My husband and I are the proud parents of 8 amazing children all of whom are adopted. God has blessed us so abundantly that often when we have prayed for one child, a sibling group shows up instead. We came to the fabulous number 8 by taking a bumpy, wild but never accidental roller coaster ride.
Recently, we found out that we were pregnant with number 9. Our first pregnancy. What a wonderful and nerve wracking addition to an already colorful family! I worried about the kids. Would they feel displaced by this new baby? I worried about strangers. Would they criticize us for having one more? I worried about our marriage. Would we have enough energy for more sleepless nights? I worried about the bank account. Could it handle more diapers? I worried about the baby. Was each ache and pain normal or the sign of a problem?
With each passing week our fears began to melt away. We heard the baby’s heartbeat. What a beautiful surprise! We waited a few more weeks and then told the kids. They screamed with delight. We told our parents. My mom wept with joy. Friends and neighbors hugged us and congratulated us. After watching an episode of 19 Kids and Counting, we exclaimed, “we have 10 less than they do, we will be just fine!” We followed the doctor’s orders exactly. My eight year old reassured me that he had seen a TV show about birth and that it was nothing to be afraid of. (note to self: set parental locks on television).
I cautiously began to anticipate our new future. My husband and I began to make plans, discuss names, mentally rearrange bedrooms. Each day that passed felt more real. This was really going to happen to us. I was going to have a child. This child began to feel like a precious gift. A son or daughter for my husband. A grandchild for our parents. A playmate for our children. We were not going to have to ask a caseworker, a guardian, or a judge sign off on anything. We would sign the birth certificate. We would choose a name. This realization left me feeling empowered. I would create a safe environment for my child. I would avoid alcohol, drugs, lunch meat and diet soda. He or she would never feel abandoned. I would give this baby security, safety, and folic acid.
At exactly 10 weeks I woke up and knew something was wrong. With a wrinkled brow, I kissed my husband and kids goodbye as they left for the day. I pretended I felt fine, sure I was just overreacting. That’s when I discovered I was bleeding. I began to cry and plead with God not to let this happen. I called the doctor immediately and got right in. Never a good sign. I dropped my sons at the neighbor’s house and raced to the office. The Dr. reassured me that this type of thing happens all the time. I started to relax. He pulled the ultrasound picture up on the screen. I could tell before he said a word. There was no heartbeat. I was looking at a picture of my dead baby.
The doctor was sympathetic and comforting. All I wanted to do was run. I felt angry and scared. I immediately began to dread breaking the news to my husband and my precious children.
The next day I went in for the D&C. I clutched my stomach wishing I could change the circumstance of my lifeless baby. I just wanted to protect my little child. All I had wanted to do was make things right. I just wanted one chance to do the things that weren’t done for my children. As if by protecting this little one I would be able to make up for the times my older children weren’t protected. Instead, here I was waiting for the doctor. Waiting for him to take my baby away. I felt like such a failure. For years I have been surrounded by women who carelessly bring healthy children into the world. I tried so hard but still I failed. I let down my husband, my mom, my children. Everyone around me was so disappointed and sad. Especially me.
The hospital was amazing. The nurse was so kind and compassionate. She explained that they don’t throw the babies out. They take them to a cemetery. We can even go visit a memorial to unborn infants there. They referred to us as “mom” and “dad” the whole time. They brought peace by validating our loss.
The surgery hurt some but mostly my heart hurts. Everywhere I look, I’m surrounded by pregnant women, newborn babies and really cute baby clothes. I am surprised by the sadness I feel. I feel like I shouldn’t be this sad when those around me have so much less than I do. I open my eyes and see the overwhelming blessing that is my family…Still, I am caught off guard by waves of loneliness.
I don’t yet have a word of wisdom on why this happened. I am still in the midst of persistent sadness. I can say one thing though. My eyes have been opened to the thoughtful servanthood of those around me. My mom jumped in the car to take care of us the minute I told her. My sister, brothers and Dad called constantly to check on me (Josh called three times a day). My friends and neighbors brought meals and words of encouragement. One family drove over 30 minutes to drop off flowers and chocolate on our front door step. My husband’s co-workers have treated him with kindness, understanding and patience. There are people who love us so much, they have grieved with me even though I haven’t answered the door in 4 days.
I am overwhelmed by those willing to feel sadness over the loss of a little person none of us have ever even met. I owe a debt of gratitude for those who have brought meals, hugs and kind words to our family this week. I am especially humbled by those who have comforted my children. I don’t know why this happened but I know this, I will be a better friend, sister, mother and daughter because I have learned from those who love me.
you faced life’s disappointments?