Remembering the baby I never held

August 6, 2009 | Uncategorized

When I came downstairs for coffee this morning, I announced: “I’m on edge today. I don’t know why.” And I didn’t, but I knew something was off. There was a sadness hovering around the edges of my still sleepy mind, despite sunshine, despite a relatively easy work day, despite all the reasons I had to be happy. Or at least not to be moody.

Then it hit me. It was August 6. Eleven years ago today, I found out the baby I was carrying had died eleven weeks into my pregnancy. With a mother’s intuition, I had known something was wrong from a couple of weeks before. The day Dennis and I — with Noah in tow — went to the midwife for my regular check up, I didn’t even take the little tape recorder with me to capture the sound of baby’s heartbeat, so convinced was I that I would hear only silence. I went back for the recorder only after Dennis insisted. But somehow I knew. Because when you are a mother sometimes you just know things about your children, even when there is no logical reason you should, even when they are still growing inside you.

When we went for the ultrasound to confirm the miscarriage, we saw the perfect form of our baby up on the screen. I remember Dennis looking so happy, thinking everything was OK after all, and me pointing out that the heart was still. No blinking blip. No more life.

Every year I remember this baby, whom I call Grace, on her due date and on the day I lost her. I wonder what she would have been like, and I think about how, as I have written in previous posts on this subject, she shaped our family by her absence rather than her presence. Had Grace lived, the rest of our family would be different now. So she still left her mark on us, even without taking that first breath. A piece of her still lingers here, even though we never knew her or held her.

Although I’ve written about grief and talked about grief, I am always awed by grief. By the way it can return again and again in different forms on special dates and anniversaries, at the sound of a song or in the scent of a flower. In some ways, this grief-from-a-distance — not the anguished and desperate grief of the early days after a death but the aged and quiet grief over someone long gone — can be a beautiful thing. It’s a way to revisit a life, to spend some time reliving the moments shared, and to remember that we never really lose our connection. We are joined by our faith, in our prayers, in our hearts.

So today I pray for Grace, who will remain in my heart until I finally get to meet her.

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