It’s been just over a month since we found out we lost our little one. Someone so little that hardly anyone yet knew they even existed. It’s been five weeks since we didn’t get to hear their heart beating at our twelve-week appointment; though we don’t know exactly when our baby’s spirit left us, it seemed that their body measured around seven or eight weeks – their heart had been beating at our seven-week appointment… 152bpm.
Five Mondays ago, we said goodbye, yet so many still don’t know about our baby’s existence. We named our second child Shai, but it’s not like an obituary could be written about them. There is no date of birth to write of. It’s not like we told everyone that we were expecting this sweet baby – though some we literally couldn’t hide it from, of course, whether we wanted to or not – so how, now, could we tell them we lost Shai? We were waiting until we could see some people in person; we were waiting until it was “safe to tell the world” – haha – on Social Media or in our community, but I think I’ve learned there is no safe time, not now that the time has passed from sharing news of joy to sharing news of sorrow mixed in with it.
Now, there is no life that was lived outside the womb to have impacted many others, yet this baby’s life did affect a few, our family, me. So it seems it is up to us to write about our child’s life and impact if we are to remember Shai well and if we are to allow you, whoever you may be, dear reader, whether you are a friend or a stranger, to know that this is a part of our story too…
Some people go years without telling others. I just can’t. I know it’s not even October yet, but it’s been enough time for me. More people could benefit to know more about this reality. I won’t tell those who have gone through the hardship of miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss that they should share as much or as publicly as I am, but I do believe that this grief should not be carried alone. Each life and loss is unique. Our reality is not yours. In many ways, it could be easy to feel guilty if one were to compare our loss to others… but that’s not what loss is about. Our story isn’t any more important than others, but it also is not any less important.
So, I’m sharing this blog and letter I wrote to our baby for two reasons: may those of you who hurt in these, or similar, ways find comfort in knowing you are not alone; may those of you who know me, Aaron, and Sapphira, also learn more about our second child and how they impacted our lives, how Shai has become a special part of our family’s story, forever.
Though we never got to hold you in our arms, I carried your little body in mine for twelve weeks, and your daddy held me through it. We were so excited when we figured out you were developing inside of me. We couldn’t wait to tell our families and close friends. We took pictures of ourselves cheekily holding the stick, anticipating the day we would announce your existence to “the world.” The journey had begun, again. I prayed for help through the season of sickness and fatigue that had clued us in to your presence, knowing it was only temporary; you were worth it. Even now, you are still worth every moment we got to have with you, my dear.
We named you, Shai. We don’t know whether you are a boy or a girl, but we know you are ours, and we wanted to express how every moment with you was a gift. Just as your name means “a gift one receives,” or “present,” we are thankful for every moment we were given with you.
Those moments were full of expectancy and hope: the thrill of seeing the pregnancy test go positive (and the “what have we got ourselves into” sentiments mixed with excitement that came with it), the familiarity of the onset of that lovely hGC hormone (of course many of the things that go with “morning sickness” and fatigue are not pleasant, but they were still sweet reminders of you), the joy of laughing when your older sister, Sapphira, gave you kisses on my tummy (even though she probably couldn’t conceive of the concept of your existence at her age), the giddiness of seeing your little body at our seven-week ultrasound, and viewing your heartbeat – so small, we couldn’t even hear it yet, but we knew it was there… we knew you were there with us, and we prayed you would be with us for a long time.
We prayed for what we desired, and though we were given much less than that, you have been given so much more than we can even imagine. Now, these moments without you are still filled, but with a different kind of expectancy and hope.
We love you, Shai. Until we meet again, またね.
Now, I wrote and ended this letter from my worldview as a Christian, and I know that sometimes – often – as a believer, I tend to sound “preachy” in my blogs, especially when I finish them with a note of the hope or joy or peace etc. that I find in Christ. So, while I do want to acknowledge how our Emmanuel truly brings us joy in this sorrow – here is a blog from a site a friend shared with me that does address this important aspect of my belief – and how the prayers of many are helping us through this trying time, I also want to be REAL. Though there truly is joy, I don’t wish to diminish the sorrow and the difficulty that comes with it as we work through losing Shai (and while Aaron is still recovering from what he experienced twelve days prior to the news of our miscarriage – SIDE UPDATE on his most recent blog post: thank you for praying as Aaron’s health is still needing to improve; we saw a GI specialist, and he has a few tests going on this week as we continue to try to figure out what is really wrong with his body).
I’m not going to wrap this post up in a neat little bow. But, if knowing too many “graphic” details would cause you to be uncomfortable or if this post already feels too personal for you, I encourage you not to read on. I understand. I think I am mostly just sharing this for myself, and I’m only going to allow you in a little to know a bit of how hard this can be emotionally, as well as to remember that it is hard for many, MANY others in a myriad of unique and challenging ways.
For me, I am doing well physically. Too well I sometimes think, from what I’ve read about some miscarriages and recoveries. I am grateful that I am able to help Aaron through all of what has been going on with his health because I am “feeling fine,” but as I have given myself some time and space recently to revisit my emotions with others or on my own, and I’ve been realizing that I still do have hurt and questions that I’m at risk of burying because it has all gone too fast and been too – dare I say – easy, to “move on” this time. (I say “this time” because I vividly remember how hard it was for me to progress and process through grief after my mother left this world in 2010… I also say “move on” knowing from experience that one never fully forgets or gets over losing a loved one, but the burden can get a little lighter with time – with the exception of when one revisits those emotions whether through involuntary “triggers” or for the purpose of sharing with others experiencing similar trials… but I digress. These thoughts would be for another post someday I suppose).
