Yesterday, I went for a bike ride along the flight line. There are birds all over the place, whole flocks of them. Along with swarms of insects that pelt you in the face if you're pedaling at a decent clip and remind you to breathe with your mouth closed. GULP. As I stopped to take a picture of the mountains, this one little sparrow flittered around me. I don't know what it is about sparrows, but they alwaysalwaysalways make me think about our baby. Our baby that didn't make it into this world. I couldn't take my eyes off of her as she flew somewhat erratically. As she found her wind, she swooped a bit more gracefully. Up and down and back and forth, a little show just for me. His eye is on the sparrow. Yep. As I took in my surroundings and had the time to reflect on where God has put me for the next few chapters, I got the second part: ...and I know He watches me.
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, here's some Whitney to help you understand. Get it, girl!
We popped into Starbucks this morning, just Sean and I. All month long I've been trying not to think about the baby. She would've had a birthday this month. Her first. A whole year, my how the time would've flown. We would've made mention of the fact that she still wasn't sleeping through the night. I would've obsessed over her birthday outfit. I would've tried to get a bow into her sprigs of certainly red hair. I am positive of that fact: she would have been my redhead. We should be planning our baby girl's first birthday party, not moving around the world.
The pain has definitely lessened in the way that it's not a constant pain. It's not the kind of pain that is threatening to spill over my eyelids at any given moment. But the pain is still as intense as it was the moment the doctor said, "It doesn't look good." Sometimes I still get the overwhelming sadness that makes me want to curl up under a blanket and cry the day away.
This morning I got one of those waves of intense sadness, but there's no time for falling apart. We were in the corner at Starbucks and Sean was telling me about something at work and a family with three little boys walked in. The youngest looked to be about a year old and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Suddenly I envisioned what our life would look like at this exact moment. All the chaos that is going on, but with another child. I pictured a one year old baby girl sitting on my lap. I saw the mother with three boys look over and register a baby girl. I saw myself telling her, "Don't give up. You'll get your girl eventually. It took us five tries to get her." I saw myself handing her to Sean while I popped up to get our coffees. I imagined the way his face would light up as he took our baby girl into his arms. The way she would smile at the one she so easily wrapped around her finger.
Except for that reality is only in my head. In my heart. And I don't actually get to experience any of it. Sean sees it from a completely different side. He gets to experience the pain through that of so many patients. Just the other day he had a patient who had lost twins, pretty far along.
I wonder if she got to hold them and see their little faces and say goodbye. I wonder if she asked for a photographer. I wonder what she'll do with all the little mementos the hospital will send home with her. I wonder if she'll go through the same moment in a random coffee shop a year from now. I know her pain will be different. She will have felt the weight of those babes in her arms. She will have touched their perfect faces. She will have dressed them and swaddled them and cried over them. I don't know what that pain feels like. I only know what my pain feels like.
It feels raw and maternal and like something that will never, ever end. It feels private and like something that is somehow taboo to talk about openly. At the same time, it ties me together with so many women who have felt the same pain. It feels like something that should be tucked away as if bringing it up makes people uncomfortable. They don't know how to handle it. They don't know what to say. They say too much when silence is enough. Sometimes people want to explain it or excuse it as if God somehow messed up.
I don't know the reasons, but I know God didn't mess up. I can't say I wish it had never happened, because it's changed me. It's part of my story. It has given me empathy, which is always a little different than run-of-the-mill sympathy.
I don't want any more babies. That seems to be a frequent question. I know my sister would give anything to get a niece out of me. I did want more. There was a few months there that it seemed like it would bring healing. I thought it might be the only way to get over it or past it or through it. In hindsight, it wouldn't have worked. I would've felt guilt. No child can replace another.
It's not just a miscarriage. It's the loss of a life and a future. It changes everything. I will always calculate and imagine and wonder. I will never look at an ultrasound image with the same viewpoint I once had. It's not always a happy picture. I will forever draw a pause when someone announces a pregnancy "too early." I just as firmly believe all life should be celebrated. A child is not just a blob of tissue and a miscarriage is a big deal.
Her name was Oakley.