It's been two years. Two. years. 24 months, 104 weeks, 25 cycles. I could add up the hours, the minutes, and the seconds since the worst moment of my life, but suffice it to say that I'm not ever going to forget it. What was it? IT was the day I lost my baby. The day when I saw all of my hopes and dreams disappear in a haze of tears and gut-wrenching sobs. It was the day when I went from morning sickness to soul sickness, when I went from dreaming about holding my baby to actually holding everything that was inside of me with bloody hands, wishing desperately that I could just put it all back in.
Being pregnant was the most wonderful thing to me. I was nauseus and bloated, but I loved it. We had just gotten to see our baby on an ultrasound, and she was a sight. She was bouncing around doing somersaults and kicking, even though I couldn't feel her yet. The ultrasound tech even commented on how active she was, and it took a bit to measure her heartbeat because of her activity. I was so relieved, because the doctor said that once you got a steady heartbeat, the chance of miscarriage dropped to 5%. Two weeks later, I was sitting in my bathroom, bleeding and crying and knowing that that statistic was a lie for me.
I remember sitting in a stupor for three days, then having to go to the doctor because my bleeding wouldn't stop, nor would the cramps. The power went out in the doctor's office, so I had to be taken to the hospital--an hour away. We waited in the ER for 6 hours, just to be told that everything "looked normal" for a miscarriage. My admitting doctor was 8 months pregnant--how's that for a kicker? My friend the ultrasound tech had the unfortunate honor of confirming what we already knew, and he told me how sorry he was for my loss, and that he would pray for my healing. Someone who didn't even know me had more compassion for me than some of the closest people in my life.
The kicker that night was that I was sent home with paperwork that said I had suffered a "spontaneous abortion". One definition of that is "the body chooses to reject the fetus". I for one DID NOT CHOOSE TO REJECT MY BABY!!! It made it seem like it was all my fault, and a large part of me feels that it was. I was responsible for the safety and welfare of my baby, and I therefore am the guilty party when it comes to her death. Oh, I know, I have no way of knowing that for sure, but it's the dirty secret that keeps pounding through my body. Abortion--a word I never wanted associated with my name. They should have a different name for what happened to me, because I knew I had a baby, she wasn't a blob of tissue. I would have died so that she could have lived, but I wasn't given that choice. I don't care if she did have physical issues (although the ultrasound showed her as perfectly healthy), she was our baby and she was loved.
What did I hear from those around me? My students just gave me hugs, and told me I could adopt them. They were the sweetest kids ever. Some of my co-workers prayed for me and hugged me, and most of my family made a wall of comfort around me. My church family just surrounded me in love, which is what I most needed. But that wasn't all I got. I also had plenty of people who said, "Well, at least you know you can get pregnant." or "You need to just forget this ever happened." What?????? Forget I carried a life within me and that due to me she didn't get to breathe a breath of air? My personal favorite was "Did you find out what you did wrong?" Because I wasn't feeling enough guilt about my role in the loss? I was also told to "just get over it." I got told that a week after my loss. How's that for a kick in the head?
So I "got over it". I picked myself up and my husband and I have weathered two rough years without her. And we're the only ones who remember her. I still dream about what she would have looked like. I wake up in the night with aching arms because I dreamed I was holding her. I look at every child that would have been her age and wonder about the life milestones we're missing. My heart breaks anew each time I see my nephew and niece together, because ours would have been the middle stair-step between them.
This year's anniversary has been so much worse than last year's. Last year I was so busy working at school that I didn't have time to grieve. Last year I had just been diagnosed with PCOS, and I was so hopeful that the diagnosis was the "magic pill" that would allow me another chance at motherhood. Nope, wrong again. It just seems like I can't catch a break. I've even gotten to where I preface conversations with "since we can't have kids", so that no one else reminds me that I'm still childless.
I guess it's just the "aloneness" that a pre-term loss brings to a couple. Everyone remembers when you lose a family member, and people will make kind comments when you say things like "It's been two years since we lost Grandpa," or even "two years since we lost Rover," but you say "it's been two years since we lost our baby," and people give you *the look* and say, "You're still thinking about that? You should have moved past that by now. Why don't you just have another one?" Like having another one would erase the loss of the first.
I'm putting in a new flower bed this year, and I'm putting it in in honor of my daughter. I need something physical, not to remind me of her, but to validate her existence. People will notice the flowers, and by acknowledging them, they will be acknowledging her. They don't need to know that, I'd actually prefer that they not know. Then that way I won't get any stupid comments that just make me mad.
So where am I in all of this? Sad, bitter, hopeful, and longing. Sad for my loss, bitter that it's been my only chance of being a mom, hopeful that each year this day will get easier, and longing for heaven more than ever, because it will be the first time I get to see my daughter alive.
I've learned extra compassion, understand the value of a hug and an "I am grieving with you in your loss", and know that parents take their children for granted entirely too much. I know the value of kindness to a stranger, and the joy of a child's hug. The words "I love you" from my two-year old nephew take my breath away, and the smile from my 6-month old niece melts my heart. I know that if God wills it, I will be a good mom, but if it never happens on this earth, I have a beautiful daughter waiting for me in heaven.
I recently came across this quote from Laura Bush, and it speaks much more eloquently about the loss of a baby than I can:
"The English language lacks the words 'to mourn an absence.' For the loss of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or friend we have all manner of words and phrases, some helpful, some not. Still, we are conditioned to say something, even if it is only 'I am sorry for your loss.' But for an absence, for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless to capture that particular emptiness. For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent, ephemeral shadows over their lives. Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that is never held?"