Grieving Through Answered Prayers

As many of you that have been a part of OAM for very long, or maybe follow us on Facebook, YouTube, etc. know that one of the things we try to be is transparent, at least as much as possible. For better, for worse that is one of the goals we established from the very beginning of starting this ministry. For the most part, majority of people seem to appreciate how much Joe and I try to truly and openly DO LIFE with our OAM community. We are after all, family and this is what family should be about.
Most of you know that our little family has recently been faced with a heart wrenching loss. On January 17th, Joe and I were faced with the news that I had miscarried what would have been our 5th beautiful baby. I was 17 1/2 weeks along and had gone in for what was to be a simple, routine check up: weigh in, check blood pressure, listen to the baby’s heart beat. Something we have done many times before and several times with this little one. However, in just a few seconds, our world came to a screeching halt and we would be gripped with news that would all but paralyze us. From one minute we were joking around with the nurses, picking back and forth on who was team boy vs team girl, to seeing the color drain from my doctor’s face as she began doing her BEST to find a heart beat. In hopes she was having a computer malfunction, we all walked up two flights of stairs, transferring me to a more advanced machine, HOPING that what she had feared would be incorrect. She was doing her best to stay positive, to stay hopeful, trying to maintain a normal conversation with us. I had a hunch something was wrong. Joe had a look on his face that he was feeling the same. She even pulled in a specialist come in to check. HaShem bless her, she was doing all she could to be wrong. Then…the finality of it came to a head as she quickly turned off the sonogram machine (before I saw too much) and turned to me saying with tears in her eyes, “I am SO sorry but there is no heartbeat”.
I remember that I had been able to take one last look at the screen on the wall before it went black, just to see the outline of my little one. A tiny little figure that should have been rolling around, being active and stubborn like it had been showing signs of just the last check up. Yet this time….it was perfectly still and quiet. No little leg kick, no little tooshie sticking out…just like the baby was taking a nap. Joe and I were in complete shock and at a loss for words. How could this be? I had never had any other issues, had carried every other baby just fine. Asher, whom I delivered just a little over 2 years ago was no problem and just the check up before this baby was healthy with a heart rate of 179. We were good to go. Now, instead of us heading to the store to run a few errands and talking about what we thought the baby would be, we now were having to figure out how we would be telling our girls and Jojo as well as the rest of our OAM family that I had lost our little one. Our doctor DID confirm that there was nothing we had done on our part, nothing that we COULD have done to prevent this, it just happened to be one of those 1 in 10,000 situations. She also confirmed that the baby would not have lived longer than a couple of days had it gone full term. However…her words all sounded mumbled and mixed together as we were faced with a decision we NEVER dreamed of. We had to decide when I wanted to deliver….
That drive to pick up our girls from gymnastics and then home to grab an overnight bag was the longest 1 1/2 hours of our lives. It was one thing for Joe and I to be crying, but to hear my girls in the back seat, weeping because all of THEIR excitement and the plans that THEY had for their new baby sibling had been ripped from their hands. Having to hold back the screams in my head, the “they must have gotten it wrong” thoughts, and the trembling that wanted to consume my body, so we could get my babies to their grandparents and Joe and I could head back to the hospital.
The drive back to the hospital was somewhat quiet, Joe just held and squeezed my hand, letting go only to wipe away a stray tear that had rolled down his cheek. Then, a still small voice sounded in my mind and reminded me of a prayer that I had BEEN praying from the beginning of this pregnancy. I had asked HaShem from the beginning, that if something were going to be wrong with this baby, that if it was going to be sick or if there would end up being complications with me during pregnancy or delivery, that HE would step in and take care of it. Now to some, that may sound like a horrible and selfish prayer, however I did not want this baby to have a miserable life due to illness nor did I want my babies now to have to grow up without their mommy. It was in that moment I reminded Joe of that prayer and told him, “how can I be upset over an answered prayer? That for some reason, I felt deep down that I, that we were walking through this for someone else”.
