Our Twin Story: Continued

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My oldest daughter, Lane drew this picture for us after we lost the twins. She said it was to help remember them. Her sweet heart never ceases to amaze me. We are so blessed.

Phew! Last week. Man, last week’s post was…it was really just so hard. I literally cried through the whole thing. And then I went upstairs and cried some more. And then I stopped. And then cried again some more. And then stopped…I think you get the picture. This was on and off again for most of the rest of the night. Then I felt it for the next few days. I usually read and re-read and then re-read my posts before publishing them. But I couldn’t do that with last week’s. I was too empty by the end of it. I had used up too much of myself to worry about if anything flowed or made any sense. Some of it doesn’t, by the way. There’s a lot of disjointed things in there. I thought about going back and editing it. But then that’s not real. There’s so much real, raw emotion in that post that I simply cannot fabricate. I know so many of you feel that real, raw pain in your lives. I think I would be shortchanging somebody if I went back and “fixed” it. And so, disjointed and imperfect I’ll leave it. Parts of it may make me crazy, but I honestly think it’s for the best.

I’ve received such an outpouring of love and support since last week. I just want to say thanks to you all for that. I honestly couldn’t walk this road without the people we have surrounding us. God has been so good to us. He has provided such amazing friends and relationships. Thank the Lord we serve such a kind and loving God!

But anyway, back to last week’s post. I could barely even finish it. It jolted my soul for sure. Not in a bad way, but definitely in a hurting kind of way. But also in a healing kind of way. I’ve had brief moments of grief come up out of nowhere this week. Things that I haven’t dealt with all the way yet. I think last week’s post sort of opened up the floodgates for that to happen. I’m certainly glad for that, but it has made for some real, hard moments. Moments in the kitchen where I’m getting some tea after the kids are in bed and I have a memory literally out of nowhere, and start to cry. It’s not like me, but I think it’s really good for me. I’ve only made it so far on this road to healing. I’ve come a long way, but I still have a long way to go. In some ways, I know I will never heal fully, but I am so glad that the Lord is not done with me yet.

Friends, I miss my babies. I miss them every single day. There is never a day that goes by where I don’t think of them. Sometimes it’s hard for me to grasp that I have s-e-v-e-n babies. Seven. That’s a lot of babies. I often wonder what our lives would look like if all seven of them were here. I’m overwhelmingly grateful for my four babies that are earth-side, but I can’t ever help but wonder about all the what-ifs.

That being said, I never let myself wonder long about those what-ifs. That isn’t useful for me. Instead I try to redirect myself to the here and now. How can I use their short little lives to make an impact? How can I use what pain I’ve experienced and turn it into something beautiful? I have to remind myself over and over again that God has a purpose for their lives. There was a reason that they were created. Honestly, and I really hope that I’m not offending anybody when I say this: honestly, sometimes I get really, really angry that I got pregnant with those sweet babies at all. I hate admitting that. I am grateful, only in a different sort of a way. See, it would have been much easier to not have ever been pregnant with them than to have been pregnant with them and lose them the way I did. And so, I have to remind myself that I did get pregnant with them. And there is a reason for that. I carried them in my belly for so long for a purpose. It is not all for naught. There’s a distinctly difficult beauty about that truth. And I’m sitting here still trying to figure out what that is all about. I’m still trying to fight and struggle through it.

So welcome! You get to be my audience through this process. Hopefully I can shed some light for some of you. Hopefully I can let you know that you are not alone. Hopefully I can inspire you to share your own stories. Whether they be baby loss, infertility, or something else entirely. I know I sound like a broken record here, but we cannot do this thing called life alone. We just can’t! We were not created for that. We were created for relationships. We were created to bear one another’s burdens. To rejoice with one another and to weep with one another. I’ve had to learn to live in that kind of a way. It doesn’t always come naturally to me. Sometimes it feels uncomfortable. It certainly felt uncomfortable last week. I kid you not, last week was one of the most vulnerable moments of my life. Maybe that didn’t come across the screen, but, boy oh boy, I sure did feel it sitting here at my desk. I felt it hard. Last week wrecked me. And yet, last week brought me healing that I have long been waiting for.