So, here is some of my hurt through what happened: I reached for Aaron’s hand when our ultrasound RN left the room, saying she couldn’t find a heartbeat. Tears streamed as silent acknowledgement of the news I knew would inevitably come, combating the positive thoughts that said it was probably just me thinking the worst. Our midwife came in to confirm the miscarriage, but it was also not – to my knowledge – what one might typically think when they hear the word. It was actually a “missed miscarriage” as some say, because my body did not recognize that I had miscarried in time for me to naturally and safely “pass the pregnancy” as they put it.We were advised to have a D&C scheduled, and fast, because we would be flying out of town two days later and shouldn’t risk the probability of losing too much blood if I waited since it had already been weeks since our baby had passed. As we received all of this information, through the disbelief and acceptance of what we just learned, we nodded and agreed and said whatever was left to be said. I even said at one point that, I knew somehow that we had lost the baby – silly me. How could I know? I hoped against doubts and fears, but those thoughts were normal and quickly brushed away every time I got nauseous or tired again. Of course I couldn’t have known.
We left without stopping at the desk routinely to schedule the next ultrasound and appointment… I wept and wailed on the drive home. I yelled out all the stupid thoughts that were coming into my head, voices that were saying it was my fault, or that I or we should have done this or shouldn’t have done that etc. I knew I had to yell them out because I was thinking them even though my midwife had assured me that there was nothing we could have done, that it was normal.
I hated that verbiage of normal. Miscarriage is normal. So? Death is normal too. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be acknowledged, that the grief should be lessened… and I’m not saying that I feel like this grief has been lessened by any one else – but me. As I said before, that’s why I want to share now, instead of burying my emotions.
I hated that I still felt nauseous and tired when we got home that Monday afternoon. Aaron told me I should still nap. I cried. It was then that I had the idea and desire to name our child “gift” in another language. Aaron agreed at dinner. We contacted and told our parents and a few other people that day so they could lift us up in prayer especially for the D&C which was scheduled for the next morning (we also asked a dear neighbor to care for Sapphira). We stayed up later so I could eat a snack and drink a bunch of water at ten since I wouldn’t be allowed to eat or drink anything past midnight because of the procedure. I couldn’t sleep well that night, having to get up to pee since I’d consumed so much liquid, and feeling like I needed to take some time to reflect with God and cherish the last moments that I was carrying this baby, Shai – even though they were not really with me anymore.
Everything went well on Tuesday morning and I am grateful for the nurses, anesthesiologist, doctor, and staff, and for an unsolicited visit from our associate pastor.
After it all, I then hated that I didn’t have nausea anymore. I wasn’t even that tired like they said I’d probably be, but I was emotionally exhausted. Aaron told me still to rest and nap as he cared for Sapphira, but I just laid awake in bed. I hated feeling “fine.” It meant that Shai was no longer with us, no longer present in my body, and I had to deal with that reality even more. The day before, I could still “hold” Shai, but we had to really say goodbye when they… removed. our. baby. That night, I grieved with Aaron, and he comforted me, but grief keeps coming in cycles.
This week, a new wave came when my time of the month came. I hate bleeding now. It means we didn’t conceive after all. I hate how much I hate these things because it seems so minuscule knowing how much harder it is for others, how much longer other mothers and fathers wait, how much more they have to try until maybe someday they get to have their “rainbow baby” if they ever even do… on top of that, we already have the gift of our healthy, beautiful, Sapphira, and no tomorrow is guaranteed with her either. So I question why I am so focused on writing about Shai right now – spending over eight hours at the computer – instead of focusing on her, my husband, and the many tasks before me this week? (I hate how complicated and convoluted it can get if I think about it too much, but it also doesn’t do to ignore such thoughts).
Still, life is going on as life tends to do, at least for the living… in some ways I feel as though we haven’t had the proper “time” to grieve the loss of Shai. It’s, again, a reality of many miscarriages. I don’t know how others remember their lost little ones; that is something we still need to figure out as a family. For now, I suppose that’s why I felt I should take the time to write this blog post. I know… I know I keep saying that, justifying why I’m sharing, perhaps even over-sharing, but there is a reason. It’s for you. It’s for me. It’s for being real. It’s for feeling feelings. It’s for asking questions. It’s for Sapphira. It’s for Shai.
So, here are some of my questions:
How will we take the time to remember or grieve, or even celebrate Shai in our lives? How will we talk to Sapphira about Shai in the future?
How will I talk to others? Will I be able to revisit this grief well enough to come alongside those with similar stories?
In what ways might it be appropriate for me to share or talk about miscarriage when we theoretically live in Japan?
Finally, at the risk of ending on a preachy note…though I believe God is at work, I want to know: How is God working and how will He continue to work in all of this? We were desiring for Sapphira’s next sibling to be closer in age to her. Now it seems – in our limited, finite, perspective – that the window for that opportunity has passed since we need to be intentional about considering all the factors for preparing to transition and moving to Japan. Still, I trust God’s perfect timing, and I know the answers will only come in time.
There is of course more I could write, but I’ll take my leave to keep processing these emotions and asking more questions outside of this medium. For now, this is where we are.