Saturday, July 28, 2012

Let's Recap

Still Standing, a magazine for those suffering from both infertility and/or the loss of a child, has something they call Tuesday Link Up - a chance for all those who have suffered from these tragedies to give an update on their journey on the first Tuesday of the month. It is to create connections and raise awareness of something that our society tends to consider a taboo - the open acknowledgement and discussion of stillbirth, infertility, etc.

I cannot participate in August, given when the first Tuesday falls, so I'm going to do two posts. One is a 'reprint' of a post for Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope (another awareness campaign). The other will be a follow-up, my 'update.' I hope you take the time to read these and consider the impact these tragedies have, not only on me, but on too many other women and families.

There is a blank page in our wedding album. When my husband asked me, years ago, why it was still blank I said, “I want to put our family portrait there, with all our children. That way when we look at the pictures we get to see our happily ever after.”

That page is still blank.

It is blank because I am the mother of seven children, only two of whom walk this earth with me. I spent three solid years pregnant, desperate to add to our family, only to endure heartache piled upon heartache. It is blank because pieces of our happily ever after are missing. Their names are Jessie, Kasey, Nathanael, Kayla, and Isaac.

There are moments that are burned in my memory from each pregnancy and loss. With Jessie, who was our one early miscarriage (at 12 weeks), it was enduring the pain that the doctor assured me would be “similar to menstrual cramps.” It was excruciating, and I didn’t know what to do when I finally passed our baby. All I could think was, “where do I put him/her?”

Why didn’t they tell me I would be able to see our baby?

We were further along when we lost Kasey, approaching the third trimester. I found out during a routine visit, and I remember having to keep it (mostly) together because the children were with us. My youngest daughter, only a year and a half old, climbed up beside me on the bed and asked me to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. So I did, with tears rolling down my face and the doctor probing my stomach. He tried so desperately to find a reason…but there just wasn’t one.

We kept trying because doctors assured us there wasn’t anything wrong with either of us. We were just “in the bad luck category,” according to one.

I delivered all but one of our babies naturally. I would go in, be induced, and labor for hours. Those contractions feel like they are splitting you in two – but there’s no reward at the end. Our babies were so tiny, but they were perfect. I held their hands, and stroked their faces. Our daughter Kasey had a head full of dark hair that tufted up like duck down. Our daughter Kayla was blonder, with only slight fuzz – her hands and feet larger. And Isaac was long and thin. I think he would have looked like his Daddy.  

Some days I feel like an observer of my life. Fortunately those days are fewer than they were, but they still happen. I would feel like there was part of me hiding, holding in all the pain and tears that I just don’t have time to shed. And that part was the more real piece of me. The person who was performing mundane daily tasks – packing lunches and folding laundry so calmly – that wasn’t me. And the hidden corner of me would watch the entire goings on and would cry so quietly that no one could hear.

Like I said, those days are few and far between now.

But, I still can’t watch a movie where the whole story or the culmination is some woman having a healthy squalling baby. News stories where parents beat, starve, or kill their children make me cry and my arms ache with emptiness. “I would love them,” my heart cries.

This pain feels invisible…I feel invisible. People look at my family and see my two children. They ask how many we want, when we are going to have another, or (when they find out our history) why we don’t just adopt. I want to scream at them that nothing about this has been easy or simple. Nothing compares to this sense of incompleteness I have.

They cannot come back to me, and that loss is profound. But, I will go to them. Eventually, I will see them again.

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