Grief, Week 3

Okay, so I said that writing about my grief hopefully wouldn’t end up being a multi-week series, but that was when I was hoping I would be able to think about other things in 2-3 weeks 🙂 Probably a bit on the unrealistic side there.

So here are some notes on Week 3!

This week, I had the multitasking opportunity of a lifetime: to continue processing our failed adoption while being socked in the gut (literally) by a 48 hour stomach virus of some kind.

(Note to God: when I said “I wish I could just go to sleep and forget any of this is happening,” I didn’t mean “I wish I could sleep for 19 hours straight, waking up only to vomit yet again.”  Apparently I REALLY need to be more specific.)

I emerged from my couch cushions long enough to text my friend last night,

“I have to confess: I just asked God: an emotional ass kicking wasn’t enough? I needed a physical one too?!” 

(Yes, I am a pastor’s wife.  But every so often, only a swear word will do.  Don’t tell Zoe I said that.)

While lying on a couch for the entire day while life happened around me (have I mentioned my dramatic streak?) I thought, “don’t despair.  Count your blessings! You’re not alone! God is still here providing for you! Tell Him what you’re grateful for!”

My list went like this:

-I’m thankful that the Kardashians were somehow ALWAYS ON MY TV.  I don’t know what sort of marathon I interrupted, but as the day went on I found that I could drift in and out of sleep with their nasally voices on in the background, wake up whenever, and pretty much catch the gist of what was going on within 2 minutes.  (Scott is lying, Kourtney is trying to catch him in it, Kim is being a diva, Kris has a ludicrous idea and is not being supported by her family…you know, the template for any episode.  But BRUCE! What happened to him?!! I must have slept through that horrifying Michael Jackson-like-metamorphosis…)

-Related: this was the only month I have EVER had cable since leaving my parents’ house.  David signed us up for one month of cable only because of the Super Bowl and Olympics.  If I had the stomach bug LAST month, I would have had Hulu Plus and/or static to watch.  So yeah.  Thankful for cable.

-I am grateful that my best friend of 11+ years came to visit on Sunday.  I SO needed her to sit down in my kitchen and say “so…you only have one baby right now…let’s talk about that.”  We’ve been friends since high school (before I had any real responsibilities or roles) so I can say anything to her and wow…I needed that opportunity to just talk, get coffee, and sit in the sun with someone I can be completely unguarded with.

-I’m thankful that I only had a stomach virus twice in the last three months instead of continuously.  And hey…no holiday weight gain? <–(This is a joke)

-I’m thankful for my husband (this one is serious) because he jumped right into caregiving mode and took care of Zoe so that I could vomit and sleep in peace.  That guy rocks.

Today, my stomach is better.  But the physical exhaustion I feel plays right back into the emotional exhaustion I feel.

The truth is, I am just plain worn out in every possible way.

During Zoe’s nap today, I had a phone counseling session with a social worker from our agency.  She reminded me that everything I am feeling (emotionally and physically) is normal and gave me some ideas of activities that I can do to process some of what I am feeling (like a letter that I never send! It’s like an idea that I’ve heard somewhere before…oh wait, IT’S ONE I RECOMMEND TO STUDENTS ALL THE TIME.) 

But I am dutifully going to do all that she recommends because I don’t know what else to do.  I know God is the ultimate healer, but it will probably go better if I give Him something to work with beyond a giant shrug.

Our conversation helped a lot, but I could still use some input on one thing.  Maybe you can help.  Here’s the question: I feel strongly that I want to do something tangible to commemorate this baby’s journey in and out of my life.  But what? 

When my grandpa died, I printed out some photos of the two of us.  Whenever I felt sad about his death, I pulled them out.  The photos reminded me that my feelings of loss came from great love and holding them and remembering that love made me feel better.

When I went through a different tough family situation, I kept photos of that loved one in frames around my house to remind me of our relationship and my need to pray for him/her.

When I see a flower in the sidewalk, I think of my other grandfather (who is no longer fully with us due to dementia) because of a conversation we once had about how God makes beautiful things in unexpected places, and I smile and think of him.

But how do I remember this baby?

