You take a pregnancy test. You see the plus sign. You tell your husband. You get happy and excited. You get so happy and excited, in fact, that you feel as if you are riding a natural high- as if you have dipped your cup into the fountain of life and have drunk its sweet nectar. Yes, you have life growing within you. You are the picture of bounty and youth.
You and your husband talk about names and gender and imagine what the baby will look like. What kind of personality will he or she have? The two of you make plans to tell your parents and guess as to their reactions. You tell a small handful of people- just your small inner circle and challenge your creativity as to how you will dazzle the Facebook world with your super clever baby announcement and social media gender reveal party. You tell yourselves that you will enjoy every single second of this pregnancy despite nausea and sleep deprivation because you realize that your first two children have grown up way too fast- better to appreciate every last drip of this baby’s being because it will slip through your hands all too quickly. You have no idea just how quickly this baby will actually slip through your hands because right now you are in the moment enjoying the circle of life.
Hand in hand with the love of your life, you visit the birthing center and meet the midwives and recall the amazingly beautiful birth stories of your children. You are nervous. Naturally- this is child birth we are talking about here. It will be painful and dramatic but so worth it. This is what you were born to do. You have never felt more alive.
You tell your children. One is so happy he can hardly contain his little happy dance. The other folds her arms across her chest and scowls. She has been here before and is not happy knowing that now she has to share you with yet another sibling. However, you show them age appropriate videos and her disposition changes. She is a little scientist. She is willing to accept the challenge of big sister yet again because now there is a logical process that she can observe and study over time. She’s in.
And then, its over. You wake up after a series of restless nightmares and realize that the nightmares were real. Hand in hand with the love of your life, you go to the doctor and sit in the waiting room with its fluorescent lighting and parenting magazines casually strewn about the coffee table and you do the ceremonial dance of the waiting room- twiddle your thumbs, tap your feet, cross and uncross your legs. All the while you sit through an excruciatingly numbing pain. What is taking so long?
There is confirmation and explanation and clarification and reiteration. You are thankful for the medical profession. You are thankful that you are not alone. You ask all your questions, take mental notes, and go home. You hug your husband and he hugs you. Hand in hand with the love of your life, you pray. You tell your children. Reality flies right over the happy one as he dismisses your words and pretends as if you said nothing. You know that this is a natural, age appropriate response. The scientist astounds you with her profound words of comfort. You wonder, who is this child? You thank God for the children that you have in front of you.
You don’t cry. You not crying alarms those closest to you because you are the kind who cried during every single sappy Super Bowl commercial. You attempt to proceed with business as usual. Until 24 hours later, you catch a glimpse of a cardboard castle that you built for your daughter and for some strange reason this little castle sets you off. The flood gates release and you cry finally and uncontrollably for a long time.
“I have lost a baby.” You finally whisper to yourself.
You sleep. You eat Nutella straight from the jar. You talk to your mom. A lot. You talk to your girlfriends who have fought this battle before you. You are thankful for the sisterhood. You cry some more. You marvel at how well your husband has handled his grief and how strong he is until you realize that his grief looks very different from yours. Grieving together is awkward but you try to talk about it. You thank God for your man and for all men in general.
You wrestle with God. You listen to Nirvana and other 90’s teen angst music from your youth. A lot. You journal and you allow yourself to go through the 5 steps of grieving in your own way. You remember how happy you were just a few days earlier and you linger in the angry stage and then camp out in the depression stage for a while. You are angry at yourself for silly things like the fact that you are angry. You have never felt more alive.
You Netflix- binge- watch “feel good sitcoms” with your sister until Netflix asks if you are really still watching this same show after several hours. The two of you laugh. It feels good to laugh. You are thankful for your sisters. And Netflix.
You get dressed up and go out to eat and go shopping and eat/drink girly desserts and adult beverages with your sisters. You go to museums and relate to exhibits of pain and suffering and are thankful for what you have. You think of the baby and realize that you do believe in love at first sight after all.
You continue to tearfully pray and cling to your faith. You continue to feel guilty that this loss has made you so incredibly sad. You never saw that coming. You feel like it is ridiculous to feel so sad. But the answers to your prayers tell you otherwise.
And then, it’s over. Well, kind of. You wake up one morning and you start to feel a little bit like a human again. You are still sad. You still miss that baby. But you remember who you are. You remember who God is. Your head attaches itself back to your body and your feet begin to move. Slowly.
You suddenly have the urge to, of all things, decorate? You find this both surprising and inefficient because you live in a 118 year old house with most of the walls unsuitable for hanging pictures due to either cardboard walls or out of date wallpaper that must, must, MUST come down. Your mentality is that you will not hang any pictures until all wallpaper and cardboard walls have been removed and all walls have been appropriately painted. You decide that you don’t care. Desperate times call for desperate measures and there are some walls that are picture hanging ready.
Your desire to adorn the walls with beautiful things is so strangely inappropriate to you that you have to wonder why? Why now of all times? As you go about the business of decorating your home and hammering nails into the completed walls you begin to realize that every photograph tells a story. Every painting evokes a feeling. Each mirror calls for reflection. Each vase, a vessel to be filled with the grace of nature or purposefully left empty to be enjoyed in its contemplative simplicity. Each motivational saying or bible verse, a familiar whisper to remind us of who we are.
You realize that the walls of your house are lined with stories and feelings and reflections and grace and contemplations and encouragements. You understand that the loss of your third baby is and will be a story to be felt and reflected upon and that it too will line your walls as a testimony of God’s grace. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. You have never felt more alive.
You decide to return to your regularly scheduled program. You let your kids crawl into bed with you in the wee hours of the morning and you take the extra time to enjoy their coos and snuggles. You get back to work all the while taking the time to appreciate that this is where you live. This is who you are and these pictures on the walls speak of the beautiful and sometimes painful moments of your life. But they are your beautiful and painful moments to hold and to remember. This is life. And you come to terms with the realization that one day when it is all over you will hold this little angel in your arms. You hang the picture up on the wall and contemplate its simplicity as you are reminded of who you are and who God is.