As I stir my mug of hot tea and curl up in front of the fire this holiday season, I will watch my children play with their new gifts and I will look over at my husband and smile over their heads, our faces warm from the heat and our hearts full from days spent with family and friends and laughter and love.
But even as I count my blessings and feel the peace and contentment of my favorite time of year wash over me, a piece of my heart will still be missing.
Inside, a piece of my heart will always be broken, a hole that surely will be stitched over and mended and beating on the best it can, but can never fully be the same again.
Because my heart will always be looking at that happy little scene in front of me, wondering who else should have been sitting in front of us. My heart will always be searching for the baby who never came to be, the little one I never got to hold in my arms, the person who grows by leaps and bounds in my mind, but not on this Earth.
My heart will always be missing the baby I lost through miscarriage.
And this holiday season, for the first time, I am ashamed to admit, my eyes have been opened to how hard it can be to plaster a smile on your face when you are hurting. When you want to embrace it all — the parties, the cookies, the twinkling lights, the joyful gift-giving — but another part of you just can’t stop thinking about what could have been.
When a part of you is just wishing for the baby that should have been.
This year, my heart is breaking for all the mothers whose due date will never come. For the mothers who should have been showing off brand-new babies at all the holiday parties or hanging a new stocking or excitedly posting that pregnancy announcement.
For the mothers who are facing a due date this holiday season, a date that they will be dreading to meet, yet telling themselves they can get through. My heart is breaking for mamas who held their babies born too soon and had to say goodbye. My heart is breaking for every mother who has loved and lost a child, who will look and see a place at the dinner table that will remain forever empty.
I could get angry, thinking about it, because what the hell? Isn’t the world hard enough without all of this loss? But instead, I want to choose to believe that love is never lost, that there is no shame in grief, that tears can flow freely and that we are made kinder by the changes that life has brought us. I know that I talk myself down nearly every day because my loss feels so small, so insignificant in the grand scheme of things, even when my heart tells me a different story.
My heart doesn’t care how early my pregnancy was or the fact that I never saw a heart beating on an ultrasound screen — it only cares that my body still feels so achingly empty sometimes. It only cares that a teasing “No more babies yet? I thought you would have another by now?” from an acquaintance I haven’t seen in a while feels like a piercing sword, when the question, “How many kids do you have?” sends me into a panic, because I don’t know how to answer.
The heart could care less what your rational brain tries to tell you. As the saying goes, the heart wants what it wants and for those of you whose hearts are wanting and missing and wishing for the baby that won’t be here this holiday season, please know I am thinking of you.
So to all the mamas whose hearts are missing a piece, whether from child loss or pregnancy loss or stillbirth or any type of loss, please know that you are not alone.
That every woman who will curl up in front of the fire and see what is missing is sending up a silent prayer for what could have been.
And like the smoke that will rise up from our collective chimneys, our prayers and hopes and dreams will join together and become united in a way that when you look closely enough, you realize was there all along. We will remain united because we know that although those pieces of our hearts will always be missing, joining all of those broken bits together, helps make us whole once again.