Grief & The Holidays
When I lost in September 2013 I did not expect that during the Holiday Season of 2014 that I would still have moments of grief - you know those moments that can catch you while you're driving or hear a specific song. I figured that by this Holiday Season we would have "moved on" by starting to try again or by being at a new location, you know since that was the plan - but with Goose being delayed overseas it's left this feeling of being "stuck" in the situation.
If you've ever heard me talk, I often refer to my losses as a batting average, with mine being below average. It is not that I am ashamed of my average, but I don't want to end my hitting streak on a failed attempt. Almost in the to the same thought of when your coach calls you back until you get right. When I was 17 I was on an 18 and under Gold Softball Team and my coach worked really hard with me on the looks and the structure of my batting swing. I don't remember swinging ugly per say I just remember hitting. But when he changed the structure of my swing to the way he wanted all I remember was being the butt of his jokes - "that MARTINEZ - she sure has the prettiest swing here, but she cannot hit the broad side of a barn!" It makes me laugh, but I often think that maybe I just can't hit the broad side of a barn with keeping a pregnancy. When I do have one, it's a struggle with bed rest, low amniotic fluid etc.
I wouldn't say I've been hung up on being able to try again, but I've found comfort in the thought of "we will move on" - I just did not anticipate reliving a holiday season alone without Goose. So that's made it a little harder on my heart this season even though wanted to cling to the hope that we will move on. As I drove home from church on Saturday I drove with the windows down, with feeling the crisp winter air hit my hand as it sat on the car window sill. I found myself drifting in and out of thought on what day it was and what last year was like. I then realized it was December 13, nothing in particular and then I got to thinking about what I was going through around this time last year - when my eyes swelled up. I slowly took a deep breath in & out and I sighed - this time last year, I felt overwhelmed with anticipation and disappointment. Why? Well, because the week of December 20th would have been our 20-week ultrasound to find out what our sweet baby was. When I initially found out during our 2 hour important date appointment (that is, required from the Air Force upon peeing on that lovely stick or donating your blood to test) that the week of December 20th would be the week we found out the gender of our baby, I thought "what an amazing Christmas gift" and then I lost...through my second ectopic pregnancy and I thought that it was actually the crappiest time in the world to find out mainly because I was living in the aftermath of a loss, where I didn't get to find out the surprise at the end. All of those joyful songs & lights ended up being a daunting reminder of what wasn't.
I remember the doubt, the sadness, the anger, the if I only I would have, you know the desperation and reasoning that comes with loss. Then, during one of those moments of doubt on "why me", I heard a sweet whisper from God saying "I still loved you but nothing you could have done could change this, I am in control, do not run". I have realized this loss that God calls us to places in which we are not comfortable, but we are called to fully trust him and his plan for our lives. Yep, you read that right - not our plan and surely not someone else plans and that is where I sat last year - not being able to change a single thing. Only being able to surrender that weight, sadness, and emotions of the loss to him.
I've said this before on my blog, but there is just something that rips my heart apart with ectopic pregnancies, but I believe God knows that this is where I break and he picks up the pieces to shape something new. In my opinion, not truly having a choice in ending your baby's life, is one of the hardest moments in life that a woman and a mother could ever go through. Yes, you have a choice in how to solve the problem . . . It's either the shot, surgery or death (and not of just the baby, but you), but you do not have a choice in it ending or most times what day or time it ends. That's a lot to swallow huh? Take a moment and imagine that you were told this information just an hour or two before you had to go into surgery where you would lose the baby that you prayed for, planned for and often dreamed for. I've found that those moments only make you want to throw something or weap in a way that you never thought was imaginable. No one in this world should have to go through it, no one. Although, it's a horrifying experience I believe that he will use this type of loss for something powerful - whether it be to move you closer to him, or to change your heart in ways you never thought possible.
