I am grateful to have been raised with a healthy understanding of humility and grace. Today I have learned that I have only begun to understand what it means.
My church holds a summer Peace Camp every year, and this year both Tuna and Binker went. Binker became friends with a boy his age, and on the last day I was talking to his mom and another friend. We were saying that we should get them together. This boy is an only child.
I was observing the attention she was able to give him, the calm he emitted, the calm she emitted, and feeling nostalgic from when I only had Tuna. He was an only child for four and a half years before Binker came along. I was able to dote on him, give him all of my attention, and he….uh, never emitted calm….but, I guess maybe I did. I did not yet know the more scattered feeling of having two, or three. (Although, that’s a whole other topic, because actually having two or three seems to create more calm in some ways. I mean, if one-child-me could see the way life is now, she’d FREAK OUT! Whereas three-child-me is like eh, whatever, if you’re not bleeding or broken you’re fine. And then there’s the whole floor food thing…)
So I was wondering how that dynamic would work on a play date–Binker as the middle, his new friend as the only. They played nicely together, so it really shouldn’t matter. My mind was letting that go, ready to exchange numbers, when her son walked up and talked to her about something. She was able to stop, talk to him with her full attention, hug, and he trotted away. Now don’t get me wrong, I talk to my boys and hug and kiss and give them what they need. The difference I noticed was in her. In not needing to then immediately switch to what another kid was doing or saying or needing.
Me, being all blabbity before the thinkity a lot of the time, said “Awe, I remember that, only having one.”
I was smiling, reminiscing, and then I felt my heart hurt when I saw her attempt to smile at my remark (I do that–feel people. It can be helpful, but it sucks a lot too.) I didn’t understand why, but the energy shifted, and I realized that that was NOT the thing to say. She seemed uncomfortable, then I was uncomfortable, and I changed the subject.
Flip to months later. We never did set up a play date. We became facebook friends. She posted an awareness meme about baby loss–stillborn, infant death, miscarriage.
Cue the tears, and the feeling that I never really will know anything, and that I probably should never talk ever again. And, the desire to tell her that I had a miscarriage, and how in the great Universe could I be so heartless to assume that someone has one child by choice. One little seemingly innocent comment unearthed great grief.
I don’t know her story, but I know the pain of loss. I don’t know anyone’s story, and I know the importance of NEVER ASSUMING ANYTHING EVER. There is a saying: Always be kind, we don’t know what another person is going through. I can extend this with “always think and think again before you speak”.
All children are amazing miraculous blessings. The families with six children–the ones we say are crazy–are blessed. We don’t know why they had six children. We can never assume to know. The families with one child–where we wonder why they were never given a sibling and will they be ok in life without one–are blessed. We can never assume to know why they had one child.
It’s not a topic we discuss. We whisper “I lost one too”, and that’s the extent of it. I remember that I decided I wouldn’t do that–be quiet about it after it happened–and then I forgot I said that. Until two things happened: Tuna and I had a conversation, and the next day I saw the meme.
“Mommy, is a baby growing inside a mom alive?” (you know, every day conversation with a 9-year-old. I have no idea where this came from.)
“Well, it develops a heart beat, and it is a big debate on whether or not a fetus is alive. Some people believe anything with a heartbeat is alive. Some people believe that they have to be able to breathe on their own. Some people have other beliefs. It’s a grey area. Sometimes babies are born prematurely and they can’t breathe on their own. Sometimes doctors can save them, sometimes they can’t. Sometimes it’s not up to us.”
He looked really sad.
I told him I had a baby growing in me before I had him, and I lost it. He was surprised and asked his or her name. I had never given it a name, didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl, never really thought about that, and once again was blown away by the depth of conversation I have with my boy.
“So I might have had a sister.”
“Yes, maybe that was my girl. But now I have a niece, and maybe one of you boys will have a girl and I’ll have a grand daughter.”
“You’re going to be an awesome grandma, mommy!”
Since then I’ve been thinking of what I should name the baby that I miscarried. Then the meme showed up. I think I will choose a name to honor all lost babies, worthy of being honored and talked about, not to be ashamed of, not to be embarrassed about. A name to honor everyone’s choice to have 10, not have any, adopt, not name, talk, not talk about it, grieve. how can there be such a name?
With Unity. We as grieving mothers and fathers can find peace in Unity. Unity is where we come from, and it is where we go after this. Coming from One, returning to One. My comment may be forgiven with Unity. We all can understand it on some level.
My lost baby is named Unity, in honor of all of us. She is joined in Unity with all lost babies, and their parents are joined in Unity through their grief and healing.
As Albus Dumbeldore said, “Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” I was afraid to name her, and now that I have, the fear of the sadness is gone. I hope her name resonates with one of you as well.