Most people wouldn’t notice the decorative little nest sitting on my end table. The delicate twigs are woven together to create an intricate nest that cradles three gold-dusted eggs. It’s lovely, but there’s nothing that makes it stand out among the candles and books and could be easily overlooked. But for me, it’s so much more. It symbolizes great loss as well as joy and hope in my journey to motherhood and is one of my most precious treasures.
Twenty-two years ago, I began the arduous journey to become a mom. I had planned on becoming pregnant quickly, but of course, God had other plans, and I had to begin taking infertility medication. Infertility was a monthly death. Each month started with hope and ended with either a negative pregnancy test or the loss of my precious baby. I became a robot just to survive. I couldn’t think of anything other than becoming a mother. The medications and stress left me anxious, nervous, hormonal and miserable, but I knew I had to pretend I was fine to those around me. I felt so misunderstood and isolated.
Finally, after two years, I became pregnant, only to miscarry my much-loved baby three days later. I had never felt that level of pain and couldn’t comprehend how I could grieve someone I didn’t even know. Those around me were compassionate for a short time, but then it was if nothing had ever happened. No one spoke of my loss or acknowledged my baby even existed. Others told me I was lucky because I miscarried so early; other women had lost babies so much later in their pregnancies. In their minds, my baby wasn’t important. Or real. Or worth grieving. I was told I needed to get over it and that it was a part of life. My heart didn’t believe them, but my mind couldn’t process the pain, so I coped by focusing on the next month’s infertility treatment plan. The sooner I got pregnant again, the sooner the pain would go away.
A few months later, I got another faint positive pregnancy test, but within 24 hours I found myself alone again in my tiny bathroom floor, crying and curled up in a ball. I didn’t tell anyone about the baby for fear I would miscarry and experience the same cruel comments or outright dismissiveness from others I had gotten during my first miscarriage. The responses minimized my loss, increased my pain and made me feel stupid for even grieving. I couldn’t face that again, nor could I face the reality of losing another baby, so I pushed it back and took my next dose of fertility medication with fierce determination.
The following year, I miscarried for the third time and still told no one. And just like with the other babies I had lost, I tried not to think about the little life that had been growing under my heart. I couldn’t bear feeling the pain, nor could I risk telling anyone else.
The next five years held even more devastation with two adoption failures, one of which was a scam that was nationally televised as it unfolded. At the time, the adoption failures were so much more painful because I couldn’t run from them. They were tangible. I had a nursery and no baby. I had seen our sweet baby’s face on the ultrasound and had patted the huge “baby bump” of the woman who only pretended to be pregnant. I was forced to grieve, but I grieved with hope.
I continued to cling to the hope that God had blessed me with a deep longing to be a mother and intended to fulfill it. I drew closer to Him and relinquished the control of trying to make it happen the way I thought it should. My Abba Father, in His perfect timing and way, fulfilled the promises He gave me and blessed me with two amazing kids through adoption at birth.
Over 18 years had passed since my first miscarriage and in the twirling and whirling of life and all that comes with it, I kept the miscarriages far from my mind. I’ve heard a few mamas who had abortions tell me that at the time they made their choice they didn’t allow themselves to think of their babies as real. I can honestly say I felt the same way. It was a coping mechanism. Because I had never heard their heartbeats, I refused to think about the what ifs and what could have beens.
But one day, I saw a picture of a friend’s daughter, and it hit me. My child would have been born within a month of this beautiful high school senior smiling back at me. I suddenly felt a rush of emotions I hadn’t felt since the day I lost this baby whom I had wanted so badly. The grief washed over me, and I couldn’t stop sobbing. My heart finally let me think about the immense loss my mind had been protecting me from, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, the baby was a girl. I flashed back to the devastation I felt when my doctor told me there was nothing left of this little life I was carrying. My entire being longed for her so deeply that my arms ached to hold her… just as they did all those years ago at night when I sat in the rocking chair and sobbed alone. A familiar sense of peace washed over me, and I felt the comfort of my Abba Father. I closed my eyes and saw two little girls holding the hands of a little boy and knew those were my children. Two daughters and a son…my much loved, cherished, wanted babies revealed to me.
Over the next few months, I gave myself permission to grieve. And as I felt the immeasurable pain, I also found myself seeing the beauty in it as it is a testament to the love and bond I have with these children though I never knew them. I didn’t want to forget anymore. I wanted to think about and identify with them and be able to tell others that I have 2 children here and 3 in heaven. There were so many hurtful and dismissive comments after my first miscarriage that I was bound with fear of hearing them again when I told others. But something different happened; those that I told loved me and supported me. My husband and my close friends let me express my sorrow and were compassionate and understanding. My kids began talking about the siblings that weren’t here. Grieving became a gift and being able to talk about my babies brought healing.
For the first time, I looked at the empty chairs around my dining room table on Thanksgiving and wondered what it would be like if my now grown children were there with us. And as I day dreamed, I knew their names…Carrington Rose, Thomas Malachi and Phoebe Laurel.
And I missed them.
I saw the memories I never got to make with them flash before me like a movie reel.
Their first Sunday at church, rocking them to sleep and feeling their soft hair underneath my neck…
the terrible twos, putting lost teeth under the pillow and learning how to swim…
sleepovers and hectic school days…
first crushes and learning to drive…
graduating from high school and rough housing with their younger sister and brother, who would have adored them.
My heart hurt thinking about it.
A couple of weeks later, my dear friend, Codi, stopped by to bring me a gift she had been looking forward to giving me. I unwrapped the delicate tissue and uncovered the beautiful bird’s nest. Tears immediately began welling up in my eyes. It was a replica of the little charm I give to other mamas who have lost babies…each egg honoring each child. After 18 years of being forgotten or dismissed as not important by all but me, Codi remembered them. She missed them and acknowledged Carrington, Malachi and Phoebe as beloved babies who were alive in my womb and are alive in heaven waiting for me. And by recognizing them with a gift, she both validated my loss and celebrated with me the great love and bond between a mother and child. Codi and that sweet little nest with the three perfect eggs brought me to a new level of healing and acceptance. Now, my grief was tangible.
Gazing upon the gold-dusted eggs shimmering against the glow of the Christmas tree, I saw something even more beautiful about the tiny branches intertwined into a perfect circle. I don’t just see a nest anymore, but a crown of thorns that symbolizes the hope that comes from knowing Jesus. He chose to wear that crown and die for me so I could live, not just in heaven, but a more abundant life on earth. Because of Him, I can look forward to the day I get to heaven and see my children run to me, but I also get to experience His blessings here. He healed my broken heart and bound up my wounds. (Psalms 147:3)
I look upon the perfect little eggs protected by the nest and smile when I reflect upon the joy I felt when my babies were in my womb. And I praise Him they are no longer tiny little humans waiting to be born, but fully formed and alive! Like the birds of the air soaring into the clouds, so are they playing in the flower fields of heaven.
Carrington… Malachi…Phoebe…you are loved, you are three of my greatest blessings and you are missed. Mama can’t wait to see you someday.