Mary Poppins said it best in the song Where the Lost Things Go by Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman. Please watch full song here and read lyrics here.
Memories you’ve shed
Gone for good you feared
They’re all around you still
Though they’ve disappeared
Nothing’s really left
Or lost without a trace
Nothing’s gone forever
Only out of place
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. For me, this past October has been a month of being confused about my feelings, as I read the stories of women who have yet to conceive, have endured years of infertility or extremely traumatic losses, or rejoice as they have now met their rainbow baby. I just turned thirty and have spent the last decade bearing and raising three beautiful, healthy babies. My husband and I found out on our six-month wedding anniversary that we were pregnant with our first child, much to our surprise. We had almost no issues getting pregnant with any of our kids and joked about needing to stay away from each other because of how easily babies seem to grow in my womb.
That was until this last winter, when we were shocked by a surprise pregnancy—followed by a confusing, painful loss.
My youngest daughter was 14 months at the time. I was still breastfeeding. Scheduling a vasectomy was a regular topic of conversation between my husband and me, and we were taking precautions to ensure that our third baby would be our last. My time of the month came and went. Anxiety-ridden, I purchased multiple pregnancy tests. I was dumbfounded as I looked at that faint second line show on each of the tests. I thought I was going crazy. How is this possible? I thought. I moved from disbelief to terror quickly, wondering how in the world I would cope with having four children as my two toddlers were in the throes of tantrums and teething, and I was just beginning to sleep again.
I told my husband in our driveway in the car by simply showing him the pregnancy tests. We both burst into tears and held each other, wondering how in the world this was possible. It was a day of confusion, sadness, and readjusting our dreams and expectations. We really thought we were done.
In a matter of hours, I started dreaming about that fourth tiny person at my dining table and I started to think about the baby growing inside of me that I didn’t even know I wanted.
It was a Wednesday morning. I was getting ready to host my mom’s group when the bleeding started. I had carried three little ones before and never experienced this. Maybe this is different, I thought. I called my midwife who I had not yet scheduled my first appointment with, and she told me that it would either stop, or I would lose the baby. It kept going, and the vision of that fourth tiny person began to slip away.
How I wish I could take that first reaction back.
The next few days were a blur. I had told a few close friends about my initial fears when I found out I was pregnant, and then I allowed them to dream with me. It was awful to go back and tell them that I had suffered a miscarriage. Even though it wasn’t my fault, I felt ashamed—stupid—exposed. I was working at the time and saving up for a trip. When I went to my first shift after my miscarriage, I felt like I had undergone a huge change and no one knew it. I was a different person for having known and lost love in the matter of days, but no one could see it. I felt invisible and unseen. The world kept moving but it felt wrong to get back to normal. I didn’t know how to grieve or mark the short life of my unborn baby.
Once I started exercising again, I injured myself lifting weights and had to go to urgent care. I thought I had grieved my loss and was ready to move on, but I felt stuck. My kids had just gone to see Mary Poppins and were listening to the soundtrack on repeat. While I was waiting to be checked out in urgent care, I turned on the soundtrack and came to the song “Where the Lost Things Go.” This song unlocked something in me, and I wept. Little did the doctor know, I wasn’t crying over my swollen foot, but over a pain that I hadn’t yet been able to give words to.
Over the last seven months, my grief has surprised me. Seeing other people having babies only makes me smile, for I know the joy of new life and the tenderness of a mother’s love. I am thrilled to attend baby showers of friends and pass down our well-loved baby items. On the other hand, I get a lump in my throat when people ask me if we will ever have a fourth.
I fluctuate between allowing myself to feel the loss I experienced and criticizing myself for not being more grateful. After all, I have three beautiful, healthy children. There are women who can’t have children or who have struggled for years to get pregnant. There are women who lost their pregnancies much later than I did. I struggle to share my loss with others because I fear that it makes me seem ungrateful. But as I see the leaves change and the temperature drop and a new season make its presence known, I can’t help but picture myself rubbing a great big baby belly and making plans to meet our fourth sweet baby.
I may not ever get my rainbow baby, and this confuses and frustrates me. Sure, we could just try again, but I’m not sure I even want to. I don’t know if I want another baby. I wanted that baby. So as this Friday November 1st marks what would have been my due date, I will be showing myself some extra love and reminding myself that healing takes time. In the words of Mary Poppins, “nothings really left or lost without a trace. Nothing’s gone forever—only out of place.”
Thinking of all of the mommas with empty arms, or with full arms who still experience longing. Hard is hard, and your loss matters. Please be sure to check out our Forever Loved Wall and our Resource on Pregnancy and Infant Loss.