They were the last pair of pants left in my armoire. Everything else was stacked in a suitcase, pushed into a giveaway box, or shoved in the trash can. Our move was in less than a week, and I wasn’t fully equipped to handle those black yoga pants.
I pulled them out and sat down on our bed. I unfolded them, feeling the softness and fading from the hundreds of times I had worn them. Finally, I examined the hole, coming to the reality that no sewing could save them. I let the tears and the grief come then, falling in distinct dark circles on my threadbare pants.
Two years before the yoga pant meltdown, I can remember the exact feelings I had when we bought them. It was March 14th, and a few hours earlier, we had seen by ultrasound our tiny 10 week old baby. The baby whose arms had been wiggling and heart had been beating only three days before. The baby who was now dead. With all the gentleness and grace he had, the specialist we had been sent to, walked us through the deformities that had been seen on the first ultrasound and the possibilities of what had caused the death. He asked us to decide how we would handle the upcoming miscarriage of our baby.
I chose to have a D&C scheduled for the following day. I started to plan, to prepare for the same day surgery, and think about what I would need. I wrote down a grocery list, washed some loads of laundry, made beds, and cleaned the bathroom. As I reached for my robe to take a shower, a special gift I bought after my son was born almost two years ago, it hit me that I was preparing for birth. I had done all these things when I prepared for my son to join us. That robe, every time I used it, reminded me of him. And I knew that this baby, only the size of a green olive but big enough to have filled every space in my heart, deserved my preparations as much as my 8 lbs first baby had.
So that night, the last night my baby was with me, we went shopping for yoga pants. I stared at the options alone, envisioning myself walking out of the hospital suddenly not pregnant. I grabbed a semi-fitted pair and rubbed them against my cheek to test their softness. They were perfect, and the next day, following the hardest hours of my life, I sat in those pants, mourning a baby I’d never hold and a life I’d never get to lead.
I was wearing those pants at lunch the day my oldest son casually remarked about how he and his baby brother had lived in my belly.
“We were the only ones in there, right, Mom?” he said between bites of corn dogs and apples.
I looked down at those pants, not quite as crisply black but still the perfect fit. They were the reminder, the prompt to not forget and to love beyond what was comfortable. And so I explained, in words fit for a four year old, about a baby sister who lived in his mommy’s tummy between him and his brother. I talked about how much we loved her, how much we wanted her, and how she didn’t get to stay with us. We talked about how she was with Jesus and he asked her name. I shared our precious girl’s name with him, a treasure we had kept a secret until then. He smiled, nodded, and then asked if we could go to the park after lunch, completely unphased by all I just shared.
I looked down at my pants, grateful that our baby girl’s brother now got to share in the love we still felt for her.
I sat on my bed, holding the tear-stained, ripped yoga pants knowing which pile they belonged in. I would never be able to wear them again and they were not of the stuff cute memory blankets are made. I walked to the trash bag and gently maneuvered them inside. They had seen me through a season: a long season of loss, crushed dreams, and pain. I donned them often in another season: a season of pregnancy, hope, and fear. Finally, they had done their greatest work in the last months: a season of sleeplessness, joy, and healing.
Every time I wore those pants, I remembered I wasn’t just a boy mom. I remembered a little girl whose arms and legs were wiggling adorably, whose heart beat regularly, and who would forever be a part of my story and heart. But those pants also reminded me of loss, of the pain of those hours after she was gone, of hurt and brokenness. I needed to say goodbye to those pants but continue celebrating my baby and the way her 10 weeks with me changed all of us.
We had lived in our new house for six weeks and life still wasn’t completely normal. I was smearing together peanut butter and jelly while my 4-year-old chattered next to me and my 1-year-old emptied cupboards. My oldest was reviewing our family timeline, starting with a random wedding picture he had found in a recently unpacked box.
“You and Daddy got married and Daddy had no beard. Then I grew in your tummy and came out and then Daddy got his beard. Then our girl baby grew but she gets to be with Jesus …”
My mind stopped hearing the rest of his compiled timeline. Our girl baby … Our girl … OUR.
He doesn’t remember me being pregnant with our girl. He wasn’t even two so he doesn’t remember all the times I threw up or ate ramen while he got a happy meal. He can’t remember Grandma coming to stay the day I went to have surgery or the lasagna a friend made for us to eat that night. He doesn’t even remember my tears in the weeks following our loss or recall the nights I snuck in at 2 a.m. to rock him to ease my own hurt.
But because those pants wouldn’t let me forget, he now shares our special little girl. He has taken her on as his own, seeing value in her short time with us and feeling joy that she is now with Jesus. Those pants, now long gone, served a purpose.
They reminded me to share the hard things with my son, to teach him about love and brokenness, to help him care about the tiniest of God’s creation. Mostly, they helped me introduce my son to his sister. Those pants were the best purchase I ever made.
Guest post written by Jenny Beaulier. Jenny is a pastor’s wife and mom to two joy-filled boys. She primarily spends her time figuring out how to grocery shop anonymously in her quaint little town, filling her boys’ day with fun and learning without destroying the house, and trying to leave enough in her tank to laugh with her husband at the end of the day. She is just starting on the journey of sharing the words that fill her heart (and Google Drive) with the world.
Photo by N’tima Preusser.
P.S. If this essay resonated with you, don’t miss our podcast episode, #IHadAMiscarriage With Jessica Zucker