The Bittersweet Moments We Cherish

Today is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day, and this year, as last year, is a bittersweet day of remembrance for me.

Those of you who’ve followed my blog over the past few years know our story, but for those who don’t, here it is.

The hubs and I started trying for a baby in June of 2010, but never saw the “two pink lines” we hoped for until a full year had passed.

Joy is an understatement of what we felt.

We shared with a select few friends and family members, and started making our plans for a nursery, for names, for baby furniture, and everything else that goes with it.

Then, it ended.

On August 4, 2011, my early missed miscarriage was confirmed by an ultrasound. My body had not recognized that our baby had died in utero, so we opted to have a D&C procedure. I remember asking my husband the night before if we should request another ultrasound, just to be sure. But in the end, we knew it would be useless and would just confirm what we already  knew.

Our prayed for, hoped for baby was now an angel.

It took several months for me to even begin feeling like myself again, but so much had changed. I was a mother, but I would never be able to hold my first baby. I would never know the color of that baby’s eyes or hair, or hear that baby’s laughs or cries. I would never watch that baby learn to roll, crawl, stand, and walk, and never pace the floors at night when that baby couldn’t sleep for teething, sickness, or because it was Tuesday.

We went on to undergo round after round of fertility treatments, but to no avail. We were losing hope, and each year when March 4th rolled around – the date our first angel would have been born, would have celebrated a birthday – my heart broke all over again. On the outside, few people knew how much we were hurting, but the truth of our loss was always there – in the panted and recarpeted bedroom that should have been the nursery, in the one early ultrasound picture that, once upon a time, confirmed for me that our baby had a heartbeat, and was now hidden away to prevent further pain.

In March 2013, two pink lines again appeared. We dared to be joyful again, but it wasn’t to last. In fact, it lasted only a week before the numbers from my blood draws confirmed it.

This second baby was also an angel.

In some ways, this second pregnancy was less real, because I never reached the point of feeling exhausted or nauseous, as I had during my first pregnancy. We started talking about our options. We decided to apply to begin the process to adopt. At the same time, we continued a few rounds of fertility treatments, both medical and homeopathic, as well as tests to try and determine why I couldn’t get pregnant, or if I did, why I couldn’t hold the pregnancy.

There were no answers. Just empty arms.

We’d finally given up on having a biological child. We were accepted into a home study program for domestic infant adoption, and were a week away from beginning.

And then…

Two pink lines.

We were actually at my in-laws for Thanksgiving when we learned of our third pregnancy. I was terrified, certain this one, too, would end in miscarriage. My doctor put me on a medical regimen to prevent miscarriage, which included the use of progesterone supplements, hormone shots, baby aspirin, and injections of a blood thinner. My lower abdomen was a patchwork of bruises from the daily injections, but it was also a reminder that we were doing all we could to hold onto this baby.

Nausea set in. It wasn’t just morning sickness. It was all-day sickness. If I was awake, I was on the verge of puking. I was exhausted. My sense of smell went crazy, and I could barely eat for weeks, let alone cook anything for myself or my husband. We didn’t travel at Christmas to visit family like we normally did, for fear of being too far from my doctor. I had ultrasounds and blood draws every two weeks, and my doctor promised that, if it made me feel better, I could have ultrasounds done in between just to see my baby.

We made it to the end of the first trimester. The “morning” sickness ebbed away. My belly began to become a bump.

I felt the flutters, then the little kicks, that told us Babycakes was there.

Alive.

Growing.

Safe.

I never let go of the fear of losing her, even to the very moment she was born by c-section, following 12 hours of labor, on August 14, 2014. In the back of my mind, shadowing my entire pregnancy, was the knowledge that I’d hoped twice before, and lost twice before.

Even as I labored at the hospital to bring Babycakes into the world, I thought of my angel babies.

The first, who would have been a two-and-almost-a-half year old toddler, overjoyed at the prospect of a baby sister.

And the second, whose brief time with me imprinted on my heart but is even more bittersweet because, without that loss, there would be no Babycakes.

