Over the last several years, I’ve gotten the impression a few people thought it was time I started “moving on.”
Moving on from feeling infertile now that I have a baby in my arms.
Moving on from saying goodbye to a son who was never truly mine.
Moving on from recurrent loss and the effect that had on my spirit, soul, body, and mind.
They never hinted at this in a mean-spirited sort of way, as people who care enough to say anything rarely do. But if it is implied with the best of intentions, does that make it right? The nagging feeling in my heart says, no.
When I imagine moving on, I imagine that I’m moving away from something at a fixed point, leaving that something behind. And while I certainly do not want to stay forever in the place of sadness and angst as I felt initially in my losses, I certainly never want to leave those babies, or the experience of mothering them for such a short time, behind.
No, I don’t want to move on. I don’t want to move away.
But I will move forward. I will take what life has given me, I will integrate it into who I am, and I will keep moving forward without leaving anything (or anyone) important behind.
In fact, I move forward a little bit every day.
I move forward when I pick up the pieces that were left after these babies of mine were gone, and I held them close in my heart, vowing to never let them go.
I move forward when I acknowledge all the ways the love I felt for them made me a better, stronger, braver human being — and all the ways it broke me, too.
I move forward when I love someone else going through loss, and companion with them in their hardest time.
I move forward when I have greater compassion for the suffering of others because I understand suffering deeper than I did before.
I move forward when I allow myself the full range of feeling — from gratitude for the short time we had, to looking forward to heaven when I can meet my babies for the first time, to when I imagine all that should have been and isn’t, to holding my living children and acknowledging that I wouldn’t know two of them had I not had the losses, to even allowing myself to feel frustrated and tired as a mother going through normal mothering things. I move forward when I allow myself to feel all the feels.
I move forward each day I wake, put my feet on the soft carpet below, and step out into a new day.
I cannot go back into the past.
And as much as I am desperately trying to hold onto the present, it keeps nudging me moment by moment into my future. Moving forward is not a privilege. It is not a choice. It is a necessity.
But my choice and my privilege are that I try to move forward with grace.
Not that I walk gracefully each step of the way. But that there is grace enough for me to learn to walk again.
Maybe to you looking in, this process looks like I’m stuck, as I have taken time to integrate how my experiences have changed my hopes for my life, my dreams, my faith, my family. But these were my children, and just like my living children, they deserve my time.
Maybe to you, this process looks like I’m a victim. Perhaps you wonder if I write and speak to prove my life is harder than yours. I assure you, it isn’t. Owning my experience is not disowning yours.
Maybe to you, this process looks indulgent. So many around you seemed to have sucked up their losses and treated their fertility issues as just a blip, and you wonder why I haven’t responded the same way. And I would say that eventually, we all face our one big thing — the thing that brings us to our knees, causes us to question everything we’ve ever believed and threatened to steal all hope. For me, the last few years were it. Maybe for someone else, their big thing just hasn’t hit yet. But it probably will. And they will learn to move forward too.
I need you to know that whether we call it moving on or moving forward — it’s a long process.
And it requires us to transcend, to change. To enter into the chrysalis, deconstruct, and build ourselves back again. It is an undoing, and then a doing. But no matter the efforts we make or the time that passes, when our one big thing hits — we never move forward as the same person as we were when we began. That person, with her hopes, expectations, and dreams, is forever gone.
But that is not to say that all hopes, expectations, and dreams are forever gone.
You see, I am not moving away from those, any more than I am moving away from my babies. Instead, I am moving forward . . .
Toward hope, in the day I will hold all my babies in my arms again.
Toward expectations of becoming the person who learns to embrace joy with sadness, and sadness with joy.
Toward my dreams of creating a legacy for my babies who could not leave a legacy themselves.
My hopes, expectations, and dreams have changed drastically — but they have not disappeared.
So, no. I’m not moving on. And I want you to know — you don’t have to either.
Photo by louis amal on Unsplash
Rachel Lewis is a foster, adoptive and birth mom. She lost her second baby she named Olivia to a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, and had 4 miscarriages in the following 4 years. On the journey to becoming a family, she gave birth twice (once to a rainbow), adopted a precious daughter and fostered and released a darling son after a year and a half. When she’s not chauffeuring her kids around, you can find her shopping at Trader Joe’s, drinking coffee, or writing about her journey as a mom at www.TheLewisNote.com. Follow her on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/Thelewisnote. And join her online support group for bereaved and infertile mamas at Brave Mamas, https://www.facebook.com/groups/1657136001012257/