Navigating life has already been a huge journey, and it’s only been three and a half weeks since we lost our daughter. Everything is different now. The simplest things, like showering and eating, take exponentially more effort than they used to. Even getting out of bed doesn’t usually happen till around three in the afternoon. Facing the world is daunting and overwhelming.
Brian and I have made a few trips out in public, and they’ve gotten a little easier each time, but we still face difficulties. After a lot of encouraging from my husband, I mustered up the strength to make a quick trip to Target a few days ago. I started by browsing through the clothing section, and although it was awkward at first, I slowly started to feel more normal. As we made our way through the store, Brian and I began to start talking and smiling as we shopped. Then my eyes landed on the baby section, and I stopped dead in my tracks. The tears began to form in my eyes and a wave of sadness washed over me. Brian grabbed my hand and pulled me away while whispering “It’s ok. I understand. It’s going to be ok.” I’m so thankful for his strength. I hate that he’s also going through such a painful loss, but I am grateful that he is by my side.
I’m learning to be gentle with myself. I’m lenient with my emotions. I allow myself to feel the sadness when it comes. At the same time, I let myself feel joyful in the rare moments when I have the strength to smile. I don’t apologize or feel guilty about my emotions because I know the only way to get through this is to grieve hard. Running from my emotions will only cause more pain in the end.
I have found that the hardest part is speaking up, and telling people what I need. Having regular conversations takes a big toll on me. I’ll feel fine during conversations, but I’ll find that I’m totally drained afterwards. It’s really hard to say “I need to take a break from this friendship right now.” I don’t want my loved ones to feel like I am shutting them out, but being a good friend takes a lot of effort. I have to be honest and admit that I need to be a little selfish right now. Focusing on myself has to be a priority. Most people understand it. I am fortunate to be surrounded by people who let me come to them when I’m ready, and don’t take offense when I don’t respond to calls or text messages. I’m so thankful for the people who are careful with what they say, and consider how certain topics can make me feel.
I read an article the other day that talked about the possibility of post traumatic stress disorder in parents who lost a baby to stillbirth or neonatal death. I wonder sometimes if that could be true for me. Seeing newborns, and pregnant bellies make my heart race. They bring back an overwhelming flood of devastating memories. It’s a massive reminder of the life with Aria we will never have. I don’t know if this will stop as time goes on, or if I will learn to manage it. I try really hard to push through it but sometimes it’s too much for me to bear.
Right now, my wounds are still very raw. I know I will never be the person I used to be, but I accept that. The best thing I can do now is take my brokenness, lift it up to God, and ask him to redeem it.