Now, was I still hurting? Of COURSE I was. I still had lost my baby. Now whether you are one that believe it is or isn’t a “baby” until after a certain amount of time, THAT is not up for debate in this post. Frankly, I don’t believe it is any of someone’s right to add their input unless it is THEIR situation, and I truly pray that you never have to walk this path. When you begin to feel that little one move, hear the heart beat, see that little jelly bean wiggling and kicking….your world and your perspective changes. Our hearts were breaking, the reality of our future plans being silenced were overwhelming, and then we drive up to the hospital to go through the process of delivering our little one, knowing it would not be coming home with us.
Yet again, HaShem stepped in and went ahead of us. Every nurse that I came in contact with had walked in my shoes. The caring and gentle staff that I was surrounded with almost seemed hand picked just for me. They knew what to say, how to interact, and exactly what I needed almost before I needed it. My main nurse came in one time, looked at me and said, “There is such a feeling of peace in this room. Outside, the rest of this floor is nothing but chaos and drama, but this room, where there should be sorrow and pain…….is nothing but calm and peace”. So, this momma took a deep breath, focused on what I needed to do, and let HaShem take care of the rest.
The delivery was quick and painless. Again, HaShem stepped in, my doctor had JUST come in to check on me, and just like that, it was over and done. Previous arrangements that we had made were followed through and they kept me a few hours to make sure I was okay. Those last few hours still seem like a blur, the ride home was quick, and then the reality of everything that had happened began to hit. Now, though HaShem had answered my prayers and Joe as well as I believe this was TRULY for the best, we now had to go through the grieving process. The loss, the loneliness, the heartache, the waves of sorrow that seem to consume you are relentless. You are faced with so many thoughts that take over and overwhelm you within your own head, then you add in “littles” that have their own questions. However, now, not only are they hurting, but they also seem nervous around their mommy. Not sure how to act, don’t want to upset her, not sure if SHE will be the same….and as a mommy….that HURTS. It is OUR job as the mommy to protect our babies, make them feel safe, and heal the boo-boos, yet knowing that you are not in control of your emotions and that you can’t fix it, make it all “okay” is a layer of insecurity that no momma wants or needs, especially at this time. This only adds to the silence you feel swallowing you, which brings me to the point of this post.
After the first week where I mainly cried and slept, again I was reminded to take a breath, open my eyes, and listen. HaShem still wanted to give me space to grieve, but He also knew that it was time to get my focus back and that would be when the TRUE healing would begin. I realized that in this, there are two types, those that haven’t walked this path and those that have. Simple right? No deep revelation there and a pretty easy observation to make. Yet it is so much deeper than that, because where the two groups are extremely diverse, they BOTH play such an intricate part in the healing and moving forward of those that are in the middle of this storm.The reality is that anyone walking through this is going to be surrounded by people in both categories. However, HOW those people react make a world of difference and this is where my observations and maybe a few insights will hopefully encourage, relieve, provide insight and maybe better prepare those on both sides.
Now I am going to preface my last couple of paragraphs by stating that these observations, understandings, and insights are from MY experience. It may be as if I am putting your exact thoughts and feelings into words or you may not be able to relate to them at all. Either way, I feel that these things NEED to be shared, because SOMEONE needs to hear them.
