Tuesday, January 28, 2014

We Had Cupcakes and Cried

There is a certain misconception regarding miscarriage. One that I mean to shed light on in this post. Many suppose that since I have never held my lost babies in my arms that I must not have any memories of them. And while it's true that I've never seen the faces of Samuel or Cora -- or held them in my arms -- I most certainly have vivid memories, reminders, and important dates that will always be reminders of the short time I had with each of them on earth.

I know the night that we got pregnant with Samuel. (Sorry if that's TMI, but chances are, if you're still reading my entries regarding miscarriage and broken hearts you'll roll with me on this one.) The point is, I only knew that I was pregnant for a week. But I was actually pregnant for three weeks. And I know which three weeks they were. We started the Daniel Fast at church they day after I got pregnant and the Fast was broken the weekend that we miscarried. Full disclosure: we broke the fast a few days early-- the Wednesday that I started bleeding and we went to the doctor, I'm pretty sure we ordered a pizza that night.

So there are memories that I have within those three weeks that I can't recall without a stab of pain. The roadtrip I took with Nathan when we discovered the song, "Thrift Shop". Changing the fast to include dairy for me so that I could try to make sure I was getting enough calcium (I was really loving cottage cheese with black pepper). Having some friends over and offering them "Daniel-Fast-Friendly" cookies, knowing that I was pregnant but holding it in because it was too early to share. We watched 3 seasons of Downton Abbey that weekend. We went to an Easter Egg hunt at the Community Center down the street. Two people told us that it was about time to have a third baby. All vivid memories.

With Cora it was a little different. We knew about her for three weeks so I was pregnant for five. I had multiple blood tests to track my hormone levels. Phone tag with nurses and doctors. Confusion about what everything meant. A phone call from the midwife in the middle of Fitness Connection where I finally gained some clarity. Telling my small group about the pregnancy and my need for prayer at Bonefish Grill. Going to Raleigh to Pullen Park and Marbles Museum, Liam was at the peak of his frustration with communication, James camped out the train table and Liam screamed and refused to go into one of the rooms. Working during the days after the miscarriage, telling my co-worker that I was having the "cramps from hell" and letting her believe it was a standard menstrual period.

It's such a hard thing to explain. When I found out I was pregnant it was still very surreal. There was a part of me that kept asking myself if I remembered correctly. The test WAS positive, right? It's a huge thing to wrap my mind around. And even as I try to wrap my mind around it, I attempt to make sense of what I know to be true, my body is growing a human being, I have at least a thousand questions to try to answer. Will it be a boy or a girl? What will we name him/her? How will I tell my husband? How will I tell my family? How will I tell my kids? What will happen at work-- how much time can I take off? Will I return to work at all? If I go back to work will it be full-time or part-time? When and how will I tell my boss? What kind of awesome Facebook reveal will I do? How old will James and Liam be when this baby is born? Where will the baby sleep? How can we rearrange the house to fit a crib? What things did we get rid of that we need to buy again? Will this baby have special needs the way that James and Liam do? Will James and Liam still be struggling in school by then? On and on and on it goes. So that when it's gone, our whole world shifts. The rug has been pulled out from under us.

As time goes by I stop to consider my life occasionally. There is no mark on my body or outward sign that reflects the impact they had on our hearts. My womb is empty, there is no pack n play set up next to my bed, the sounds in my house are the sounds of preschoolers, not a newborn. But I know. At least I have an idea of what my life would be like we had not lost those two little ones. Samuel's due date was November 30th. He would've been almost 2 months old by now. Cora's due date was March 18th, I would've been about 33weeks along, and we would've already had the big gender-reveal ultrasound.

My point is this: there is really no "getting over" this. The pain will always be there. And like one who has had a limb amputated, we learn to limp along. The wound stops bleeding, a scar forms, but something will always be missing. My heart bears the marks that my body does not.

I'm so blessed to have James and Liam. Many people have miscarriages or struggle with infertility and never have the chance to carry and birth their own children. I don't take my children for granted. But I do have vivid memories of my water breaking, my hospital stays (they were so different from James to Liam), holding each of them seconds after they were delivered, nursing them, and caring for them through all hours of the night. As time goes on and I pass Samuel and Cora's due dates I know exactly what I am missing.

This year on Samuel's due date I worked then we attended the Saturday evening church service. It was the first weekend of the Advent season and I was completely caught off guard by the pain of it. Sermons and songs on expectation, a tiny baby, and a pregnant mother made my heart ache. At that time I hadn't given myself space to grieve or process. Opening my heart to worship the newborn Christ was more than I could take. When we returned home a crack had formed in my armor and I was ready to remember my baby. Nathan and I sat together after the boys had gone to bed and we remembered the son that we lost. We had cupcakes for his would-be birthday and cried.

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