One month ago today.
“I’m sorry, guys. She’s gone.”
The doctor’s words lingered in the air. I stared at the screen on the wall, not wanting those words to be true. As soon as the ultrasound appeared, I knew. The image was awkwardly still, no fluttering heart announcing to me that I had another week with her. I already knew she was gone. But the doctor’s words made it real, and I did not want it to be real.
I froze, trying to hold myself together, afraid my grief would swallow me whole if I moved.
I had told the girls we would get a picture of the baby when we went to the doctor that morning. I had forgotten at the last appointment, and I was trying with all my might to remember this time. I attempted to muster the words, and tears involuntarily poured from my eyes; my face contorted the menacing way that loss requires. “Can you print some pictures? For our girls.”
The ultrasound technician and doctor were almost unnaturally kind. Unnaturally feels like a strange word, but it’s how I still picture them - deep in my grief, and in a grief of their own, not wanting any of this to be true either.
Tissues. Ultrasound pictures. Sobs. I was in a state of disbelief, but at the same time, out of me poured tears that had welled up knowing this day was coming.
The ultrasound technician politely left us alone so we could discuss what was next with the doctor.
I want to deliver her vaginally. I want to birth her and mother her and cry over her and have more time with her.
The time I have left with her body is shortening with each passing second, and I want to be her mother, with both of us here, on this earth, longer. I want my body to bring my baby into the world, whether her heart is beating or not.
I think grief is so closely related to desperation. I feel desperate to have more time with her, desperate to hold her, desperate to make the most of what is about to happen. My body will only be intertwined with hers for a little longer, and the word that always comes to mind is desperate.
I simultaneously feel the peace of God and the immense sadness of losing my baby.
Mercifully, time continues to pass. I’ve often wanted time to slow, to freeze in a blissful moment. But now I’m thankful that time continues and moves me along.
We schedule an induction for that afternoon, allowing us time to pack a hospital bag, make childcare arrangements, tell friends and family. We stop on the way home to get a robe for me and a blanket to swaddle Maggie. I want to tell the cashier that my baby has died, but I hold it in. We get a sausage pizza, pregnancy cravings cruelly making it impossible to pretend this isn’t happening. A friend meets us at our house, helps me pack, brings me Maggie’s dress. I burst into tears when I see how tiny it is. It’s gorgeous, and far too small for the healthy, full-term baby I wanted.
I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced the goodness of God this way before. How life can be so heartbreaking and gut-wrenching - and somehow still overflowing with God’s goodness - is beyond me.
And here I am, one month later. Tomorrow marks one month since she was born. A friend told me tonight that the monthly anniversaries will get easier, and I believe her. And I’m happy that she says “anniversaries.” Plural. There’s a quiet, unspoken reassurance in her words: Maggie is not forgotten, and she will not be forgotten.
Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. Psalm 139:7-8