from the heart: on infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy, loss, and babies

This is one of those posts that I want to share because it feels so important, but at the same time it feels so exhausting and personal and heavy.

Infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy, loss, and babies.

They are such weighty subjects.  I’m not sure I’ll even have the words to convey what I mean, but I hope I can express some of my heart here.

Infertility.  So, we haven’t experienced infertility, but we did have difficulty getting pregnant.  I understand that true infertility is a whole different thing that I haven’t had to face, but I’d like to share a bit of my heart.  It is so hard to have to work to have a baby.  We had to ‘try’ for 11 months for Baby George, and 5 months for Clive.  We had to take extra vitamins, and chart, and do lots of tests.  It’s embarrassing and difficult.  It’s tough on marriage.  It’s tough on your relationship with God. Infertility is not something that people talk about.  And I get that.  And I’m not sure that it’s something that people who are struggling with want to talk about.  I didn’t really want to talk about it much.  But I think people need to be aware of it and sensitive to it.  Just as we need to be aware of and sensitive to many, many other things.  I’m not saying we need to walk on eggshells, but have extra measures of grace and love for those who are in these shoes.  Don’t assume that they don’t have kids yet by choice.  It’s hard to want something so badly (something that is so very good and such a blessing) and have to wait.  Don’t assume someone is handling this the way you would, and don’t try to make them handle it the way you would.  What I appreciated was friends that listened, and cared, and recognized that it was painful.  People that didn’t dismiss the pain or go super-spiritual about it.

Miscarriage.  This one effects so many people.  There are so many different responses to this, but I’d like to share mine.  This was so very hard.  We lost our baby early.  We didn’t even have a good ultrasound.  We were in the middle of opening Mad Goat at the time, which added so much to the chaos.  It was a relatively private matter, aside from close friends and family.  It felt too overwhelming to share broadly at the time, and I don’t think I regret that.  But things spiraled WAY out of control for me personally.  If anyone is concerned for me and my mental and emotional health after losing Clive, let me tell you that you should have been VERY concerned for me after losing our first baby. Much more concerned.  It was really dark and painful.  It’s hard to even think back on that time because there was nothing good. At least with the loss of Clive, we had some tangible good memories.  With the loss of Baby George, there was nothing.  Just nothing.   I remember thinking how strange it was that I got all these calls from my insurance case manager while Clive was in the NICU and after he passed away, but I never got any follow up after my miscarriage.  They do this depression scale during and after pregnancy, but that’s not done after a miscarriage.   I share this to say that miscarriage is very real and really matters–no matter how early the loss is.  It’s the loss of a life, along with all the hopes and dreams of that little life.

Pregnancy & Babies.  This is a hard one that I’m really still processing and wrestling with.  After losing children, it is really hard to be happy for people who have children.  I hate that I just typed that.  It’s hard to see babies and it’s hard to see pregnancies.  It’s hard to be happy for people.  But I know that I should be happy for them.  I know that I should rejoice with them.  I know that I shouldn’t envy them.  I know that they didn’t have anything to do with me not being able to have living children.  I used to be able to push past this and sometimes honestly be happy for others, I used to fake it sometimes, and sometimes I let myself be a little mad.  I think all those are normal things.  I’ve been at it for a few years now, so I guess I’ve had my different ways of processing.

And then I had Clive.  My sweet boy that makes me smile when I think of him.  And he helped me gain some perspective on this.  I think back on my pregnancy with Clive and I’m so glad that I celebrated him.  I’m SO glad we had an early baby shower for him at my work. I’m so glad I had this little pregnancy calendar that I wrote special things on, like when he first kicked, and our appointments, and my food cravings, and where we traveled together.  I’m so glad I have pictures of my belly growing with him in it.  I look back on it and think about all the things I can celebrate about his little life.  And doesn’t every baby deserve that?  Of course.  Yes, of course!  I’m not sure why I didn’t fully get it before, but I get it now.  Please, love and celebrate your little baby.  Don’t feel guilty on account of those of us that are grieving.  Celebrate them the whole pregnancy through, and all the months and years after they are born.  We don’t know how long we get to keep our kids here on earth, but shouldn’t we love on them the whole time?  Take pictures of your 5 month old, and snuggle them, and love them.  I know that’s what I would do with my little 5 month old.

I’m saying this on a good day.  To a computer screen.  Not to a glowing, beautiful pregnant friend or nursing mother.  To be real, this is really hard.  And I’m sure I’ll fail at it and be envious and mad and frustrated.  And I’ll have to avoid Facebook.  And I might not be able to go to baby showers, and I definitely won’t be able to hold your baby.  But, know that in my heart I still want you to cherish your child, because that’s what I would do.

And as you enjoy your children, please make the conscious effort and choice to mourn with those of us who are waiting for children in our homes.  Don’t ignore it because it’s uncomfortable or because you don’t know what to say.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

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