Rainbow Fatigue

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There’s a point I hope to share with you,  but there’s a tiny bit of a backstory to get to where I’m wanting to take you.

Shortly after giving birth to my third child, another handsome son, his beloved great grandfather died.  When I say shortly, I mean, literally that same week.

Our entire family was devastated.  Not because we didn’t necessarily see it coming, but because we truly loved him dearly.

And in the midst of preparing for all of the things that come with a traditional farewell, all of the attention from everyone I loved turned to their feelings of their loss at our beloved strong man.

Standing in the funeral parlor, holding my newborn close, people who I’d never met touching my son for their own comfort.  Pulling back the blanket his mother had strategically placed to allow him to be visible but covered.  Grabbing his tiny newborn fingers, tugging them away from his face and pressing them around their fingers for a moment of their own comfort.  I stood, feeling defenseless, exposed, and ignored, in the procession of people slowly shuffling forward to have our turn to see the chilled physical form of a man who founded two generations of strong, leading men and respectful, hardworking women.

I stood, silently.  Like an empty platitude, only being offered out of social requirement.

I stood, holding my breath, waiting desperately for my turn with the man I loved, so that I could escape the rest of it.

Finally, my emotional strength collapsed, but it did before I got my turn.

I left that parlor, newborn in tow, and found the nearest little office where I could sit, collapse, and just, be.  I don’t regret standing as long as I could.  But I know I would have regretted it tremendously if I had stood a moment longer, being disobedient to the authentic love I knew I had to give.  The authentic love, I know I am to be.

Be the strong, protecting mother I know that renewed man above – not the old man behind me there in the overcrowded conference room – fought his whole life for the generations after him to be.  I was weary with being submissive to a ritual that my entire essence was rejecting.  I wanted to love, but love was being stifled by politeness and expectation.

Scooping my newborn son to my breast, I heaved a sigh of relief to have before me the very task that interrupted my sleep, my own meals, in fact my every single moment for the 10,080 consecutive minutes from his birth until that very moment.  I studied his sweet face as he drank, traced the seam of his pants with my finger, and fell entirely in love with this precious, vulnerable person for the 1 millionth time since I knew he was.   I was so captivated that I stayed squarely in that seat until I heard the last hushed stranger’s awkward goodbye in the entryway behind the thick door behind me.  Then, just me and my full bellied son quietly went to the place where one of our heroes lay.  I whispered secrets to them both, telling him, both, how much I love him, and the other.

Do you know what I’m saying?

I needed that.

And I have observed something in the bereaved community, something I haven’t really seen officially mentioned but something that so many mothers have tried to articulate, a similarity in many of our stories, in our feelings, in our concerns.  After much reflection, I hope to present to you what I think this is, and if it resonates with you, I hope you know you aren’t alone.

I write this as Christmas is just a few days away, knowing our culture can build such an anticipation of what we hope – nay, what we expect – from others.  We shop for gifts for others with a nagging voice in our minds – “I hope he noticed I could really use ___.  I hope she noticed that I would really like ___.”  And for bereaved parents, our concerns run deeper than physical packages.  “I secretly dread seeing ___.  I just really do not want to hear from ___.  I do not want to face this day and I want it to move quietly behind me. ”

And then, we have the next year upon us.  A whole new number thrust upon us in such a way that it becomes a habit, even if one we despise.  “I am not ready to leave this year behind.  I do not want to whisk my feelings aside with it.”  Or, “Let’s just usher in this new year.  Maybe I can get over this year.  Maybe then I can just move on.”

Whatever struggles you are facing in this season, this is a season that can seem to automatically propel us into a place of expectation, of moving on.  It can seem the sense of discontent, of wistfulness, of longing, of anticipation can be so strong it permeates everything – the way we drive, the way we eat, how we feel about commercials, how we feel about our relationships, how we feel about ourselves.

I draw these things to your attention because there is a different kind of baby blues I see, too.  I’ll call it “rainbow fatigue”.

It’s something caught by loved ones and by bereaved parents alike.

Trying to conceive is such a commonplace expression that we usually chop it down to just three letters.  TTC.

It becomes more than learning about your body in an intimate way, or falling in love with your spouse all over again.

It, the trying, can become so consuming, that even while finally pregnant, mothers can still be so entirely distracted with the aching desire for even the very next day.  “It ain’t over (the fear) until I hear that baby cryin.”

We are pregnant and a nervous wreck and we are terrified to tell someone.

And then our “rainbow” babies are born.  Our living babies are placed in our arms.

And we spent so much time in our pregnancy following the expectation we set by our own fear that we cannot enjoy the moment, that suddenly we are presented with a person, a vulnerable person who needs us entirely, someone who has not just been hidden from our sight for nearly a year by the place of gestation, but hidden from our heart by the place of fear.

So now, once and for all, you are charged with intentionally nurturing this person you spent approximately 280 days of pregnancy hoping for, possibly physically preparing for, but not emotionally or spiritually realizing was already here, was indeed already yours.

It is a difficult, confusing place, to be thrust into the hours, days, months ahead, soothing the needs of this child you longed so desperately for, his or her cries interrupting abruptly your own thoughts as you wonder how you got so suddenly from a place of desperately aching for a child, to be granted the role of serving the endless demands of a person who depends wildly upon you.  The months of pregnancy didn’t prepare you for this.  The months of pregnancy.  Still TTC.  Still trying to conceive the notion that you are loved, that you have love to give, that you are given ordinary moments to discover your own little greatness.

I want to challenge you today, wherever you are at in your motherhood – if you are rearing, mourning, or both – that faith isn’t about obeying social expectations or how well you think you hope or even what it is you hope for in the future.

Faith is about finding value in you, in this place, in this moment, unconditionally.

May you find that faith, in this season of your life, in this year, in this very minute.

Be, present.  Discover that you can receive love, offer love, be love, unconditional.

I believe in this so entirely that I will soon be having a giveaway that will include an opportunity to invite you into practicing this in a tangible way, so stay near to stillbirthday to check it out.

rainbow fatigue

{original photo source}



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  1. Beautiful, Heidi. I Hear You, And Say Yes…..Important Thoughts.


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