The first time I held Babycakes, the first time I nursed her, I felt the aching, missing weight of the two babies I never got to hold, and never will in this lifetime.

The first time Babycakes cried out in the night, I remembered the two babies whose cries I never got to hear or comfort.

The first time Babycakes looked at me and recognized me, smiled at me, laughed at me, I heard the voices of the babies whose voices I will never hear and whose smiles I will never see.

Babycakes has been the most amazing, unexpected blessing. She is a gift, a miracle, a joy we never thought we’d knew. At times I feel guilty when she has to be left to cry in her crib because I have to use the bathroom, or I feel like I’m being ungrateful when my frustration over her lack of uninterrupted night sleep has me drained, frustrated, and failing as a parent. I end up holding her and crying as she nurses back to oblivion, whispering how sorry I am for not being perfect, and feeling in my heart that I will always be trying to make up, with her, for the things I will never get to do with my two angel babies.

I still cry for my angel babies, the first who would be three and a half, the other not quite two years old. I hope someday I’ll be able to explain to Babycakes about them, how someday we will all be together again.

I still wish for them.

I hope they know how much I still love them.

A Twinkle to Keep

Once upon a time, two little angel babies were resting on the cloud where they had so lovingly been placed by the Lord, looking down at Earth at the man and woman who had once hoped to keep them when they were just little Twinkles. One of the angels of the Lord came to fetch them, for the Son wished to speak with them.

When the angel babies were settled on Jesus’ lap, he gathered them very close. “I know you remember with great love and wistfulness the man and woman for whom you once were chosen,” he said softly. “You know from your watchful vigil over them that they have thought about you and loved you, especially the woman, every day since you left them.”

The angel babies nodded and snuggled against the Son’s shoulders. “Sometimes it seemed like they had forgotten us,” the older angel baby said. “But they haven’t. We wish we could have stayed with them.”

“I know,” Jesus said, “and so does my Father. But now, you have a chance to help the Lord choose another Twinkle to send to the man and woman.”

The angel babies looked at each other. “But what if that Twinkle can’t stay with them either?” they asked.

Jesus kissed the tops of their heads. “It is always a chance that is taken. And they have given up hope of ever receiving a Twinkle to keep. But perhaps this time will be different.”

Then, the Son brought the angel babies to the Father, who was waiting with the beautiful box from which he selected Twinkles for loving families on Earth. Even though the box was still closed, they could hear the peals of bell-like laughter from within. When the Lord saw the little angel babies, He smiled, His love and joy shining brighter than the noonday sun.

“Come forward, my dear children,” said the Lord, “for I have a very important task for you.” Then he beckoned the angel babies forward, opened the box, and let them peer inside.

Golden light filled the heavens, and at the Father’s urging, the two angel babies looked at all the little Twinkles. They wanted to find the perfect Twinkle to send to the man and woman, because they knew how important it was. At last, they chose one and pointed it out to the Father and the Son.

“A good choice,” Jesus said with a smile.

The Lord reached into the box and drew out the little Twinkle. An angel who had been waiting nearby came forward and took the Twinkle. “Remember,” the Lord said. “This Twinkle is precious and must be delivered safely. It is unexpected and will be all the more loved because of it.”

After receiving these instructions, the angel left Heaven and went to the man and woman to deliver the Twinkle, seeing it comfortable within the woman’s womb. The angel babies, meanwhile, returned to their cloud to watch over the man, woman, and Twinkle. For nine months they watched over the little family as the Twinkle grew. They saw how the man and woman worried, how they hardly dared to pray that this Twinkle might be the one they could keep. Now and then, they were called to sit with the Son and talk about how the Twinkle was doing.

At last, the day came when the Twinkle was ready to enter the world. The angel babies watched over the man and woman as the time grew near, and they knew the other angels and saints in Heaven were also watching and praying. They even heard the prayers of the woman, and the thoughts she had, even while trying to bring the Twinkle into the world, of the two angel babies she would not meet until she, too, came to Heaven.