I often get questions like "What's wrong with you, why do you keep loosing?" or I get these looks like "THANK GOODNESS it's you not me" It's hard - especially on this end when you've had every test ran on you that you could think possible...and NOTHING comes back as "wrong" or "funky". Last year, I was in the thick of it - searching and searching for a logical or medical reason and answer as to why - and I didn't find one, not one single test came back wrong, funky or jacked up medically and that was hard to cope with. We as humans want that reasoning, we want that tangible thing that we can say "IT WAS THIS!!" and for me, there isn't...three losses and there isn't a tangible reason. It becomes harder not to have a tangible reason when people start asking those personal questions like above or give you that look. I often found myself wanting to say "Trust me, I've done the research I know when a baby's heart starts beating, I know when they start to suck their thumb, I know... and trust me, I have carried the weight of each of these losses - your sympathy, the looks, the whispers of "that's the one who lost, again" or the invasive questions or snide comments aren't really needed - I feel ya. . . it sucks and it's awkward - I get it." Thankfully, I have learned how to hand over the guilt, pain, and sorrow over to God, before it ate me alive - even though the surrendering is an almost daily thing it's so worth it. It gives me a peace in which I never thought possible and allows me to show grace during those moments.
As sit back and think about the moments of loss or the moments that get caught in memories I know there is a greater reason more than what my eyes can see or my brain or come up with for myself, my husband or overall my family. The affliction from loss and the affliction that I've felt from God has taught that I have a purpose and that my character is forever changed. He has used me and continues to use me as I meet women right where they are at and as I raise my daughters - I know he's opened my eyes to things I would never have seen beforehand that I can teach others and my daughters on what to not to do or to do or how to. I know for myself the one thing that he has laid on my heart to do is to show my girls how to just love on other women right where they are at - without borders or preconceived notions that would have usually stopped me.
The holidays are hard Y'all for someone who's lost a loved one or a child or a baby or a pregnancy. Don't show them sympathy show them empathy as much as you can, pray for them, pray that God covers them with so much love and peace that they are able to spread it - like wildfire to their family and friends, pray that they are the lighthouse in what might a dark and stormy time in their marriage or family situation. Or just be with them - invite them to share a cup of coffee with you or give them a call and just ask how they are doing. Show that you care - and that they aren't alone and that these lights of this season can be for joy even during the storm.
Do Know someone going through grief this holiday season? Here are few smalls tips on how to be with them in the thick of it:
- Do not bring up the loss, just ask and truly care how they are doing...they might find it a bit off if you do immediately bring it up and not choose to open up, remember trust takes time.
- As you can see from this post, the holiday season can bring up grief feelings - heck specific dates can too. Remember that there is no end or expiration date to grief if someone you know is having a hard time reaching out.
- Don't just show up at their door, ask to come over. I will admit I have hidden in my office and bathroom before because someone showed up unexpectedly and I wasn't ready to "talk".
- With a loss, we (those on the outside) can often put our feet into our mouth, totally not meaning to but it happens. So think a little & pray a lot beforehand about how you'd like your dialog to go. I too have even put my foot in my mouth, so if you do just say SORRY and foster a warm and loving demeanor, don't get sensitive because the person who lost might already be and this is their memory of their loss and it is not the best time to fight for who is right.
- Understand that there are different seasons of grief and they can be in any one of them. If you'd like to know more about the grief cycle click here.
- If they lose their junk (meaning becomes a hotmess of tears) hug them, but give them the space to work through those emotions. I am not a hugger - or at least I wasn't before all of this and there were multiple times where I lost my junk and just having someone there to sit with me or give me a hug as I lost my junk without saying a word meant the world to me.
- If you're going to refer to their loss - do so by name. I have found when people skirt around the issue that it was a live baby it makes me want to shoot them very mean emoji's.
- Pray with them - I was in the middle of a worship night at church and a woman in the church felt moved to come over and pray for our situation with loss and future pregnancies. As hard as it was to hear someone pour our their prayer on me and our situation I was moved that someone cared.