Friday, July 27, 2012

Fear vs. Trust: Babyloss & Creativity Converge

Even though the temperatures have been a little cooler here, I've been finding it hard to sit down in my "studio" (a.k.a. our kitchen table) and push paint around.

It's because I'm afraid. 

And it's not the kind of fear that I usually run up against in creative endeavors.  It's not the I'm a perfectionist and am afraid of ruining this piece if I touch it kind of fear. 

It's of the My first baby died inside me and I'm afraid to get so engrossed in a project that I don't notice my second baby dying, too variety.

Yeah.  That kind.

Since hitting my third trimester, I've started doing twice-daily kick counts to monitor Jacob's movements.  I thought I would find them reassuring, but I don't.  Not only is the actual act of counting anxiety-inducing, but it also highlights just how little control I have over whether he makes it out of me alive.

See, I count his kicks in the morning, and I count again in the evening after dinner.  But he could die in the middle of the day.  It could be sudden, and it would be silent.  I might not learn of it for hours, and in any case it would be too late.

That's how it happened with Eve -- at least, that's how it felt like it happened.  I was blissfully counting down the weeks to her birth by throwing myself into art projects.  But what if I hadn't become so engrossed in those projects?  Would I, not having been told to do kick counts, have noticed if her movement patterns changed?  But I didn't notice anything, and the reality and regret of that has made art-making terrifying.

This week the guilt has felt worse than it ever has been.  I have remained fairly protected from feeling like I am the reason that Eve is dead -- until a few days ago.  I have heard that this is common in rainbow pregnancies, that the as you get closer to the gestatation that your lost baby died at, you may feel overwhelmed by guilt.

I certainly do.  And that and the fear have all but stopped me from making art. 

Earlier this week, I began the painting you see in the photos here.  Working on it was delightful.  I lost myself in its creation for hours at a time.

But then, one night after a painting session, I froze as I washed my brushes in the sink's flow.  When was the last time I'd felt Jacob move?  Had he died while I was painting away?  I panicked, downed some juice, and waited, terrified that another of my children had slipped away without my knowing.

I am happy to say that he is alive and, quite literally, kicking.

But I realize that I am faced with a choice.  I can either grasp desperately at the little scraps of control I have and wring all that I can out of them, checking out of my life until Jacob is born, panicking all the way.  Or I can do my kick counts and live my life in between, trusting that (as with Eve) I am doing the best that I can.

Because I know (in my mind, even if I can't feel it) that making art did not kill Eve, and that it won't kill Jacob.  And I also know that even if I do nothing but lay in bed all day counting kicks, that still might not be enough to save Jacob if he succumbs to some unknown, invisible problem, as his sister did (and that doing nothing but counting kicks would make the next eleven weeks pass excruciatingly slowly).  On top of that, I know that I have been given very precious gifts of creativity in my art-making and writing, and that checking out of those serves no one at best, and takes me out of the story God has chosen for me at worst.

So . . . I am writing, even though the vulnerability of this post terrifies me (please be gentle if you comment).  And I will finishing this painting, even though it hurts sometimes.  Both of my children's lives are largely in God's hands and God's hands alone.  Any attempt on my part to bear the responsibility meant for solely Him both has done and will do nothing to protect them, and it will crush my soul in the process.

I don't want to be crushed any more than I already have been.  Jacob deserves better than that.

"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life" 
~ Philippians 4:6-7 MSG

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  1. I do know exactly where you're coming from. Keep being creative. Keep writing. Keep counting kicks. And most importantly, keep living in between it all. xoxo

  2. Oh sweet girl, my heart goes out to you. I know of anxiety, I know of sorrow and loss and fear, but I do not know YOUR kind of fear and anxiety and it must be so terrible and scary for you! Preaching the scripture to those who are scared and hurt do not really help at the time, because those of us who know the Lord know the Word, but sometimes it just isn't enough is it? We know He's there. We KNOW He's in control of it ALL. Every breath we take, every breath our unborns take. Every. Single. Moment. We know that, yet, we feel fear. We want to control the outcome of our moments. We feel guilt when our moments turn out wrong. Turn out tragic. My older brother died 6 years ago of a brain tumor, and I still sometimes tell the Lord it should have been me. Me, the screw up. The single one. The one without a family forced to go on without their loved one. Survivor guilt. Mother guilt. Life's guilt! But there is no guilt for those who trust in Him, because He is the ultimate controller!! How good it is to also know that He understands our fear, our doubts, our scared moments, and He carries us even when we forget He's there. You know what I think? I think you should buy Jacob his clothes, his toys. You should start painting with him right there with you! Include him in every picture. Write him the story of his sister. Because I believe that when his mama is content and safe, he feels content and safe. Safe in the arms of our loving and faithful Savior. Always! In everything. Praying for you Beth, it will be okay. It will.
    Love, Margo

  3. Everything you are saying seems so honest and heart-spoken, and perfectly normal I think. Unfortunately that panic of getting wrapped up in a project and not remembering when he kicked will last after Jacob comes home. It's the curse of being a BLM with a rainbow. They fall asleep while nursing, they sleep a little longer then normal, all kinds of things make you slightly panic. It's all the same though, you know you are not in control and no matter how much you try to be, that fear is always there.

