My posts have never been very personal, and I honestly was thinking of keeping it that way. This blog could have a sort of theology and cultural moral theme that was as disconnected from the actual ups and downs of my existence as possible. This week, some things happened that made me change my mind.
Chronologically the second thing that happened, but the one that comes first, is that a dear friend of mine had a baby. This friend has not had the ideal pregnancy. She was 16 when she found out she was pregnant and the father has stepped out of the picture, so she is left with her parents and brother to raise this child by herself as much as possible. Whew. When I found out she was pregnant, my stomach sunk for her, because I understood the fear and the cultural judgement this would probably bring on her from many people. But my heart leaped for joy because there was going to be a new life. And I knew a group of people who would be thrilled to welcome this new child with me. Baylie began coming to Bible Study with my family and has been nothing but a delight. In a world where she faced extremely mixed reactions to her situation, she had a place where she was surrounded by joy and hope. And yesterday afternoon, this incredibly brave 17 year old girl gave birth to a beautiful boy.
Today, my Bible Study friends and I went to the hospital to pass the sleepy little guy around and do what moms do when somebody has just had a baby: hear all about the delivery (when did you get an epidural? How quickly did you dilate? Oh my goodness, I wish my child had been that way!), and swap stories of our own experiences. Having a child is a crazy, formative time in your life. Whether you have a c-section, a vaginal delivery, drugs, no drugs, home birth, etc., everybody’s story is both unique and incredibly personal. We honestly never get tired of telling the story of the birth of our first or second or twelfth child. You don’t realize it until you’re a woman who has given birth, but you have just been inducted into a very special and exciting club. Some members of the club can be harsh and judgmental and even downright awful human beings, but the vast majority are here to support and love one another in all circumstances. Suddenly, without expecting anything, you are swept into this group that has a secret code of dilations and sitz baths, as well as magical brews like witch hazel and oh-so-much ibuprofen, and you’re not alone any more in your feelings. Every step of the way, this club exists to support you in that overwhelming role as a mother.
I have been a proud member of the Mom Club for about two and a half years but there was another club that no mother ever wants to join. It is scary and dark and so, so lonely. It is the Child Loss Club. This is the club joined by mothers of miscarriages, stillbirths and child deaths. Because when we are happy members of the childbirth Mom Club, we all share a similar joy, but when we hurt, we all hurt in our own lonely way. When you have a baby and join the Mom Club, everybody knows and can see you’ve been inducted but when you join the Child Loss Club, it is often silent and unknown. We keep our pregnancies secret for three months just in case, so that we can be extra lonely if it goes wrong. People avoid the topic if something happens later because they are afraid it may be awkward. So you keep your membership buried and try to move on with your life.
But you know what that club has? It has women who have been through more. It has women who have learned how to lean on Jesus and give their child and their pain to Him. It has mothers who are the Child Loss equivalent of that mother whose kids are all in late high school and doing well. And it has mothers who are right where you are and can cry with you as you both hold your losses together. And both clubs are important. The Body of Christ exists so that we will not be alone. When one part hurts, the whole part hurts. If you’ve ever broken a toe, you know you can’t pretend you’re fine.
And I’m done being alone. It’s time to join the club. I’m a private person and I do not like to cry or grieve in front of other people. But I am a member of the Child Loss Club. My baby died at 10 weeks of pregnancy and it was the most lonely thing I’ve ever dealt with. But I have had incredible support from the friends who do know, that I would never encourage anybody to go through it alone. Also the amazing writer of Mothering Spirit, through her own openness in her own deep loss, has encouraged me and many others.
Join the Body. That’s why we’re here. We want to share your joy, and we want to share your pain. Don’t let the Body walk with a broken toe. Join the club.