life after loss · stillbirth

The Feeling

You know that gut feeling? You get it when you’re forgetting something. You get it when it seems like something must be wrong, or when something bad is going to happen. Is the coffee pot still on? Did you forget to turn off the oven? Did you drive to work without your wallet? Maybe you forgot to pay something? Is your family okay?  Up until recently, I had always been able to rely on that feeling. People say, “Trust your gut” for a reason. But I can no longer trust mine. 

In 2010 I got in my car to make an hour and a half drive to visit my boyfriend (my now husband). I felt uneasy. I usually relaxed on this drive with my window down. But from the moment I stopped to fill my gas tank, I felt that feeling. I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong. I walked around the car, looking at each tire. I double-checked my headlights and tail lights. I checked my oil level. Everything seemed okay. I turned on my music and got on the road, but still had that feeling. I kept my window rolled up, my doors locked, and I gripped the wheel tight. That night, 30 minutes from my parents’ house, I crashed my car at 65mph. My driver’s side window was the only thing that kept a fence from hitting my head. That window was up because of that feeling.

On the day that Lincoln died, I didn’t have that feeling. I was at peace. As I labored, I fully expected my son to come home with me. I had no reason not to. My labor was long. I wasn’t progressing, though my water was tight and ready to burst. My mom seemed concerned. I smiled and told her, “I’m pretty sure he’s going to be fine.” I was so positive. I had no doubts that Lincoln would be okay. I didn’t get that feeling. In the OR, after his routine C-Section turned to chaos and my husband was asked to leave, I didn’t get that feeling. Lying on that table, I watched as a team of nurses intubated my precious boy and started compressions. I asked, “He’s going to be okay, right?” But still, I didn’t have that feeling. It wasn’t until I saw my husband’s look of defeat….until I heard him say, “I’m so sorry”….until it was too late. 

I didn’t get that feeling when I needed it the very most. My husband and I get this feeling often and, somehow, it usually happens at the same time. We get this feeling because something is wrong with our life. Something is missing. We drive our car without a car seat in the back. We go out to eat without a messy toddler in tow. We go grocery shopping without a curious little boy, reaching for the colorful items on the shelves. Our life is much too quiet. There is silence where there should be boisterous laughter, or the screams of a temper tantrum. We should have our 14-month old baby boy here with us. His room should be a constant mess, instead of packed up in boxes. Our arms are empty. Our family is incomplete. Our hearts are broken. At all times, something just isn’t quite right. 

That feeling has done me a lot of good over the years, but I can no longer trust it. It doesn’t work the way it used to. Because I have it all the time. I’m not sure if it will ever go away. Maybe I will get used to it. Maybe it will change. But we will always have this Missing Link. 

2 thoughts on “The Feeling

  1. Dear Janelle, Thank you for sharing your heat and love for Lincoln. Feelings that I’ve repressed for many years have surfaced and reminded me that some parents didn’t have a choice to not grieve. I know this comment sounds odd or unclear. I sm working out raw emotions. You and Travis are such beautiful souls; i am better for knowing you. Love, val.

    Liked by 1 person

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