So, I'm at the grocery store with Joel today and the bagger asks me the dreaded question as he looks at Joel, "Is he your only child?" "Yes" I respond quickly, and then immediately regret that I have just denied my other son.
This is probably only the second time I've decided not to go into detail about the fact that, yes, I do have another child; he was born eight months ago but he passed away. It's a simple sentence to say, but somehow parents of angels feel the need to protect other peole around us. I'd rather not go into with the bagger at Martin's because I know exactly what will happen. His face will drop, he'll feel like an ass for asking the world's most common question to parents, and then he'll say "I'm so sorry." Which almost always makes you want to say "It's okay!" But, it's so not okay, so why do we do that?
Just last Sunday Kyle was talking to a couple after church. The man started (jokingly) giving Kyle a hard time for only having one child so far, and pointed at me and said "and she's not even pregnant yet?!" Kyle just laughed politely and I leaned over him and said sternly, "No, we had another son eight months ago who passed away." Then, it happened. They felt awful. The conversation quickly ended.
It's just one of those normal things that happens often when you have a child who has passed away. Just take a minute and think about it. It happens to my dear friends who have only ever had a Potter's baby. "Do you have any children?" It's seriously the most common question when meeting new people, other parents, married couples.
Also think about how many times you've asked someone "When are you guys gonna have a baby!?" or "When are you going to try for another one?" I'm not saying stop asking these questions, because they are great get-to-know-you questions. But, just be sensitive to the fact that maybe they are trying. Maybe they've been trying. Maybe it breaks their hurt everytime someone asks them. I know it's hard to think about how other people may feel in every situation, but (if you're like me) once you've experienced something similar, you put on your advocate hat and try to protect those you care about.
Well people, we have officially hit our first ONE YEAR marker. April 29th was the day we got Gabe's fatal diagnosis. I remember that day so vividly. I remember the way the ultrasound tech grew more quiet the longer she looked at Gabe. I remember the words of our kind doctor as we left the exam room, "I will put you guys on my prayer list." I remember the harsh words of the specialist, "There will be no reason for you to ever regret terminating this pregnancy because we know there is no way your baby will survive."
Well, the 21st was awful again this month. Honestly, it starts on the 20th. What's it like? I'm just more weepy than usual. I take the time to think about the only day I got to spend with my son. I think about the details of that day, what he looked like, which makes me think about what he would look like. Etc, etc, etc. But, guess what? It's now the 22nd and I'm doing a lot better. Haven't cried once today!
Listen, people. Crying is part of the grieving process. When I feel like crying - I do! I don't try to bottle it up and hope it goes away. Recently, someone shared with me that their therapist instructed them (while healing from a divorce) to turn the radio station if a song makes you cry. Wow. What bad advice! In my humble opinion, each tear is bringing you closer to finding peace about your situation. You are facing your situation head on! You are allowing feelings to come and you are dealing with them when they arrive. THIS is healthy.
I think this month something has finally clicked with me: Only those who have been in my shoes are most helpful to me when I'm sad. I was told this (yes, warned of this) but I still kept expecting well-meaning friends and my close family to understand what I'm going through, say the right things, etc. And, you know what? If you're going through this too, just try to remember that THEY DO NOT understand. They just don't. They haven't been in our shoes, so there's no way they could understand. They will say the wrong thing. They will judge. They will offer advice that could not be more unhelpful. I mean, I'm telling myself this as much as I'm telling you.
I have been told since childhood that I am "tender hearted" and that I am "too easily offended." But, as a grieving mom, I know I'm not alone in this struggle. There are entire websites dedicated to telling others what to say and what not to say to grieving parents. It's difficult. We want you to ask about our loss. We want you to talk about our baby. This helps us know that you care, that you aren't going to act like our situation never happened. That our child was never born. And that he never died. But, what I'm saying is that more often than not, you will also probably offend us. Ha, that sounds so bad, but it's true!
Please ask me questions. Please feel secure in bringing up Gabe's name around me. But, remember that you aren't supposed to come up with the perfect phrase (cause there isn't one) and you're not supposed to fix a problem (cause there isn't one). We are grieving! We will probably cry! And, guess what? If you cried too, it would show us that you are at least trying to be empathetic and compassionate!
