Today’s post is in honor of Share’s Walk of Remembrance and The Wave of Light (October 15), and it’s a guest post from Abigail Waldron. Each of these events exists to support those going through the pain of infertility, pregnancy loss, miscarriage, and infant loss. The more we talk about these difficult and tragic events, the better chance we have of shattering the stigma that surrounds them and getting better help for those who are suffering.
This post is also a part of the Footprints Blog Tour. Myself and fourteen other bloggers will be sharing stories of how loss has affected them. I chose to use a guest post for my portion of the tour because I felt it would be more in the spirit of the tour to hear from someone who has experienced loss.
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a nurse. And a ballerina. And a teacher. But always, I expected to be a mom.
What I didn’t expect was that having children would be difficult. It took my husband and I a full year to get pregnant with our oldest daughter, and I struggled deeply in the waiting, terrified we would never conceive.
But we did, and nine months later a healthy baby girl joined our family. I was elated. In the back of my mind though, I wondered why it had taken us so long to get pregnant, and I worried it might never happen again.
To my surprise, I learned I was expecting a second baby just days before my daughter’s first birthday. I felt relieved. Infertility will not be my story, I thought. Finally, I can just have babies.
As in my first pregnancy, I felt terrible, but the baby continued to grow well and had a steady heartbeat. Until, at my fifteen-week check-up, she didn’t have any heartbeat at all.
I was crushed. I’d thought naively that as long as I wasn’t experiencing any bleeding, everything was okay. But my little girl was gone, and even after countless tests and procedures, nobody could tell me why.
In the midst of my grief, I started writing a book called Far as the Curse Is Found: Searching for God in Infertility, Miscarriage, and Stillbirth. I wanted to tell my story and to talk to and share the stories of other families who’d experienced similar losses. I needed to wrestle with the questions about God I still carried.
I started writing, and we also began trying for another baby. Within a few months, I was pregnant again. I couldn’t believe that this pregnancy would end with a living baby in my arms. But it did. Another little girl. A source of so much joy after so much loss.
With two small daughters at home, I worked hard in the snatches of time I could find to finish my book. As I neared the final stages of editing, I learned I was pregnant again. This time, I didn’t feel particularly afraid. The miscarriage must have just been “one of those things,” I thought. Things went so smoothly this last time.
But in January, weeks after sending my book off to the publisher, my twenty-week ultrasound showed that my fourth daughter had no heartbeat. I delivered her still in the hospital two days later, and we buried her on a frigid morning, her small white casket surrounded by piles of fresh snow.
Once again, there are no answers. You’re the healthiest patient I’ve ever seen, a specialist told me recently. My husband and I would love to have another baby, but we don’t know yet if we are willing to embrace all of the risk wrapped up in that choice.
In May, I released my book, and we also marked our baby’s due date by releasing balloons at her grave.
I didn’t expect this life. I don’t understand why we had to wait for children, why two of our girls had to die. My grief is once again heavy, and I’m back to struggling daily with doubt and despair. And yet, in my own life and in the stories of the families I interviewed for my book, I’ve caught glimpses of God in the darkness, traces of beauty in the midst of all the pain. I keep holding on to the hope that Jesus really did come to make His blessings flow as far as the curse is found – even in infertility, miscarriage, and stillbirth, even in all of the particular heartbreaks of my story.
Abigail Waldron holds an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from George Mason University. She has taught English and writing to middle school and college students and currently spends her days at home with her two young daughters. She blogs at AbigailWaldron.com and is the author of Far as the Curse Is Found: Searching for God in Infertility,Miscarriage, and Stillbirth (Wipf & Stock, 2016). She loves reading and baking and discovering glimpses of Jesus in life’s barren and broken places. Wipf and Stock is offering a special 40 percent discount for readers of this post from September 28-30 only. Use the code Searching at checkout to receive the discount.
Don’t forget to post your own Walk of Remembrance photos on social media using #ShareWalk2016 and photos of your Wave of Light candles on October 15 at 7pm local time using #WaveofLight #pregnancyandinfantlossawareness.
Title image courtesy of UnSplash. Headshot courtesy of Abigail Waldron.