This journey is long and hard. It’s exhausting. But there are parts of it that are simply inexplicably beautiful. There are things that make it all “worth it.” Thank you so much for sharing in my journey. Thank you for seeing me, and for hearing me. Thank you for not letting me walk alone. I pray mightily that I can do the same for you.

But What If I’m the One Hurting?

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Last week we talked about how to help the hurting. I threw out some good, practical ideas for people to help the ones they love through a difficult time. “But,” you may ask, “What if it’s me who’s hurting?” First of all, friend, I want you to know that I see you. Second, I want you to know that I know how difficult it can be to ask for, or even accept, help. I’ve shared before how I like for everybody to think that I’m super strong and I have it all together and I can handle anything, even immense hardship, all on my own. But dear one, that is not the way that it is meant to be.

Because of my physical condition during and after losing Judah, I had to learn how to accept help. I had no other option. And. It. Was. So. Crazy. Hard. I don’t like sitting around and I don’t like needing help, and I had to do both. I get my sense of determination (I guess that’s what we’ll call it) from my dad. I specifically remember shortly after losing Judah that it was my dad’s day to “watch me,” and I pushed my limits with him. He’s a lot more soft spoken with me than my mom, mother-in-law, sisters, husband, etc. and I thought I could get away with doing a little bit more when he was around. By about the second or third time he said, “baby, I know how hard it is to just sit around, but I really think you need to just sit and rest” I gave it up. I could tell it just about killed him to have to tell me to sit, and I couldn’t push him any longer. So I sat. I rested. And I learned a really good, hard lesson. You want to know what that lesson was? I’m gonna put it in all caps so that it will hopefully get through. Are you ready?

WHEN YOU’RE HURTING, THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE YOU REALLY, TRULY, HONESTLY WANT TO HELP YOU!!!!

There. I even put it in bold writing and italicized it for you. But it’s true. When you’re hurting, the people who love you really do want to help. The problem is, sometimes it’s hard to know how to help you. The other problem is, sometimes you don’t allow them to help you. Can I let you in on something else? Everybody benefits when you let them in, and let them help. End of story.

After losing Judah there was a time that I was sitting on the couch, resting (because that was literally all I could do), and my sisters were running to the store. I couldn’t go with them – because resting – so they asked if I needed anything. Anything at all. I told them, no, I didn’t need anything. But still they persisted. They even started throwing out ridiculous suggestions. It was in the midst of this that I realized, “You know, they see me sitting here, miserable and sad, and they probably just feel helpless. They probably wish there was just something they could do. If I give them something to get for me, it’s probably going to make them feel better. And it might actually make me feel a bit better too.” I did need mascara, so I eventually gave in and asked them to bring some of that back with them. Guess what? They got this light in their eyes. They visibly perked up, and said, “Ok! Mascara! We’ll bring some mascara back for you!” They were so happy to bring that small little thing back for me! And I was really happy for them to bring it back to me. After that incident, it was a little bit easier for me to let people help. I tried to think of it from their perspective, remembering times that I watched the people I love who were hurting. I remembered feeling desperate to do anything to help lighten their load. I remembered a time that a family friend reached out and asked if I could put together the food for the viewing for one of their relatives. I felt so relieved that I could help in such a real, practical way! I realized that when I let others help me, it blessed us both.

When we lost the twins, I even went beyond letting people help me, to asking people to help me. This was a huge step for me. The week we lost the twins was the week of Thanksgiving. We have so many fun traditions that specific week, and we had had a whole lot of fun things planned. I had been so excited for our week off. Once we left the ultrasound knowing that we had lost the twins, I knew I couldn’t hold up my end of those traditions. It was so hard to let go of so many things at once. I had a D&C the day after our ultrasound and my body was not in good shape. I was contracting like you wouldn’t believe and still bleeding a lot. Again, I was told to take it easy. My sisters brought over a basket of Christmas crafts and a really cute, comfy tank top for me to wear so that I could sit on the couch and still feel like I was doing something along the lines of what we had planned. (In case you hadn’t noticed, I have the most amazing sisters). I appreciated it so much, and it sparked a hope in me that I could maybe still do some of those things we had planned. The best and easiest way to do that was through Facebook. Oh. My. Goodness. You guys. The response I got was absolutely overwhelming. I was floored. Again, it was another reassurance that when you’re hurting, the people who love you really want to do something to help you.

