A few days ago was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day. I didn't realize there was an official day to commemorate babies lost to miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss. But when I read there was such a day, it caused me to ponder again the two babies we lost to miscarriage.
I remember so vividly finding out that we lost our first baby -- our first pregnancy, our first child. I had had some spotting and so had to go in for an ultrasound. The tech did indeed find a heartbeat, so we were greatly reassured, went home and thought all was well. But about a week later, while I was at work, I got a call that a follow up ultrasound had been ordered. No one I spoke to sounded terribly concerned, and not knowing any better, we were not worried. I don't remember the details prior to that appointment, but my husband wasn't able to go to it with me (I'm sure that wasn't a concern to me, because we thought nothing was wrong and this was just protocol).
So there I was, alone with the tech in the ultrasound room, when I got the news. There was no heartbeat, and the baby had passed away. I recall changing back into my regular clothes (I can picture the very shirt and jeans I had on) and looking at my neck and face - red and splotchy, like I had broken out in hives. I was trying to hold it together to tell my husband, and struggling to do so. I remember going to his office and waiting for him there, and then trying to find the words to tell him. I remember sobbing with him later that night, feeling so bereft and heartbroken -- and scared. Not only was I grieving the very real loss of this child, but I was also afraid that maybe I wouldn't be able to carry a child to term at all.
This all happened almost 18 years ago, which is hard to believe. Much of that time is still etched in my mind, but a lot of those emotions and details are lost to me now. I had a friend who had just miscarried ask me once, "Were you able to move on eventually? Do you ever have days when you aren't thinking about it?".
I told her yes. That I hurt a very long time, and I still ache for those children at times now, but I was able to move on. I met a gal several years ago while we were on vacation in the Tetons. She and her husband were devout Catholics and were aching for more children. They had one beautiful daughter, and had suffered many, many miscarriages. Her pain was deep, real, and raw. Yet her faith amazed me. Among many things she said, this thought has stuck with me all this time: "Isn't our primary prayer for our children that they live with their Savior in heaven? My miscarried children are in heaven with Jesus", she said. "That's ultimately what we want for them! These souls we have created have experienced little to no suffering and are now in the presence of God."
Wow, I thought. Yes -- I do want my children in heaven. As parents, that's our first and foremost prayer for our children. We want them to have the gift of eternal life. We pray for that, we live our lives and shape theirs to reflect that -- it is our end goal!
But oh-- when our timing is not the same as God's! How hard it is! This isn't what I meant God - not yet, not now. I know this pain to a small degree through miscarriage. I cannot imagine the pain of a stillborn birth, or a child who died in infancy or childhood. My prayer at the times of my miscarriages was simply for strength to go on, and for peace in the knowledge that God would work all things (even these terribly hard and painful times) for good.
When I think of my two babies in heaven, I find such comfort in knowing they are with their Savior. When I lost our babies, I heard many well-meaning comments. But the one which truly comforted me the most was that our baby was in the arms of Jesus. I wanted my baby to be in in my arms, but oh, how much solace it gave me that my baby was instead in his or her Savior's arms. That my prayer for my child had been answered already.
Someday, my husband and I will be reunited with the two babies we lost. Our children here on earth know about their siblings and think a heavenly introduction will be nothing short of amazing. So though here on earth we are a family of seven, truly, we are a family of nine. Two of our family members are just living in their heavenly home. And that knowledge brings me such hope and joy.