Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Last year, I sympathized with my friends and family members who have miscarried or lost an infant. This year, I joined the club.
Also today, I learned that another sweet friend of mine lost her baby at five weeks pregnant, same as me. Except, it's not the same as me. There's a famous quote (I forget by whom), "To cheapen something, make it common." It would be ridiculous to assume that because many couples have children, each child is somehow less valuable. In the same way, even though this is a day observed by countless moms (and dads), it's still the loss of a child that they've suffered, and there's nothing common about that.
So, today, we remember. Not that we could ever forget in the first place. I would be almost 15 weeks pregnant today with our third child, which is the same point in each of my previous pregnancies at which I found out the gender. I would no doubt be in maternity clothes by now, hopefully past the sickness stage, and getting ready to go into the holiday season knowing whether we would be collecting girl or boy items. I would be even more excited than I already am (although I'm not sure that's possible) about the news of a friend of mine, someone who has struggled with infertility for years, who is welcoming her baby girl in April, because that means we would be swapping pregnancy cravings and that our babies could grow up together.
I have realized through this experience that, each time one of my friends lost a child, the things I said to bring comfort were somewhat trite:
"At least you weren't that far along."
"Well, don't feel like there's something wrong with you, because SO MANY women miscarry."
"Be thankful for the kids you do have."
"Don't worry; a lot of women find it's easier to get pregnant after having a miscarriage. I'm sure you'll be pregnant again soon."
"At least you know you can get pregnant."
These statements, though certainly well-intentioned by dear friends who stand with us during times of loss, offer very little encouragement. What did help, however—probably the ONLY thing that really brought me hope and helped me move on—was a truth I happened across in the comment section of some random person's Facebook status update: That, when we lose someone, they are not a part of our past; they become a part of our future. The hope we have in Christ is that this world is temporary, and that they have gone ahead of us to our permanent home. And each day we live doesn't tear us farther away from our loved one; it brings us closer to being reunited with them.
This has always been a part of my theology as a follower of Christ, but until recently it's never been a truth I've had to rely on so heavily or cling to so tightly. But it's the one thing that has given me the courage to take steps forward and move on.
So, on this day of remembrance, I want to do what I can to offer that same bit of hope to any of you mamas out there who are caressing unworn baby clothes, sitting in empty nurseries, pulling out ultrasound photos of a child you haven't gotten to meet yet, or who simply have hearts that are aching for a friend who is in pain. The pain is real, but the loss is temporal. We grieve, but in the next breath we can give thanks for the blessing of a child who is as eager to meet us as we are them. And while we remember on this day, we look forward to that day.