We named her Avonlea.
She was here for exactly one week; and then, like a dandelion puff floating off into the wind, she was gone again. Her life was invisible and muted, a tiny ball of cells that engraved themselves upon our hearts and buried deep into our life. Seven days was all we had together; a lifetime of memories contained in one hundred and sixty-eight short hours.
Our fifth pregnancy. Our daughter. Our Avonlea.
If you were to look at our family’s calendar, you’d notice that the middle of July holds a close knit collection of baby-loss anniversaries. These grief soaked dates are all huddled together over the span of a week, creating an emotionally and physically exhausting whirlwind. This year was no exception as we navigated the memories and feelings of grief, and simultaneously planned a Paw Patrol “Pawty” for the world’s greatest soon-to-be three-year-old, all the while miscarrying another baby.
For the past couple of months, my husband and I have been undergoing testing at a Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Clinic. With blood tests, ultrasounds, a hysteroscopy, and still no answers, we were feeling frustrated and discontent with the continual pressure to wait. While the results from a chromosome test won’t be back for another month, we reviewed the potential outcomes and decided that we were ready to start trying again.
Sadly, just three weeks after that, we added another name to our list of July babies: Avonlea.
From the start, this pregnancy felt different and was fraught with doubts. While I tried my best not to live in the fears that accompany a pregnancy after loss, I felt God whispering that this little one would soon be home with Him. Pleading for a different answer, and so desperately wanting to have heard wrong, I questioned whether I was actually hearing God speak or whether I was letting my fears overrun me.
On the Thursday morning, the hospital sent me for routine pregnancy blood work and I returned home afterwards to await the results. As my toddler napped, I lay down on the bed beside him and wept. There were no outward signs that we were losing this child, but my spirit knew what my mind was not yet willing to accept. I begged God not to take this child, and then I committed her life into His capable and loving hands.
And in the quiet of that Thursday afternoon, a name echoed across my heart. “This child is to be named Avonlea.” The words flowed over me like cool water, reassuring and certain. This wasn’t the first time I’d heard the gentle whisper of her name, but I broke with the knowledge that it meant we would soon be saying another good-bye.
The results came in later that evening, and the hospital called to confirm the next morning. I felt bruised and emptied of emotions, but was not surprised. The hormone levels were so low that we would likely begin miscarrying any time.
And then, we did.
When you lose a baby around the five week mark, before you get the chance to see it on an ultrasound, they call it a “chemical pregnancy.” It’s a fancy name for a pregnancy that has only been confirmed via a pregnancy test or blood work. Perhaps accounting for over 50% of miscarriages, this very early type of miscarriage occurs before many women even realize that they’re pregnant.
While it may hurt less to be unaware, I am so extremely thankful to have known about this little one, and to have been given an entire week with her. In our discouragement and frustration, we pray that Christ may be glorified. The hands that cradle our unborn babes have been marked and scarred by the cross, bringing the promise of hope eternal. Here in our grief, we find ourselves once again wrapped in the Father’s warm embrace, and our aching hearts are drawn into closer communion with Him. In Him alone we can trust.
While we may not understand the story that the Author is writing, we continue to praise God for six such marvelous gifts – five of whom we patiently love on from afar. So, welcome to the family, dear Avonlea. You’re ours and we love you.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. ” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5