I am literally sitting here with both tremendous disbelief and despair that my baby would have been two months old today. He would have been starting to smile... I have a lot of other thoughts, but will spare you all. Instead I will post some lyrics to Steven Curtis Chapman's "With Hope." He wrote the song after losing his own daughter in 2008:
This is not at all how
We thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you
We had so many dreams
And now you've gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can take away the pain
The pain of losing you, but ...
We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
(There's a place by God's grace)
There's a place where we'll see your face again
We'll see your face again
And never have I known
Anything so hard to understand
And never have I questioned more
The wisdom of God's plan
But through the cloud of tears
I see the Father's smile and say well done
And I imagine you
Where you wanted most to be
Seeing all your dreams come true
'Cause now you're home
And now you're free, and ...
We have this hope as an anchor
'Cause we believe that everything
God promised us is true, so ...
We wait with hope
And we ache with hope
We hold on with hope
We let go with hope
Yesterday, a friend I haven't seen in seven years (almost to the day), found me on Facebook. After catching up and telling her about Gabe, she reminded me that she too had a loss in her life. The two things that helped her get through it? God and time. Yes, I've heard it before. But, man did I need to hear that! It was just what the doctor ordered.
Today I have felt so light and free from my emotional burdens. Yes, we try to find the easy way out of things. I so desperately wanted to find a quick fix. But, being reminded that God and time would heal my wound was a slap in the face. And, I guess I needed to be slapped!
And then, like a whisper in my ear, I am reminded of what the Truth tells me:
Matthew 5:4: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
Matthew 11:25-30: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
I can't tell you how much better I felt today. And I know that there is a direct correlation between my attitude and my connection to Christ. And I can be completely honest (I hope) and tell you that it's sometimes difficult to run to Him when my sadness is more overwhelming than anything else. Sometimes, in this grief, all I can focus on is what is tangible. And so that means that I have to get through the day, and that's about all I can deal with. And everything else gets put on the back burner. But, when I can open up enough, and become couragous enough (cause this isn't easy) to see that I need Jesus to get me through this, it actually IS easier. The burden IS lifted. It is no longer mine to carry. I really hope this is helpful for all the currently prego mommas out there. Sending my love!
Before Gabriel was born, my dear friend Alexis made me a blanket for my unborn baby. It was so very precious of her. She incorporated the colors of Joel’s nursery – white, brown, and green, she stitched Gabriel Dean’s initials in the center, and put four stars in each corner (and I love stars!) The kind gesture brought me to tears for most of that day, I remember. And the other thing I can still recall is that as I showed off this gorgeous gift, people would often take one look at it and say “God?” Obviously mistaking Gabriel’s “G.D.D.” for the letters G.O.D. I remember being defensive and upset on behalf of my friend who had spend so much time, energy and love making the blanket and people weren’t understanding that it was Gabriel’s initials! Hello??!!
So, yesterday I received in the mail the most beautiful necklace from my friend Kat. It's a silver chain holding a silver heart, with two delicate footprints engraved on one side and my baby's initials engraved on the other. Attached to the heart pendant is Gabe's birthstone crystal. It is absolutely beautiful. It both made me cry and put the biggest smile on my face at the same time.
When I first turned the heart over and saw the three initials “GDD” my first thought was “Aw, did she get ‘God’ engraved on the back?” And then it hit me. No! I made the same mistake as everyone else. Or was it a mistake or rather something that was supposed to happen on purpose? Because now everytime I see my little man’s initials I will be reminded of my God and I do not think that is a coincidence at all! It is just one more way that God is speaking to me through this experience. Telling me, “when you think of your angel, also think of me.”
(I am adding pictures of both the blanket and the necklace under Gabe's photos for you to see...)
Ask anyone. Friends, family, the people in our bereavement group. I thought things would be easier on this side of things. After Gabe was born. And, you know, in many ways it is. I am no longer waiting for the day when Gabriel will arrive, anxiously wondering when labor will happen. I know how his story will end how every detail will pan out. I know I will be lucky enough to see him born alive and will be able to spend a wonderful day with him. And, most importantly, now that I am on the other side, I am able to begin my grieving process. And for all of these things, I am thankful.
However, this lovely grieving process is no walk in the park. It is hard work. I was assured today that the first few months are the hardest, although I will miss my little man for the rest of my life. Here’s the bottom line. I now know what my goal is: To always remember my son, but to be able to remember him without feeling intense pain. And, in time, I will be able to do that! What a blessing to even think about such a possibility! I really can’t wait…
Sometimes thinking about the future is too difficult right now. The other day, I was trying to think about the exact moment when Joel would truly realize that he had a younger brother. But, then it occurred to me that because he will grow up around pictures of Gabe and a family talking about his little brother, he will mature while he is gaining that understanding - it will be a process. Whew! I think Joel will grow to have the same appreciation for Gabriel’s life as others have had. Gabe has shown so many people that every life is valuable and worth saving.
