She would be nearly six months old right now. Surely, she would be a ball of smiles and dimples and softness who I wouldn't be able to soak up enough of. We would be semi-pros at babies. Or at least, at six months into it, we would be at some point of confidence and agree, "We've got this."
Instead, we're in the final weeks of a journey that began in the spring of 2013 and almost came to a crashing, heart-wrenching halt on this day, one year ago. What some know and many do not is I've been pregnant off and on for over a year now.
Today, I am almost 37 weeks into my second pregnancy. On June 3, 2013, the 12th week where we were supposed to hear our baby's heartbeat, there was blood. This tiny, jigging blob that had captured our hearts from the moment we had our first sonogram and heard, "there's your baby," was now a sunken mass at the bottom of my uterus. Jamie and I have experienced some serious loss together but nothing prepared us for walking out of the back door of the doctor's office.
And during the days that followed, it did not get easier. I woke up to an empty womb in a recovery room. I bled for weeks on end. We had to put on brave faces and face the community - those who knew, those who had no idea and those who still haven't done the math and think this pregnancy is the same one I was carrying over a year ago. What had been my pregnancy journal now chronicled the loss of it:
I’ve never felt the physical pain of emptiness. There is a hot, empty vacuum in my core. I can feel the sear . . . It feels as if my gut has gone with it, while my heart ripped out on its own.
There was physical sadness and mental madness. I wrestled with God. I blamed the world. I seethed with envy at the site of perfectly pregnant women. I lost a lot of light behind my eyes . . . and really didn't know if I'd ever get it back.
But along the way, I discovered the sisterhood of women who endured the same pain, sometimes multiple times. I finally quit questioning God and started listening to my faith. Months later, my journal read:
I’ve gained some strength. I don’t know if it’s just an ounce of courage or time starting to heal. But even though the thoughts haven’t left me, I’ve stopped resisting the lasso of the Lord. He roped me. I’ve balked and bucked and kicked and spit. Yet, within recent days, as the loop grew tighter, I quit fighting it. I dropped my head. I gave in. I bowed.
There will never be a reason why we had to lose the first one. However, thanks to the wonders of science, we do know the exact chromosome where biology failed us. And through the mystery of faith, even in the blur and haze and anguish, I learned one solid thing: God gave me the strength of a mother.
I was indebted to friends and family who mourned with us. The day after the D and C, I laid in a bedroom filled of flowers sent by our loved ones who said all of the right things: "Thinking of you;" "So very sorry;" and "Love conquers all." Choose those words when comforting others instead of "It was meant to be" or "God needed another angel" or "Your body knew something was wrong."
And for those who have faced this same cruel and oddly empowering twist of fate, my hat and my heart are tipped to you. No, it never leaves. Jamie and I can still look up in the sky on a starry night and think the same thing without even a word --- she was our being, even if it was just 12 weeks of being with us.
Four months later, when the next pregnancy test showed positive, we had just as much fear as joy. For this last nine months, we have held our breath and prayed. I have played over and over again in my mind this beautifully written Miranda Dodson song. And we got through the last year because this -- this -- is for love. And I thank God for every minute of this baby's mile markers and making us try again.
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