I don't know when I actually drifted off or when Jesse put the covers over me, or at what point the exhaustion finally took over and the tears subsided. All I know is that as I woke up in the morning clutching the blanket I had made for my second child, it was still damp from the night before. And as I stumbled around that morning, fumbling with my hair and clothes, squinting as I opened the blinds downstairs, I thought to myself---now where did that come from??
There was a time where this sort of evening and subsequent morning weren't out of the ordinary. But months have passed since our third loss of a child, and I hadn't been this out of it for a while. And as my "self psycho-analyzing" continued as I drove in silence to work, it hit me.
I was missing my babies.
Let me back up just a little.
September 26, 2013 was the last time that we found out we were pregnant. I don't remember that morning or that day at all. But I remember that it was the last time we learned we were expecting a baby. I remember taking more tests as the days went on, watching the lines get darker and darker and I remember thinking : maybe this time. I remember taking walks at work with my closest friend as we cautiously talked about the news and I made very clear my intentions to wait to call the doctor. They could send me for every test under the sun, but it wouldn't change the outcome. All it would do was raise my anxiety level as I waited every couple of days for the phone to ring to find out what my levels were. No. Not this time. This time, we wait and see. And I remember the following weekend, deciding with Jesse that we were done living this way. That yes, we were terrified, but that we still had a reason to be joyful-- and we would be darned if we would let the enemy steal even just one more second of our joy. And so. We went out for a celebratory dinner. We smiled and we breathed and we even let ourselves revel. Just a little bit. And we left and went to Hobby Lobby to that first aisle of Christmas ornaments, to the section closest to the front of the store where two feet of wall were always devoted to pastel colored baby ornaments. And we chose a tiny elephant and we got back in the car and drove to my parents' house. And we clumsily told them that there was another baby and that we were afraid but we got an ornament for that baby and we wanted them to have it. And it may have been weird and early and kind of out of the blue, but we did it anyway. We wanted to do it, and we did it.
We were taking back the joy.
And I remember the afternoon of October 7th, 2013, when I jumped up and down and screamed with tears running down my face in the locker room after work as my friend told me over the phone that they'd heard a heartbeat today. That after five of their babies being taken to heaven, that today, they heard a heartbeat. And I made her swear to bring a picture to that night's ministry meeting, and I thought to myself, maybe it will all be okay after all.
And finally, I remember that evening, 5 minutes before I was to be out the door to a very important ministry meeting-- I remember calling my husband from the bathroom, screaming at him that it was happening again-- I remember when I realized, we were losing this baby too. And unfortunately I remember the ER doc who told me that up to five miscarriages was normal as he spoke to me as though I were a five year old. And I remember leaving hours later, empty, hurting, and confused. And I remember the few days after, waking up to the blinding anger that overtook me, as I lay in my dark bedroom, mindlessly watching Cake Boss reruns, not saying a word, but silently cursing this sentence that I couldn't seem to escape, and wondering why God hated me. I remember the second or third night when my friend came in the room, carrying a teddy bear, and as she took her shoes off, and just lie down next to me, not saying a word. And I remember when she left, some time later, kissing me on the forehead with tears in her eyes and telling me that she loved me.
There are bits and pieces but I don't remember much else.
And at some point, I stopped crying for my babies, and started crying because it seemed that I would never have a baby. What became the journey not to lose our babies, became a journey to even try to have a baby at all. And what I realized a few days ago as I was knocked down by a fresh wave of grief that seemed to pull me under the current out of nowhere was that in grieving the seeming loss of a dream to ever have children of my own had somehow pushed my grief of the loss of my children to the backseat. And I had been neglecting them. And as I lay in bed, last Wednesday night, and my thoughts drifted to my children who aren't here, I got sad. And I realized how much I miss them. And when I would normally be caught up in charting and calendars and medical treatments, instead, these past few days, I have been overcome with grief for my children. And that hurts.
And I realize that this will sound crazy to a lot of people. But I just don't care. I miss them and when they were first born, Gabriel, and then Nadia Larayne, and then Pearl-- I missed them then but I also mothered them. I thought about them. I planted flowers for them. I made things for them to put up in my home or hang on my Christmas tree. I held their stuffed animals and wondered what they would have been like. To some that might sounds completely nuts. But I just don't care. Every baby is born. And I don't need anyone else's understanding or permission to grieve them and to mother them for the children that they are. And I deeply believe that whether a baby is born at 5 weeks gestation or 35 weeks gestation there is an inherent desire and need for that mom to mother her child. Sometimes that means she needs to hold him and sing to him, dress him, read to him, and pray over him before she leaves him there at the hospital forever. And sometimes that means that every once in a while, she needs to pull out her one ultrasound picture, or the many sympathy cards that she received, or cuddle the blankets and stuffed animals that she was given as tokens of memorial. And sometimes that means that even years after they are gone, we need to stick up for them in conversation and to total strangers who devalue their lives and their brief existences with the words that they carelessly say. And we become defensive and we become passionate. Because those are our children you are talking about. These scenarios all look completely different. But I believe the deep down desire that a mother has to be a mother to her children even after they have died is God-given and never goes away. And for me, it's a need that I often overlook or maybe even distract myself from recognizing because even though mothering a child who has passed away allows me to function in the role of mother that God gave to me, dang if it doesn't hurt like crazy.
And I didn't have a point or a theme to writing any of this tonight. I simply opened my laptop after an hour of going through my babies' things and started typing. And really, I'm writing this because it's a way for me to mother my children. To think about them, to remember what it was like when they were here and when they went to Heaven, and to let them and everyone else know that I have not forgotten about them. And this week or next I will probably take some time to do something for one or all of them. Make something for them, write something to them, wear some of my mommy jewelry for them, talk about them-- or write about them.
This is just me, mothering my children.