Tuesday, November 24, 2020
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What Makes You Grateful?

Violin line drawing

Especially in the early days of grieving, it’s difficult to find things for which to be grateful. That’s why any statement that begins with At least… can induce fits of rage, tears, and cursing (and sometimes all of the above). In my experience, it’s much better to allow us to arrive at this place of being able to feel gratitude, rather than trying to force us to see all the good that we still have around us. By giving us space to reflect at our own pace and in our own time, it becomes easier to recognize our blessings without disregarding our heartache.

Since the loss of my children the one thing I am most grateful for is Louie.

This is Louie in Kauai—where we finally went on our honeymoon this year.

I don’t even know how to begin to articulate just how thankful I am to have him as my partner, as my best friend, as the father of my children. He makes me a better person. He makes me want to be a better person. I love the way he loves me, but even more so, the way he loves our babies. And I’m grateful that he will drop everything and hold me when I’m crying for them. I’m grateful that he knows how to make me laugh, that he forgives me when I hurt him, that he indulges my quirkiness, that he washes the dishes and does the laundry, and that he tells me I’m the best cook he knows. Our marriage is stronger after losing Calvin, Rainbow, and Gaelen, and I no longer doubt how long us will be us. I sometimes refer to him as my homie-lover-friend (does that make me sound dated?), and I guess that is the most ridiculously simple way of describing our relationship, but maybe it’s enough. He is enough.

I know now that before my loss I took the ability to get pregnant and to bear living children for granted.

When I was younger, I used to think about the size of my future family. I wanted four kids: two girls and two boys, and I wanted them to be around 2-3 years apart. I thought an only child would be lonely and that I couldn’t just have one of each because they would need someone to relate to and that three would create an unfair balance because two would gang up on one. Apparently I thought that far into it. But I never stopped to think What if I can’t have children? or What if my children die?

Gaelen's FF Chart
This is the chart from the cycle that brought me Gaelen, my birthday surprise.

After losing three babies, after spending over a year trying between Rainbow and Gaelen, and especially after learning that my window of fertility has been shortened because of my low ovarian reserve, I have thrown out the concept of family planning. It’s more like hoping, praying, and waiting to see what God will allow. Pregnancy truly is a miracle. (To really appreciate what it takes to make a baby, I suggest you watch The Great Sperm Race and An Everyday Miracle, but be forewarned that they can be graphic at times.) And even if I am so lucky to conceive, it doesn’t mean I will get a baby to keep.

From now on I will make sure to recognize writing, art, and faith in my life and their importance to me.

Violin line drawing
This drawing is 8 years old and feels like a-totally-different-person ago.

In my Where I Am piece, I wrote of how my babies have inspired me to find myself again. They’ve given me the conviction to seek a place where I am happy with who I am and where I’m doing the things about which I’m passionate. I’m no longer willing to compromise on this. Calvin, Rainbow, and Gaelen remind me how much writing, art, and my faith really do sustain me. Because of them I am writing again, I am creating again, and I feel God’s grace more strongly. That is such a beautiful gift. And I have no intention of letting these go as I’ve done in the past.

This post is in response to The Dead Baby Club‘s featured question: What makes you grateful? The prompt is: Since the loss of my child(ren) the one thing I am most grateful for is…? I know now that before my loss I took … for granted? From now on I will make sure to recognize … in my life and it’s importance to me? Will you link up and join us?

Crystal is a mother-wife-writer whose explorations include parenting, grief, food, and semi-crunchy living. She is currently an MFA in writing student, a content editor for Still Standing Magazine, and the technical editor for Switchback.

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"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29)

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