Mothers, the Good, the Bad and the Ones That Would Never Be

The weeks and months bled into one another, as I continued to seek the very things that eluded me, a baby, a full term pregnancy, and motherhood. Everywhere I turned, someone was pregnant, they glowed with the excitement, they radiated in the bask of what was to come. “Wonder how they would feel if they had to feel how I feel each time I get pregnant, I wonder if they would glow then?” It was more than the pain of the losses, although they took the brunt of the blame. I hated the fact that I couldn’t even find joy when I found out I had become pregnant! Stolen was the gift of the glow other mothers had, for they did not share my fate. Envy pierced my eyes as I looked upon their ripening belly, their body preparing to give them the miracle of life; while my body was soiling the life that formed in my womb and then doing the unthinkable….it was expelling it. If I could have killed out my body, and lived to replace it with one that wasn’t broken, I would have. Even the sight of my flat stomach sickened me, for I knew there should be a blossoming bump, to represent a fluttering of life it held there…..instead it lay there empty. The dates of each due date approached and passed, leaving behind a birthday that I would never celebrate, a gift I would never give to a face I would never see. I lost three more pregnancies during this time, within a year……and my body’s lack of completing the task I had sat out to accomplish filtered into every aspect of my life!

I was repulsed at my reactions to the things that once brought me such joy. The me, the one who had no idea that motherhood may never be her’s, the one who had been naive enough to assume that pregnancy and birth would come so easily, she had dissolved, leaving behind the childless UnMother. I remember the enchantment when I would witness a tummy heavy with life, as a woman would pass me by. Back when magic still existed I would find my way to her, sharing her excitement, asking questions about the gender, her due date, and name choices. Imagining the day when I would share in her destiny. The wonderment of creating a life was something so magical…..but I wouldn’t be granted that joy. Instead I would fall pregnant, dream of the day I would bring forth life, but even that dream was stolen from me. I found with each pregnancy, I became more skeptical, unable to even allow myself to hope. I had no room for hope, because if I did the disappointment that would soon follow, would rip me from the tiny bit of sanity that I had left. And so, the UnMother, she avoided baby aisles at all costs, she scampered away from anyone visibly pregnant…..because each reminder brought with it a deep rooted sadness.

Babies, toddlers, children, had always drawn me in. I loved to look upon the face of a newborn baby, so innocent, so pure, and so perfectly miraculous. I relished in the way toddlers were seeking out to discover the boundaries of their worlds, the sweet way they toddled as they learned to use their legs, and their angelic faces. Children with their silly antics, their new found independence, and their developing personalities. I was mystified by them….until the losses, also took that with it. I would watch as new moms cooed at their infants….but the thing is the way their baby looked back at her, is what hurt me the most. Would I ever see that look? Would I ever see my baby stare at me that way? The exhausted mom at the grocery chasing after her toddler brought on a new form of pain. Who could envy that lady? You know the one with this tiny person who was so unpredictable, so energetic, and prone to throw a tantrum over a piece of candy at the drop of a hat? Those moms, looked utterly deflated, as if the tiny vacuum of the human they had created, had sucked all the life force out of her.  The tiny tornado left in it’s wake a woman dressed in yoga pants, a shirt soiled by some sticky residue, a makeupless face, bags of sleepless nights, hair disheveled and thrown into a sloppy pony tail. She looked tattered, worn out, barely holding it together, but yet I envied her. Her job was important, balancing her little one’s safety and also allowing her child to explore. Spending her nights bribing her energetic toddler to go to sleep so she could as well. She had the job that I wanted, and even in the moments that  tiny people fell into the floor of grocery store, I didn’t pity her……I was jealous. Because even then the love between them was apparent, and that was something I had no knowledge of. So, I avoided situations where I would be forced to acknowledge them, instead choosing a different aisle to venture down, as my heart tried to steady itself and finish the grocery shopping.

Social media was a constant reminder. The children, the ones starting school, they were reminders of my first loss. Posts on facebook of “first days of school” were quickly scrolled by, or “_____ said the cutest thing today….” I didn’t want to hear about it, didn’t want to see their children in their frilly and fancy clothes, because my angels would never see their first day, and I would never be able to share pictures of them as I meticulously dressed them.

