The Feeling of Losing A Child


Losing childFor the past several months Angel and I have been preparing for an adoption. The baby was born last week, and this past Monday the birth mother notified us she had reconsidered and would be parenting her child. We always knew this could be a possibility, but somehow I think we felt confident it wouldn’t happen to us. The law favors the birth mother (as it should), so we are left hanging, with a home and hearts prepared for a baby that will not be coming home.

When we made the decision to begin this process we made the agreement that we would do so with full commitment and open hearts. Some might say that it would be best not to commit till the ink on the papers was dry, but we felt that would be robbing ourselves of the anticipation and expectant joy of preparation. While I would not change the decision to put our hearts into this, it is a devastating loss.

Things are… rough. It feels like losing a child, and the energy it takes to push through the day and try to act “ok” has left Angel and I both really exhausted. The day we got the news all we did was stay home and fight our tears. I think I had a sense that whoever let go first would be the trigger that unleashed the floodgates of the other. So I waited and I held my breath, silently trying to avoid eye contact.

Avoiding Things that Make Me Feel

Yesterday I went back to work. I can’t say if it was a good idea or not. I knew it would be hard to pull my lips into a smile for people, but I wasn’t prepared for the way time slowed down for me while everyone else kept obliviously moving. I can say that I hate platitudes all the more now. I’ve written before about their diminishing effect when Angel and I were trying to conceive. Time and circumstance have only made them colder.

Everyone wants to say something helpful. In the last three days I think I have heard all of the various cliches and platitudes twice over. People say that God moves in mysterious ways, or that things will “work out”. They tell me to have faith, or that God will never give you more than you can handle. And I get it. People want to make me feel better. But the reality is that most words are worthless in the face of heartbreak.

I think really all anyone can do is pray. I don’t think this is something that can be “fixed”. It is a pain of the heart that will only heal in time. Angel and I are both trying to trust that there is a reason for this and that it is what is best for the baby…but it’s hard. It’s hard to accept. It’s hard to lay in bed at night knowing there is an empty crib across the hall. It’s hard to think of what might have been without giving in to tears.

The Wounded Heart of Straw

I haven’t really been wanting to be around other people. I talk to them when I have to but everyone wants to know how I feel, and I am trying so hard to avoid thinking about how I feel. I feel awkward being around others when I feel so fragile, and it’s hard trying to look them in the eyes and smile when it’s not an authentic emotion. It’s a challenge to lie to so many people and keep repeating that I’m ok. Maybe if I say it enough times it will magically become true.

My mind is distant, and my heart feels heavy and dry in my chest. Like someone sliced it open and stuffed it with old scratchy straw. And like a straw-stuffed scarecrow I feel like a pretender in my own clothes. Like if you unbuttoned my shirt I would blow away in the wind. All I really want is to hold Angel and sob. Or scream. Maybe both. I want to not be sad and to not want to beat the air with my fists. I just want to not feel like THIS anymore.

The hardest awareness is the knowledge that because of the circumstances the child I lost is a child I will witness grow up. I have all of the pain of losing a child without any of the closure. I may never know if he would have developed my sense of humor, but I will still have to hear him laugh. I may not ever be able to hug away his boo-boos, but I will still have to see him get hurt. I just wish loving someone didn’t hurt so much.

To The Son I Named

Glen,
If you ever read this, I want you to know that I love you. I loved you from the moment I held your tiny head in my hands and kissed your brow. I loved you from the first time I sang to you. I hope that your life has been beautiful and full of love, and with just enough challenge to make you strong and confident. I hope that you have integrity and treat people with love and kindness. I hope you laugh easily, love intentionally, and forgive gracefully.

I hope you know that once upon a time I would gladly have been your Daddy. You have the name of my family. Wear it well.

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