After Miscarriage and Stillbirth The Whens Became Ifs

Losing three babies in two years changed me. 

Gone was the woman who spoke in absolutes.  No longer was I the person who punctuated her statements with certainty.  Two miscarriages and a stillbirth changed literally changed the way I spoke.

After losing three babies–my whens became ifs.

With each loss, I felt less and less certain of the life I had once envisioned.  When my babies silently slipped away it was as if my absolutism had gone with them.  The word ‘when’ felt foolish and I could only put my trust in the ifs.

If I get pregnant.

If we hear a heartbeat.

If I have a baby.

If that baby lives.

After my losses, there was no more when.  There was no more certainty. 

After miscarriage and stillbirth–there were only ifs.

Even when I found out I was pregnant again, I could only think about if we would make it to our first ultrasound.  When we heard the heartbeat, I would only think IF we would make it to our next appointment.  And when my living baby finally arrived, when I held her body, soft and certain in my arms–I still thought if.

The ifs were the only thing I felt certain about anymore.  I could no longer look forward with confidence, but I was confident that when I looked down I’d be facing another if.

If she wakes up tomorrow.

If she is breathing.

If she’s still with us.

There were no ifs about it–I felt completely broken.

But, I wasn’t broken.  I was hurting.

I was hurting with the pain of losing three babies.  Saying goodbye to babies and dreams had left deep, dark bruises on my heart.  The kind of bruises that linger with a dull ache but can feel sharp and stabbing when poked.  When the pain was sharp, the ifs were strong.  When I was hurting deeply, I felt so uncertain.   

And today, almost three years after my stillbirth, I still hurt.  Even after all of the healing that time has brought, there are days when those bruises throb with feelings of fear and longing.  These are the days when I find it impossible to trust the whens and I can only think of the ifs.

If she will go to Kindergarten.

If she will have her own family some day.

If she will ever live to know how much her life has meant.

When I think this way, I no longer worry about being broken.  I know that this life of wonder is the one that comes when you lose your life of certainty.  When the absolutes in your life disappear, it’s the unknowns that take their place. 

This is what happens when your lens on life is a broken heart–the cracked surface makes it hard to see what lies ahead.

When you are facing the unknown it can feel terrifying.  Looking forward into a future that is blurred and hazy makes you worry about what lies ahead. 

But sometimes–if you let it–facing the unknown can feel just like dreaming.  The same kind of dreaming you did back when life felt certain.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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