An Awkward Place In The Middle

November 7, 2014

Lori is the Owner and Editor of Still Standing Magazine. She is the mom of three little boys: Matthew and Trey in Heaven and Luke–the joy she is privileged to raise. A proud military spouse, she also blogs at www.loridoesmd.blogspot.com

How often is it heard, “I love each of my children equally. Different, but equally.”

All.the.time.

So, I don’t understand why some people don’t have that same mentality when children die.

Recently, I was asked to participate in a study on the ‘subculture’ of infertility and pregnancy/infant loss. In answering questions about how I felt about my infertility diagnoses, the loss of my first child, and then another loss after having a healthy, living child, a lot of emotions I’ve not felt in a while were stirred up.

My first son died the day after he was born. He was full-term, healthy and people were shocked. After years of infertility, for us to receive the brick in the face that we did in his death was pretty unbelievable for most people. I have no doubt that many, many people wept rivers as they looked at pictures of my husband holding my dying son in his arms. We were well supported, both my husband and I, and I am lucky enough to have lots of precious pictures and memories that our support system can share within. I very, very rarely feel that people question my ‘grieving’ him.

My second and only living son is the epitome of joy and every picture of him screams that at high volume. Although while pregnant with him, (and even now, sometimes!) I got the typical, “Oh, losing Matthew must be easier because you now have Luke,” I am fairly capable of brushing that idiotic logic aside for the sake of showing grace to those who probably need it more than I do. It’s like saying, “Hey, your mom died, but I bet that new gal your dad married makes things a lot easier, right?”

Sure it does.

Not.

In answering questions about my pregnancy with Luke after the loss of Matthew, I remembered very vividly that I did not want a single second of joy stolen–AGAIN–so I refused to live in fear. REFUSED. It was not easy, and it was only through the Grace of God that I was able to, but I am thankful that in light of the circumstances with his brother, my pregnancy and delivery of Luke were nothing short of more miracles and more joy. Remembering this time was so nice for me.

And then I got to the parts of the interview that were about losing again.

AGAIN, for crying out loud.

That’s when the ugly came up.

I am lucky enough to have pictures of Matthew and most people really remember him because he was born and died the next day. It’s hard to forget. We celebrate his birthday, talk of him as he’s a family member and never shy from conversation. It’s different with Trey…the third son I carried and lost at 13w4d.

The difference in support I had for Matthew as a neonatal death vs. Trey as a ‘miscarriage’ is shocking and sad. I saw that baby sucking his thumb in my womb a week before his heart stopped beating. As all of my children were conceived via IVF, and I am fairly an open book on my blog and Facebook, the WORLD saw everything we did! The sweet little gummy bear shape. The video of him sucking his thumb at just 12 weeks. Luke wearing his “Big Brother” shirts and my very bulging belly even at 12-13 weeks. There was no doubt I was pregnant and there was nothing but “New Baby” talk in the air.

And yet, once I posted on Facebook that his heart stopped beating and we lost him, it was almost as if I was never even pregnant a third time. I’ve gotten questions like, “Why did you name it?” because it was ‘just a miscarriage’. While I readily admit that losing Matthew as we did was very much a different situation than losing Trey was–I had no empty nursery to come home to and Luke was here to throw ourselves into after losing Trey–losing two children has been hard on my heart. Losing two children with different values placed on their lives? Even harder.

Much, much harder.

Because I’d been told, “I do pregnancy well” (Matthew and Luke were both full-term, perfect pregnancies) I was surprised to lose Trey. And more, I was surprised that my support system was so different. The support system is far less strong for miscarriage than for neonatal death and when you have a living child???? You get a lot of “At least you have….”
“At least you have Luke.”

Yes. Thank God I have Luke. But I should have his brothers too. And, because of my age and other extenuating circumstances, there are no chances for me to have any other living siblings for him. We have attempted a few adoption scenarios that did not work out, and to be honest?

We are worn. We are weary. We are tired of loss.

There’s so much support in this community we call “BabyLoss” and I am forever grateful for it. How women survived these traumas in days gone by where discussion was not acceptable makes my heart ache at the thought of the pain they went through.

But there’s this small niche of us–we just don’t feel like we fit much of anywhere.

To complain because we can’t have TWO living children when there are so many who never are able to even have one? Gluttonous. We know.

However, gluttonous as it is, I cannot lie. When I see the “Rainbow Babies” born near the time mine was become Big Brothers and Big Sisters?

It stings.

I now am in the middle. I don’t fit in with the comparison conversations. “Baby A did this, but Baby B is soooo different,” or discussions about how to keep big brother busy while tending to little brother. No talk about what double stroller is the best.

I sold mine. I foolishly bought it when I was 10 weeks with Trey. To borrow from Hemingway with a bit of creative licensure: “Double Stroller. For Sale. Never Used.”

While I’ve certainly been that Pregnancy After Loss Mom, I’m just that. Pregnancy After Loss Mom. Not “Mom to two Rainbows.”

And I’ll never be.

The ache in my heart is exacerbated by the comparisons of my losses others make.

Many tell me it’s not the same. At least I have one living child and I should be grateful. I knew Matthew more. He was born alive.

Whatever. Maybe it’s NOT the same.

But seeing all three of my sons wiggle and dance and perform other assorted tricks at my twelve weeks checkups sure felt a lot alike.

Amazing. Miraculous. Wonderful.

PicMonkey Collage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No difference at all in my love for each.

