a simple 'hot-to' for the walk through grief.

And there really isn't a rule book that outlines what to say to someone who is grieving.

Holding someone to any kind of standard in the cycle of grief just doesn't seem fair.... it isn't fair....

but in our purest desire to comfort and console, I've learned that sometimes.... just sometimes... a phrase that feels gentle and positive on it's way out.... can feel abrasive and painful on the receiving end.

I spent the past 7 weeks trying my hardest to wade through the never-ending tide of grief as I find my new normal without our precious #3. I have felt supported and encouraged by so many friends and family members who have soldiered around me to offer their strength in moments when I have none... in moments when the tide is coming and I just don't know if I'm going to find a way to move in time. The waves of sadness and anguish are often-times unexpected and they can be overwhelming... but they're always allowed.

"I'm praying for you." "I'm here if you need me." "What can we do to help?" "How are you holding up?"

But there's one.... that one comment that seems to be the most encouraging and uplifting on the surface.... and it's the one that carries the most potential to cause even deeper hurt.

"Aren't you so thankful for the 2 babies that you do have?"
"Just look at everything you have been blessed with."
"Doesn't this make you even more grateful?"

The most common response to grief.... coming from a place of concern... sinks into a place that cues guilt and shame.

As soon as those words are uttered, the conversation is over. The person who is hurting has no choice but to move on from the conversation ... a conversation that was necessary and needed.

"I'm so thankful for them!" "I am so blessed!" "I've never been more grateful!"

but the words hang close, leaving the taste of an implied sense of failure in the one who is grieving...

Those comments carry within them a challenge of sorts.... an "I dare you", so to speak.

The griever hears something completely different...

"How dare you focus so much on the loss of this baby when you have 2 right in front of you?"
"When will you move on and enjoy the things you do have?"
"Let's stop talking about this and talk about something else."

they carry the implication that your sadness isn't fair to your family.... or that you're taking too much time to grieve.... or that the moment is gone and it's time to move on...

But the thing about grief?

Rehashing over and over again to you.... is healing to them. Repetitious darkness and sadness to you... turn into a balm of hope and enlightenment for them.

How can I support someone wading through the quick-sand of grief?

One of my very best friends had distanced herself some in the week or so after our miscarriage and one day her text came...

"I just don't know what to say. I know you're hurting and I wish I could help but I don't know how. It's ok to hurt. I'm so sorry, Lindsay."

And that was enough. No expectations. No instructions or suggestions.

When grief consumes you, the permission to hurt keeps you afloat... but it's the knowledge that you'll never be left alone, no matter how much time passes or how long the sadness lasts or who you are on the other side, that brings the most healing to someones heart.

The day before Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world (John 3:16), he asked his closest friends to sit with him in the garden of Gethsemane while he prayed and the Bible says that he 'plunged into an agonizing sorrow."


"This sorrow is crushing my life out of me. Stay here please, and keep watch over me."

Jesus didn't want to be alone. He didn't ask for his friends to help him devise a plan or want them to fix the inevitable.

While Jesus grieved... in the moments when he was wrecked with anguish and torment over what he was facing, his friends got bored. They fell asleep.

"Can't you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay awake for me!"
(Matthew 26:36-46)

Being the friend of someone in pain is not a job to be taken lightly... even Jesus' request for support in his darkest hour was too much for his friends to handle. It's hard. Walking this kind of path with someone can turn into a long-term position.... and it can be just as hard for the friend as it is for the one in need.

So you ask again...

How can I support someone wading through the quick-sand of grief?

Let them hurt. Remind them often that you hurt because they hurt. Be with them. Stay awake and alert.

And one day... hopefully not too soon... but one day... you'll have the most amazing friend keeping watch for you.


Click below to read through the What Not To Say series...

Part I: What not to say to someone struggling with infertility

Part II: Infertility Part II

Part III: What not to say to an adoptive parent

Part IV: What not to say to a birth mom

Part V: What not to say to a waiting, hopeful adoptive parent

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day... Will you share your baby with me?

I wanted to find a special way to acknowledge Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day and a few words continue to float through my mind and my heart...

Embarrassment. Guilt. Quiet. Sadness. Fear.

We lost our precious #3 2 years ago, but the pain is still fresh... I've travelled through feeling embarrassed that my body couldn't do what it was 'supposed' to do. I've carried the weight of guilt on my own shoulders that a precious life is missing from our family. I've isolated certain people... and sadness continues to be a common theme throughout some of my days. I'm scared that our #3 will one day be forgotten.

We've received so much support since sharing our story and I've been floored and honored by how many women have in turn, shared their losses with me... but some of them are women I know. Women I know really really well. But I didn't know about the most precious part of their heart that is missing.

