Monday, May 16, 2016

Thoughts on Carrying to Birth, from a Couple Who's Been There

So there I was, a grown woman, curled up in the fetal position on the cold kitchen floor, screaming out while clutching my ever growing belly. 

My ever growing baby.  

Begging, pleading, demanding to be heard. By God? Maybe. 

I felt warm arms wrap around me, it was my husband huddling up behind me to hold me through it. 

There were many of these outbursts. Completely uncontrollable. Sometimes it felt like a complete dream (nightmare). I would wake up and for a split second, have to remind myself what was happening. 

Nighttime was the toughest for me though. I have a hard time explaining why, but it all would sort of flood my mind at the end of the day. It was a lot to process. Plus, that's when Gianna was most active. 

I would be lying if I said that right before every ultrasound post-diagnosis I didn't have a fleeting feeling of 'maybe she will be ok this time.' From a logical standpoint it sounds ridiculous, I know that. But it's our child, so logic is out the window. Heart trumps logic when it comes to our baby. After a thorough check by the perinatologist, once again we are reminded that no, she is not ok. In fact, it felt like every time we were hit with worse news than before. Every ultrasound discovered yet another reason for her to not make it. 

It's a struggle, this journey you're taking. It won't always be beautiful. Sometimes it'll be real, raw, and heavy. Some days you will feel broken down, unable to simply get out of bed (that's ok). It's all so very confusing. Do you start grieving after diagnosis or after he or she dies? How can you make the most of your time, while starting to grieve their impending death? I don't have answers for you, all I can do is share our experience. 

We stayed in bed for the first week after diagnosis. We got up to eat and that was it, sometimes we didn't even do that. Thankfully my lovely mother came almost daily just to help clean and cook, that was so crucial for us, especially because she didn't expect anything out of us. She came in, helped (sometimes without even being seen), and left. It was like she knew exactly what we needed each day, to be left alone, or to be supported. 

We read to Gianna every night. We sang songs with her. We said special prayers. We made incredible memories that will last a lifetime. 

Gianna's first baseball game
When I look back on my carry to birth journey, I have no regrets. None. 

There are things I wish I did, memories during our short time together that I wish we had made, but no regrets. Therein lies the problem, what would ever be 'enough'? How many more memories would ever leave me feeling completely satisfied? 

Well, a lifetime. Me passing before her. 

We've all said it a thousand times, but I'll say it again, your child is still worthy regardless of diagnosis. Your child is still the same beautiful child you started with. We love them the same through diagnosis and beyond because their illness/disorder doesn't define our love for our child, inside or outside of the womb. 

Life will never be like it was before, ever. I was talking to my husband about this and he said it's odd, because even though life has completely changed, we've had many times since where we've felt more alive than ever. We feel it's our duty to live for our child that couldn't stay long here on Earth. It's not easy and some days your grief will get in the way of you 'living to your fullest'. You'll learn to live with it in your own way. If someone says 'just give it time' don't count on time. It's ok to feel that pain, in fact, it's necessary. 

People will come in and out of your life after losing your baby. You'll learn who will stay in forever, and who maybe shouldn't have been there in the first place. It's not about people that are "with you" or "against you", but about those that understand or at least respect what you feel, not just now, but also in the future. Our appreciation for those that fit this mold is overwhelming as its that support that has continued to help carry us through. Feel free to involve them in whatever small things you do for remembering your angel. You may be surprised to find that your loved ones will not only feel appreciated to be involved in something so special to you. 

Life will change again and again. Grief will change again and again. What you need in grief will always be evolving. Going through the loss of our baby made us realize what's really important. There are a lot of previous stresses or dramas that honestly, just aren't that serious to us anymore. It opened our eyes to what really matters in life. My hope is that you find what and who your heart needs (or can't handle) on this lifelong grief journey. It's a learning process that will ebb and flow with just one constant; your undying, unwavering love for your child.

~ ~ ~

Steve and Christine have been together for 11 years. They are what some might call 'soul mates' and have experienced almost everything imaginable together, including losing their first beloved child, Gianna Marie. They've gone on to have a surviving son, Romeo, and include both of their children in their daily lives.


Survivor Mama said...

My heart goes out to you and Gianna and Steve and Romeo. Follow your heart in sharing your story. There are a lot of moms and dads who need to know they are not alone. Love and light to you.

Lin Maynard said...

What a beautiful honest tribute to your daughter Gianna Marie So sorry about your loss. Give that message to your husband as well

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