Saturday, June 29, 2013

Calling Them By Name

I often look back on our experience with recurrent miscarriage. I still think about those precious little babies, all six, and wonder about what might have been. Recently I've been looking at it all again with fresh eyes. It has just been heavy on my heart and on my mind a lot in recent days.

This week I found the pregnancy journal that I started in 2002 and I've been reading through it. I actually started writing in it a few months before our first pregnancy, when we had first started trying to conceive. Of course, we had no idea there would ever be any problems. It was all coming from a very sincere and innocent place. I was excited and hopeful and I took a few minutes to write my feelings down in a journal, hoping to one day share them with our child.

After the initial excitement surrounding that first positive pregnancy test a few months later, what follows in the journal are pages and pages of heartbreak, rising and falling numbers, and expected -- then unfulfilled -- due dates. I used the little notebook (ironically, boasting a cheerful floral print on the cover) to record the whirlwind that we were wrapped up in for the next several years. I wrote quite a bit about events and also about feelings at first, but the feelings began to show up less and less as the years went on. It became more of a place to record data, mostly the cold, hard facts. Doctor visits, test results, surgery dates, HCG and progesterone levels, and Lovenox injections filled the pages, with some mention of our hopes and our fears sprinkled in.

But one thing is missing from those pages and from the entire experience, and it has always bothered me. We never named our babies.

It's not perfectly clear to me why we didn't give them names at that time. I think a big part of it is because we were kind of in shock. We still talk about that time as though we were living in a fog. The grief was so heavy and so consuming. All we could do was put one foot in front of the other. We kept trying and trying and trying, and we sought help as much as we could. We were desperate to figure out what was going wrong and why our babies kept dying. It wasn't AT ALL that they didn't feel real to us. Instead, it was so very real and so very painful that we couldn't allow ourselves to take that step. We thought about dates for a while but they began to add up and we distanced ourselves from trying to remember them because IT HURT SO MUCH. It was so difficult to process all of the miscarriages and all of the due dates and so many complicated feelings when we were right in the middle of it all. I think it was just too raw. The wounds needed time to heal.

I had my last miscarriage in January of 2007 and I was introduced to the world of blogging a little more than a year later. This blog was born in May of 2008 and it helped me so much as I worked to process everything that had happened. I didn't know if anyone would ever read anything I wrote, but I wrote anyway. I finally put words to the grief and the heartache that we'd been feeling. It felt great to write out all the sometimes dumb and sometimes insensitive things that people had said to us. And mostly it helped me begin to heal as I found a community of people who actually understood what I'd been through. I found people who also felt the anger, hurt, grief, and desperation... but they also felt the hope.

I truly believe that was a turning point for me. The fog began to clear. Around the same time, we sought help from a new fertility specialist and our hope was renewed somewhat. The next part of our story involved waiting. We didn't have another pregnancy until 2010, and that was the one that brought us Lily. Anna arrived two years later, and now she is more than half a year old. 

Time has passed. My husband and I have had lots of occasions to reflect on it all and to talk about it with some perspective now that we can look back on that time. A little bit of distance helps. And I think having our daughters has helped too. They remind us daily of how far we've come and of all it took to get here. They also remind us, in a way, of those precious six lives -- the babies who aren't here. Lily and Anna remind us how much we loved and wanted their siblings who came before them. We've just realized recently that now is the time to go back and fix something that we felt was left undone.

We've decided to give them names.

I don't know why, but the time feels right for us to do this now. A few weeks ago I asked Chuck to write down some names that meant something to him and I made my own list separately. We've compared notes and talked through it together, using the journal to help us remember details and how we were feeling at the time of each loss. I thought it would be nice, as a memorial, to write a post about each one of our babies individually. The first will appear at just the right time next weekend, if I can get it written in time, on the anniversary of our first miscarriage -- July 6. The posts won't always work out that way, but we thought it would be a good way to start. I want to share their names with you, too, here on the blog, if you'll indulge me.

It has been an emotional time to ponder all of these things. I can't remember the last time I had a good cry over all of it, but the tears have been flowing again this week as I've spent time focusing on our sweet babies and the memories surrounding our brief time with each of them. Oh, how I miss them! I wish more than ever that they could have stayed here with us but I know there will be such a sweet reunion someday in heaven, when I can finally see their faces!

And now, I'll look forward to finally calling them by name.


Amy said...

Wow. I knew from your FB status yesterday that there would be a blog about something. What a meaningful and hard job...naming your babies that have already gone to be with Jesus. We never did it, but I can surely see how it would make everything even more significant...they were here, they were real and living. They deserve names. I look forward to you sharing their stories. Love you.

JoyBelle said...

This is so precious and so sweet. We named our little angels and I think it helps so much. I can't wait to hear what names you pick out!

Connie said...

Oh Stace! Those sweet sweet babies! I love my Lily and my Anna so very very much but oh how I miss my other nieces and nephews. What a joy to run to them and scoop them up and call them by name when I see them in Heaven! XOXO

RenovationGirl said...

Infertility never ends, does it? I had hoped that with our miracle baby, that I would look back and not feel the pain of those 5 losses-but I do, perhaps now more than before now that I'm reminded of how precious they were, looking into this sweet baby's eyes. We didn't name ours, either. We only found out the gender one time and it just about did us in emotionally. I look forward to your posts...

Hope in Virginia said...

I'm getting very choked up right now thinking about what you went through, all of the emotions and grief, and now the journey you will go through giving each little baby a precious name. Big hugs!

Amazing Life said...

Naming our babies helped us so much. I love your way of writing, so honest and true. All of your babies are so special!

twondra said...

Oh sweetheart. This gave me chills and brought me to tears. We named our babies too and it helped. They are so real and never forgotten. I'm thinking of you and sending many hugs and prayers. Love you

Anonymous said...

I'm so ashamed, I've lost count of the ones we lost. I could look back through my journals, but it's so hard. Maybe later, when our journey is done.

But every one is a face I can't wait to see in Heaven, when we are all gathered together.

Jenn said...

What is from the heart is beauifully said.