Skip to main content

Breathing In

About thirty-seven seconds after finding out one is pregnant, comes the rush of realizing that somehow this human life form will need to exit your body. And that it will  hurt.

Pregnant women hear a plethora of tales from used-to-be pregnant women detailing the horrors of childbirth (whether they want to or not). Woes of failed epidurals, the horrors of the Ring of Fire - "don't worry, it's just your flesh tearing" -  thirty seven hours of torturous labor; all will be told.

And yet, no matter how many stories are heard, each delivery is as unique and individual as the person giving birth. Yours may be better, or worse, or eerily similar, but never exact.

The thing to remember is that every ache, pain, and sensation will only be felt by you.

Others can try to empathize. They can rub your lower back, remind you to breathe, spoon feed you ice chips - any myriad of ways in an attempt to ease your pain, but they can't do it for you.

Funny thing is, enduring the contractions of grief is sort of the same. Every single shooting pain belongs to the one whose loved one has been lost. Every contraction of grief. Every single shooting pain - it's all  yours. Only yours. And there is nothing you can do about it, except endure.

Unfortunately, the longer time passes, the more irregular the grieving contractions come. It's not something you can time every five minutes anymore. It just hits. Could happen while standing at the grocery store staring at the sign that declares PICK YOUR SIDES. One minute you're grabbing a bag of frozen gluten free chicken nuggets, the next minute you're gasping breath and choking on tears, all the while holiday shoppers pass unaware that your beautiful 11-year old used to ask what the sides were for dinner.

Ironically, birthing labor and grieving labor is also handled in somewhat the same manner: you have to learn to breathe through the pain.

Matt woke me up Sunday morning for church. I looked at him and said, "I can't. I'm depressed." Thanksgiving put me under. Swept me away with the grieving current and held me under until I had no more strength left.

I settled into the chair in front of the TV with my comfy clothes on and I sat. And sat. And I stayed up late and sat some more. For days I sat, unshowered, munching on popcorn and flipping through thousands of images on Houzz. And Matt was sweet to not comment on my passivity, yet he was too scared to ask what was going on in my heart. He gave Brody his bath and heated his dinner. He watched Lifetime Christmas movies with me as if he enjoyed them.

He did exactly what he could. He was gentle and calm, reminding me to breathe through the pain. "I'll take Brody with me to the store to get some light bulbs so you can get some rest," he suggested. Because he knew this contraction of grief was mine to endure.

And then this afternoon, somewhere around 2pm, a thought occurred. I could shower. My body, stiff from unmoving, stood beneath the hottest water I could handle. Layers of protective defenses washed away, circled the drain and disappeared. I could feel my heart start beating again, and with each pulse came unimaginable pain.

After days of numbness and checking out, it was all rushing back. Pain so awful I wanted to curl up on the floor of the tub and rock myself to sleep.

Avery is gone. And that hurts with an ache no words can ever describe.

And yet, today I showered and breathed through the pain.

"Don't let the sadness overwhelm you.
Don't let the fear intimidate you.
To do nothing is the wrong thing.
To do something is the right thing.
And to believe is the highest thing."
- Max Lucado, You'll Get Through This


Tammy Northrup said…
Bridget, as I read your post I cried. I could feel your pain through your words. Yet, I have no words to express how sorry I am that you're experiencing the loss of your sweet baby. I pray that God helps you through this intense pain and helps you to have a little relief. From one mom to another I just want to say that you are an amazing woman.
Chiconky said…
It's cheesy, I know, but also strangely descriptive. Sending you lots of love and strength :)
Brenna said…
I wanted to say I'd hold you up in the shower, but that would come out all wrong. I'm amazed by you, B.

Can I ask what she chose for sides? The mashed potatoes?
You are so good with analogies. I wish the analogy wasn't filled with so much pain felt by you. Or that there was some kind of epidural I could give you to help you endure the contractions of grief. I wish I could wrap my arms all the way around you or at least hold you hand while you push through.
alyson said…
The other day, I found this. Unfortunately, I cannot credit the author...I don't know who they are. It brings me comfort and I hope it will for you too, dear Bridget. "When someone who has experienced a serious illness or tragedy, reaches out to you when you are in comparable circumstances, it's as if that person is going into a cave and sitting with you in the darkness-- while everyone else is standing outside, trying to coax you to come out.". Here's to all the Matt's in the world...people who get it. And here's to you Bridget for allowing yourself "cave-time". And also knowing when it is time to PUSH through the pain and crawl out once again.

Popular posts from this blog

The House that God Built

in·stan·ta·ne·ous /ˌinstənˈtānēəs/ adjective 1. occurring or done in an instant or instantly.
synonyms: immediate, instant, on-the-spot

The thing is, she died so sudden.
I didn't have the chance to plead with God, to make all the irrational promises. If he would just let her be okay.... I would start taking better care of my health. I would be nicer to the neighbor that drove me crazy. I would always let someone else go in front of me at Walmart no matter how long the line was. I wouldn't complain. Ever. I would volunteer at the Homeless Shelter. I would clean up after pigs. I would clip the toenails of the elderly. I would do anything and everything He would ask me to do....
There is a box on her death certificate that captures the amount of time between the initial injury and the time of death. It reads "seconds." I wish it read "instantaneous" because she deserves a clever word like that.
Fast forward five years.... definitely taking MUCH longer than "…

Seeing Avery All Grown Up

One day I'll tell you about the freezing cold we left and the heavy bags we lugged, full of supplies and medicines. I'll tell you about arriving in Port au Prince and walking across a cracked concrete parking lot to board an old school bus with a flat tire. How the heat was suffocating after months of below zero Wisconsin winter weather, how the people crowded and walked too close to moving traffic as we searched for a tire shop that was barely more than a couple men sitting on overturned 5-gallon buckets on the side of the road next to a pile of old tires, everything covered in dirt.

I'll tell you about waiting on the bus while they removed the tire and I'll recall the loud explosion that rocked the bus and scared the life out of me and how I was relieved to learn it was just the tire blowing after being filled too far. (They didn't have any gauges.) And then I'll tell you about the fear I felt when I realized we didn't have a tire and we were stuck on th…

When Your Imagined Life is Nothing Like This One

There were so many ways I imagined my adult life would be....THIS is not one of them.
I posted that on my Facebook wall last night. It might have been seen as funny except my choice of hashtags gave me away:
treading water getting nowhere piles of disappointment not many successes worn out and exhausted out of options

I always imagined my life would be thrilling. Full of exciting adventures and people from all over the world. I would dine at Ethiopian, Thai, and Indian restaurants. I would write books, teach English, coach forensics and direct the play. My husband would be charming and funny and not care about gender roles when it came to household chores. He would beg for at least six kids and I would fall in love with him all over again each time I caught him giving good life advice.
I would take photographs and travel the world documenting the people I came across. I would adopt a sibling group of three or maybe four and work on foster care policies because the ones we have aren't work…