Why is that? Why the silence and secrecy about the babies that our hearts break for every day?
Hundreds of organizations are spending today celebrating and remembering the lives of the missing pieces of our world.... of our hearts. Families will release balloons or butterflies in honor of their sweet baby. As sweet as those celebrations are, thousands of woman... like me... just aren't in a place to make their day of remembrance that public... that big.

But our babies deserve to be remembered. WE deserve to honor them and remember them...
So here... in the safety of this blog... of my own haven...

Will you share your baby with me?

It's a tall order... it might take you a while to share... and sometimes our memories are painful... but will you?

I would love nothing more than to fill today with the memories of our babies.

Leave a comment here or on Facebook introducing us to your sweet pea.... don't just copy and paste a previous blog post... take a second to really remember.  Tell me your story or simply give me a name or date... does a specific quote or verse remind you of your baby? Tell me.

Remember your baby today~ shamelessly, without guilt or fear or embarrassment... I know that the sadness is inevitable but I would love nothing more than to 'meet' your angel today!
And if you're really brave, introduce your angel to your friends and family; let the world know that we're not a statistic... We're mama's and daddy's who have pieces of our hearts waiting for us in Heaven!

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Hunter Update.... "Your Son May Never Walk..."

(If you're new to Hunter's story and the miracles of his life, please start here and then head over here)
10 weeks premature.
Resuscitation at birth.
A fatal heart condition.
Cerebral Palsy.
If the heart condition didn't kill him, a rare metabolic disorder that would.

If you know Hunter's story, you know that this list has changed significantly over the past 18 months... Hunter's heart condition is gone and he doesn't have CP or a metabolic disorder. Hunter's miracles.
I know I've said it before but... we were ok with that list.
Yes. It's a scary list. Yes. In a way, we signed up for it. Yes. We were terrified.

But our fear... it wasn't for us. It was for Hunter.
The lessons we've learned over the past 18 months... the numerous ways we've been stretched and challenged and tested... are life-changing.
The miracles God has preformed in the past 18 months... the one's He continues to shower down on our son... are life-giving.
I have never known someone as hard-working, as determined, and as hard-headed as Hunter. His work ethic would be considered unheard-of for a middle-aged, successful adult. His determination and his fighter instinct are why he is alive.
You see... when your life begins as Hunter's did, nothing comes 'natural'. That word just doesn't seem to exist in his world.
Eating never came naturally. Sucking on a pacifier never came naturally. Rolling over and sitting up never came naturally. Crawling? Pulling up? Squatting? Going from crawl to sit or sit to crawl or crawl to pull up or pull up back to sit or ...
everything he 'shouldn't' have ever been able to do....
they didn't come 'naturally' to him.
We have seen him work for every single thing that he does; from breathing.... to sucking on a pacifier.... to breathing and sleeping at the same time... to using a bottle... to breathing and sucking from a bottle at the same time... to holding a bottle... rolling over... sitting up... crawling... using a spoon... chewing... pulling up...
The effort it takes, the amount of time his amazing therapists spend with him, the painful crying when his body fights his will to learn and do better...
When he succeeds?
I've never seen such joy... so much unashamed and well-deserved pride... on someone's face.
The thing about Hunter?
He always succeeds.
Every. Single. Time.
He has help, yes... from us, our family, his therapists... but his will, his hard-work and determination are what get him there....
where no one ever thought he would go.
And, friends... he's going places....

Just 18 months ago, only moments after meeting our son for the first time... completely overwhelmed and intimidated by the 3 pound precious baby boy in front of us... was the first time that we heard, "Your son may never walk or play sports and his activity may have to be limited, which will be hard for a little boy. If he does ever walk, it will be a struggle."

 I've learned that miracles can't be defined by something super-natural.... sometimes we have to physically fight for them. And maybe it's not the end result that is the miracle, itself... maybe the miracle is the determination we have to fight, that can only come from something super-natural; from our Heavenly Father.

I don't have the strength and determination that my son has. I can't help but think that I would have given up a long time ago if I ever had to go through even half of what he has. Hunter fights for the 'natural' part of his life every day. The biggest lesson he has taught me? He's taught me that miracles never come out of our fear.... but often, they do come from our willingness to fight.

I spent time just watching Hunter walk today and was completely humbled by the miracle I saw in front of me.... he is a walking miracle ;-)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Considering Abortion.... A Letter

Hi Sweet Girl~
I don't need to know your name or look into your eyes... and I don't need to have been where you find yourself tonight to know that you're terrified and in pain. If you find yourself in the greeting of this letter, then all I know about you is that you're pregnant and you have a choice to make... and I know what your choices are.

This isn't a letter that will talk politics or preach Bible verses or tell you you're killing your baby or beg you to choose adoption or tell you you're an awful person for even considering something like abortion.  All of that is about the baby you're carrying...

This is about you.

