LTYM 2018: The Babies

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A few weeks ago, I took the stage with 13 marvelous individuals for the 5th Annual Listen to Your Mother show by Charleston Storytellers. It was a process that I would do over and over again. We shared stories about motherhood and mothers. We shared our truths.

I shared a previously unpublished piece that held my truth. And, here it is:

“Whatever may come and whatever may pass, we have faith that our God will bring us to it and through it.”

That’s what I wrote in a blog post after we announced our third pregnancy. It was the first pregnancy we went public with, but it was the third time that we had a baby.

You see, we had a miscarriage.

Then another miscarriage.

And then one more miscarriage.

We went from surprised optimism, to guarded yearning and finally stolen joy.

The first baby was nothing more than a what-if before that test. It was a surprise to two people who loved one another and confidently held on to this little person’s future. The baby was the pinnacle of our daily conversations. We wondered whether the first outfit would be pink or blue.

I clearly remember a dream where I pictured that baby grown into a toddler.  She was playing with her daddy by a river. After that dream, I was ready to be a mom. Terrified, but ready to have a perfect concoction of two people who were ridiculously optimistic about how life could be so beautiful in the midst of all the bad that surrounds us on a daily basis.

That baby will forever be our 5-week-old child frozen in time.

The second baby was with us for a bit longer than the other. After the first positive I knew that something was wrong. I knew that this would be short-lived and I knew I should guard my heart.

I knew.

I knew.

I knew.

I relish in being right, but not this time.  I wanted her to find a heartbeat. I wanted her to find a little person. I wanted her to find anything on that screen, but there was no sign life.

I didn’t cry during that time. Even if tears wanted to make an appearance, I was able to blink them away.

Why cry for someone I knew wouldn’t be around for very long?

Why cry for someone I knew wouldn’t ever be in my arms?

Why cry when it was my fault?

That baby will forever be our 11-week-old child frozen in time.

The third baby – the one we decided to announce during our first trimester – was our glimmer of hope.

This was our this time.

This was it.

All of the hours in doctors’ offices and needles in veins while I made small talk about the weather were going to be worth it.

The nights of allowing the hot shower water to wash my tears away only to ball the towel up around my face and scream into it were going to be distant memories.

The heartbreak was going to be worth it.

The baby was going to finally have a name.

The baby was going to finally be home with us.

The baby was going to be an engineer like daddy.

Or, maybe a creative like mama.

The baby was going to drag Richard Parker everywhere – a tiger that we bought at the Smithsonian in D.C. – and then conquer the world after every naptime.

The baby was what made us smile again.

That baby will forever be our 9-week-old child frozen in time.

When you tell someone that you have had a miscarriage, you get a look of pity.

I hate being looked at as weak, but I allowed myself to accept their sympathy.

When you tell someone that you have had two miscarriages, you get a hug.

I hate being embraced by others, but I opened my arms and allowed tears to fall onto their shoulders each time.

When you tell someone that you have had three miscarriages, you don’t get anything.  The person looks away and struggles to find a phrase to console you.

I hate when others are at a loss, so what did I do?

I told them that I was okay.

I turned my back.

I placed a slight smile on my face and I carried on.

Then, I went home and was sad.  Just sad.  Sometimes my sadness turned to anger and I threw a glass at the door when rage peeked its head out during a good day.  Sometimes the sadness turned to gut-wrenching melancholy and I begged God to take the cup at the altar each Sunday morning.  Sometimes the sadness suffocated me and it felt better to bottle it up and then expel me from the joy that I once had. But, it’s all just sad. And, it’s not okay.

After three miscarriages you would think that it would be easy to let go of the wish to be a mom.  To tuck those three babies into the corner of your mind and force yourself to let them go.

It wasn’t.

I wanted to try again. We wanted to try again. And, we did.

We tried and we had negative after negative. Then, finally, it happened.

A faint positive.

A quick phone call.

An empty cup.

A cold room.

A blank screen.

A sonogram image.

A heartbeat.

This baby was different

This baby caused me to be sicker than ever before.

This baby caused me to lose nearly 20 pounds before even gaining one.

This baby kept me up at night and became my Netflix binge partner.

This baby listened to my karaoke sessions during rush hour on I26.

This baby became Aria Beth.

I now rock Aria to sleep for all naps.

These moments are fleeting and I want to engrain them in my memory.

I steam and purée organic food for her growing body.

It took years for us to finally hold her in our arms and I want to ensure that I do anything possible to keep her healthy.

I sometimes battle postpartum anxiety and depression while caressing her little face and fighting tears.

I’m grateful for a little pill and the grace from above (and my husband) that allow me to accept this temporary weakness while moving forward.

I sing lullabies and Spanish worship songs to her.

I want her to one day remember that “my mama sang to me”.

I take her for runs and her contagious giggles fill our neighborhood streets.

I want the world to know what joy looks like even in the most mundane situations.

And then it randomly happens, I think about those three other babies.

By a river.

With a guarded heart.

During a glimmer of hope.

I think about the what-if’s and why-nots. I think about how I should have been a mommy before now. I think about those three babies frozen in time.

And Aria must sense it or maybe it’s simply random because she’ll clap or pat me and I’m brought back to the fact that:

“Whatever may come and whatever may pass, we have faith that our God will bring us to it and through it."