For those of you that have known me for any extended period of time, know that I for as long as I can remember, my primary occupational desires were to be a husband and a father. This isn’t to say I haven’t had multiple other aspirations, but rather that through all of it, I felt those aspirations should give way to a family. When Lindsey and I met and married, we both shared that interest.
In August, we found out that were pregnant! And it was by choice! I ran such a range of emotions – excitement, fear, expectation, hope, and most of all love. I was going to be a dad!
We had decided to be very open from the beginning of our pregnancy to be able to have a community around us no matter what. We used our wedding list as a guide – if you were someone that was at our wedding or we really wanted to be there but couldn’t get you there, you were likely close enough to tell about the little blueberry swimming around. We told our church, too, knowing that they often provide us our support – they are a major part of our community here in Columbus.
A few weeks went by, and it was time for the first ultrasound – a chance to see my child for the first time. I was giddy, and I don’t use that word often because no one should call themselves giddy unless they really are – it’s embarrassing.
We sat in the examination room and waited for the tech to come in and start. For those of you have never seen these early ultrasound exams… let me tell you that they look amongst some of the most awkward experiences ever. Anyway, we waited as the tech moved her wand, and before long we found our baby. We waited for movement and heartbeat.
They never came.
Apparently, the baby was two weeks too small. The doctor suggested that maybe we miscounted our cycle and that we come back later and try again. When we did, it was the same result. No movement, no heartbeat. Our first child, who by then had recognizable limb and organ development, had died.
As I’ve reflected on that time in our life together, the part that is most difficult is the fleeting time we got to share with whoever that child was. The extent to which I interacted with my first baby was on a screen in a sterile doctor’s office 25 minutes away from my house and three hours away from the rest of my family. I don’t know anything more about that child, and when I look to this week, which would have been the week of delivery, it’s what haunts me the most. Many of my contemporaries are having children, and while I celebrate their joy, I can’t help but think about my first baby. I don’t know how that child would smile, or how it would play. I don’t know anything except what it looked like on an ultrasound.
This is certainly a rough week. With the events of yesterday and my heart already heavy, I feel like I cannot connect my words to my heart. As I was reading many responses on varying social media outlets, I felt that I wasn’t the only one. Some folks exhorted us to not rush to judgement, others tried to provide moments of levity, and finally others just avoided the topic altogether, no doubt in a conscious effort to demonstrate social media is not the appropriate space for commentary.
I tried to find something to summarize my thoughts, and I found a poem by ee cummings. I posted it yesterday on Facebook, and want to share again:
in spite of everything
which breathes and moves,since Doom
(with white longest hands
neatening each crease)
will smooth entirely our minds
-before leaving my room
through the morning)kiss
where our heads lived and were.
As I get older, and as I try to understand why this world continues to spin itself away from justice, I feel like it’s not right for me to tell anyone that they shouldn’t be pissed and want to punish someone – it’s a reasonable reaction, and reasonable people will realize soon that it’s not the right approach. I’m also not going to try to make light of the situation – so many friends wanted Lindsey to move on after our miscarriage. It happens all the time, they’d say. That is cold comfort when it’s your child. So no, you have a right to be as upset as you want, and mourn how you want.
I can’t ignore it either. So instead, I just love my wife more.
I tell you that I love you, too, and that yep, this world is shitty, and it’s not fair, and why would someone do this I know I know I know, but you are loved.
The gospel is love in its full and mysterious weight, and it doesn’t require explanation or reconciliation. It’s sometimes simply remembering to kiss the pillow I slept on with my wife, and carry on determined to love more, even when I deliver it with complete and total imperfection.