sharing your stories and remembering your children
By: Emily Carrington EPLA Founder
Winter has always been hard for me. The long dark nights and the cold short days always seem endless. By February I am often tired of even the special joys of winter. Snow is no longer magical; it is burdensome. Sweaters are no longer cozy; they are itchy. My stomach is tired of soup, and my feet are tired of boots. And every winter my mood shifts to reflect the weary world. February is hard.
But the winter of 2015 was the hardest. Once Ohio natives, my husband and I had recently returned to the cold midwest after a glorious five year sun-filled stay in Texas. Our first winter in Michigan was brutal, one of the worst on record, but that is not what set this winter apart.
This was the first winter after we lost our first two children in early pregnancy. Our first baby died in May of 2014, and our second little one died in September. Our arms were empty, our hearts were broken, and the weight of death haunted each winter day.
As we navigated our new life I struggled with my own identity, purpose, and path. In the face of pregnancy loss, my ability to exercise control in my life had been stripped from me. While I grieved the deaths of my children, I also grieved the limits of my own autonomy.
This season of life often felt volatile, hopeless, and unpredictable; much like the winter we continued to endure. We did not know what else the winter would bring, or when it would end. Would life ever come again?
As spring broke my heart was lifted. The first warm day. The first daffodils poking out of an otherwise dreary landscape. That winter I knew suffering, but that spring I felt a inkling of joy and hope. A small glimmer of hope that I would learn to live with my grief and find joy in the places it is offered.
Four years later I now appreciate the rhythm of seasons; both atmospheric and personal. Since then, I have seen more suffering, and I have also seen more joy. This is true not just in my own fertility journey, but in my life, relationships, experiences, and faith. In my sufferings I have relied on others, and I have relied on God. I have asked for help and been honest about my suffering. And it was in these places, in my vulnerability, I was blessed with love - a vision of spring.
Because of the winter of 2015, I look forward to the springs. I look forward to the seasons of spring or even just the moments where I am offered a glimpse of spring. I am also more patient with the winters.
Dear reader, if you are suffering a weary winter know that it is okay to seek help. It is in these places of community I found love and hope. A counselor, pastor, or support group might be a place to connect with others who identify with your suffering. Over the last few weeks we have been highlighting the work of a group called Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support. If you are not sure where to start, we encourage you to visit their website and consider their resources.
Emily Carrington is the founder of the EPLA and mother to four children.