Two days before Thanksgiving, we went to our much-anticipated 9-week prenatal appointment for our much-wanted third baby. We were hopeful for a good appointment, looking forward to telling our girls, who would tell their grandparents, aunt and uncle, who would arrive later that night.
But it was not to be.
At our ultrasound, we saw the baby, but not the heartbeat. Though we could see the baby, it was already gone. I was in disbelief. I sat on the couch and heard my midwife’s gentle words, saw the tears in her eyes as my own streamed. She grieved with me. But, like our baby, I wasn’t really there.
My accommodating midwife scheduled a follow-up ultrasound to confirm what we already knew. And by then half a dozen women it feels I’ve only just met were reaching out with kindness—in words, in offers of love and care for my kids, with food. Daniel has a commitment that’s been scheduled for months that I couldn’t let him miss that has taken his physical self three hours west to Memphis. The rest of him seems to be somewhere in between. My dad was able to fly down to be with me and the girls, while family sends prayers and hugs from home, even as they are going through far more dire personal crises of their own.
I spent today at the hospital, being given the most compassionate care I’ve ever had by a large medical team. Each individual led with kindness, confident it did not diminish his or her professional prowess. I have never seen anything like it. Everyone from the (free) valet to the admitting team, to the nurses, anesthetists and attending treated me with patience and care. My little girls spent the day playing dress up, having their nails painted and being loved by a new friend in my neighborhood and her sweet children—they were so excited about their day they forgot to kiss me goodbye when I dropped them off. My friend encouraged me to take my time, take care of myself, and let them stay as long as we needed them to. My dad the superhero went foraging for organic milk and humanely-raised chicken nuggets and various other sundries that are likely not on his usual list, after spending the day being confused for my husband and communicating steadily with him. Daniel said, “I wouldn’t have made it through this morning without your dad.” I reminded him I wouldn’t have either.
Our loss is profound. We have already been grieving for nearly 10 days. And I’m sure it will continue. I will never start a sentence about this type of pain with “at least” or say, “everything happens for a reason,” because, frankly, I think that’s a crock. Whoever said everything happens for a reason? Can God redeem everything that happens to fulfill a greater purpose? Absolutely. Do we always get to know what that purpose is? Not a chance. But that doesn’t mean that down here we aren’t subject to some brutal, seemingly random, excruciating stuff that has no apparent redeeming value.
Still, as much as I’ve felt like an emotional hostage during this week of waiting— living some shell of a life— I am grateful for it. In this week, I allowed my family to care for me, and they really showed up. I let myself need. I allowed others to shower me in grace that is so humbling that I’m running out of words to thank my new friends for it. For that matter, I learned I have friends that I can’t wait to return the favor for, should they ever be in need. I was reminded of how loving and compassionate and accepting that man I married is. This week I really saw my children. I cherished them, held them close, breathed them in and nuzzled them and marveled over their very existence, their precious selves. I lived every moment with a raw and bitter pain, and though I had moments of numbness that will likely recur, all the other feelings seemed to get stronger too.
I am sad. So humbled. And grateful for love I haven’t earned and never saw coming from just about every side.
Note: If you are a friend or loved one of mine and are finding out this way, I'm sorry. Please know that writing this was cathartic for me, and, though I am open to sharing details, this is less painful than reliving the story again and again. I love you all.