The day that would have been Lilia’s due date is looming over me.
Truthfully, sometimes I try to pretend I don’t know it’s coming.
Because I don’t know if I should feel relieved or sad or angry or happy or peaceful or calm. I don’t know if we should go away to remember her, or to release balloons or light a candle. I don’t know if we should sit near her memory tree or write her a letter. I don’t know if I should be moving on or still crying over her loss.
A long, long time ago I was with a few girls who were discussing someone they knew who was having difficulty getting pregnant. I don’t remember specifics to the conversation, but I remember the overarching theme was an inability to understand – understand why she couldn’t get over it, or why she would feel hurt or upset when her friends were fortunate enough to get pregnant. And in my youth and naivety, I am sure I nodded along, sharing their sentiments.
But I know now. I know the pain of loss. I know what it feels like to see your friends move on, to see their bellies grow, their babies being born. I know what it’s like to have that due date loom in front of you – to know that it should be your turn. It should be your day to celebrate, to have the visitors, the balloons and freezer meals, the gifts of doll sized clothing.
And I know what it’s like to wish for just one second to smell that newborn smell. To wonder what your daughter would have looked like. To get one glimpse into big blue eyes. To buy her first dress, to kiss her face. I know what it’s like to wish to know what her personality would have been like. Would she have been a great sleeper or a horrible one? Would she have preferred mommy or daddy? What would her first word have been – how would her first day of Kindergarten have gone?
The questions – they don’t end.
I think most of us, as women, feel like mothers the minute we find out we are pregnant. We immediately scour books and the internet for information. We call our friends, our mothers, our sisters. We ask questions. We change our eating habits. We cut back on coffee. We feel guilty for the medicine we take or the food we eat. We WANT to protect our children, even before we hear a heartbeat.
For a lot of us, we become mothers immediately.
It’s true that someone who loses a baby at 4 weeks won’t experience the same things as someone who loses one at 16. And the woman who loses a baby at 16 weeks won’t experience the same thing as someone who loses a baby at 32 weeks, or 39 weeks, or a stillbirth, or losing a child to a terminal illness – but we do all share one thing in common. Unimaginable pain over the loss of a child. Of the dream of being a mother to THAT child.
Before we found out we had lost her, Todd & I had narrowed girl names down to 2 choices. Ultimately we went with a totally different choice, for other reasons, but when I hear those names now, it’s like a knife to my heart. When I see little girls running around, blonde hair flying, I feel a longing for what should have been. It is a grief I never, ever could have understood before I experienced it.
I still don’t know why I am on this path. I don’t know why this happened to us. I don’t know how to make sense of it. And truthfully, I probably never will.
But it has taught me a great deal of compassion for women who have gone through it.
Every night, when I pray, I ask God to let Lilia know we love her. I ask Him to tell her that I will never forget her. That I think about her all the time, and that she is the daughter I prayed for. I ask Him to let her know I am grateful I was fortunate enough to carry her for 16 short, short weeks. And while February 25th looms over my head, I trust that things will fall into place, that we will celebrate and remember her the best way possible. And I trust that God will continue to do His work in me. I know He loves me, and I know he weeps when I weep.
I imagine him passing along my prayers to my daughter.
It brings me great peace.