Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Flipside

Due to my upbringing I have often pondered heaven and hell.  During Halloween, where I am from, exists these strange things called tribulation houses.  Its a Southern Baptist's version of an appropriate haunted house.  Its a re-creation of specific parts of the book of Revelations from the Bible.  You pay five dollars and walk through rooms where people have just disappeared.  The vaccuum is running but no one is in the room. The news reporter on the radio is screaming about the traffic accidents, plane crashes, etc. happening all as a result of the disappearing people.  As you go through the house you learn that all of the Christ believers have disappeared and chaos has errupted on earth.  God has saved his people and the ones left must make a choice; suffer in this new chaotic world ruled by evil and still go to heaven when you die, or accept the new rules, find comfort on earth but be eternally damned to hell.  After making this connection, you are lead into a pitch black hallway that is a simulation of hell.  It's so hot it makes you sweat, breathing is difficult and the only sounds you hear are screams and moaning.  The narrator tells you of the eternal suffering and pain the people in hell experience and just when you think you can't stand the heat, they let you out into heaven.  The room is cool and white, candles and lights flicker next to beautiful people dressed as angels and there are places to sitdown and read the Bible.  As a child, I was so thankful to leave hell and go to heaven.  I could feel relief wash over me as soon as the cool air touched my skin and I would listen intently as the narrator told me of an eternity of love and celebration with all of the ones who went before me.

As an adult, and no longer Southern Baptist, I think back to those tribulation houses and one major flaw (besides the fearmongering) in its design stands out.  They take you through hell and then you get to experience heaven.  But in the reality of death, from a Christian stand point, its seems to me that it would be the opposite.  I imagine, when we all die, everyone would experience heaven first.  They would feel the cool air on their skin, the peace, joy, and eternal understanding that is promised.  They would celebrate with the ones they love who had gone before and they would know God.  Then, when they grasped the full understanding of what heaven is, the ones that didn't believe on earth would have it all taken away.  The peace, the joy, all of it will be stripped from them and they will be plunged into an eternal hell.  For how can they really understand hell if they had never experienced heaven?

The day my daughter was born, she lived for an hour and a half.  I didn't know I was in labor, I never felt a single contraction.  I was in the hospital on bed rest and I felt pressure.  I reached down and could feel the top of her head, so I called for the nurse.  Ten minutes later I vomited and she slid out.  I was so afraid they would drop her, but they didn't.  They wrapped her in a blanket and they laid her on my chest.  She was only 22 weeks and 1 day, she didn't have a chance.  But as she laid on my chest and I looked at her, touched her, and talked to my living daughter, I glimpsed heaven.  I felt that perfect peace and joy that defies all understanding.  For 90 minutes I felt that cool air on my face and I understood God.  Then, her heart stopped beating and she was stripped from my grasp, my peace, my joy was taken away and I thought to myself, surely, this is hell.    

Alice was born first and alive.  Drake died during delivery a week later and I never got to experience his life outside my body.  Do you remember your thoughts when you first saw or held your child (children)?  My mother always says that your first born is different than the others.  Alice was my first born and I do have different feelings about her than Drake.  I feel the same love for them of course, but I feel more of a connection to Alice.  If you have more than one, do you feel the same way?    


  1. I'm very sorry that Alice and Drake are not here. You are in the very early days and they are so hard. Be gentle with yourself when you can. Sending you much love.

  2. Monique,
    Thank you for your kind words although it escapes me, at the moment, how I can be gentle with myself. Really, I'd like to bash my head against a wall and rip out my incompetent cervix and stomp on it. But that probably isn't civil and would make a horrible headline in the local news, I am a teacher after all. But again, the words you posted are nice and give me something to strive for. Also, I like your picture, it looks like your on a beach on another planet.

  3. I'm so sorry for the losses of your beautiful babies.
    I agree with what Monique said. I think what being gentle with yourself means in the early days is try to do whatever is easiest (short of harming yourself). I definitely know that feeling of absolute betrayal that my body failed at something that seemingly comes so easy to others and being very angry at myself about that. It's normal. And over time and when you are ready, you will most likely learn to "forgive" yourself, but it's okay to be angry. And I'm sure you have heard this already and will hear it many more times, but what happened with Alica and Drake was not your fault. You didn't do anything wrong.

  4. Jane, I'm so sorry for your losses. They're both extremely sweet and beautiful babies. I wrote a post long, long ago on GITW (which I see you found, thank goodness) about how during those awful nightmarish moments we really just follow our guts because we're too tired and blitzed to really use rational thought. And our guts tell us things, and we need to listen to them, and perhaps most importantly, we need to be v. gentle *afterwards* on what our guts told us to do and think. If your gut made more of a connection with Alice, if you felt you glimpsed heaven, then you did. And you need to go with that, with no apologies.

    One month out is just so new and raw. Please go easy on you.

  5. I am so sorry for your loss. As everyone else has said, just be good to yourself. After my loss I thought I should just jump back into things and "get over it". It was the wrong thing for me to try to do. But it does look like you are on the right track by blogging about it.
    Love and hugs.

  6. Came across your blog on LFCA. I'm so very sorry for the loss of your son and daughter. I also lost my daughter at a similar time during the pregnancy (23wks), she was also my first. I hope that my feelings are different with this subsequent pregnancy since we knew at the time Lily was born she would not be staying with us on this earth, it was a terribly sad moment and one that I hope to never experience again.
    Thinking of you as you journey the grief of your losses & adjust to this new normal ((hugs))

  7. Hi there,

    I just found your blog through My Search For Hope (Shaina's blog). I lost my twins on August 5, 2011 at 14w2d. My daughter was born first, and yes, I definitely hold different feelings for my firstborn in my hear than I do for my son. She's the one I worried over...the one who had a placental abruption at 7w3d, the one who had a slight placenta previa, the one who, we assumed, was the result of the next 7 weeks of bleeding. (It wasn't her. It was a polyp in my cervical canal, which eventually ruined my mucus plug, led to infection and preterm labor, which caused my daughter's amniotic sac to rupture. My labor was induced 8 hours later, and they were born - not alive - six hours after that.)

    I'm still feeling my way through this. Thank you for sharing your feelings on your blog. (I blog, too, but mine's currently set to private for another week or so while some work stuff gets sorted out.)