Tuesday, February 24, 2015

no matter how small

This post is one of the hardest things I've ever had to write. I know I don't have to write it, but part of me needs to. I have struggled with these words for days. But in the end, I needed to write them down as a part of my personal grief therapy. Maybe I won't hit that Publish button, and this will simply sit in the archives of my unpublished posts until blogging is no longer a thing. It will simply be a long-lost cyber diary of my heartbreak.

But if you're reading this, here it is.
There is an ache that far too many women know: the ache of losing a child you never get to hold.

Part of me knows that miscarriages are incredibly common. I've been continually hearing phrases like, "they're completely normal", or "they're nothing to worry about." That breaks my heart. I also know that it's quite common for women that suffer through miscarriages to go on and have healthy, happy children. But even so, the statistical probability of having a miscarriage is crazy high, which is why I was always terrified of them. As soon as we found out we were pregnant, that fear gripped me like a physical force. It was something I dreaded and continued to pray against and lose sleep over. And then it actually happened, and I wished that I could go back to sleep and live in that world instead. I think a small subconscious part of me thought that if I was afraid enough, and prayed enough, that God would spare me from it. A very sad, naive thought, but it was there nonetheless. I felt betrayed and abandoned by my own body, grasping at smoke and screaming at no one in particular for the injustice of my absolute helplessness. I had no control, no ability to save my baby.

I didn't have any children until about one week ago. That's when that little miracle happened, and I received the promise of one. That positive pregnancy test (5 of them, actually, because I couldn't actually believe it) threw open the doors of dreaming and scheming and squealing. My husband and I had one perfect week of picking nicknames and slowly sharing our happy news with our family. I have a list on my phone of 21 little nicknames we called my stomach in those first few days. The name that stuck was Poppy Seed, because at 4 1/2 weeks that's exactly how big our teeny baby was. Indescribable, to think of life at that scale. 

On the morning of February 19th, about 80 hours after that first positive pregnancy test, I wrote this:

Sometimes I'll wish myself into thinking I have felt something in my belly. Oh my gosh there's a baby in there. But really it's just gas. It's a big letdown. I also love it, because it's mystifying that life exists in there, so small and invisible. I can hardly sleep and I'll wake up and shock myself by whispering, "you're pregnant, lady" and myself responds like, "WHAT".

There's also a lot of fear involved. We've told a really small number of people, mostly just family, and I'm terrified of having to tell them I made a mistake. That I somehow had a rather record-breaking number of false positives. I'm afraid that if I snore too loud or stand up too fast the baby's just gonna fall out. Peace out, mum. 

On a more serious note, we've known and loved and grieved with a lot of women who have been through miscarriages. That is a very deep fear of mine, one that I simply have to pray through. I was halfway through a turkey sandwich today for lunch when I had this crazy epiphany that pregnant women aren't supposed to eat deli meats, and I practically spit out my food mid-chew and proceeded to only eat the bread and tomato. I then Googled turkey deli meat for way longer than necessary, scaring myself silly with all of the horrors of deli meat poison. I guess it's a thing. I'm already making mistakes and I just have to remind myself that humans make babies. Therefore the process is never perfect. I am just another freaked out mother-to-be that is resting restlessly in the hands of God, hoping that I get to meet this little alien on this earth and love him for as long as possible.

It turns out that my wishful "as long as possible" was just that one perfect week. In the wee hours of February 22nd our Poppy Seed went smoothly to be with Jesus. I am now a mother with a ripped-away promise, like a rugged square of quilt torn away from its center. Some people may think that a single week isn't long enough to be so attached to a child, to fall in love, to actually be a mother, but I disagree. I think that's the core of the tragedy for me, this absolute emptiness I feel, the sharp and painful halt to all of our hope and love. I am torn between loving and hating the comfort I have received from beloved friends that have experienced this same pain, knowing they share and grieve my loss but also wishing that none of us had to. I felt an instant connection to a teeny, tiny life growing inside of me, and that baby will be a part of me forever. A person's a person, and Poppy was our person. I don't know if she would have looked like me, if she would have had Dusty's eyes, if she would have loved cats. I have no answers, about gender or anything else. I just know that I loved our week together, that it was far too short, and our hearts are broken without her here.

My husband and I have been clinging to each other. Through the pain and the sadness and even the embarrassment that I feel, which is silly but it's there. I have never felt this close to him, this intricately connected in the complexities of happiness and grief. Our dear Poppy was the flower that brought us immense joy. We were completely unprepared for this goodbye, but are doing our best to embrace the stages of it. It's so important to us to grieve her as a person, as our child, because that's what she was and will always be.

My sweet brother said, "Praise God for the hope we have in Christ. Our family in heaven is growing."

That is as solid a promise as I could ever possibly hope for. Poppy, my darling, we will never stop waiting to meet you. This world is dimmer without you in it, and heaven is blessed to know you first.


  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I, too, had an early miscarriage last year. The grief was like nothing I had ever experienced before. Thinking of you and your precious Poppy. I wrote about my miscarriage experience on my blog as well: www.mengalings.blogspot.com

  2. Oh, Brittany, thank you so much for reading and for sharing your story with me, as well. I absolutely love that Izzy means Pledged to God. What a beautiful twist to a tragedy that will forever shape you. I know that pain and that peace, as well. You have a beautiful family!

  3. I am so very, very sorry for your loss. And you are exactly right: you are and will always be Poppy's mother. I am praying for you peace that makes no sense, quick physical healing, and the divine comfort only He can bring. Do you know the song Glory Baby by Christy Nockels? I encourage you to listen, as it might resonate with your heart. Love and hugs, sweet sister-friend.

  4. Thank you so much for reading Jennifer, and for your sweet prayers. They mean the world.

  5. Here's a link to the song, so you don't have to search for it.

  6. This is so beautiful I can hardly listen to it. Thank you so much for sharing. I have always loved her voice!

  7. Heaven will be a most glorious reunion for our family, that is for certain.

  8. Trina N Richard FaustApril 21, 2015 at 8:52 AM

    Blessings, love and prayers, sweet Caitlin and Dusty. I too will wait with joy to meet your darling Poppy seed, along with others from our family who blessed heaven before we met them. So sorry for your loss and heartbreak, so glad for the Savior who gives us hope.

  9. Oh, sweet friend... I don't know how I'm only just now seeing this blog post but I am so, so sorry for your loss. This is something that doesn't get talked about enough, and the fat that it is common does not in any way diminish the pain that it brings. Thank you for your vulnerability, and know that you are in my thoughts.