Recently I heard a baby’s heart beat on a fetal monitor. It was the first time I’ve heard that sound since my second daughter died in the womb.
In the moment, I didn’t have to space to process what I was feeling. I was working and my focus was on supporting the woman I was with.
When I got home and sat down, all I could do was cry.
It was if old scars carefully tended and slowly healing over the years since my children died had been ripped open and left raw and exposed. In that moment, all I could remember was the deafening silence of the heart rate monitors that failed to find the heartbeats of my two precious children.
We all bear scars from life.
Some of them are physical – like the stretch marks that line my belly from my first daughter’s pregnancy. Or the small incisions from the tubal ligation when I made the painful choice to let go of the idea of having more children, living children.
Others are emotional – the heart that’s been metaphorically stitched back together after the deaths of my fiancé and two daughters who died before birth. The heart that’s bruised by the emptiness of a home lacking the mess and noise and beauty of living children.
Some are sensory – the heartbeats we don’t hear, the absence of a sweet smelling baby in our arms, the emptiness of arms without children to hold, the sight of chubby cheeks and big eyes looking up at us.
We all bear the scars of loss when our children die. Scars we can see and scars we can’t see.
Some days, like that day I came home from work and cried for the heartbeats that went silent inside my womb, it can feel like all I have are scars.
Some days I curse those scars, desperately wishing I could live a life unmarred by death and loss and grief. A life where I could innocently believe that all pregnancies end in a living child, that those who want them have arms filled with squirming babies, and that those we loved would always remain with us.
That day I traced the faded stretch marks on my belly – line after line of thin, white scars.
In an odd way, I found comfort in tracing those thin, white scars. These marks are one of the rare pieces of physical proof that my children lived.
My heart might ache for the silence of two heartbeats that cease to beat, but they did once beat. They lived inside me and I was their mother.
The scars that I bear, seen and unseen, are proof of life. Proof of their life – my Grace and my Lily. My daughters.
And so I try to remember on those days when the scars of my heart ache for the silence and the children I cannot see or hold and days when I curse the physical scars that line my body that there is beauty in those scars.
These scars exist because they had life. I got to be the carrier of that life and I get to wear the proof of that life as long as my heart still beats.
Some days I curse the scars I wear on body and heart.
Other days I find them beautiful.
They are proof of life and for those lives I am forever grateful.