Losing a pregnancy. My sister described it best when she said it’s one of those things that you hear happens to people and you think how horrible but then it actually happens to you and you realize how debilitating and heart-breaking it really is. I’ve lost a lot this year but I have gained some things too.
One of the major things that was hard for reconcile in my mind was how people can jump up and down in outrage over abortions but so casually dismiss or fail to acknowledge pregnancy loss and miscarriages. *The previous statement is no way a political statement or a judgmental statement or meant to spark the general one sided nasty comments that come with the topic. There is no judgement or condemnation to anyone in the above statement, just simply an observation I have noticed.* This is to not say that most people were not wonderful, loving and understanding. But often I felt caught in the world’s perceptions of loss and miscarriage. I felt guilt for taking off work longer. I felt guilty for not being ready sooner. I feel guilty for not wanting to have another baby, yet. But I realized if I had given physically given birth to a baby that then passed away no one would expect me to be ready for anything. There is a social stigma that surrounds pregnancy loss, that is partly responsible for these feelings and at times people not knowing how to act. I hope I can use my voice to educate and breakdown the stigma.
On March 2, 2017. I didn’t just lose a pregnancy or have a miscarriage (more on my hate for that word later), I loss my baby. I lost a life filled with ten thousand million possibilities.
I lost: pregnancy cravings, morning aka all the time sickness, a gender reveal party, a baby shower, the delight of decorating a mermaid themed nursery, the joy of sharing her arrival with our family and friends, and the pure joy and love that would have come with watching Ryan fall even more in love with her the first time he held her and beyond.
I lost: sleepless nights, morning and afternoon and midnight snuggles, baby wearing days, the 11 trillion pictures I should have gotten to take of her, her first and all of her gummy grins, reading hundreds of books to her outside the womb, dances with her on my hip in my kitchen, and bath time singalongs. I lost trips to Pepperplace with her snuggled in her vegetable swaddle.
I lost: play times and play dates, dress ups and clean ups. I lost hair bows as big as her head, toddler top knots, matching mommy and me outfits and painting nails.
I lost: watching Disney movies over and over with her, seeing her eyes illuminate the first time they spotted Cinderella’s Castle and her lips rejoice the first time she tasted Dole Whip.
I lost: first days of school, last days of school, countless birthday shape cakes and parties, graduations, her prom, moving her into college, her wedding (or which every wonderful things she might have chosen if she didn’t go the traditional route). I lost my first baby’s babies.
I lost: the honor to teach her to find her nose, tie her shoes, count to infinity, cook, her colors, how to do laundry, and sing her ABCs.
I lost: the attitude as she found her own will in her toddler years and as a teenager, fights and disagreements, hearing her cry, trips to the doctor, hard nos and the sometimes ever harder yeses. I lost the ability that I never had in the first place but I would have died trying, the ability to protect her. Even the bad stuff with her not here it feels like such heavy things to lose.
I lost: trips to take her to walk the sandy shores of my childhood, trips to show her where her Daddy and I got married, trips to instill in her that when it comes to love miles don’t matter. I lost the privileged to show her what a vast and gorgeous world we live in, the ability to ingrain in her heart the love of wanderlust and embracing the glorious differences in culture that weave a our world into a beautiful place.
I lost: the ability to raise her up into a strong, loving and courageous woman who loves the entire world and all the people in it with her entire heart.
I lost: running through the sprinklers whether the grass needs the water or not, saying yes to ice cream and cupcake dates, carving pumpkins, decorating the Christmas tree, and planting zinnia seeds.
I lost: my belief in God and religion and the good of the world.
I lost: wrapping her up in her crimson swaddle while she lays on her hounds tooth quilt and stares up at the sunlight dancing through the leaves under the Tailgate Tree, laughing as she went crazy shaking her first shaker, teaching her the words to the Alma Mater, Fight Song and eventually Rammer Jammer.
I lost: myself. There are catastrophic events/days that define life. Before a certain point and after a certain point. Early March will always be a defining point in my life. The days you were with us and the days you are our angel baby. Most of the days lately if feels like I’m still wading around in the muck of aftermath.
I found: pure unending love and support. From family, from friends, and from strangers. We couldn’t have made it without everyone.
I found: I now am talented enough to drive down the road and throw up into a cup at the same time. I had lots of practice this year.
