Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Measuring Grief

Yesterday, I got a 5:45 am wake up call from Beckett.  It was a long but productive day, ending with a much much needed night out with a friend where we gorged on bad for us food and shared good, encouraging conversation.  These days, I have to all out exhaust my body in order to get more than 2 hours of consecutive sleep.

I woke up only once last night to use the bathroom, a far cry from the standard 5-8 times.  And when Beckett awoke a little after 7, I opened my eyes and felt dread.  A pit in my stomach.  Nauseous.  Something was wrong, I knew it.  I couldn't figure out how I'd slept so hard all night, not noticing the usual Declan kicks.  I laid still in my bed, willing him to move but felt nothing.  I felt very very NOT pregnant.

I actually had to reach down and make sure my belly was still there.  This is ridiculous - if you've seen me in person, there's no denying that belly.  It's growing at a rapid pace and even if something was wrong with Declan, the belly doesn't disappear overnight.

But I woke up with fear in my heart and absolute panic.  After laying there for about 20 minutes, I finally felt him move.  Relief flooded my body and I felt like I could breathe again.

Those of us who have experienced pregnancy loss dance around our grief, almost feeling as though we don't deserve to be sad.  There are those who lost babies early in pregnancy - who apologize for feeling sad over a baby who was lost at 4 or 5 weeks.  And then there's my category - 2nd trimester losses...some of us forced to experience labor, some of us not - and we apologize because we can't imagine going through it in the 3rd trimester.  And then there are the women who give birth to stillborn babies at 35 weeks, at 39 or at 41.  Tragic yes, but there are apologies for sadness because they can't imagine what it must be like to lose an older child.

Why do we measure our grief?  We would never say to someone newly engaged - "Congratulations on your engagement, but try not to be quite so happy ok?  Because Lucy up the street got a much bigger diamond ring than you did.  SHE'S the one who really deserves to celebrate.  Your little ring is ok, and worth some celebration - but move on quickly and let Lucy live it up."

We don't do that, because it would be ridiculous.  Don't get me wrong, I fully believe that there are losses that hurt far worse than others.  I have no doubt that if I'd given birth to my baby girl and lost her at 40 weeks, it would have been a much more devastating experience.  However, it doesn't change the grief I felt and still feel over her not being here now.   When we were at the beach last month, almost a year to the day we found out we were pregnant with her, I thought of how we should be driving in the car with another child in the backseat.

Todd shared this video on his Facebook page a few days ago.  It's the story of friends of his, who lost their baby boy at 18 weeks.  Watch it.  Even if it makes you uncomfortable.  It needs to be watched, their story needs to be told and their baby deserves to be remembered.  Pregnancy loss, miscarriage - it's a subject rarely talked about.  I was shocked at the number of messages I received after our loss from women who have been through it.  Overwhelmed at the number of families who have been affected by this, because I just never knew.  Statistics say 1 in 4 women experience a loss.  I have to wonder if it's even higher than that.

It's easy to think you know what a grieving family or mother might feel or need after the loss of a child.  And each person/situation is different.  But the more we talk about it, the more we allow ourselves to truly grieve ALONGSIDE someone else, the more Christ focused, real and intimate our relationships become.  So again, I encourage you to watch.  Even if you cry, which you probably will.  So much of this story is my story, and the story of so many other women.  I'm grateful to Sarah and her family for being brave enough to share it.

Matthew: The Story Of Sarah Henderson from Renovatus Video on Vimeo.
Friday, July 19, 2013

Beckett's Announcement

Beckett's making the big announcement!

The littlest of brothers will be Declan McKay Hahn.  

Declan means "man of goodness, man of prayer."  McKay is my mother's maiden name and I'm excited to pass it along to one of my children.
We love you little boy!  You are already kicking me so much and with such force, even the doctor remarked about it at today's appointment.  I have a feeling I'm going to have my hands full!  Blessed to be reminded of the healthy and strong life growing inside of me.  Can't wait to meet our little guy in 88(ish!) days.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Highlight Reel

During our recent vacation to Oak Island, I posted this picture on Facebook and Instagram:

My caption was: "We put the kid down early."  I think it was around 6:30.

I mean look at us!  Don't we look like the absolute picture of beachy calmness? Big smiles, beachy waves in my hair.  We got a lot of comments on this picture - a lot of nice, positive comments about how great we look, what a great time we must be having - even some people expressing jealousy that Beckett was in bed so early.

There's a quote floating around from pastor Steven Furtick that I felt compelled to share after reading through the comments on the picture.

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” 

So here's my truth telling for the day:

Beckett at the beach was EXHAUSTING.  He never stopped, never sat, never played in the sand.  He ran everywhere.  He runs FAST.  He had no fear of the ocean and was very ticked off to be told he had to hold our hands in the water.  He threw a lot of tantrums.  He didn't nap that day.  I can't fully remember, BUT I imagine the reason we put him to bed early that night was not only because he was overtired but probably because we were snapping at each other.  

If you could walk into the house behind us in the picture, you would hear a screaming toddler none too pleased to be in a Pack n Play bed, in a strange bedroom, in a strange house, in a strange city.  

We were exhausted in this picture.  And crabby.

But it was vacation, and we had saved and planned since last year for this vacation and by gosh, we were going to enjoy it.  And besides, what person has the nerve to get on Facebook and complain about being at the beach?  I certainly wasn't about to.  Because I knew we actually were blessed to be able to be there, despite the overwhelming amount of days that included temper tantrums and exhausting beach outings.  

However, the perception of this picture is completely and utterly different than the reality.

It was a learning lesson for me - not that I felt like I shouldn't have posted the picture, or that I should have posted a picture of Beckett screaming...but it made me realize how easy it is for us to feel badly about ourselves, our lives, and our kids if we just look at pretty social media pictures.  

I believe that social media IS a place for uplifting posts and happy pictures - honestly most of us don't want to see negativity every time we scroll through our news feed.  But it's so easy to get caught up in comparing ourselves to other people's highlight reels.  

We ALL have behind the scenes footage we'd rather not share.

So, next time you see a pretty picture on Facebook and assume the person in the photograph has an easier, better, happier life - remember the picture of my husband and I with the unseen screaming toddler in the background.