I feel like a bit of a fraud. Last blog I wrote about this real sense of joy I’d had post-Molly. This underlying happiness despite it all. Moments of weighty tears, you bet. But overall a lighter load to carry than after Nina.
And then another baby was born.
Any sense of pride I’d had in how I was coping came crashing down. Like, big time.
Because this wasn’t any other baby. This was one of my best friend’s babies. Another little girl. A surprise finale for their family. A beautiful ending to a story that started with devastating loss, losing their first daughter at 5 weeks old, almost eight years ago.
I knew it was coming, of course. I was ok when my friend told me. I was alright when the Facebook announcement post went up. But the huge wave of joy and celebration that comes with it, that’s what got me.
That, and realising Molly’s time was done. She’d had her moment. And that was all we’d ever get. No more moments, no milestones, just… nothing.
That night I hit the wall (literally fell over in the shower in tears 😂). And probably severely dehydrated myself too with the amount I cried! All this anger I didn't even know was there came pouring out. And all at God.
I felt like I was just shouting a psalm at him. A psalm peppered with expletives, to be honest. That’s how angry I was.
And I was angry at him because there’s no-one else to be angry with. No one to blame. Our situation just is what it is. That is life.
But if I believe in this all-powerful God then why can’t I see him being ‘all-powerful’ in my situation? How come you bless others out of their loss, yet let me go through it again? Do I still believe you’re good? I know you are in an eternal sense, redeeming me, and all (appreciate that Heaven bit, thanks). But do you care about being good to me here and now? Why do you place this deep longing in me when you have no inclination to fulfill it?
And I thought I’d neatly ticked a lot of those big questions off!
Hah! Well novice theological answers are wildly inadequate at the coal-face of loss.
I had to dig in again and make those beliefs a reality, make them my own. Just like I had to do in deciding to keep these babies. Theory’s all good, but reality is often far more brutal.
I guess what I’m learning is this. You have to keep addressing these questions and reaffirming them in your mind, cause the hurt will rear its head at the oddest of times. You can’t control that. There’s always a steady stream of babies. And girl, sadly, your run is done.
I had an inkling this particular birth would hurt more. The first baby after Molly. I’ve done this before of course, with Nina, and it was a kicker just the same, though this time round felt all the more raw. Because I’d had back to back losses, I guess. This next baby born came a lot quicker than after Nina, and in this case it just seemed like such a story of redemption for this family. Here’s your cherry on top, your sweet reward for all you’ve been through.
Um, hello God – where’s my reward?
But that’s hurt talking. No baby replaces another, sadly.
But they do fill your arms and your heart again. There’s a sense of purpose. Jobs to do. A role to play. Without that, you’re left a little up in the air. Just what is my identity now? I wanted to be there… and I’m now here. Doing the very same things I was doing three years ago with no change in my circumstances, yet torrents of water under the bridge.
And the thing is, back in the real world (not your safe little friends and family bubble), no one has any idea you feel like you’re trying to swim your way out of the Huka Falls.
Those places you go day-to-day or weekly where it’s pretty much acquaintance-ville – the local cafe, swimming lessons, the gym, even school sometimes – you really have to wonder whether anyone even noticed? 8 months pregnant one week, and no baby the next, and the next, and the next. If I saw that, I’m pretty sure I’d notice. And while I know some people are too scared to mention anything, I wonder whether a lot of people are just completely oblivious. It truly is a marvel not worth experiencing! And it seriously makes you feel rather invisible. Once again.
Life’s rolled on well and truly since Molly. Work didn’t really stop, in fact it cranked up. That’s life when you freelance. You kind of have to run while it’s hot… I went through the motions, invisible, while doing things I hadn’t done in years, presenting to CEOs and trying to impress new clients. Because sometimes that’s just what you’ve got to do. My head was well and truly elsewhere though.
Some people said, oh it’s great – work can take your mind off things. Yeah, perhaps… for a while. We can all distract ourselves from facing hard things, try and avoid having to feel too deeply and fathom big questions. But I’m not sure there’s much point in that. It’ll all pour out at some point in life or turn into bitterness, so why not turn to face your grief sooner rather than later? Why not put the pain to work? Face it and make it productive?
And so those big questions are just an ongoing part of life that I try to put as much time into as I can. I guess I’m fortunate I’ve found a framework to fathom them through, a Christian faith. Because facing this kind of stuff without hope must be incredibly daunting.
I’m not sure I’ll ever have all the answers to my big questions. God’s not someone who can be pinned down to our earthly understanding of how things should work. That’s like expecting a lion to conform to the world of an ant.
That doesn’t mean giving up though, because we’ll never find hard and fast answers. Perhaps that’s the point – he wants us to keep asking. He wants us to keep the conversation going, even when we feel powerless in the wake of what’s happening to us. And in that questioning, what we find is not direct answers, but understanding instead.
Oh it’s hard. It seems really futile sometimes. But my choice is for trials to make me not to break me. A tonne of bricks that build, not destroy.
We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul - not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.
The Message version