Sadness. That’s what I felt the moment they placed her in my arms. And then—before my arms even tightened around her small frame—the sweetest joy.

Her cry sliced through the hospital room, a familiar and welcome sound to the nurses and midwives who bustled, celebrated, and smiled. I smiled too—a smile both strained and soft. They had no idea how painful and wonderful this moment was. 

I didn’t quite understand it myself.

When I saw two pink lines parade across a pregnancy test nine months earlier, I was flooded with fear. 

Losing three babies in one year will do that to you. 

The fear was loud, intrusive, and constant. Fear of another loss. But also fear of what I would feel if I didn’t lose her. Guilt? Anger? Anxiety? I wondered if the sadness would linger forever. I wondered if loving this child meant I loved the ones we lost less. Would excitement about this tiny new life overshadow the grief I still felt every day? Was I less of a mother if it did?

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Both grief and joy elbowed for a position in my mind. I didn’t want both—how could there be both?

Yet there they were. 

Because once you lose an unborn child, you’re never the same. Your mind, your heart, and even your body remember the pain, the grief, the guilt—all of it. 

My heart pounded with fear during every ultrasound—and leaped with joy when the steady cadence of my baby’s heartbeat filled the room. 

I smiled each time my baby kicked me in the ribs—and teared up at the thought of the other kicks I’d never feel. 

And when my baby girl’s cry finally echoed through the room and her body nestled close to mine, I breathed a prayer of thankfulness—and at the same time, mourned this special moment I’d never have with the three I lost. 

Once you lose an unborn child, everything looks different. Everything has both a tinge of pain and a whisper of awe. When you’ve felt firsthand the anguish of what you always knew could go wrong but never really thought would—when you’ve walked through that valley and felt the chill from the shadow of death—then every heartbeat, kick, cry, and embrace that comes afterward is nothing short of a miracle.

I’ve cried many tears of joy because of the sweet new girl in my arms. And I’ve cried many tears from the sadness of the three children who are not.

Because of God, I’m holding a healthy, beautiful baby girl.

Because of God, I have three crocheted blankets in a box in my closet that will never be used.

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God gave three children to me.

God took three children away.

I’ve found myself both thanking God for my deepest joys and crying out to him with my greatest sadness within the same breath.

I hold my new daughter and I see evidence of God’s goodness, of his healing. And as I stare daily into her beautiful, perfect eyes, I see the answer to those questions that plagued me for nine months.

I love her so completely. And I miss them so much it hurts.

There is joy. There is sadness. There is both. And He is good, always.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Mary Holloman

Mary Holloman is a wife and mother of six sweet children, three of which are already in heaven. Mary works and writes for The Pregnancy Network, an organization committed to empowering women to face their unplanned pregnancies without fear. She has published with Charisma Magazine, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Focus on the Family, the Christian Broadcasting Network, Just 18 Summers, Refresh Bible Study Magazine, IntheQuiver.com, and is a contributing author for two books. Her debut picture book, The Anxious Lily (End Game Press) is coming in spring of 2023. You can follow her at maryholloman.com and on Instagram at @marytholloman.