The other day, a dear friend sat me down to coffee.
You have heard of this momma friend — she was Leyla’s foster mom.
Well, God had put something on her heart and she needed to share with me.
“When I first met you,” she started, “you shared about your story with Olivia. And then I began reading your blogs. And as much as I liked you, I felt like I didn’t really who Rachel really was. What did she like? What makes her tick? It was like grief and loss and infertility were all that you could see, like a name tag you wore. As time has gone on, I’ve watched you transition out of grief and loss and have started moving forward with life. And it’s really neat to see and to get to know you.”
[Ok, well, Deanna, if you’re reading this, you probably are thinking, “I’m not sure those were my exact words.” But this is at least what I can remember of what you said, and what has stuck with me.]
She had more to say, which is probably food for another blog . . . but these particular words have been mulling around in my brain.
You know, she’s right. I think back to the last 3ish years, and I just feel like they are a total and complete fog. I think having a loss every 9 months on average for a few years does something to you. Well, at least it did to me.
But I think even before the recurrent loss, just with Olivia, I lost myself. I lost myself in grief, and longing, and despair.
I didn’t know who I was anymore. The priorities I had in my life before my ectopic just suddenly seemed shallow. I couldn’t relate to someone who had not experienced deep pain. Life — everything in life — seemed to be a painful reminder of what I didn’t have.
Even though I was mom, I stayed the heck away from mom’s groups. Or play groups. Or anything that might remind me that I had lost a little baby. (Oh, thank God I didn’t know at that time that there would not be a rainbow baby at the end of my story. I don’t even want to know what would have become of me had I seen the whole next few years laid out in front of me.)
I became the girl who runs out of church crying because someone announced a pregnancy.
I became the girl who (true story) runs out of church crying, slams her phone into the dash of the car, cusses up a storm, and then cries like crazy because someone was having a gender-reveal party.
I became the girl who (also true story) told her husband to stay home one night just to make sure she stayed safe. Safe from herself.
I became the girl who tried, tried, tried, tried to deal with my sorrow in a healthy, Christ-like way. I blogged, I cried out to God, I went to a Christian counselor. But that did not stop the anxiety. Oh, the crazy, horrid anxiety that clawed at me. It did not stop the images that kept showing themselves uninvited of me sitting on my kitchen floor, bleeding out from freshly cut arms.
Oh, dear friends. This is the horrible, horrible truth of how bad I was.
I have friends who have had losses. They have had later losses. or more traumatic ones, and they did not plunge into the darkness as I did.
Why did I respond how I did?
Honestly, I can’t tell you that anymore than I can explain why God picked the color blue for the ocean, and green for land.
However it happened — I became a new person. And yes, I wore that name tag.
“Hi I’m Rachel. Habitual aborter. Infertile mom. Nice to meet you.”
And then last March, almost a year ago now, we had the last (oh please, dear God, let it be the last) of the miscarriages.
And I went just numb. Numb to pretty much everything. I threw myself into Leyla’s adoption because that was the only joy I could find. The rest of my life was just meh. Could do with it, could do without it.
When I lost the ability to care about my life — it was time (OH, way past time) to make a serious change.
We called it. No more trying to conceive for a year.
And now that we are ending that year, I’m really leaning toward calling it quits for good.
Today at our mom’s group (see how far I have come!!!), we talked about loving the gift more than the Giver. We talked about what takes up all our thoughts, our emotions, our time, our energy, our money and how those things become our idols.
And it just hit me.
For so long, I placed the value of getting a healthy baby from a healthy pregnancy above the Giver of Life Himself. I wanted a baby. Not the creator of life.
This is not something I want to admit. Oh, do I not want to admit it. Because you know, I’m just a girl that tried her best. I managed loss, and life changes, and adoption, and infertility, and health scares, and the loss of all control as best as I could.
I just was surviving. Surviving from day to day. Trigger to trigger. Loss to loss.
Just trying to make it through alive, and (hopefully) with a live baby to show for it.
It is humbling to admit that maybe I had survived wrong. That if I had changed my focus to the Giver instead of the gift, I may have made it through so much easier. To admit that I placed my babies before God himself feels like such failure.
I recently watched the movie Wild with a friend. It’s about a woman who went to some serious extremes in order to deal with grief. And at the end, she admits that maybe she isn’t so sorry she had sex with a ton of men, or became a druggie. Because somehow that turned her into who she is today.
And maybe I also feel a little like that. I do have some regrets about how I acted the last few years. I maybe wish that I could’ve trusted God more than I did. Maybe crave HIM more than I craved a baby.
But all that has led me to where I am today.
It’s now part of my journey, part of my story . . . part of my PAST.
I have slowly been able to peel off that name tag, that identity as an infertile woman. Take off the label of the woman whose body kills her babies. Take off the label of bereaved. (Even as the grief will never fully be gone.)
Triggers come and go. So do the tears. But more days than not, I am excited about where I’m at and where I’m headed.
I’ve learned to see that as wonderful as a baby and a healthy pregnancy are, my life has more purpose and more to it than just that.
I have learned, as was mentioned in our group today, “Good things can be bad gods.”
Fertility and healthy babies are GOOD THINGS! But they make bad gods.
And so as I set out each new day, I’m learning to put on a new name tag.
“Hi, I’m Rachel. I’ve stumbled, and I’ve fallen, and parts of me are scarred. But I’m learning, and I’m growing, and I’m covered in grace. I have a purpose, and a plan, and a God that’s bigger than me.
It’s nice to meet you.”