Never to have seen but to have dreamed
Never to have held but to have felt
Never to have known but to have loved
(Reflection from Miscarriage Remembrance Service)
We marked 6 December 2013 as my EDD (Estimated Due Date) for our lost angel. Although we have no idea whether she was a boy or a girl and we never saw a heartbeat, my instinct made her a girl and we called her Hope. That was my husband’s idea and it seemed appropriate as it was our only bfp and pregnancy and was a miracle while it lasted. Up until then I had started to doubt if it was ever possible. Of course, now I am back to doubting if it will ever happen again but that’s another story.
I pondered all sorts of ideas as to how we would spend this day, how we would mark the occasion. As it turns out the decision was taken out of my hands as I was away on an overnight work trip to London and was returning home on the day in question. Perhaps to some degree that was not a bad thing, keeping busy and occupied. It was mid afternoon by the time I got back, my husband collected me from the airport, we went home, had a takeaway and a quiet night in, just us in our own little bubble. It was surprising how many people in the know just suggested I brush myself off and get on with things, the baby is gone, just move on. Others, however, were gentle and sensitive. I didn’t say it to a lot of people, not even to my Dad, about the EDD. I am not sure if people who have never experienced this can ever fully understand the significance of the day. If I am honest, I probably never fully did myself until now. I hope I am a more compassionate person as a result. However, I know everyone will have their own way of dealing with a similar loss. There is no right way in general, only a right way for each person I think.
Possibly one reason we had a very low key EDD day was that I had the opportunity to become involved in more specific remembrance activities during November. The Miscarriage Association here hold an annual remembrance service for all lost angels and we decided to go. Although the service was held in a Catholic church, it was non-denominational and not affiliated to any particular religion. In fact a female Minister from another Church spoke movingly in a layperson capacity about her own loss after IVF. On arrival at the church we were invited to take candles. I took a seat beside a much older lady who had 3 candles in front of her. Loss can be remembered at any time in life. The service opened with a self-penned song from a man whose wife had experienced miscarriage. Later on a woman sang the Sarah McLachlan song ‘In the Arms of the Angels’ which makes me cry for a number of reasons. There were several readings and a number of short reflections.
I particularly liked this one:
When some great sorrow like a mighty river
Flows through your life with peace destroying power
And the deepest things are swept from sight forever
Say to your heart each trying hour:
“This too shall pass.”
(Reflection, Miscarriage Remembrance Service)
The Miscarriage Association’s memorial books were brought to the altar in procession. I had entered Hope’s name in this back at a meeting in the summer. I got a record of the entry and it can be used for a family tree. It felt good to ‘register’ her somewhere. There was then a procession by a group of children carrying lit candles which were to represent those angels who no longer have anyone alive to remember them. Then the entire congregation was invited to proceed to have their candles lit. The lights were dimmed and we all went in procession and left our candles at the front of the altar. It looked very beautiful. On our way back from the altar each family was given a silver Christmas decoration showing 3 candles. There was also a memorial ‘tree’ inside the church and paper leaves. I wrote our message to Hope and hung it on the tree. We had the option of taking home our candles from the altar or leaving them there and allowing the Miscarriage Association to take them to light at meetings. We opted to leave them as I had brought home my candle from the meeting I attended in the summer. After the service we were invited to remain for tea and snacks but we opted to go home. It was quite an emotional service but healing too and it felt nice to be in the presence of others all grieving their losses and eager to remember their angels. All ages were present too, babies to the elderly.
I can’t claim to be very religious and my faith has taken a hard knock during this IVF process. The unfairness of it all rankles and a lot of my anger gets directed at God. I no longer attend Mass regularly although I do pop into church from time to time to light a candle for my late mother and for my lost baby. Sometimes I like the serenity of an empty church. November in the Catholic church is always a time to remember the dead and the departed souls. I usually fill out a remembrance list of the dead for the November masses and make a financial contribution. This time I included Hope on the list. At least I feel that she and the other dearly departed will be prayed for even if I cannot manage the praying myself right now.
Although the EDD was hard in many respects, in other ways the passing of the date was a relief. I stopped figuring out where in the pregnancy I would have been ( I had noted the various milestones throughout, 12 weeks, 16 weeks, 20 weeks, 24 weeks, 37 weeks, 40 weeks). About a week or two after the EDD I finally managed to delete the pregnancy app off my mobile phone. I hung the silver decoration we had got from the Miscarriage Association on our Christmas tree. A twitter friend had sent me a lovely hanging sign reading ‘Hope’ after the miscarriage and I hung it up in my bedroom in a location where I can see it every time I get up in the morning. In this way I can remember my lost little one but also remember why we gave her that name and what it meant and continues to mean.
If there is an afterlife, and for all my faith struggles I like to think that there is, I imagine Hope is there sitting in my mother’s arms and they are smiling, happy, laughing and full of joy. I could not ask for a better guardian for her. I hope in this New Year that they will watch over my husband and I with love and care as we continue our journey and as we make decisions on what steps to take next.
Hope, you will never be forgotten by your Mammy and Daddy. Ever. You are remembered with so much love. So much xxx
Lives that touched our lives tenderly, briefly
Now in the one light living always
Named in our hearts now safe from all harm
We will remember them all of our days.
(Reflection, Miscarriage Remembrance Service)