If you are a friend who has offered a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on, don't think this blog is directed at you. Know that there are lots of things said to me that touch my heart. Some examples: A new friend asks if she can "pay respects to Gabriel" since we weren't close yet at the time of his death, my sister wondering aloud what it would be like if Gabe was here on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and my mother-in-law telling me that she teared up when she spoke to students about Gabe.
Sorry if this seems like a rant, I guess I just needed to get it out and (as always) am hoping that it will help someone else in my shoes. Really this blog is written for two people: me - as a form of venting, and anyone else that comes to this website looking for help because they are in my situation. You can also rest assured that if you said something to me that I found hurtful, I probably already let you know. This grief thing has made me more assertive. I have to look out for me. Ok, I'm done. :)
Hey guys. I have been trying to write this blog for so many days now, I have needed to write out and let go of all these emotions, but for whatever reason it hasn't happened yet.
Kyle and I need your prayers. We have been so emotionally wrecked lately. Kyle has taken time off work, I have needed help taking care of Joel. We have been a mess! I know; it's to be expected. Yet, it's almost been eight months, so it has kind of caught us off guard.
I have been tearful for days now. Crying off and on because of a thought, or a song. And, as sad as I feel, I know that every tear shed brings me closer to finding peace about my situation. It is good to cry, even though it can hurt so badly.
So, as many of you know, we are officially trying for our third baby. It’s been a few months now and I can easily start having “Why hasn’t it happened yet?” moments. But, I am trying to remember that God’s timing is perfect and that maybe I need more time to grieve (hmm, you think??!) So, during my weak moments, I find myself researching how long it takes to get pregnant again, etc, and have found so much data on how women are usually irregular after birth as nature’s way to naturally prevent a pregnancy too close to the last one. And, everytime I think “Well, that certainly didn’t prevent me from getting pregnant with Gabe!” (He was conceived just six months after I had my firstborn, Joel, the same month I stopped breastfeeding him.)
Then, last week I heard about a couple who has two children and discovered they were pregnant with their third child just DAYS after the husband had a vasectomy preformed! They may have thought they were done, but God had other plans. And what I have been learning is that if GOD wants you to have a baby – He will GIVE you that baby! After I shared this with Kyle, he said, “That makes Gabe’s life so much more intentional. God wanted us to have him, knowing that we would lose him. He wanted us to have to make a choice, and grieve his death.” So powerful!
So, even though I still feel so wounded by my grief, I know it’s all for a purpose. It’s all within His plan.
April 29th will be the one year anniversary of the day we got Gabe’s fatal diagnosis. Please pray for us.
So, as you know if you've read my story, my husband and I fell in love with the name Gabriel before ever realizing that he would actually be an angel. This was the first time in our story that I truly felt the presence of God. I don't think that it is coincidence. I don't think it is chance. I think it was God.
During a bible study a few weeks ago I found out that everytime the angel Gabriel appeared to someone, he was coming with "good news." Gabriel was an angel. Sent from God. To bring good news to those of us on Earth. I love that.
Well, just a few moments ago, I concluded the book "Holding onto Hope" which I've talked about before. The author had two children pass away, a daughter named Hope and a son named Gabriel. They chose his name, knowing he would pass away, based on this scripture:
As I was praying, Gabriel, whom I had seen in the earlier vision, came swiftly to me at the time of the evening sacrifice. He explained to me, "Daniel, I have come here to give you insight and understanding." Daniel 9:21-22
The angel Gabriel came to Daniel to give him insight and understanding. My eyes flooded with tears as soon as I read that. How amazing. How blessed I am to have had my very own Gabriel, who was only in our lives a short time, but who came with such a powerful message. Thank you...
So, I went to a new mom's Bible Study group this morning and we read 2 Corinthians 1:4 which states:
"He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us." (NLT)
I was so excited to stumble upon a verse of scripture that so encompasses the way I feel about what I'm doing. It is my prayer that everything I have gone through, good and bad, will help me better understand how to help, comfort, and love others. LOVE THIS!
Just wanted to get on here and say that I'm feeling so great right now. I have had so many people over the last few days say the nicest things to me about this blog - how much it is blessing their lives. Like "spiritual giants" saying that my words have been an encouragement to them! I'm so happy to hear that Gabe's story, and my life, is touching the lives of others. Thanks so much for taking the time to read our journey.
Wishing everyone a very happy Easter tomorrow. I am so thankful for my relationship with Jesus, my Risen King.