It’s June again. I like June – the weather is hot enough for swimming, but not sweltering, school is nearly over, and summer vacation is calling our family into God’s great outdoors.
June holds some sadness for us, mostly faint and fleeting now. June 12 is the anniversary of losing our oldest biological child to a miscarriage. We don’t know if the baby was a boy or girl, but Austin and I always thought that ‘it’ was a ‘she.’ Little Miss Lily was 12 weeks and 2 days gestation when she officially left us, but according to ultrasounds she had stopped growing very early on.
Miscarriages are, unfortunately, quite common. I wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone, and I’m thankful that to date we have only walked that path one time.
It was the beginning of 2012 and something strange had just happened to me. The ‘baby bug’ had bitten bad. I was ready to start a family. Austin was too. To our great joy, in the first month we had a positive pregnancy test…and I had morning sickness. We were right on track. Shortly thereafter, the nausea faded. At 10 weeks the nurse couldn’t find a heartbeat so I went in for an ultrasound. Something was definitely off. Back at the doctor’s office, I was informed that I was going to miscarry.
It is amazing how quickly you can commit yourself to someone you haven’t even met yet. The maternal instinct was already in full swing. We loved that little baby, even though we couldn’t see her. Even though there wasn’t a bump yet. Even though no one else knew yet. It was hard to say good-bye.
Eventually the cramping and the bleeding started, and one morning I took a shower and looked down to see blood…everywhere. This must be it, but…is this normal? I informed Austin. Being one not inclined to such situations, it was up to me to manage. He did his best with encouragement. We were completely new to the child bearing process. The bleeding just got worse. Feeling nervous, I called the doctor’s office. No, this wasn’t normal. They asked us to come in.
My OBGYN decided to remove the egg sac manually to curb the bleeding. The process was short, painful, and unfortunately, emotionally insensitive. That was our baby he just scrapped out of me – it looked nothing like a baby – just some tissue from an underdeveloped egg sac. There wasn’t a moment to pause and grieve. Just like that, the ’tissue’ was gone, and so was the doctor. It was time to clean up and get dressed again.
I cannot blame him for a lack of emotional sensitivity. Throughout the course of this pregnancy I had seen him several times. He had tried to be understanding and get a sense of how I was handling the situation, but as a highly logic-oriented individual, my emotions don’t readily reveal themselves (even when I want them to). Each time I was in the office or at an ultrasound, I was calm and even-keeled. My feelings run deep but can be compartmentalized, they are usually only seen by those to whom I choose to reveal them. Part of me wanted to tell the professionals involved how disappointing this was, but instead, I would nod, express that I understood what was happening, thank them for their time, and then walk out.
All my life I ascribed to a pro-life philosophy. But this experience took that moral decision to stand for life to a passion that guided my heart.
That was the moment in which whatever questions I had about when human life actually begins were settled. Life begins at conception. And that was the moment where the idea of honoring human life turned into a passion. After that, we started looking into adoption, and eventually ended up in foster care.
The photo above was taken at a local memorial site where we have a plaque for our daughter. This was part of my process of working through the loss.