Expecting a Child When You Have Children in Heaven
Those of you who have read my first blog post, or the "About the Blog" page, know that my wife and I have lost two babies - Lucy and Elliot - to miscarriage. You may also know that we are now expecting our fourth child (due at the end of January). So with everything we've gone through, and are going through now, there are a lot of thoughts - hopes, fears, frustrations - going through my head.
I'm not going to claim to speak for all parents - or even just fathers - who have experienced miscarriage; all I know is my own experience. And I certainly can't claim that my thoughts and feelings are the "right" ones to have, or that my reactions to my situation are better than anyone else's. I just hope that any fathers or mothers who are in a similar situation will know that they are not alone. And maybe I can give their loved ones an idea of what kinds of emotions they might be dealing with.
So, without further ado, here are the seven hopes, fears, and frustrations I have, expecting a child when I have children in heaven.
1. I am really excited. I put this one first, lest I give the impression that everything about this experience is negative, or stressful. I am very excited about this pregnancy, and can't wait to meet the baby. So far, most everything has been going very well, medically speaking. I have hope that this baby will be perfectly healthy. However...
2. What if this baby dies, too? I can't help but worry that something will go wrong. When we were pregnant with Elliot, we made it past the point when we had lost Lucy. But we still lost him. So the fact that we have made it to the third trimester with this baby, while reassuring, doesn't guarantee anything. And I just don't know what I would do if we lost another child.
3. Can I trust God? During Elliot's pregnancy, there were a lot of signs that something might be wrong. I prayed like crazy that he would be okay. And it seemed like God was answering my prayers. Even after blood test brought back troubling results, we would see a healthy baby on the ultrasound. I thought God was saying, "Everything will be okay. This child will live." But obviously, that's not what God was saying to me, because everything did not turn out okay. So ever since then, I've been unsure of how to pray for this baby. I can pray that the baby will make it, but if it's not God's will, then what's the point, right? I have come to realize that God doesn't necessarily guarantee that nothing bad will happen to me, but He will give me the grace to endure those bad things. But knowing that doesn't always make it any easier.
4. Will I love this baby more than I love Lucy and Elliot? I love my two children in heaven so much. I think about them a lot, and I ask them to pray for me and my family. But when I think about this new baby coming, sometimes I am struck by a kind of hypothetical guilt. Will I love this baby more, because I am able to hold him or her? It is a blessing that these two children are in heaven, but wouldn't I rather have them on Earth with me? Will this new baby somehow replace them in my heart? It's all hypothetical, and it probably won't happen. The new baby will probably have more of my immediate attention than Lucy or Elliot (or even Timmy, at times). But that doesn't mean my love for my other children will be diminished. The worry still crosses my mind at times, though.
5. Will other people forget about my children in heaven? This one probably worries me more than the last one, and I think a lot of it has to do with perception. It's not always easy for me to talk about miscarriage, and I think a lot of times it's more difficult for other people. No one wants to make other people sad, so why would they bring up a deceased loved one? So I'm worried that friends and loved ones will just never mention Lucy and Elliot after this next baby is born. And that will make it seem like they've just forgotten them. I'm worried about people referring to this new baby as our second child, or their second nephew/first niece, or second grandchild, etc. And - obviously - no one will intend to be offensive, but it will still hurt a little. I would rather feel sad from someone mentioning my children in heaven, than hurt from everyone seeming to forget them.
6. People keep telling me that the three years between our first child and this baby is "a good distance." Objectively, this is a totally unfair complaint. The reason I get upset is because we weren't planning to have three years between living children. It would have been two years if Lucy had survived, or two and a half if Elliot had. But obviously no one means offense by this comment. Some people might not know about Lucy and Elliot. And most people are simply referring to how old Timmy will be when this baby is born.
7. What's going to happen after we have this baby? It's irrational to worry about things far off in the future, when there's nothing you can do about it now. Well, then I guess I have irrational spells sometimes. We have Timmy right now, and we lost Lucy and Elliot. Say this next baby is born completely healthy. Then what? Statistically, that puts us at 50/50, in terms of pregnancies ending well. Would we risk getting pregnant again? Would we stop trying to get pregnant and look at adoption? I haven't formed any opinions, really. I haven't put any pros and cons lists together. Jess and I have only discussed it in very broad terms, and that was even before we got pregnant this time. And it is definitely not a decision that has to be made any time soon, but that doesn't stop me from worrying about it.
So, there you have it. Have any of you experienced anything like this? Or something completely different? Let me know in the comments below, or by leaving a comment on the Facebook post. Or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catholic/Dad Pick: Adventures in Imperfect Living Podcast
My pick this week is a podcast that helped inspire me to write this blog, and inspired me to be so open with this particular post. Adventures in Imperfect Living is a weekly podcast produced by Greg and Jennifer Willits. Greg and Jennifer originally started podcasting before podcasting was cool, with the Rosary Army Podcast. Then, they had a show on Catholic Radio called The Catholics Next Door. After that show ended, they continued releasing Catholics Next Door podcast episodes, until they eventually renamed their show Adventures in Imperfect Living.
So with that brief history lesson out of the way, what is the show about? Greg and Jennifer are a Catholic couple living in Indiana. They talk about their faith, their marriage, their kids, what they do for fun - life, the universe, and everything! (Actually, I think they use the phrase "life, family, and ridiculousness.") One of the things I really admire about them is their honesty. If one of them is struggling with prayer, or is upset with God, they will express that on the show. They don't sugarcoat things to sound more pious or holy. The show gives a very real look at what it means to live your faith.
One of the things that Greg and Jennifer were open about is the miscarriages they have experienced. The day after Lucy was born - the day I held her perfect little body in my hand, I reached out to Greg, and asked him if he knew of any resources for parents going through miscarriage. Within minutes, he had responded to my email, asked for my phone number, and scheduled a phone call with me. I was completely blown away that someone who barely knew me would just drop everything like that to help me out.
Greg and Jennifer are the real deal. They aren't just putting on a show; they really are living out the Gospel, and sharing it with those around them. They don't claim to be perfect (those with keen eyes will notice that the word "imperfect" can be found in the middle of their title), but I believe the Holy Spirit is working through them and the work they do. You can find out more at their website, gregandjennifer.com.
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