But the very worst, was those moms, who had this amazing gift, and discarded it like it was nothing. I would see her screaming at her toddler in the store, see the defeated look upon her child’s face as she dismissed them. This mother was the worst of all. Her children were a burden to her……a burden I wanted more than anything else. She pawned them off on whoever would take them, and make comments like, “I don’t know why I had children!” I remember one instance when I overheard a woman discussing how “inconvenient children were, and how much easier it was before them,”  all the while berating her son who couldn’t have been more than three. Telling him how he was such a brat, and he never listened, amongst other things I cannot bring myself to type. She was sick of him she had said……and then i saw that little boy’s eyes, pooled with tears, and she was breaking his spirit, making him feeI unloved. I was sickened by the sight, so I spun around at the pharmacy, where I was picking up more infertility medications, and I challenged her…..”Well, maybe you should not have had them? I mean there are people, people like me who would give anything for the minor “inconveniences” your child brings. Do you know what I would do to have a child? One just like this perfect little boy by your side who you are insulting in the middle of this line? Your son who as far as I can see, is healthy, beautiful, and has done nothing deserving of your harsh words. If you don’t want him, I would have gladly taken him. I have been through things no one should to be given the right to be a mother……a job you are clearly unworthy of. YOU are sick of him?????? Well, I am sick of parents like you who get this beautiful gift and are so unworthy.” People were staring, but I didn’t care! I knelt down to the little boy who’s brown eyes were searching mine, “You are a good boy, and don’t you ever forget that.” The mother’s face was red from embarrassment, she yanked her child’s arm and whisked him to another check out.

I know I sounded like a crazy woman…..after all it was no business of mine, right? WRONG! I didn’t care if others thought, save only one…..that tiny broken boy that she didn’t deserve. Amazingly, the other people in the aisle did something amazing……they applauded me, told me that I had said all they wanted to say, but my only hope is that she took some piece of that vulnerable part of my hurt and found a way to love that little boy the way he deserved. His eyes, they still haunt me.

I became consumed with the undeserving mothers……they were every where that I looked. They got the gift that I desired and yet they discarded them, for men, drugs, and freedom. To them their child was a burden, and that broke me in a whole new way. All around me there was this woman who “accidentally” fell pregnant only to abort their child, because they didn’t want the responsibility…….why????? I would have loved that child, I would have taken that child, and so many others would love nothing more than to be that child’s parent. Then their were the moms so addicted to drugs and men that their child was left to his/her own devices. Those were the saddest, they were often filthy, unkempt, and their eyes were so lonely. I wanted to save them all. How cruel was this world that these children desperately needed a mother, and I needed a child and yet, they had been gifted to someone unworthy?

I craved the child they despised, and in return I resented them……so deep that resentment ran that it bordered on hate. I still wish I could save them all, but at the time, I couldn’t even save myself. I think of them often, those unwanted babies, the unworthy mother, and me…….the mother that would never be able to be one……

The UnMother and The Mommy

I wish my present self could have spoken to the broken me. I wish the me I am today could tell the me of yesteryear…..it truly will be ok. You will make it. The journey will hurt but you will come out on the other side. Yet I know that, the person I was during my losses wouldn’t listen to the woman I am today. I was bitter then, soured by life, and I wore my pain securely affixed to my heart. No words could have calmed me, they would have just angered me. I was like a caged animal, so full of rage, and I seethed with anger at the world. The world was such an ugly place back during those days. It offered no comfort, no solace, no peace of mind….just endless amounts of pain that it poured upon me in suffocating doses.

I look back on the “UnMother” as I refer to the person who claimed me when I was struggling to accept my losses. She was the only thing that kept me sane, yet she was the side of me that is the very definition of insanity. She only allowed me to feel the pain that I could tolerate before snapping in two. I often felt like a branch on an old tree, right after a snowstorm, weighted from the ice….thinking just one more snowflake of disappointment would split me in half. Yet, the UnMother, she raged on. Fearless, she was! Yet scared of everything, allowing no one in. If I were to explain to you who the UnMother was, you might think her ugly. She was…..but she sprung from a source that left her no option…..she was emotionally void. You can’t grow a garden on unfertilized soil. Just as I could not grow a baby in a barren womb….so she was the result of the emptiness that consumed me.

