I dread the question, “how many children do you have?” I want to share about the little one I never had the chance to meet on this side of the veil. I feel a duty to acknowledge his* life and shout from the rooftops, “My baby existed! And he mattered!” More often than not, I opt to share the number of living children I have out of a fear of causing discomfort for the individual inquiring.
I remember the shock, fear, and disappointment that washed over me when I first found out I was pregnant with my second child. My oldest daughter was a mere 5 months old at the time, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to take on another child.
A week went by and I started to warm up to the idea, and the more I imagined who this little life inside me might be, the more my excitement drowned out the fear the initially paralyzed me. It didn’t take long before I decided to trust in God’s plan because I knew His plan for me had always been better than whatever I have tried to plan out.
Then I started bleeding. It wasn’t long before the bleeding was coupled with a great deal of pain— more than I was expecting for how early I was in my pregnancy.
Confused, I instinctively began to pray that I wasn’t losing my baby, and I rushed to the clinic to have my HCG levels tested.
I remember the results coming back and my doctor saying, “Congrats! I looks like you’re about 4 weeks!” When I read her message I cried. I knew my HCG should be higher, and despite her optimism, the news confirmed my fears– I was miscarrying my baby.
I’m the days that followed there was so much guilt and grief. I felt like my body was broken and empty.
I felt guilty that I didn’t think to try to collect my baby while I was losing him. I felt guilty that my initial reaction to being pregnant was disappointment and fear, and I felt guilty that I wasn’t staying on top of my thyroid medication.
I blamed myself for losing my baby.
In my heart, I knew by neglecting to take my medication was likely the reason I miscarried, and I fought the blame and anger that I harbored against myself.
Just before 2 o’clock in the morning the following day, I drove to the adoration chapel for my weekly holy hour. As I turned the key, a fuzzy radio signal spilled into my car. I could make out a conversation on Relevant Radio about miscarriage, and the tears flowed down my cheeks. I tried to listen to the conversation with the hope that maybe God was trying to tell me something, but if He was, I didn’t hear it.
Upon entering the chapel, I fell down on my knees and plead with God, “Why? Why would you allow a life to be so brief? Why create these children if you know they’re just going to die.”
And then I had this stirring in my heart, and I knew one thing to be true: not a single one of my children are truly mine. Every single one is His, and they are entrusted to me for a short time.
Every time I want to claim my children as being mine, I try to remember they are His, just as I am. It is my duty to do my best to form them and encourage them on their way to sanctity, and while I know there’s no firm teaching on where the souls of these little children end up, I do hope that I am reunited with this child that I never had the chance to say hello to. This hope I have strengthens me in my resolve to do my best to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect as I humanly possible. A great deal of holiness is found in doing the menial tasks of motherhood with grace and joy as well as surrendering every trial to Jesus Christ– including pregnancy loss.
It’s been 4 and a half years since my second child came into existence and died in my womb. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of seeing how fleeting and fragile life is. In the midst of pain, surrendering the burden of grief to God is the only way I have found to reclaim hope and joy. His yoke truly is easy, and the burden is light.
With October being Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, please join me in praying for every mom who has lost a precious child.
“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”–Jamie Anderson
*Though I was too early in my pregnancy to know definitively if we were having a boy or a girl, I named him Michael.