Every Thanksgiving morning, I make homemade cinnamon rolls. I started the tradition the first Thanksgiving that Blake and I had as a married couple. There’s never been a year where I haven’t made them. That year would have been a first. It broke my heart knowing I couldn’t make them that year. After giving it some thought, I took a deep breath, swallowed my pride, and took a picture of the recipe (because I was making them before Pinterest), and posted on facebook saying that I know people were crazy busy, but if there was even the slightest chance that somebody could make them for us and deliver them at whatever time, it would be the biggest blessing. I had so many people reach out to me! People who don’t bake, or didn’t have the time to bake, offered to pick up store bought ones or to make the kind from a can. I would have been so happy even for that! I felt incredibly loved knowing that people were so willing to take time out of their already busy holiday schedules to fulfill a want (not even a need) for me. One dear friend did end up making the recipe. She delivered them the night before Thanksgiving along with some gifts. “These were made with love and a lot of tears” she told me. Even as I type this out and remember that night, her sweet words, and loving heart, I’m tearing up. People are such a blessing.

Another silly request I had was for a wheelchair. My sisters and Mom and I have made a tradition of going out on Black Friday every year. We like to go a little later at night after the crowds have died down, and it’s so much fun! It’s honestly one of our favorite nights of the year. If I didn’t have a wheelchair, my doctor said I couldn’t go. Again, I went to facebook, asking if anybody had one we could borrow. Again, the response I got was absolutely overwhelming. One friend, who lives far away, and I hadn’t seen (or really even talked to) for years messaged me. She said that she and her husband would be blessed to pay the rental fee for a wheelchair. Honestly, I cried as I told my husband of their generous offer. She said to me, “Please let me know how my husband and I can help. Mean it. I know God has a plan for you all and your beautiful girls, but please promise you’ll let us know how we can help!” Once again, the people who love you want to help you when you are hurting. We got the wheelchair. Some friends from church had one that they dropped off for us earlier in the week. I was able to go shopping with my mom and my sisters. My cousin, who often needs a wheelchair herself, actually came down to shop with us and she brought her wheelchair just in case! I told her I wanted to be wheeled side by side so we could hold hands in the store. 😁 Turns out she didn’t need hers that night and she actually pushed me for a good portion of the time we were out. She was, by far, the best driver. I’ve pushed her a number of times, and I think I can say that it felt good for both of us to have the roles reversed. She may not even know it, but she offered me a special comfort that night. I was blessed beyond belief that she was able to make it out to spend some time with us.

Now, I say all this with a word of caution. Please do not use and abuse the people who love you. I don’t want anybody taking advantage of anybody else’s generosity. If you need help, please ask for it. If people offer to help you, please take them up on it. But also, please realize that there will come a time when you need to start helping yourself. Give yourself time, let yourself grieve, let yourself heal, let those you love help you, and then take a deep breath, and start easing your way into routine again. There will be days down the road when you need help again. Days that are hard and you need someone to lean on. That’s ok. Reach out again. Or let them reach out to you. Shortly after having Fletcher, I posted a picture on social media about how I feel so blessed to have 4 sweet babies, but there are days when I feel like I have 4 babies and it can be so hard. I wasn’t reaching out for help, I was only trying to be honest and real. I got a lot of messages that day from friends asking how they could help. One friend simply told me that her husband would be dropping dinner off at our house that night when he got off of work. Everything in me wanted to say, “no, that’s ok, I can handle it on my own.” But I didn’t. Instead, I said, “THANK YOU!” and we enjoyed some really delicious Chinese food that night. I didn’t have to cook or clean and my family was fed. And you know what? I’ve been able to bring them a meal at a time when making a meal wasn’t easy for them. So let’s all agree to be givers, and accepters. Let’s give when it’s needed, and let’s accept when it’s needed.

I cannot stress it enough: When you’re hurting, the people who love you really do want to help you. And sometime down the road, somebody will need you to help them. Remember this time, when you were the one hurting, and return the favor. Let’s do this thing together. Let’s allow ourselves to help and be helped. If we all did, it would be a better world to live in, don’t ya think?