Last October was grief.
And also a celebration.
Last October was morning sickness mingled with sadness. It was guilt mingled with excitement.
It was pregnancy in the shadow of my miscarriage.
Last October was pregnancy and infant loss awareness month, and I was in the trenches.
“What a blessing that you got pregnant so quickly after your miscarriage!” friends would lovingly exclaim.
“Everything happens for a reason!” they’d contend.
“Aren’t you so grateful for your rainbow baby?” people asked.
I cringed every time I encountered these words.
I felt ungrateful. I felt that if I answered honestly, it meant I didn’t love the little one growing in my womb. That if I told anyone of the depths of my grief, they would think I was undeserving to mother my daughter. That I loved the last child more.
So I felt guilt in my grief.
And what if I celebrated my growing baby with full veracity? What did that mean for the child I lost? After all, I couldn’t have both. I had become pregnant right after my miscarriage. With one, there couldn’t be the other.
So I felt guilt in my celebration.
Last October, I was afraid to tell God that I was sad he took my first baby. I was afraid to beg Him to let me keep this one. What if I got let down again? What if my questioning of His will made me unfit for motherhood?
I felt like the only one in the world.
Until social media told me of the others.
Last October, pregnancy and infant loss awareness stories flooded my screen. Through glassy eyes, I read story after story. I wept my way through my Facebook feed. Last October, I learned of the droves of women experiencing the same pain. My deepest insecurities surrounding loss were being voiced by people to whom I’d never told my story.
Story after story echoed the inmost fears of my heart. Woman after woman shared her experience.
I learned that I wasn’t the first to feel guilty after a loss. I learned that I didn’t have to choose between my children. I learned that sometimes the rainbow points back to the storm. And sometimes that hurts.
And all of a sudden, through internet memories, I heard God’s words, “You are not alone.” It’s not that He had just whispered those words to me. They had been reverberating all along. He was faithful to me in the midst of confusion. He was the same when I was pregnant then not pregnant then pregnant again. He had walked this earth, grieved human grief, and loves my babies far more than I ever could.
Pregnancy after loss is complicated. It is ladened with fear. It asks “what-if” day in and day-out. It is a whole lot harder when we try to do it alone.
And so the Jesus-clinging began. I cling to Him in my grief. I cling to Him in my guilt. I cling to Him in my celebration and in my sorrow and in my joy.
I cling to Him in motherhood. When I still feel fear of losing my child. When I become scared at the prospect of finding myself alone in a coffee shop bathroom again, losing another pregnancy.
I cling to Him because my body is not my own. My children were never mine.
This October, I am looking into my five-month old’s bright brown eyes. I inhale her infant scent, and I am so grateful. I am grateful for all God taught me last October. I am grateful that I do have a little one in my arms. I am also aware.
I am aware that for someone, my last October is their this October.
I see you, mama.
I love you.
I am praying for you.
I am praying for a rainbow at the end of this storm.
For the happy ending you always dreamed of.
I am praying all those things while I am painfully cognizant that the rainbow doesn’t mean the storm never happened.
I am praying that you can cling to Jesus this October. He will help you feel freedom in your grief. I am praying that this sadness will point you to what is better. That it will remind you that death and sorrow is not the end game when Jesus is King.
And to the mama who is carrying her rainbow baby, you can have and love all your children, even when it feels as though you can’t. Your pregnancy was real even if it didn’t last. Your baby was here even if it wasn’t for long. You have freedom to be sad and excited. To grieve and celebrate.
Last October was complicated. This October is, too. I will always hold that first pregnancy close. That first time I knew the love of an expectant mother.
It was the first time I loved someone so deeply whom I had never met. It was the first time I felt as if I let everyone around me down. It was the first time I felt completely betrayed by my body. The time I wondered if my body would continue to betray me.
Loss made October complicated. It won’t ever quite make sense to me–death never does. But it will always point me to the One who will soon make everything right again. Who will restore this broken world. Who will wipe every tear away and make His children, even His children who are grieving mamas, whole once again.
Jesus kept me last October. He keeps me this October, too.
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To read more about pregnancy and infant loss, check out the following essays: