The morning I finally held a positive pregnancy test in my hand marked nearly a year of hoping and waiting to conceive a second baby.

In the months leading up to that moment, my eyes had frequently strained to see a positive sign amidst a series of negative tests. A graceful woman would have waited patiently, but I am ever in need of grace. I prayed and pleaded and hoped for pregnancy, wrestling with the disappointment that had come with those used tests, neatly repackaged and discreetly placed in the trash. 

As I felt my fingers tremble with this evidence of new life within me, I quickly placed the test on the floor for fear the shaking would erase the news that still seemed unreal. Finally, with a heart pounding within my chest, I let out a joyous shout that must have startled my toddler. 

After a year of waiting, another baby had finally come to my family.

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I helped my firstborn  son decorate a card for his father, announcing that he was now a big brother. We left the card on our front porch and waited eagerly for the homecoming. As my husband pulled up to the house and walked toward the card, my heart recognized in his heart a knowledge of its contents. After reading the card, he opened the front door excitedly and embraced our son and me with happy tears in his eyes. 

This baby was so loved.

We celebrated without reservation. We visited friends and family to tell the news, and proudly gave our dinosaur-loving-son a shirt that said “Big Brother-saurus.” As the early weeks of pregnancy progressed, there seemed to course through my body a maternal intuition previously unexperienced. I knew this unborn baby, sensed the personhood of this baby, and relished in this baby’s presence. 

This baby was so loved.

One Sunday as I sat in church, I began to feel unexpected cramping. As the discomfort intensified into evening, a sinking fear crept into my mind. Around midnight it became clear that something was wrong. Like a dream without the clear passing of time, early morning came and I was sitting across from an ER doctor, grandfatherly in appearance with a snow-white beard and soft spoken tone, who told me I was miscarrying. Amidst the sterility of the medical facility and my own dazed disbelief, there was something startlingly humane in the tender words the doctor used to say any grief experienced over this loss was real and should be honored.

This baby was so loved.

As the next few days passed and the miscarriage progressed, I spent a good amount of time weeping, feeling sorrow and then embarrassment. I wondered if this intensity of love and heartache was legitimate as my pregnancy hadn’t progressed past the first trimester. I also wondered if I shouldn’t have announced the pregnancy so early. Would people now feel burdened and inconvenienced to hear of this loss?

The answer to this question was given swiftly by those who had celebrated this baby’s existence alongside me.

My husband mourned and grieved by my side.

Friends took time from their trials and losses to visit and offer up prayers.

My grandmother called to tell me of her own miscarriages and how she still missed those babies fifty years later.

There were women who had lost babies far later in pregnancy, women who had lost multiple babies, women who had courageously endured years of infertility and they rallied in support of a sister in Christ who needed to feel His love in a tangible and compassionate way.

There were no comparisons, no belittlement, just love. Love, understanding and encouragement that I commemorate a love that did not discriminate based on time and space or even meeting. 

I received during that time the support all women facing pregnancy loss deserve and so rarely receive. 

My husband and I would go on to have more children– something we have never taken for granted. It’s been a great honor to share this story of our second baby with them in the hopes they too can cherish a love so unique and divine. Our children remember there is another sibling waiting to meet them. Our friends and family still remember. One dear friend even holds in her heart this baby like a godchild and never ceases to pour out special remembrances. 

All this support is why I now embrace the tears that on occasion still brim over my eyelids during the most unlikely of moments. This support is why my family now has the courage to celebrate the day our baby was born into heaven and share with others that we have three children on earth and one with God.

True love transcends our understanding. Our souls are made for this kind of ineffable love and even in the midst of great sorrow it can be an awe-inspiring thing to experience. It’s for this reason I hope any one reading this who has endured early pregnancy loss feels encouraged that the connections they felt with their unborn children were as real as any other. You are allowed to cry and mourn your loss. You can also cherish within your heart the joyful moments you experienced as a mother.

Because our babies are so loved. 

Lauren Cunningham

Lauren is a wife, mother of three kids, thinker, and blogger. She and her family live in the middle of nowhere and pass much of their time digging in the mud and hunting for the perfect stick. Lauren is passionate about building a community of parents committed to raising compassionate, thoughtful children. You can find more of Lauren's writing at Things I Teach My Children and follow her on Facebook.