It's not a letter for comments and likes... it's about you.
My name is Lindsay. My husband and I have always wanted kids and we spent the first year of our marriage trying to build our family the 'normal' way... we had sex. After a year of having sex, just the two of us, we called in back-up. After a year of having sex under the careful instruction of a fertility specialist, as a three-some, we went back to having sex... just the two of us. We also filled out our first adoption application... 11 weeks later, we brought home our precious baby girl through an open adoption. My cycles grew more and more painful over the next year and we discovered that I had mild endometriosis.... maybe the reason we never conceived, probably not. Our specialist suggested trying again to get pregnant because a pregnancy will wipe out endo. So we did... and we quickly became a two-some again. 2 years later we brought home our precious baby-boy through an open adoption.
17 months later we got pregnant. Just like that... and probably like you did; we had sex... and got pregnant.
10 weeks later, I miscarried.

And that was 5 weeks ago.

 I have no business talking to YOU about the decision you're facing tonight. I've never faced an unwanted pregnancy. I'll never have to choose between parenting or abortion or placing my baby for adoption.

 But...I was pregnant once and I figure that's all it takes for you and me to have something in common.
Whether or not I agree with abortion doesn't matter....
I lost my baby. Choose abortion? You will, too.
So here we are.... standing on different sides of the same 'procedure'. And that's where you come in...
My husband and I had just come from the ultra-sound that showed that our baby's heart had stopped beating. We were broken.... devastated.
The doctor walked in to discuss our 'options' with us. We liked him. We could tell that this was the worst part of his job... but it was also a very 'normal' part of his job.
"I can give you a pill to take. The pill will cause your body to finish what has already started and will force miscarriage. Or you can go home and let your body figure it out on its own. It might take a few days but it could take a few weeks. You'll feel strong cramps that are actually contractions. Some women feel more comfortable letting their bodies miscarry naturally.

I had already been bleeding and cramping for almost 2 weeks... our baby had held on until the very last couple of days and waiting for the inevitable was torture. The physical pain was getting unbearable, as well. I knew my body wasn't going to handle 'natural' very well... emotionally or physically.
 "We can also do a D&C.... Dilation & Curttelage. It's the same procedure as an abortion.... except we'll give you medicine so you don't know what's happening during the procedure. Women do it every day without medicine when they have an abortion. We'll dilate your cervix by inserting various size rods. I'll use a scalpel to scrape out the content of the uterus.... (to scrape out our baby). If I need to, I'll use a vacuum to suction out larger pieces of tissue..... (which would be my baby's body and placenta). When the procedure is done, you'll have a normal period for about a week. You'll feel very normal the next day and this will all be over with. You can consider trying to get pregnant again after 2 menstrual cycles, if you want to."

Here's where I find my place in writing to you~ my doctor compared my 'procedure' to an abortion... and I'm taking that as permission to do the same.
I had my D&C the next day....
and it was nothing like he explained.
Waiting in pre-op before surgery wasn't 'normal'. No one treated me like I was 'normal'. I didn't feel judged... I felt pitied. I didn't make the choice to lose my baby.... but I still couldn't look one person in the eye. I couldn't stand to see their questions. The anesthesiologist asked me if I was ok..... "no", I said. He finished his paperwork and left.
I glanced over at my chart... looking for some written sign to every eye who read it that I had miscarried.... that this wasn't an abortion.

That's it.

So I imagine if it's you sitting in that post-op room, our charts would be identical.
They didn't know my story. They won't know your's. Maybe that will make it easier for you.... but I doubt it.
The medicine worked right away... I remember kissing my husband.... we were both crying. I fell asleep with tears running down my face.
I woke up to a nurse trying to help me put in a sanitary pad for the bleeding. I guess doctors don't do that after they take your baby out. I remember how terrified I was to pee afterwards but they wouldn't let me go home until I had.
The rest of the day was a blur.... I ate, I slept, and woke up the next morning anything but 'normal'.
I expected to bleed and I did.... but it wasn't a 'normal' period, like my doctor had said it would be.... my baby had just been scraped out of my body.
THAT'S why I was bleeding.
My stomach was crampy.... but not because of my 'normal' period.... my cervix had been stretched open with a rod so my baby could be vacuumed out.
My boobs still hurt.... I still felt nauseous.... smells bothered me for days.... I was exhausted.... pregnancy tests still detected my baby but really, they only detected parts of him/her.

The other parts? My body spent weeks trying to clean out the rest of it... of him or her. 3 weeks, to be exact. I called my doctor to ask if that much bleeding, if all of the clots and clumps were 'normal'.... "We try our best to get everything out during the 'procedure' but it's inevitable that we'll miss tissue... it may take a while for your body to get rid of what we missed." Something I wish he had included in his explanation of 'normal'.

