Today was hard. Probably partially because I didn't get enough sleep and because we've had a resilient bug make it's way through our home over the past two weeks which just has been exhausting and uncomfortable for everyone. That said, today was the kind of day that every woman who has experienced pregnancy loss deals with every now and then, if not frequently.
This morning I did something I rarely ever do. I turned on the television and sat down to snuggle my boy. We're both under the weather, and I just don't have the energy to keep up with him like I normally do. So I resorted to screen time.[spacer height="20px"]
In my I've-only-had-half-a-cup-of-coffee stupor, I mistakenly selected Tarzan, thinking it would be a safe bet for my little one, and for me. It had been so long since I saw it and I had sort of forgotten what it was about.[spacer height="20px"]
I don't think we could have been more than 10-15 minutes in before I was sobbing into my little ones golden locks. Friends, the baby gorilla dies, AND Tarzan's parents die. Within minutes of each other. Then the momma gorilla finds baby Tarzan and gazes at his tiny body and his big eyes and is completely in love. She sings, "You'll be in my heart," and her broken momma heart is renewed and she feels (almost) complete again because she holds in her arms the most precious thing that a mother can ever wish for.[spacer height="20px"]
The movie itself is really beautiful. But my heart ached watching that first 30 minutes and listening to those lyrics. My heart ached because it was a reminder of the empty feeling I frequently fight, and because it ignited the guilt that I always feel when I allow myself to mourn my unborn babies when I have a beautiful, perfect miracle of a child right here in my arms.[spacer height="20px"]
"This bond between us can't be broken. I will be here don't you cry... 'Cause you'll be in my heart. Yes you'll be in my heart. From this day on now and forever more. You'll be in my heart, no matter what they say. You'll be in my heart, always."
K, Disney, you jerks. Thanks for that.[spacer height="20px"]
Later that morning, I was chasing Lincoln through the house on all fours (because, why not?) and he was laughing so hard that his eyes were tearing up. Someone once told me that when I'm really happy I smile with my whole entire face. I didn't really know what they meant until I met Lincoln. I am telling you this little man has a smile that goes on for days! Sometimes I feel like he is just going to burst if he smiles any bigger. It is the best thing ever.
Just as we rounded the corner to the playroom he stopped suddenly and said in his sweet tiny voice, "Baby? Baby!" and ran back into the living room, quickly forgetting about our fun game of chase. You see, over the last few months, my little one has developed an infatuation with babies. I think it might have something to do with the fact that we've welcomed three new little ones into our extended family over the last two months, or maybe that I often photograph babies so he gets to see lots of pictures of them, or perhaps it's just a developmental stage. Whatever it is, the kid LOVES babies and everything to do with them right now. In the most random of times, he starts babbling on about babies, wants to snuggle (or attempt to sit on their laps) when we meet them while we're out and about, and immediately picks up on any clue that a baby may be nearby (like a cry, coo, or stroller passing by.)[spacer height="20px"]
He dug through his basket in the living room, pulled out his little blue baby doll, and squeezed it tightly against his chest with the most adorable smile on his face. Then he put it in his dump truck (naturally) and pushed it around the house chanting, "baby..baby..baby." The little dude version of a stroller and a lullaby.[spacer height="20px"]
I think his love for babies is darling. It melts my heart and simultaneously breaks it. In just a couple short months, we would have been welcoming our own babies to the family, had I not lost my last pregnancy in November. I can't help but think of how perfect the timing would have been for Lincoln, as he is so eager and excited about babies. It's really easy to let your mind drift to the what if's and what would have been's, and the tiniest of things can trigger those thoughts... like your little one carting his baby doll around in a plastic dump truck. I fought the thoughts away, and reminded myself of how blessed I am to have my baby boy.
Then came dinner. We went out tonight, which is something we rarely do. But I was emotionally and physically spent and not about to cook (and subsequently clean) my kitchen. At one of our favorite local restaurants, the owner, whom we love dearly, was chatting away with us like she always does. She complimented Lincoln's table manners and tried to make conversation with him. As he twisted the straw in and out of the lid of his water he looked at her and said, "baby!"[spacer height="20px"]
With the best of intentions, she proceeded to tell me that Lincoln clearly wants a baby brother or sister and that we should really consider trying to have another one soon, since I am taking time off from teaching and because the age difference would be lovely.[spacer height="20px"]
Oh, how I know these things. The age difference would be lovely. And he really would love to have a sibling. And we really would love to give him one.[spacer height="20px"]
Many people in my position become frustrated in situations like these. And I admit, I have been frustrated in the past by similar comments, even though I know they are good-intentioned. Typically, I just smile and say something along the lines of, "God's timing is perfect timing," which I believe whole-heartedly, but doesn't honestly convey my feelings in those moments. What I rarely do is share our experience. But this time I did.[spacer height="20px"]
I told her that pregnancy is hard for us. That Lincoln was our miracle baby following a series of losses. That our most recent loss was in November, and that we want more than anything to give Lincoln a sibling. I also told her how blessed we feel to have him, and that we consider him to be an incredible gift and do not take him for granted.[spacer height="20px"]
I'm so glad I chose to share this time. It wasn't to make her feel bad for what she'd said, or to gain her sympathy. I think it was just that my heart had been heavy all day (and for a long time) and I felt called to answer her honestly. After I shared, she shared too. That it had taken her seven years to have her first baby, and that she thought she'd never have a child and how hollowing of a feeling that was. The tears in her eyes spoke volumes to her own journey. We talked for a bit longer, and I felt so grateful to have allowed myself to be open.[spacer height="20px"]
What I learned from today is that hard days are going to happen and when they do, staying connected to people who care about you is crucial. My conversation at the restaurant was freeing. Later, when I shared with my husband that Lincoln's baby-obsession, while adorable, is also challenging me emotionally, I felt a weight lifted. Of course, we can't change (and wouldn't dare to change) his baby-love. But just being honest about how it was making me feel allowed me to begin to shift my feelings to accepting my emotions rather than feel guilty about them.[spacer height="20px"]
If you've experienced pregnancy loss, I know you have triggers. I know you have hard days and I know people say things all the time that break your heart. I cannot stress enough how important it is to stay connected during these times. Talk to someone. Tell them you don't need answers or for them to make you feel better, that you just need someone to know how you feel. And then tell them. If you're not sure who to talk to, I hope you know that you can talk to me.[spacer height="20px"]
And you guys. Seven years. Seven years later she had her first baby, and several more after that. Tonight, my heart isn't quite as heavy. Tonight, instead of feeling resentful and depressed by this woman's comments, I am clinging to her beautiful story of hope that I heard only because I dared to share, and she did too.