The day that I am writing this, October 13, 2011, consisted of taking my youngest child Jack out for a very special lunch.
What was the occasion?
It is the last day that he will to have me to himself during the day. Inside my womb is new life, due to arrive any day. Tomorrow my mother arrives to wait on the baby. So this afternoon we sat together and had lunch and ate cookies. Then we ran errands and came home. We walked hand in hand, just us, for one final day.
Five years ago, on October 13, 2006, if you had described to me what I would be doing on October 13, 2011, I would have been unable to believe it. Just 5 years ago was one of the darkest periods of my life, when my husband and I had to say goodbye to our daughter, Elizabeth. Elizabeth was not my only pregnancy loss. In 2002 I lost Gabriel in the first trimester, and I would go on to lose Francis very early on in 2007. Elizabeth was different because she passed away from unknown causes at 15 weeks gestation. Less than 2% of pregnancies are lost at or beyond the point that we lost Elizabeth. It was devastating on so many levels, but the biggest devastation was that we had already seen her moving and alive twice previously on ultrasound, had heard her heart beat, and I had even felt her in the womb. Everyone knew I was expecting, including our children.
I remember as if it were yesterday when I started to bleed and went to the hospital, where I was told repeatedly that it was most likely nothing given how far along I was. I remember the nurse attempting to find the heartbeat without success. I recall the doctor coming with the ultrasound and looking for signs of life. It was as if we all thought if we looked long enough her heart would beat again. Over the next days I delivered her remains.
The pain that came with that experience was unimaginable. I have had several heartbreaking events in my life and none of them were this painful. Immediately after the miscarriage I was uncertain that I would ever be able to try for another child. Within weeks I wanted to try again, only to lose Francis. At that point I was really fragile and was questioning stopping. We decided to try one more time.
The result of all of this loss and trying again was four year old Jack. He has an incredible spirit. I cannot imagine our lives without him. However, the paradox is that Jack would not be with us if either Elizabeth or Francis had survived. Likewise, our oldest living child, Jimmy, would not be with us if Gabriel had survived.
As much joy that Jack brought to our lives, I was rather uninterested in putting myself through what I went through to get him again. However, about 2 years ago, I started hearing a small quiet voice say, “One more.” The idea was terrifying, yet I knew in my heart there was one more. The problem was I didn’t know if that meant I would get to keep that child, or be forced to let him or her go. In time we were ready to try, even if it meant saying goodbye.
In order to hope for the sweetness, we had to risk more bitterness.
My living children do not replace my deceased children. I am carrying my seventh child, not my fourth like it appears. One day, when those of us here join the three that passed away before birth, I will have all of my children with me. The pain that I endured was the price for something far greater, which is a much larger family in the eternal perspective. Years have passed and I have healed from that pain, and what remains is the hope that one day I will know all of my children and will be with all of them. I have indeed lived through the bitterness, but will have a reward much sweeter in the end.
**written by Carey W.**