As a busy mom of three kids, 17, 14, and 11, I don’t spend much time thinking about the difficult road my husband and I had in becoming parents. As the song says, I haven’t got time for the pain. But in the past few weeks circumstances have occurred that have brought me back to that very difficult and painful time in my life.
Earlier in the week I received an email from a woman who had just experienced her third miscarriage. She came across an essay I had written about my own four losses and found hope in the fact that I went on to have three kids.
I both love and hate getting emails like this. I desperately want to reassure her that she will have the family she dreams of, but of course I can’t. I do believe we all can get our happy ending, but who can say what that is?
Then two days ago I was scrolling through Facebook, enjoying pictures of my friend’s new babies, little ones graduating preschool and older kids graduating high school and going to proms when I came to an old high school friend’s status wishing her daughter a happy 19th birthday.
I stopped in my tracks and thought of the fact that my first baby would also be celebrating their 19th birthday around this same time if things had turned out the way I thought they would.
May 30, 1997, was my due date. I remember being so excited when I got the letter from my insurance carrier that informed me I was preregistered to have my baby on, before, or after that date. We saw a heartbeat. My jeans no longer really fit, making way for my belly that only Joe and I could see.
Then one day we went to the doctor and saw our baby but no heartbeat. All of a sudden it was over. My jeans fit again and I put the letter away in a box, along with a few cards people sent me to celebrate our good news.
A few weeks later my husband and I were doing some Christmas shopping in the mall. As we were waiting to pay for our purchases a woman pushing a newborn in a carriage walked by. I made a bit of a gasp and started to tear up. Joe put his arm around me and softly told me he loved me.
The woman in front of us gently smiled.
“I’m sorry. I just had a miscarriage a few weeks ago,” I managed to say, tears just falling from my eyes.
She replied, “It is so tough. I had a miscarriage about 20 years ago, and I still wonder what that child would have been like. And I have other children.”
The woman with the baby turned around. “I am so sorry. I can go to another line if you like. I had three miscarriages before this little one. I know how hard it is.”
With that the four of us started sharing about the pain of pregnancy loss while waiting to buy some Christmas presents.
It astounds me that after almost twenty years, while up to my neck in end of the school activities for my family, I find myself tearing up today as I think back to those women and that conversation.
They served as a lifeline for me that day. Unlike the other people in my life who thought they were helping me by telling me to move on, or saying that it was good I was “only” 10 weeks pregnant, or, it wasn’t as if I lost a “real” baby, these ladies understood because they had been there.
Friends and relatives would remind me how lucky I was to have a wonderful husband. They would tell me how great it was that I did get pregnant, because there were so many women who couldn’t. Yes the loss was sad, but it was God’s will. I would get over this. I would go on to have more babies. I would forget.
I’m so grateful for the women on that line that day. They let me know that it didn’t matter how many years would pass, and how many children may follow, my loss was real. My life would move on but I may never forget. And that was okay.
Once again I am reminded that there is so much power in sharing our stories, whether in print, online, or at a busy store. Through our own healing we can help others heal as well.