It has been exactly 13 weeks since Gracie left us and her body came into the world in perfect stillness and silence. One quarter of a year. In some ways it seems like just yesterday, and in other ways it seems like it is a lifetime ago. A (real life) friend who suffered a loss at 40 weeks has told me that one of the biggest steps in ‘healing’ is accepting that your baby is dead. I have accepted it. I don’t like it, but I have accepted it. The challenge now is to figure out who I am as a result of the 'event,' and as a result of the 'acceptance'. It is certain that I will never be the person I was destined to be had my first born child lived, but I’m not yet sure who I am or who I will be in a month – or even a year. Stay tuned as this particular story unfolds in the coming months. :-)
As the days keep ticking by, my overall coping fluctuates. People continue to tell us that they are amazed by how strong we are. I am amazed by the number of people who interpret our grief as strength. And in all honesty, find it mildly irritating sometimes. Strength cannot be inferred simply because we don’t walk around weeping and sobbing all day long. Truth be known, I am not that strong. Sure….some days I feel like I’m managing pretty well, but some days I feel like it’s all going to kill me. Between the emotional roller coaster that Gracie’s death and the ‘medical aftermath’ have put us on, and the stress of running a private health care practice, I spend many days feeling like I have lost complete control of my life. Add to that a few other life changes around the same time as Gracie’s death and I get the feeling of being in a constant downward spiral, completely at the mercy of everything and everyone around me 24 hours a day. It’s sometimes difficult to accept that everyone around us seems to move forward in their lives on a daily basis, while we feel like we are continually being knocked back 2 or 3 steps. I struggle to maintain my focus on important tasks, I forget everything that isn’t written down, I lose my notes and lists, I usually opt to not take any paperwork home with me at night because I know that I won’t be able to do it. I get on the computer to do one or two things, and get lost in the sea of baby loss blogs and forums – before I know it, 3 or 4 hours have gone by. (In that sea of baby loss blogs, I have been simply amazed by some of the things other women are doing to help the rest of the ‘loss community’ cope. Some of these women must surely be angels in human form, bringing a bit of light and hope to the darkest corners of the hearts of so many people. I can only hope that I will at some point be able to offer others a fraction of the comfort that some of these women have offered.)
I have always believed that everything happens for a reason, even if the reason is never clear to us. I am a spiritual person, but not an overly religious person - I believe in God and ‘associates’, but feel very strongly that I don’t need to attend church every Sunday to pay appropriate homage. All of that said, I am finding it harder and harder to maintain any kind of faith when so many bad things are happening to the good people of the world. Why does God allow such hurtful things to happen over and over to those who do good? A very wise friend, who passed far too early, lived by the philosophy of Luke 12:48 – ‘For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.’ Until two years ago I thought that it was something pretty good to live by. Now, I just don’t know. I feel like it’s becoming routine for bad things to happen to good people, while the bad people skate right thought life. Day in and day out I deal with people who don’t care about their kids, and when I think about all of the women I have met in the last 13 weeks who would give the world to have their babies back (not to mention the ones who have so much difficulty just getting pregnant), I struggle to see the justice in any of it.
I struggle to see the justice, and most days wonder where the line is between justice and purpose. Sometimes, very deep down, I wonder if Gracie’s purpose in life was to make way for her younger siblings. I spend a lot of time wondering how her life and death will change my future pregnancies and the way I approach those children as they grow. I think about the fact that, whoever our youngest living child turns out to be, they are someone that would probably not have been with us if Gracie had lived. I sometimes worry how Gracie’s life and death will affect her younger siblings. I worry about finding a balance between those children ‘knowing’ their big sister and feeling ‘overshadowed’ by her. I wonder sometimes if another purpose of Gracie’s death was to bring me together with other mothers who need help and support after similar loss. As hard as it is, I want some kind of good to come from this horrible experience. I want to do something that will make a difference to someone else walking this road. This is one of those things that I would obviously never done if Gracie had lived.
I will always have a hole in my soul and will forever long to see and hold my baby girl again. But all things considered, I would not trade all of this pain for never having ‘experienced’ Gracie. The unconditional love that comes in finding out that you are going to bring a new life into the world cannot be rivaled – and it only grows stronger as that new life grows. It is my hope, that as I evolve into the ‘new’ me, I am able to turn the pain of this experience into the strength to help others. I expect to turn this pain into an even greater appreciation and love for the living people around me, and I expect that it will ensure that I don’t take a single day of the future for granted…