I had almost forgotten her existence, she is now dormant in my being. A strange thing happened, I read my journal from seven years ago. I barely recognized my words upon the paper. I think I was too overwhelmed with heartache that I couldn’t see the changes in my personality. I say all these things, not to bring you sadness…..but to offer you hope. I lost 8 babies, and with them, I very nearly lost myself. The words scratched upon the now yellowed paper, were hardly legible, and were filled with hate. I read them and they sounded like the ramblings of someone who had lost her mind. I suppose, at that time, I had. No one can understand the depth of your sadness until they have felt it.

If your eyes are the window to your soul, then I would say those of the UnMother would be something you wouldn’t want to peer into. You would see the pits of hell there, so black and lifeless that even shadows fled. Nothing laid in the depth of those eyes; only unending void. If you looked into their midst, you would see no kindness…..pain cannot afford kindness. Empty were those eyes, as empty as her fruitless womb.

If you looked at her arms, you might mistaken the UnMother as a drug addict. Her arms bared scars from needles…not from drug use, but the tireless prying of testing her blood. Poked and stuck so many times that all her veins were hardened….almost as hard as her heart. Lab work was a weekly part of her life and even the poignant stick of a sharp needle seemed painless, when compared to the hurt she bore. For what she craved was something to hold in her arms, and to achieve that she was subjected to blood draws. They tested for everything, genetics, clotting disorders, thyroid issues, lupus and chromosomal defects. She was a defect, she accepted that, for if she pretended to be anything more, or to even hope for more, would have been her demise.

I compare each woman’s heart to a garden. It is supposed to be beautiful, a dwelling that grows and ripens with love. I dare myself to remember the garden that belonged to the Unmother. It was such a wretched place, it sprung from sadness, not love. It was hideous to behold. Weeds crept up from the cracked earth, thorns and briars branched from every crevice. You didn’t dare trek upon the murk and mire, some areas were dried, crumbling earth; then there were places you didn’t dare cross for fear that it would swallow you up. Those sinkholes would swallow you up, those were the parts where the UnMother went to shed her tears. Tears fell so abundantly from her eyes that the earth couldn’t absorb them all, leaving behind a sunken place, that threatened to drag those who treaded there, straight to the hell in which she was trapped.

If you are reading these words, and you are not repulsed by the ugliness….it is because you have felt the agony. Maybe some grief brought you to this sad, lost place…..or perhaps, you are an “UnMother.”  I feel sorrow when thinking about that part of me, however, I do not deny that this piece of me was at one point VERY real. This was my survival, my coping mechanism, and for that I am grateful for the “unmother.” Why? The soft, fragile person I was could not have adapted to the harsh, cold reality that I had to face. The loving part of me would have crumbled, instead the “UnMother” encased me with her strength, she blinded my eyes to keep them from witnessing the visions I would see, she stilled my shaking hands so I could endure the tedious habit of signing medical consent, and she would build a fortress around my heart so that it would one day be capable to love. She was the tiny thread that tethered me to the living, breathing population but she had replaced me with a shadow self. She wore my face, but she hid me inside her fortress until I was ready to come out and face the world! Today, I give thanks, to the unmother. Because of her, I feel the heat of my pain but am not burned by it. I carry the hurt but am not encompassed by it. She saved me from myself! Thanks to the UnMother, I will allow you to see through the veil as to who I am today!

The day that my daughter was born, the UnMother smiled before disappearing into the recesses of my treacherous past. She could not co-exist in the light, so she scampered away to the shadows of my heart….she lives there on the fringes, along with my 8 miscarriages.

My eyes are once more, my own. The first vision they saw with renewed eyes was a tiny, perfect gift from the heavens. A miracle that had been created from a million whispered prayers sent to Heaven, and had fluttered down from the clouds to me. Had the “UnMother” not shielded my eyes, how could I have viewed the innocence, the beauty, and love that was in front of me? It would have been lost from me, and for that, I am so happy I could see her with untarnished eyes, my vision was kept from being blurred by the “UnMother.” If I could just allow the reclusive, “UnMother,” to peer into my eyes, into the windows of my soul; it delights me to what she would find. In the windows of my soul, she would see, two blonde little girls, filling the rooms of my heart with laughter.

