A measure of peace

You just know that any day you can begin with the words “Happy not-being-a-parent-day” is going to be a struggle.

After crying my way through writing my letter to Jesse and sharing it not only to help my own process of healing, but to begin to combat the silence on the subject of miscarriage (unless you let slip you’ve had one, and then suddenly women who turn out to be kin are all over the place) and break down the barriers which render it taboo (not least part of which is the wider recognition and acknowledgement of my poor, one-month gestation child as an actual human being, which happens less often than is comfortable (not here, of course) and certainly with less frequency amongst certain tracts of society than I am prepared to take lying down), I went to bed at 3am.

At half 3, having flooded my own face and Husby’s with more and more tears, I padded glumly to the kitchen to seek solace on the top shelf of the larder.

Sloe gin.

Bitterly ironic, as gin’s other name is ‘Mother’s ruin’.

I swigged half a glass, silently toasting my missing children, and hoped that the thoughts would slow their dizzy whirl through my brain:

I should have been wondering if everything was packed in my hospital bag – I should have been feeling too fat, too hot, too uncomfortable – I wouldn’t have been able to see my toes – I would have been scared and excited and desperate to meet him or her (or just desperate to have him or her OUT of me) – Husby and I should have been checking that we had all the right baby equipment – I should have been worrying about labour – we should have been preparing to meet our newborn – I should have been wondering if everything was packed in my hospital bag.

On and on and on they went, and I fretted about what we’d do if we were never able to have a child. Or never allowed to adopt. Or got pregnant and had another miscarriage. And sweet, patient Husby held me and soothed me and told me not to think about those things ’til they happened and held my hand until the gin made the edges of my mind start to go blurry, tingled through my limbs and tipped me over the edge of consciousness into a thankfully dreamless sleep.

This morning I awoke feeling detached and unhappy. I was vulnerable and brittle all at the same time, like a cream-filled brandy snap if the cream was pain and the wafer was jadedness.

And then my morning book, No Greater Love’, changed everything (oh how I do love a morning book – not a whole one, but an ongoing one to indulge in at least once a day). Written about the life of Joy Bath, a nurse, midwife and pentecostal missionary to hospitals in Rhodesia (which turned into Zimbabwe in between her visits) it documents the trials she experienced (including mopping up after hospital or school trucks from the mission ran over landmines, the massacre of most of her team by ‘freedom fighters’) and her tragic (but seemingly so minor) brush with a contaminated needle which led to the development of AIDS, and ultimately, her death.

Her writing, in spite of documenting such horror, was not self-pitying, and two sections struck me very strongly over my cereal.

I hate the idea of pain being experienced by any living thing. But for human beings it can come in many forms; physical, mental and emotional; persecution and rejection. It can act as a purifying process. It can be a benefit, remoulding a person and giving new strengths. (p100)

Fairly recently, while reading part of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6: 31-34), I was struck by the words of Jesus, ‘Do not worry about your life.’ I am sure he did not mean we should not plan and prepare for the future as best we can. He did mean that we should not be full of anxiety. He goes on to say, ‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own’ (v34)

Β What really impressed me about this teaching of Jesus was the air of authority with which it was delivered. He was not giving out advice, but commands. And how right he was to place emphasis on this matter. It is pointless to waste our lives sitting around fretting about things which may never happen. On the other hand, if we knew the trials we had to face in life beforehand, we would probably give up on every aspect before reaching adulthood. (p109)

Then I decided to check online before going to meet a friend for a ‘crisis’ chat (her life, not mine) and was overwhelmed by the positive responses the letter to Jesse had received.

Messages of encouragement, care, appreciation, support, kinship.

They were all there.

Some from women who’d been in my position. Some from women who knew women who’d been in my position. Some from women with children living. Some from women who’d never had children. Some from women who’d just stopped by and had their hearts touched. And one from a very special friend who told me he’d cried when he read it because he felt he’d failed his child and missed him/her, and hoped that he/she was with Jesse and Sam and that we’d meet them all one day.

All this from an effort to crystallise my feelings about this time and use them to shine a small light into an area of life so often shrouded in mystery and darkness. And in the time I had to think about that, I nearly cried again*.

And through the day, those wonderful, affirming voices kept coming, adding to one another with a huge message for me – “I understand”

Gradually, over the course of the day, my jaded, brittle shell has strengthened into one of determination and resolve. I will continue to demystify this. I will continue to make my story known. Because this kinship, this uniting of people who’ve hurt or who understand this hurt, this solidarity, is something we need.

When in that position, a measure of peace is so vital – a feeling of being understood, acknowledged and cared for. A quietening of the incessant monologue which recites what should have been. A knowledge that this pain can be used for good. A light, shining into the dark hollows in my heart.

