Two items of clothing symbolize two significant moments of my last pregnancy.
I wore the first one, a cranberry red dress, to my father in law’s 70th birthday celebration. At that dinner, surrounded by family and friends, he made a happy declaration. “Next year we will have twelve people seated at this table!”
A friend remarked how big I was getting. Normally this would be an offensive comment to say to a woman, but I was happy to hear it.
“Of course,” my husband replied in my defense. “She’s carrying twins.”
In the Chinese culture, the color red symbolizes celebration and prosperity. My red dress matched the occasion and my outlook perfectly that night. The whole family was ecstatic at my father in law’s recent declaration of faith in God. My husband and I were delighted to know we would be giving our son, not one, but two siblings. I had always wanted twins and knowing that my genes worked in my favor (my maternal grandfather was a twin), it hadn’t been a complete surprise when we found out.
What would occur in two weeks, however, would catch me completely off guard.
Two weeks later I wore the second significant article of clothing, a white blouse covered with light pink flowers. That day I remember well, all too well, as it comes back to haunt me every August.
“Are you sure there were two babies?” My obstetrician asked cautiously as she rolled the ultrasound wand over my abdomen.
“Yes, of course.” I nodded quickly, my heart suddenly growing heavy in my chest. I stared at the ultrasound monitor and felt myself teetering dangerously on a ledge between hope and dread.
“I’m sorry. I can only see one baby.”
I heard the words, but I couldn’t digest them. Only one baby?
Since my appointment a month before, an ultrasound picture of two babies in two sacs greeted me every day on my refrigerator door. I had bookmarked several websites with information about twin pregnancies and baby products for multiples. I had been eating two eggs and drinking several glasses of milk a day to ensure I had the proper nutrition for a twin pregnancy. We had already told our family and friends we were having twins.
“It looks like you miscarried one of the babies. Sometimes there are no symptoms. This early on in the pregnancy, the baby is reabsorbed back into your body. I’m sorry.”
I lay there on the exam table in disbelief. Shock kept my tears at bay, but I could see them forming in my doctor’s eyes.
Only two weeks ago, I had been celebrating in my red dress. Now, I was dressed too appropriately for the occasion in white, the Chinese color reserved for funerals.
Just like that, I was plunged into a world I didn’t want to be in. I had read the statistics about vanishing twin syndrome. One in eight twin pregnancies results in a miscarriage of one of the babies. Ironically, my son’s pediatrician whom I had seen a few weeks before had mentioned she had miscarried a twin. I never imagined I would, too.
I had so many questions, some of which I still don’t have the answers to.
As a mother, I had to ask myself, What had I done wrong? How could I not have known when my baby’s heart stopped beating?
As a follower of Christ, I had to ask, Why, God, why! Why did you allow this?
In the days following the miscarriage, I met grief in a very personal way. Before that day, I had heard about it and seen it from afar. Now I was looking it in the eyes, shaking its hand and feeling its grip around me like cold, steel bars. I was tangled in the wild throes of the rawest emotions I had ever felt. Nothing could soothe the guilt, anger and sorrow I had from losing my child.
In meeting grief, however, I also met Jesus. I met the person who in Isaiah 53:3 says was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”. I had been a Christian for twenty years, yet I had never felt as close to him as I did then. In my grief, I was drawn to Jesus. He had been crushed by my sins and suffered horribly for my sake. He had died on the cross on my behalf. Surely he understood the loneliness and despair I was drowning in. He had experienced the same kind of darkness and more. Even amid my unanswered questions, I knew I could trust him to hold me and lift me up.
I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl six months later. I am so thankful for the strength and joy she gave me during those dark moments of my pregnancy. Watching her grow is wonderful and bittersweet at the same time. Her tight hugs and wet kisses brighten my days, yet they also serve as tangible reminders of another little one’s touch I have yet to experience.
Grief still chooses to visit me from time to time. I expect it will constantly return, especially in the moments when I look at that ultrasound picture of two babies or talk about the “what ifs” of life with my husband. But I know grief is not here to stay. God will abolish it once and for all one day. Until then, I press on to be the best mother I can to my two children on earth and look forward, with an ever increasing hope, to the day I will meet my third child in eternity.
By Liwen Ho | Freelance writer
Liwen is a full time wife and mom of two and a part time writer. She has a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Western Seminary and loves makeovers of all kinds, especially those of the heart and mind. You can read about her life as a recovering perfectionist at http://2square2behip.blogspot.com