The end of March brings with it the end of our first trimester with this little bean. This milestone makes my breath catch and my heart swim. When I saw those pink lines on the pregnancy test, I was so focused on just getting through the first eight weeks, I could scarcely dream of the end of the first trimester. But here we are with a healthy, growing baby and hearts overflowing with excitement and joy.
At the same time, this month carries memories of another child I once carried in my womb. Memories of a little girl we named Avonlea. A child whom we knew for a mere seven days, a daughter whom I knew from the start we wouldn’t get to keep.
March 25 would have been her due date.
This is part of pregnancy after loss: remembering the ones who aren’t in your womb, the ones who never made it this far, and whose hearts you never saw beat. Just because a new baby grows within, doesn’t mean that the ones we lost are any less loved, cherished, or missed.
It’s strange to think that if Avonlea had stayed with us, the October baby now growing in my womb wouldn’t be here. Because she said good-bye so soon, I was given the privilege of opening my heart yet again. This is the curious juxtaposition I face with a pregnancy after loss: that the loss of one gave me another. While I am beyond grateful for this new pregnancy, my heart still misses the ones who came before. It’s not an either/or situation. My heart holds them all. And despite the clear physical impossibility, there is nothing I would love more than to have all seven of my precious babes here with me now.
Sometimes these grief moments still hit unexpectedly. A few weeks ago, sitting in my car and waiting on an ultrasound appointment, I tuned the radio to the local praise and worship station. Singing aloud in that hospital parking lot, I struggled to hold back my tears. I wasn’t worried about the babe within or how the ultrasound would go (morning sickness is surprisingly reassuring for a mama like myself) but rather, I was struck by the fact that I didn’t get this chance with so many of my babies. Four of my children said good-bye before this point, and there is a part of me that will always carry that.
In honour of Avonlea’s due date, I decided to make something special to remember the girl who will always be a part of our family. I learned a couple stitches at a ladies night earlier this month, and decided to try my hand at my very first embroidery project. Wonky bits and all, each petal was carefully stitched as a symbol of my love for her — and to me, there’s nothing more beautiful than a chance to love on my daughter in one of the few ways I have left.
So to my dear little Avonlea, as I carry your sibling in my womb, I am grateful for you — the one who came before. I celebrate your earthly due date knowing that while I don’t get to hold you in my arms today, you are still held in the arms of One who loves you.
Forever ours. Avonlea.