By Guest Blogger Kelly Hines, author of the blog Southern Fried Children
In the bottom of my jewelry box is a small compartment I refer to as the Place of Lost Things. There are the casings from the shells fired at my father’s funeral, and the handkerchief I clutched all that day. And in a very small, unmarked white envelope, there is the memory of a baby lost before we had time to know it. It is the memory of three babies lost, in the five year chasm between the birth of my oldest, Katie, and my successful pregnancy with my second daughter, Julia.
It is an envelope I have not opened since the day it was given to me, after the last loss, almost 11 years ago.
The contents are small but heartbreaking. It is a token of what may have been, and a symbol of the unanswered questions and tears and hopelessness and confusion that miscarriage often brings.
The first loss came early – about 7 weeks. It happened suddenly and quickly and it was clear before I got confirmation from the doctor that there was no hope. My father was only weeks away from dying, and the pregnancy had given us all such joy during a time of fear and sadness. I remember praying on the way to the doctor’s office – if I can not keep this baby, God, please let me keep my Daddy. The guilt I had over that prayer lasted long after I lost them both.
The second loss was shocking. Our first ultrasound had shown a clear and strong heartbeat. When I started spotting at 13 weeks, I couldn’t even imagine that anything was very wrong. And even after it was clear that the baby had died – clear to my untrained eye that there was no movement of that blurry body on the screen – I held out hope for a miracle until the very last minute when they performed the D&C.
And the third? The third was crushing. I foolishly took Katie with me to the appointment, and gritted my teeth and did not cry when they told me there was no heartbeat, that the baby measured 8 weeks and had likely passed within a day or so of the appointment. I did not cry until later, in the safety of my husband’s arms, feeling betrayed by my body, and punished by God.
Because when you are doing everything right, when you are taking the best care you can, who else is there to blame? What other way is there to feel?
Though I spoke the platitudes and was grateful for the child we had and processed the grief in the most logical way possible, at the end of the day I felt only hopelessness.
And so when, only a few months after the third loss (and the second D&C), I found myself unexpectedly pregnant, I was too afraid to be happy. Too unsure to be excited, too jaded to be anything but full of anxiety. When the first trimester passed without incident and moved into the second, when little flutters became rolling kicks, when my belly was so full I could feel her feet in my throat – I worried, still.
She came out kicking and screaming and red faced and pissed off and all I could keep saying was “Is she okay? Is she okay?” until the Husband finally looked at me and smiled and said “She’s perfect.”
Born by the power of prayer and progesterone.
Then, surprisingly and unbelievably and joyfully – Henry, my third child.
Three babies lost. Three babies born.
I think of those Lost Babies every day, and I give my love for them tenfold to the Born Babies. I can’t spend time thinking of what might have been; I am far too grateful for what IS.
*Kelly originally shared this touching post on her personal blog five years ago in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day which takes place in a few weeks on October 15. For additional information, support, and awareness of miscarriages, still births, ectopic pregnancies, and loss of an infant, visit the official Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day site HERE.