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)