Today I tucked all of my "tangibles" into a manila envelope and asked Abe to put it into the safe. By "tangibles", I mean all the cards, notes, ultrasound pictures, my discharge papers and my hospital bracelet, a sweet hat a friend made for our baby, and some pictures of Abe and I from the State Fair- I can see that my smile is not genuine. I tucked all this into a large manila mailing envelope along with a letter I wrote to our little one. I recounted the bigger details of when we found out I was pregnant, what I felt throughout the weeks I carried him/her, and some of the details of the loss. I wrote it to our baby knowing that it's really for me. I'll pull it out every once in awhile, read the letter, look through the cards, touch the ultrasound pictures and remember. I said what I would have said to their face but didn't get the chance.
Miscarriage is this wierd, silent, almost shameful thing. I can't believe how many people don't talk about it, or recognize the life that was there. It's sort of as though if you show too much emotion at any given time that you're being irrational- "it was JUST a miscarriage." Now, believe me, I know that's not truth. Loss is loss. Grief is grief. Emptiness is... well, you get the picture. I wish that people felt more comfortable with recognizing their loss. Instead, families grieve in private- or feel like their grief is "wrong" or "excessive" or "unwarrented". I believe I lost a whole little person, and if you're reading this and have suffered a miscarriage, please hear me. I believe you lost a sweet, precious little life and however you grieve is okay. It's not shameful or excessive. Women are made to mother, biologically and emotionally- when that motherhood is cut short, we recognize in a soul-moving way how deeply flawed our world is.
I've come to realize now, over two months, since we lost our first baby, that of course there is light on the other side- there's hope, there's peace, and that life inevitably goes on. I get up and go to work, play with the dogs, kiss my husband, laugh at jokes, get frustrated when my students don't listen, and filled with tenderness when their little compassionate hearts show kindness to another. I sleep, I eat, I worship. Yet still, while I live fully, there's a deep loss of innocence that came with losing this little life and I suppose comes with any loss. If and when I get pregnant again, it will be tempered with an awareness of the great possibility of alternative outcomes. I will not dwell on the dark things that COULD happen but I will be aware of them more acutely nonetheless.
As I signed my little card to our baby, "Mama", an old wound cracked open again. I would have been 20 weeks pregnant now. Halfway there. I had it marked already in my calendar- I have the books (on shelves now)- I even have some of the clothes I would have needed. Instead, this week, I celebrate my 31st birthday with an empty womb, a tiny hole in my heart, and a solemn spirit. God, the great comforter, draws close to me again as always. He never fails to be my ever-present help in times of need; even when my need is just a good cry.
He also never fails to fill me with hope. I look forward with great great longing to the day that I can put the silly little picture of a baby in the corner of this blog as it counts down the days until my due date; to the day that I can hug my ever expanding belly and complain of heartburn and sciatica; to the day that after great pain, I can feel the reality of my child in my heart AND in my arms.
With that, I tuck all the memories of our baby into an envelope and close it, not sealed permanently, not even in the safe yet... maybe in a week or so... I think I'd like to look through it a little more while it's still out on my desk... and I remain the same: A child of God, an imperfect, impulsive receiver of redemption, a wife to the greatest husband a woman could have, and a mama- at least by heart. And most importantly, I remain "tucked" under the wing of my Savior, held tenderly against the breast of the lover of my soul and the keeper of all promises.
I call on you, O God, for you will answer me;
give ear to me and hear my prayer.
Show the wonder of your great love,
you who save by your right hand
those who take refuge in you from their foes.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings
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