Pop quiz! (& smiling sperm-shaped cupcake toppers & grief)
What do you do when you find out you can't fulfill your life-long dream and have biological children with the love of your life?
A. Cry all day and all night 😭
B. Hide under the covers 🛌
C. Walk around like a zombie 🧟♀️
D. Wonder why it's so easy for other couples and not you 🤔
E. Eat all the food in your house 🤤
F. Get mad 😡
G. Question if you did something wrong ❌
H. Ask God why He didn't answer your prayers 🙏
I. Feel utterly hopeless and heartbroken 💔
J. All of the above 👆
The days following the surgery were long and hard. I teetered between states of shock, bouts of anger, emotional exhaustion, and complete heart break.
Remember when I told you we hadn't prepared for this result? We never dreamed we'd come home empty handed. Like, not at all.
You guys......I ordered smiling, sperm-shaped cupcake toppers on Etsy and planned on grabbing a couple mini bundt cakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes when we got home from Iowa City. I was going to surprise Brian and throw a mini party to celebrate his swimmers and the next chapter in our lives.
For obvious reasons, that mini party for two was quickly canceled. Instead of the smiley, sperm-topped bundt cakes, we were stuck with a large serving of disbelief and heartbreak.
This type of grief was different than anything I'd ever experienced.
The tears and the pain erupted from somewhere so deep inside me...it felt like a place within my soul that had never been tapped into...a place I didn't even know was there. I didn't cry ALL the time (at least once a day for while), but when I DID cry, it was awful.
It sounded different than what it typically sounds like. It felt different than it typically feels like (except for my signature swollen upper lip that always makes an appearance with the tears–fun fact about me 😆). It was as if I were crying with every ounce of my mind and body. There was one point during a cry sesh where I felt like both my arms were literally going to fall off.
I accidentally saw a text Brian sent to one of his buddies––it said something along the lines of, "I'm really worried about her. I've never seen her like this. Not even after her dad had his heart attack."
I'm going to try to give you a tiny glimpse into my pain, because it is very hard to explain. I sometimes have a hard time showing emotion (like, I used to be numb and unable to shed a tear). These days, I am a lot better at it, but still sometimes have a hard time getting it out.
In the days following the surgery, I was so FULL of emotion–it felt like it was overflowing and I had no where to put it. So, I journaled.
Here is an excerpt from my super secret diary (a.k.a. a Word doc on my desktop):
"The pain I feel cuts so deep––it cuts all the way to the core of my being. It cuts into my SOUL. MY HEART ACHES SO HORRIBLY BAD I CAN'T EVEN PUT IT INTO WORDS. My heart will never be the same. It is shattered into a million different pieces. My heart aches in a way I cannot even explain. I love Brian SO SO SO much, but WHY did this have to happen to HIM. TO US? This is our DREAM. Did we do something wrong?"
I can't imagine this is a fun post to read (it hasn't been a fun one to write, either).
But, we've been real with you up to this point–no sense in shying away when it's time to talk about emotions.
One thing I think is important to remember: everyone grieves differently. Just because I was having "arm-falling-off" crying sessions doesn't mean everyone will. Just because Brian was dealing with his emotions and grief silently and alone, doesn't mean he was doing it wrong.
Sometimes it's hard to understand someone else's grief. I couldn't grasp how Brian wasn't just as outwardly emotional and upset as me. I was confused by his go-with-the-flow attitude and his it-is-what-it-is justification.
But that's who he is–he doesn't dwell. Me? I'm a dweller.
We met with our pastor over FaceTime about a month after the surgery (more on that later). There's one thing he said about grief that really stood out to me, so I want to share it with you, too:
"In the coming days and weeks and even months, grief is going to hit you both at separate times and in different ways. It's so important that you recognize this and give each other space to deal with it in your own, individual ways."
And he was right. As time went on, the grief came and went in waves. Some days were good, some not so much. Even still, we grieve what we lost that day in Iowa City. And likely we will grieve it in some way for the rest of our lives.
The two weekends following surgery weekend, I had back-to-back bachelorette parties out of state. My gigantic new reality was still incredibly raw, and I wasn't all that jazzed about doing anything other than sitting in my house dwelling.
Looking back, these girls' weekends were the best things for me at that time.
I went to those bachelorette parties and I celebrated my best friend and I celebrated my sister-in-law. I heard the WAP song for the first time (😱) and I played r-rated ring toss. For the first time in seven days, I was distracted and I was smiling. And that's just what I needed.