Dear friends, before reading on, I want you to know that this post may be difficult to read if you have had a miscarriage. The words below are the way I’ve wrapped my mind and heart around my experience alone, and are in no way how I think anyone “should” feel or act when faced with this heartbreaking experience–it is so, so personal. Please know my heart is with you and I am praying for you.
I want to introduce you to someone but I don’t know how to. How do you introduce someone you’ve never looked at face to face, never had a conversation with, or never touched, especially when, despite all that, this person will be deeply part of you every day for the rest of your life?
I’m not sure.
But here is what I can tell you. On Wednesday, January 30, I felt kind of off. I suspected this little one as I felt my sore chest, my short temper just the day before, my dizzy feeling throughout the day, the way I looked at Charlie and suddenly wondered if everything would be different soon. I took another glug of water, eyeing the clock–1:30. I’d take the test a little after 2, once I put Charlie down for a nap.
He wanted four books and I obliged, holding him tight next to me and reading: Jeremy Fisher, Jemima Puddleduck, Peter Rabbit, Hug Time. I tucked him in, told him to have a good rest, then went to the bathroom and unwrapped the box of tests I had bought a few weeks before. I read the instructions in case there was anything I had forgotten in the just-over-three-years since I did this last. Even after these years, this feeling brought me right back to the first time. If I closed my eyes, I didn’t know where I was–our newlywed apartment or our house.
There was the heart-pounding out of my chest as I curled up on the floor and watched bars light up an LED screen, one by one. The words “Jesus, I trust in you” over and over again in my mind. My shaking hands. The word that means nothing will ever be the same.
“Hi, baby,” I whispered. Thank you, God.
The next few days and weeks were exciting, new, and familiar, all in a breath. I eagerly downloaded the pregnancy app I had loved with Charlie and marveled over our poppyseed-sized baby, scrolled my favorite motherhood blogs for baby products that have emerged since 2016, and plugged dates into online pregnancy trackers that told me our due date was October 12. Another fall baby. I started Pinterest boards, one for a boy and one for a girl, and started scheming about how to turn our guest room/Dave’s office/my office into a guest room/Dave’s office/my office/nursery. We picked out a crib. I re-read Expecting Better. I found a dress to wear in baby announcement photos and ordered basically an entire summer maternity capsule wardrobe from an Australian brand I’d been eyeing for months (their seasons are opposite ours, so all the summer clothes were on clearance–convenient). Self-consciousness and fear and anxiety had robbed a lot of the joy from my pregnancy with Charlie and I was determined that this time was going to be different. And so far, it was. Thank you, God.
On March 7, we drove to Chapel Hill during morning rush hour…something we typically avoid at all costs, but this day, we made an exception. Today, we were going to get to see our baby. We only had one ultrasound with Charlie at 18 weeks, so we felt giddy to be able to have one this early, right before our first prenatal appointment, scheduled with one of my favorite midwives from last time.
This is where I don’t really want to keep going, past the fact that “Tiny Dancer” was playing in the waiting room and I teared up because it’s a song my dad had considered for our father-daughter dance at my wedding, so now it always makes me think of him. Charlie pulled a chair right up to the window to watch the birds outside and none of us knew that those were our last moments as a family of four. Because what happened next will haunt me forever–the way I knew immediately that something wasn’t right and almost asked the ultrasound tech if the baby was sleeping but didn’t because the alternative was too terrible to bear. The way her words echoed in my brain and my heart and I almost screamed because nothing, nothing, nothing had ever been more painful to hear. The way I burst into tears and Dave reached for me and our poor sweet Charlie said “It’s okay, mama, it’s okay, mama” through his own tears, this morning doing nothing to help his fear of doctors’ offices.
My hands are shaking typing this because if I close my eyes, I’m there. The next days were a blur–I spent most of them in bed, alternating between crying and sleeping from sheer emotional exhaustion. My mom flew in, took care of Charlie, and put dinner on the table every single night. We did another ultrasound and had it reviewed by six different medical professionals. Surgery was scheduled. Our doctor came into the room where I laid, prepped for surgery, wearing a miraculous medal necklace and calling our baby a baby, not “some tissue.” My heart was put at ease. We asked for our baby’s body. I filled out a form–the same one that any relation fills out to have a body released to them. I asked the nurse if I could write the baby’s name on that form and she answered with an emphatic yes. Three days later, Dave placed a tiny box in a tiny grave as our priest spoke the words of a funeral for pre-born babies. We laid 52 daffodils on the stone–one for every day our baby was with us, utterly loved and utterly cherished. Thank you, God.
As soon as we found out we had lost our baby, we began to plead to the Lord to reveal the gender to us. The next day, Charlie went from saying “the baby,” as he had been, to “baby sister.” We needed no further assurance.
Her name is Felicity Emilia. It’s not the girl’s name we had set aside…and strangely, as we pondered if this baby might be a girl in the weeks prior, our favorite name was giving me some doubt. I didn’t know why at the time.
I spent a good portion of my pregnancy working on this blog post for Blessed Is She about Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, then so thrilled that our ultrasound was scheduled for their feast day. As we drove home from that nightmare, I begged these Saints, these strong and holy mothers themselves, for courage, and while I still feel I had little in the days that followed, Dave insists otherwise. I want to believe him. Felicity is in their honor. Emilia is the name of St. John Paul II’s mother, who suffered the loss of her own infant daughter.
Felicity Emilia. Our baby girl.
I’m thankful for the people who have carried us through these painful days and for the prayers of people I love and of people I’ve never met, but who are generous enough to remember us in prayer anyway. I’m thankful for the friends who have blessed us immensely through flowers, food, hugs, and text messages. I’m thankful for the faith that our girl is a pure and perfect Saint who will intercede for us all the days of our lives, and that heaven has never sounded sweeter, because I know that Lord willing I get there, I’ll know my girl the moment I see her. I’m thankful for the miracle of Charlie and for the privilege of carrying our sweet Felicity for the days I could. I’m thankful for my husband who is my rock and who swears he would still choose me, and this, if someone had given us a glimpse into the future on our wedding day.
I’m thankful that God is good and He is strong when I am weak.
He gives and takes away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Calligraphy by my dear friend Emily Rachelle