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The Baby that Wasn’t: How the Pain of a Miscarriage Never Really Goes Away

A box sat in the corner of the basement, still unpacked from our recent move.

It was mostly trash, or things I’d intended to donate to Goodwill, but I felt a tug to go through it just to be sure. Tucked between a pair of outgrown toddler pajamas and a photo album we’ll never use was a baby bib in a paper bag: I Love Daddy. It was the one thing I’d allowed myself to buy during a pregnancy that ended far too soon.

Six years ago last month, the baby that would’ve been born was not. It was my first pregnancy, celebrated after months of meticulously charting my fertility signs, the highs and lows of my temperature spiking on a notebook page. For months making love had been more like making an appointment, probabilities never far from my mind.

The pregnancy had come and gone in a flash. No sooner had I adjusted to the thought of motherhood than it was gone.

Six years ago last month that baby wasn’t born.

I’ve lived a lifetime since. I’ve gone on to have 3 children, 2 borne of my body and 1 borne of my heart. I’ve transitioned into parenthood. Become an aunt. Changed careers. But no matter what’s happened in the time since, the pain from that loss still stings at times.

It happens unexpectedly.

I’ll schedule a meeting then wonder why the date sounds familiar, only to realize it’s the day the baby that wasn’t was due.

Or, as was the case yesterday, a friend will tell me through tears that she miscarried. It happened to you, too, I remember. Right?

As common as miscarriage is, we have a tendency to put its memory high on a shelf in our minds. It’s not something I discuss with my friends over coffee or relive with my husband on its sad anniversary. But there’s so much value in being open to sharing with those who are suffering recent pain.

One of the most comforting things for me after my own miscarriage was hearing stories from other women who’d been there. Some were recent, some were years or even decades before. It became a part of my motherhood journey, too, a tiny prick to my heart that will never truly go away.

I picked up the tiny I Love Daddy baby bib, the one I’d bought so long ago on a whim. There was so much possibility in that moment,  so much happiness, so much hope. I savored the memory of showing it to my husband, my way of telling him he was becoming a father, before slowly, carefully, putting it away.

Just knowing that it’s there, even in a basement box, keeps the experience alive somehow. It’s a memento of all that hope and expectation, the one tangible reminder of a time that wasn’t meant to be.

More by Mary Lauren:

Books Boys Love: 8 New Favorites from My House to Yours

Post-Divorce Parenting: Putting Kids First during the Holiday Season

Typical or Troublesome: Parenting Experts Weigh in on Common Behavioral Issues

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