From the outside you’d never know. By all appearances it would be impossible to tell.
If I had a nickel for all the times I’ve been told, “You have the perfect family!” I assure you we’d have a whole lot of nickels. But that’s what people say when they see 2 boys and 2 girls, my little ducks in a row, following me through the grocery store, or playing at the park, or rushing to the church nursery.
What they don’t see, and what no one can see, is that there are also four children of mine who aren’t with me. You see, before I was blessed with my amazing, incredible four children, my husband and I experienced loss after loss after loss.
When we got married we agreed that we would wait 5 years to start having children. I think they call that “the 5 year plan” right? We made it almost that long before we decided it was time. I got pregnant without any problem and things seemed to be going just right. But 12 weeks in, I received unsettling news during an ultrasound.
Something was not right.
13 weeks later, I delivered our stillborn daughter, who had been earlier diagnosed with Turner Syndrome and had been experiencing complications from the genetic disorder while in my womb.
We buried her tiny little body on a Tuesday morning, surrounded by family and friends. We prayed for the strength to continue on.
I had been told that because her condition was all by chance, that because there was no family history or risk factors attributed to her having TS, that we didn’t have to worry about it happening again with future pregnancies. And I had hoped that was true.
But over the course of the next year and a half, we lost 3 more babies. I miscarried at 9 weeks, and then 7 weeks and then 6 weeks.
As you can imagine, we began to lose hope that I’d ever carry my own child in my womb.
At the time, my husband was in the military. His fifth deployment was fast approaching and we had decided that we’d try one last time to have a baby. If it didn’t work out, then I would spend our time apart researching and pursuing adoption.
He left on May 1 and on May 14, he called home for the first time. I took a pregnancy test while he was on the phone and it was positive. 9 months later, our son was born.
Over the course of the next 5 years, we had 3 more babies. Another boy and 2 precious girls.
I share all of this not to say that if you hang on long enough, everything will turn out just the way you had hoped. I cannot promise that. I cannot even say that’s what happened in our situation. I wish I never had to experience the kind of loss and pain and suffering that we went through.
But it’s part of our story.
I share all of this to say that we can’t always know someone’s story from the outside. In fact, we usually can’t know someone’s story by appearances. There’s that saying attributed to Plato that goes something like, “Be Kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” There are hidden battles being fought and scars that are left behind.
Miscarriage, pregnancy loss and infant loss are hidden pains with hidden scars. For the most part, people don’t discuss them openly because it’s uncomfortable and awkward and for some, shameful (although it never should be). But that doesn’t mean the pain doesn’t exist.
I appreciate the month of October not only for the beauty of the fall colors, but also because it’s given so many women the strength to say out loud that they have experienced loss and it’s given so many women hope in knowing they are not alone.
Momma, if you have walked through the pain and hurt of pregnancy or infant loss, you are not alone. Far from it, actually. There are hurting mothers all around you. There are redeemed mothers all around you. There is hope all around you.