{I wrote this piece about a month and a half ago for a writers group I’m in at my church. Been meaning to share it here for awhile now. Recently I’ve noticed some of my child loss friends have posted similar themes on their blogs and it reminded me how connected we are and how I really should share this.}


My mail today consisted of three death certificates, one for each of my sons, and an American Baby magazine, of which I am not a subscriber.

One picture uploaded to twitter later, and I got the support I needed. “I’m sorry” and “I hate your mail today” and my particular favorite, “the USPS has a really f*cked up sense of humor.” Comments from women who have been there, or from those who haven’t because conceiving is so difficult in the first place, creating their own ache and sense of loss. That’s my community now, the Baby Loss Moms community. The Dead Baby Club.

Going out into the world as a member of this club is an entirely surreal experience. At times I crave anonymity- I just stroll through Whole Foods like a normal person. No one there knows I’m broken. That is until I have to ask the woman in the vitamin section the best iron supplement to take. She asks if I know why I’m deficient. “I experienced a pregnancy loss in June,” I tell her (but wait, no, there’s more to it). “That’ll do it!” she says as she picks up a bottle and hands it to me. She says she’s sorry for my loss, that she’s been there, suffered through miscarriages. The window opens, bringing relief. “I gave birth to triplets. They died the day they were born.” (There it is, but not really.) The look on her face- a mix of shock, confusion, pity, mouth agape- causes instant regret. I close the window and walk away, exposed.

This new world is strange and complex, and at times impossible to navigate. As much as I want to slip away, unnoticed, I also wish I could wear a sign around my neck.

My babies died 4 months ago. No, I’m not over it.

But there are layers of signs, really. Stating the reality of my life, that I’m a mother with no one to parent, is just surface information- what people are whispering to each other anyway (she’s the one who lost her triplets). There is some risk in telling it, but not nearly as much as telling you what that really means, what that really does to a person, to me.

I get brownie points for saying it without breaking down (she’s so strong), as people scan my face, impatient with my words, waiting to hear a tidy “but you know, all things happen for a reason” or “God is still good.” I don’t believe the former and am unable to think about the latter. Awkward silence hangs at the end of my words. Grasping, “It is what it is.” Not quite as satisfying for the masses, but there’s no way to slip a bow around this one.

My life experiences have given me many invisible signs, hanging there, heavy, often for far less sympathetic reasons. I’ve thought a lot about the signs others are wearing since this happened. I think about them mostly at church, the place that’s hardest to go at the moment (insert sign here). I look around and wonder, “Who else here is shattered into a million pieces? Where are my people?”

I think about what the signs of our congregation might say:

 

My wife left me.

 

My husband and I argued the whole way here.

 

I’m scared to eat.

 

I think my child might be taking drugs.

 

I lost my job.

 

I was (am) abused.

 

And what that really means:

 

I don’t deserve love.

 

I’m scared I married the wrong person.

 

I hate myself.

 

I’m a bad parent.

 

I feel inadequate.

 

It’s all my fault.

 

I’m a member of this community too, the Church. Why is it so much harder to reveal my signs here? To speak honestly with Christians when we’re indwelled with Truth?

There is comfort and cover in the façade of perfection.

Literal signs would be helpful, but unnecessary. If we can be trusted with another’s heart, it will open. If we can leave judgment to God and embrace our individual fragility, the Body will be strong. Are we brave enough to look, see, reveal?

Me:

Rudyard, Desmond, and Oscar are gone.

It takes everything in me to get out of bed in the morning.

I’m terrified this will happen again.

I’m simultaneously amazed and disgusted that I continue to live.

Today:

My sons’ death certificates arrived in the mail and I took a picture of them as if they were their first report cards. It’s what I have.

 

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