The first group that I am going to address, is the group that have never had to walk through this loss, personally. Because I was you just a mere few weeks ago, I can still honestly relate and understand. You see, last year, I had a dear friend miscarry and lose her baby girl. Embarrassingly enough, because as a pastor’s wife you should ALWAYS be prepared, I had NO clue what to say or even do. I had no idea what she was going through, how to help her pain, how to relieve some of the weight she was carrying. In a sense, felt like I was failing her not just as her “pastor’s wife”, but more so as her friend. Then, months down the road, I find out that I am again pregnant and a huge wave a guilt came over me. How would I share with her that I am now expecting what she recently lost. Would it cause her pain? Would she be angry? You can imagine the thoughts running through my mind…however…it was mainly because I STILL didn’t know how or what to say. Then….it was my turn to walk this walk and my best friend did the most appropriate and perfectly timed thing she could have done. She simply said, “I don’t know what to say. All I can say is that I am here if you need me. If you need anything, I am here. But until then, will give you time.” For you see, there really ARE no words anyone can say at that moment. Whether they were 6 weeks or 6 months along, it is still gut wrenching. There is nothing that can be said or done to take away or even lessen the hurt, the loss, the confusion, etc. You have to realize that is okay. One of the best things you can do is BE HONEST and say “ I DON’T know what to say and can’t imagine your pain. However, I love you and am here for you when and if you need me. Just let me know what you need when you are ready.” One of the worse things you can do is not say ANYTHING. We know you don’t have a magic recipe to make it go away, but what we don’t want is to have complete silence and hear NOTHING from you.
As women, in times likes this, our first instinct is we want to DO something. We want to FIX if we can. We want to do whatever we can think of to make them feel better, to take away the pain, etc.. My suggestion, which is what I had someone who had walked this before do for me, simply text or message saying, “I am so sorry and understand your pain. Take your time to heal, text me back when you are ready. Just let me know what YOU need”. Those who know me, know that I am not really a “social” person. I don’t care for attention, I prefer to work in the background, and do not like “big deals” made about me. So for me, I wanted to hermit up, have my family close, and just be left alone. What best for me was having little surprises delivered to the house. Beautiful flower arrangements, spa sets, small figurines, hand written cards, etc. Each knock on my door reminded me that someone was thinking about me and every time I looked at each gift, it gave me strength and reminded me that I wasn’t in this alone. Now this next sentence isn’t a “cry for attention” but purely and observation and was confirmed through a friend who has walked this as well. The first week is always the hardest and usually when you get the most attention and showering of thoughts and prayers. However, the second week comes and goes and you may get a few texts or a card. Then the third week comes and it is just one or two texts. Please understand, I GET it, life goes on, people have their own drama and schedules to deal with. However, and like my friend commented, there are times we feel like people assume we are to just get over it, heal, and be moved on after a week. That there are times we want to scream, “Have you forgotten me and what I have lost?! Do you realize I still NEED you and to know that you are there?!” So my encouragement would be to remember this is a deep and serious loss that one doesn’t get over in a week. From what I understand, it does get easier, the crying does lessen, and the hurt does ease, but you will never “get over it”. So maybe, try to make a conscious effort, at least for the first several weeks, to be there. Send a text, mail a card, if you feel so, send a some flowers or a thoughtful gift, but mainly all we want to know is that you care and that you are still thinking of us. If there DOES come a time where we are ready to talk….just LISTEN….don’t try to fix, don’t try to relate…..just listen because THAT communication is VITAL to the healing process.
Finally to my girls who have or who are currently walking through this. I am truly sorry for your loss. For those new to this, please allow yourself to grieve. However is best for you, DO THAT. If it is crying then baby girl make Walmart restock them tissues. If it is sleep, then turn them lights off and snuggle under the covers. If it is being around people, then hug them tight and soak in their love. However YOU need to work and walk this out, you DO IT. This is an unimaginable pain and indescribable heartbreak. But I CAN promise you, that in time, the tears won’t fall as much and you will begin to live again. There WILL be things that will trigger you. I still have certain shows, see certain things that will cause it all to rush back to the surface. But you take you a few deep breaths, get to a safe place, and let it out. It is okay and no one is expecting you to be superwoman, a lesson I had to learn myself. I remember being asked at my check up how I was doing and how I felt I was handling this all. I know I must have had the goofiest look on my face because….how do you GAUGE that especially when you have never gone through this before. I felt like screaming “my world is falling down around me, I can’t stop crying, I don’t want my husband farther than 10 inches from me, and I don’t want my kids out of my sight. I sleep a lot, don’t really have an appetite, my normal personality is gone, I don’t know who I am anymore, and am still wondering how, why it happened, and what do I do now? So….I have no CLUE how I am doing because no-one gave me a chart that says, ‘if you fall between this and this then you are okay’”. Now, I have to add that I have an INCREDIBLE doctor who would have not been surprised if I had done that and would have totally understood. She is one of few that truly GET me, lol. So, I simply looked at Joe, then over at her and said, “You need to ask him, because how I THINK I am doing maybe not be honestly how I am doing. He knows me better than anyone and can tell you where I am”. Joe’s main thing was, “Doc, she is talking to me. We are communicating.” and that is exactly what she needed to hear.
