Saturday, December 7, 2013

Remembering Our Losses

October 15th is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I have long followed various blogs of people who have lost pregnancies as well as infants, and of course some of our closest friends had a daughter who was stillborn last year. However, aside from a moment or two of pause that I've given to the memory of those babies, October 15th has always been just another day to me. Maybe that's because I wasn't as sensitive to loss as I should have been. Maybe it's because it just wasn't that personal to me. Either way, that has changed. October 15th is very personal to me now. 

After losing B3 at the beginning of this year, I began attending a support group called MEND (Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death). My attendance has actually been pretty sporadic as it's very hard for me to convince myself to go. The meetings are heavy, and I often have trouble sleeping the night of the meeting. It's hard to confront my own feelings of loss, but it's also intense to watch others grieve and weep over their lost babies. 

However, the meetings have also been very healing for me in many ways. It's such a blessing to have a place to go and talk about my grief and my feelings and have everyone in the room understand exactly what I'm talking about because they too have traveled this road of loss. It's also been very valuable for me to see others in different stages of their journey. My deep grief has been validated, but I've also been able to see those who are 2 or 3 years "out" and are functioning in a new normal. They can talk about their loss, see the blessings in their journey, and they are okay. Forever changed, yes. But okay. I needed that especially in the early days after my losses.

As a side-note: Had you told me a year ago that I would be attending a support group, I'm pretty sure I would have never believed it. I've never thought of myself as a support group type person (whatever that means), and I don't mean that in an arrogant or haughty way - I just never saw myself in this place. It's something no one signs up for, ya know?

So anyway (I totally rambled on for a bit there), MEND hosted a balloon release to honor lost babies on October 15th. Chris participated in this event with me, and - though it was difficult - we're both glad that we went. 

We each released a balloon for each of our lost babies.

All of the balloons floating away were really beautiful.

We each wrote on our balloon released for B3. We just had such a connection with that baby. We had seen him/her 3 times on an ultrasound. We had spent weeks planning for him/her in our life. We had talked about names. Our second loss was very different as we hadn't seen that baby or bonded with it in the same way, so we didn't write on the balloons released for him/her. But, we still wanted to remember and honor that life. 

It felt really good to be able to do something in honor of those babies. Grieving someone who you never got the chance to really know is hard. Sometimes, I feel foolish for being so sad, but I'm truly thankful for the blessing of groups like MEND where I can go and share with others experiencing the same things.

I know I've been talking about grief on here a lot lately, but there's so much that we're still trying to work through, including how to move forward from where we are now. Our trials with infertility and loss has not dampened our dream of having a houseful of babies. Both Chris and myself still wish to have more children one day, but we're taking time to really pray about how to pursue that desire. Right now, we're thinking about starting fertility treatments again sometime during the early part of 2014, but we're not for sure yet. We are still recovering from the nearly $10,000 spent this year for the fertility treatments that helped bring us B3 and July Baby and the testing that I had to have done in May (which we thought was mostly covered by insurance only to be hit with a $1800 bill in late September).

With that said, we have received some pretty negative feedback regarding us continuing to grow our family. We've heard things like "Can't you just be happy with what you have?" and "You have a girl and a boy already" and "Don't be greedy". Though I don't feel like I owe anyone an explanation regarding this issue, I do want to clarify a few things.

One thing is that we are so happy with our two blessings. We know how blessed we are to have them. In the six years we spent trying to have a baby, we had the very real conversation (several times) about the possibility that we may never have children (biological or otherwise), so we THANK and PRAISE GOD every day for how He has blessed us. If we were not to be blessed with additional children, we would still live a content, abundant, joy filled life.

That fact does not, however, take away our heart's desire for more babies. For me, that desire has been especially strong over the past few months. I really, truly thought that I would be pregnant again at this point in the year, so the fact that I'm not (and may never be again . . . I don't take the fact that I can even achieve pregnancy again for granted) is a grief process of its own. There have been several times recently that I have heard a pregnancy announcement (or come across it on my FB feed) and my heart has physically clenched. That physical reaction to an emotional wound is not unfamiliar to me (it happened often during those years of trying for a baby before having one), but it stills stings. That's not to say that I'm not happy for those friends - or that I wish they were on this same road that I am - I'm just sad for me. They are two emotions that I feel simultaneously - the happiness for others and sadness for myself. I'm sad that my dream has had to change and may have to change even more. Realizing how blessed we are does not change our dream. Maybe you don't understand that, and that's okay. I just want everyone to know that we give God the glory for our two beautiful blessings, knowing that He is the true giver of life, while we look to Him for wisdom regarding how to pursue {or rewrite} our dream.

Also, just because we were blessed with a girl and a boy does not automatically make our family complete. I posted about this once before here. I feel the same now as I did then.

Okay, that all just kind of came tumbling out. Ooops :-). As always, thanks for all your support.


Justin and Marcie said...

Someone actually said "Don't be greed"!?!?!? You're better than me...I would have punched them in the face. I can say that my husband and I only desire to have 2, but everyone is built differently. A family isn't complete until the family FEELS complete. You have every right to do your absolute best to continue to grow your family. I'm so sorry girl. I hope the people you run across will be a little more understanding in the future.

Becky said...

Beautifully written Chelley! I'm so sorry for your loss!

Shelly said...

Thank you for sharing. This is the first time I have read your blog and feel I know you a little better now. You never know what someone is dealing with on the inside. My best friend lost a baby 3days after birth. He would have been 19yrs old this past June. We all deal with family issues in different ways. Me, it was the truth that my heart is not strong enough to support any more pregnancies after the dissection and heart attacks. Just because we are happy for what we have doesn't mean we aren't sad for what we don't. Keep your faith. God will grant you the blessings he has planned fir you.

Andrea said...

First of all, allow me to thank you for visiting my blog, It led me to your site. How beautiful your story is. After reading this particular post, however, I am saddened (and reminded) of how insensitive people can be at times. Wanting/needing more children is a desire given to us by God, Himself. Shame on those who question that. I do not have any biological children. My son is adopted from Guatemala -- you can imagine the comments an adoptive mom receives DAILY. I look forward to "getting to know" you through your writing. (P.S. Maybe adoption is something you and your husband would consider?! Just a thought....) God bless in your journey to more kiddos!