Ahhh, blogging is so difficult! I am trying desperately to be honest and transparent, as well as guard my loved ones and not put anyone's "stuff" out there but my own. I want to make sure that this journaling process helps me heal, but I find myself spending more time editing my own words than I do getting my words out. Why? Fear. Fear of putting too much out there, fear of being judged, fear of looking like I'm losing it, fear of looking like I'm not relying enough on God, fear of remembering too much, fear of really letting go.
Today has been a sad day for me. Most Fridays are sad because Gabe was born on a Friday. In child loss circles you hear about how difficult certain anniversaries can be, but I never thought I'd have one on a weekly basis! I find myself putting up so many guards, so many walls, to protect my heart. We have a huge 11x20 picture of Gabriel in our bedroom that was blown up for the funeral and I have sort of told myself that it's a picture of Joel as a newborn... And I find myself not looking at all the other photos that we had blown up that are now on our mantle in the living room. And all the cards have been tucked away with everything from the hospital, as well as the death certificate, in a bag in our bedroom, for me to sort through "when I have the strength on a good day." Well, who knows when that day will come! I'm sure all of this is still in the realm of normal, and this is just how I'm coping with this for this stage, but there is tremendous guilt that comes with the realization of the avoidance. There. I said it.
It's easy to feel guilty about a lot of things when you are going through a grieving process. I feel bad when I say I am doing "well" instead of just "ok" when I am asked. But sometimes I want to spare the other person the reality of this side of things. And when someone asks you how you're doing, it's not always polite to answer "shitty."
And here's some more guilt. I feel I must round out this entry with a nice ending about how great our God is... So, I will list off all the things that did go right with this awful situation and it will make us all feel better! :)
-Gabe was born alive
-Gabe lived for two hours
-Gabe was absolutely beautiful
-Gabe opened up his eyes
-Gabe made adorable little noises, as well as two cries
-Gabe is happy and healthy in Heaven now with Jesus
-Gabe moved from transverse to breech
-We did not have to have a c-section
-The nurses, midwives, doctors and staff were amazing
-Joel got to meet his little brother
-All of Gabe's grandparents got to hold him alive
-Gabe's great-grandmother got to hold him alive
-Gabe's amazing Uncle Brandon got to meet him alive
-Gabe's amazing Aunt Ashleigh got to meet him alive
-Gabe's story has touched many lives
-Two more Potter's babies were not terminated because of this website!!
-My marriage is stronger because of this experience
-Gabe's death was not in vain, glory was brought to God
Today is the last day in September; it felt like a good time to write again. We're getting close to being six weeks out, and already time has started to mend this gaping wound. But, so many other things have helped as well. God has literally carried me through this. And there are numerous days that I am too upset or angry to "have a quiet time" yet He does not leave my side. He will never leave my side. And He gave me so many things to be grateful for. Even when I try to list all my sorrows, I am reminded of all my blessings.
It's funny how grief has so many layers, so many voices, so many expressions. In one day I can feel overwhelmed, angry, defeated, depressed, elated, blessed, heartbroken, numb, starving, and empty. And we all grieve differently, in our own ways. Just like with most things in life, when dealing with someone who is grieving, try not to be judgmental. They will have their ups and downs. They will be doing things at their own pace, on their own time. They will be doing what's best for them.
I know I will continue to have brighter days, and for that I am hopeful, but I will always miss my son.
Today is one month exactly since my angel was born and passed away. My heart still has a very real pain, a terrible ache. I still cry, weep even, for the child I lost. For the son I had to bury. For the playmate my firstborn won't have. This journey has taught me many things, and I know I will continue to learn things along the way, but, it has not been easy. In one month's time I have not yet been able to forget the pain of childbirth, and at this point, recalling those moments can feel more like post traumatic stress than remembering my child's birthday. I try to remember the good moments from that day. The precious time that I had with my "Gabey." Touching his nose and hearing his cry. Holding him close and smelling his scent. I remember all those who were there to share in the amazing experience of that day. How grateful we all are for the time we had with Gabe. Even if it was just two hours. Especially because it was two hours.
I am learning that you not only have good days and bad days, but good and bad hours, even moments. Sometimes I am great. I even laugh (gasp!) But some days I cry at the site of a baby on tv, and the thought of Joel not being able to bully his younger brother. In parenting circles, you often hear about mothers who worry with whether or not they will love their second child as much as their firstborn. This blows my mind. I love Gabe so much. And he is not even here with me. His spirit is in Heaven, just waiting for me. And his little body is in the ground, where I can go visit him, but he's not really there. So, technically, I don't have anything to love - but oh, how I love him. I very much consider myself a mother of two boys...
So, in closing, let me say that I am journaling on this side of things as much for you as I am for me. I think it is good for me to get my thoughts and feelings out, and I know so many of you are wondering how I am doing... So, here you go. Hope you're all doing well. Love, Meg