Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Response to Reader's March 18 blog comments

(On June 18, a reader shared her story with us. Since my reply was too lengthy and wouldn't be accepted for posting, I have elected to maintain the length and add my response as an additional post. The regularly scheduled post covering grieving appeared this past Monday, June 24. If you would like to read her comments, go to the March 18 blog and click on the "Comments.")

First, please forgive me for this late reply. Travel, illness and not wanting to just send out a perfunctory response prevented me from writing.

Thank you for sharing your story, as well as some of the intimate details, with all of us. I wept when I read it and am weeping again as I re-read it and reply to you. I can't begin to tell you how sorry I am that you are experiencing so much loss and pain.

Your story does sound so similar to mine. Close to the same gestational time; a devastating complication of pregnancy; a three-year old excitedly anticipating a sibling. After doing a little research on placenta percreta, I can appreciate how severe your condition was and just how fortunate you are to be alive! And I can appreciate the fear your husband must have experienced, although I know my husband can more deeply appreciate it than I. It really is much harder, I think, to sit anxiously in an emotionally cold room, awaiting news of a a loved one's response to surgery, particularly when it's a potentially fatal emergency. Knowing that one of the patients—the littlest one—will definitely not make it only adds to that pain and distress.

Knowing there wasn't a choice between you and your baby and feeling it are two different things. I understand and appreciate your guilt; identical thoughts have run rampant through my mind on many occasions and still do, even after twenty years. It's often stunning for us to realize—usually through grievous events—just what little control we have over our lives and the lives of others, including our children who we desire and feel obligated to protect.

And I am so sorry that the hope of future babies carried in your womb are no longer an option for you. That, indeed, does compound your grief: future dreams and hopes decisively swept away. You have been dealt an extra wound. While I was able to have another baby, that pregnancy ended up being complicated and nearly ended in my son's death during a premature birth. Soon after, and following much prayer and discussion with my husband, I elected to have a tubal ligation. Surprisingly, I experienced another round of grief over being unable to bear more children. And that grief lingered with me for years. Simultaneously I felt if I attempted another pregnancy, I'd be foolish and presumptive, putting God to the test; but if I had the ligation, I wouldn't be trusting Him or displaying enough faith. 

Yet I came to realize that nothing is ever a given, and even having everything intact physically didn't allow me to take anything about childbearing for granted. Sitting in the NICU day after day with my son, watching stunned parents leaning over full-term, healthy-looking babies drove that point home for me. I could read their eyes and overhear their distressed comments to the staff: "How could this happen? To us? Our baby was full-term, and now he's in here. Everything seemed to be going right. What happened?" And they all looked utterly helpless. 

I won't toss you any well-meaning, pious platitudes. Your loss and pain are terribly fresh, and you're still healing physically from the surgery. That latter fact adds a burden to your emotional and spiritual recovery.

I will say, however, that while the pain is likely to get worse before it gets better, it will get better. It really will! I know you can't see it or feel it now, (and may not want to), while you're thrashing around in the middle of it, but it will. Take your time. Reading some of the recent posts on grieving may help you anticipate the obstacles you'll encounter in this valley. I wish I'd known more of what to expect. I think it would have helped me, and my husband, heal better, more quickly and more completely from Victoria's death. But healing takes time. No one else can walk this road for you. Set your own pace and don't expect too much of yourself at this stage.  

Please know that I, as well as many reading this blog, (I'm sure), are now praying for you in your recovery, or recovering right alongside you. Readers from over 50 countries are following along, all with their own unique stories or stories of friends and family. Although you often feel like it, you are not alone. We're members of a little "club" we didn't, and don't, want to be a member of. I just wish I could sit with you, hold your hand and weep with you, listen to your heart as you express your pain. Having someone in your presence, with "skin on them" (as one little girl so aptly put it), is often so much nicer.

What did you name your little girl? (If you don't mind sharing that with all of us.)