Losing, Grieving, Seeking, Finding; My Messy Beautiful by Noreen Heffernan



My mom always quotes Oscar Wilde and says “comparisons are odious.” Even as I type this, I have to hit shift F7 to see the thesaurus. But Mom, what does that mean??? In other words, comparisons are” horrible, obnoxious, and loathsome.” Thank you thesaurus. Bottom line, we should not compare ourselves to others. The antonym of odious is “delightful,” meaning (in my mind) that it is a delight not to compare yourself. That it is delightful to be unique and special in your own right. Right Mom?!

If you sit here and think that someone else has it better, think again. Keep thinking. Think yourself all the way to the place that says, “Everyone has their stuff.” Remember that as you see Mr. Rocker tapping his finger on the steering wheel of his Ferrari acting like he doesn’t have a care in the world. (Are Ferrari’s still in?) Remember that even he has his stuff. When you get to a place where you can understand that, you can live a much happier life. That’s where I’m at. But, it took a while to get here.

I didn’t really get my “stuff” until about age 25, when my husband and I decided we wanted to try for a baby. We got pregnant first try. Great, right? No, it didn’t turn out to be great. After a long, torturous battle, the pregnancy ended at 4 ½ months. I found out something was wrong at week 12. After an early amniocentesis, Turner’s syndrome was confirmed. Our little daughter was not expected to survive the week. She did. In fact, she survived a lot of weeks. It was actually weeks and weeks of torture and waiting; we were waiting for the inevitable to come. We knew it was coming. And, I had to live my life and go to work on the edge of my seat and without a chance in hell. As I say words and phrases like, turner’s syndrome, edema, and drowning in fluid, it takes me back to the place of no return; the place where I got my “stuff” and I lived in it and with it for years; a place where I lost Riley, a fighting soul with no chance in the world; a place where I would wake up from nightmares of blackness and screaming babies. That place. She would have been 8 this September. Imagine that?!

It changed me.

It made me take off my rose-colored glasses and see shades of grey. It started a long struggle with my weight, ups and downs. It made me see and feel loss. It made me lose hope. But, it made me pick myself up and try again. My second loss was at 8 weeks of that same year. 2006 was wretched to me. My third loss was 9 months later, the following September which hit me the hardest. It screeched me to a staggering halt. And here came my odious comparisons, punishing me with their wickedness. That is when I started comparing myself to other pregnant women I would see on the street. Why can they have a baby and not me? I compared myself to my friends, holding their bouncing bundles of joy. Why are they right and I’m wrong? Why me? I wished, I prayed, and I tried to find my way. What if I never had a baby? Who would I be? I wouldn’t be ok, right? Or would I?

The truth is, if I never had a baby, I would be ok. I would have to be. I started to realize that in 2008. That is the thing about life. It is filled with pain and loss, but with it comes beauty, hope and understanding. When we see how little we actually need to survive, it makes us realize how powerful we really are. If we strip it down to the bare bones and hang on only to what we can’t do without, we can understand ourselves more. THAT is when I got my baby; when I stripped it down; when I continued on and lived in the midst of it all; when I found peace without it.

My daughter will be 5 in June. My little one will be 3 in July.

And now, I am different. I still have my “stuff,” thank God. It keeps me grounded. But, I also have grace and peace. I am healthy and fit now; one of my strongest priorities. I am learning how to be whole. I am losing my temper at 2 year old tantrums and I am ok with it. But I am also trying to enjoy every moment that I remember to. I try not to forget to look up when my children are playing, but I definitely equally enjoy the moments that I can look down (at my phone or book) and breathe. I laugh a lot at some of the things these girls say. They are DRAMATIC! HIGH MAINTENANCE!

But, I eat it up like ice cream on a hot summer day. Slurp, slurp. They are everything that I knew I was waiting for. They are everything I knew I could have if I found peace. Don’t let me forget that! Don’t you forget that. Peace takes you through it. Peace gives you life.

Back then, I didn’t think I could make it. But, I did. I got through it. I worked it out. I found my way. And now my daughters are spinning in front of me with a doll in each hand. And today, I write about self-love instead of self-sacrifice. I understand empowerment. I reconcile with the fact that this was my messy journey. It wasn’t a perfect way to get here but it led me here nonetheless, exactly where I want to be. I understand myself now. I understand that I cannot compare myself to anyone else’s journey. To say someone else’s journey is worse or better than yours would make it an “odious” comparison. My pain is not worse than anyone else’s pain. It is all valid. Your pain is valid. My journey is my own and I love it. Riley taught me that, to love my journey, because there are always lessons in loss. She taught me that if we strip down to only what we need…what we can’t do without…we don’t just survive…we thrive.

Thank you Riley. I love you.

~Noreen Heffernan,Writer, MA in Public and Corporate Communications, Certified in PR Writer, Growing Ladies

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