I stared at that cheap pregnancy test the way I sometimes stare into Austin’s face… trying to figure out if it was serious or teasing me. Were my eyes really seeing a faint positive or was the stick so cheap that you have to interpret it? Turns out it was POSITIVE.
I vividly remember the sudden amazement of knowing someone else’s life was inside of me… And I also remember feeling the sudden death of so many dreams. This baby was not only a surprise; it was a complete shock bringing muddy, complicated excitement.
We had been married just shy of a year… the best, hardest year of our lives. We’re coming out strong and have made the most of it, but the first year of our marriage was largely discolored by grief. You see, we had only been dating for three weeks before Austin’s mom got terminally sick. She went into hospice a year later (during our honeymoon), and passed away the first full day after we returned home. She didn’t even make it to the wedding.
To be honest, things are good but we’ve still got to be intentional about damage control. So how was this new reality going to impact us?
Back to staring at that pregnancy test. Austin would soon arrive home from work, so I raced to the book store to buy some balloons: five pink, five blue, and one very special black one. I always laugh looking back because, in my desperation to get them inside the house before he arrived, a pink one burst on some pine needles hanging down near the porch (face palm). But I was just relieved it wasn’t the BLACK balloon. Once inside, I scribbled “Pop Me! Love Note Inside” on a hot pink sticky note and stuck it to the floating black globe, and brought the rest into the bedroom to dangle over our bed.
Soon, in strolled Austin who seemed quite happy at the sight of his balloon. I’ll never forget the look on his face once he popped it to find the note inside which read:
“Hi Daddy! I can’t wait to meet you. P.S. Mommy’s going to pop in 9 months, too!”
It was Austin’s turn to stare at my face to tell whether I was serious. Then I cried a little, and we held each other, and felt the same way about it: wonder and excitement mixed with “This can’t really be happening,” and “How do we control this situation?” But it was happening, and we couldn’t control it. I told Austin it felt as if I woke up on a rollercoaster that someone had put me on against my will or knowledge. And here we were clicking up the hill unprepared for the ride, knowing we’re never getting off this adventure or returning to the station. I knew it was bound to be an adventure full of thrills and fun. But it was devastating. We still needed to heal. We needed life to stabilize. We needed more time to enjoy just being “us” after loss had robbed so much from our first year together.
But you know, it’s amazing how quickly you grow to love the life inside of you. Things began to change once we told our families. It was especially fun telling my family because this was the first niece, nephew, or grandchild. Soon, our secret slipped out to a few friends. We were making plans, going to prenatal appointments, and slowly accumulating baby and pregnancy gear. Finally, we took pictures and felt ready to tell the world about our baby.
Do you like our first family photo? Our baby happened to be the size of a grape when we went to the vineyard here! My friend Lyd took this picture of the three of us, and I’ll ALWAYS treasure it. We really were so happy!
Then three days later, I started bleeding. At first we weren’t concerned. Our midwife said this was very common at ten weeks, and simply told us to monitor what was happening. But by 1:15 the next morning, I was awakened by pain and was cramping so badly that Austin drove us to the ER.
I passed the baby around 3:30 a.m. A miscarriage. At ten weeks old, we were able to see the side profile of a little gray form, an inch long with PERFECT little hands and fingers. (Ahh. That memory still makes me choke sometimes.) Austin was able to make out eyelid slits and a tiny mouth.
Then it hit me: this is our child.
I have never felt such pure sadness in my life – a sadness so perfectly detached from any other negative emotion. I felt no anger, confusion, relief, guilt, questioning, hopelessness, or even heaviness. I just felt utterly sad. For two or three days I would cry randomly, and often. And I’d tell Austin, “I miss our baby. I just want our baby.”
Many people were afraid I’d feel guilty or angry. There’s no right or wrong way to feel, I know, and each woman who has experienced this kind of loss feels it differently. All I wanted was that baby tucked safely back inside. And I wanted to be pregnant again right away, but I knew a new pregnancy wouldn’t “fix” it: miscarried babies don’t reincarnate on the next try.
The support of everyone around us was amazing, and it didn’t take long to move forward. We had surrendered our plans to God when we first learned I was pregnant, and as hard as it was, I think we somehow managed to stay in that vein of surrender through the miscarriage.
It seems ironic, but now Austin and I can see that the life and loss of our baby has brought a lot of healing. It’s like an unseen shift in seasons for us. After a long season of finding it harder to connect with each other, we find ourselves much more connected through it. We have our own loss together now. And though it’s healthy and necessary and right to mourn for Austin’s mom… we find we’re looking back less, and more toward our present and future. I still wish we had our little one, but now we can take some time and enjoy a new season, together, as “just us.”
Life brings death… like when our pregnancy first meant the end of our plans as we knew them. But sometimes death brings life, like the healing we’ve experienced because of it. This is a kind of hope I’ve never experienced before; a type of resurrection power we had to surrender to if we were ever going to witness its glory.
It’s been a compelling perspective change ❤