Angels and Miracles
I love it when someone walks into my life and within moments, we are connected at the heart. Whether it lasts as long as dinner, or a lifetime, those connections make life worth living.
My husband, daughter and I had dinner – two nights in a row – with a colleague of his whose name he knew but had never met. The first night we were in a large group and this woman, we’ll call her Anne, was lovely with Ada (who was beyond exhausted and at a table with 10 adults) and showed us pictures of her handsome teenage son. The next night it was just us, my little family and Anne, and she shared the story of her other children – the two that died before they were born.
Having just had my second miscarriage in January, this topic has been top of mind. I wrote about it and then Bruce at Privilege of Parenting had this loveliness to say on the subject. As Anne told us her story we laughed and cried. Her journey through grief has been a long one – her second baby died 9 years ago – but she now spends much of her time showing other grieving parents that there’s a light at the end of that tunnel of pain. Her other goal is to raise awareness and banish taboos; to stop people from saying inane things like “You’re young, you’ll have another”, or ignoring the subject altogether.
Anne’s first baby, her son, was a little over 2 years old when she got pregnant again. She thought the timing was perfect. Anne was one of eight children and the only advice her mother gave her was to leave three years between kids instead of two, so she could enjoy her babies. She was in her mid-thirties at the time and after much discussion with her husband, they decided to have an amniocentesis to determine whether or not the baby had Down’s Syndrome or any of the other trisomy abnormalities. A week after her amnio, her baby was dead. She was suddenly a statistic, that 1 in 200 whose pregnancy is ended by the procedure. In shock, she was induced, not fully understanding what was happening, and 10 hours later, met her second son. Her instincts were strong and she held him, named him, cried over him, loved him as only a mother can. Then she let him go.
Two years later she became pregnant again. She was over the moon with joy. Then came the heart wrenching decision – should she have another amnio or not? They decided that despite everything, their reasons hadn’t changed and so they went in again. This time they didn’t even get to the procedure. There was no heartbeat. Their baby girl was gone.
Anne considers herself a mother of three, one living child, and two angels. Her son, when asked, will say he has a brother and sister but that they died. Some people might choose differently, but Anne’s heart is huge and her love for all of her children is palpable. She managed to track down her son’s ashes and has them now – they will be buried with her mother when she dies.
Every birth is a miracle. Every spirit has a lesson to teach. Every woman who becomes pregnant is a mother – for a moment at least – whether she holds her child or not. Every miscarriage, at 5 weeks or 5 months, is a wound that must be allowed to heal. Our cultural norm is to not share the news of a pregnancy until it has survived the first trimester. We like to hide that grief – keep it quiet – as though it has no validity, as though there is no reason to mourn. Second trimester losses are even greater, more rare, and as Anne found out, no one knows what to say.
Every story of loss and healing is different. We all have our own ways of coping. For those of us who have had more than one, the emotional impact of each loss is different. I wear a tiny gold band next to my wedding ring, closest to my heart. I bought that ring after my first pregnancy. I wanted something tangible to hold on to, something that would forever tie me to the spirit of my child who came and left so quickly.
Every birth is a miracle. Every spirit has a lesson to teach.
I believe in miracles. I am one. So are you. That’s so easy to forget isn’t it? Hold it close today. Hold the knowledge in your heart.
You are a miracle.