I was a few short days away from my entering into my second trimester. The “safe” zone.
It was a quiet Saturday morning at home with my husband and I started bleeding. After a full day of bleeding and cramping, the pain became intolerable. My aunt and uncle drove us to the emergency room. As soon as we arrived, my insides were in anguish and I began blacking out multiple times.
I laid in an ER room, writhing in the most pain I had ever endured. I now know what I was experiencing as labor. But at the time, I truly thought I could be dying. “Oh, Jesus, help me,” I repeated over and over. I was desperate for even the smallest degree of relief from the pain.
Finally, the doctor put something in my IV and my entire body started to relaxed. After the physical pain subsided, reality began to set in and the weight of the emotional pain smothered me. As the doctor examined me he compassionately said, “Yeah, I don’t like this. I see tissue.”
The tissue he was talking about was my baby.
All of a sudden, it felt like a water balloon burst inside me. The precious contents of my body rushed out into a container that the doctor was holding and it was immediately taken out of the room and sent to the lab.
Four years and two healthy babies later… and it’s only recently that a couple “Should I Haves” became burdensome on my heart.
We never named our baby. Not really. Every memento and treasure we’ve kept says Baby Butler 2011. But I also lost another baby at 5 weeks last year and we use Baby Butler for that baby too. Should we have given our babies first names? Should we give our babies names now?
I never asked the sex of the baby. If the doctor knew, would they have told me? Or should I have asked?
But the thing I’ve been questioning the most…the thing that weighs the heaviest on my heart right now is that I didn’t ask to hold, or at least see my baby.
I go back and forth and second guess myself. Why didn’t I? Would it have been good for me? If I could change it, would I? Should I have?
Should I have.
Should I have.
Should I have.
And then, I pause and take a deep breath. I close my eyes and I remember the details of that night. The pain. The brokenness. The shock. And emptiness. The surrealness. The crying. The anger. The disbelief. It took all my focus just to make a few simple decisions. It took all my energy to simply take my next breath. It took every ounce of bravery I could muster to think about getting through the night, much less make decisions that I would now. I’ve walked four years of grief and healing. In that time, so much has changed. In those dark hours at the hospital, I did what my heart needed at the time.
So now instead of looking at the “Should I Haves” as regrets, I view them as growth. Growth from where I was to where I am now. Proof that I’m healing. Proof that I’m growing stronger.
I’m learning that the grieving process can and probably will be a lifetime’s journey. When your heart, mind and body are transformed by your baby, how can grieving that loss not last a lifetime? The process of healing is not a straight line and can’t be strategized on a calendar. It is a constant ebb and flow.
We do what is good for our hearts. We do what helps bring a little peace in that moment. And as I keep going and allow the tidal waves of both grief and peace wash over me, I can’t allow the “Should I Haves” to anchor me down. I have to remember to love and support myself through this process and know that what I’ve said and done…or not said and not done…does not minimize my love for my heaven babies.
So when the “Should I Haves” start to seep into my heart, I stop, I breathe and I remember. I feel all the details of that night all over again. I give myself grace. I love myself. And I tell myself I am strong.
My baby will forever be a part of who I am. And no name, no memory, no decision can ever change that.
And that…is what matters.