Before I move any further, I need to acknowledge that I am aware that everyone’s story doesn’t have a rainbow, a happy package, an evolution of soul. And there are a lot of us, 20%. I will forever hold your hand and send peace to your heart.
My parents had a baby before me — a sister, born stillborn at 40 weeks. No one ever told me about her until I saw her name on a family tree sometime in elementary school. Maybe I was ten. I just stared at her name and the 1978 next to it. No dash. No blank space for future entry. I had no idea what it meant. My mom finally caught me staring at it after a couple days and simply said, “We had a baby before you that died before she was born,” and she left the room without making eye contact with me.
And then we didn’t really talk about it again for another decade.
It was the deepest, darkest secret I knew in my young life. I fantasized about my sister and, at the same time, tried to comprehend what my parents had been through.
It eventually became something that my brothers learned, and something that we said in our family on occasion. There was never shame attached to “the baby that died” — just not too many words. My mom did grow to say things like, “I wouldn’t have you guys if the baby had lived.” She told us that she was sick and would have had a hard life. I never knew how much impact these words would have on my own future experience.
I’ve had five miscarriages. Four of my pregnancies ended sometime before 6 weeks, and one went into the second trimester. I have two beautiful boys that followed these miscarriages, two rainbows that I wouldn’t know if I hadn’t gone through the storm. These boys own my heart, and there is no way to look at my life without them. I can say now that it was worth it — the pain, lonely tears, and paralyzing fear. I had to go through it to have Jack and Henry. And for this I am thankful.
I am also thankful for what miscarriage has done to my soul. I am not the same person that I was before I lost that first baby. I know parts of my heart that I didn’t know existed. I live my life in a manner that is healthier and happier than my previous self. I have acute appreciation for how fragile human life is, how tight to hold on, and how limitless loving and giving can truly be.
I will never understand what it feels like to deliver a stillborn baby at 40 weeks like my mother, but I do absolutely know why it took so long for her to get to the appreciation side of what she had been given. If you are still waiting for the peace and thankfulness to take over, don’t look for the time limit or deadline. It doesn’t exist, but you will get there.
You are not alone. I hope beyond hope that your journey contains a rainbow and a big old pot of gold!