I am told I am lucky.
I got my boy and my girl right off the bat.
"You're so lucky!," say strangers on the street. "Now you're done!"
Ummmm, why? I always wanted to finally turn around and ask, "What makes you say that?"
Because I didn't feel lucky.
When we had an early miscarriage after our second child was born, it was much more heart wrenching than it had to be due to social pressure to fall within certain reproductive expectations.
The following are real quotes real people have really said to me.
Like to my face.
And meant them.
Once you have a boy and a girl it's "so nice you're done!" It's a statement, not a question.
Any pregnancy less than two years after the last child was born must have been an accident. Because "why would you even want that?"
DEFINITELY never tell anyone about a pregnancy before 12 weeks. Because "what if something happens?!"
Well something did happen, and, ya know, it was not helped by keeping my child some deep secret.
Following our miscarriage it took a lot longer to get pregnant with our next baby than expected.
It's impossible to convey, without living through it, just what it's like to hope so hard every month.... and then see that tell-tale temperature drop on the chart and know that it wouldn't be this month.
Or the next.
Or the next.
But from the outside looking in everything looked perfect!
We're very healthy and active people. We have two cool kids who fill our days with antics and adventures.
But people are not Legos. You can't just swap out one kid for another, and my heart longed for the baby we lost and the ones I was no longer sure would ever be coming.
Sometimes it seemed like no one else even remembered that baby happened.
I entered a weird twilight zone where I would hope against hope that friends would make their pregnancy announcements on Facebook instead of insisting on telling me face to face. IKEA and Target on the weekends was like walking into a maternity catalog. It felt like every other woman in a 50 miles radius could get pregnant but me.
I faced the possibility that we might end up as a two child family.
With our boy and our girl. Socially approved.
I recoiled from the social approval. It felt backhanded. "Good job meeting the Orwellian ideal!" No room for difference. No room for growth. No room for humanity or empathy in there.
I am currently pregnant with our "rainbow baby" who is due to arrive at the end of September. This was a pregnancy announced right away. This child will not be hidden, her birth order will not be excused, and I sincerely hope she's not the last.
I hope for a society that is less focused on a reproductive ideal, and solely focused on the gift of humanity present in each child. I hope for there to be love and understanding for mothers like me who are suddenly staring at a battle with infertility. I hope for a first child and an eleventh child to be equally welcomed. I hope for the silent struggles and wounds of our hearts to speak.
Emotional and spiritual healing from my miscarriage is an ongoing process, so I was thrilled to see Peanut Butter & Grace was publishing a book focused on miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss - Blessed Is The Fruit of Thy Womb by Heidi Indahl.
What saint better understands what it is like to lose a child than Mary? The book prays through the rosary using meditations from Scripture, reflections, and prayer intentions. What I find most valuable are the questions and journal space within the book to write down the emotions and thoughts that arise from our prayer.
The book does a great job of grounding the reader in the guidance of Mary and Scripture while consciously allowing the reader to process her own grief and experience. That processing is always followed up with a prayer intention for the larger world.
Our grief is not unique. So many mother's hearts all over the world and throughout history bear the scars of child loss. Own your story, write it down, talk about it, don't forget your children, but also remember that others are with you bearing the same grief. Bearing the same wounds. Reaching out to each other, beginning through prayer, can be the first fruit that reconnects us back to each other.