It’s not about me. Not everything is about me, broken-hearted or not. I have to remind myself of this at times. When people disappoint me, when it seems like the rest of the world is so happy, moved on past our loss and having babies every 30 seconds, it’s not about me. It just feels that way.
Our Aunt sent Jake holiday outfits far in advance during my pregnancy before he passed away. The entire family looked forward to our little man making our holidays a little extra special this year. I have a really hard time giving any of his things away. The nursery still sits as it did before his passing with the additions of keepsakes after we lost him. I can’t go in there without falling apart. But it’s the closet that hurts the most. The hanging outfits, overalls from great-grandma, stacks of diapers and lotions, baby bottles still in boxes, a basket of books because his book shelf is already full, toys, teethers, boppies, bumbos, his “first year” baby book and so much more.
A sharp reminder that we will never use a single item in there, at least not on him.
The holiday outfits always make me lose it. I felt like they should be worn this year even if it won’t be Jake wearing them. So I gave them to a new and dear friend who also lost her baby boy but gave birth to her little rainbow baby just 10 days before Jake’s due date. She will wear them this year. I know her Mama will treat them gently and honor the memory of my son as she slips each arm and leg through the onsie. She lost holidays too and will continue to lose every holiday of her life without her boy also.
So when I am feeling cynical I tell myself there is no thanks this year. My son is dead. I’ve lost two babies in six months. What can I possibly be thankful for? Or why should I even try? Well, because it’s not always about me, And the truth is, I have so.very.much to be thankful for. This year wasn’t ALL bad. I carried my son for seven months and felt life inside me. I carried another son (we learned after testing “Hope” was a boy too) for two and a half months. Getting pregnant used to be our biggest battle but now we know the process that works for us and that isn’t such a fear anymore. Knowing so many couples that long for even just this, I am so thankful for that.
I began to hemorrhage within twenty minutes after giving birth to Jake. My OB had to go in and manually remove my placenta that refused to detach from my uterus to stop the bleeding. The bleeding stopped and I am okay. I am thankful that I am okay because that could have gone so much worse. I am thankful for the time I had to hold my Jake, study his little body and shower him with kisses. I am thankful for the funeral director who has now become a friend that was patient and gentle as we had to place our baby in a basket and say goodbye. He patiently waited as I screamed and fell to the floor and he watched my husband pick me up and rock me like a child to calm me. Tears fell from his eyes. He made the entire process of all the “stuff” (cremation, urns, funeral services, etc.) so much easier. He came to our home each time to discuss our needs. I never once stepped foot into the funeral home. I am so beyond thankful for that.
I am thankful for the friends and family members that have stepped up and provided support during such a difficult time in our life. I am thankful for the new friends we have made along this journey. I am thankful that God has given me the strength to share my story because I have received so many messages of how it helps others. Little do they know, it is helping me as well. I am thankful for my coworkers and their patience with me as my mood sways every.single.day-sometimes by the hour.
I am so thankful for my husband. I’ve always been thankful for him but it’s different now. I am changed and he still loves me. Even more. I am thankful that we had and will always have a child of our own to remember and love and look forward to seeing again one day. I am thankful I am a Mom, even though my mothering looks different from what other Moms’ look like.
I am thankful for the Cross. He is the reason I am still standing. He alone is the reason that I am finding my way. He is the reason I still have hope. He keeps my Jake and other babies safe, warm and loved. He meets their needs for me and loves them even more than I do. I am so thankful for Him. I am so thankful for his promise. I am so thankful for hope.
So it’s been a pretty rough year. But it’s also been a year in which I have learned a much deeper meaning and purpose to this life. I am changed but in some ways that is good. I don’t sweat the small stuff. At all. I don’t worry as much about things that I used to. I am more kind to strangers not knowing what story they carry on their hearts. I listen better than I ever have because I’ve learned that the importance of listening is so much more important than talking. I am learning how to be more gentle with myself. I love deeper. I am so thankful for all of that.
I will always wish this never happened to us. I will always wish Jake was with us for every Thanksgiving. I will always, always long for him. But he is gone. I am starting to really accept that and embrace all he has given me. It’s taking time but I am slowly waking up…most days at least.
This year there will be no turkey or holiday feast because it feels wrong to celebrate this year. Last Thanksgiving we announced to our family that we were expecting Jake during prayer before we stuffed our faces. It was so joyous. This year is different. But having a turkey dinner is not what makes you thankful.
We are thankful.
We are most thankful for Jake.