Next Sunday, September 22 was a day I marked on my calendar 9 months ago that was supposed to be one of the best days of my life. Now as this date approaches, my heart is filled with heaviness knowing it will be just another day. Nine months ago I discovered I was pregnant and began the exciting yet challenging journey that ended in heartbreak 18 weeks later. Pregnancy did not necessarily come easy for me. Between the nausea, the fatigue and the raging hormones, the first several weeks were pretty tough. But that was all overpowered by the excitement of getting to be a mom. I've learned that women become mothers when they become pregnant, not when they give birth. I know I became a mother the moment I saw the flicker of my baby’s heartbeat on the ultrasounds screen at 7 weeks. I loved that little baby immediately. I still do.
On April 22, exactly 5 months from my due date, I had THE appointment scheduled. The one that expectant parents wait for with anticipation to find out whether the baby’s room will be pink or blue. I remember waking up that morning with excitement similar to that of a kid on Christmas morning. The look on the doctor’s face when she told me she couldn't find the heartbeat was another memory that will be forever etched in my mind. The next 48 hours were some of the worst of my life. I know there any many hurts greater than losing a pregnancy but I've never experienced them. This was, without comparison, the most painful thing I've experienced in my life. I am hoping that one day I will look back and see how God used this experience to strengthen me and grow my faith but sometimes it’s hard to see that “bigger picture” when you’re in the middle of it. I do feel like I've learned a few things so far along the way though, and I’d like to share my experience with others who might be on this same heartbreaking journey.
One thing I've realized is that miscarriage/pregnancy loss/whatever you want to call it (I don’t like that word miscarriage because I feel like it minimizes the loss, but I doubt there’s really any way to truly articulate the enormity of such a loss in one word) is extremely common. People don’t realize how common it is because nobody talks about it which can make a person feel very isolated. I think nobody talks about it because they just don’t know how to respond. Generally when a person dies, they have a face and a name; there are memories of that person’s life. There’s a funeral; crowds gather to remember and honor that person’s life. When that person happens to be an unborn baby, you don’t have that acknowledgement of her life. There are no memories, no proof she ever existed, just a gaping hole in my heart of what could have been. So her short life gets glossed over and quickly forgotten by most because she didn't get the opportunity to touch others’ lives the way she touched mine. She may not be acknowledged in this life the way I would want but I know that God made her and loves her and has called her home to be with Him. I have to remember that she is His child and when it comes down to it, that’s the only acknowledgement that really matters.
So, while life goes on, the hurt doesn't go away after 5 months, it probably won’t go away after 6, and I’d venture to say it may never go away entirely. Some days I want to be angry with God for taking her away from me. I don’t know if this was part of His plan, if He made this happen or simply allowed it. Sometimes I try to make sense of it but all that does is make my head hurt along with my heart. So I just have to trust that He does have a plan and that I don’t have to understand it. Maybe one day I will but I think that will probably be the same day I’m reunited with my baby girl. For now I just try my best to keep trusting. It’s not always easy and I don’t really know what that’s supposed to look like most days. But I've learned – or rather, I’m in the process of learning – that trust is a choice, not a feeling. It doesn't always feel good to trust God. There are still days when I’m sad and angry and want to curse at God or give Him the silent treatment like an obstinate teenager. But when I’m done throwing my temper tantrum He gently reminds me that He’s still in control. He also reminds me that I am His child, that He loves me even more than I loved my baby and while there’s still so many unanswered questions, that’s all I really need to know right now. And then He takes me by the hand and leads me back to the path of trusting Him. It’s all part of the journey and it’s not over yet. I don’t know how mine is going to end or where it will go next. I hope somewhere along the way God chooses to bless me with a child but for today I will choose to enjoy the many other blessings He has given me, which - when I’m able to take a deep breath and gain a little clarity - I realize are far too numerous to count.