My once scarred arms, were soon forgotten, when my daughter filled them. The “UnMother” had bore the endless needle pricks! For her sacrifice, I was able to enjoy the warmth of her weight in my arms, without being tainted by the memories of the IVs and lab work. I thank her for that….

I won’t share my daughter’s birth….not today, that is for another day. But I will share with you, my gratitude to the “UnMother” that saved me the full amount of the grief, which surely would have broken me. The one who stood in the gap, while I hid in mourning. She faced the daily dealings she had to, and for that I was incapable of doing at the time. I regret that she cannot share the person I have blossomed into, a person full of light, and I owe a part of that to her. So, to the “UnMother,” who hides in the shadows of my heart; I would welcome you into my garden, “UnMother,” for a moment of rest. I know she lurks just beyond my surface, and i like to think she gets a glimpse of what she helped me create with her tenacity. I like to think that she should be granted access to the fruits of her labor.

When I became a mother, I went and tended her garden. I pulled the weeds from it. Replacing them with lilies and wildflowers of every shade. I removed the black and white that she was casted into, in it’s place I put colors of every vibrant shade. The thorns were replaced with plush moss, ferns, and an oak tree that my girls can climb. I would like to sit under it with a cup of tea, and see her heart at peace, I smile at the symbolism because she is a part of me. Each time I tend that garden, I know she is there with me…..for as much as I want to deny the ugly part of it, she is still a part of me. I embrace her, and when I look upon the faces of my children. I wish she could relish in the joys of the children she sought with her every breath. She is here, she is me, but she has served her purpose, lurking to the shadows to ensure I can bask in the joyous new title I hold…..The day my daughter was born, so was I, no longer was I the “UnMother” I was born so was my favorite part of myself….simply the “Mommy.” Perhaps, the UnMother just merged with me, once again. Yes, I prefer to think of it like that. She carried my heartache and when I became a Mommy, I pray she shed the UnMother title and joined me on this journey passed infertility, into the glorious light of motherhood!

The Caterpillar Who Never Became a Butterfly (miscarriage #3)

This will be, by far, the hardest blog I have yet to put on paper. I must share it, must purge it from my soul, allow myself to feel the grief. After seven years it is still so raw, so fresh, buried just beneath the surface. Each loss has scarred me, I wear them with honor……these scars on my heart are all that I have left of them. I will not forget them, for that would be far more tragic than not sharing the memory of their brief existence.

After the eight week mark after miscarriage number 2……we were given the green light to try again. We decided not to actively try, we would just let it happen if it was meant to be. I was mentally, emotionally, and physically spent from the grief of two losses and I was afraid. I prayed without ceasing…….this was only a coincidence and the next pregnancy would be normal! I prayed the outcome would be at the end of nine months a beautiful baby to hold. A baby to ease the pain of the losses I had endured. I was in no hurry this time, just trying to come to terms with the second loss of a dream, a hope, a baby.

I had become the crazy pregnancy test lady. The same person that at 21 had never contemplated I could be pregnant, now I was obsessed. Only now they were terrifying, pregnancy meant once again losing a piece of me. I had ten on hand at all times……I tucked them away. Preferred to simply give my soul and body rest for a short time. However, that was not to be……

Merely, three months after my second loss…….I found myself once again, digging out my stash of tests. I unwrapped one, anxiety, fear, excitement, anticipation roared within me. I ripped the package, yanking the contents out, I followed the instructions that I now knew by heart…….and I didn’t even lay the test down before seeing those 2 scary, beautiful pink lines staring back at me. I held that test in my hands, begging it to not disappear, to stay with me, to let me be a mother, to let me hold a baby instead of a test this time. I sat in the restroom, crying tears, bitter that I could not even enjoy this moment due to the fear that gripped me, it gnawed at me, clawed at my heart, it almost begged me to fall victim to hope…..I had told myself that I wouldn’t allow myself to become attached to this baby. I couldn’t take the hurt if these two pretty pink lines shared the same fate as the last two. Yet, there I was staring at this test, and I could not stop myself. I was totally and utterly lost in this baby. I thought that by sheer determination I would carry this child and see it born. Against my own will, I loved this child. Stopping myself from doing so, would be as impossible as trying to staying alive without breathing. The love engulfed me, how could two little lines on a plastic test hold my whole existence, my sanity, my need, and my greatest desire in it? “I need this, God! Give me this baby! Please don’t take it from me!” I pleaded to the heavens. I collected myself, stood on shaky legs, managed to call my sister. I needed her voice to guide me back to a place where I could face this terrifying excitement.