Find more about Lori on her blog: www.loridoesmd.blogspot.com

13 Comments

  • Holly Palmer

    November 9, 2014 at 2:30 am

    I can totally understand this post. I had stillborn twins last year after 11 fertility treatments (our 3rd IVF). It was a brick to the face. And I've had to live everyday without a child to throw my self into, to be thankful for. I've begged God so many times for "just one." BUT, I get it. I dreamed all my life of a family of 3 or 4 and although I will be grateful and so thankful (like you are) for that ONE living child, it's natural to want at least 2. The middle is hard because I agree, people are so judgy and think one should satisfy-it's usually people who do NOT get infertility and loss. Thank you for writing this beautiful post.

  • Amy M

    November 8, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Reading this breaks my heart in two, it hits home all too well. I have a 3.5 year old daughter, we lost our 2nd child at 6-7 weeks, it was heartbreaking, then I quickly conceived my 3rd child and had my sweet Elijah born silently into this work at 33.4 weeks in January. And now we are struggling to conceive our 4th after almost 8 months of trying, I know that it isn’t that long for most who suffer from infertility, but it seems like a lifetime of what ifs? And ” will be ever have our rainbow” after all of the storms. Much love and hugs dear <3 We wear this pain everyday, behind our smiles, behind our laughs, lives a hurting mama, that will never truly be the same again. <3

  • Tara Elisam

    November 9, 2014 at 12:53 am

    I'm told that I should be grateful for the two boys that I have, as if I need to be told that. I'm grateful for them every minute, even when they're driving me crazy. That doesn't mean that the babies I lost don't leave a hole in my heart, or that I shouldn't be sad that they're gone. I'm sad for me and my husband and for my kids, who are also sad that they died. I want to remember them, even for the little amount of time that they were mine. But I get it, people don't know what to say and it makes them uncomfortable and they say these things to me thinking that I'll feel better. I guess you never really know until you've been inside it. My lost little ones were people, and they matter.

  • Kathy Ybarra

    November 9, 2014 at 12:32 am

    People just are selfish and always make their stories…bigger and more important than your loss. We lost 2 grandsons June 2013 and June 2014 both at 32 weeks+. This is the hardest time of the year…I feel for you regarding your babies they ALL matter. We have lost more than anyone can imagine, and all who know us..avoid us like a plague.

  • Mandy Kent

    November 8, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Thank you so much! My hubby and I went through infertility, and were never able to conceive, it sure feels like having a child die. You grieve the child you dreamed about Ann’s hoped for. Will they have daddy’s eyes and mommy’s noise etc… We were then extremely blessed 3 years into our adoption process with our beautiful boy. 2 1/2 years after that we were blessed with another beautiful boy through adoption, but his birth momma changed her mind after 8 beautiful days of holding him, loving him, and cherishing him. I know he is somewhere growing and hopefully happy and loved, but I cannot put tho words the amount of grief and loss, and feeling like he has died, or what it felt like to carry him out of my house for the last time knowing he would never come back. We have continued to pursue our dream of having another child, but it has not happened. It breaks my heart that my son will grow up without a sibling. I can empathize with your feelings of loss, and comments made by others (he just want meant to be yours at least you have one child, maybe your infertility is God telling you that you shouldn’t have children). Thank you for bringing awareness to this grieving, and doing it so beautifully. I cannot thank you enough for your words.

  • Monica Wheatley

    November 8, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    I can relate to a lot of what you have said. I have had three losses…..one was born still @29 weeks , one was born @ 30 weeks and passed four days later and i also had a miscarriage @ 10 weeks. The support and comments were so different for each one! Everyone remembers our son that lived for four days and everyone forgets about our girl that was born still and the miscarriage.
    My husband and I do not have any living children.

  • Jeanne Meiring Cleek

    November 8, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    You have three beautiful children to call your own. The fact that two of them are waiting in heaven for you is heartbreaking. I'm more than certain that God is holding them BOTH in his loving arms the exact same way and perhaps cradling the smallest one a little more carefully because he is so tiny… But every bit as REAL and precious as his two big brothers. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your precious sons with us.

  • Nicole

    November 7, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    I can really relate to this. I have two living daughters, and we’ve just had our 3rd baby pass away (our second mid trimester loss). It’s a difficult time for sure, and I want to thank you for putting a voice to this heartache that we are sharing.

  • Stacy

    November 7, 2014 at 7:55 am

    I have five babies here with me. I should, however, have 6. My second pregnancy ended at just 8 weeks. I don’t know if the baby was a boy or girl. Although, with five daughters, I kind of assumed girl and named her accordingly. I never got to see her in my womb. Never felt her move. But she was still mine. She still lived. She still mattered. And, one day, I will hold her. 🙂

  • Lindsey Willis

    November 7, 2014 at 7:38 am

    This touched my heart so deeply, I have a beautiful and amazing 2 year old boy, and I had a 9w miscarriage this past June. I have very few people supporting me, and I feel like that is making the grieving even worst because my baby is not as acknowledged as I wanted him/her to be. It is a tremendous loss and my heart aches for the hurt you are living with. The best quote I have found that sums up my pain is “The hardest grief is unacknowledged grief”

  • Jennifer Balsmeier Bidwell

    November 7, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Thank you! I have 6 living kiddos and 4 losses. I know I am blessed to have the kids that I do, but I too still grieve the babies that I didn't know. My first loss was a son at just a couple days shy of 20 weeks who was stillborn. I went through labor, I saw him, I held him…and I love him as much as my other children even though he never took a breath. My other 3 losses were all before 8 weeks but I still grieve them just as much. I have been told the same things about being lucky to have my kids or there's the assumption that because my babies weren't born alive or miscarried early that it was easier than someone whose baby lived and then died or who was farther along. Like you said, maybe it is different, but it sure feels hearbreakingly the same!

  • JR

    November 7, 2014 at 6:33 am

    I would love to read this, but there are covering the entire article.

    1. JR

      November 7, 2014 at 6:35 am

      Ads covering the entire article.

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