It’s the thought that crosses my mind every time someone asks if Eli is my first. Its the pang of grief that hits every time I hear myself lie. But how do you tell the cashier at Target the story of the pain that is too great to really put words to? How do you honor the little you lost, while guarding your heart from sharing with the people who just don't understand?
But what if my sharing isn’t about you (yes you, Target cashier, fellow mama, and teacher)? What if my sharing is for me? And what if it is a part of my fight to find healing and to find peace? What if I stopped caring about you, your response, and making you feel comfortable? What if I was just true to who I am and who my baby is?
Today, I have decided to make those what if’s a reality. Because today, is my sweet Emerson Grace’s second birthday and I am STILL grieving and I am still heartbroken.
I am really sorry if this posts makes you feel uncomfortable, it makes me uncomfortable too. It is something I never thought I would experience, and I would never wish this on another mama. But the truth? It happened to me and it happens to so many others. One in four pregnancies will end in loss. Did you know that miscarriage is more common then dying in a car crash, which is 1 in 20? Or that miscarriage is almost equivalent to the rate of getting cancer which is 1 in 3? When we really let those numbers set in, it saddens me that this experience is made taboo by our society. That so many mamas suffer silently.
Here is the truth: You are NOT alone mama. I have been there too. I have walked that journey – and I am still fighting that darkness.
It’s the grief that overwhelms you as your washing dishes at the sink. It’s the sadness that hits when your other little thrives and you realize you will never have this with the one you lost. It’s the anger you feel when people ask if you will have another and you are not sure if you can really answer that. Its in the protective, mama instinct you have for the little here with you because you know how precious this time is. And it’s in every fiber of your being as mama and as woman – because miscarriage: it has shaped you, it has changed you, and it has become you.
So today I honor you, sweet Emerson and I share your story.
I was the woman who always knew I wanted to be mama. It was in me…I knew I was created for it. But like any type A perfectionist, I wanted to wait and I wanted to do it all the “right” way in the “right” timing. So we waited…and waited. Until one day, there was an oops.
We hadn’t planned to have a baby yet – and as I sat in the bathroom at work waiting for the pregnancy test, every scary possibility ran through my mind. And then it happened – the line appeared and I crumbled to the floor. I was filled with fear and sadness – my first thought was that it wasn’t supposed to happen this way.
I tried to tell daddy in a creative way, but when he walked through the door he already knew. We were both terrified. Could we even do this? But as the days went by, the news settled and we began to get excited and to plan for a new family of 3. I was training for a marathon, and I refused to stop exercising. A week later after a long bike ride, it started. The spotting. I work with women in early pregnancy and I know this can be normal. But in that moment, I just knew that it wasn’t.
I went to the doctor the Monday following the first spotting and my pregnancy test came out positive. My blood was drawn and the doctor gave me hope that everything was okay. That was the worst part – her giving me hope, when she knew there really wasn’t. A few days later I was called in to see the results. My HCG levels were low, but again she gave me hope. More blood was drawn and this continued every 2 days, until finally, the doctor was honest for the first time, and told me that I was miscarrying. I would continue blood draws until the levels were 0. That was one of the hardest parts – going to the doctor and seeing all the happily pregnant women or women with newborns…and then there was me, there to confirm my baby was slipping away.
It happened at home, and even though I was only 7 weeks along, the experience was real and the life I saw was real. I remember sobbing on the bathroom floor – in shock as my mind didn’t register completely that I had just seen my baby and in so much sorrow that I had to meet and say goodbye to her in this way. For me, she will always be a baby – I know that she was little, and I know that there are different thoughts on when life begins. But I see ultrasounds at 6 and 8 weeks – I know they have all 4 chambers of their heart and that you can see it beating. For me, this was the precious baby I had longed for.
The darkness that followed swallowed me from the inside. I felt like no one understood, not even daddy. Comments ranged from awkward to inconsiderate. Everyone was uncomfortable and no one knew what to say.
“You’re young. You can try again.” “It was just a clump of cells anyway.” “There must have been something wrong with your baby.” “Everything happens for a reason.” “You weren’t that far along, the grief can’t be that hard.”
Every comment broke my already raw heart even more. How could I honor my sweet baby if no one understood her life?
We named our baby girl Emerson Grace. And although we were only 7 weeks along, my mama intuition tells me she would have been a girl. Emerson means strong and powerful – and thats what I believe her to be. And grace reminds me of God’s unconditional love for me and for her.
As she would have celebrated her 2nd birthday today, I grieve once again all the moments I will never have with her. I grieve what would have been. I grieve that I never met her or held her. But most of all, I grieve that in this world, most will never honor her sweet little life.
Mama loves you Eme.