I heard her voice transcend through the air as I pressed the phone to my ear, “Hey beautiful.” “Sissy, I am pregnant again!” I didn’t even recognize my own voice, it sounded weak, it shook like the leaves of the last remaining leaves on a tree before the winter breeze swept them away. I could feel my pulse in my neck, willing it to pump life to this tiny being that I was carrying. Then her voice reeled me back to earth, “REALLY????? Oh my gosh, I am so excited! I cannot wait. When do you go to the doctor? How far do you think you are?” That is one of the many things I love about my sister, her optimism was contagious, and I found myself just being an expectant mother, not a pregnant woman expecting her baby to die. She didn’t voice negativity, she didn’t give voice to all the fears raging in my mind…..and that is exactly what I needed! My sister, my savior in this nightmare I had conjured up……her voice chased that all away. For that, there are no words for my gratitude and my love for her had cured me. We chatted about names, appointments, gender, nurseries, baby clothes and all the things a mother to be should be able to discuss…a conversation that I had been robbed of. She quieted my fears, she gave me the hope. That hope, that glimmer of hope, was like throwing a life raft to me as I was drowning in my own uncertainty.

I hung up the phone and drove to Wal-Mart to grab a few things for dinner, feeling suddenly lightened, my burden lifted. I strolled through the grocery aisle but couldn’t stop the urge, this pull that kept dragging me to the baby section. I decided I would allow myself this luxury. I lingered there touching the tiny garments, and I was drawn to the pink clothing. Scotty and I wanted a girl. I told myself I would love either gender, as it wouldn’t matter if I could only get this baby here. Deep in my heart, as certain as one could be about anything; I knew. This baby, this one tucked softly beneath my heart, this child was a girl. My heart fluttered, and jumped and I smiled from the tips of my toes all the way up to find it’s way to my lips. If I could’ve looked in the mirror, I am sure I would’ve seen someone I wouldn’t recognize. My pale blue eyes were surely dancing with light and laughter…..and hope! I touched a tiny pair of butterfly shoes, they were so tiny, I thought there surely were no feet small enough to adore them. They were soft, fuzzy, and impulsively I lovingly picked them up, allowing my fingers to linger on the soft material. I thought of how they would warm my daughter’s feet, how they would feel against her brand new skin. I bought them, they were a symbol, these shoes. A symbol of the hopelessly, hopeful me.

I came home to share my secret with Scotty. I cooked supper while he showered, I made our plate, and the centerpiece of our table were those tiny pink and purple butterfly shoes. He came to the table, he saw the precious shoes sitting there, and his eyes searched mine. He was gaging me for a reaction, he knew what I had been through, he was concerned how much more I could possibly endure. Oh no, he was going to voice the things I was not ready to hear, he was going to reason with me that we had to at least acknowledge what we might be faced with. I didn’t allow him to, I crossed the room, clung to him like an anchor to keep my dream from floating away with his words. “It is going to be a girl, and her name will be Braelyn!” I said. I felt my eyes soften and sharpen at the same time, challenging him to give me this moment, to not rob me of this one small treasure, and I knew if he didn’t I would surely crash from the clouds from which I had been dreaming. His hazel eyes, searched mine, and in them he found what I needed him to find…..I needed this moment. I watched as his eyes turned into to orbs of love, flickering in their depths, love leapt from every fleck of gold and danced in the green irises that stared back at me! “It better be a girl,” he said as his lips slid into a slow smile….I loved his smile, it was always genuine and rare, and each time he shared one with me I felt like I was receiving a gift. We both lost ourselves in the moment, allowed it to fill us up, the happiness over running until our giddy laughter echoed through the room, bouncing from the walls and falling into my ears like the sweetest music I had ever heard!

