I have hesitated to share this story. Perhaps because it's a hard one. Perhaps because it's personal. Perhaps because I couldn't write for months after penning it.
But it's a story that matters. It matters for every woman who has lost life within her, who has lost the promise of a precious baby in her arms, who has felt like she should be quiet about her story. Because, really, we don't talk much about such things.
I am pregnant now with a healthy baby kicking. Her heartbeat is strong, her functions are sound, and she is growing and developing beautifully -- just as every parent hopes.
But this was not the story with my last baby, my baby who was the size of a poppy seed, just forming.
I was five weeks along.
I woke up early to feel pain like water simmering. It spread quickly across my abdomen like bubbling fire. My then-2-year-old lay sleeping beside me, blonde hair feathering, air from her lungs softly puffing. My husband lay next to her, sleeping peacefully.
I knew I should leave now before their eyes would open, before my daughter could cling, insist on coming with me.
We were visiting my in-laws for the weekend, staying in their old white farm house built by family hands. I slid out of bed and stood in the darkness, felt my way to the room with its familiar Tiffany blue tub and sink, antique mirror on the wall. I felt comforted knowing that generations of family had been through this house. It helped me to feel less alone despite the fact that everyone still lay sleeping.
I woke my husband. There were no words, only tears.
We tried to sleep as I held my daughter, kissed her warm cheeks, smelled her downy hair.
We arrived back home that evening with dusk nearing, were welcomed by an unfrosted cake on the kitchen counter. It'd been forgotten in the craziness of packing. After dinner I spread it with frosting, let my daughter cover it with rainbow sprinkles.
I deemed it our "I love my family" cake, said that we were eating it because we are a family. Because we are something to celebrate. Because life is something to celebrate.
And to myself, to the baby who would never be, I thought, I celebrate you, too.
Because you matter. You will always matter.