December 03, 2013 · Personal
The holidays. What a mix of emotions they bring. I was actually excited about the holidays this year. Looking forward to really celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas since we missed out on those last year. We were present a year ago, but our smiles were fake. If I even DID smile. Pretty sure I didn’t.
I couldn’t tell you one conversation that I remember from the holidays last year, because honestly? I couldn’t have cared less. My mind was somewhere else. My mind was with Owen. Small talk was just noise to me. I was at family functions because it was where I was supposed to be. Really, I wanted to be hiding in a hole somewhere. My body was there, but in my mind I was IN that hole. Burrowed down deep.
I’ve had so much healing take place over the last few months. Since Hilton Head, on to Owen’s Heart Walk up in Cleveland, his first birthday and carrying through to the anniversary of his passing. So when I found myself crying into my mashed potatoes on Thanskgiving Day? I didn’t see that one coming.
I didn’t enjoy this delicious feast on a perfectly decorated table. I didn’t get to indulge in good food and good conversation. I excused myself from the table. After the prayer but before I could even take my first bite of food. It just hit me, like a wave crashing on shore. I found myself crying in my bedroom for the next three hours. Powerless to stop the blow of a reality I just could not shake.
This is our third holiday season… without kids.
Back in 2011, I should have been 8 months pregnant with our first child due December 30th. Last year, 2012, Owen should have been here. Whether he was home with family or up at the Cleveland Clinic, he should have BEEN here. This year? No Owen. No pregnancy. The reality of yet ANOTHER holiday season with empty arms and an empty womb came out of no where. And it hit me hard.
Yes. We’ve been trying to get pregnant. But there’s much about this that you may not know. A busy photography season has prevented me from having much time for personal posts like this one. And like I’ve said from the beginning, I want to share my journey. It’s messy and ugly at times, but I’m choosing to be transparent through this difficult time in my life.
When I sat in my doctor’s office at my 6-week post-pardum visit, through the tears and ugly crying there was only one question I wanted answered.
“When can we start trying again?”
I wasn’t looking to replace Owen. That’s impossible. I wasn’t looking for another baby to take away the pain. That, too, is impossible. But I was pumped full of Mommy hormones that just weren’t going away. I had tasted motherhood.. and it was sweet. I had reached a point in my life where I wanted kids and was ready to be a mom. I had no desire to go back to a life of just being a wife.
“Six months.” Six months?!?!?!? He may as well have told me to wait six years. What was I going to do for six months?!
Hindsight really is 20/20. If I didn’t know that already? I do now. I know why God doesn’t give us the big picture. Why He doesn’t shine a flashlight down the path and let us see a little farther in front of us. I wouldn’t have been able to take the next step.
Over the last 8 months that we’ve been able to try? There have been freaky things happening and I’m not talking about our time in the bedroom. I’m talking medical things. Random medical things that have kept us from being able to try a lot of those months.
Like intense abdominal pain that required a CT Scan. Suspicious moles that were quickly removed and rushed off to the lab as thoughts of skin cancer lingered in the back of my mind. I’m talking random…medical…issues. As each new issue arose, I felt like, “Really, God?! Another month down the drain as I try to figure out what’s going on in my body?” I would find myself becoming angry. Like He owed me. Like this was some form of torture. All this waiting.
But then I got far enough out that I could now look back. I’m not one of those women who lost a child and already has another one by the time you reach the one year mark. And if I’m going to be completely honest? I’m glad I’m not. This is “hindsight Nicole” talking.
I’m so unbelievably thankful that I had an entire year to remember Owen. Honor his little life. Grieve. Not take any of the baggage into the next pregnancy. Had I known a year would go by and I would still not be pregnant? I would have spiraled into a deep depression. No doubt in my mind.
So now…I’m doing the only thing I can do. Waiting. I’m not necessarily talking about waiting to get pregnant. I’m waiting to see what our family is going to look like. I’m ready. I’m ready to have a child. I’m at a point where I can be everything I need to be for this next one. But, I have a level of sensitivity toward this topic as a result of my experiences and the experiences of those around me.
I’m not naive. I’m not and never will be one a woman who makes an announcement on Facebook the moment she finds out she’s pregnant before she’s even seen the doctor. I know all too well that not every pregnancy makes it out of the first trimester. So do the other women in my life who have lost a little one in early pregnancy. I know of two women in the last two months. In my circle of friends alone.
We know the pain of waiting weeks to be out of the woods. (If you’re lucky enough to have the type of pregnancy where you get to feel like you’re OUT of the woods). And we know the hurt felt from those who somehow think their pregnancies are different and their babies are invincible. As if what happened to us won’t happen to them, so they pee on a stick and sky-write the results from an aircraft.
Sometimes I wish I could go back to a simpler time where I WAS that naive about pregnancy and infant loss… But I’ve seen too much. I’ve been through too much. It takes going through this journey to really open your eyes. If your eyes can be opened without ever having to go through this pain yourself, and that does happen (I’ve seen it around me)- thank you for that sensitivity. For the acknowledgement that each day you have with your little one is a gift and something you will no longer take for granted. For every woman who has waited for that second trimester to announce your pregnancy to the world and begin the celebration? Thank you. You get it.
I am also not naive to think that I will be able to GET pregnant again. I’m not being Debbie Downer, I’m being real. There are women who have one beautiful child and for reasons explained or unexplained can not have anymore. There’s always that chance Owen could be it.
There is so much that is out of my control. Some days? I know the pep talk I need to say to myself. The right things to keep my spirits up. The right verses to read to remind me that He loves me and He hears me. It’s easier to be upbeat during certain days of the month. The days where the sky’s the limit. Where every twinge and “feeling” could be a potential early pregnancy symptom.
Other days? Those words, pep talks and verses are flat and lifeless. Many of you know those days. The days with the negative pregnancy tests. The days where you have to decide whether you’re going to wait it out or just take the test and KNOW. Get it over with. The days of the cramping, bloating and pain that remind you (as if somehow you could have forgotten), that you are still…not…pregnant.
There are women in my life waiting. Waiting to heal from a recent miscarriage. Waiting to get pregnant or even see if that is a possibility. Waiting for fertility treatments. Waiting with the pain of “What now?” when fertility treatments fail. Waiting for the adoption agency to match them. Waiting for the day where the photos they already have of their beautiful soon-to-be daughter in China will pale in comparison to seeing her in person for the first time in just a few weeks.
These are not just examples. I know women in every single one of these circumstances and my heart aches with them. Right alongside them. As we all find ourselves…waiting.
But in our waiting, in our pain, in our frustration, in that darkness. Hold His hand, girls. And hold it tight. He knows the road. If He let us shine the light too far ahead, we wouldn’t be able to take the next step. We wouldn’t need Him to guide us. All I’ve ever needed to do on this journey is to just keep moving. One step at a time. Waiting in the dark until it’s time to take another.
Nobody said the waiting would be easy, but I’m choosing to wait in HOPE. And with each passing day, I have to wake up and find that hope all over again. Some days it’s right there. Other days, the harder days, it’s buried under a mound of tissues. But it’s there. Some days it’s just easier to find.
Click here for the very beginning of our 8 year journey through life, loss and our unexpected struggle with secondary infertility. Starting with what we shared at our 3-week-old son’s funeral.