Our Jesse would have been two years old this week.
We don’t know beyond knowing that Jesse was a boy. We had decided that we’d have either a Jesse Canaan or a Jessie Ruth. But with Jack being only one-year-old when I was pregnant, and with us already having two girls close in age, it was hard not to picture another little boy, and all the fun they were going to have. I even pictured him with dark hair, thinking he and Jack would perhaps have some things in common with my first favorite set of brothers: Bo and Luke Duke. (I mean, Jack has the hair for it. It so could have been…)
Miscarriage as a personal event and a cultural topic is so complicated. This was my second miscarriage – my third pregnancy in two years. But it was so different, because this little guy somehow managed to bypass a one-year-old tubal ligation, and we saw his beating heart.
My grief over this life was real, deep, lasting, faith-challenging, and life-changing. I came out of that grief, about a year later, a different person. There were other mile markers in that year which certainly contributed – a move for our family, the unexpected death of a close friend, the loss of some cherished relationships, and turning 40, but 2016 will always, for me, be the year Jesse miraculously came to us and was inexplicably taken away.
There are moments in our family’s journey when I think about what it would be like if he was here. Would we have moved? Would I still be working? How different would Jack be? Would my parents have moved here sooner (LOL)? What kind of vehicle would I be driving? But mostly, I just feel a hole in my heart.
The loss of him is not a daily sharpness like it was for most of that first year, but it is still felt profoundly. I know my daughters still grieve at times, and I worry that they worry about it ever happening to them. Because 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage, and I have 3 daughters and a daughter-in-law, I am hoping my “extra” miscarriage was one for the team. I pray they never, ever, ever experience one.
If I force myself to be profound or helpful in the aftermath of miscarriage, I have plenty to say. For the purpose of this blog, I will keep it brief.
- Know who can support you, and how. Not everyone in your circle can provide for you in the same way. I had my husband to physically comfort me. I had a daughter who helped some with my kids, friends who prayed with me, friends who brought food, . There was more that I needed at the time, which leads me to my next point:
- Do. Not. Be. Afraid. – to ask for or to accept help. What I really needed was space to mourn. But I was homeschooling and still nursing Jack, and my kids were sad, and I didn’t know how to help them and myself at the same time. My husband was there, and he is and was present and wonderful, but the kids were coming to me. I wish I had asked my mom to come. I wish I had accepted the offer of my friend who wanted to come. I was very much in my own head and it was a bit of a mine field in those first weeks.
- Give yourself permission. The comparison game that women play creeps into grief as well. Just because you didn’t hold your baby or see your baby or even know the sex of your baby does not mean you did not lose a child. Grief over any death is not a subject for comparison.
- Utilize Stillbirthday.com After Jack was born, I became certified with a very specific and benevolent organization called Stillbirthday, which advocates for and honors families who lose a baby in any trimester (“a pregnancy loss is still a birthday.” ) Though I have chosen not to be an active bereavement doula, I absolutely recommend this website and these services, especially if you feel confused, alone, or unsupported in a miscarriage. Even if a live doula is not available or desirable to you in your miscarriage, there are many resources on this website to help you.
- #MiscarriageMatters. I discovered this organization after my first miscarriage, and started using their hashtag. I still use it. I still believe it. And I offer it to you, if you have ever experienced this kind of loss. Though grief is different for everyone, miscarriage matters.
Happy birthday to our sweet, beloved, and dearly missed Jesse in heaven. We hope you and David (our first miscarriage) are getting a head start on the shenanigans.