What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s post is by Melody.
For nine short weeks, a tiny thread drew my focus into the future. A tiny life connected the thread to me and extended it beyond my view, beyond my lifetime. From the moment I became aware, every future day changed in my eyes because each of those days now contained another life; a little girl, I imagined.
Every event changed; at Thanksgiving, we would tell the families, and what a list we would have to be thankful for! By Christmas, I would be showing; maybe we would even know for sure if my imagination was true. The plans I made for these holidays changed because of the little life. My energy levels would probably be low, so the cookies I planned for the annual cookie exchange were simple, yet elegant. I even made some in advance to ease the pressure. Christmas gifts would have to be simpler. And by next Christmas, there would be three little ones crowding around our tree, instead of two. And one would be a girl.
I pictured her room and just how I would arrange it and what colors I would use. I would paint the bassinet white and replace the green ribbon on the bedding with pink. I tried to imagine how the boys would respond to a new baby, and later, to a girl. I imagined the labor and delivery, a normal one this time. Not in the ideal location, but normal nonetheless.
And then, yesterday, the thread snapped. That future disappeared and what little past I had was not the same. My little girl was gone; no beautiful sound like galloping horses in my womb. Her heart was still and there was only silence. Silence that began three weeks before I even knew. We had told people our wonderful news, when there was nothing to tell. I had suffered morning sickness when there was no baby to suffer for. I had refused to pick up my hurting son for fear of harming the new life, when I could have comforted the child I have without injuring the child I did not.
The future has lost some of its luster. The days ahead seem dull in comparison. This little girl will never wear ribbons in her hair or the adorable pink jumper I purchased in anticipation. She will never call me Mama; she never even learned to recognize my voice. My hand, when it involuntarily cradles my still filled out abdomen, aches with the emptiness it contains. Every day some plan that included this little child is changed, some thought rearranged, some hope shriveled by her absence.
Instead of expecting a baby, I am expecting the proof of her demise. Instead of baby clothes, I am buying feminine hygiene products. Instead of wearing maternity clothes, I’m putting them away again. Instead of complaining about how sick I am, I detest the normal feeling that has taken over, the hunger pangs I haven’t known for six weeks. The hormones are subsiding and all I want is to have the nausea back. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. This was the one we had prayed about from the very moment we knew; that it would be easy, stress-free, the one time we were going to wish we had delivered at home. This is not what I prayed for!!
They tell you it isn’t anything you did or didn’t do. But as the sole human protector of this tiny life, there is a responsibility that cannot be escaped. Everything I have done these last six weeks since I learned I carried this life has been done because of my responsibility to provide a healthy environment, the proper vitamins, and a good diet. Each activity was scrutinized for the impact it might have and many put away for later dates. It is difficult to set aside the responsibility I have carried, and been told I carry, for the past six weeks at a moment’s notice, simply because something went wrong. Perhaps especially because something went wrong.
I wish there was a responsibility that was still mine. Something I could do that would stop this loss, some way to save this precious life. I almost wish it was something I had done; maybe I could have been more faithful in taking my vitamins, I could have been more resolute about not picking up the boys, I could have rested more. I wish there was an obvious mistake that might have caused this so I could avoid it in the future.
Still, it is possible this is better. Maybe this life contained a defect that would have made life on earth miserable. Maybe it is better to lose this little girl now, rather than later when her features would have been recognizable; her tiny hands fully formed, her lips perfect, but still. I don’t know what caused her life to end here, but I do know she is in better hands. I know someday I will meet her, this child taught from the beginning by the most perfect parent; a child who has truly never breathed a moment outside His presence.
What will she be like? I do not know what form she will take, but I know she will be a blessing to her parents, a true pleasure to meet, a joy to become acquainted with. She will never have known the ways and pains of the world; she will never have been stained by its temptations or known its evil inhabitants. She will have never lost, only loved. Never complained, only praised.
She is better where she is, in the life God chose for her. And yet, in this moment, I would wish it different if it were mine to choose. Fortunately, it is not. It is mine to mourn and grow and love more the blessings that remain. Mine to be grateful for the two healthy boys I do have. Mine to wait as this dream that was slowly slips beyond my grasp. Mine to find a way to praise instead of complain. Mine to be reminded, once more, that life is not a dream come true; maybe that is what keeps us looking forward to heaven.
Mine to dwell on this instead: someday, I will be walking hand-in-small-hand with a little boy or girl, a child I might never have known except for this present loss. And, having met that child, loved that child, touched and cared for that child, I know I will decide that I would never trade this loss for that child. That future will be better even than the one I was imagining only yesterday. I only have to believe it.