I have been planning this post for 364 days, but I still don’t know how to start…
Today is my 30th birthday. Woohoo! I’m actually pretty excited to be hitting this milestone. I have heard that your 30’s are the best decade, or at least the best so far, because you kind of settle into your lifestyle. After all the changes I have had over the last decade, I am really looking forward to the next one! I feel strong and healthy, so I’m really not concerned about the number. Having been doing this married-with-kids thing for nearly 10 years now, it just seems like about time my age caught up with the rest of my life. It’s not turning 30 that has me emotional today.
One year ago today, on the morning of my 29th birthday, I lost my 4th child.
Here’s my disclaimer that my story is to follow. Trigger warning to those who have experienced miscarriage.
It was early in my pregnancy – just about 6 weeks – and from the beginning I had sensed that something wasn’t quite right. I didn’t want to seem morbid, so I kept my “paranoia” (intuition?) to myself. The day before was a Sunday. My husband and I were visiting a different church as part of the ordination process we were undergoing with our denomination. The day was very normal until right after we checked our kids into the children’s areas. We were walking back to the sanctuary when I felt something sudden and strange, and I rushed to the bathroom. That was when it started. Trying to be positive, I told my husband things were under control, so we could stay at church until I had reason to leave. When I talked to the doctor, he told me not to worry; just rest, drink lots of water, and come in the next morning.
All that day and night, I prayed that if I was going to miscarry, I wanted see the baby and know for sure. Although I know it happens and can’t be helped, I had a fear of passing my child in the toilet and never knowing it.
When I woke up the next morning, I stood up and knew this was it. And thankfully, the Lord answered my prayer. Having spent a few years working in a crisis pregnancy center, I know what a 6-week-old fetus looks like. There it was, just about the size of a grain of rice. Although very, very small, and for a very, very short time, I was able to see and touch my baby. That was my gift.
I went in to see the doctor, and an ultrasound confirmed what I knew was true. My sweet husband took me to lunch at Cracker Barrel, as was our tradition after each OB visit during our previous 3 pregnancies. I went home to rest and insisted my husband go back to work. That night we ordered pizza and watched Frozen while I snuggled with the 3 healthy babies I carried to term.
March 24, 2014 was a chilly, overcast day. I wanted to bury my baby in the sun, so we waited a few days. On a warm, perfect spring day, while my 3 living children were all at school, I called my husband at work and begged him to come home to bury our child. The day was so pretty, and I didn’t want to say goodbye any other way. He left right away, and we took our baby to my parents’ house.
We bought some brightly colored flowers to place in a box with our baby. We wrote notes to her on the outside of the box. I wanted to place her in the “orchard,” a group of 3 or 4 fruit trees on the far end of my parents’ property. However, Jeremy wanted the site to be closer to the house so we could easily see and visit and think of her. So we buried our child under a tree near the house, next to the hot tub and in view of the playset, so our whole family could be part of all the action.
I look at her every time I walk outside.
This day has new meaning for me now. I share my birthday with my baby, who was “born” on the same day 29 years later. Today I am sad, but I don’t want it to always be this way.
Today I am keeping my boys home from preschool to play outside and squeeze out every last snuggle I possibly can.
Today I am getting my car washed at the good place I usually am too cheap to pay for, because it’s free on my birthday. And it’s supposed to rain tomorrow. Go figure.
Today I am getting a free full-fat Frappuccino at Starbucks because I can.
Let’s be honest, today I am racking up as much free stuff as possible.
Tonight I am taking my daughter to her soccer game and cheering for her the way my parents did for me.
After the game we will hug and cuddle and read bedtime stories. Then, after the kids are asleep, I will force my husband to spoon me and play with my hair until I fall asleep.
Tomorrow I will send all my kids off to school, and I will visit my baby under the tree at my parents’ house. And I’ll cry.
But today, it’s my birthday. It’s “our” birthday.
Happy birthday to us.