I just returned home from a memorial service for a friend's mother, who died too young, was lost too soon.
I never met her but she was remarkable, nine of her children were in attendance. The room was filled with sisters, grandchildren, cousins, neighbors, loved ones. Her DNA was in bloom in the room, along with music. As was her spirit. She was a poet, an activist, a mother. The memories of this woman were tangible, the room was thick with love, warmth and humor. Those memories, along with the many words she penned, ensured that she really is still with her family, her friends and the many people she touched. There were many tears, but she was - she is - eternal.
The miscarriage of a baby - particularly one early in utero - is wrapped in complication. Many friends and strangers, intending to be kind, tell you that this really wasn't a baby at all, but a cluster of cells. And a cluster with chromosomal problems at that, deeply flawed and never meant to breathe on this earthly realm. This truly isn't helpful.
When you lose a pregnancy, at any stage, you lose a dream. It could be a vision of yourself as a mother. It could be a sibling for your living child. It could be the dream of a family picture that you envisioned. For some women, the dream is borne with two lines on stick. For others, the dream begins at an ultrasound.
I think I've mentioned before that I am an only child. I was - am - a very happy one, with more love than I can express for my parents, and a rapport with them that I think is unique. But I always imagined niblet with a little sister or brother. Not because I have any belief that she needs them to be a stable human being. Not because I believe that siblings are always there for one another. Not because I think that onlies are spoiled, or at risk of some social disease. Just because, well, because this was my dream. Some people dream of acquiring a boat. Some people dream of a trip to Hawaii. I dream of raising two children.
Every baby I have lost is a loss of that dream. But to explain to people my miscarriages in those terms, in the parlance of dreams, well, that doesn't really do the trick either. It's not quite right. Some people dream of going to grad school, but they blow their MCATS/LSATS/GMATS. They've lost something too, right? Visions of their careers, or the futures they would have? I was a dancer, a ballerina, and dreamed of being on stage as a full-time career. It didn't happen for me. I found fulfillment elsewhere, while I still mourned the loss of a vision of myself. But just trust me when I say that the losses of my babies feels very different from the loss of my dance dreams. Mourning them simply cannot be the same.
And please, just throw your rationality to the wind when I say, with the utmost determination, that they were my babies. Not my clusters of cells, not my fertilized eggs, not my zygotes. They were my babies.
So what are the words to describe the gaping hole that is felt for babies that could never live? For babies that were mere clusters of cells for those who did not know them? For babies that could never create poetry, or leave a room full of attendants with memories, and music and stories? For babies that perhaps only live on in a medical record or a blurry ultrasound picture?
Words hurt, words sting, words express, words heal. But sometimes they're really difficult to find.