I met this powerful warrior mom, a bereavement doula at the Stillbirthday -2016 Homecoming conference, Kearney, Missouri (www.stillbirthday).
I had an abortion in 1988 when I was 17. I lived in a small town, my parents Was well known and they knew everyone. The day I found out I was pregnant in the dirty bathroom of the fast food restaurant in which I worked, I ran to a friend and called the clinic immediately. I didn’t tell my parents, but my other friend did. I had told my mom, but my Dad and Stepmother (whom I lived with) knew and so when the day came, my mother and step mother went. It was awkward, it was painful, it was awful. I shoved it down and tried not to think about it.
When I married my husband, I became a Christian. One day a couple years later I was watching “If These Walls Could Talk” and the visual of the woman having an abortion triggered me into hysteria. Thank God for my husband, who talked me down and for the first time really helped me understand was the redemption of Christ really meant. He said that it was gone now, and I couldn’t take that burden back. In 2001 we became pregnant with our first child. She was born on Sept 10, 2001 at 9 1/2 weeks on my toilet. A week before I started bleeding, so I went to the ER. We saw her beating heart. We thought she would be fine. That was the worst weekending of my life. As I watched the plane hit the tower, I thought the world was ending. On the 12th I had a D&C.
Fast forward to 2014. Mind you, many stories are woven between those years. Stories of loss, of betrayal, of pain, of joy, … stories of life. I was already a Doula in 2014 when I joined the Stillbirthday training.
I remember when I read Heidi’s message about DOLIU. I recommend everyone read it.
I shared my story. I received amazing, caring support. I felt safe and I felt comfort. Yes, I knew God had forgiven me, but I did not, could not, forgive myself. I talked about it. I wrote about it. People were so kind to me. Heidi, was SO kind to me. I woke up one day out of a deep sleep with the thought that I wanted to name her. My mind railed against it.
I don’t deserve to name her. I don’t even know that it was a her. I killed her. I killed her. I don’t deserve to name her.
I heard God’s voice. I heard the voices of love from my Stillbirthday family. Yes. Yes you can.
I am her Mother. I will name her.
I AM HER MOTHER. I WILL NAME HER.
I picked up my phone, I looked at baby names. I searched for her name. I found it. Immediately I sent an email to Heidi. My baby’s name is (name privately shared) which means First Born. Child Of God. This is my baby’s name. I didn’t share with many.
Still my shame held me (holds me) back. People know… but I don’t really talk about it. I trust a few. I tell them her story.
When I got pregnant for the first time with my husband, I named her readily. I was proud to share her story. I speak of her willingly. She is my loss that I can share because it’s “safe”.
Two years ago I was in the neighborhood of my old house. I took some special items and I had a ceremony for daughter. It was healing. It was beautiful, and calm, and special. And… that was that. I was done. I had done all the things, said all the words, … I was done. Still, I only told a few.
Then… at Homecoming, we stood in a circle and my sisters laid themselves bare and we shed tears, until Agathe said “imagine what your baby looked like”.
No. No, never. I can’t do that, I never thought of doing that, I can’t. Her father was not my husband. He was a boy I knew in high school, and he himself had also passed away. No, there was no way I could never do that. My friend came to hold me. To save me from bolting out of the room. I stayed and prayed and smiled and hugged others who were hurting, but I needed to run. I needed to hide. I ran upstairs to the private room (the room where I knew there was a tent).
I sat in the tent with a pillow and a blanket. I bowed my head and cried. I bawled. I sobbed.
I felt her. My daughter was sitting across from me. She’s 27 now. A fact I would not have known unless someone this week would have made me think to calculate. She sat across from me. But I couldn’t look. I thought, would she have hair like mine? Would she have hair like her father? Still I couldn’t look up, and I cried to myself, feeling weak, feeling defeated. And then… I felt her reach out to me. She put her hand on my shoulder, like other daughter does, to comfort me. She said it’s ok. I didn’t have to look if I didn’t want to. So much like My other child in my mind, I convinced myself I was making all of this up to soothe myself. I took a breath. I looked up. In that moment, I knew with perfect clarity, that my baby looked like her aunt (her father’s sister). I have not seen nor heard from that girl (woman) since high school. I just felt it. The second was over, and my eyes came into focus. I saw the face of Jesus. The tent had mesh sides, and there was a small triangle at the top. In the room there was a wooden statue of Jesus on the cross, and in that small triangle, his face shown through. I smiled and thanked God and said “ok! I’m not taking it back!”
It was amazing. After that I walked outside and stood in the grass barefoot, looking at the fireflies and a rabbit. After a bit, I heard voices calling my name. It was th voices of all of my friends calling out for me to join me. All the voices. I am loved, I am needed. The smile that now I can envisioned on her face has healed me.