Friday, August 1, 2014

The Valleys Between the Peaks

Warning: Deep waters and storms ahead.  Not kitchen related at all. No colorful pictures. 

This year so far has been a series of peaks and valleys.  There’s been some serious spiritual testing happening for us.  I feel like we are in a crucible, but I have no idea what we are being crushed for.  The thought actually scares me.  The peaks - the highs - have been really high.  As high as the lows have been low.  Our latest low has left us in a deep crevasse that we could never get out of on our own.  Thankfully, even in our lowest moments, I know that God will pull us out somehow.

Four and a half months ago, we were contacted by an agency that had an expectant mother who wanted to make an adoption plan for her unborn son.  She picked us to be his parents.  For four weeks, we thought we were going to have a little boy, born in May.  Two weeks before his due date she decided to parent him herself.  I don’t blame her for changing her mind.  To me, making an adoption plan for a child is inconceivable.  She showed tremendous courage to even plan for it in the first place, and since her support system returned, it is not surprising that she changed her mind.  But Kevin and I grieved.

We were still grieving when the agency called us again, the week that first baby was to be born.  There was another expectant mother who saw our profile and wanted to talk with us. It was short and awkward conversation, stilted and at times one-sided.  What do you say to the woman who is deliberating over who to raise her baby?  What do you say to the couple who is desperate for a child, your child?    But she picked us, and hope, that thorny rosebud, began to bloom again. 

We tried not to be excited about this next match.  The baby wasn’t due until November, so there was plenty of time for her to change her mind, for her family to get involved, for the father to change his mind and become unsupportive of the adoption plan.  But as time passed, she was still on board.  She was going to her therapy appointments. She made an appointment to talk to us after her next ultrasound. 
We tried not to think, not to plan, not to tell.  We didn’t even talk names, which was an ongoing conversation during the first match.  We wanted people’s prayers, but we didn’t want to make the devastating announcement when the plan changed.  It was excruciating to do the last time, and I didn’t want to have to do it again.   But it kept going as planned.  And life started to look up for us. And we started to tell people.  Not just our immediate family, but our church family, too; friends, colleagues.

Wednesday, as I walked back into work after my lunch hour, I got an email from our social worker at the agency.  When would be a good time for her to call us?   Immediately, I got a pit in my stomach, certain that our expecting mama had changed her mind and decided to parent.  I called our worker and left a voicemail.  I replied to her e-mail.  I called her again.  And again.   About an hour later, she called me back with devastating news.  They had just finished the ultrasound; Baby Boy had no heartbeat.  The doctors sent our mama home, planning to bring her back the next day to induce.  (I found out Thursday evening that she had gone into labor spontaneously and had to call emergency services.  She delivered our precious baby boy stillborn on Thursday morning.)

After talking to our social worker, I called my husband and I left work.  I called my mom.  I called Dana, with Sacred Selections (our grant foundation).  I had them call the other people who needed to know, because I couldn’t have that conversation again.  Kevin called his family.  And he went to church and told our spiritual family.  I went in on Thursday morning to finish up some stuff that I am responsible for (it will probably have to all be checked again, because I’m pretty sure I was not focused enough to really do those tasks well), and left around noon. I stayed home Friday, too.

I don’t know how to process this information, this situation.  Writing it all out is probably the most beneficial thing I’ve done so far.  Mostly, I just feel numb, and I try to keep myself distracted.  It becomes too much, too overwhelming when I think of the sweet woman who had to give birth to our baby boy alone.  I want so badly to drive across the country to her and to hold her and cry with her.  I want her to know that she is not alone in her grief; that she didn’t fail us, or the baby, or her family, or anyone.  I want her to know that our little boy is safe in the Father’s hands.  I want to show her how she can see him again.  I know to some people, that sounds presumptuous, but that’s the truth of where I am.  And you should know, in case you’re wondering, when I say our baby, I mean hers and mine.    

And we’ve heard a lot of, I’m so sorry, I don’t even know what to say, we’re heartbroken for you, we’re praying for you.  Truly, that’s the best thing to tell us, because even though I don’t know why God allowed this to happen, I know He is faithful to answer the prayers of His children and to comfort them. 

Even in my faith in God’s loving care, I find that grief is a lonely place.  This grief in particular is very lonely- no one knows what to say to you when you’ve lost a child, either by your match dissolving or your baby being stillborn. (‘This one wasn’t meant to be;’ ‘There must have been something wrong with him.’) They don’t know what to say to you when you’ve lost all your potential children, either.  It makes people uncomfortable to hear about infertility or a lost adoption. (‘Maybe God doesn’t mean you to be parents;’ ‘Why don’t you just adopt;’ ‘Your baby is out there’)   If you talk about it too much, they don’t want to talk to you or be around you.  But sometimes the grief just bubbles over, and you can’t help it spilling out so that you redirect every conversation to what is eating at you.  The loneliness is not just because of people not knowing what to say to me or not wanting to hear my sad story.  The fact is, I don’t know what to say to them either.  Truth be told, in the deepest part of grief, I don’t want to say anything to anyone.  As much as I want to be surrounded by and crave the attention of people who love me at these times, I also desperately don’t want to talk to anyone about anything. This is probably not healthy, but it is the place I have found myself. Maybe that’s a normal part of grief.  I have found myself at times in the last few years and recently searching for support in dealing with these particular griefs.  They are different, but the same. Each one cuts so sharply, so deeply, but they carve away different pieces of my heart.

The part of my brain that sits outside of this emotional stew is taking notes- it is intrigued by the numbness.  Depression is like a dank, dark hole. If you get far enough down, you don’t even see the light anymore. I think I understand why people tend to either gain or lose a lot of weight with grief and depression.  The numbness is like not being able to see the light.  You don’t feel anything, and if you haven’t slid too far down in the hole, you want to feel something- to see the light.  You remember the light.  You remember that know you NEED to feel something – you NEED to see light.  Eating too much provides feeling -the fullness of being over-sated. Carbs provide this easily, and something about the sugar and how it is metabolized feels good- or at least feels at all.

If you’re a little further down in the hole (or if your depression hole is different than mine) you stop wondering about not feeling anything.  You don’t notice being hungry, or you simply don’t care about it.  If you think about it, you can remember feeling about things, but you are so caught up in the immediacy of your grief that you don’t take the time to remember feeling.  It’s easy not to care about it, hard to make yourself care.  I’m not there- Lord willing I will never slide so deep in the hole for long enough to have that particular effect.

I haven’t spent much time in the kitchen since Wednesday.  So the name of my blog is a misnomer. There’s no happy recipe to go with this post. We ordered Chinese delivery that night- they bring you a ton of food for a very reasonable price- and have been picking at the leftovers since then.   I’m not even sure if I should post this.  It seems to be for my own benefit and edification than anything else.  I don’t have a blog following (no surprise there, due to the infrequency of the posts); there’s really no audience for these sad ramblings.
And yet, as much as I have looked for support, for someone to understand what I’m going through and to tell me that I will survive, I wonder if I shouldn’t post, just of the off chance of some other woman who is searching for comfort will read this and at the very least know that she is not alone.   If that woman is you- you are not alone in your very particular grief.  If you know this woman, point her here.  I can’t imagine any other way to make this situation meaningful than to share it and hope that it helps someone find comfort.  I know that this may make you feel uncomfortable, or sad, or confused. I’m there with you. Maybe reading this will help you to comfort someone else who finds themselves numb and broken from grief.

Blessings and peace to you.

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