Each morning when I get into my car, I throw my purse into the passenger seat, set my coffee down in the cupholder, and look up to see it. Sitting next to the speedometer, nestled between photos of two tiny faces, is the yellowish, faded card from the flowers he sent me after our first miscarriage. Being a man of few words, it is not lengthy, but a needed reminder. It ends, “We can handle anything together,” and somehow, even in the eighth year of chaotic and rushed mornings following that day, it manages to ground me.

It stings to remember, but it’s a cut I like to keep close. I can recall weeping as I held the same card in my hands, crisp and white, feeling like everything in this world was stacked heavily against us. So much time has traveled past us, so much change has weaved throughout our lives since that day, but the ache still looms each time it is roused. As time passes and life builds, the memories may not always be at the forefront. We may be reminded a little later in the day, but we’re invariably reminded.

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One of each, we are blessed. Looking back on our losses now that our family is complete is surreal.

While experiencing each miscarriage, the path we are walking now seemed unattainablealways distant, faraway, and illusory.

I was in a rush then, with no good reason. I wanted the family I wantedright then, without sacrifice, without inconvenience. I became indignant. Loathing fertility appointments and planned ovulation cycles. I only desired a heartbeat through a speaker and to see a doctor’s face that wasn’t grimaced with pain as he entered my room. As each piece of bad news was brought to us, I would dig my heels in further to believe we could never be righted for what was happening. Bitterness grows quickly.

The first loss was an unexpected blow to us boththe possibility of losing a child never even crossed our 20-something, naive minds. We entered that office in a cloud of euphoria, full names picked out. We left only to drive home, holding hands, in silence. The second loss . . . not so much of a blow. In fact, for a long time, I believed that I spoke it into existence, that I was somehow deserving of it for being too eager, then too angry.

It felt dangerous to be optimistic; it was safe to expect the worst.

Our hearts were led astray by various doctors and specialists. Lost in a maze, we would never find our way out. Being in the eye of that storm was undoubtedly the lowest point of my life.

The life we would never know with them consumed me.

I imagined what it would be like for cries to wake me. I sketched their faces in my mind. I longed to rub their hair, to smell their skin, to kiss their necks, and I believed, wholeheartedly, that I would never understand, I would never forgive; yet, somehow I’ve come to.

Saying that out loud the first time caused guilt to envelop me. I was abandoning the core of who I’d been for so longthey were my identity.

Do I ever imagine all four of them playing together? Do I ever hear their laughs, their voices? Do I ponder whether their sister has their blue eyes, or if their brother has their wit? Yes, so much yes. Will they ever be forgotten? Not as long as I’m breathing. I have longed to know about them, and I know that one day I will.

Years of being empty-armed molded me as a woman, wife, and mother, and the affliction of involuntarily giving them back to their Creator will be something that lives in my heart for all of my days. 

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And while all of this is true, I understand I cannot live to mourn what might have been. As I peer into the bedrooms of my babies here, it completely wrecks me to imagine that we may have stopped short of them in a perfect world. A life without them is one I never even want to imagine because I can look into their eyes and distinctly know that I was curated for them.

I fit into them. They fit into me.

They need all of my focus, every fiber of my heart, my entire ability to pour into them anything I could ever provide or produce. They deserve that and worlds more, and I had to stop grieving in order to be fully present, to give them what was theirs. Me.

Soon, my oldest will be able to read. Inevitably, he will one day see the card on my dash and ask me what it means. I don’t know, yet, how I will say it to him, other than rewording our story to him with transparency. He will know he wasn’t our first, but he will also wholeheartedly know as a rainbow baby he healed our brokenness. It was always intended to be that way, and now I can finally say that I wouldn’t change a thingit doesn’t make me less of a mama to say so.

PS – This is what it really feels like to have an early miscarriage

Lauren Hedrick

Lauren Hedrick is a high school teacher and mama of two from North Carolina. She enjoys supporting other mothers and values writing to help normalize struggles in the trenches of motherhood. Her work has appeared in Truly Mama and you can read her writing at www.literally-lauren.com.