I don’t want to just forget her.  It was a real love.  It was a sacrificial love.  It hurts like a real loss.  But I don’t have any pictures of  her.  I wasn’t able to name her.  (Until last week, I didn’t even know what her final name was.)

I feel like a tangible gesture or item would serve as a touchpoint for me in these times when I wonder if I am just being ridiculous to hurt this much for a baby that wasn’t legally mine, and that maybe, as time goes on, this reminder can help me mark my healing (much like I eventually put those photos of my grandpa away because I didn’t need to look at them very often anymore…and in doing so, I didn’t feel betrayal.  I felt healing and felt that he would be pleased with where I was at in my healing process.)

Our social worker suggested planting a tree, but to be honest, my track record with plants is 0-15 or so at this point and if I killed a tree that was supposed to be commemorating my almost-baby, I would REALLY feel bad…

If you have any ideas, PLEASE send them my way.

In the meantime, I’ll just be drinking my electrolyte enhanced water and trying to recalibrate on multiple levels.  Bottoms up…

Photo on 2-20-14 at 3.36 PM #2

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14 thoughts on “Grief, Week 3

  1. Sarah- I’ve so appreciated your honesty w/ all you’ve been feeling & going through. You are so strong & brave for staying true to yourself. I think a special stepping stone outside, maybe in your backyard, would be a sweet way to remember & honor that sweet baby. It could be decorated by you w/ colored stones to signify the baby’s birth month. I think it could be a special, quiet place where you can go & pray & find comfort when you need it.

  2. Sarah-

    I am so sorry that you have been so sick. I don’t know from recent experience what it feels like to vomit, but my distant memories of it are not fond. I am so glad that you have an amazing husband to take care of things so that you can get some much needed rest. I was reading your post today and a few thoughts came to mind. Last year at about this time I came to visit you after experiencing the loss of a child. It was/is still one of the most heartbreaking things that has ever happened in my life. It was on this visit that you gave me a book and said that you felt God wanted me to have it. That book brought about so much healing for me. In that book it suggested breaking a vase and piecing it back together. I thought this was one of the dumbest things I had ever heard, but I did it anyways. It was amazing to me how God used that project to bring about healing. I wish I could say that the hurt goes away, it doesn’t. It just becomes less intense as the days go by. Your pain and your loss are very real. You need to face that pain and allow yourself to deal with it. You are a strong woman and I know that God has such great plans for you and your family. Call me so we can chat. I love you!

  3. I am so sorry this process is even a reality, and sorry that it is so difficult. I am praying for all 3 of you continuously. To answer your question, I do (surprise, surprise!) have a suggestion. Last year for Easter, my mom gave Lily a necklace with a tiny angel wing charm on it, and a tiny disc with an “L”. No special meaning – she just thought it was pretty and dainty and sweet. I have never taken it off of Lily, so she has never messed with it and has come to love it. One day last summer, someone saw Lily’s necklace and asked me if I had had a miscarriage. I guess the angel wing is symbolic of the loss of a child? Makes sense, but it wasn’t the case for us. But something like that may be sweet – a little necklace for Zoe (if you thought she wouldn’t mess with it) with an angel wing or her sister’s first initial? It would be something you could always see, and something special for Zoe to have near her heart to keep that half-sibling close by. Just an idea! Again, definitely praying for you and your family.

  4. Hey Sarah! I first thought about a tree but then read your response. Plus a tree you can’t take with you if and when you move, and you may want to. Then I thought of a necklace idea, but one for you to wear. I remember meeting a member of our church who had a beautiful clasp necklace with a picture of a lost baby inside. You could have her name inside. And i also thought of a beautiful piece of pottery, could be an open or closed bowl. In the bowl you can add folded pieces of paper that contain your thoughts about the baby, hopes and dreams, etc. You can continually add and have with you forever. And finally, I know you are a poor preachers wife, but you could start a small savings account in a jar, just adding change whenever you find some, and make it a savings for the baby. Zoe can help count it out which my kids always loved to do. It could make her part of the process of saving for someone else over the years. And when the child is old enough you could give it to her as a gift to help her on her way. Hope any of this helps.

