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A Different Kind of Loss

alec vanderboom

In my first miscarriage seven years ago, my grief felt totally different. We had more warning the pregnancy wasn't going well. Yet we got a strong heartbeat on an ultrasound around 10 weeks. We thought we were in the clear. When my first son died, I was shocked.

I was a new Catholic. Immature. I had this idea that God loved babies. If I got enough people to pray to Mary for our babies health that he would be fine. Because miracles happen. Prayer works.

So when my baby son died, I was shocked. Then I was devastated. After the funeral, I couldn't get up out of bed for a week. I had two young toddlers. I watched them play games around me. Once a day, I crawled on my hands and knees to the microwave. I microwaved them two hotdogs each. I sliced them up to the non-choking size. I put a squirt of ketchup and mustard on their plates. I placed their plates on their little IKEA play table. Then I dragged myself on my hands and knees back to bed. Just making a pathetic lunch made me so exhausted in my grief, I had to lay down for two hours.

This time my grief feels different. It comes and it goes. I find myself constantly amazed that I can do things. I can wash the plates and stack them in the dishwasher. I can make meatloaf for dinner. It's not like I'm operating on all cylinders this week. I made chocolate cake and chocolate icing from scratch for lunch. The six of us ate it with relish. (My cooking had been pretty sub par during three months of morning sickness). Then I came back into the dining room and discovered that chocolate cake crumbs had been squished deep into the floor. I started crying because it hurt me too much to bend over at the waist to pick up the cake crumbles. (So my eight year old and six year old did it for me).

That's how the grief is right now. Touch and go. Sometimes I'm amazed at what I can do. Sometimes I get a warning that I need to pull back and do less. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I surprise myself when I don't. I'm not judging myself.

It helps to have a much tighter circle of people with whom I share the details of my miscarriage. I think I was too indiscriminate before and that lead me to getting hurt. This sixth baby of mine was not universally popular. I made the rule that if anyone in my life was unhappy about this pregnancy, then I do not have to inform them of my miscarriage until after my baby is safely buried in the ground. That's a boundary. This is my time to safely grieve in a tight circle of loving support.

I also gave myself permission to not "make a pro-life statement." When my first son died, I felt this internal pressure to treat him equally as my other living son. I wanted to have the type of funeral that my 1 year old son would have had if he had died that same summer. It's was like a "statement" to the whole world that my unborn son mattered too. This time I'm just more chill. Between my exhaustion and my poverty, this could be the simplest funeral ever. I'm okay with the funeral being small and intimate. My love for this baby is huge.

The thing that surprises me the most is that my faith is different this time. I trust God more. I'm calmer. I'm okay with the mystery.