This Thanksgiving, Eric and I have as many babies up in heaven as we do down here on Earth.
After a loss early this fall, yesterday I had my 8-week sonogram for what should have been our second rainbow baby. (Evelyn was our first.) But instead of pointing out a healthy embryo, the doctor got really quiet, and I knew. This one was not meant to be, either.
Everything in me wants to wallow. I want to lament the unfairness of it all. I want to worry — worry that although we desire to complete our family with a 4th baby with the same intensity we desired to start it with our first — that may not be God’s plan for us. I want to WebMD every possible reason for consecutive miscarriages. I want to eat ALL THE PIE. (But let’s face it, that’s every Thanksgiving. Can’t blame the grief for that.)
**Grief keeps autocorrecting to “fries”. Is that a coincidence? I think not**
I wanted to open my suitcase this morning and pull out the shirt I’d planned on wearing today:
This was how we planned to share our exciting news with our family today. Instead I buried it under my pajamas and pretended it wasn’t there.
I wanted to burn it.
But I hadn’t packed any matches, and I thought my Mother-in-Law might worry if I asked her for some, so instead I put some coats on the kids over their pajamas and drove into town for the Turkey Trot.
A two mile walk in 27 degree weather would help, yes?
In a last-minute stroke of genius, I registered us in the dog-walking wave, because I figured if you can’t smile when there’s a wall of dogs walking toward you, then you’re dead inside.
We didn’t have our own dog with us —nothing throws me into a rage faster than trying to wrangle that oaf while pushing a double stroller — but there was so much panting and tail wagging surrounding me but I couldn’t help but share in the joy. If I had a tail, I’d have wagged it. One dog in particular was so happy to be alive that she wagged her whole butt. How does one wallow in the presence of that?
It’s impossible. Unless you’re dead inside, which I happily discovered I am not. I may feel like it, but I was smiling. Phew.
I fully expected that the Turkey Trot would end up in that category I succinctly call: “Things I think will be fun family traditions and/or generate warm family memories but instead turn into screaming/whining nightmares of complaints and defiance.”
But my kids actually held it together, despite probable frostbite. This was due in part to one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made — I’d used up my genius for the day in the dog-walking wave decision — which was letting them pick out these whistles as we started:
I’m pretty sure everyone in the vicinity loathed me and my spawn, but the dogs really responded well to the pitch.
I came home not nearly as inclined to wallow.
I’m not saying grief can be swallowed or ignored or walked (or wagged) away. Nor should it. Grief is a lot like those whistles — a high pitched noise you can’t escape even — especially — in the quiet of a Thanksgiving morning. And it shows up in weird places. I’m mourning the loss of a baby I had already firmly established in our family. I’m also mourning the certainty I had that we’d be able to have more children — in its place now is uncertainty and that is one of my least favorite feelings. I’m mourning the timeline I had orchestrated — all my kids being spaced out perfectly, just the way I’d planned it (pause here for God’s laughter).
I know or know of a lot of other people with those same types of “should be’s” threatening to overwhelm the today. There should be another place at the table, should be someone there who’s not. Should be a baby to feed, or a 4-year-old to refuse his green bean casserole.
When I got the news yesterday my first thought was “man, what a way to start Thanksgiving” … but now I’m thinking Thanksgiving was the perfect holiday for this to happen on. Because sitting around the table today we took turns saying what we were thankful for. And at first I thought it would be hard to come up with much. But then they just started coming to me and I couldn’t stop them, and I remembered how much I still have to be thankful for.
I am sad, But still thankful. For my family. For my friends. For a God who is currently working everything for my good, if I’ll just trust Him. And today, I’m especially thankful for dogs and their ability to lift you out of a slump.
If you’re grieving today, run, don’t walk, to the nearest dog. Or cat, if that’s your thing. Or bird. Whatever does it for you.
And honestly — if someone has a pregnancy to announce this Christmas, hit me up for that shirt. If we’re blessed with another pregnancy, a “double rainbow” baby if you will, I’ll have no choice but to incorporate this video into our announcement.
Anyway, have a Happy Thanksgiving. Even if you don’t feel happy, even if you’re grieving, I hope you can still find a reason to be Thankful. ❤️