Announcement: Today’s post is by Carrie Aulenbacher, it’s the 1st place winner of the “You Deserve to be Inspired” writing contest! She’s won an Amazon gift card and a full scholarship to the “Writer’s Crushing Doubt” online course. Congratulations, Carrie!
The screen was black.
There was nothing on it.
But I wasn’t looking at my empty computer screen.
I wasn’t struggling to craft the perfect opening line…
It was a sonogram screen.
My baby was dead.
The tests had all come back positive and things had been going well in the first weeks, but then, on this most momentous day, the day I’d get to see my little peanut in utero for the first time, there was nothing to see. The cells had stopped developing. I wasn’t going to hold a baby in the spring. I wasn’t going to be a mommy.
There was nothing.
It’s not a story I tell – ever. And to tell that much still leaves my heart hammering and my eyes shimmering with tears, even all these years later. I never got to know a gender or anything, but I feel it would have been a boy. It set me back for years, crushing me to the depths of my broken heart.
The pieces would cut me in my dreams as I walked back through that memory each night.
I must have done something wrong. This was my fault – wasn’t it?
The office I’d gone through had given me a laundry list of things to avoid, from lifting weight to peanut butter, from hot showers to cat litter. My mind spun in the following weeks, pummeling the broken pieces of my heart to dust as I searched for the one thing I did wrong that killed the baby.
Only after therapy began months later did I come to realize that I had done NOTHING wrong. That it hadn’t been my fault in the least. My own mother-in-law had lost a baby and it almost made her leave her husband and young son and go crazy.
The baby she had after that miscarriage had been my husband.
Think of what my life would be like if she had left her family before giving birth to him? She ended up being a mother of 4 really wonderful children who are all totally amazing people. Really special, strong, blessed people. And I’m not just saying that because one of them is my husband. I’ve seen them overcome challenges that most would succumb to.
My mother-in-law came back from that tragic loss of her baby to bear a most amazing family.
And so I had to let go of asking God to bring that baby back. I had to start asking God to lead me to a place where I could have a new baby in my life. My first baby had come and taught me three huge life lessons:
1. I’m still a good person even when inexplicably tragic things happen to me.
For the longest time afterwards, I’d felt ugly. I’d felt dirty.
I was a killer, wasn’t I?
Hadn’t my husband given me a baby and I’d killed it? In reality, no, I was not ugly or dirty and I certainly was no murderer. I’d done everything right. My husband still loved me. And I realized I needed to honor my angel baby by honoring myself and get out of those negative feelings. I began to accept myself and let go of the pain of my loss.
It was not my fault. Not. My. Fault.
2. Life is precious and every day is full of meaning.
I began to see how fast time was passing. I looked at how I was squandering such an amazing gift on such useless things throughout my day. I began creating quality time in my day. I got back to writing. I worked to create more handmade gifts for those I loved. I spent more time being present and enjoying the moment. I let myself play and enjoy small things.
3. In spite of being terrified of experiencing another loss, I had to try again.
I spent more time thanking God – for every little thing. And I thanked Him for making me a Mom – even though my child was only here a few weeks. Accepting that about myself was one of the most powerful things I ever did for myself. It helped me to try again for another baby.
Years later, my second child came and is perfect. Maybe someday, they will know about their sibling in heaven. For right now, when I look into those little eyes, I see the power of forgiving myself, accepting that life is precious, and trying again. Had I given up, I would not have those eyes to look into, or that little smile to kiss.
Those little hugs…
Such amazing moments…
The contest says “We need your story.” And I’ve been terrified for years to share it. It’s still hard to see how I can help anyone by telling a story that hurts so much to tell. But as I look at the contest, a tiny hand rests on my shoulder and tells me “It’s time, Mom.”
So with trembling fingers and tears streaming, I’ve shared it with you – one of THE most vulnerable parts of myself.
It’s scary to be hurt and feel responsible. It’s worse to hide it and feel alone in your experience. I journaled about it for years, I went to therapy for it, and now it’s time to stop hiding it and just put it out there.
From this broken heart to yours, I want you to know you are BEAUTIFUL. No matter what happened, you are GOOD. You’re still here to share some of that beauty and goodness. There are people around you that NEED it. We need that crinkly lop-sided smile, that breathy giggle, that fantastic hug.
We need YOU.
And I have tape when you’re ready to patch the pieces back together and try again. The tape of encouragement and support. Because you really should consider it. Your future’s awesomeness awaits.