Thursday, August 6, 2009

Remembering the baby I never held

When I came downstairs for coffee this morning, I announced: "I'm on edge today. I don't know why." And I didn't, but I knew something was off. There was a sadness hovering around the edges of my still sleepy mind, despite sunshine, despite a relatively easy work day, despite all the reasons I had to be happy. Or at least not to be moody.

Then it hit me. It was August 6. Eleven years ago today, I found out the baby I was carrying had died eleven weeks into my pregnancy. With a mother's intuition, I had known something was wrong from a couple of weeks before. The day Dennis and I -- with Noah in tow -- went to the midwife for my regular check up, I didn't even take the little tape recorder with me to capture the sound of baby's heartbeat, so convinced was I that I would hear only silence. I went back for the recorder only after Dennis insisted. But somehow I knew. Because when you are a mother sometimes you just know things about your children, even when there is no logical reason you should, even when they are still growing inside you.

When we went for the ultrasound to confirm the miscarriage, we saw the perfect form of our baby up on the screen. I remember Dennis looking so happy, thinking everything was OK after all, and me pointing out that the heart was still. No blinking blip. No more life.

Every year I remember this baby, whom I call Grace, on her due date and on the day I lost her. I wonder what she would have been like, and I think about how, as I have written in previous posts on this subject, she shaped our family by her absence rather than her presence. Had Grace lived, the rest of our family would be different now. So she still left her mark on us, even without taking that first breath. A piece of her still lingers here, even though we never knew her or held her.

Although I've written about grief and talked about grief, I am always awed by grief. By the way it can return again and again in different forms on special dates and anniversaries, at the sound of a song or in the scent of a flower. In some ways, this grief-from-a-distance -- not the anguished and desperate grief of the early days after a death but the aged and quiet grief over someone long gone -- can be a beautiful thing. It's a way to revisit a life, to spend some time reliving the moments shared, and to remember that we never really lose our connection. We are joined by our faith, in our prayers, in our hearts.

So today I pray for Grace, who will remain in my heart until I finally get to meet her.


Cathy Adamkiewicz said...

What a beautiful reflection on grief. Your Grace (what a fitting name for her!) was truly a blessing, wasn't she? Hugs to you today.

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Dear Mary,
I am thinking of Grace with you today, even as I contemplate the incredible "coincidences" in our life crossings. When my Gabriel died around 10 weeks (a couple days before I was to hear his heartbeat), I, too, had begun to feel that something was wrong. If only I'd been wrong. Then again, I wouldn't have Elizabeth Grace, who made herself known to us three months later. There's Grace again, coming into our lives time and again to keep us going on this journey. I loved your ending thoughts on the blessedness of grieving. So true, and yet we rarely hear of this aspect of grief mentioned. Thanks for that, and for your sharing. I always have the same sort of remembrance on May 2, the day Gabriel left us.
Blessings, Roxane

Patrice Athanasidy said...

For me, the day is July 16. Magdalene Elizabeth was about 23 weeks along but we knew there were complications from ten weeks. We too will always be touched by this life that touched many without ever needing to talk, smile or cry.

My heart is with you and your family today.

Kim said...

We lost our little one on November 21st, only a mere five weeks into the pregnancy. I knew from almost from the beginning that something "wasn't right". My husband and I talk about our Honeymoon Baby, and how if she had made it we wouldn't have our beautiful daughter (who was conceived not even three weeks after the miscarriage).

Many hugs and prayers.

Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle said...

I'm sorry I'm late with a note, Mary, but big hugs and prayers to you. Thanks for sharing. I have 3 babies in Heaven.

God bless!