I keep hemming and hawing about what to say this week, because Monday was my dark day.
Except I didn’t have the time to sit with my thoughts and let memories wash over me on that day. And the rest of the week had work and appointments and few quiet moments.
So I’m using this exercise of putting thoughts into words as my time of marking the passing of my third child. The one I was just beginning to know, and now will wait until eternity to meet.
Those of us who have been through the loss of a child by miscarriage have these dark days. They aren’t always on the ones you mark.
Day the baby died. Day I miscarried. Day we buried the child’s remains. Day the baby was due. Day he or she was conceived. Every birthday.
Sometimes they’re the day I think, “I wonder if that child would have liked…” and off I go, missing the things I just might have convinced that child to do with me. Things the others have no interest in doing.
For me it has been 22 years since I lost my baby.
I’m not over it.
It’s not something you get over. It doesn’t get better, because you always come back to a baby that died, and there is no happy in there.
The day I first felt pain I had been wrestling with an old vacuum cleaner, taking it apart and putting it back together, cleaning it out and trying to force it to have some suction. It was heavy and clunky and frustrating.
I always wondered, what if I hadn’t been messing around with the vacuum?
I was leading a Bible study in the next town over, and even though I was very crampy I headed out. People were counting on me.
And in the restroom I saw the first bleeding, the first visible, physical evidence that something was wrong.
The next day was a roller coaster. We had workmen right outside the patio doors in the addition that was being put on the back of the house.
God had told us to add on this huge room, and even though we only had two kids we started building. And within a few weeks I was pregnant.
Every morning they were working I would print off a Bible verse and stick it on the glass door so they could see it. The kids and I would usually do a walk-through at some point to see what progress had been made each day.
And on that second day of labor, I found myself out on the porch area, discussing rooflines with the contractor, smiling and chatting, all while my womb was weeping in pain and sorrow.
On the third day our daughter had a Brownie meeting, and Dad took her as I was in so much pain. So my son and I were home alone when the labor ended.
So did the pain. Immediately.
And I knew right away I had lost the baby.
This labor was honestly my worst. It was longer than any of the five others I’ve had. It hurt with great intensity for most of the time. I tried not to let it show, I didn’t want to worry the kids. I have a really high pain tolerance, which was a good thing as I attempted to act normally.
But three days of pain, and no baby at the end is…
why I have a dark day.
A curious thing happens after you lose a baby. If you tell anyone. You find that you are not alone. Women I had known for many years shared that they, too, had miscarried. But they never told until they saw my open grief.
I must have the universal friendly face, because strangers are drawn to talk to me in grocery store lines and waiting rooms, and even complete strangers opened up to me about their own losses.
In this journey when I felt lonely for my child, I found I was not ever the only one this had happened to.
There’s something comforting about that – knowing at least one other person you can call and say, “Hey, can I talk about my baby for a while?”
And in the past 22 years I’ve been privileged to be that listening ear many times.
Every story is different. Every ending is the same. And every mom remembers.
With my five kids, there are countless memories. Sometimes I have to really think through a story to be sure I’ve assigned the right children their part in the drama, but I could sit and talk for hours about funny things each of my kids has done, or what they’re up to now, or tell you some of their milestones.
I also know things about my kids that I’ll never tell anyone, because the thought of special times with them, sweet words they’ve spoken, the look of love in their eyes, those are the things you keep safe in your heart. Ready to be pulled out when you need a smile or a reassurance of love.
And when there are no pictures of a face, no funny escapades, no muscle memory of how they feel in your arms, where do you harvest the memories?
I’ve never pictured what this child might look like. I’ve never dreamed him or her. But they were part me, part their dad, and sometimes I choose to think through what their unique self might be.
In the not knowing there is a freedom to imagine endless possibilities, as different as one day is from another, new choices every time I think of Isaac Fred.
But the thought that gives me the most comfort is that my child is safe in the arms of God, he sits on Jesus’ lap, and maybe they say to him, the way you smile reminds me of your mom.