My little boy is eleven months old. His giggle makes it hard for me to stick to my guns about not letting him try to climb into the bottom of the bar cart. And I’m pretty sure I know what it feels like to win a million dollars, because when he wraps his chubby arms so tightly around my neck, I’m there. I’ve won. His appetite for food never ceases to amaze me, and snack time always gets an excited "yeah!"
Today, snack time is a fig cereal bar from Trader Joes, an option that is probably too messy for my little eater, but the adorable lip-smacking sounds he makes while eating it are worth all of the crumbs. (Also, that’s what the dog is for, right?). Even on his very worst days, my son, somewhere in the midst of the chaos, still manages to melt my frazzled heart with the way he says “mama” and “yeah”.
I look at my towhead bundle of busy and remember. I won't lie and say every time, because that's not true. But there are many times, when I see his little blonde head toddling around the couch, that I do. I remember.
I remember the two lost pregnancies before he arrived, and each of the heart-breaking, soul-crushing moments when I knew those babies were gone.
I remember the first child of my sweet, gracious friend. Her first child who spent only nine days with us.
I remember the phone call I received just days after my first miscarriage. My friend, a fellow military spouse, told me her baby was gone at 21 weeks. Something about an extra chromosome.
I remember my husband telling me that our nephew, at 17 weeks, was gone; there was no heartbeat.
I remember my college girlfriend telling me of the emergency surgery she was forced to have because her tube had burst along with the pregnancy she so desperately wanted.
I have my son's six-week ultrasound picture in a frame. I remember everything about that appointment, but most vividly I remember seeing a little jelly bean flutter. A switch turned on and the fluttering on the screen matched the most beautiful sound: his heartbeat. Six weeks old and I was in love. I was scared out of my mind; loss loomed over me, reminding me of what could be taken away. But I was in love. Timidly, gently, whole-heartedly in love.
This babbling boy fills my heart in places I didn’t know existed, and while he consumes my days and Instagram feed, I still have not forgotten. I haven’t forgotten the ache when a little one is lost, or what the pain looks like in the eyes of a momma with a nursery and no tiny baby to fill it up.
I won’t forget. I can't forget.
Not just for my two babies, but for my sweet, gracious friend, and my fellow military spouse, and my sister-in-law, and my college girlfriend. And for those I don’t know, for those I haven’t met, for the stories I know would break my heart if I heard them, I won't forget those either. I may not know your story, but I'm not so wrapped up in my life and the son I now have that I have forgotten about your loss. I will remember.
I think of those lost little ones often and I pray blessings over all you mothers and fathers with empty hands and broken hearts. I pray for peace and comfort for you, and I hope that those closest to you will remind you that they also have not forgotten. I'm not talking about a live-in-grief remembrance. Because we heal, we grow, we live, we move forward. All at different times and stages, but remembering is acknowledging. It’s saying “I see your hurt, I see your pain, and I’m here." Remembering is kind and loving and compassionate.
I know I’m not someone special to you. I’m just me, and you probably don’t even know me. But today I want you to know that I—the momma with two babies in heaven and one baby beside me asking for another cereal bar—for what it's worth, I will remember.
Guest post written by Abi Tomberlin. Abi and her husband currently live in Colorado with their son Ajax Kelley. Abi blogs at GaddingGal, is very dedicated to the two-person book club she's in, swoons over good food, and tries every day to teach her son how to "shake his booty" which is more like head-bobbing, because that's all the rhythm she's got.
Photo by Ashlee Gadd.
P.S. If this essay resonated with you, don’t miss our podcast episode, #IHadAMiscarriage With Jessica Zucker