22 November 2009

One, two, three, five

Wise reader Moore Mama observed that the paths of pregnancy following miscarriage are not clearly marked. And how.

Exhibit A: “How many children do you have?”

I list off our three children and say, “And another baby is due in May,” not, “We’re expecting our fourth child.” I haven’t corrected anyone for referring to this baby as our fourth child, though I never hear that without a moment of painful inner confusion. I just don’t like making people feel sad and awkward, especially since it’s not their fault that the numbers are all screwed up.

Truthfully, I don’t really know how to count, especially publicly, from here on out. Maybe this gets less weird over time, but maybe not (?). There will always be a gap, a silent skip, in the numbers. Since this baby will be but 26 months younger than his toddling brother, there’s not even a dramatic pause to mark the lost one. Miscarriage can be a silent sorrow, indeed.

For now, if I feel like it, I mention the lost one in my baby list. If I don’t, I don’t. But I always, always think of him when I name off my children.

‘Tis an unmarked path indeed. I’m grateful for the guard rails (and fellow travelers) that keep my wandering missteps from tumbling me over a cliff on the dark nights: Ultimately, it matters not how the world, or even I, number my children. No matter how I count them, they count for nothing, unless they’re numbered with the saints. Thank you, Jesus, for choosing, excruciatingly, to etch your love for my children on your very flesh, indelibly.

Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands
( Isaiah 49:15-16)

18 comments:

Susan K said...

It is hard. I'm pregnant with my third baby--but I'm expecting my firstborn. When people ask if this is my first, I say yes. But I never forget, and neither does God. Sweet comfort!

Ewe said...

Personally it got really hard for me after my second miscarriage. On my blog my boys are named Lamb 1, 2, and 3. Some of my blog readers referred to the miscarriage baby as Lamb 4, but he/she was actually Lamb 5! I love this Isaiah verse that you posted-perfect. I can't wait to see all my Lambs when I get to heaven.

Untamed Shrew said...

That verse is automatically attached to the end of all my e-mails, and has been for years. To me, it is such a striking image of the Book of Life--His open hands, with all our names etched around the precious tokens of His passion.

I like what Gauntlets said many months ago regarding how to number children post-miscarriage. To leave the lost ones out feels unfaithful; to mention them or correct others feels unneighborly.

MooreMama said...

Aw, not a wise reader, Reb. Mary, just a fellow hurting mommy.

In my case, both of my losses were before Callie, and it almost seems like an "acceptable" "reason" why I had my firstborn child at the ripe old age of 31. (ancient, I tell you, for my area.)

I'm working (waddling?) through my fourth pregnancy, and I have one crazy 14 month old daughter. The more I say it, the less it takes my breath away.

Gauntlets said...

Here lately, I've been saying, "Four living." My beloved lost one is then still in the list, but hidden.

I feel like the "living" fills in the gaps sufficiently without forcing my sorrow into others' laps. That other is welcome to look over our brood and see the stutter, or figure I'm just talking weird again and move on.

"How may kids do you have?"

"Four living." And one dead. Kyrie eleison. Jesus is coming back. "Isn't the weather lovely today?"

MooreMama said...

It is kind of a mouthful to say "Two losses, one breathing on her own, one parasite", huh? Though it may render someone speechless before they can say "already?!?"

Reb. Mary said...

:)

Unfaithful v. unneighborly. That's it exactly.

I've contemplated the "living" solution. Perhaps I'll give 'er a try next time it comes up.

Reb. Mary said...

Susan (and MM), I can't imagine how crazy-making it would be to lose one (or more!) before bearing any to term. And Ewe--wow, do the numbers get strange or what. Thank God, indeed, for the sweet comfort of His Son's holy tattoo.

Marie said...

Beautiful post.

MooreMama said...

See, and I think it would be harder to lose a baby when you already have babies.

Melrose said...

hmm, I think pain is pain regardless not to be measured.

That being said, I had a period when my first was less than a year old in which I was just about to take a pregnancy test when I began my cycle with some horrible cramping and clots...I never had proof but I cried my eyes out. And yet, after each tear I shed I would go curl up in bed with my sleeping babe nursing on me and thank the Lord for His miraculous gift...it made him seem that much more like the treasure he was. How horrible it would have been to go back to bed with empty arms.

Gauntlets said...

AAAAAAAA!

I hate sadness. :( Girls, you're all in my prayers.

MooreMama said...

I will say that a nursing babe has a way of band-aiding heartbreak.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful Scripture Verse! We had 5+ miscarriages, and we have 13 living children. I don't usually mention the miscarriages unless it needs brought up to comfort someone or with someone who needs to talk about it. But I haven't forgotten. I don't think however you handle discussing it that it is wrong, the right way is what is comfortable for you.
The really great thing is that you can all TALK about it and about your feelings. I can't believe how many older ladies still have so many hurts from having a miscarriage and not being able to talk about it. We get lots of ladies in the church telling us about their miscarriages when they apologize to us because they didn't have as many children as we do! - and they never had anyone to talk to about their baby dying. Thank the Lord we now TALK about our feelings and the death of our babies.
God, His Word, and time help to ease the pain. Talk about your miscarried babies however it is comfortable for you... I don't feel there is a right or a wrong way. Debbie S

Anonymous said...

I found this poem written by Abraham Lincoln, who had 3 sons who died.

In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all ...
It comes with bitterest agony ...
Perfect relief is not possible, except with time.

You cannot now realize that you will ever feel better...
And yet this is a mistake.
You are sure to be happy again.

To know this, which is certainly true,
Will make you become less miserable now.
I have experienced enough to know what I say.
----Abraham Lincoln

Food for thought. Debbie S.

Jane said...

It is good to read these comments. Having had as many miscarriages as births--four of each--it helps to know that I'm not the only one who's had those questions.

Anonymous said...

one miscarriage more than two years ago. I always remember the child that could have lived and been 2 in january. The weeks I knew I was pregnant were the best of my life. I never speak of him or her because very few have the capacity to understand how painful it is for that child to be gone and no others to have existed. Still praying. Still waiting. still praying more. aiming for peace within pain. I remember always, always. To bring it up is too unload way to much on the unsuspecting and to risk the serious pain of an unfeeling comment. So I go with remembering in my heart because I certainly never forget.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,

My heart weeps with you and I am so sorry for your pain. I wish I could reach out and give you a hug to let you know I care. I will have to trust that Jesus does that for me. I will pray for you.

Remembering is a good thing and remembering our baby who has died never goes away, even with other children being born after a miscarriage.

Thank you for sharing a little of your pain here with us - sharing is good.

I do care. If you would want to correspond for someone to talk to about your sorrow - drop me a note through this site and the ladies will forward it to me.

May the Lord surround you with His love and His peace. Debbie S.