    Not trying to be a Debbie-downer, would rather prepare you for feelings that might not pass after Jacob comes home. I think you are doing an amazing job at keeping it all together while you wait out your rainbow reaching earth. You are an inspiration!

  4. I love your honesty, Beth. Love to you in the weeks ahead.

  5. I felt exactly the same way when I was pregnant with my rainbow. I also counted kicks and panicked the whole time. Like you I had feelings of regret that I had not been so diligent when I was pregnant with my son. If only I had, maybe he would have lived. I think it's normal considering what we have been through.

    Even if it's not, it was my reality and yours. I was sure each day that this would be the day I lost her. Normal or not, I lived in constant fear. I wish I could give you some advice on how to manage your fear. I even hosted a blog hop on my blog where BLM's shared their strategies for managing the fear. But at the end of the day, you won't be sure of anything until the day your baby is born and lets out that beautiful loud cry.

    I've been a follower on twitter but somehow I wasn't following your blog. But now I'm following you here as well. Wishing you the best of luck.

  6. BIG GIANT HUGS sweetie. Try painting your anxiety into your work. As a fellow artist sometimes we have to make those dark pieces of art that we may not share with the world just to help our spirits process the feelings. Make a painting about the guilt you feel. Make a painting about the unknown outcome. Make a painting about Eve. Make a painting about the cautious anticipatory joy. Make a painting about Jacob. If you truly pour yourself into these works the will be some of your best, they will ease some of your fear, and they will help you let go just a bit. I love you, and Eve, and Jacob. Every day I pray that he finds his way into your arms safely.

  7. Oh, I can't even imagine, Beth. I have lost two babies, but long before I ever felt the first kick. Praying, PRAYING for your heart, for the Lord to overwhelm you with His peace, and for Jacob to arrive alive and well and grow into a beautiful boy and man who will bring you joy!

  8. No matter how many times people tell you or you tell yourself, I think a part of you will always feel like you did something "wrong". Even though you know you didn't do anything wrong with Eve and you are NOT doing anything wrong with Jacob. It's SO HARD to let go of that control. I've heard so many women who tell themselves and others "I could only keep him/her alive while he/she was inside me" or how they feel they failed their child because they "couldn't" keep them alive. But it has so little to DO with us. You can do EVERYTHING "right" and your baby, who you and your husband loved and wanted and would have done anything for, still dies. While smokers and alcoholics and drug addicts and fifteen-year-olds have perfectly healthy children. They do everything "wrong" and still they get the wonderful gift of a child.

    I'm just babbling I guess. I just want you to be gentle with yourself. I know you're still going to have a lot of panicky moments and days, I just want you to have at least that many hopeful moments and days, too. The hope is the fun part. Terrifying, too, I know. But also fun.

  9. praying, praying, praying. be gentle with yourself.

  10. Oh Beth, this is beautiful and heartbreaking and courageous. I thank you... thank you thank you thank you... for sharing your open raw heart with us. Sending love.

  11. Beth, so glad you can process all of what you are seems that you are in the midst of having the "art of letting go" being formed between God's gentle, knowing much good in these comments - I hope and pray that you feel totally in His embrace as you face each twinge of anxiety - love that you are hanging on to that Philippians passage!

  12. Beth, I have never experienced being pregnant, but I'm a very anxious for what concerns children. I can see, anyway, that you are making great pregresses in your introspection. Just make art because it relaxes you and visualize yourself with your baby in your arms could be great ways to dissolve anxiety. Wish you all the best!

  13. hi stopping by from artists in blogland. really like the texture going on in this piece.! happy creating

  14. Yet another inspiring post Beth! I came across this youtube video by an artist called B. Reith. If you can't get the link it is called B Reith Tidbit. Take a look and listen to what he says about the talents and gifts that God has given to him!

    Be blessed.

  15. It is in His hands. All in His hands. I am sure you are doing all you can. Praying that He will give you peace during these moments.

  16. What powerful words. Your art and words are healing to me, let them be healing to you. xox

  17. Reading this is like seeing all of me fears for my future on a page.

    I am so desperate for a rainbow and yet so afraid of being so vulnerable again.

    I hope you find some balance between creating and kick counting.


  18. How much control do we have? This question has been tugging at me. Sending you and baby much love, Beth! Thank you for vulnerably sharing your journey.

  19. I've been catching up on your posts Beth...and this one...well it rings with REAL and TRUE. And like I told you before you are brave, and your courage at sharing the heart of it all, counting kicks, reminding us of our own God controlled lives, is a true blessing to me. You are a gift. I am praying for Jacob---and for you...

  20. It's SO HARD to let go of that control. I've heard so many women who tell themselves and others "I could only keep him/her alive while he/she was inside me" or how they feel they failed their child because they "couldn't" keep them alive. But it has so little to DO with us. You can do EVERYTHING "right" and your baby,Acetazolamide who you and your husband loved and wanted and would have done anything for, still dies.


"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King