I miscarried nine days before our 15th anniversary. There we sat, across the table at a little cafe, drinking coffee together. Our six living children were home with a friend who gave us the day together to celebrate our marriage.
The week before, Randy and I had privately laid the whisper of a body down in the ground in a secret spot in the woods, under a y-shaped tree, marked by a heart-shaped stone. The ground was covered with a green carpet of fan clubmoss, which seemed almost friendly, and the forest was mottled with sunshine like something straight out of a Miyazaki movie.
I was nine days out from what was the greatest tragedy of my blessed life. The thing that actually happened. Small in comparison to what many have been called to suffer in losing children or loved ones, but I could feel the cold, sharp wind of grief blowing right through me.
We went for a hike to Hemlock Falls. It was beautiful. The falls were majestic. The sound of rushing water was like a mother singing a lullaby. I was comforted by the strength and the voice of the waters. It reminded me that I am small.
Mis-Carry. I don’t like this word. It implies that I carried this baby differently. But I didn’t. My womb had an open door, the baby came in, and I accepted the life with the same fear and trembling, the same joy and wonder, the same gentle reminder that God is the creator and sustainer of life and that all I have to do is trust him and live and breathe. I carried the baby in my heart and in my body with the same faith in a loving and merciful God.
When we told the kids we were having a baby, their joy was uncomplicated and perfect. Our oldest burst into tears almost before I got the words out of my mouth. The oldest three children spontaneously ran to smother me with hugs. The youngest three asked questions. We answered them with laughter and hearts full of hope.
We talked about baby names. We started making plans. I carried this baby with what I think was as uncomplicated, trusting love as I have ever had at this early stage of pregnancy.
So what did I miss?
Mis-carry is not a good enough word for the physical separation of two souls. It doesn’t explain how deeply this is felt. It doesn’t begin to describe what it is like to cry with your whole body. To cry in blood. It doesn’t describe the emptiness that lingers when the little house is swept clean and in order and no one is home.
I told Randy I was shocked by how much this hurts. We have barely known of the existence of this little soul. Only a few short weeks. He looked at me in the eyes and told me that I have been nurturing and nourishing this child for ten weeks, keeping it alive with my own body. He told me I am this baby’s mother.
I am this baby’s Mother.
That is a comfort to me. And it somehow explains why it is ok to let myself feel every difficult, confusing, sorrowful emotion that I am feeling right now. Even though this tiny life was just a flicker. This child is mine.
I am grateful that when we told our children we would not get to meet our baby this side of heaven, they burst into tears. I didn’t want to tell them because I didn’t want them to cry. But I am grateful for their sorrow, because it proves that the life that came and went so quickly was treasured and loved and wanted. That their love and hope for that child was pure and sweet and good and a gift from God. And I think we all sense that we are blessed to mourn, for we are truly finding comfort in the arms of Christ.
As I am writing this, I am wrapped in a shawl given to me by a dear friend who lives across the country. It is a comfort to me. Our 18 month-old’s little round pink cheeks and her chubby little fingers that pull at my elbows is a comfort to me. The gift of a cup of pomegranate raspberry tea comforts me. Friends and family who step in and take over my life so I can go to the hospital or get some rest–what an incredible comfort. Meals, messages, texts, prayers for our family. The word of God. These things comfort me. The indescribable beauty of the faces of my living children. What a miracle it is to see them before me. What an incredible gift this life is. I know that I am not alone and that God is with us.
I believe that this tiny flicker of a life, though the little candle has now gone out, has a purpose. It has a purpose in this life and in the life to come, which is all the same life. Life is everlasting. And though we suffer because we will not see the face of this child in the only life we understand–here on this earth–we have hope and peace that this child is in the presence of our loving God. And that one day, we will know this child as our own. I am grateful that our little one is finished with suffering and pain. And I trust that God will use the life of this child, as a seed that is planted here on earth, that will grow and flourish and bear fruit. Even in death, God causes new life to spring up. I pray that over this little life.
And though I ache to know our baby on this earth, I will continue to carry the comforting knowledge that this child was and is. And I think in that way, the word (miscarry) serves me. For as long as I live, I will both miss and carry this child in my heart.