There’s a tradition in our society that says it’s not a good idea to tell people about your pregnancy until you’re past the “safe mark” of 12 weeks, when the risk of miscarriage diminishes. The unspoken message is that miscarriage is best kept quiet. Nobody wants to know about the ones that didn’t make it. In fact, our culture barely regards them as even human. That’s why you hear statements like “thank goodness you weren’t that far along,” “don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll have another, “ or “at least you have (your older children),” as if you’d lost a dream instead of a living child. These are things people would NEVER say to parents who’d lost an older child, but because of our culture’s dismissive attitude towards unborn life, these children are viewed as less valuable. Their mothers are expected to grieve in private silence, if they are given permission to grieve at all.
For those who find themselves pregnant after losing a baby, we know there is no such thing as a “safe mark.” We know that life is fragile, and that it can just as easily be lost after 12 weeks as before. There are no guarantees. We have lost our innocence…the ability to look at that little plus sign and instantly be filled with the joyful expectation of holding that little bundle in nine months. We walk a tightrope of joy and sorrow, hope and dread, knowing that the next appointment may bring the words that we fear most: “I’m sorry, I can’t find a heartbeat.”
Even though I never got to hold Autumn, Eden and Hope, they’re still my babies. I’m still their mother. The only way I know to parent them is to honor their brief lives here on earth, and acknowledge that they are real children, now waiting in heaven for me. They weren’t just blobs of tissue. They weren’t just lines on a pregnancy test. They were precious, individual souls…and so is the one I carry now.
My last three babies didn’t make it to the “safe zone” of 12 weeks. I live with the knowledge that there is a very real possibility that I won’t get to meet this baby on this side of heaven, either. My children’s lives, like my own, are in God’s hands, and I have no control over them. But whatever the outcome, I have peace that God is in control, and I WILL meet my babies someday, although perhaps not as soon as I would hope. In the meantime, I best way I know to honor their lives is simply by acknowledging their presence. By recognizing that every life matters, no matter how brief.
So for now, I will partner with God in carrying this little life as long as He allows me to, and accept each day we have together as a gift.