My doctor appointment went well, they saw the baby but since the tech was swamped we didn’t get to hear the heartbeat but there was a tiny little dot, nestled inside that circle. Joy abounded in my heart…and spontaneity sent me pulling into the nearest lowes. I picked up paint, then made my way to walmart for some colorful acrylic paints. I was going to paint this baby a mural on her wall. Without hesitation, I went to the soon to be nursery, I wanted something beautiful to surround her. I wanted to cover it with all things soft and lovely. I pulled the soft, fuzzy shoes out for inspiration. Slowly, with precision I began sketching butterflies across the wall, kissing them with the paintbrush to add delicacy to their wings. I stood back and admired my work. Just like my writing, my art comes from a source of emotion and I felt the joy leap from my brush onto the walls. Something was missing….what was it? My journey to get here, to getting her here, it needed to be symbolized.

The greatest joy comes from the deepest pain, just as my losses had made this pregnancy all the more poignant. I stared at the butterflies, and then it occurred to me. Beautiful butterflies only get their wings after they transform. After they go through being a caterpillar, they earn their wings. Me and this baby had earned our wings, but I had to signify the importance of the journey. I painted a brightly colored caterpillar, it was climbing up, over and around her door facing. It’s face was smiling as if it had faced adversity and came out more vibrant on the other side…exactly how I felt! Then with painstaking accuracy I wrote her name, Braelyn upon her walls with tender, elegant strokes…..she was real, she had a name!

I was due for another checkup in less than a month. I was closing in on eleven weeks, not much longer before I was out of the first trimester. Every mother who has lost a baby waits on bated breath for that first trimester to pass, so that the chance of loss decreases. I recognized it was nearing, and allowed myself to just enjoy every second of pregnancy. My once flat stomach was already swelling to expand for the life growing there. I hadn’t gained any weight, but my tummy was rounding and I found it so beautiful. I had already bought my first pair of maternity pants and wore them like a soldier wears a well earned metal. I spoke to her, telling her about my days, telling her about her daddy and how she would woo him, about an aunt that would dote on her, and a nanny who would surely swoon in her presence. I told her we only had to make it to March 15th, her due date and my mother’s birthday. I couldn’t have picked a more fitting day for her to be born, on the same day as the mother I loved so much. The irony that on the day my mother was born, she would be born, and I would be born as a mother. I relished in knowing I was never alone, I spoke softer, angered slower, forgave more quickly……she had already changed me. What a lovely soul she must be to change me from the inside out! I loved her with a love that words could not describe. I slept with her shoes beside my bed, a reminder that soon her small feet would fill them, and the thought warmed me as I fell into sleep each night.

I got up the morning of my doctor’s appointment, showered and slipped on my beloved maternity pants. I applied my makeup, but the glow from my spirit shone through. My stepson was over and I was awaiting his grandpa to pick him up. I tousled his curly locks, wondering if my baby would share her brothers curls. He was playing a video game, and looked up with a smile before continuing on. I went to grab a bottle of water from the fridge and was doubled over with a pain unlike any I have ever felt. I grabbed the phone screaming for my mother to get to my house….the pain was coming in waves, every few minutes they ripped my insides literally bringing me to my knees. I couldn’t even think, the agony was blinding. I told him that his poppa would be here soon, and to not wait for me.  I halfway remember calling my father in law to pick up my stepson. I didn’t want to scare him, my sweet boy, I had to put on a brave face. It wasn’t until I shut the door behind me did I allow the pain to cease me…..I slid to the floor, and crawled to the bathtub. I got in the tub letting the hot water wash over me and tried to breathe through the pain. I was so thankful for that pain, it kept my mind from thinking about what this meant. I don’t know how long I laid there, weak, broken, defeated and convulsing as the pain shattered me over and over.

Then my mom was there, and Faith who had grown to be like a sister to me. I was naked, exposed, but my mind didn’t register it. I vaguely remember being dressed, as silent agonizing moans escaped my lips as the pain raked through every bone in my body, ravishing every muscle with it’s viciousness. I was sitting on the side of the tub, and I heard voices that sounded far away. Faith, a nurse by occupation, her voice sounded foreign, and scared, “Ruth, she has lost a lot of blood….we got to get her to the hospital now.” It was only then I allowed my eyes to look into the bathtub, and was bewildered that I was still alive. They helped me to the car, I was weak, the contractions were violent and intense. The thirty minute drive seemed like eternity, I clung to the pain allowing it to mute my thoughts.