It’s something I needed nine months ago.

It’s something I’ve had in dribs and drabs since then.

And now in a flood. Thank you.

May I leave you with the most peaceful thing I’ve seen in a while – it’s called ‘Floating Garden’. Enjoy.

*I ‘nearly cried again’ lots through the day. Like when I drove past a car. When I saw a puppy. When I held out my hand to a little, toddling girl and helped her down a step. When I didn’t want to say out loud in a meeting what was wrong.When I read my wonderful friend’s companion letter to Jesse. When I realised (with help) that I can take this forward into something much more meaningful.

16 thoughts on “A measure of peace

  1. Thanks Jak.

    I think you're totally right about (in a way) life being what you make of it – so much is dependent on our attitude, so it's important to take it in hand and try to make it better.

    It's a fantastic book – they may well have read it πŸ™‚


  2. I have many new friends who are midwives (or involved/associated in certain circles), and despite the sometimes unpleasant talk of placenta during meals, they offer very interesting perspectives on pregnancy/birth. I wonder if they've heard of, or read, the book you mention. It would seem likely.

    I like the passages you quoted and also that video was pretty sweet.

    I'm really glad you were able to focus more on the positive spectrum of things and seeing how you are finding others (and helping others and yourself) is allowing you to connect with those who have either experienced and are familiar with your situation and/or those who are loving and supportive.

    I may not exactly be religious, but I do believe the longer one stays in a darkened/negative state of being the more they attract that line of energy. It's great you are accepting the love and positive energy from those reaching out to you!

    Jak at The Cryton Chronicles & Dreams in the Shade of Ink


  3. It's an excellent book. Really awesome and inspiring πŸ™‚ Gets me in an Our Land frame of mind.

    Hope is there, for sure. Thanks for the hugs and support.

    And you're welcome for Floating Garden – it's so beautiful πŸ™‚


  4. The book you're reading sounds powerful and amazing – just like you. I'm so glad you got so much love from all of us because understanding and support means huge hope can be found from even the dark hours. Hugs, friend. Thank you for Floating Garden.


  5. Well you e-know me now, and though I'd love for us to go for afternoon tea (I am English, after all) and shoot the breeze, I fear the distance is too great, so all I can offer is my friend-heart, through my fingertips, to you. (feel free to start benefitting)

    Thank you for your hopes and prayers, you who inspires me also. I shall try to continue to do the same for you.


  6. You're amazing. Really. If by any chance a little piece of U could rub off on me I'd willingly accept it. I've never known a woman like you in my real life and oh how I could have benefitted from one like you. I can only hope and pray that one day you and your husband will be blessed with a child who can benefit from all this love you have inside you. Continue to be a source of inspiration to me and to many others.


  7. Really? Cool πŸ™‚ I have a few verses from here and there tacked up around the walls of my mind, but not this one (though I knew it). I'd never really seen it interpreted as a command though, rather than some kind of platitude. This book was a real eye-opener to me.

    It's a marvellous book (finished it now) and I'd loan it to you if I didn't have to give it back to the person who I borrowed it from πŸ™‚


  8. Those verses from Matthew are my motto. It is one of the only parts of the entire Bible I have memorized. It is so powerful and so freeing and so encouraging. It sounds like a fantastic book you are reading, written by a wise woman.


  9. *hugs* It's incredible how that connection works, even with people we never meet. Empathy truly has no limitations where distance is concerned. I'm so glad you had the support you needed, and sending much love and hope back to you.


  10. This is really beautiful, Lizzi. It is amazing how much the messages of understanding can help so much, but they really do. I'm not sure I'd have made it through Clara's 1st birthday yesterday as well as I did without the support and love of so many friends online. I wish you peace and send you love.


  11. Thanks Janine. I'm so happy to know you too, and call you my friend πŸ™‚ I love that the blogosphere can reach across the miles and make these things happen.

    I often don't feel very resilient, but in His strength, I get through…somehow.


  12. I know. I want to *be* them. Well, not *them* but in their position. With my own children. And appreciate every moment (even the hard ones, the late-at-night-sleep-deprived ones, the wiping-up-vomit ones, the tearing-your-hair-out ones) because my children are not dead…



  13. Seriously, Lizzi you never cease to amaze me and I really can't begin to express just how strong and resilient I think and know you are. Thank you for just being you and just so happy to have gotten to know you, as well as call you my friend now!!


  14. Sniff sniff, I teared up just reading. You're amazing, you know. And I'm glad I'm not the only one who wants to slap the mommies out there so happily having children…*sigh* I don't really want to slap them…


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