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People tell you a lot of things when you have a miscarriage.
They give you statistics. They tell you about the friend of a friend of a
friend who had two miscarriages but then popped out four kids. They tell you
about the treatments that helped their cousin, sister or friend.
They tell you
to keep trying.
But the one thing they never remember to tell you is that the
grief never leaves your soul.
By my fourth miscarriage, I was an expert in my own grief.
Grief is messy and complicated and, despite the five stages and a seemingly
endless list of resources on the matter, grief is different for everyone.
People will tell you that grief fades away over time, that
the happy memories crowd out the feelings of loss. In the case of the loss of
my father, that proved to be true. Time did heal that wound. But the grief that
surrounded my miscarriages was different. It included feelings of guilt,
hopelessness and failure.
My kids were only 4 and 2 when I suffered the final
loss. My daughter was in preschool three mornings a week, and my son was my
faithful sidekick. We spent those mornings digging in the sand and sharing corn
muffins, while we waited for big sister to finish up at school. I was only a
week from telling them about the baby brother growing in my belly when it all
came crashing down around me.
When I returned from the hospital, my whole worldview
changed. I was always the playful and semi-protective mom. I lost two babies
before my daughter arrived, and the urge to enjoy every moment and protect her from
the harsh realities of the world was strong.
Whatever we do, we do it knowing that we are all in this together. We are a team, this little family of ours, and it works for us.
Those first two miscarriages also
shaped my whole parenting philosophy (if we can even call it that): Be present and enjoy
the small moments, because life is unpredictable and there isn't room for
In some ways, my introverted nature made it easy to throw
myself into living in the moment with my kids. I didn't crave "moms' nights
out" or "me-time." Yes, I experienced the stress of parenting toddlers. I
survived on coffee and long walks, and I lived for naptime. But I was happy more
often than not.
I spent those early days lost in play with my little ones. I
was that mom—the one going down the
slides with my kids and digging with them in the sand.
Years later, I'm still the playful mom. I accept every
invitation that comes my way, whether it's shooting hoops on the back patio or
judging an animal talent contest. I watch the dance classes and basketball
practices, because they want me to. I stay "just
a few more minutes" at night, because we all have different needs and
sometimes sleeping is hard. I apologize when I make mistakes, and I let my kids
try things their way. I have no need for perfection. Although I might seem
protective at times, I do let them work through things on their own terms.
Most of all, I treat them like individuals. We don't have a
ton of rules in this house. Be kind. Give hugs. Never cry alone. Comfort
someone in need. Listen to one another. That's about it. What we do have is
empathy for each other. We know that we're all different, and we all have
We all work together to meet each other's needs. We work
through the hard stuff (from sibling squabbles to anxious moments) together. We
talk through everything, even the sticky topics (like loss, miscarriage and
mean kids) that make me want to run and hide. We share feelings, dreams, hopes
and disappointments. We fail out loud and cheer when we succeed. Whatever we
do, we do it knowing that we are all in this together. We are a team, this
little family of ours, and it works for us.
I'm grateful for what I have, and I'm a better parent for it. But some nights, when the lights go down, I let the grief back in for a little while.
I can't say for sure how I would have parented my children
had I not sent four little babies to heaven along the way, but I know that
every event in my life (the good and the bad) prepared me for being a mom.
Every struggle taught me a valuable lesson and every success gave me hope for
the future. The lessons I teach my kids might be simple, but they work for us:
Be kind. You never know what someone else is up against.
Show empathy for others, even when it's hard.
Always lend a hand.
If you have more, share the wealth.
Comfort the people who bring you joy.
Be honest and accept your mistakes.
Life is messy, complicated, imperfect and tons of fun. Embrace it all.
Siblings are forever. Nurture your family relationships.
I know I can't protect my kids from every bad thing. I know that
sadness and worry are a natural part of life, and sometimes the best gift I can
offer is a hug. But I also know that close relationships with parents are
important and that the small stuff (the mess, the mistakes, the bad moments)
isn't worth tears of frustration.
The grief that once came in waves subsided, only to be
replaced with unexpected flashfloods. I'm grateful for what I have, and I'm a
better parent for it. But some nights, when the lights go down, I let the grief
back in for a little while. Then I sneak
one last kiss from my little sleeping miracles, because they always remind me to
focus on the good.