Around this time each year my heart and mind go back down the familiar path of sadness. Earth Day; meant for such good, but in my mind it is closely connected to a tragedy that lives on in my heart. That is the day I miscarried our last baby, about four years ago now. Four years of memories, feelings, love and connection that I have missed out on.
We only ever wanted two children and two living children are exactly what we got. We wept in unexpectedness when we lost our first baby many, many years ago. That wee one departed nearly as quickly as we found out about the pregnancy. We were left with concern about what went wrong and what might go wrong again. It is amazing to think that we would have a child nearing the age of twelve! When we were blessed with our son Noah, we delighted in his birth; his beating and his breathing, and we still do. He was nearly two when his baby sister, Gracie was born. They are both so perfectly healthy and well. We never forgot that first one that we lost but we stepped forward in life with such gratitude for our sweet living children and reconciled the knowledge that some questions are never answered, especially regarding babies who simply vanish into heaven before they take a breath on earth.
Life was good. We knew that our family was complete and we should look into some kind of semi-permanent birth control that would free us from the possibility of another child. We chose the Merina IUD and moved on with life. I had many of the “regular” side-effects of the IUD but it was nice to have it doing its job. Or so we thought. After a long while of spotting, which can be a normal side-effect, I became fed up with it and called my doctor. His nurse suggested that we….wait for it….take a pregnancy test! Wait? WHAT?!
One blood test later and the news came in the form of a telephone call from the nurse. The children and I had just returned from their swimming lessons when I answered the phone. “You’re pregnant.” Oh my gosh! The odds of this happening were .01%. Really slim, but it happened. I immediately loaded the kids into the car and drove to my husband’s office. He didn’t believe me because he thought I was joking. I was reduced to hormonal tears in convincing him that it was true and then we were both speechless. I was filled with joy, he was filled with uncertainty. I was full of awe and excitement at the unexpected blessing that was to come our way. I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face.
But I knew that something had to be wrong. Why would I be spotting for such a long time? Plus I had no other pregnancy symptoms, no morning sickness, toothbrush gagging or hairspray aversions. As was protocol, I had an ultrasound the next day. My entire thrill was crushed into a pile of weeping terror when I heard the doctor tell us the very sad, very real truth: “There is no cardiac activity.” How come this had to happen again? WHY?!
Pregnancy on this IUD is so rare that my doctor had never seen it happen before and neither had the pharmaceutical rep that he used for this device. While they were waiting to get word from Merina about what would be the best next step, I felt certain within my heart that I should have the IUD taken out strait away, so I did.
Miscarriage is strange in that while the body is still pregnant, it holds the baby near and with out departure. But the knowledge that the baby will have to come out holds a heart breaking reality. Once the baby is gone, it is gone forever. There is no joyous birth and meeting at the end. So while I waited for my body to pass my sweet unborn infant, I clung to it still being with me. This might sound kind of strange but when you are faced with saying goodbye to your baby, you cling to it as long as you can, knowing that goodbye will be forever goodbye.
The day came when I knew that the time to say goodbye had come. I was home with the children getting ready for swim lessons. The cramps and bleeding had gotten very strong and I was just starting to expel what was left of my little angel. So here laid the question: do I take the kids to swim lessons knowing that my body is currently doing this or do I say no to them and wait it out at home. The answer wasn’t easy, but it was clear. I had to take care of my living children and say goodbye to my dearly-departed child. So with tears and maxi pads I took the kids to swim lessons. They knew that Mommy had a baby that didn’t get to live on earth and that they would see their sibling one sweet day in heaven, but they were also two and four and totally incapable of understanding the struggle that I was going through. So I bucked up, headed out the door and thanked God for the children that I had to take care of. I focused on the living whilst saying goodbye to the departed.
Later that day I passed the remains of a life unlived. My baby was gone, no longer within me, gone to another place never to be seen by my earthly eyes. I take comfort knowing that the two of them are together, an older and a younger, together living in perfection. The sadness never really leaves me; it’s not ok knowing that I lost two souls before I had a chance to make their acquaintance. When I look at Noah and Gracie and feel the depth of love and adoration that I have for them and I know that I would have felt the same way about the other two. They are faceless to me but the grief that comes from knowing that I am missing out on loving those two is hard and it always will be.
So Earth Day, by mere placement comes at the hard time. When others are cleaning up litter and planting trees, I feel a little weighted down. I live in such appreciation of the children that have been entrusted to me and feel very complete and honored to mother them. I also live in calm anticipation of the day that I will meet my others. My heart is very much full of love, love for all four of them.