Monday, December 06, 2010

Reaching out: Do I sink or stay afloat?

About 1 week prior to the miscarriage, a lady from church gave a picture of Jesus in the Divine Mercy to hang on our wall. Apparently someone was trying to give it to someone else but she was not Catholic so it was given to us. I was perplexed to say the least. Why is this stranger giving me this picture while I am praying in the Blessed Sacrament chapel? Now I think, perhaps it is a sign for me to learn more about the Divine Mercy. Perhaps it is a call to Trust in His Divine Mercy at a greater level.

The first few weeks after the miscarriage definitely tested my ability to reach out. John mentioned how painful it can be to reach out (previous blog post). When we are going through any trial that causes suffering, reaching out can mean the difference between sinking or staying above water.

Yet, I somehow worked up the courage to reach out to other people who had gone through a late miscarriage or knew of someone who had. It was painful and unnatural for me to reach out, but I had to admit to myself that I could not keep floating above water on my own. I needed other peoples hands to help keep me above water. I needed to talk about my struggles to others who truly cared and understood my pain. I can be very independent so having to almost admit my defeat, my powerlessness over the miscarriage and its effects took one of the biggest leaps of faith I have ever had to take.

“Many parents have feelings of losing control when they express the normal feelings and emotions of grief: they may feel like they are “going crazy” because of the thoughts that plague them about their baby” (Maternal Child Nursing Care, 1998, p. 555).

Almost 2 weeks after the miscarriage, I was in the midst of a very long anxiety attack. I felt like I was below water sinking like I have never sunk before. All John could do was hold me, listen to me, and tell me to look at the picture we have by our bed of Peter reaching out to Jesus walking on the water after he realized that he himself was walking on the water (Matthew 14, 22-33). The more I thought about the picture, the more I realized that just thinking about the picture was not helping. Little did I realize that somehow I needed to make an act of the will. But how?

As I kept breathing in and out, my anxiety did not improve. In my helplessness, I finally told John that I needed extra help and asked John to call our local Health Care Access number. The nurse on the line talked to me and finally directed me to someone who was trained to talk me out of my anxiety attack. Later, the anxiety subsided . . . but slowly. I needed to trust. I needed to trust in myself and in Jesus. I needed to keep affirming myself with these different statements: “I’ll be ok, I am going to make it through, this is normal”.

Reaching out to others is one thing but reaching out to my husband and my children was the most important thing for me to do. Our children can only do so much since they are so young but simply telling them that I was sad and asking them to pray for me was a form of reaching out.

Reaching out to my husband was not as difficult as it normally might have been perhaps if the miscarriage would have happened earlier in our marriage. Through our eight years of marriage, we have grown to predict quite well our different patterns of behaviour, turning inward for example, if there was a problem. Because of the growth in our marriage, I was able to make a conscious decision that I was going to show my vulnerability and keep my heart open to John. I would do my best to be as open as possible in the sorrow, struggles, and pain resulting from the miscarriage.

John’s strong presence and strength were a big reason why I stayed afloat for the last month or so. He was particularly present during the first few weeks after we lost Dominic. I tried my best to work up the courage to talk very openly about my thoughts, and to allow myself to cry whenever I needed to cry. For me, these acts were all important in the the beginning of the healing process since my greatest temptation was to crawl into a cocoon and feel sorry for myself.

Lucille Everett

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