This year in particular I’m feeling the need to be among the voices that boldly, maybe sometimes hesitantly, bring to light something that feels so personal and isolating. This isn’t a loss of a life that touched many, it’s not a unifying or shared grief filled with painful but healing memories to look back on with other loved ones – it’s one that is often very lonely, unshared, a very personal pain. And I still write about it because it affects one in four women. One in four women who feel alone. One in four women who need to know they’re not the only ones. There’s a whole community of us, and when you speak out, you find you’re not alone.
This October, I treasure the child I have and the one growing inside me, and I also remember the two we lost, one who would have been born only two weeks from today.
Two babies I’ll have never hold, two babies I’ll never even see on the ultrasound screen.
Two babies I’ll carry in heart and memory until my life ends and I see their faces in God’s kingdom, and I’ll know them.
And even as I sit in the refreshed grief of a baby that won’t be born this month, I feel this little child stretch within me, one who would not exist if I had my October baby. This is a joy in the midst of grief that my mind can’t make sense of. A little confused and conflicted, I am grateful.
In my last semester of undergrad at University of Northwestern – St Paul, I took a course in poetry. Our final assignment was to write a poem based on the style of another we had read in class. I chose to write my poem imitating Hymn by Carl Phillips. Still mourning my first baby without another to cherish, I wrote about the grief and the waiting. The past few weeks I’ve been contemplating that poem, and with some sleuth work I managed to dig it up from an old jump-drive. I think maybe it even more appropriately relates to my motherhood now than when I wrote it.
I’ll share it here, untouched and unedited since submitted for class in 2014.
Less the branches,
than this the bud, pushing, through it.
Less the bud sprouting than
the pink, with which
Less the blush as cheeks shy,
to either side of shrugging petals, than–
between them–the stigma that must
promise, one day, heir.
Less the heir.
More, mostly, the spirit
If I think of life, the sheen of
the earth expanding, bursting, pulling me
outside myself, it is only
as one of many long days
waited with the irrationally
red memory, again the drug store’s
blue strip purchased not for reading
but for keeping
courage close, the mind
longing, impatient, until it finds
the muscled patterns that
finally, given time and
relief, womb holds.
When I think of love,
it is in the close way that I do
God: as Father, any stern
and patient shadow, man that is only
love, he ever waits
to be trusted.
And I the daughter who, more than a little,
should learn faith.
My dreams–as I have dreams–
are of how deep I should be, trusting,
and in my later cresting how
insufficient, moreso than you
are gracious, Lord,
all my other misdirected desires.