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Cradled

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I have never had a miscarriage, an issue with infertility or lost a baby. And yet, last night, I found myself attending "Cradled," a local support group for women who have experienced miscarriage, infertility and stillbirth.

I didn't think I belonged there.
My OB/GYN recommended it.
My grief convinced me to go.

The reality is,
it probably is a perfect place for me right now.

Last night, sitting among 8 women who have experienced some level of infant loss, I shared my story, too -
....the story of being the one my best friend called when she realized her baby died in her womb
...the story of having my own son stop moving in the womb as he, too, was slowly passing in utero
...the story of how my son was born alive but struggled to thrive and, not long after, was diagnosed with a terminal disease that threatens death and suffering for the rest of his life
...the story of how I carry within me, a baby at 23 weeks, that I am struggling to fully embrace for fears I will lose her too.

I am terrified that I'm going to lose this baby.

Will the baby make it to term?
Will the baby even be healthy if it does?
What loss will I experience next?

The group "Cradled" always ends their support group sessions by lighting a candle for every child, belonging to a mother in the room, that has been lost.

"But what about me?" I asked.
The support group leader didn't understand what I was asking.
She said, "you come back next week."
I said, "No, what about me? I haven't had a loss. So what do I do about lighting a candle?"
The leader said to me without looking away, "You light one for your baby."

Suddenly, the tears dropped, rushing my cheeks, as though I almost couldn't contain the thought.  
I realized I don't have the pain of having to light a candle for baby that has been.
I get the opportunity to light a candle for the baby that is.

The other mothers in the room have no choice but to light a candle in honor of their babies' lives. And here, I have the opportunity to light a candle in honor of the baby that is coming. Grief, confusion, sadness and joy hit me all at once.

The words of my counselor rang in my ears, "Your being connected or disconnected to your baby isn't going to change the pain of losing her, if that is what happens. The pain hurts either way."

I stared at the candle and tried to picture my daughter.  I told myself, as I watched the flicker of the tiny flame lit in her honor, "You cannot ignore her or grieve her as though she is not here. You cannot hide from pain by pretending it's not happening."  Just like the mothers in the room that must find a way to love their babies even though they are gone too soon, I must find a way to love my baby before she is even with me.

I would've thought that Cystic Fibrosis would've taught me how important it is to move through fear quickly and not allow it to control my life. But that's not really the way the human heart works. The human heart doesn't always work in tandem with the human brain.  Fear of pain brings with it a strong desire to hide.

I have around me signs of the baby...signs of preparing for a baby to come. The crib is out of the attic. Hand-me-down clothes sit in a potential nursery. Paint colors are being chosen.  I am preparing for the baby I have wanted very very much.

 And yet I struggle to enjoy the signs of baby around me because I'm trying to shut my eyes for fear of pain... which brings in itself feelings of guilt (how can I not be connected to a baby that is about to be my own, especially when I know so many women who yearn for a baby so badly?)

I struggle because to really accept this baby means that I'm willing to risk placing my heart on the line and know that I don't have any control over whether my heart is broken.

"How are you feeling?" "Aren't you so excited?" These are the questions I get so often.
I say 'I'm feeling great. I'm so excited.' And on one level, both of those are true. But deeper within, I also feel sad.  I don't like loss very much.  I don't want to experience it again.

If anything I gained from last night's Cradled support group, it is how important it is for me to be honest with myself and others about how I am feeling.  It's not worth spending energy hiding my fears and, in the process, pretending that this pregnancy comes with it an unbridled joy and anticipation.  I think those feelings will come, too.  But it's ok if it is cushioned between feelings of dread and sadness of what has been lost before and the fear of what could be lost in the future.

The reality is...
I love her enough
that I just don't want to lose her.

 

8 Responses to “Cradled”

  1. I'm so glad you went and I pray it's a safe space for you to share and also received encouragement. This baby girl is so loved!

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    1. Thank you, Cynth. I can't imagine what it must have been like for you to have had two pregnancies following Cara. I remembering your sharing parts of it were daunting. I have thought of you many times when I think of purchasing a doppler to listen to the baby's heartbeat to confirm it's there. A stethoscope I purchased to listen to Bennett's lungs will have to work for now. But, like for you, the thought has come up MANY times!! :)

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  2. Oh, Breck. I don't have anything profound, but just want you to know you're not alone. I went through many of the same feelings (excitement, fear, joy, guilt, etc) with Lydia. Thank you for sharing your heart. I'm praying for you and praying for that sweet baby girl. Like Cynthia said...she is so loved! :)

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    1. Ashleigh, thank you so much for your kind words and reassurance. It does feel good to know this is a shared feeling. Thanks for loving and praying for me and our baby girl. :)

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  3. Breck, have been silently wondering how you are with this pregnancy & silently wishing only the very best. I am sorry I have been silent! Wishing you love, light, peace, comfort, health, and ultimately joy. If we had intended a family of five, I'm certain I'd be right where you are. My heart is with you Mama. XO, Susan

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    1. Oh, thank you, Susan. That means a ton. :)

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  4. Breck, you are describing a typical pregnancy after a loss--your same feelings have been expressed to me from MANY women during a pregnancy after a loss. We lost our first baby. I had a love/hate relationship with my second pregnancy for all the same reasons you are describing. You want her so badly, and you want her to be ok, but when you know the reality of what you or others have gone through, it's hard to just assume everything is ok and go with that. It sounds like you can rest in that for her. . .it is so hard, though. I would hate going to my OB, because I didn't want to hear that the heart had stopped, but at the same time I wanted so badly to hear that heart beating to know she was ok. That grief will come up in strange ways--and we will celebrate when she is here in the car on the way home from the hospital with you :) I will pray that God will give you that peace and joy that is so hard to let your heart cross over into. Yes, I did use a dopplar for our second so that I could listen whenever I wanted to :) I'm so glad you are going to the group, and we will celebrate her precious gift of life!

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  5. Praying for you...I know exactly how you feel right now. Let me know if you need to talk at all :) Love and Hugs!

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