My daughter lost her baby last week. A miscarriage in the first trimester.
Coming from an abundantly fertile family, it's hard to wrap my head around that. My mom had seven children. Three of my sisters had several children, and a number of those kids had kids. I had three children myself, and my middle child had three children, too.
All of us had no problem. Yet it's a problem for my oldest child, Brianna.
"Problem" doesn't come close to accurately describing the fertility challenge for my daughter. A dead baby is far more than a problem. It's a painful, traumatic, inexplicable loss.
My 33-year-old daughter, who learned just this past year that her chances for conceiving and delivering a child are sadly slim due to extensive endometriosis, did become pregnant. She carried and coddled my grandbaby for nine weeks.
At six weeks, the baby's heartbeat was strong, its position in the womb secure. Three weeks later, the little one left the womb, breaking my daughter's heart along the way.
When Brianna called that morning to tell me she was bleeding and on the way to the hospital, I thought, Perhaps it's not too bad. She had spotting early on and was told not to worry, that it's normal.
When Brianna texted from the doctor's office to say it's not normal this time, that she's being prepped for an ultrasound, I prayed she was losing one of two babies, that she had been carrying twins—which run in our family—and that one child would remain.
When my future son-in-law, the baby's father, called to tell me there was no heartbeat, that the sole baby was gone, I held back the tears until the call ended.
Then the dam burst and I entered foreign territory: I didn't know how to comfort my child. The colorful bandages doled out in childhood wouldn't make a difference. Words of encouragement and support I dished out as Brianna entered adulthood couldn't help now. How do you begin to console the inconsolable?
Yet I needed to hug my little girl. So her dad and I headed to her house the evening of her loss. We hugged her tightly, hugged her fiancé, and said how very sorry we were. It was a sorry attempt at making things better. Nothing could make things better.
My two younger daughters also struggled with how to approach their big sister.
"Do I call, text, email or just leave her alone for now?" both asked. "And what do I say?"
I told them nothing can help but saying nothing can hurt. They both texted, later called and offered solace to the extent they could.
That night, as it happens, abortion was in the news. I teared up and then grew angry about the squabbling over choice. I'm all for women having a choice, but my daughter had no choice.
The next morning, I awoke with puffy eyes and tearstains on my face, apparently having cried in my sleep. It was like waking up from a terrible nightmare and it took a moment to remember that my daughter was hurting and her baby was gone.
Brianna called me two days after the miscarriage.
"Is it ironic that I lost my baby in October, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month?" she asked. It's not ironic, I told her. It's simply a sad, sad coincidence.
Unfortunately, some folks with good intentions don't seem to understand such sadness. "Thankfully it was early in the pregnancy" has been a common condolence. And I get what they're saying, but none of the particulars make a difference when you're grieving the loss of a baby. My daughter's baby. My grandbaby.
We had hopes and dreams for that baby. For my daughter, it was being a mother. For me, it was welcoming a new grandchild. "But she can try again," so many offer. Yes, she can try again—once she steels her heart for a possible repeat loss, another shattering of her soul. The staggering stats for women with endometriosis pretty much guarantee such an outcome.
Despite the scary stats, I hope my baby will steel her heart and try again. I want her to beat the odds and carry a little one to term.
Yes, I want another grandbaby. More than anything in the world, though, I want my daughter to have a baby simply because that's what she wants—more than anything in the world.