  5. Hey girl, what about an angel ornament that you can hang (eventually) on your Christmas tree? When we lost Clara’s twin, I got an angel ornament engraved with the dates of significance (when we learned we were preg to when we lost him/her). Your loss is just as significant, regardless of how this baby was coming into your family. It would honor your loss, your grief, this baby, and could serve as a reminder that while the baby is not with you physically, he/she was real and still your angel.

  6. Sarah,
    Words cannot describe how heartbroken I am for you. I havent written prior to now because I just couldnt find the words. I love reading your blogs and am so happy that you have this outlet. You have always been an incredible writer and I am glad you still have your sense of humor.
    This may be a bit cliche, but what about planting a tree? Its also a way for you to remember how the child is still growing throughout the years and to pray for her. It could be neat to take a picture of Zoe with the tree on her birthday each year. Someday, it may make it easier to explain the situation to her, plus it is something you still have to nuture and take care of….just an idea.
    Keep writing and praying. Im here for you.
    Shannon

  7. Dearest Sarah, I hv been following your posts, although I’ve not previously commented. I know angels are almost overused and everywhere, but I was thinking you could look for an Angel that specifically related to your experience with this adoption that didn’t happen~perhaps even a necklace-14 carat gold, of course! You see, Jesus Himself spoke of guardian angels in Matthew 18, when he said ‘See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.’ Knowing you must be concerned for the welfare of this baby girl, an angel would remind you that even though God didn’t place her in your arms (funny, He doesn’t usually make mistakes like that!), you are placing her in His arms through the watchful care of her guardian angel.
    In a recent devotion, I was reminded of this pain and sadness that you and David are going through. I hope it’s ok that I share it: “…Continue to walk by faith and not by sight, knowing that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we are able to ask or think (Eph 3:20). They say, ‘Good things come to those who wait.’ The determining factor is Who are you waiting for. God says there’s a purpose for all these things (Ecc 3:1). Wait, God will make the pieces fit together. He won’t disappoint you.”
    Love & hugs to both you and Dave and to sweet Zoe, too!

    • I love the devotion that you shared with me. Thank you!! Thanks for the hugs and love (and the idea about angels is a common one, it seems.) I really love the common thread through a lot of these ideas that I need a symbol that reminds me to pray for her and give her to God (who she belongs to anyway) when I think of her. It’s all crystallizing for me!

  8. Hi, Sarah! It sounds to me like you are doing everything right. You have “let go and Let God”. Time is the only answer. I know. I remember thinking after I lost a baby between my two sons, that no one understands the emptiness. You have an empty room that is a constant reminder…of an adoption that didn’t work…but also that God has someone else planned for that room. There is a baby waiting for you and David and Zoe to love. Of course, it would have been so special to have Zoe’s biological sister. God had other plans. No, He doesn’t share them w/us while we are grieving. It’s important for you to have time to heal. A bout of the flu was no help whatsoever!!!
    I remember I started to miscarry on my birthday. I was trying on the cute maternity clothes I had gotten as gifts. I was 4 months along, what could happen? I had already had a healthy pregnancy. Why me? I remember signing in to Women’s Hospital and seeing 13 names on the list. I was told I was the only one who had had a miscarriage. As they wheeled me into the surgery room, I remember seeing all these women recuperating and thinking….Want to trade? Nightmare over? Not quite. Three months later I was subbing at Coleman when I had pains. Went to the OB/Gyn who was positive I just needed a little more done. Thank God, he was not able to help me. If he had, I would have died before I got to the hospital. The placenta had not been removed! It kept growing and I lost the same baby twice. I was scheduled for surgery in two days because my ear drums were so swollen. I couldn’t hear anything! Nurses came from other floors and asked me'” Are you the Mom who lost the same baby twice?” We could have sued, but for what? When I became pregnant w/my second son a year later, it looked like I was going to miscarry again. God had other plans. Now my son is in Med school w/ 2 wonderful children and a great wife supporting him.
    When it’s right, it’s right. God’s timing. Not ours. I would love to help you plant some really pretty flowers in a container. To commemorate the love. And for Zoe to smell. Just let me know when. Sorry if my story was scary, but the happy ending is what I want you to see…I had another baby and he’s turned into a wonderful man. God Bless XO MA

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