Loss, Perspective, & Hope

These little shoes were the first item we purchased for our firstborn. The hand-crocheted blanket, selected with love by Freddie’s daddy, was a memento gift from the kind people at the Lancaster Garden of Hope.

Those of you who also have experienced the complicated grief of losing a child’s life during pregnancy know too well the tousling, tossing succession of emotions that plague childless parents. Others who have known the sorrow of infertility identify with much of this as well. There is a cultural shift taking place in our generation, moving to an unprecedented place of openness with regards to the topics of miscarriage, infertility, and childbirth, that I believe is healthy and helpful, though still harrowing and hard.

I miss my baby. We miss our baby. Our “Freddie” (his or her in-the-womb name) would likely be just about four months old today. We feel sure we’d be three of the happiest people on the planet. The antique cradle that stands empty in our guest room would be at our bedside, likely smelling of fresh sheets and that unmistakable newborn scent, sporting a few more paint chips and maybe some stray drops of regurgitated milk. The desk I’m sitting at right now would be in a different spot to allow room for the changing table that’s upstairs holding extra linens right now instead of diapers and burp cloths. There might be a pile of baby laundry waiting for me in the dryer instead of the beach towels I used last week. I could be staring at this screen through bleary, teary eyes because I got a total of three hours of sleep last night, and only in 45-minute increments. And what’s more, I could have a cooing, or gurgling, or even screaming, bundle of joy making my arms feel like they’re going to fall off at any moment.

Instead, my arms ache with emptiness. I am fairly well-rested. My house is in order. I brought a paycheck home from work today. Caleb will come home soon to a quiet house and be kissed by a calm, unharried wife. We will eat dinner in peace, uninterrupted by the sounds coming from a baby monitor or the need to tend to a diaper blow-out. But oh, what we wouldn’t give for any of that.

Last week dear friends of ours who had sailed high on the wings of hope for a long-awaited healthy pregnancy were suddenly, cruelly forced to say goodbye to a tiny growing son or daughter…for the sixth time. SIX precious babies await them in Heaven. Caleb and I feel at times overwhelmed with anticipation for our one.

But, hope.

H o p e  :   a virtue.  Hope, associated with joy, peace, fulfilled longing. And this: When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:4-58).

Our Jesus carries us, and He goes even further — giving us hope. He has promised to not cause pain without allowing something new to be born (Isaiah 66:9, NCV). And learning trust, with the reward of hope, is an understatedly beautiful thing.