Not My Plan: How A Mother Coped After Her Baby’s Funeral

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Not My Plan: How A Mother Coped After Her Baby’s Funeral


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Heather Gilbert

Heather is woman of faith. Her life’s laundry list includes marriage, loss of a child, birth of a child, divorce, depression, baptism, re-marriage, establishing a blended family, and living for Christ. She is a stay at home momma who enjoys spending time with her four children. In her spare time, she enjoys movies, reading, and dining out.
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(This is a guest post from my amazing girlfriend Heather!)

I laid on the couch staring at the television. I hadn’t moved in hours, the cushions had left creases on my arm. My eyes shifted to the dust on the end table, it had been there for weeks.

“GET UP!” my husband said, “Being happy is a choice. Quit lying around all day. You can choose to be happy.”

Happiness wasn’t a choice for me. Every time I closed my eyes I saw the black circle on the ultrasound image where the heartbeat once was. It was a repetitive image that wouldn’t go away.

The day of my baby’s funeral the doctor’s office called me. The nurse needed my blood sugar results. An empty feeling came over me. I felt the blood drain from my face. Heartbroken I responded, “My baby died.”

Overtime the word “died” was a numbing word. It was a word lacking emotion. A word that defined who I was. It hurt to say the word, but I became used to saying the phrase, “My baby died.” 

After maternity leave, I returned to work. I was fenced in by sixty coworkers in their cramped cubicles. Some would immediately look the other way when they saw me coming. Others ignored me completely. Some looked but didn’t know what to say. I felt all eyes were on me. I hated it. I sat at my desk staring at my monitor. I was motionless. Staring into nowhere. My eyes stung from the incessant staring. I got up and went to the lobby area. The always outgoing and cheerful postman was delivering the mail.

“CONGRATULATIONS! I see you had your baby!”

The blood drained from my face yet again.Then the words “My baby died” came out. Awkward silence permeated the room. I slowly walked back to my desk and stared into my pencil holder.

A few days later, the UPS man was at the office. I passed him in the hall.

“CONGRATULATIONS!!’

Emotionless, I responded, “My baby died.”

For years I had a small group of girlfriends I went to lunch with every Friday. I forced myself to join them for the first time after the funeral. “CONGRATULATIONS!!” said the waitress who recognized us. I was speechless. This time no words came out as I looked down at the table with a heavy heart. I pretended not to hear her.

Six weeks after the funeral my husband and I conceived another baby. A baby would solve my problems of loneliness and heartache. The test came out positive but excitement turned into fear within minutes.

I WAS TERRIFIED.

The next few months I never slept. I was afraid something would happen. I laid in bed staring at the cracks in the ceiling of our two bedroom apartment.

There is no way God, you would do this to me a second time, or would you?

 

My insomnia turned into paranoia.

During my labor with my stillborn baby Nicholas, over ten people stood at the end of my hospital bed staring at me. There were no words, just silent stares. Though they were there for support, I hated it. Within months everyone in the world began staring at me. They knew what I had been through.

ALL DAY LONG PEOPLE STARED AT ME.

While walking on a sidewalk, I passed a building with tinted windows. My heart raced with anxiety as all the people stared out the windows at me. I couldn’t see them but they were there. When I went to work, my coworkers stared at me from the building as I took the long, dreadful walk from my car. I couldn’t see them either but they were there. At the grocery store I felt people staring at me from behind. When I walked to my car to load my groceries all eyes were on me. On the highway the drivers in their cars were staring at me. I hated it.

Along with the whole world staring and knowing my story, I was fearful something would happen to the child I was now carrying. I didn’t feel him move one day. I cried on the couch at my mother-in-law’s house. I was embarrassed and terrified. At the end of the day he finally moved.

He was born healthy on March 5, 2006.

I was now able to use the new baby toys, diapers, and rainbow themed crib that had been locked away in my first baby’s nursery.

I was happy. But it was short lived.

On my second son’s first birthday a surge of sadness hit me. Nicholas would never celebrate a birthday. He would never wear a silly cheap cardboard birthday hat while shoving homemade birthday cake into his mouth. As happy as I was for my second son’s birthday, in the back of my mind I kept thinking about Nicholas. I touched the angel necklace I had been wearing since the funeral. It reminded me of the pain.

 

My paranoia turned into suicidal thoughts.

