All week I’ve been struggling with what to write about infant loss during this year’s Baby Loss Awareness Week.
In 2010, we lost three babies in less than nine months.
Three times, I felt my belly swell and my heart practically burst. Three times we were crushed by the pain and sadness of loss.
Our arms were empty.
Then, in 2011, we experienced a different kind of infant loss. We held a brand-new baby boy in our arms. We made plans to bring him home to our waiting nursery. We mapped out his future as our son, until the woman who gave him life decided to raise him.
Again, we had empty arms.
This week, I have spent time remembering my babies. I’ve thought about what could have been, and what was not. I have relived each loss and remembered each baby’s story. I’ve thought about a little boy who may never know how much I loved him, and how hard it was to walk away from him.
But I haven’t felt oppressing sadness.
This fact made me uncomfortable. I thought I couldn’t write about my losses, unless I was still struggling with them.
I assumed this week was entirely about sharing heartbreak, but right now in my life, all I have to share is hope.
Friends, the loss is real. The pain is hard. The sorrow is great. Chance and I have cried many tears over what could have been.
My arms still ache for the four children I have lost. Now though, my heart is full with the children I have gained.
Our losses have helped to form the weave of our story’s tapestry.
Following our second loss, Chance and I were driven to become certified foster parents. We went through the training and the process of certification. We’ve never taken in foster children, but we’ve offered respite and knowledgable advice for our friends who are walking through that fire. The training also gave us a foundation for working with children from trauma.
After our third loss, we decided to partner with a ministry that was doing domestic infant adoptions. We learned much from their priorities – their first was to minister to the birth moms, and their second was infant adoptions. We learned what it looked like to have an open adoption. Over the past few years, this training has helped us minister to a few women who were contemplating adoption plans. It also gave us the love and mission-minded approach we had as we worked with our birth mom in 2011.
More recently, we’ve recalled the foundation laid by this training as we’ve advised some of our closest friends. They entered into an open adoption over a year ago, and have tirelessly shared the love of Christ with their daughter’s birth mom.
We were in-process with Nasko’s adoption when our own open adoption failed. After meeting Nasko, we realized how much care he would require, and knew it would be best for him to be an only child upon finalization of his adoption.
Nasko’s file was sent to us from an agency who saw that his fate was bleak without an adoption. Our hearts were prepared to take on a child with such needs because our eyes had been opened to the orphan crises around the world.
Around the time Nasko was adopted, I made major dietary changes and began seeing articles on the links between food intolerances and miscarriages/infertility. We prayerfully conceived and carried our healthy baby boy, Louis, just over a year later. I’ve become a walking billboard for the understanding that food issues can cause miscarriages; since Louis was born, I’ve told our story to many women with loss-filled pasts. At least four of these women have delivered healthy babies.
Five years ago, our lives were filled with sadness and heartbreak. We had no idea the hope and the promise that would come from our emptiness.
I’ve written about our losses a few times here on the blog. Each time, it has been healing for me, but I know it has also been healing for those of you who were reading. Friends have shared their stories and their memories. Women who have never previously spoken of their miscarriages, have honored their children by sharing their stories here.
This week, I also want to give hope to the hopelessness of loss.
If you have experienced loss, feel free to comment here on my blog with the way you remember your child (whether it be a name or a date). You can share your story here. You are loved and your children have value. I am truly sorry for your heartache.
Also, if you have seen your sadness turned to hope, be encouraged to share that story in the comments as well.
This week, let us remember our babies and our losses, but let us also cling to the hope that God will use each of our experiences for his glory.