I tuned everything out, I was taken back to the Emergency Room, examined and then sent upstairs to the ob’s office. My sister, Mary Ann, my safe haven, my strength during weakness was there with me as I walked into this office. Only then did I allow myself to recall the words the doctor had told me, “hemorrhaging”  “we don’t see a heartbeat” “you need to discuss the next step with your physician” and then the tears came. This pain was by far worse than the physical pain. All around me sat pregnant women, bellies rounded, smiles on their faces, and others with newborn babies surely there for their follow up after birth….something I wouldn’t be getting. I watched as one lady lifted her fussy daughter, I caught a glimpse of a shock of brown hair, adorned with a beautiful bow, a frilly little dress, and upon her feet……MY daughter’s shoes. I felt so robbed, I felt like my sanity was leaking out of me, and how dare them send me to this place. Forced to watch something so beautiful as a mother comforting her child, and knowing that at that moment my baby was dead. Her baby was feeding from her breast, while my heart was being ripped from mine.

Some infinite amount of time passed before I finally was released from the hell of that office and ushered back into the room where the doctor awaited. “I recommend a D&C,” she said with all her medical, scientific words.

“A D&C???? You want to dilate my cervix and rip the baby out?” I asked, swallowing the desire to spit in her face. I wasn’t angry at her, I was insane with grief. She was just doing her job, but I was going through a slow, twisted death. I listened as she voiced the reasons that it should be performed, “loss of blood” “the baby was stuck against my uterus which means it would not be expelled and was causing excessive contractions” “need to do it as soon as possible”…..I smiled to myself a sadistic smile, even in death, my daughter was trying to stay with me. “Fine, schedule me for the morning, for this procedure.” I spat, hatred filling my heart.

“April, we should act now, waiting is dangerous, if you hemorrage again…..” she began, and I could see her concern, trying to explain to me without adding to my misery.

I waved my hand at her, “I am aware of the risk. I am aware my baby is dead. I am aware I am not going to be a mother. But I am not ready to do it. I am not ready to be “unpregnant.” I am not ready to let her go, you can take that from me in the morning…I have lost enough today!” She silenced, nodded a sad nod, and scheduled me for 5 am the next morning.

It wasn’t until the ride home, that I realized I hadn’t told Scotty…..I hadn’t given him the chance to be there, I didn’t want him to see the wreck that was now his wife. When I walked inside our home, he was watching tv, laughing at whatever was on the screen. One look at me and he was on his feet, he sought to hug me but I pulled away, “She is gone! Mom will take me in the morning for surgery.” My voice was defeated, hard, flat, emotionless and I didn’t recognize it as my own. I knew I was being selfish, shutting him out, but I couldn’t share this, it would break me in two. I couldn’t feel his anguish on top of mine, nor could I give him my burden. I had to hold onto every ounce of the pain, it was all I had left. I resigned myself to the nursery and cried ugly, bitter, hate filled tears. I crumbled into the floor, glaring at the caterpillar for it’s false hope of a butterfly. I touched my stomach, “We have tonight, one more night.”

The next morning I checked in for my “procedure” feeling as if I was attending my own funeral, a funeral for my heart. They wheeled me back, sobs echoed through the room until they silenced me with sedative, and I welcomed it……the sweet oblivion. I awoke too soon, and with a scary realization, I had almost hoped I wouldn’t wake. What awaited me now? An empty nursery, an endless nightmare, a pair of butterfly shoes that would never grace her feet.

For nights on end I slept in the nursery which was once a guest room. Scotty was attentive, checking on me, but I was lost in a place that even he couldn’t pull me from. The morning peaked through the window and glared upon the caterpillar, and the butterflies that I had painted. I grabbed some interior paint, and viciously covered them each detailed piece of art. Angry strokes of my paint brush, blotting them out just like my baby had been blotted from existence. I cried, and screamed, then cried some more.

It wouldn’t be until many years later, when the maddening grief had subsided would I see with different eyes. I would realize that my caterpillar hadn’t turned to a butterfly, she had gained her wings though, her angel wings had lifted her to the heavens and carried her away from me.

