It was incredible to be able to see the heartbeat. Just a little thing, only the size of a peanut and we were able to hone in to watch the flutter. It was the first time I’ve ever seen something so incredible in person and I’ll never forget it. We pulled out all the stops in telling our family about the pregnancy at Christmas, finding a different fun way to tell each of the parents and the grands. We were over the moon. These were faces of people who knew we were about to start something in our lives that had an entirely different depth than we had ever experienced.
Two years ago Monday, that changed. On the appointment we were supposed to hear the heartbeat of our first baby, there wasn’t one. No fluttering of its little heart, no movement whatsoever on the screen. The paid and darkness is something I’ve described here several times. That heaviness of having your future ripped from your grasp. The loneliness of an empty nursery. Fighting to return to the world after loss, trying to look like you’ve put it back together after your world fell apart. Working again, trying to focus on anything else.
Two years later I’m still there, though it’s gotten a little easier. I understand that I’ll never feel the same way I did, but I wouldn’t want to. I realize how quickly dreams can be taken away, but I’m learning to how to do it again. In every child’s face I see smiles that will never be that of my first two, but I do my best now to step back and see the love between a parent and their child. I’ve learned that a lost parenthood doesn’t mean watching everyone one else move on without me, it means I can see my children anytime I want. I can talk to them anytime, anywhere. I look around and know that they’re watching, waiting for me to step forward in freedom instead of in shackles of grief, learning to fight for myself too.
I’ve never had such a high as I did watching my babies grow and move. Hearing Jonah’s heart beating was so absolutely incredible after losing Luke that we recorded it every chance we got. We talk about trying again, trying to be ok with believing that we’ll be lucky enough and blessed enough to still have a child we can hold, watch grow and learn and hear their voice. I pray with everything I have that I’ll get to have a kind of fatherhood that has more than urns and ultrasound pictures.
And I hope.
I hope for new lessons and freedom. I hope for dreams and parties and announcements and reasons to redecorate and shop. I hope for grandparents to hold their grandchildren. I hope for cousins who get to play together. More than anything, I hope for grace. Parenthood after loss is becoming as much about learning who I am afterwards as it is learning how to parent a child who doesn’t come home. Grace is a beautiful thing, and I deserve it too.
If you’re out there fighting to find yourself after loss, you aren’t alone. We all have to learn how to love the children we have however we have them, and we have to learn how to have grace with ourselves. It’s more than forgiveness or accepting forgetfulness. It’s being ok with having a heavy heart. It’s knowing that you’re going to be triggered by things you didn’t used to, and learning to adjust. It’s having hope when you can’t see the next step, and it’s remembering the flutter before you remember the pain. Two years ago we found out we had lost our first baby, but two and a half years ago we decided to be parents. We grieve because we first chose love. Keep loving and you’ll find your way through the darkness
We love you, Luke. Our first love. February 6th will always be your day