We were at a backyard party. Daddy was playing in the band. The host had roasted a pig. It was the highlight of my five year-old summer. Maybe I was six. I don’t know exactly. But I do know what color mom’s shorts were. I remember her face as she began to cry in front of the whole company of party-goers. I remember her awkwardly sitting in a chair outside as she sobbed asking no one in particular, “Why is this happening again?” I remember the ladies gathering ’round to comfort her and taking her inside. I remember not being allowed to follow.
I was playing outside with my brother when Daddy told us he had to take Mommy to the hospital. No one told us why. Maybe it was the bits of conversation we overheard. Maybe it was the cloud of disappointment in the air. Those were the louder things one hears even when no one is talking. Somehow we just knew.
This was not Mommy’s first miscarriage. It was her third. The first two happened before I was born, and, even though it was never openly discussed, I still heard of them.
My mother had five pregnancies and only two children to show. Like a darkness hanging over my womb, I always wondered if I would experience the same. From the moment I became pregnant the very first time until the baby arrived I worried and wondered if I, too, would lose my baby before I saw her.
God did something else, though. God gave me a beautiful, healthy baby with no complications. And then another. And another. And another. Four beautiful, healthy babies. The thoughts and angst associated with mom’s history was almost nonexistent in my mind. Nary a worry of what could go wrong or the chance that it would ever even crossed my mind until I saw my first sonogram with baby number five.
The doctor asked how far along I was and with shape to prove it I proudly replied, “Eleven weeks.” Thirty seconds later an eleven week baby did not pop up on the monitor like the previous four times I had done this, though. He told me he did not see a baby at all. He called out the door in decibels that, at that moment, sounded louder than the voice of God to cancel my blood work. He explained the probability that I had miscarried and sent me for another ultrasound.
I filled the next two hours with busyness. When I saw my womb on screen for the second time that day, a very positive, childless technician assured me that everything was indeed present, that it all looked fine, and suggested that I had probably just miscalculated my dates. She said I had a normal six week old fetus.
As much as I struggled to believe her and somehow rearrange what I knew to be the truth, I knew. I knew six weeks was not reasonably possible. I knew she was wrong. I knew something was wrong and I knew it was not my dates. Still, reasoning that God can make the dead alive, I prayed that he would do just that. I prayed and was prayed for over the week I waited for the next ultrasound.
I arrived expecting the worst and hoping for a miracle. I watched each measurement with acute intensity. “Is that the baby?” asked my husband. I knew it was. But, silence. No reply at all from the technician. I knew it was the baby, I knew there was no heartbeat, and I knew she was neither permitted nor comfortable saying it definitively without consulting the doctor. But I knew. She knew. We all knew. The silence told the tale without a word.
People tell you a lot of things when they want to help. Their words are kind and encouraging, generally, but there are other things heard that speak much louder.
The doctor’s voice cancelling my preliminary blood work was louder. The failure of my husband to continue announcing my obvious pregnancy to people we saw in public was louder. The cessation of conversations about baby names and future family scenarios was louder. The silence of the second technician was louder. The spontaneous dialogue about what will happen if we lose the baby spurred by the passing of a large hospital was louder. The voice of my gleeful seven year-old skipping down the fishing pier the day after I miscarried saying, “Look! It’s just the five of us!” because she did not know and was counting the baby was louder. The confusion of my nine year-old as she picked up the brand new addition to our window cling stick figure family that I bought the week before and never placed was louder. The feeling that I shouldn’t leave the beach and go back home because I left my youngest baby there alone was louder.
The louder things lie waiting, revealing the truth. They are the sounds that one hears somewhere between grief and grey matter; between fall out and faith; between denial and acceptance.
Maybe that’s why most who miscarry do not speak much about it. Maybe they don’t have to. The louder things speak for themselves.
He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” ~2 Samuel 12:22-23