May the Day Come When Every Child is loved

As a writer often I get caught up in my own story…..and then something enchanting happens….someone shares their story with me. I am not only a writer; I am a storyteller. But some days a storyteller needs a story, a glimpse into someone else’s book. To connect, to feel but for a moment that person’s pain. To embrace it, to lift it but for a second, and take it as your own. Just like delving into the nostalgic pages of a long forgotten book, you are reminded every single soul has a story. Not all stories are painted with beautiful things, flowers, and rainbows……no the best stories are the ones that leave a little mystery. If but a moment we would just stop writing, open our ears and quiet our tedious pecking against a keyboard, or tracing letters upon parchment paper, we will hear it. The sound of someone’s heart breaking, the audible cracking as the ice shatters shreds of their pain sending fragments of pain strong enough to debilitate them. We have all had a broken heart, it is more real than any physical pain I have ever endured. No pain reliever can dull it, no remedy to subdue it, so it racks through us like waves of hurt. The ache, it can cripple the strongest person, silence the most outspoken, and break the unbreakable….There are so many causes for a broken heart, some for choosing to love, some for choosing not to, some for having no choice at all. So, my question, if we have all felt it, how can we not offer some insight to those we see hurting? Because just like love, that type of pain is truly indescribable. Childhood is supposed to be about building you up. Learning to spread your wings, helping you build your dreams, preparing you for the future by equipping you with tools you will need, protecting us from the evil so that we can see through pure eyes. What if that gift is stolen? What if you don’t get the choice to see the world how you want to but instead the window to your world is controlled by someone tortured by demons? It happens every single day…abuse. With that abuse a child’s world can be demolished, taking with it their future. They will carry that baggage for the rest of their days, it will follow them into future relationships, tarnish that vulnerable place that is capable of opening up, and you can break a child. Not all children survive their form of abuse, some succumb to the pain and lock themselves away….and they spend their lives broken. The ones who do survive are left with scars so deep that it hurts so bad they cover them with a facade of bravery. Others will not live, they will die, never experiencing innocence, dying at the hand of their abuser, beaten, broken, gone! How terribly sad that someone could do this to a helpless child…..it happens every single day. It breaks my heart, the way glass shatters into those tiny fragmented pieces that embed themselves into you. The sadness and the relief is they are free from their abuser, leaving behind only the memory of them. Those that survive, they are often operating on autopilot. Pretending to fit into the norm of what they are supposed to be, how they are supposed to be like everyone else. However, they cannot be that person that the world seeks out. They harbor a secret, so dark, so haunting that it has become a part of them. What of those? If they are lucky they will reach out, they will find that one person to share their burden with and for once will be loved wholly for who they are, even the broken parts. I believe that the scars will heal with the proper mending, but the memories are still there, just beyond the veil of their cool demeanor. Untapped, trapped, burdened, heavy, and alone in their pain. Perhaps, they feel unworthy of love, from an early age they were taught they were unlovable, so how will they learn to accept love when they have never felt it. Just as there is no cure for heartache, there is no cure for physical abuse…..but love can overcome that. For that person, battling the demons that consume their nightmares, the one who wants only to be understood, who wants to share but is too afraid, too ashamed to let anyone see the broken parts of their heart, their spirit, their soul……for that one I pray for love! Love from someone who will embrace that sadness, carry it in their heart so that for a brief instance they can lighten the load of the deeply troubled child hidden just beneath the surface. To that person I hope for peace, I hope for love unwaivering, and I pray for their strength to share their story. Only in vulnerability can they find freedom, vulnerability is scary but to the one who is deeply wounded it is the only source of relief. May those children and the adults they grow up to be, find that and so much more. May they smile, a true smile one that lights up those shadowy places in their souls that have been buried. May they laugh, a deep uncontrollable laugh to cleanse them and let them know how great happiness feels. And to the one who they finally let in, I pray they never let them go so that they can stop the search and just be who they were meant to be. In honor of that child, the many children out there without a voice, may they find it, no matter how long it takes and may they find the bonds of pain lifted. For those children, and the ones that are living it today, I pray there comes a day that no child suffers at the hands of the ones who are supposed to love them. That hands that would be lifted to hit them, instead tossle their hair, the arms that were used to pin them instead embrace them, and the vile words that spew from the aggressor’s lips turn to encouragement and love. May there be a day when children are given the one thing they were meant to feel….unconditional, unfaltering love! I pray for the day there is no child abuse in this world, but until then, I pray for a cure for the aftermath the abuser leaves behind!