Miracle in the Sky

I have written about ten posts in my head this summer, but there hasn’t been time to be still and put words to the swirl of my life. Instead, I’ve been in the glorious trenches of being a wife and a mom – reuniting with my family for a memorable reunion, teaching a week of VBS to a handful of curious and crazy eleven-year-old city kids who ask questions like, “are angels real?” and “how can I avoid going to hell?”, planting flowers and harvesting garden produce, hanging laundry, canning applesauce, teaching ladies’ Sunday School and laughing with the boys who fill my life with messy joy! My online life has been empty, but my real life full

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     We planted blue forget-me-nots on the grave. The small grave, just a few shovels wide. I was just nine.

      My parents had walked up the front walkway so slowly, as if it hurt to move. They held hands and they said nothing. They came in quiet and the rambling gray house on Pearl Street was unusually still. It was like everyone was walking on their tiptoes and no one knew what to say.

     We were all there, all eleven of us Pratt children (eventually there was thirteen of us) with our trademark light hair and blue-green eyes, all there struggling to make sense of a death far too small. We each got to meet him, the tiny child. Everyone went into the bedroom individually and came back crying, so when it was my time to go in, I was terrified.

      “You don’t have to come see him,” My dad had told me gently, but I had shaken my head “yes”, that I wanted to meet my baby brother.

       So eighteen years ago, I walked through the door of my parent’s bedroom with my Dad and I met Samuel. My mom was propped up against the bed pillows after her long day at the hospital, giving birth to a lifeless child, an eighteen-week fetus – her baby boy, Samuel. My brother.

       I held him and I thought that his brown form was perfect. His fingers were the smallest fingers I have ever seen and his body seemed to weigh nothing. I held him and I marveled. And I cried.

      Every June, I think of Samuel and I wonder what he is like. Is he quiet or talkative? Strong-willed or laid-back? What does his laugh sound like?

     Forget him we will not.

     Fourteen years later, after my mother went to her maternity check-up and was told that her body had miscarried, I experienced the same maternal loss. Nothing can prepare you for the surreal pain of a miscarriage.

      There are cold statistics like, “10-25 percent of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage”  and hard facts like first-time pregnancies ending in miscarriage are common.

      But knowing all the facts and statistics can’t prepare you for the moment when your body bleeds death. Miscarriage was not something I hadn’t seen up close – having watched my own mother go through a miscarriage four times and my sisters and sister-in-laws more than once. But when all of a sudden, you feel the barrenness of an empty womb and you watch the hopes and dreams of having this baby slip through your fingers and your body keep bleeding and your heart can’t stop oozing, you understand that losing your unborn baby is not a common occurrence.

       Because every life is a miracle, at any point of gestation.

       And every loss of life is a death. Not just to a dream or hopes, but a real child with a real soul dies.

       This summer, within a couple weeks of each other, my sister-in-law and one of my good friends had a miscarriage. Within a matter of hours, these brave, strong women went from talking about baby names and thinking about baby things and celebrating the small lives being entrusted to their care – each first time mothers – to mourning and grieving the death of their wee ones.

        I walked into the door of my sister-in-law’s house and she smiled brave with bloodshot eyes, and I couldn’t help but break wide open when I wrapped my arms around her small frame. “It’s going to be okay,” She said, and the strange thing about losing a baby is that somehow you find yourself telling everyone else that it’s going to be okay, because while you feel like life itself is being drained away from you, the only thing that gives you strength to stand-up is believing that somehow all this madness will make sense.

         You don’t know when. You don’t know how. But you have to believe that it will, or you’ll go mad.

         The hardest thing about losing a baby by miscarriage is how overlooked your pain can feel. And to the Church, to the Body of Christ, I say this one thing – if we believe in the viability of life at conception, we will celebrate every life at two weeks gestation or two hundred-years-old. We will celebrate each life and we will grieve every loss.

          A grave stone does not signify life, a heartbeat does. 

          I speak on behalf of the women who have mothered life and birthed death. Don’t minimize our pain. It’s not “just” a miscarriage.  A living, breathing soul has gone to be with Jesus.  We will pick up and move forward and we will heal, but we will never forget.

           Our Miracle in the Sky.

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10 thoughts on “Miracle in the Sky

  1. This is amazing, Renee! The word “overlooked” caught me in the heart. I’ve felt that so many times! I just had my 6th miscarriage and when I say the number, people looked shocked and feel bad, but when I then say that the miscarriages all happened between 4-6 weeks and then the fact that I’ve never actually known I was pregnant until I miscarry…somehow, that makes so it’s not any big thing. Anyway, I didn’t mean to make this about me, I just wanted to emphasize that every miscarriage is a big thing…and you did an amazing job of saying that. Thank you!

  2. Yes. I affirm. Every life should be properly celebrated and rightfully mourned. I haven’t walked through a personal miscarriage but my heart carries pains for my friends who have.

  3. I bet we would run out of time before we ran out of words, if we went out for coffee. Hugs to you, Rachelle. I hope you feel the Father holding you close as you grieve the loss of your little baby. You have a big family waiting in heaven for you!

  4. Oh my how true this is! My miscarriage occurred at a time when many significant people in my life were dealing with hard realities in their life. I was unable to talk well about my loss with those who actually took the time to ask because of this, and many never asked because they were processing these other things going on. To say I felt alone hardly seems accurate. Thank you for honoring those who’ve experience early pregnancy loss and pointing out that the church needs to be more supportive of those of us who have lost babies, regardless of their age.

  5. Thank you for this! I struggle with what I can do/say during a time when a friend is going through a miscarriage. I have a friend who has lost many babies and each time it gets harder to know what to say because I’ve said it before. =/ It breaks my heart to see those that I love suffering the loss of a precious child. I’m so sorry to hear of your friend and sister in law losing a baby. 😦

  6. “But when all of a sudden, you feel the barrenness of an empty womb and you watch the hopes and dreams of having this baby slip through your fingers and your body keep bleeding and your heart can’t stop oozing, you understand that losing your unborn baby is not a common occurrence.” Yes and Amen. Thanks for having the courage to write truth.

  7. You made me cry–THANK YOU! I desperately needed to hear someone put this to words–to have someone truly understand. I’ve lost several babies, two of them this year (our sweet Eliana in February and another one in August). You put my heart-cry into words, Renee. Thank you for challenging the Church to treasure these precious souls and to share the deep grief of their parents. The comfort of this “oozing” heart is that one great day the Father will reunite me with the beloved souls who once lived within me. Together we’ll make the courts of Heaven ring–because no Valesky could ever be silent, right?. 🙂

  8. Yes, Paula! How could any Valesky ever be silent. 😉 It was so good to briefly see you at the violin performance a couple weeks ago. Ryan was waiting on me, so I needed to go, otherwise I would have loved to have seen if I could chat with you for a moment. It looks like your children are getting so big – it has been too long…

    I am sorry that you lost yet another baby this August. I pray that Jesus is close to you as your heart grieves the loss of your precious little one.

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