Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Silent Pain

Note: I wrote this piece a week ago, blogger went crazy on me a couple of times and it needed a lot of me to write it and work on it, so it's only now being posted. Blogger is still having issues and messed my spacing all up again, I think I've fixed most of it but if not I'm sorry.

I have three post ideas in my head, each equally vying for my attention. Each of equal import in my heart needing time to process and words to give them life. Tears form little pools in my eyes even as I contemplate the beginning, or which thought to focus on.

I was ten when I came home from school to find my pregnant momma and my Aunt DJ sitting next to each other crying. "What happened?" I asked kneeling on the floor in front of my mom with my backpack still on.
"We lost the baby" one of them said.

I hugged my mom, I sat there confused, and sad, unsure of what to say. But that night the sun set, the moon rose, I slept and awoke the next day. Life went on. I'm sure my best friend, Molly, and I talked about it some, probably as we rode our bikes around the neighborhood counting miles, but it wasn't long until we were laughing as the sun and wind kissed our cheeks.
The baby was a girl.
She was considered still born, not miscarried. 
They named her Maureen.
My dad bought a flowering tree for my mom, we planted it on Mother's Day. "Maureen's Tree" planted on her due date, May 10th, if memory serves.
Similar to the one I gifted
My grandmother gave my mother a mantel figurine of a baby girl angel (for her birthday? at a baby shower for Sarah? Christmas?) and I remember the way my mother sobbed, and smiled, but mostly sobbed. Later I broke the foot off that angel, and later yet I found a matching mantel figurine of a little girl angel and gave it to my parents for Christmas, a symbol of Maureen growing up in heaven. Again my mother cried, and my father looked up at me his eyes a mix of sadness and pride.
"Maureen's Tree" was a gift for my mother, but it was my dad who I would find standing at the edge of our deck looking at the tree throughout the ensuing years. Every spring he would go out there, almost daily, and check for buds, then flowers, gazing pensively. Longingly? Perhaps. Occasionally I'd stand with him and think about her, wonder about the sister I'd never known, but that faded as I had two beautiful and wonderful sisters to fill the hole. Even though all three of us Egan girl's have straight hair, I always imagined her with long wavy hair a little darker than Sarah's, Claire's brown eyes, and my nose.

Either they hid their grief well, or I blocked it out of my memory, but these are the only memories I have of what must have been a very trying and painful time of their lives. It wasn't until my adulthood where I was able to put all of these memories together into a picture of what their pain, our loss, truly looked like.

This picture of that loss is transposed, all together inseparable and yet entirely different, over the picture of our own loss. My very own Mother's Day Angel. 

I remember finding out we were pregnant. We went into the living room and I just sat there in a daze, happy and yet reserved. I remember Brian and I looking at each other in shock and thinking it was too good to be true. I think he actually had to ask me to call my family and friends. We'd only just started trying for #2, while you always hope it will happen in the first few months I kept thinking of those who wait months and months or years and years. I wanted to keep it a secret at first, but eventually I caved and we told the whole world around 7/8 weeks.

I remember later sitting in my women's bible study asking for prayers for a friend who had miscarried not long before and crying. I felt so guilty for having two healthy pregnancies while others were suffering all around me. Three days later I found out the baby had stopped growing 2 weeks before.

Having him in my arms soothed my aching heart
I was completely shocked. I'd had no idea anything was wrong. I went in for a routine check up and left with paperwork for a "routine DNC" with tears streaming down my face. The shock faded and pain ebbed it's way in. Other than grandparents, this was the first (and remains the only) death of someone close to me.   A friend of mine met me at the park the next day, offering kind words, and empathy from her own personal experience. Time to stand in the sun, watch kids playing and laughing, speak my heart and process the loss was the greatest gift.

We named the baby Toby (b) / Tobi (g)  because it means God is good. You see, we didn't know for sure if we could have more kids. We trusted the Lord that we would, but we had had doctors give us conflicting reports due to my husbands Chemotherapy treatments.

I will never know this side of heaven, but in my heart of hearts Tobi was a little girl. The little girl I always thought I'd have. Please do not interpret this to mean I hold anything but love for my boys, I would not trade them for a second and can not imagine life without my rambunctious little monsters. But being so much older than my sisters I often felt like a mother hen. I loved to do Sarah's hair and would spend hours dressing them up and then taking their pictures. I always imagined I'd have a little girl someday. This pregnancy was the only one where I suffered from morning sickness, severe morning sickness at that, I also gained close to 12 lbs in the 10 weeks I carried the baby. Very different from what Owen's pregnancy had been and Micah's soon would be.

"For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be" --Psalm 139:13-16

I do not know why my Tobi had such a short amount of days ordained here on earth (in my womb). I do not know how the Lord has used this pain, this experience, to grow and mature me. I feel as though it has, but I expect there is more to this sad but beautiful story which I will learn all about the first time I get to love on Tobi. In the meantime, I am so blessed to have two beautiful little boys, know there is a child waiting for me in heaven, and know the pain that comes with a loss. Pain of what could have been, pain that will linger even as your heart is soothed and filled with love for others. Pain that will remember every birthday and know each milestone that could have been. I am so blessed to be among the few in this world who have joy despite our pain. To know the one who has conquered this world.

 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” --John 16:33

Tobi's due date had been May 8th 2009 but I told people I was due on Mother's Day, two days later. I'm not sure if I did this because it was Maureen's due date or if it was just because our family has holiday babies (sidebar: Owen -St. Patti's Day, Nephew Cayden-Day before Easter, (Tobi- Mother's Day), Nephew Tyler-July 4th, Micah-Week of Thanksgiving, Niece Alli-Due Father's Day...That's crazy right? ). I don't presume to know what heaven's like, I sort of look forward to being surprised when I get there, but the romantic in me imagines while we will know and love everyone, there will also be a connection between those we knew here on earth. This month I've been imagining Maureen and Tobi together, celebrating their 20th and 2nd birthdays, singing and dancing together while my Grandma and Grandpa Egan stand with Jesus and watch with delightful laughter.
5 "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."--Deuteronomy 6:5 

I didn't write this for condolences or sympathy, I wrote it because it's still heavy in my heart. This experience is a part of me. A part of my faith, my love, my family and my future. I often feel like infant loss is a silent pain, so many suffer from it and keep it to themselves, or even if it was public knowledge it doesn't take long for others to forget. I wrote this because I have not forgotten our loss, or the names and seasons of my friends who have lost. I pray for those friends every time I feel burdened or alone in my own pain. I wrote this for Maureen, Tobi, and for you, so you know you are not alone.

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30


  1. Beautifully written! You are a good mama - to all your babies!

  2. That was very well written, and having lost my third son, Steven, and having his dead body removed through a DNC at 5 1/2 months, it makes me know also that I share in the same sentiments. A loss that no one usually but "the mom" feels intensely, yet a loss no less... to the dream of a child alongside the ones we have. God sees, and time does heal the broken heart.

  3. I am so sorry to hear of this. You know, I feel that miscarriage is such a common tragedy and yet it so often goes unnoticed. Thank you for being so honest and open about it


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