Sunday, May 15, 2005, was the day our first baby was supposed to be born. But that baby never saw it's birthday.
Neither did our second baby. Even after we saw its tiny heart beating during an early ultrasound.
Our third miscarriage didn't even phase me - partly because I wasn't pregnant nearly as long when it happened and partly because the previous two losses had taught me not to get my hopes up too early.
As difficult as it was to lose those babies and the dreams that went along with them, at times it was even harder to deal with people.
The worst were the people who unintentionally said something insensitive like, "Well, at least you know you can get pregnant."
Or the people who didn't know about the losses who seemed to continually ask us, "When are you guys going to have kids?"
I quickly learned that there are people who understand that miscarriage is a loss and those who can't comprehend how losing a baby feels.
Thankfully, I had one good friend who had been through a miscarriage herself. She said the only thing I really needed to hear: "Oh, honey, I'm so sorry."
After our first miscarriage, another friend sent us a card. I didn't agree with the card's message, but the act of kindness meant more than the card itself.
I kept that card, though. Today, it's framed and hanging on the wall in the kids' playroom. The front of the card reads: I see the big picture. - God
And, although, it was hard to see the big picture after each miscarriage, I can look back now and see that our lives would likely be a lot different had our first, or second, baby been born.
We lost our first baby before we started farming. We were living in town and had jobs that provided us with health insurance, evenings free and weekends off. I have a hard time believing that we would have decided to uproot our lives and start farming when we did if we had also been caring for an infant.
Our second miscarriage happened after we had started farming. Looking back, I don't know if our career in farming would have survived a new baby at that time. If it had, I don't know that I would have been willing to leave my family and move to Stearns County when we did. And I know that, in the long run, farming in a part of the state where agriculture is thriving will be crucial to our success.
My journal entry from May 16, 2005, summed it all up:
Last night as I was finishing up chores, I happened to look up. Above were the most glorious northern lights. I'd seen a similar show only once before. At the time I was awed silent by the magnificence and beauty of the northern lights flickering and dancing across the sky like the spirits of our forefathers. The northern lights last night were no less glorious. I stood for a second, fixing my weary eyes on the dancing lights and marveling at their mystery. They were a much needed reward after a long day of farming and a frustrating night of finishing up alone. I reflected on my situation and the merging of opportunities that allowed me to be where I was at that particular moment. I thanked God for the beautiful reminder that everything happens according to plan: on this day, the day my baby should have been born, I stood celebrating the birth of two beautiful calves, my return to the farm with my loving husband, and the generosity of my father in allowing us to give dairy farming a try. I thanked God for the reminder, too, that my baby was safe in heaven in my grandmother's arms. It was an overwhelmingly emotional moment. But my need to get some much-needed sleep pulled me from my reflecting and back to finishing my chores.
I can also see now that the extra time we spent married without kids strengthened our relationship. Farming together before having children gave us a chance to be jointly responsible for something more important than doing the dishes or feeding the fish. It taught us how to bring our individual values and beliefs together through compromise - an important skill in parenting.
Most importantly, we have been reminded to never take a life for granted - regardless of how tiny it might be. And we count our blessings each night for the two happy, healthy babies we have who do have birthdays.
Happy Mother's Day to all the moms of both real babies and angel babies.