Ripples of Loss: Jen’s Story

I’ve been reflecting some and thinking back to the moments that were the most powerful throughout the last year and a half, particularly my journey to motherhood. I remember like it was yesterday, Lisa called me from Virginia and shared her secret- “I’m pregnant”- and in response, after the excitement died down, I shared mine- “I’m pregnant too”- and then the excitement started again.

Our journeys began: I, in Massachusetts, and Lisa, 10 hours away. We kept tabs on each other, compared notes about the ways our bodies were reacting and changing, and dreamt about the future. Fast-forward to April. I had just started a new job, was getting out of work, and noticed a missed call from an old co-worker of mine who I hadn’t spoken to since working in Virginia. I began my drive home and called her back. She first asked me what I was doing and when I responded driving she immediately told me to hang up and call her back when I got home. It was clear something was wrong so I instead insisted that I was fine and that’s when she told me, “Lisa lost the baby”.

To this day, this very moment, I still tear up, I get goose bumps, my heart pounds, and my head begins to ache, every time I think of that moment. On the outside I appeared stoic when I heard the news, after all I was driving, but on the inside my body shrieked in anger. I made it home safely. Parked my car. Greeted my husband. All while holding onto my growing belly. That’s when it hit me. Sadness rushed over in an instant and I was paralyzed. Falling into my husband we sobbed together and now it was his turn to get angry. It was an ugly day. One that I didn’t know would continue for days, weeks, and months on. I needed to call Lisa. I needed to cry with my friend. I needed her to know that I loved her, I was devastated for her, and be there for her. And so I did, to a point…it was the last part that was the hardest for me.

Jen

We never know how we will react to a situation until it happens. We are taught right from wrong, we can try and prepare for all things possible, imagine that our maturity or life experiences or education will guide us a certain way, but we never really know until it happens. My reaction was not one that I expected or was prepared for. This is the first time telling my story and even after all my reflection and prayer I still find it difficult to talk about.

I got off the phone with Lisa and headed to the shower. I needed to sob in private. I needed to hold my growing belly. I needed to feel my baby move; she didn’t. The more I begged her to the more still she seemed to become. My shower ended that evening with my husband physically helping me out of it. My body was trembling from sobbing, from fear. We were becoming mothers together- this could happen to me.

The next morning I “woke” up- I don’t know how much, if any, I had actually slept that night-but I woke up with one goal in mind: to send a care package to Lisa. Even if I could not physically be there I wanted her to know I loved her. My husband and I completed it together, putting in thought with every item, and using the time together to support one another. The task felt therapeutic in a way. That is until the evening came around and the nightmares began. I’ll spare the details but know that they were ugly and did not go away for a long, long time.

My grief angered me. My fear paralyzed me. My anxiety crippled me. I withdrew from the world. My parents and husband were concerned and at points scared for mine and my child’s well being. I was still growing baby and ultimately needed to take care of her. I was not there for Lisa the way she needed me to. I responded to the way my body reacted. Was it right or wrong? I don’t know. I don’t think there is a right or wrong, just effort. In my last months of pregnancy and through about 4 months post-partum I gave all the effort I had but I could not break the ugly cycle I was in.

Lisa and I fell out of touch. Sincerely, I didn’t mean for it to happen. I gave Lisa space. It’s what I wanted for myself and I falsely assumed that’s what she would want… I kept asking myself, “Why would she ever want to talk to someone who has something that she doesn’t have?” We exchanged letters, mine in response to hers, and with that if felt as though our friendship had come to a close.  We tend to treat people the way we would like to be treated when sometimes you should just ask them what they want. It’s what I’ve learned from this experience. I’ve also learned that it’s never too late to rekindle a relationship.

I felt the loss of Lisa’s presence in my life. I missed her greatly. I missed our late night chats about books, life around us, and our babies… but by now there was only one baby and why did I deserve this blessing? My baby was a tough infant and sometimes the best therapy is a rant to a close friend but what would Lisa share? Will she think I’m being petty and selfish to be complaining about a child that I am fortunate enough to have? Am I being inconsiderate of her feelings by sharing stories? These are only a few of the questions that still hurt my head at timesjensousa.

I don’t exactly recall when it was that Lisa and I first contacted each other again. I do remember the conversation though. There were tears (we’re good for them) and laughs (also come pretty easily) and at the very end Lisa described it perfectly, “it’s like when you don’t have sex with your husband for a really long time and you think it’ll be so awkward and weird but then once you get going you realize it’s familiar and good.” Those weren’t her exact words but definitely along those lines. We talked on the phone for a while that night and I felt a rush of relief fly over me.

I’m still kind of cautious with stories or complaints about motherhood when we talk and I still have my days, although they are becoming moments in my day, when I’m a whirl wind of emotions. I am learning to pray more, thanks to Lisa, and not a day goes by, truly, that I do not think of Jake and send up a quick prayer.

Our friendship is not back to where it was before babies but rather a work in progress. It may never be the same and that’s okay because we’re not the same people. We’re moms, each in our own way, and we will continue to learn from each other and love each other deeply because that’s what friends do.

Olive will know about Jake one day and how he’s effected so many people.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story.

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