on carrying and missing

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

We’d planned it perfectly. A baby in early spring, before work got too busy and the summer too hot. The worst of the morning sickness would be passed in time for the holidays, and I could curl up on the couch for football season in the fall when exhaustion set in. We’d have a few months to get the boys adjusted to our addition before the oldest went off to kindergarten, and then I’d have just two at home again.

Perfect.

Of course, in hindsight I see the hubris of thinking we were in control, of micromanaging the most mysterious realities in our lives. We struck out boldly into the prospect of baby #3, assuming that we’d frontloaded our share of heartache on the infertility side of parenting.

But pain and loss know no quota. There was never any divine promise that suffering could be skipped over. Only that we will be companioned the whole way through.

. . .

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

I was early in the pregnancy, far enough along for us to celebrate the giddy joy of finding out and making plans and scheming how to share the news. But even when the signs started to point south and the tests confirmed our fears, I figured that since I was so early, miscarriage wouldn’t be too painful or drawn-out even if it did happen.

Instead I was overwhelmed by pain that felt like the worst wrenching of labor, contractions that came so fast I could barely breathe, shaking and numbness in my limbs that finally made me crawl to the phone and call the nurse who told me to get to the ER as fast as we could. I’d never heard stories of the real, raw truth of what it means to miscarry, so I had no idea what to expect.

But just because a death comes early does not mean it is lighter to bear or let go.

. . .

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Carrying was supposed to be the part I could do. Sure, there would little deaths all along: the wine, the caffeine, the favorite foods, the comfortable sleep. But I knew what it meant to feel sick for six months; I was ready to make the sacrifice again; I needed no convincing that the end product was worth it. Infertility was the struggle we knew, so we figured that once the lines blurred clear on the test stick, we’d be sailing straight ahead till delivery day.

Instead I have to learn what missing means. To white out the appointments already marked on my calendar. To stop mentally scheduling around a due date that is now a ghost. To take the time – the infinite long ache of time – that my body needs to heal. To let a dream die. To mourn a baby that will never be.

. . .

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. In my heart. In our plans. In everyone’s hopes.

But supposed to is a shimmering mirage. One of the few truths I know is that if you’re lucky to do enough living, it will inevitably break your heart. We forget that supposed to means a guess, a wonder, an attempt. We craft an illusion of control believing that supposed to means the right way, the my way, the only way.

Only when life and death crash up against each other in one powerful smack of a wave do we remember that we exist at the mercy of greater forces than our own mind, and that supposed to was never a magic potion to wave away mortality.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. But it is.

I wanted to carry. But now I learn to miss.

. . .

But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels,

that the surpassing power may be of God

and not from us.

We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;

perplexed, but not driven to despair;

persecuted, but not abandoned;

struck down, but not destroyed;

always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus,

so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.

(2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

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64 Comments

  1. chappelearfamily on 12 August 2013 at 6:40 am

    Prayers for you today. I cannot say that I understand. I don’t. But today your words gave me strength as I was called upon to visit another mother in my congregation facing the days after her third. Sadness fills my heart for you and for her. Thank you for sharing…as always words that give hope amid the difficulty

    • Laura on 16 August 2013 at 2:13 pm

      Thank you so much for these words, Erica. I am grateful for your prayers and to think of another mother who needs my own as well.

  2. Peg Conway on 12 August 2013 at 6:53 am

    Sending you prayers and hugs and sympathy at this heartbreak. Thank you for your openness. It is a gift to all of us.

    • Laura on 16 August 2013 at 2:14 pm

      Thank you so much, Peg. It is a vulnerable thing, to write like this, but it is the only way I know how to be, right here, right now.

  3. Kay Rindal on 12 August 2013 at 6:54 am

    Stunned speechless — yet, praying for you and your family. Bless you for sharing such a deep time in your life.

    • Laura on 16 August 2013 at 2:14 pm

      Thank you so much for your words, Kay. They mean so much to me.

  4. Lauren L. on 12 August 2013 at 7:25 am

    I love you.

  5. Beth Murray Pendergraft on 12 August 2013 at 8:00 am

    Prayers and love…

  6. Sherry on 12 August 2013 at 8:04 am

    You are such a lovely soul. Prayers.

    • Laura on 16 August 2013 at 2:15 pm

      Deepest thanks, Sherry. I am grateful for your prayers.

  7. K. Woll on 12 August 2013 at 8:51 am

    Laura, leave it you to create such a lovely meditation on such a sad experience. And I understand the strange loss — the loss of something you didn’t quite have. My thoughts go out to you as you move through this.

    • Laura on 16 August 2013 at 2:16 pm

      Thank you, Kris. The loss of something you didn’t quite have – indeed. I learned that in Buddhism, babies lost to miscarriage are known as “water babies” because they slip away without having fully been. So much grief and truth there.

      • K. Woll on 16 August 2013 at 9:13 pm

        Hmmm. What a graceful image.



  8. Michelle on 12 August 2013 at 9:23 am

    I am so sorry for your loss. I have experienced my own this year, my first after 5 full-term babies. It’s something no one can tell you ahead of time how it will feel. It’s something you realize you don’t truly understand until you experience it yourself. This is a beautiful post and I am so very sorry for your loss. I will pray for you today. God bless you and your family.

    • Laura on 16 August 2013 at 2:17 pm

      My heart goes out to you, Michelle. I agree that it is a loss and grief without understanding if you have not felt how full its ache can feel. I will keep you and your family in my prayers as well.

  9. HomemadeMother on 12 August 2013 at 11:10 am

    I am so sorry for your loss. But, I have faith that your baby knew and felt your love during his or her too short life. And, what a lucky baby it was to have you for a mother! Sending prayers to you and your family.

    • Laura on 16 August 2013 at 2:17 pm

      Thank you so much for these words, Maureen – they brought tears to my eyes.

  10. KJL on 12 August 2013 at 11:13 am

    I am so so sorry you’re going through this. And you said it perfectly, just because it’s early doesn’t mean it is any less painful. This baby was still a baby, still a soul. I remember that pain every day like it was yesterday. Please know you and your family are in my prayers. If you ever feel the need to talk, write, or cry about it, please do contact me.

    May Jesus fill your heart today and in the road ahead of you.

    • Laura on 16 August 2013 at 2:18 pm

      Thank you so much, KJL – I am so grateful for your reaching out. Still a soul – oh yes.

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