Finally, the Twinkle came into the world and let out a cry. The woman’s heart and soul rejoiced, and she thanked the Lord for the beautiful baby He had bestowed upon her and the man.

A Picture of You

A Picture of You


I do not have a picture of you
So there are many things I wonder.
Are you sugar and spice
Or puppy dog tails?
How fine is your hair?
Is it dark or light?
Do you have my changeable hazel eyes,
Or his beautiful blues?
Does your smile mirror mine?
How tiny are your ears?
Did you get his dimples
Or my widow’s peak?
It’s silly, but I pray you have his nose,
Not mine.

I cannot have a picture of you,
But there are many things I know for sure.
You are a rosy-cheeked cherub.
You have ten perfect fingers
And ten perfect toes.
Your laughter rings with the joy of angels,
And your tears would wring my heart.
You would know my voice,
And his,
And would reach for us with your chubby arms
Because you know we love you.
When you sleep, you are a doll.
When you’re awake, you are all the things
We dreamed of.

There will be no picture of you,
Not today, nor throughout the years.
We will never know the things you’ll love,
The accomplishments you’ll reach.
Will you love music,
Or sports,
Or both?
When you color, do you think your work
Equal to that of Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh?
(And will you find our walls the perfect canvas?)
What shapes will you make
When you help me make biscottis?
How will your eyes sparkle
The first time you realize how beautiful
Our Christmas tree is?
Will you be afraid of Santa?
Are you as fond of sweets as I am?
You come by it honestly if you do –
Just ask your great-grampas.
What subjects will hook you in school?
Would you be bored when I drag you
To forts and battlefields,
Or will you find it as interesting as I do?
Will you help him plant tomatoes and beans
And flowers in the garden?
Will you want your own pair of binoculars
So you can watch the birds at the feeders with him?
He likes to fish – would you have wanted to learn?
Will you struggle for every passing grade
Or will you be at the top of your graduating class?
What ambitions will you hold?
Whatever you do, I would love you and be proud,
And always do my best to guide you.

The questions about things I know
And the things I’ll never know,
Would have been answered today
And every day after.
But I’ll never have a picture of you
Except the one in my heart.
But maybe that’s the truest picture
I could ever have of you.

Almost done!

I’m in a slight state of shock right now.

Last night I finished the last scene in the second-to-last chapter of my rewrite. It was emotional, and I actually got a little teary-eyed (due to the content of said scene – and that doesn’t often happen).

So I’m just one chapter away from THE END.

Scary. And awesome.

Forcing the Hard Parts

I had gone through my manuscript outline a few weeks ago and flagged the scenes I was going to “skip” for the time being, due to the fact they dealt with an aspect of the plot that I couldn’t emotionally see fit to write at present.

But sometimes you can force yourself to write those hard parts.  Sometimes you need to. When those hard parts touch so solidly on something personal in your life, it can almost be healing to do so.  I’d basically given myself three weeks to let those scenes sit in “flagged purgatory”, fully intending not to touch them until the rest of the manuscript had been written.

But as I mentioned, I don’t like skipping around a lot when I write.  I like to continue in a linear fashion.  The compulsion to complete the chronology overrode my dread of said scenes.  So I girded my metaphorical loins and dove in.

I really surprised myself.  I had some sputters at first, and some of the worry I had regarding those scenes, because they were going to be emotionally difficult for me, ended up helping me get going.  One of the characters really embodied some of my emotions, and by the time I got about a page or so into this particular scene, I was looking forward to finishing it – and finishing it well.

It was liberating.  And it was a little odd to put so many negative emotions and connotations to work on what ultimately was a positive scene.  Suddenly, I’m not afraid of writing those other hard parts.  And the process was a little healing for me too.

I live in my writing.  It’s part of me – so much of myself is woven in the words, the paragraphs, the visual imagery.  So it makes sense that my manuscript should help make me feel better, that it should comfort me in its constancy.

My manuscript gave me a big hug, so to speak, and told me, “It’s okay.  I’m here.  You’ll be fine.  Let’s write some more!”