I had the strangest thing happen a few Sundays ago. Actually, two strange things.
Before I tell you what, let me preface this (and brace my heart a little) by saying that I have a very, very hard time with “signs” and “meant to be’s.” And by that I mean, I don’t take things that happen as, “Well now we just know everything will be ok because look what that person said/did randomly when I needed it.” We heard a lot of that with my twins Preston and Julian, and my son Kaden and still.
All three passed away.
Yet I also know how many of us want a sign so badly this time around that everything is going to be ok with the baby girl I carry now, Charlotte. I have people tell me earnestly so often now, “I just feel like things are going to be wonderful this time, you know?” It doesn’t bother me to hear this, because I understand. I don’t know if it’s a real feeling or, to be honest, the fact that most can’t fathom us facing another child dying. As much as I’d like to say I’m 100% practical about what can happen, I think hope breaks that stoic feeling into little shattered pieces of, “But what if everything is ok this time…”
So we tried out a new church. We hadn’t been in a while, in fact since Kaden died two years ago it’s been pretty sporadic. The one we went to held so many memories and hopes, it’s been hard to go back. For a while I just felt really angry at God too, and I’d sit there in church and think, “I hate you for doing this to me and yet here I am.”
We chose a much, much smaller church because that’s what I grew up with, and I’ve missed it terribly. Small and traditional. When they had us stand to greet each other, the older lady behind me grabbed my hand and said, “I’m praying for a healthy baby for you.” She didn’t know me or anything of our story, but there was so much love and hope in her eyes.
It was all I could do to just choke out, “Thank you so much,” and sit down.
Then we went to lunch at one of our favorite Mexican food spots here. As I paid the lady at the counter, she started to ask about Charlotte and this pregnancy. I have to admit, when this happens with a stranger here, I usually get a little short. What I love about where we live is the warmth and friendliness of the people, but in these moments I know it’s going to get a bit more personal than I’m usually wanting. She asked what I was having, how much longer, and I answered quickly. As I turned to leave, I heard, “It’s all going to be ok. Everything will be fine for you. You’re going to have a healthy daughter.”
I turned around slowly and just looked at her for a moment, wondering how on earth she could have known what to say. She’d gone back to the register and seeing my face, looked confused and reached across to grab my hand. I just started to cry, right there, telling myself, “Oh Diana, this poor lady has no idea, now you’re crying, she’s going to think something is wrong with what she said.” So I grabbed her hand back and said, “Thank you, thank you so much for saying that. My last three children passed away after I had them, so we’re just so nervous about this baby…” As I faded off trying to compose myself, she shook her head and said, “Oh no, oh pobre niñita (poor little girl to the best of my terrible Spanish) – my goodness. I am so sorry. I will pray to the Virgin Mother and this baby – she will be ok. I know it in my heart.”
I wish I could end this with a confident sentence that I now feel like my daughter will be ok. But I can’t. I sit here, surprisingly overdue after 2 preterm and one barely term pregnancy, and my anxiety is sky-high. My nerves are shot. All I want is to know that we don’t have to grieve another baby. I will never be done grieving the three I lost, and I can’t imagine trying to add another child into that mix.
But I have hope. I think on the darkest, lowest, what if this happens again days, that carries me through. Hope for some normalcy, hope for this little life that surprised us when we thought we’d never, ever walk this terrifying path again. I don’t know if those words were just thrown out because that’s what people say, or they were prompted by some underlying need to reassure me, but it offers small moments of comfort in times when my breath catches so hard and I have to keep going anyway.
Diana is owner and editor-in-chief of Still Standing Magazine and blogs her own life story at Diana Wrote. She and her military retired husband have two girls and three sons who passed away after birth; Preston and Julian, identical twin boys who were born at 20 weeks, and Kaden, who unexpectedly had cardiomyopathy due to a rare virus called ciHHV-6. He died in her arms at 3 weeks old.
In 2014 she traveled with World Vision to learn about maternal health and infant mortality in Zimbabwe, and later with them to Ecuador. She is working on a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. You can also find her work on Babble, Liberating Working Moms, She Reads Truth, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post.