I want to share this with you because even though I didn't make this choice, I wish so badly that someone had been able to prepare me for what would follow a 'procedure' that was so simply explained in words.  My baby was already gone... but the pain I have felt every day for the past few weeks as I've faced one of the worst experiences of my life is indescribable.

I don't wish that.... this... on anyone, whether they choose it or not.
You? You have this choice. I don't know what you'll choose in the end... it's not up to me and it's not my business. But I want so badly for you to know..... and I want you to know before.

This isn't about your baby's life. It's not about the politics behind abortion or what the Bible has to say about it.

It's about you.
Nothing about the decision you're considering is 'normal'. That's why the process you're in right now is painful and terrifying. It's not 'normal'.
After a D&C? After an abortion? Your baby is gone. Officially. Whether you wanted this or not.. the reality is sickening. There aren't any choices left to be made... there aren't any more appointments to make or people to call or research to be done or pills to take....
Your baby is gone.

And you have changed.

That part? About you changing? You don't know that you're choosing that, too.
Maybe your baby's heart had already stopped beating.... or maybe it stopped beating during your 'procedure'.... it doesn't matter because the pain is the same.
And that 'normal' that will come when it's all said and done?
It doesn't come.
Sure, you'll find a new 'normal'.....
but when you get your period, you'll think about that one that should have been 'normal'.... and why it wasn't.
when your cramps tell you that your period is about to start.... you'll remember the cramps that should have been 'normal'.... and why they weren't.
when you have sex, you'll have a moment of sheer panic when you remember.... and then a tiny part of you will wish for the moments 'before' all over again.
And all of a sudden, your new 'normal' consists of choices that have become memories.... and no matter how hard you try, memories don't change.

The emotions that follow something like a D&C... no matter how or why that D&C happened.... don't go away.
It's true... I haven't been in your shoes. And I'm thankful for that.
But I've been quite a few things....

I've been the girl who only ever wanted to be a Mommy. I've been the who wanted so badly to experience a pregnancy. I've been the girl who lost babies in the adoption process. I've been the girl who got pregnant after 7 years of infertility. I've been the girl who had a miscarriage. I've been the girl who lost a baby. I've been the girl who had a D&C.

I AM the girl who is trying desperately to recover... and I'm the girl who is absolutely terrified for every woman who will ever face being who I am right now... who I have been for the past few months... who I will be if and when my new 'normal' ever comes.
Choose to parent. Choose abortion. Or choose to place your baby for adoption.
It's true that the after-effects of all three will last forever.... when your newborn hasn't slept in days... when toddler is laying in the middle of Walgreens throwing a fit because he wants a pencil. Or when your best friend gets pregnant and you somehow know in a split second exactly how far apart your babies would have been... when your period reminds you every month of the one that should have been 'normal'. Or when every picture, letter, and visit with your precious child makes it possible for your heart to break and heal all at the same time....
 Only one of those choices makes a face disappear forever. That part is about your baby.

Only one of those choices results in a pain and memories so deep and so gut-wrenching that it has the potential to ruin you. That part is about you.

 I've also been the one who was blessed enough to become a Mommy.... by 2 women who chose to push through the pain and fear. Even though the choice they made was painful, it at least carried with it the chance for a lifetime of healing... and of knowing the precious face that they chose to carry.
I didn't choose to lose my baby... but I wish I could change it every second of the day.
I don't know how our family will grow from here.... if we'll adopt again or if I'll get pregnant again. While both of those are exciting things to think about.... neither one will bring that baby back and neither one will ever take away the pain of the process of losing him/her.

Now? I'm the girl who wishes I could do something to make sure that no woman ever has to experience this pain... from a miscarriage? I can't change that. From an abortion? Maybe I can.

I have friends who have had abortions.... I don't know anyone who has had two. I no longer wonder why.

I have friends who support abortion... who have also had miscarriages and D&C's. The pain I hear in their voice every time their precious baby and that horrible 'prodecure' are brought up is excruciating. It makes me wonder how, even if they see abortion as simply a choice and not a decision between life and death... how they would support anything that could cause that kind of pain for another woman. How can they think it isn't the same?!

I can't promise what your future will look like.... but abortion? It will change you.... physically and emotionally. That I can promise you.
I don't envy the decision you face.... and I'm praying that you feel supported. I wanted you to just know.... maybe not from someone who has been right where you are right now... but from someone who has been on the other side where you could be soon.
I wish I could hug you and tell you that, no matter what, it will be ok.... but that's not comforting for me to hear right now and I won't put that on you, either.
 Even if I don't know you, I'm sorry you're in pain.... and I'm praying with everything in me that your pain stops here.  It's comforting to know that you can make that choice. This place... where I am... choose not to be here. For you. The choices that come later can be for your baby. This choice? This one can be for you.
~ Lindsay