A Pair of Shoes
I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.
I get funny looks wearing these shoes.
They are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in this world.
Some women are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so they don’t hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think about how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of these shoes I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.
I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.
When someone asks how many children I have, I say three because I presently have only three live children. Two years ago, I miscarried my third baby. October is Infant Loss Awareness month and I’ve reached a point where I want to talk about my loss.
The pregnancy itself was a September surprise. I woke up one morning with a strong craving for orange juice. I was nauseated, tired, and just out of it, but we weren’t trying for another baby. The symptoms made me suspicious. That week, Zac picked up a few cheap pregnancy tests for me on his way home from work “just in case”. Negative and negative. The symptoms didn’t go away, even after a week. On a Friday morning, I woke up so queasy and decided to take the last test. One minute passed and I checked the results. At a glance, I couldn’t see the second line. The test was tossed in the garbage, and I let it go. I collected the box and instructions to throw away when something told me to make sure the test was really negative. I took it from the bin and had to squint. Positive???
When I was pregnant with James and with Leah, I wanted to announce it right away. I was indecisive with this pregnancy because I felt paranoid about it. I was almost 30 years old, working two jobs, and something just felt different. I decided to wait for an ultrasound before making an announcement (aside from the very few people I told).
But that day never came.
In October, I went to the Pregnancy Crisis Center for proof of pregnancy. The nurse confirmed the baby and set me up with weekly appointments to watch developmental videos. When I completed the series around 30 weeks, I would receive a free car seat. I spent the next week looking for a doctor in the area and waiting for call-backs on those available. I even started crocheting a blue, variegated baby blanket because all I wanted was another little boy. It was difficult not to purchase every blue newborn onesie I came across.
On October 12, Zac was off work, so we wanted to do something fun with the kids. My nausea wasn’t as strong so I felt good and had some energy. I was six weeks and four days pregnant. We headed to the local pumpkin patch. I had an idea to make a baby announcement with three staggering pumpkins and use a Sharpie to put the birth years and due date for the kids (thanks, Pinterest). James’ would be 2006, Leah’s would be 2009, and the baby was due 2014.
When we came home, I felt exhausted. My head hurt and Zac was getting lunch ready for the kids. I started crocheting on the blanket a little more when I suddenly felt a gush of fluid. My heart sank, but I told myself you’re okay, nothing to worry about. It wouldn’t happen to me… right?
There was so much blood, it was starting to stream down my legs. I was told at the clinic that bleeding is normal. I bled with James. It’s cramping to watch out for. I wasn’t cramping. I was just bleeding. Bright red, clotted blood. I started to shake, then I started to sob. I yelled to Zac, “I’m bleeding!” and he hurried to the bathroom. I was freaking out while I called the clinic. The nurse told me to lay down, take deep breaths, and call her back if I started cramping. I laid on the bed, trying to stay calm and beg every higher power not to take my baby away.
Four hours after I started bleeding, I felt dull cramps. I went to the bathroom and brought a cup with me, ready to catch anything that came out, hoping nothing did. But, I caught my baby in the cup, still in its amniotic sac. A small sac, no bigger than a dime, surrounded by blood. I debated with myself, whether or not to open it, but couldn’t bring myself to do more than just hold it and cry. Zac kept his arms around me while we sat on the bathroom floor. I was heartbroken. I’ve felt grief before, but this grief was different, I could physically feel it. My soul hurt. I kept blaming myself…
What did I do?
Could I have done something different?
I lifted heavy boxes of product, heavy trays of cakes and cookies, and I climbed stairs at the apartment every day. Maybe I worked too hard? Maybe I shouldn’t have lifted so much weight? Maybe I should have rested more?
I was angry, confused, disappointed, bitter, and so sad.
I was angry that Rachel was pregnant. Angry that it was my baby in the cup. Angry at God for getting my hopes up, only to snatch them away. Angry that everyone kept saying the wrong damn things.
Everything happens for a reason.
It was all in God’s plan.
At least you’ve got two other children.
It wasn’t even a baby yet.
I know how you feel. I had an abortion.
It wasn’t as bad as mine because I was further along.
You can hold my baby to make you feel better.
At the end of the day, I had to make the decision on what to do with the baby. I couldn’t flush it, not like a dead fish. I read that some people create memorials. I decided I was going to bury it. I bought a flower pot that looked like a giant tea cup along with soil and orange marigold seeds. October’s birth flower is the marigold. They were perfect as they represent grief. I put the baby in a small box and buried it. I planted the flower seeds and that was it. I only knew about that pregnancy for nearly three weeks, but in those brief few weeks, I pictured my baby’s face. I had plans for him. I loved him. I still think about him. I still miss him. My baby.
I’ve learned to walk in my shoes so they don’t hurt quite as much.