Today’s secret comes from my friend and fellow East Nashville mama, Ariana Evans. I received a Facebook message from Ariana a few days into my 31 Secrets series that essentially said, We can’t not tell this secret. And I immediately agreed. This secret is not one I keep in my own heart, but I feel its weight all around me in the experience of so many dear friends. I want to know how to love them well. I want them to feel freedom to share their secret so they don’t have to hold it alone. I hope Ariana’s words today will help us do both.
I know this is a heavy secret, but I just have to say it.
Secret #25: The lost babies.
The ones lost while still growing inside our bellies. The ones no one knows how to talk about, or how to mourn. The sweet babies who were not yet someone we knew, but someone we hoped to know. Lost dreams and expectations.
There is a secret club of heartbreak that we reluctantly join when we lay to rest those sweet babies, no matter how big, how formed or unformed they were. Whether we saw their tiny faces and held them in our arms awhile, or faced an ultrasound with a slowing or silent heartbeat, or, like me, felt the void of an empty womb where something went wrong on the cellular level. The baby never grew big enough to be visible even though my body was pregnant.
When I lost my two babies – both on Valentine’s Day, two years apart with a baby I got to keep in between – I was vocal about it. I needed to let people know that I was a walking disaster, weeping for the loss of children whom I would never know, and physically sick from toll it had taken on my body. I didn’t really keep it a secret.
But when I told my friends, they said, “Me too.”
Again and again they said it. These were women I had known for years and never knew they were pregnant, never knew they had lost a baby. They offered comfort and encouragement, support and understanding. And I wondered why I never knew that about them.
Those who have never lost a child or had a child often don’t know what to say, or they dismiss it with statements like, “You can try again.” And so we keep silent. We keep those babies a secret.
My oldest daughter, nearly 5, speaks often of the two babies who died. She mentioned them once at a gathering of first-time mothers with new babies the same age as my youngest, and the room fell silent, noticeably tense and uncomfortable. I broke the silence and told them it was OK. We would see them again in heaven. A little boy and a little girl, whose names I never say out loud.
But I am always astounded at the ways God wraps up the brokenhearted in His loving hands and heals the wounds that this world leaves on us. (Psalm 147:3) For me this happened a little bit more just recently when I was reading about an unusual study.
It talks about how there are migratory fetus cells that cross over during each pregnancy and disperse into the muscles, organs, blood and brain of the mother. As early as the 4th week. My husband thought it was weird, but I realized that though I never knew my two lost babies, their DNA, along with my three other children, is literally in my heart, on my mind and in the very marrow of my bones.
They are not lost. Their cells are etched on mine.
They are still with me.
A friend gave me a rose bush when we lost the second baby. It bloomed this spring, a reminder that beauty can even come from sorrow.
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