It was Mother’s Day. 2005. Five beautiful years ago. It was our first May in our inaugural home, a home we had planned for and saved for and created out of love and sweat and dreams. A home to grow in. A home to bring our babies home to. A home to grow together in. It was beautiful.
When we moved to Wisconsin and looked for our first home, there were several features we wanted. Hardwood floors. A fireplace. And of course, the basics – a stable foundation. Strong walls. But in my heart, I also hoped for small indulgences. One was to have a home with a tree – a breathtaking magnolia tree, the kind that opens with blossoms so pink and vibrant they take your breath away.
It didn’t take us long to settle on a house, and as luck had it, a tree stood in the front yard. Being anything but arborists, we had no idea what type it was. Imagine my sheer delight when, for my very first Mother’s Day, the mysterious tree in my front yard burst with blossoms – white, pink, purple. Magnolia blossoms! In full bloom! We took pictures under that tree, me with Gabe, me with my mother, my mother with Gabe, the three of us together. It was the stuff out of fairy tales – gorgeous and perfect and lovely in every way.
Each year since then, I’ve wondered when our tree would bloom. Three of the last four years, the tree bloomed late – much later than Mother’s Day. Cool springs will do that to you! One of those years, while experiencing an unseasonably warm snap during late winter, the buds started to try to pop, only to be frozen in time when the weather cooled down again. The tree bloomed all summer, at no point reaching full bloom. It was sad to miss the tree in all it’s glory, but it always made me smile to see the late bloomers popping out in mid-August or September. Could anything be lovelier than a reminder of rebirth when life is already in full swing?
This year? The tree bloomed too early. The blossoms have all fallen from the tree and have been picked up, raked up, and swept up into the trash. How poignant that seems at this very moment.
I watched the sun come up this Mother’s Day morning. As the sky started to twinkle with the new day, the birds began to sing and it felt so fresh, crisp. I didn’t expect to have that privilege, especially the privilege of soaking in the newness of the day. If one thing is clear, it is that I am decidedly not a morning person. But today, I watched the sun come up.
Also, I watched my husband dissolve in tears.
I snuggled with my son and talked of Heaven.
I watched my father place his head against my entryway hall and weep.
I watched my mother put on her strong face while Gabe scampered around, confused and silly, trying to make sense of this strange day.
All while I watched the sun come up.
The tree that bloomed too early? Reminds me of my baby. My baby who, as of about 4:00 this morning, is officially no longer with us. Well, the baby is still with us in body. But not in soul. It’s soul bloomed too early – at least far earlier than what we would have liked. Sometime between about 11:00 yesterday morning and 8:00 last night. I watched the ultrasound screen, a screen so different from the one I saw just three days ago. Three days ago the screen was alive with movement, with hope, with beauty. There was a baby who, when “commanded” by Gabe (at the ultrasound technician’s request) rolled over so we could get not only a perfect measurement but a perfect profile shot. I felt like we were suspended in time as we watched that baby stretch and twist and bring its hand up to its face for a prolonged snuggle. We were transifxed.
In the wee hours of the morning, the screen looked different. Equally beautiful, but still. Motionless. There was no movement, no twitch, no wave of the hand, no kick to my side, no flicker of a heartbeat. I had a hard time connecting with the fact that the picture on that screen was actually within me. It seemed too disconnected from the reality I’ve been living. The technician wouldn’t say a word, but he didn’t have to. I looked over at Tahd and shook my head while he alternately used his eyes to implore the screen to start moving and used his voice to implore Gabe to sit still. Oh, the irony! How much we wanted one child to move while we needed the other to sit quietly.
It will be okay. And it will not be okay. I will be okay. And I will not be okay. But in the end it will be okay and I will be okay. The sun comes up. I see it now. I heard the birds sing. This is reality, but there is a dichotomy in reality that is strangely comforting. New days come. Ours begins today. When the sun is bright enough, I will call the doctor’s office and my plan is to basically beg for a D&C. I don’t think I’m emotionally strong enough to miscarry on my own. I often surprise myself, but I’m learning that it’s okay to have limits. It’s okay to be not strong enough. It’s okay to push for answers even when they don’t readily appear. It’s okay.
I am weak.
I am fragile.
Four and a half years of infertility do that to a person.
If you’re the praying sort, I’m worried about several things. First, I’m worried about miscarrying on my own. And by worried, I would say I’m petrified, enough to ask the ER doctor to send me home with medication for anxiety. I just want things to hold off until I can get into my doctor. Second, I’m broken-hearted for Gabe. My mother took him shopping this week and let him pick out something for the baby. He selected two shirts – one in case it was a boy and one in case it was a girl. When Grandma picked him up this morning, he told her – quite excitedly – that she could take the shirts back to Kohls since we wouldn’t be needing them.
At that moment the adults in the room heaved a collective sob. I’m not sure I’ve completely exhaled since then.
Third, I’m worried I’m going to (or Tahd might) sink into a pit of despair. I can’t help but notice the irony of the fact that something we’ve wanted for so long is being taken from us on such a special day. When I’m particularly down, I wonder if God pleasures in torturing us in the meanest ways possible. This – at more than 12 weeks pregnant and on Mother’s Day? Seems colossally mean. When I’m down I am also extremely hard on myself. And in the dark of the pit it’s hard to see that the little things are just that and this isn’t my fault. I can’t take the pit again. I can’t.
Anger will come later, I’m sure. Tears are free-flowing now. I’m hoping sleep comes soon. And with any luck happiness will find us on this Mother’s Day, too. At least for a bit.