I found: God and religion and my belief that love exist in this broken world. I still struggle, some days it’s only because if there is no God then where is my baby girl and I can not have that. I was listening to The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey podcast not long after, she and her guest were talking about how they miss the closeness of God during the hard times of their lives. Ummmm say what?!? I remember being so dang angry. How could that be? Where was He? Why did I not feel Him? Well months later as in like just last week. It occurred to me. Every text, every perfectly timed card, every shared tear, every meal, every call, every shared story, every visit, every care package, every friend and every act of love He was behind. It was Him. I thought I didn’t feel Him but I was just expecting Him to feel like something different.
I found: lessons. Lessons like your jeans might not fit the moment you pee on the stick. Lessons about love and grief and healing. Oh the things I learned.
I found: mommy guilt. Oh before she was even born, the mommy guilty was real. The first time I took a medication besides Vitamin D and a Prenatal Vitamin I cried because I felts so guilty. It was a Zyrtec. The mommy guilty rages on even now. Could I have done something different? Did I cause her to be sick? What if I was not healthy enough to carry her? Am I doing a good enough job honoring her? Will people forget her if I don’t do enough to celebrate her? If we have another baby will she feel replaced?
I found: more compassion, more love, more understanding, more empathy, more grace and more heart within myself.
I found: that words offer hope, love and healing but the actual love actions like meals, flowers, walks, and gifts of remembrance are the real meat and potatoes of love and healing, at least for me. (Hello 5 Love Languages, I’m an acts of service, gifts of love, and quality time I appreciate the fact that this is most likely not true for the entire world but wouldn’t and interesting study be how our preferences change during grief versus other seasons of life).
I found: treasure. There is a treasure of love that follows tragic things. You just have to remember to look for it. Treasure the struggles, treasure the people, treasure the tears, treasure the good and treasure the bad for it is all a gift.
I found: a bond that connects me to 1 in 4 women. A shared experience I wouldn’t wish on my worse enemy. But these women, they bring me life and hope and love. And together we will use our voices and hearts to help and heal the ones that join us.
I found: that travel can be both a quick escape from the doldrums of life and simultaneously ground you more deeply to this earth, yourself and others.
I found: vulnerability. Nothing says vulnerable quite like being put all the way out on an operating table while your baby is physically removed from your body. But more than being physically vulnerable, being emotionally vulnerable can lead to the very deepest connections. Such as asking for help, telling people you are not ok and sharing your story, emotions, and fears. Vulnerability opens up more space for hurt and emotional injury but it also rips open the seems for love.
I found: a cyst or something like that. Under my eye likely caused to swell and grow with pregnancy hormones. What? Really. I still notice some extra puffiness under my right eye to this day. Also, I guess if we ever do decide to have another baby and my right eye swells well then the world knows.
I found: more love for my Ryan. Gracious golly, I wouldn’t have lived without him and without every single one of you who loved us so well. He is my rock and a constant level headed voice of reason (hello thank you God for giving me someone who doesn’t understand anxiety sometimes it sucks to not be able to effectively communicate with him how my mind works but thank goodness he doesn’t get it and he can usually pull me back down to earth). Did he have moments when he didn’t have answers sure no one does. But he always has love and a we can do this together spirit. Watching him cry over our baby girl breaks my heart but more love for him fills those cracks and makes my heart whole again. I am so thankful for an understanding, supportive husband who openly grieves the loss of our baby girl with me. I know not everyone gets this type of emotion and response from their partner and it’s so helpful to feel him be in this with me.
I found: myself. As I being to crawl my way out and around the rebuilding and redefining stage, I pray I am becoming stronger and more loving. That I am finding my voice to instill light, hope, truth and goodness into this world. I hope I am becoming a woman that is helping others whether they have experienced this catastrophic event or a different type to feel loved, heard, welcome and safe.
I found: my angel baby, Riley Kate. Precious baby girl: I’m striving to be the best Mommy I can be for you no matter where you or where I am are that’s what I will always be. Mommy loves you now and forever. I carry your heart, I carry it in my heart. What an honor and a gift that I get to spend the rest of my days loving you.
Beautifully said, Anna Kate! Riley Kate would be so proud of you & was blessed to have you as her Mommy! Thinking of you & praying for you & Ryan today. Love you, Robin