The Top 5 Things I have Learned About Grieving

Life has a way of being so unexpected.  I had all these plans for my kid’s summer break; vacations, learning at home and reading.  I also had plans for myself, continue blogging and maybe even get ahead in my post writing.  But not a lot of this happened.  God had other plans and I learned a very valuable lesson on grief.

In the middle of May, after my doctor told me I had a mild case of the Romaine Lettuce E-coli (please check out my post on it, To Eat or Not to Eat ), not all my symptoms went away or got better.  I ended up going to the emergency room.  This doctor ran a few tests and my results were shocking and very unexpected.  I was thirteen weeks pregnant with twins! Now I say it was shocking and unexpected because we weren’t planning to have any more kids.  We already have three beautiful children.  When we told our families, they didn’t know how to respond.  They knew we weren’t planning to have anymore.  Some were shocked and others (like my mom) laughed.  Our son was excited and hoped that at least one was a boy.  He really wanted a brother, he already had two sisters.

My husband and I went through a few different emotions or stages; shock, acceptance, and then panic.  Suddenly our house was too small and we needed a car that could hold more people.  I had gotten rid of all our baby stuff except the crib and changing table (I am still using those with my current youngest).  Plus we would need double of everything.  My husband focused on finding a bigger car and I started looking for good deals on things we would need.  Babies R’ Us was going out of business, at this time I didn’t want to buy too much since we didn’t know what we were having.  I did buy two car seats and two bouncy chairs, and some pajamas that I felt were gender neutral. Please look for my up coming posts on preparing for a baby series.

We found out in the beginning of July that we were having one girl (Baby A) and one boy (Baby B).  We were so happy and my son was over the moon to be getting a little brother.  But with our happy news came some concerning news.  Baby B was a lot smaller than Baby A.  He was almost half the size he should be.  The doctors weren’t sure why and we immediately started scheduling tests and specialist ultrasounds.  We had a genetic test, echo ultrasound (for his heart), and a fetal therapy ultrasound.  It seemed like I had a least one appointment every week.  For each test or specialist ultrasound was followed by a regular ultrasound and talking with that doctor.

Our families have been so amazing, so supportive!  My father-in-law did a lot of watching my kids while I was at my appointments.  My parents would come into town to go with me to some of my appointments.  My mother-in-law would take time off work to go with me to a couple of my appointments and when my mother-in-law or my parents couldn’t go with me my best friend was able to go with me.  I liked having someone with me so there was a second set of ears for any news that was given.

After all the tests were done and results came back, we learned that Baby B has Down Syndrome (which isn’t too big of a deal, but will have its own challenges).  We also learned that the umbilical cord is reversed.  He was not getting enough of what he needed to grow big and strong like his sister (Baby A).  When the cord is reversed there is nothing the doctors or anyone can do.  The doctor that performed the fetal therapy ultrasound, they look closely at each baby from top to bottom more closely than a regular ultrasound, are the ones that discovered why  Baby B was not growing like he should.  They also informed us that our son, Baby B, was not going to live much longer.  They gave him two weeks at most but he was gone within the week.  We learned this at our follow up ultrasound.  We were all devastated that we lost one of our twins but we were lucky because the twins had separate everything; placenta, sack and umbilical cord.  That is how Baby A was doing so much better than Baby B.

I have never cried so much in my life!  I seemed to cry at every appointment and the day or so after.  But I never felt like I truly got to grieve.  I had responsibilities and people who were counting on me.  However, in August when we learned that he was gone, I couldn’t seem to stop crying.  I was having a hard time getting out of bed and taking care of my living children.  I always thought they would be enough to get me out of bed and to move on.  But I truly did not understand what losing a child felt like and I know that what I lost does not compare to others who have lost an older, living child.  I finally decided that I needed help.  The doctors did offer their professional help if I or my oldest son needed someone to talk to.  We offered it to our oldest but he said no and I didn’t think it was something I would need and I was right.  But the help I did need was a lot of family support.  My parents live about six hours away.  I decided to take my kids and go there.  My parents said we could stay as long as we needed.

The trip was just what I needed.  I was able to grieve while I didn’t have to worry about my kids as much.  I was also able to relax.  My kids had a great time visiting their grandparents.  My oldest spent the whole time with my dad playing games, tending to farm animals, and making pepperoni sticks. My mom, my two girls and I did a lot of therapy shopping.  On this trip I was able to come to terms with the fact that something tragic happened but we still had one blessing, our little girl (Baby A).

Over this summer with everything that happened I learned a lot about grief.

1. There are different types of grief

          There are different types of grief.  During the summer after each appointment I would grieve after receiving whatever bad news was given.  Some times the grieving only lasted a day or two.  But when something bigger occurs the grieving is harder to overcome and lasts longer. Even after the crying stopped, I still needed time to come to terms and accept.  The grieving goes far beyond the crying.

2. Not everyone grieves the same

I think the one thing that bothered me the most over the summer was that I couldn’t tell how sad/upset my husband was.  He doesn’t wear his emotions on the surface like I do.  He never cried or seemed to be sad.  He was just so matter of fact whenever we talked about results or what options we were facing.  My emotions got the best of me one night.  I said something like how he didn’t understand how I was feeling.  He finally showed how upset he truly was.  Crazy enough, it made me feel a little better but it also showed and reminded me that everyone grieves in their own way.

3. More people could be grieving

When I was visiting my parents for my grieving and trying to move forward, I was reminded that my husband and I were not the only ones grieving.  Our parents had lost a grandson, our siblings had lost a nephew and we were all grieving this loss.  I realized this when I found out that my parents weren’t able to talk with other family about it yet. The therapy shopping that my mom and I did also helped her move forward as well.

4. It is hard to see past your own grief

I didn’t tell you all this for sympathy or pity.  I wrote this to explain why I wasn’t posting and to share what I learned about grieving.  A least for me, I was so upset with what happened that I forgot others were also grieving.  Yes, I know that it’s okay that I was focused on my own grief but I also wish I had thought of my family. I wish I could have been there for them like they were there for me.

5. Grief can also become something else…. fear

I’ve (we’ve) all been through  a lot this summer, experienced something tragic.  I have accepted what has happened but my grief has turned into fear.  The closer I get to my due date the more my fear seems to grow.  What if she (Baby A) starts having complications too?  What if the delivery goes wrong and we lose her, Baby A, too?  There are so many “what if” questions running through my head.  I’ve been afraid to voice my fears, in fact this is my first time.  I’ve been afraid if I do some might or all might come true. I told my husband a few weeks ago that if this had been our first pregnancy experience then we probably wouldn’t have any more kids.  I said this out of fear that it would happen again.

While I wish no one else would experience a loss like mine, I do hope that if you do that this will help you.  And if anyone would like to talk about grief they have or are experiencing please feel free to comment or email me,  I would be happy to talk with you.

3 thoughts on “The Top 5 Things I have Learned About Grieving

  1. Beautifully written Sarah. What a heartbreaking time you’ve been through– but I’m sure we all need to think through times of grief and fear. Thank you for being open and brave enough to tell your story. Blessings all on all yoru family had ahead…

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