Once you’ve experienced unfathomable loss, it can be easy to feel like you’ve paid your dues. They say lightning never strikes twice. After all, we’re supposed to get rainbows after the storm, right? But what if your rainbow dies too?
It was six weeks after Sterling’s birth. Just six weeks. He hadn’t even been gone for very long when a familiar sickness creeped in. A second pink line would confirm what I had suspected.
At first, I didn’t believe it. It didn’t feel real. None of this felt real.
“I’m not ready!” I kept repeating over and over through sobs, while my husband held me and told me it would be okay.
“People will think we just moved onto the next! ‘Replacement baby’, they’ll say. And Sterling! Oh my gosh, what will he think? When he looks down, he has to know we’re grieving and we will never stop grieving. This is too soon.”
I felt so guilty. I needed time to mourn. I wasn’t ready for another baby. I just wanted Sterling. And then THAT made me feel guilty too. I felt guilty for needing time. And guilty for not being able to feel instant joy that those two pink lines used to bring me.
And more than anything, I was afraid. I knew I wanted this baby too, but I had been pregnant under great stress before and those pregnancies ended in loss. But this isn’t normal day to day stress, is it? This is grief. And that is unlike any other stress or anxiety I’ve ever felt. I knew my body wouldn’t be able to hold onto this one either. I just knew.
A few days later, the bleeding started. For 12 days, I bled. A blood test from my doctor confirmed my hormone levels were back at zero. I didn’t move from the couch for 3 days. I barely ate and barely spoke a word. The familiar pain in my back ached while whatever scraps that were left of my heart broke even more. I imagine it must be dust by now.
I used to be a life-giver. But now, it seems that everything that lives inside me lives briefly and then dies. Am I broken? Is this to be the end of the growth of our family? It just ends in death? Will I ever have (or do I even want) a rainbow? Can I even bear to have another child at this point, after all the guilt this brought me?
Ever is a rainbow. She came after four early miscarriages that happened over the span of a year. I know the physical and emotional pain of a miscarriage and I know it well. But this last one, it felt like a twist of the knife. What now, life? Would you like to pour some salt in it too?
Now, we have more babies in heaven than we do on earth. I know I wasn’t ready to be pregnant again after such a heartbreaking loss, but I sure wasn’t ready to lose another one either.
Something that I’ve learned very quickly in my quest to raise awareness of Urea Cycle Disorders is that plenty of people just turn their face away. There are people who just don’t want to hear it, because “it would never happen” to them. You never think it will happen to you, until one day, it does.
I’m the type of person who goes the other way, entirely. I usually expect the worst. And this isn’t a healthy way to live, either. We can’t live our lives in fear, but we can face reality and prepare our hearts for when the storm will hit. The storm is inevitable and there is always more than one. What’s that quote? “You’re either going into a trial, going through a trial, or coming out of one.” It’s something like that. And it is true. Sure, it sounds bleak, but remember we DO have hope in heaven. That is what gets me through.
Life here is beautiful. Its full of great and wonderful things. It is also painful. I wish that once your heart breaks, that it would heal and remain in tact for the rest of your life. I wish there was some sort of max level of pain you could reach in your life, but it just doesn’t work that way.
Not for any of us. None of us are exempt from heartache, no matter how much we’ve already experienced. Grief is universal and we’ll all experiece it at one point in our life. It connects us. So, I guess I’ll open up my umbrella now, because you know what they say.
When it rains…