October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. We are gonna get real honest here and this is a long post. Not that I try to be false or tell you lies but it’s just that, honestly, sometimes omission seems better. Sometimes it’s just easier. Sometimes the truth is too heavy, too big, too much… more than anyone really wants to know.
People can be flippant with their greetings, statements, well wishes and questions. There are times and topics that are too important for careless words. So, for the most part, there are things I don’t say.
Today, I might say some of those things.
It’s no secret that I have a BIG family. Often I feel like everyone knows that: teachers at school (even ones we’ve never had), the staff at the doctor’s office, grocery store cashiers, the crossing guard… everyone. I don’t mean to be a downer on you all because many of you are kind, too kind. But, let’s be honest, not everyone is kind with what they say to my face and not everyone is kind with what they say when they think I can’t hear.
We have a lot of kids.
Now before you go and get coy and ask (one of the favorite things people like to chide me with), “Don’t you know how that happens?”
Yes, yes I do.
But do you know why I have so many children?
You probably don’t because I don’t usually choose to talk about this.
Nope, it’s not because I’m stupid. Nope, not because I’m careless.
It is because of a baby that I didn’t get to have.
Between Elanor and Joel there was a baby that we lost.
Lost… such a silly word to use in this context. A baby we miscarried, this baby that didn’t grace earth for what I thought was long enough, that baby has had a lasting impact on me and Josh.
The truth is that, when I learned I was pregnant with that baby, I was shocked and probably not “happy” like I should have been. The weeks went on and I came to grips with the reality that Narraway #5 was on the way. We were days away from our first ultrasound and days away from telling our family about the new addition.
And I woke up with bleeding.
I’d never had bleeding in pregnancy before so you can probably imagine the fear, sadness, and terror I felt. We went to the hospital. After tests and an ultrasound, left with the diagnosis “threatened miscarriage.” Either my dates were wrong, off by weeks, or I was miscarrying. And I had to wait to find out which.
Waiting, with every twinge, every small feeling bringing dread.
Waiting, with my mind running every scenario, possible reason and guilt ridden feelings.
And then a few days later, I lost that baby.
I was grieved. I was mad. I couldn’t understand why I failed at carrying that baby. I couldn’t accept that God would take it away.
But the thing is that even when it feels your world has come crashing down, time doesn’t stop and life moves ever forward. It doesn’t take long, before physical and emotional healing can possibly take place, for BIG questions to come up and decisions have to be made. It happened first at the doctor’s office as an OB in my practice, who I barely knew, was telling me my options for the future. It hit me right in the gut as I unsuspectingly watched a tv show where a character experienced infant loss. It smacked me upside the head as people who didn’t know of our loss unknowingly hit my raw nerves as they jokingly said, “You’d better be careful or you could end up with another baby!”
And, see… losing that baby changed the way I viewed future babies. I’ve always valued life, yet your might have noticed this as you read along: I wasn’t pleased at first to learn I was carrying this baby. Here is where God worked on my heart. Because I was so mad at God for “taking away” a baby that at first I was “upset” that He’d given us. In the healing, I decided this was something that had to change.
So Josh and I started living life differently, its not that we are trying to have as many babies as possible but what we are trying to do is to trust God. Trust God no matter the babies that he gave, the babies that he didn’t, or the babies that didn’t make it.
That’s the tough story that I tend to think that most people don’t really want to hear. So I don’t usually tell it. When people joke about my family size, make inferences concerning my obvious lack of intelligence, pass judgement on my apparent lack of self control, or get that shocked look on their face upon hearing that we have 8 children… well, I try to crack a joke to deflect or set my jaw with a forced smile and attempt to move on. All the while my mind is reeling because there is so much I “can’t” say. I can’t tell them about the baby that changed it all. I can’t tell them why that baby changed it all.
We aren’t living to replace what was lost but to appreciate what is given, trying to live trusting in God, whatever the outcome. And it isn’t easy.
October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I guess this year I wanted to share, knowing I run the risk of not being understood and subject to further judgement. Yet, choosing to share anyway because my story is worth telling because that baby is worth knowing. That little baby changed our lives.