Please note: this is a personal reflection on loss. We tell this story in order that readers know they are not alone. Blessings, Roy and Tiffany.
It’s 2:30 AM, and I’m awake.
I am swaying in the rocking chair, trying to persuade my baby to burp. Finally, my soft tapping on her back succeeds, and she belches loudly into the darkness. “Good girl,” I whisper, and suddenly I’m reminded of a moment from my own childhood. I was eight and getting the death-stare from my mother who sat across from me at my grandmother’s dining table. She was not amused. Exactly what is the age when burping becomes rude?
I wrap her swaddle tightly as her eyes close. I kiss her forehead and lay her down into the bassinet by the bed. Our sweet daughter. Our third child.
I’m not sure how to talk about our second baby, except to lay out the facts. In July of last year, I came home from serving as a sponsor at church camp, and my wife and son met me at the door and brought me into the dining room. There she had prepared coffee. And by coffee, I mean Kaffee, which in Germany is less the name of a drink and more a designation of time in which people get together over coffees and teas and cakes. So there was coffee—sweet rolls on fine dessert plates with lemon icing, hot tea, and a fresh mug of coffee. Tiffany had the mug custom-made. It read, “Bun in the Oven – Father of Two!”
I was thrilled, if not entirely surprised. We had been trying. And so we ate and laughed and explained to Micah what was happening. And then we had to explain it to him again.
We told our parents. Our friend Missy took announcement pictures. We told our family members and close friends. And we dreamt about the new life that was forming within us.
And on August 4th, we miscarried.
It was very early in the term; we were only a few weeks along. But on one horrible early morning, our cries carried away this little life, as though we had just dreamt it up.
It took us a couple of weeks before we told anyone except our immediate families that we’d had a miscarriage. But after that, we felt we wanted our friends at church to know that this incredibly significant thing was happening. So during our Bible Class’s prayer request time, I told them.
And then a beautiful thing happened. People told us.
Until we had experienced this loss of our own, we knew just a small handful of people who had gone through the pain of losing a pregnancy. But after speaking up, several of our friends shared their own stories of pain and struggle. Many had lost early term pregnancies. Some had lost babies quite late. Others told us about fertility problems and mourning over the loss of any future children. The “one in five pregnancies” statistic was displayed before us in a mosaic of quiet sadness. Our friends huddled around us and prayed for us.
Their empathy didn’t lessen the pain of loss. But in that moment we needed to be known, to be understood, and that’s what our friends offered. And we are grateful.
On October 15th, we attended our first Remembrance Ceremony. There were about thirty people. There were some there whom I expected to see, but there were also people there who were a surprise. I knew them, but I didn’t know. I expect they were surprised to see us as well.
We gathered and we worshipped and we prayed and we read Psalm 139. We lit candles (several times, in fact. Abilene is a windy place). That was it. A short, simple moment for everyone to stop, be silent, and in the name of Jesus Christ lift up our loss.
I thought of God, and I wondered if anyone present that night was angry at God. Such things should not happen; that they do seems a grotesque cruelty. I wasn’t angry at God, though to be honest I don’t know why I wasn’t. When I thought of God, I couldn’t help but think of the cross. And somehow, I knew that the tears that we shed were somewhere, mingling with the tears of God the Father.
October 15th is the International Day of Remembrance for Pregnancy and Infant Loss. We are currently making plans for a memorial candle-lighting service in West University to take place that evening. Come talk to me if you’d like to help plan this service.