By the time we lost our baby I was 32 years old.
I had two healthy children – a boy and a girl. I had a husband with a great job, a beautiful home, and the sweetest friends and family to fill it with. I had built a career of my own to be just as much or as little as I could handle with young kids and a Daddy who traveled. I was doing what I loved with the people I loved.
In short, I was very fortunate.
So when we lost our baby, I didn’t know if I was allowed to be sad. There were women in the world – and friends of mine among them – who wanted desperately to be mothers, but hadn’t had the chance.
There were mothers – and family of mine among them – who had carried babies longer, who had delivered and held babies who would never cry.
So who was I to cry over a baby I never met?
As a mother of two healthy children, I was fooled into thinking I couldn’t have a miscarriage. I didn’t realize how common it was until I started talking about it, and almost everyone I told had been through the same thing.
I didn’t know because no one talks about it.
As I sat in the ER, I was angry because no one could tell me why it was happening. I was ashamed because I felt like my body was failing a little person I would never be allowed to know. I was hopeful because they let me go home and didn’t say for sure it was over.
But it was. And it hurts. And it bleeds. In some ways, it still does.
I guess our bodies know if the baby we’re making isn’t going to make it in the world. As I sat around and wept, my husband carried on in the best way he knew how. He went outside with our children, then 4 and one-year-old.
He mended a fence, I think. Not figuratively. He fixed a fence in the backyard. He hammered and nailed to put something back together, while inside the house, I was broken.
I went to the back door and called him in, hoping the little ones would keep playing. I asked him to come into the bathroom with me. I didn’t know what to do. It was probably too early, but I swear I saw a tiny precious body in the water.
I couldn’t flush it. I couldn’t get it out. I couldn’t save it.
There on the tile floor, we said a prayer and we said goodbye. We didn’t know if we would have any more children, but we hugged the ones we had a little tighter.
My heart hurt then for the women who were going through it with me. It hurt for the ones who were going through other losses, too. The loss of the dream of being a mother, maybe. Or the loss of a grown-up child, one whose laughter they could remember … one whose hand they got to hold.
A few days later, I drove around town from store to store, searching in an exhausted haze for a concrete cherub to rest in our backyard – a reminder, a tribute.
A few months later, a new friend (so new she wondered if it was okay to be in my driveway at 9 p.m., placing a paper bag in the mailbox) delivered a gift of carefully selected essential oils and shared the story of a couple who had used them in their journey to have a child.
A year later, we welcomed our third baby – an absolute joy, whose hand I get to hold and whose laugh I could never forget.
(His big brother still thinks he was the baby we were always meant to have. He just didn’t get here on the first try. I can’t say I don’t agree.)
Wherever you are on the journey to parenthood, I hope you have people you can share it with. Sometimes, talking about all the beauty and pain is the only thing that gets us through.