Each day while everyone in their cars stared at me while I drove to work, I had reoccurring thoughts of driving my car head-on into a concrete wall. Every single morning for months it replayed in my mind.

It was Saturday. My husband was gone. I pulled out a half used prescription bottle of pain killers from a previous injury. I sat on my bed and laid the pills out. I spread them over my comforter. I stared at them. Emotionless. No tears because I had cried them all out. I just sat there. Staring at the white pills. I blinked. My baby boy sleeping in the next room was the only thing that stopped me.

After that day I went and saw a psychiatrist.

He prescribed me anti-depressants. I hated his cold dark office that was lit by a single lamp in the corner. I hated how he looked at me. I hated how he would slick back his black thick hair. I hated his surly personality.

“Do you want to hear my story?” I asked.

“No. I know what happened. Your baby died. Your eyes are set back and you look thin. Are you anorexic?”

I hated him.

 

My depression turned into anger.

Deep rooted anger set in with God.

Why would you allow a mother to carry a child for 8 months only to take it away?

You teased me. You teased me with a BABY!

An early miscarriage would have been better. Why not that, God?

Do you like to see me paranoid? No sleep? Depressed? Do you enjoy that?

He never answered so I stopped talking to him. I rolled my eyes at him.

“Let’s go to church. I was raised in church.” My husband said. I went. I hated it. I hated the pastor and ignored his words of hope and forgiveness. He was young. What did he know? I sat there. Glaring at him. My heart raced with rage. My hatred resonated into my marriage.

“We need to talk to the pastor about our marriage,” my husband said.

We emailed him. He responded with a short reply, “I don’t do family counseling.”

Yeah, I hated anything to do with God and church.

 

My anger resulted in divorce.

“I’m filing for divorce,” I said in a matter of fact tone. I was heartless and angry at everything and everyone. Seven months later, I was legally divorced. My second baby boy was now four years old. I was now a single mom living on my own.

The anger I carried was exhausting. I tried to ignore it. I pushed it down to the bottom of my heart.

I started a new job where no one knew my story. It was a fresh start. I was relieved.

Until the day I broke.

I broke down at my desk. Tears would not stop falling so I went to the bathroom hoping no one was there. For over an hour the tears wouldn’t stop. I left work. The tears continued in the car. They continued when I got home. A few days later a friend suggested a support group for people going through divorce.

I made the choice to go.

It was a 12-week class. We sat in a circle. Each telling our stories full of anger, betrayal, and hopelessness. All eyes were on me as I told my story. I pushed through the anxiety and paranoia. I talked about my divorce. When I mentioned Nicholas their eyes became saddened.

Sad eyes staring at me yet again.

Someone in the class began praying over me. Weekly.

 

My divorce led me back to God.

During the 12-week class, I chose to face my loneliness and depression. I faced my anger. Over time my heart began to soften. I made the choice to talk to God again.

God, what is wrong with me? This isn’t the life you planned for me, right? Why am I so angry? You love me, don’t you? I’ve messed my life up, haven’t I? Why do I feel like no one understands? Help me, God!

Through his word and prayer I found hope.

 

“The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.” Psalm 19:7-8

 

A few months later I was baptized! The paranoia, anger, and deep sadness left my soul. A weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I removed the angel necklace for the first time in five years. I was letting go. The Lord was on my side. He wasn’t against me like I had thought. Three years later I took a different support class. I wanted to be healed even more!

 

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:19

 

My anger had been my way of grieving and coping. It had been my way of dealing with the emptiness of losing a child. I made the choice to accept my life without Nicholas. I chose to accept the fact that God did not take my boy away to punish or hurt me. He was safe in the arms of Jesus!

 

God transformed my life.

A few years later I re-married and now live in a house full of kids!

I have two sons and two step-daughters full time. I left the world of stuffy cubicles and now spend my days taking care of our youngest boy who’s not even crawling yet, picking up kids from school, and being a godly example of what a mom should be. My life is full!

Our whole family serves in a ministry at church, in addition to attending small group study once a week. My life was so lonely when I turned my back on God. The anger I held inside was gut wrenching and I can’t imagine going back to those days. I chose to move on from my past by allowing God to heal me through prayer and encouragement from others.

I chose to find joy in Jesus Christ!

 

“I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.” John 16:20

 

 

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