Thursday, October 15, 2015

For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never Worn.

There is an urban legend written that Ernest Hemingway once bet that he could write a short story in just six words. He supposedly won that bet with these words: "For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn". I'm not sure that that ever happened, but it is indeed quite a story. In just a few short words, it encompasses a lot of pain and sorrow. Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, which is also a sad name for a day. While to be honest I didn't remember that today was that day until I saw a post on Facebook, I wanted to write something in honor of this day and our own losses. 

Right now, I might be sitting here writing this post (albeit a very different topic) as my almost-three year old naps. I might instead be relishing in the quiet, just sitting with a cup of tea because my almost-one year old was also down for the afternoon. 

Instead it's just me, and I'm writing from the floor because that's where my computer was. It's quiet and I'm the only one in my apartment. There are all kinds of breakable things sitting out at the perfect height for a small child to grab and break. I don't have any outlet covers. Nothing is baby-proofed. 

I've miscarried all the babies I've ever held in my womb, three in total. The first would have been due in late January of 2013. After I lost that pregnancy I got pregnant again right away with a baby that would have been born in the spring or early summer of 2013. The third baby, I lost last March. He or she would have been due on November 1 of 2014. 

These babies are missed. They have been grieved. I loved them. I think about them all the time and I wonder all the time what our lives would look like if they had arrived when they were due. I wonder where we'd live - we were just about to move to Cleveland when I miscarried the first two, and I'm guessing we'd have made that move either way, but I'm not totally sure if we'd have made the move to Florida. I wonder what kind of mom I'd be. I wonder if they were twins and I didn't know it (I've always wanted twins). My highs would have been different and my lows wouldn't be the same.

But this is the life I'm living now, and it's one without children. 

There is a part of me that will always ache for those babies. I'm certain that no matter what the future holds, I will not forget this time when I longed for children and felt the sting of having others pass me by. While I hope to have this season behind me sooner rather than later, I never want to forget it. I have learned valuable things about waiting and about being a good friend when you really want what your friends have, and about perspective, and about God being good no matter what. 

And He has been good. I don't understand why He's chosen us to be in this season right now, and if I'm being honest with you I might even trade places with the naive person I was over three years ago that just thought these sorts of things happened to "other" people and not to me. Waiting stinks and grieving is hard. 

While I ache for them and while I think about them, I know that dwelling firmly in the past isn't wise. We are urged as believers to "press on", to "look forward", "run with endurance", "lift up our eyes" and countless other similar phrases. Wallowing in our pain and letting it be the core of our identity just isn't a symptom of the Christian life. Side note: ignoring our struggles and pretending like everything is alright and that we don't have pain or problems is not the alternative to this either. We can be "real" and also be looking forward, going through difficult things and yet not giving up hope. I feel very firmly that it is important to be honest about these things and to let people in on them without just putting a smile on it to cover up (hence writing about it on the internet.) 

I both love and hate when people say "God's got a purpose for this". On the one hand, it sort of feels like I'm being preached at or told to look at the bright side of what is in actuality not a very bright thing. On the other, I believe that He does have a purpose. I'm not certain I'll know what that is. It might be that one day I realize that "Oh, THIS was the reason I lost babies!" - which I doubt. But still I believe that good has come from this situation. I believe that God works all things together for good, and that includes this. 

I see God's goodness and grace in my life, and specifically in the area of motherhood. He has not given me my own children in this world, but He has given me other people's children. Carson's brother has five little girls, to whom we are aunt and uncle, but I have several close friends whose children call me (or will call, as many of them don't yet speak) "Aunt Lindsay". 
It is a great joy to be called that, to have little people to love and to send gifts to, to look forward to seeing. I know a lot about strollers and car seats and random baby equipment that I wouldn't know about if not for them, and I'm hoping that one day it comes in handy for me. That isn't to say that I don't struggle, because I do, and it's hard, and I do wonder if my time will ever come. 

Experiencing that pain is unfortunately very much a part of life on this earth. I believe that sin and death are a part of our world because this world is broken and fallen and I believe that miscarriage is absolutely a sign of that. In a perfect world, we'd never know loss, or pain, or anything bad, which is something I cannot comprehend; not really. I mean - how perfect is perfect? What does that possibly look like? Think about it!

My children know a perfect world. They don't know loss, they will never feel pain. They will only know goodness, perfection, perfect love, a world free from sickness and suffering. It's what every mother hopes for - a world where their child is free from all the bad things of the human experience. I don't grieve their loss; they are all the better for never having experienced what it means to have a sin nature or to enter a world littered with its effect. I grieve for me. For what Carson and I don't kno -- how they might look, what they would grow up to be, how their existence would impact and shape us. I may become a mother to someone someday, but I have missed out on parenting those three children. For over three years now, I've felt the acute pain of knowing that I'm missing something BIG. I miss those three people I never knew. 

As we look to the past, we grieve. We wish we didn't know what it felt like to love someone you've never met and never get to experience that reality. But we look forward. We look forward to the hope that is in Christ. We love Him and we don't know Him. But we believe that we will one day be with Him, as our children are already, and that that love will be made full. 


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