My dear husband has been extremely patient with me through the entire miscarriage process. He often gets the short end of my temper, but we’re getting through this together. I often stymie his sensibilities when I appear to cry for no reason or suddenly go from happy to sad. He most often wants to discover the source of the bad feeling and eradicate it. He’s trying to protect me, and I love him all the more for it, but he’s tilting at windmills. The things that generally set off the tears are tiny things that I don’t even expect: cheesy commercials (the new iPhone ads are trying to kill me), certain country songs, toys at the grocery store…
Last night, I went to Cracker Barrel to pick up supper, and they already have Halloween candy and costumes out. The fact that school hasn’t even started yet made the displays a little jarring, but more shocking was the realization that I will not have a little one to dress up for Halloween this year either. There were cute little onesies stylized to convert infants into bumblebees and lady bugs and other assorted cuteness, and I desperately wanted to buy the bumblebee costume with the little tulle skirt and wings for my niece-to-be. But I didn’t. I really, honestly wanted to be buying it for my own daughter, and, besides that, it will be my sister-in-law’s joy to choose her daughter’s Halloween attire, not my vicarious attempt to experience the simple fun of the holiday as a new mom.
I always attribute this feeling to jealousy: my sister-in-law is having a baby, and I’ve lost four, so I’m just feeling jealous of her when I compare our situations. While I am sure there is a little bit of resentment that creeps in, what I realized last night with the bumblebee tulle raspy in my hands is I’m just missing what I lost. Seeing someone in such close proximity “glow” through pregnancy only multiplies my desire to experience it, too. In a few months, watching her newborn grow every day is going to hurt like hell – I contemplated the wording there, but that’s my gut reaction, so it stays – not because I’ll be jealous, but because I’ll be seeing what I’m missing on a daily basis. I want to love my niece and be a fabulous aunt (and I will do both those things with gusto when she arrives), but ripping duct tape off bare skin will hurt less.
One of the complete malarkey lines that people say in relation to miscarriage is that you know you’re ready to try again when you can hold someone else’s baby and be okay with it. I’m not sure what the definition of “okay” is there; if it means you can hold another person’s baby without running for the nearest exit screaming like a banshee about your new baby, I’m probably there. If it means that you only feel the deep and abiding love you have for this new child, and holding her squirmy body doesn’t make you cry because you’re not holding your own child, I will probably never be ready.
I often allow others to set such milestones for me: when I can hold a baby, I’m ready to try again; when I can lose 20 pounds, I’ll be attractive; and the list goes on. I’m learning to mark and celebrate my own milestones: I made it through a stressful day without a single attempted murder charge; I had a horrible day, but I called a friend instead of crying alone. I am learning to celebrate the beautiful things that God created me to be. I am working up the nerve to post my personal manifesto along those lines – maybe tomorrow. Today, I will share the mantra I have adopted from an old Brewster’s Ice Cream slogan, “If you have shoes on both feet, treat yourself.”
Some days, it really is that simple; just putting on shoes is enough if it’s all you can muster. The even simpler thing is to let go completely and just follow Jesus: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) On my own truly terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, I wake up and know in my bones that I would rather hide at home in bed. Sometimes I do; sometimes, I stand up anyway, telling God the whole time, “You have to do this day because I can’t.” I suppose this doesn’t count as “official” prayer, but it’s heartfelt and what I do all day long, “Okay, God, I can’t handle talking to another person, you have to get me through it.” My method may not always be pretty, but it’s the grace in small things, like bumblebee costumes and my husband’s fix-it instinct, that remind me God is even more sufficient for the big things. In Christ alone, it is enough.