Dear Sisters In Loss,
You, mothers of babies in Heaven, mommies whose babies left too soon due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death, are precious to me. Your children are precious to me. I wish I could have known them all.
This Mother’s Day may not be what you hoped for or expected. I know it’s not for me. As this Sunday approaches, I don’t know what to do with the words, “Happy Mother’s Day.” I am so blessed to be a mother. But so, so aching for the children who are not with me. “Happy” is just not the word I’d use to describe it.
Last year on Mother’s Day, I was pregnant with my sweet Elliot. I was about 28 weeks along, and had been on hospital bedrest since 23 weeks, after my water broke at 20 weeks. That Mother’s Day weekend, I was in Labor & Delivery, hooked up to an IV of magnesium to keep me from going into labor, and chewing on ice chips and the occasional popsicle since I wasn’t allowed to eat. My two little girls visited me and we played the best we could while I lay in bed. It was hard, but I remember thinking how it would all be worth it, because next Mother’s Day, Elliot would be in my arms.
Elliot was born two weeks later on May 29, 2017. He died unexpectedly five days after that, on June 3, 2017.
Mother’s Day 2018 is not how I wanted or pictured it. I know it’s not for you. I’ve been thinking about you all a lot, and how even if we don’t know each other, we do in a way. You may feel like life has moved on, the world has moved on, and like no one sees you.
But I see you.
I see you, sweet mama, as you rub your abdomen, remembering the kicks you felt from your little prince or princess. Sometimes you are so sure you still feel her kick.
I see you, weary mama of the infertility journey. Once upon a time we all just thought, I’ll have two or three kids someday! Never did you expect it to be this hard. No answers. No pregnancy. Then, when pregnancy comes, just the devastation of loss. I’m so sorry.
I see you, aching mama of a miscarried baby. The world never saw your belly grow. Maybe friends and family don’t even know you were pregnant. Or maybe they know and act like it didn’t mean anything. I see you, and the way you picture what could’ve been. What should’ve been. You don’t know if it’s okay to name your baby since you didn’t know the gender. But a part of you feels like you do know.
I see you.
I see you, precious mama of a stillborn baby. I see you in that cold doctor’s office when they couldn’t find a heartbeat. I see your dreams shattering, and your whole body going cold. The reality hits you: you will have to deliver your baby. But you will never hear her cry. How did your dreams turn into this nightmare?
I see you.
I see you, brave mama of of the baby born alive but died shortly after. Maybe you had minutes. Or hours. Or days. Or weeks. Or months. Maybe you knew, that horrible day at a 20-week ultrasound when the doctor said, “Not compatible with life,” that your baby would never be coming home. But you carried him anyway. You are so brave. Or maybe, like me, you had every expectation that your baby would grow up in your home and heart. And then suddenly, unbelievably, your baby was just…gone. “He’s gone,” Elliot’s doctor said. I hate those words.
I see you.
I see you when you can’t fall asleep, or when you wake in the middle of the night, remembering. I see you when you do sleep, but fitfully in nightmares. In your dreams, you are always running to your baby. But he’s never there.
I see you as your rub your arms. They hurt! They really hurt to be empty! How can empty arms hurt so badly?
I see you.
I see you when you’ve thought about harming yourself. When you’ve daydreamed that you had died instead of your baby. Or with your baby. I know.
I see you when you force a smile around others, maybe at your child’s school or at church or at the grocery store. People think you are “better.” Inside, there is no better. It even kind of hurts to smile.
I see you when you are trying to be grateful for all you DO have. Your other children. Or another baby growing in your belly. Or a loving husband, a good job, a cozy home. I have so much to be thankful for! And in a way, the loss of your precious baby has made you more grateful for those things. But nothing changes how deeply your hate the fact that your child died.
I see the ways you remember your child. Your tattoo. Your necklace. Her picture on your desk. His handprint in a frame. Her name proudly displayed. Or maybe you remember more privately. In a place in your home or your heart that only you know. You carry a whole life in your remembrance. What a holy thing!
I see you reaching out to others in your hurt. You invite the world into opportunities to be better because of your baby: to give, to live with no regrets, to help others who are hurting. Or you do it quietly. You take extra time for your children, or your parents, or your friends. You realize there is no reason to rush life so much. We never know how many days we have with our loved ones.
I see you. I see you because I am you.
But I can’t see you each in your individual journeys. Our lives are different. Our stories are different. Our babies were different. What makes us the same is on the inside. If we could see our hearts, I think they’d look the same: bruised, battered, and with one or more pieces clearly missing. Hearts glowing brightly, shaded in the color of love for our babies. I see you there. Yet I can’t carry your story for you, and you can’t carry mine. In that way, no one can see any of us all the time. Except for One.
God sees you. And He sees me.
He sees us even as we doubt He’s there. How could a God who loves us have allowed this to happen?
He sees us when we ask that question. He sees us when we scream, “WHY?” He sees us (I have to believe it or I’ll go crazy) when we kneel at our babies’ graves or caress the urns that hold their ashes. He sees us when we feel sick, knowing our little ones went down the toilet. He sees us when we remember burying our miscarried babies in the backyard. He sees us when we’ve pulled chunks of our hair out, or hated the pretty pregnant lady for a split second, or when we just feel like the world is caving in!
“I see you,” He says.
“You have kept count of my tossing; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” David writes in Psalm 56:8.
I don’t know why this journey became ours. I don’t know how God fits into all of it. All I know is I want Elliot in my arms this Mother’s Day. I want my two miscarried babies, Avery and Everett. I want your babies to be in your arms. As you remember your babies this Mother’s Day, know you are loved and you are seen. It doesn’t bring your child back, and it doesn’t erase the pain; it just means you are not alone.
I dream there will be a special day in Heaven, a day beyond all compare, when all babies gone too soon will be placed back in our arms. That is a day I will love to hear the words, “Happy Mother’s Day.”
I would be very honored for any mothers, at any point in time you may read this, to share names of your Heaven Babies in the comments. These little children are a precious and irreplaceable part of our motherhood journey!