Friday, January 21, 2011

Through the Deep Waters

These lines have been on my mind a lot the last few days:

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

(From "How Firm a Foundation.")

Today is one month. One month since what we anticipated as a happy, if anxious arrival turned into unforseen, unexpected sorrow.
I've had help and comfort from sources expected and unexpected. I've had friends throw themselves into helping me, helping us, any way they could, from feeding my family, to sending money for expenses, to gifts for the girls. I've leaned hard on a few of them, crying to them, letting them distract me at times and listen to me talk about everything, even the hard things, at others.

I've had a visit from my Stake President (President Morgan has known me since I was about 18; his family feels like family to me by now, honestly) and Elder Ringwood, one of our General Authorities. They came by last Saturday (it was Stake Conference) and sat with us. Elder Ringwood talked about some experiences he's had with families who have lost children at or shortly after birth, and that he was impressed at the way they didn't let their other children forget their siblings, because they were an eternal family. He gave a beautiful prayer that touched me very much, about us being assured that Becky was entitled to eternal life, and asking that we recieve extra comfort when it was needed. His words were just what we needed to hear. (And he even understood the pressures of tax season, being an accountant.) We talked, we cried (and Bridget sat on President Morgan's lap the whole time, the girl knows a sucker for little girls when she sees one, lol.)

I've had days when I felt like everything was pretty much going okay. I've had more days when I felt like I will never be truly happy again. I've wanted to escape. I've needed to get out. I've gone out, and found that I didn't even know where to go. I've screamed at my husband. I've cried in his arms. He's cried in mine. We've talked; we've cuddled; we've tried our best, and sometimes it seems it hasn't been enough.

I've found comfort in strange places. The scriptures have much comfort for me, but that was expected; music has helped more than I can say. I've always felt most connected to myself, to my soul, through music, more than anything else. I've made dirty jokes with my girl friends and strangely that has lifted my spirits when nothing else seemed to. Helping a friend in need made my week. (That old adage about serving others when you need to lift your spirits? Really true...) My parents and other relatives have reached out to me and I've gratefully accepted their company, conversation, listening ears. Then things that I've thought should help, haven't. Ice cream holds scant comfort for me any more. Sleeping is fraught, as I'm apt to wake up from a dream of a baby I remember all over again isn't with me any more.

It's been a strange month. Unexpected. Unanticipated. Books on grieving, instead of a baby. Medications to regulate my brain chemistry so I can grieve healthily instead of going off the deep end, and to prevent another pregnancy until my uterus and heart have time to heal (for the sake of the baby, as well as my own.) Visits to the doctor's office where my main concern is not how much I weigh, but how I'm going to survive sitting in a room full of baby pictures. Tea to stop my milk coming in, instead of making sure a jaundiced baby gets enough of it to clear her bilirubin.

And yet, I've found gratitude. So much gratitude. For my friends. For the comfort I've been given. For the little ways I was prepared to survive this, and to be comforted, as far back as my pregnancy. For the things I was spared. I can't write about them all yet. But I'm sure I will.

So so far, it seems, the old hymn is true. My head is above water. I'm not "overflowed" quite yet. I'm finding out you can live through the unliveable. And as life flows on, sorrow is part of the water. But in the words of Khalil Gibran, "When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and in truth you shall see that you are weeping for that which has been your delight." The sorrow is there because there was joy. There will be joy with my Becky again, and, long-awaited, it will be richer because I have known this sorrow. I know that as sure as I know that she knows we love her.

So the day will be hard. The month will be hard, as this month has been. The year will be hard. But I am confident that I will not go under. I can already see some of the ways in which this distress is sanctified. I pray for the strength to heal, to carry on, and to recognize the ways in which it is sanctified further to me.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A Bend in the Road

If I could I'd tell you now,
There are no roads that do not bend,
And the days, like flowers, bloom and fade,
And they do not come again.

Now we've only got these times we're living in.
We've only got these times we're living in.

-Kate Wolf, "These Times We're Living In"

The older I get the more I hear in Kate Wolf's songs. I grew up listening to her and appreciating the music as well as the vivid imagery and beautiful metaphor she wove through her startlingly real portraits of people and life, but like most great works of art (be they visual art, music, or literature) the more life experience I gain, the more they gain meaning as I gain understanding.

I was struck by those lines today. There are no roads that do not bend-- there is no life that goes exactly the way we hope and plan. I have had friends and family members lose babies before (though most before a full-term birth, many were quite far into their pregnancies) but though I'd obviously known that this is a huge shock and loss, I never thought about the changes in plan it entails.

That road trip we were going to take? Well, we won't be doing it with a baby. The trip to Disneyland? Won't be navigating it with a baby in tow. The plans for next Christmas? We won't have a one year old along. The picture of how my family will be spaced? Maggie will now be probably 4 or even 5 when the next sibling comes along, instead of being less than 3 when she gets used to having a baby in the house. Yes, Becky will always be in our hearts, and part of our family-- but she won't be living here, she won't be part of the household routine, it will be very different spacing-wise than what I'm used to, and planned for. Add in that I had a c-section (unexpected since I've always said I'd only consent to one when it was a life-or-health-of-the-baby-or-me situation in MY estimation) and it changes my short term plans due to my physical ability, and my next birth will now be "labeled"-- I'll be a "VBAC" with a slightly higher risk (before I was a "medium risk" patient, I probably still am, but still, it's a word I'll hear that I wasn't expecting, not that it's a bad one or anything.)

Basically, there's not much that will be happening the way I thought it was going to. So now, I have to walk that bend in the road and start trying to plan out the route ahead all over again, since my life has turned 40 degrees to the side of where I thought it would be going. There will be stops along the new route that are more sorrowful and difficult than I was expecting. Off to the side lies a little grave. But I can't stay here, can I? I guess I have to keep walking. Because I've only got this life, I don't get a choice. We can choose our path but sometimes it's not the path we thought it would be. We've only got these times we're living in.