Here is how it all began...
Me: "Sweetie, I really feel like we should have a third child."
My Husband: "Sweetie, I really don't feel that way."
Me: "But Sweetie, there is this little voice inside me saying that someone is still missing from our gang."
My Husband: "That's funny because the voice inside my head says we are really all set."
Me: "Ok, we'll talk about it another time."
My Husband: Silence.
And then, as any good wife would do, I continued to regularly bring up this very same dialogue. Every few days. And often at night. Right before bed. And in the car too. I was seeking answers. I wondered, When does one know when their family is really and truly complete? I know I love babies. And yet I know I do not love being up with them all night before they are sleep trained. I know my parenting heart feels full with the love and energy I give to the two daughters I have. But I am confident that there is room for more love to be squeezed into the deep crevices that remain in the places I am not yet aware of within my heart. And perhaps the biggest issue is that I feel really and truly so very blessed to have two healthy daughters already. I can't help but wonder if I am being greedy. Am I asking God for too much? Are my expectations that He could, should, and would give me one more child unreasonable?
And I question and I wonder. Then I close my eyes and I envision our future. I see Me, John, Emma and Sophie sitting at a dining room table five years from now. We are eating dinner and talking about the best moments of our days. The table and chairs are simple. The home and room within is not discernible. The light is warm. And there, at the table, is this third little face. A deep smile, chubby cheeks and gentle eyes. There is so much laughter. And that was when I knew. There was one missing. So we forged ahead. John's love for me outweighed his sense of reason. He trusted me and he, too, was convinced.
And God blessed us. After only a few months of trying, we were pregnant. As you would expect, I got to planning right away. I cherished our little secret. For nine weeks, I dreamed of what that little face would look like, the name it was destined to bear, and I envisioned the love my two daughters would shower on this second sibling. At six weeks, there was a teeny tiny heartbeat. Fast as a hummingbird, that little heartbeat saying "I am here, I am here, I am here... Wait for me. I am coming."
And then the voice was silenced. Just like that. Without any warning. It was nine blissful (and almost fearless weeks). And then it happened. There was no heartbeat. I lay in a doctor's office and heard the words I never envisioned hearing. In an instant, the dream felt eviscerated. It was only 9 weeks, but I swear I had already fallen in love with that little baby.
In the days that followed I was physically sick. I felt short of breath with disbelief. I burst into tears without any warning and felt listless and disoriented. I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that I had this precious little being, no longer alive, inside me. It felt wholly unnatural. I had no sense of how my body would physically process the loss of the pregnancy. I wanted to hide away in bed until it had all passed, but I had to go on. Thanksgiving needed to be celebrated, family needed to be joined and the girls needed their mom to be their mom. And therein lies the rub. Moms are often emotional beings. We crave expression. But there is little time for us to do it. Moms must go on. There is so little time calculated into our days, weeks, months and years to grieve. It's just not on the schedule. We marched along -- and I processed the loss in the few quiet moments that lived in between the chaos.
There were dark days that followed. Tears that seemed to flow ceaselessly, questions that weighed on my heart. Had I not been careful enough? Was God answering my question with finality? I wondered what it all meant. I couldn't help but feel overcome with grief for the women I know and those I do not who have been through this and so much worse. Through the entire process, I knew that there were women who had suffered so much more than I had. Women who had lost babies at 20 weeks, 30 weeks and even worse, labored to deliver stillborn children. I couldn't help but cry for them too. And if I am being honest, I felt guilt along with my sadness. Losing a baby at just nine weeks -- did I really deserve to grieve? It could have been so much worse. It always can be. I realized this and forced myself to find sympathy and compassion for this premature ending. And with each day that passed, I started to feel better -- and sometimes worse -- but mostly better. If I have learned nothing else in this life, it is that we as people are resilient. Time does heal, and as I've aged, I have finally made my peace with the process. I allow it to run its course at its own speed.
In the weeks after our loss, I couldn't help but wonder why and how our society has set up a situation where so many women are suffering through these experiences alone. We are encouraged not to tell people we are pregnant until 12 weeks, but then 80% of miscarriages happen before 12 weeks. So we face this incredibly life-altering experience in solitude. We wander around our "everyday" lives with a broken heart that no one else is aware of. Some may wonder why I am putting something so private and intimate on the blog. And to them I say this: I share because I find great comfort in the love and support of those around me. And I share because I know with certainty that others after me will walk this journey and I want them to know they are not alone. I want them to know a sisterhood of strong and brave women has walked the path before them. The trail is made of bumpy terrain and deep grooves that tell the tales of the women before them who have suffered and then gone on. Those who have survived. Those whose hearts still swell with love and laughter. Those who have gone on to have other children. The ones that follow will also make it through. They too will find the love and laughter again because they are brave, resilient, and strong.
This I know: God gives to me so I can know what it feels like. All of it. The greatest of the great helps me to maintain a firm hold on gratitude. In the laughter and love of my children, I experience a love so deep it nearly hurts within my heart. And then with the losses I learn about the heartache that equalizes us all. Rich or poor, young or old, none of us are immune to loss. And when it hits, we can't help but say, "And now I know how that feels." The challenge is to muddle through the pain and confusion until you get to a place where the sharp pain becomes a dull ache. And in that ache we find compassion. Compassion for those who will follow in our footsteps. Acceptance of our own loss. And deep, deep sadness for those who have suffered greater losses than our own.