Count It All Joy

Grief is so often connected to the loss of a person, a loved one. One walk through a library or a book store and you’ll find an entire section devoted to books about grief and about how to deal with losing someone. I myself have lost 3 very, very important people to me in the past year and a half. 2 grandfathers and 1 amazing grandmother; all left this earth before getting to witness me becoming a mother and meeting their sweet great-granddaughter. And though there were periods of grief after their passings, my heart is comforted in knowing where they are. I know that I will be with them again soon, they will meet my daughter, and they will take her by the hand and walk the streets of gold with her. 

But what happens when you lose some”thing“? What happens when the loss you experience doesn’t come with the closure that a funeral and burial brings? What happens when you get stripped of something that you never physically held? What do you do when there is no book or brochure or set of instructions on how to deal with your loss? 

I am about to have one giant pity party, so I apologize in advance. But I’ve never been able to say some of these things to anyone. During my recovery when people would ask, “How are you feeling?”… I knew they meant physically. And I would answer accordingly. No one wanted to hear the state of my heart. No one really wanted to hear about my emotional health; and even if they did, I’m not sure I could have even communicated it. So to REALLY answer the question, “How was I?”….. 

I was sad. I was mourning the loss of time with my newborn baby. I was angry. I hated my body for not being able to have a natural delivery; which led to a c-section and a long chain of unfortunate events. I was lost. I’ve always been so healthy; I didn’t know how to be “sick”. I was so, so very, disconnected. That “beautiful” bond between mom and baby, the skin to skin contact, the special moments spent breastfeeding at all hours, the entire universe revolving around baby….I didn’t have any of that. I looked at my daughter everyday, like a total stranger. Of course I loved her, more than anything in this short life. But connected to her? No. There were days I would just cry and cry thinking that because I couldn’t be there for her like I should have been the first few months, that she wouldn’t love me as much. That she wouldn’t want me or even know who I was. I was jealous. This sounds terrible and selfish but I had such gut-wrenching jealousy for all the other new mommies who got to experience a “normal” transition into this motherhood world. I was embarrassed. When people would ask all the normal new mom questions…”How are you sleeping?”….”How is breastfeeding going?”…”Isn’t being a mom just the best thing ever?”. I died inside EVERY time those questions were asked. It killed me to smile and give them the answers they expected to hear. What they didn’t know was that I wasn’t sleeping. Not because of a crying newborn but because the physical pain was too much. I couldn’t even lay down, let alone sleep. Breastfeeding was not going. I had tubes coming out of my chest, I couldn’t even feel my right breast, and I was on enough medicine all day to poison my baby with the milk I would give her. And sure, being a mom is cool; whatever that means. 

I remember feeling so alone through it all. I had just about the best support system anyone could have asked for. An amazing husband who took care of me and our daughter at all hours of the day. He never once complained or rolled his eyes. A wonderful
mother who dropped everything in her life to come to my side and share my husband’s burden. Family who came to relieve my husband so he could nap. Loved ones who brought dinners and flowers. Friends who called; co-workers who checked in. But I was so alone. No one understood what I was going through. No one could ever grasp the heart break, the intensity of the physical pain. I know they could see it though. The agony, written all over my face; the boldest letters stamped across my heart.

To this day, it all still hurts. The broken ribs, now fused together as one, ache at the end of a day. Sharp pains as my daughter wrestles me, using her bony elbows and knees as if they were ice axes climbing a frozen wall. The heartache is still there. Everyday. When I wake before the sun (and everyone in the house) and come home to see my daughter for the first time at dinner. The hurt stabs me as soon as I walk through the door; another day spent away from her. I’m instantly drawn back to those days in the hospital, to those days where I was physically home but mentally and emotionally I was continents away. But then she looks up at me, she smiles and says “Mommy, Mommy”. Words that feel like tiny little band-aids for my heart.

See, that’s thing about grief; it takes away your perspective. It takes away your clarity. It takes away your ability to process, to see a situation for what it is. You get so caught up in fighting it. Caught up in trying to understand the why and the how and the what next? We suddenly need answers and reasons. We suddenly forget that we are not in control; of anything. We suddenly want to fast forward through it all to get to what we know will come in the end; the lesson. The gift of grief
It has only been very recently that I’ve been able to truly reflect on my postpartum experience. My ‘lesson’ has taken 17 months to be delivered. Between the pain, the doctors appointments, being a new mom and trying my hardest to simply recover; I was in a fog. A fog that only allowed me to see just a few inches in front of me. But one morning, it hit me. HARD. I was grieving. And to be honest, some days I feel like I still am.
But it was also in this moment that a scripture was written on this broken heart of mine.
“Consider it pure joy, my brother and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds; because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete; not lacking anything.” (James 1: 2-4)
Consider it pure joy. Today (and everyday), I can choose to whine about how unfair that season of my life was. I can choose to live in the past fighting to get time back that is already gone. I can try to research and investigate until I find out the exact reasons why things happened. Or I can choose JOY. I can choose to tell my story and be a witness. I can choose to encourage others who may be experiencing grief or loss. I can choose to be grateful for the hardships I faced; knowing they tested and STRENGTHENED my faith and my family. I choose the latter – I CHOOSE JOY. I choose hope and promise in a God who delivers and restores.
“The righteous call to the Lord, and he listens. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is near to all those who are discouraged; he saves those who have lost all hope. Good people suffer many troubles, but the Lord saves them from all.” (Psalms 34: 17-19)
So I will continue to call out. To the one lifeline that saves me; again and again. To the one who carried me through it all. To the God who has never allowed my spirit to be completely broken. To the Lord who is helping me pick up the shattered pieces, one at a time. He knows my grief; he knew my grief long before I did.

5 Comments

  1. Kevin (Husband)

    You are an incredible mommy, an awesome wife, and a great friend. I’m so proud of you for never giving up through that insanely difficult and trying time. You and P are my world – I love you (more)

  2. Steve Brown

    It breaks my heart knowing now that your emotional pain was almost as great as your physical pain. Forgive us men for not recognizing that side and seeing beyond the obvious. As your father, I anguished during this very difficult time but see through your words, that God’s purpose and plan for your life has and is being fullfilled. Keep writing and sharing. All that has happened thus far may not have been the way you would have planned it, but it is exactly the way God planned it. Love, Dad

  3. Donna Brown

    Loved your blog again today dear daughter! I too am very sorry in all the caring for you and your families needs I didn’t fully realize the deep emotional pain going on inside your dear soul. You hid that well. But don’t think for one moment that Sweet Parker girl loves you any less or even realizes the moments you missed out at first with her. You saw to it that others were there to help out when you just could not do it all, you saw to it that she was loved and cared for. One only needs to see P come running to you when you come in the door yelling Mommy Mommy or see her sweetly kiss every photo of you in the house when she is here to know the deep deep love she has for the only one she knows as her Mommy!! You know….God shines His light best in cracked and broken vessels….keep shining for Him baby girl!! So proud of you and love you so much 💕

  4. Amen. I love James 1:2-4 and it’s wonderful how God’s words are always timely. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You have a lovely blog.

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