Especially early on, even the smallest things can derail your whole day in grief. These are the things that make it exponentially harder, but most people wouldn’t even think about them.
For instance, just picking up your phone can bombard you with triggers. I spent the 8 months pregnant with Ginny googling everything pregnancy and baby. All my ads were geared toward baby items. My Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Youtube were all perfectly curated for the happy new mother. When Ginny died, I couldn’t handle any of it anymore. There was no where to turn. I tossed my phone to my sister Keri, “Can you please take care of this? I don’t know; just click anything and everything unrelated to baby stuff.” She spent a long time on my phone trying to re-curate my feeds. Cooking, knitting, airplanes, decor, anything NOT baby. It worked somewhat, but it would take months to not feel attacked with baby stuff every time I picked up my phone.
These attacks would even come in the mail. When I was pregnant with Ginny, I bought several relatively expensive nursing bras from Motherhood Maternity. Upon checkout they insisted I sign up for free magazine subscriptions. Little did I know, month after month I would bitterly dump “Parents” and “Family Circle” straight into the recycling bin. I didn’t have the energy to figure out how to unsubscribe. I also ended up wearing those nursing bras without a baby to nurse. I wasn’t going to go spend more money on regular bras, but my body had already changed. Every morning when getting dressed, I put on a reminder that I was a mom without a baby…like I needed reminding.
The worst was on Ginny’s due date. I got a package in the mail. I thought it was so sweet how someone remembered Ginny’s due date and sent a gift. I opened the box to find samples of baby formula. It was a slap in the face.
Even taxes hurt more than usual. 2018 we were expecting; 2019 we were not. “Are you sure you don’t have a dependent? Our records show that you might.” No there is no dependent. There are hospital bills, but there is no dependent.
These little details of life can still hit so hard. But it’s also in the small things where I find so much comfort. God uses little things to remind me he doesn’t leave me alone.
He has used small ways to connect me with other hurting moms. Shortly after Ginny died, we wanted to give away many of her baby girl items. God put it on my heart to reach out to a family from our church we didn’t know well. I knew they had baby girls and thought they could maybe use the items. I emailed the mom. She responded saying that they didn’t need the baby stuff, but they too had a stillbirth a couple years earlier. She was able to comfort me make me feel a lot less alone. That’s the real reason God put it on my heart to reach out. I’ve had several other similar instances where I’ve been connected to other women at just the right time through the Holy Spirit.
Similarly I prayed that God guide my career path after Ginny died. A job opened up where I most enjoyed volunteering at the exact right time. But the job was full-time, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to jump in full-time yet. I applied and interviewed anyway. The manager called me in to tell me that I didn’t get the full-time job, but they were considering creating a part-time position. Would I be interested? God provided exactly what I needed and gave me the small sign I needed to know it was the right move. That job has provided me with so much hope, healing, and purpose.
There have also been many small reminders surrounding Chet’s birth that show God is in this. The summer after Ginny died, we visited my uncle and aunt. We went to their church, and after the service the pastor and his wife prayed over my womb. They spoke encouraging words over us and said that one day our house would be filled with laughter. One year to the day after that prayer Chet was born.
While in labor with Chet, a woman walked in asking if I wanted to participate in a study in the event I needed a C-section. She described the study and told us to think about it, and she would be back. She returned after about 20 seconds (clearly not enough time to think it over). She said she saw my chart and that many many years ago she also lost a baby at 35 weeks. She said she also had subsequent babies, so she knows how hard it is. She encouraged me and Daniel when we needed it most during labor with Chet.
I can go on and on with examples of small ways God has shown up in my grief. Whether it’s a butterfly lingering around me at the arboretum, Ginny’s sunflowers blooming the day Chet came home from the hospital, a text from a friend at the exact right moment, or circumstances falling into place, God has been near in tangible ways. I feel his nearness in my heart, but the fact that he also sends small concrete reminders is such a gift.