Thirteen. Today marks 13 years ago that we suffered the unimaginable loss of a baby. Over time, the details have gotten rather fuzzy, but I do remember the significant physical and emotional hurt and pain of this late miscarriage. We were well into our 2nd trimester; friends and family knew we were expecting our third child. I remember going into full-labor and not fully understanding that was what was happening to my body. I remember knowing something was wrong. I remember my husband trying to occupy our other two children so they wouldn’t know what was happening. I remember lying on the bathroom floor, white as a sheet unable to move due to blood loss and my husband on the phone with the doctor – not sure if he should call an ambulance or not. I remember those details.
I remember the unbelievable care and genuine sympathy shown to me by the hospital ER staff. I remember the awkward stares and what seemed like lack of concern or verbal acknowledgement of my church family (a few people did send a card) and some of my own family. I remember people saying the dumbest things to me afterward – “how are you, I mean, really, how ARE you?” “you’ll be fine in a few days” “something was wrong with the baby” “God knows what He’s doing” or, my personal favorite “you already have two children” etc. I don’t know what I needed at that moment, but I do know that I needed something different. I remember crying myself to sleep for many nights. I remember withdrawing from friends and church. I remember feeling like a zombie for two months, just going through the motions because I had two other children who needed me. I remember hearing myself laugh a few weeks afterward and feeling embarrassed that I even allowed myself to smile. I remember being angry, so very angry, for a very long time.
We named this child, our daughter, even though there is no birth record, no cemetery plot, no headstone, no place for us to go to visit her. We named her so we could remember. And every year, on this date, the calendar catches my breath; it reads “AJ’s birthday.” Oh, be still my heart.
Fast forward to 2015…my thoughts of that little girl that didn’t get a chance to breathe her first breath, to see the brightness of light, to feel the warmth of my touch, to feel the instant love of her father and siblings, are nothing but how I have imagined her to be. If she had survived, she would be a beautiful 13 year old who is becoming a young woman. She would have requested a double chocolate cake with lots of frosting. She would have strikingly beautiful deep blue eyes (like her dad) and long straight brown hair and freckles. She would have dimples (like her mom). She would love sports and give her older siblings a run for their money on every athletic field. She would love ice cream as much as her siblings…maybe even a little more. She would have lots of friends. She would love animals, she would climb trees and skin up her knees, she would be adventurous, courageous, smart, generous, kind, and loving. She would be getting ready for 8th grade.
I know now, 13 years later, that God has a purpose for everything. I get it, even though I still do not understand this part of my life. I still grieve and I still don’t know how to answer the question “How many children do you have?” I still sneak peeks at the one photo I have of her – an ultrasound photo from the end of my first trimester. I know that the brief time I carried her inside of me I fell in love with her. And, as cliche as it sounds, now I know that she is in heaven waiting for the rest of her family to join her someday. I have gained perspective, empathy, and a heart that is likely too big for those going through similar experiences. I feel it all over again when someone speaks of miscarriages or premature babies. Every woman who experiences loss, has a unique extremely personal experience.
So, today I celebrate the beautiful angel that watches over me, my husband, my children, and the rest of my family. Happy 13th birthday, Anna Joy! I can only imagine the intense joy you would have brought to our lives.
…and to think, the first thing she saw when she opened her eyes was the face of Jesus. ~unknown