Her number one thing was wanting to make sure I was just grieving and not headed into depression, which I totally understand. That is what makes this next statement SO vital. If you are going through this, FIND people to talk to. Keep the lines of communication open with your husband, share with him what is going on inside of you and what you need. They aren’t mind readers ladies, but I promise you they want to help in any way they can. But PLEASE remember…THEY are hurting too. THEY are carrying the weight of a loss as well as trying to protect you and keep your daily lives afloat. Also, find someone that has gone through this before and TALK to them. Tell them what you are feeling, what you are thinking, etc. That was one of the BIGGEST things for me, was having a couple of beautiful friends that could and still do, confirm what I am feeling and thinking, that I’m not losing it and that this IS part of the process. They also are helping prepare me for the “down the road” because this IS a forever walk. I was/am so very lucky because I have a an amazing sister in law that is a licensed counselor and has been able to walk Joe through steps and signs. I also have a brother in law and his beautiful wife (another amazing SIL) that work with a nonprofit organization called Maddie’s Footprints that specialize in providing support for families with this type of loss. So please, if you don’t have anyone to reach out and talk to, and would like to connect with one of these ladies, please let me know. The main thing I want you to realize is that you are NOT alone. There are so many of us out here that have and are walking through this, we are here if and when you need.
I will end on this…because I have read so many articles and my heart aches at some of the responses that people have made and the audacity they have. Whether the momma is 25 or 55, whether she is overweight or underweight, whether she has several children or none at all, unless you are her doctor or she asks you specifically for your insight and wisdom, keep your thoughts to yourself on the prospect of her may or maybe not “trying again”. It doesn’t matter if you are her family member or closest friend. She doesn’t need your “Word from God”, and her “lack of faith” had nothing to do with this or whether she should or shouldn’t try again. YOUR job is to be her support, be her encouragement, and pray HaShem’s wisdom over her.
As for Joe and I, we are doing better day by day. I am beginning to have more good days than bad, but do have occasional break downs….which is okay. As far as my health, according to my doctor (aside from some weight I could lose, but can’t we all) I am stronger and healthier than some of the teenage moms she has come through. Mentally and emotionally I still have some work to do and some healing to happen, but it is coming. I am realizing my limits right now and focusing on the present. We still have other weights and loads that life seems to keep throwing at us, that are needing the majority of our attention. As for the future, we are putting ourselves in HaShem’s hands and listening to His voice. Whatever HIS plans are, is what we will follow and will trust that He knows what is best and will be there walking beside us no matter what.
Thank you everyone who has reached out with your love, your support, and your prayers. Our family has gained so much strength and encouragement from them.
To my amazing husband, there are no words to thank you for everything you have been for me these past three weeks. Life has seriously used us as a punching bag these past few months, things have been thrown at us that should have crippled us. Your love, your strength, and your support are what has kept me focused and refusing to give up. Like you said, we are a team and as long as we are together, we can take on anything. Thank you my love, you deserve more than I could ever give, but will spend the rest of my life trying.
Though we are still hurting, though this isn’t the outcome we had hoped for, sometimes….we will have to grieve through answered prayers and trust that HE is taking care of it all.