Well, if you head over to my archives, it won't take you long to find out what returning to every day life was like after losing Duncan....
And can I just insert something here? I have been pregnant 7 times. I've lost more babies than I've had the joy of bringing home. My miscarriages are as much a part of my story as Duncan's life. Well.....if I'm being totally honest, that isn't true. They are a part of my story, but the impact of my pregnancy with and delivery of Duncan is profound. Therefore, for the most part, my Walking With You entries will be reflective of my loss of him, not my other lost pregnancies. That said, for those of you reading whose grief and heartache comes from earlier losses, please know that the pain is as real. As huge. The loss is as great. S/he was your BABY. I get that. I hope I NEVER come across as insensitive to that, just because I speak of Duncan more often and more intensely than my other losses. (I hope that all made sense...)
But back to the topic at hand...
My writing during the summer of 2009 is as raw as the experiences themselves. Some I shared, and for those of you reading whose grief is more recent, I would encourage you to click back over to some of my posts from then.
Some of the first "tender steps back" were merely items to check off a cruel to-do list, like ordering an urn. Or having to line up childcare for Seth because I remained on bedrest even after delivery, thanks to post-partum pre-eclampsia. Or having to return a maternity swimsuit I never got to wear. Or scheduling the MFM appointment to start the barrage of testing that would, hopefully, hold some answers. They were things that irritated me, angered me. Because I shouldn't have to be doing them at all. On the flip side, though, those were the "easy" things. The things that just had to get done. Put the emotion aside (for the moment) and just place the order, climb in bed, hand over the receipt, make the appointment, etc. Just get it done. And there was comfort -- albeit minor -- in that. At least, in those moments, I could execute, versus flounder, which is what I did the rest of the time....
There were so many sleepless nights. SO. MANY. I couldn't sleep, for various reasons, whether it was discomfort from my milk-heavy breast or a racing pulse from too many blood pressure medications. Or, in many cases, I didn't want to sleep, because sleep meant dreams, and dreams were so rarely sweet in those first days and weeks.
I remember reaching out to my blog readers when I felt lost, unsure of how to be present for Seth (who, remember, was only 17 months at the time) while navigating through grief.
I was super-sensitive, to even the most trivial of details, if it had ANYTHING to do with Duncan. It was as if each encounter that touched upon his life was SO precious and SO fragile -- since there would be so few of them -- that I guarded them so fiercly. Hence, why I was offended by the Homer Simpson stamp on his cremation certificate.
But probably the most notable "event" during the first days, etc., was the church trifecta....I touched on it in last week's post, but it is even more significant for this week's topic. I was so hesitant to make that first trip back to church, and after what happened when I got there, my hesitation was justified. But, in the way that so many moments of this journey became redeemed, so did the church experience. That said, the ignorance and insensitivity of one woman scarred me. Truly. To this day, I struggle with feelings of insecurity when it comes to "how I'm doing this." As I said then,
"She had managed to underscore ALL my insecurities that have formed in the last 22 days, primarily that there is a "how to" book out there that is being withheld from me. I'm so fearful that I'm doing "this" wrong -- that I'm grieving wrong, that I'm responding to Jim wrong, that I'm not moving on fast enough, that I'm moving on too fast, that we should have had a funeral, that we should have had maternity pictures taken, that we should have done something we didn't or that we shouldn't have done something we did....."There are areas that are still to this day so very tender. Some triggers are obvious. Others are much more subtle. Like the first time you have to buy tampons instead of nursing pads. (Okay, maybe that one isn't so subtle.) The sneak-up-on-you moments have been happening from the very beginning, and I would imagine will continue to do so. And while I'm in the vicinity to that link there, in the last sentence, let me touch on one of the questions that Kelly posed in her intro to this week's topic: "What advice would you offer those new to this walk to encourage and bring hope?"
PLEASE, please don't be afraid to speak up if you are hurting and need an ear. A shoulder. A safe place to vent/cry/rail against the unfairness of it all. I did that -- the "speaking up" part in that post, and while it didn't garner a sudden outpouring of phone calls and offers to bring dinner, it was validating in the sense that I said, out loud, so to speak, "HEY! This happened. I'm still hurting. It was a BIG DEAL. I get that life needs to continue on, but I still can't hardly breathe. I STILL NEED YOU."
I lamented in past posts that the things I would get to do for Duncan would be so few. And that is still true, I guess. But, three and a half years out, I'm been pleasantly surprised to learn that he still has a very real and obvious place in my "quiver" and in my day to day. Just a few nights ago, I got to tell his story. What started as a reference to why our first six months living in Nashville likened us to poor ol' Job turned into a wonderful testimony of God's grace and omnipresence in our lives and home in the wake of Duncan's death. I'd known the lady I was talking to for all of 20 minutes before I was talking about VBACs and D&Cs and urns and 1-pound-1-ounce babies, but I shared my son's story unashamedly....and I'm having a playdate with this new mommy friend on Tuesday.
So, I'll close with that. Maybe it's a stretch to link dead babies to playdates, but for me....it was a monument of sorts, to how far I've come, from those first days when you feel like the whole world is staring at you because you look fat and frumpy and probably haven't showered and have tear-streaks down your face.....to the next stage when you are more "aware" and stumble over your words when someone asks you how many children you have.....to the anniversary dates....to the days like I had Thursday, when you tell a stranger, "I have 3 boys and a girl, but our second son passed away." And while it may sound insensitive to say that I don't care if that makes her uncomfortable or if it's something she'd rather not know, it's a victory for me. To get to that place where the "tender" turns into "triumphant" and you realize that you are that much closer to the place where, yes, the missing is still there, but you're so much more aware that they aren't really gone -- not in the way that matters. They are as close as our next breath....
If you're not there yet in your walk, be patient and gentle with yourself. You will get there. There will be bumps and bruises -- tripping over idiots (and they are legion!) will do that to you -- along the way. But you will get there. I promise.