Been a while since I blogged about me. In fact, one of the last personal blogs I did was over at writing wenches (you can read it here: click here ) and it talks about our adventure in trying to sell our house, buying a new house, trying to get pregnant, a major health worry, resolving I wouldn’t get pregnant, and finally starting on our journey to foster/adopt.
Well, today I’m going to be real. Gut tearing, exposing myself to the world, no holds barred kinda real. And, as you can guess by the title and the image, I did get pregnant and I lost my baby. Here was what I wrote on Facebook after our loss:
After almost a month, I’m finally ready to share the details of my child’s birth. Please understand that while this has been deeply emotional for my family and myself, it hasn’t only been bad emotions. Accordingly this post is meant to announce the birth of our baby whom we loved dearly – it was a tiny life and it was a brief life… but it was a life which has made a very large impact on our world none the less.
I labored and delivered Elliot Clayton Ross; whose name was chosen during my first pregnancy & whose middle name was to honor my paternal grandfather, on Saturday August 29th at 5:17pm in Joplin’s Freeman Hospital. He weighed just and 1/2 an ounce and was 2.25 inches long.
The nurses wrapped Elliot in a tiny blanket & let us hold him for a time before he was taken for chromosome testing. He was amazingly perfect in all ways you’d expect any baby to be, tiny fingers, toes, and itty bitty nose. Truly it was incredible to see God’s work!
The nurses took a picture for us and they made a memory box full of precious things for us to keep. Every step of the way we were well cared for and comforted. I can’t say how very much that helped us in saying goodbye when the time finally came.
When we had signed into the maternity ward very early in the AM of that day, I had remembered how they played a lullaby on the loud speaker right after Winnie had been born. I cried a bit when I realized this would probably not happen for our son… but I was wrong. On the way out of the hospital they asked me if they could play it for Elliot as we were leaving. We said yes. We cried, but we were smiling. We had gotten to see our son’s face, to hold him, and to say goodbye. One day we know that we will be with him again in Heaven and what a day it will be!
Since then I’ve dealt with a depression that I haven’t really been open about. I suppose it didn’t look the way I thought depression would look and so I didn’t see myself as having issues, but I have had them. And it’s weird because I have this duality going on inside me right now… a joy that has no limit about becoming a Foster Parent/Adoptive Parent (as we planned before we became pregnant) and a sadness that is wildly dynamic moment to moment. Sometimes I’m very logical about it – totally at peace and other times (like last night at our Church’s Women’s social) I’m a hot mess.
I haven’t wanted to talk about that because I definitely feel like I am expected to be past the worst of this now… that by not being past the outbursts of tears and such that I’m attention seeking. Even writing this blog feels like I’m expecting that someone will call me out on it. And it’s foolish.
Logically I know there isn’t a group of folks out there who have determined some rules on when I should be done mourning. No one has said to me, “Look, you were only 12 weeks along and so you should have ended your grieving in December and if you don’t stop now we’re going to have to declare you clinically depressed, stick you on meds, have you see doctors or be committed.” And yet…
A part of that, I’m sure, is what we Christians would feel is the Devil (or negative elements inside all of us) driving me away from those who love and care about me most. He wants me to feel isolated, alone, and maybe even ridiculed by others. I’m not. In fact, last night’s social at church helped me to see that there are a lot of folks who are there waiting to reach out to me, empathize with me, and support me. I am not alone.
I am not alone.
I am not alone.
Talking with my husband this idea is shored up. Talking with my best friend, this idea is reaffirmed. With every word and each attempt to reach outside of the bubble I put myself into, I feel it more keenly. I pray. I talk to God. I meditate and sometimes I even scream into my pillow. Grieving isn’t on a schedule and it certainly isn’t pretty… but it’s a part of this process.
And this is where I feel my son Elliot is still with me. He’s helping me and teaching my heart something new. Loss is a large part of what children in the foster care system feel. Loss of their home, their families, their “normal” … the uncertainty when you look at others… what are they thinking? What are they feeling? When will they let me down and judge me or cast me aside?
We bring to the task of being parents the sum of our life experiences – good and bad. We try to use those experiences to inform the best and most certain course for raising up not just a good or obedient child, but an adult who will one day be worth being someone’s friend, someone’s significant other, someone’s parent and God willing a Leader who can impart the good you’ve instilled back into the rest of the world.
The challenge of coming into a Foster Child’s life was one I thought I was uniquely qualified to meet. My childhood wasn’t perfect (though many people in my life tried their very best) and many of their experiences I can empathize with. I was ready to take what life had put in my way and use it for a greater good… as God tells us we should. He doesn’t make bad things happen to us, but He promises us that without exception that our bad (not just our good things) qualifies and prepares us to do wondrous things.
And then there was Elliot.
And he was gone.
And I felt lost. I felt alone. I felt broken. Nothing would ever be ‘normal’ again.
I told myself if my son could be gone from my life even before I had hardly known him… how much more heart wrenching could it be to lose my husband? My daughter? I would take this sadness – this horrible lesson and improve myself this year and every year after. I would value each day and take time to be a better wife, mom, friend, co-worker… because it matters. And as I did this reflection and began to do things I thought would “improve me” I found that this one thought kept coming back… a whisper in my brain, The Holy Spirit breathing out the words, “You are qualified.”
I’ve lost my son and soon I will gain another child (maybe more) and they will need to know they are not alone in this world… like I still need to be reminded. That they are not lost… like I sometimes still feel. That they are not broken and their old normal may not come back, but the new normal will be good too – as mine is.
All this to say – if you see me crying, I may not be sad. It doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying myself or glad to be doing whatever it is I’m doing. I’m just mourning – and it’s a process. It doesn’t start and end on specific dates and guess what… I may cry thirty years from now after a period of no tears for the 29 before. Grief just works that way. And yea, that may seem odd to some, but its part of my journey now and it’s important. I’m learning something – my soul is growing. God isn’t done with me yet, but He’s promised that all I face here, I can and will handle. And I will be a thing of absolute grace one day, if I keep going.
I ask that you be patient with me, friends. Don’t be afraid to say his name.
Perhaps the more I say it, the more I hear it, the more part of my ‘normal’ he can be. And don’t be afraid to celebrate my growing family with me either. I know it seems odd we’re welcoming kids ages 9 and up, when I just lost a baby, but it’s a joy worth celebrating too. Not just “once they are really yours” (psst! Even if I never adopt, I will love every child placed with me & make them a part of our family… so please don’t imply or say they aren’t ‘really’ ours) but now – let’s celebrate this incoming joy right now! Our house is opening up in love and if that isn’t a reason to celebrate – what is?
Just because I can say his name, I will.
Thanks for being understanding. Thanks for being there. Just thanks.