When we moved a year and a half ago, we left much of our Christmas decorations (and other things) at my parents house with the thought that we would bring it all out when we finally bought a house. So we packed only the bare minimum. I brought 4 stockings - one for my husband, one for me, one for our daughter, and one for the baby I hoped I would be carrying come Christmastime. We were already trying to conceive before we moved in July and so I had every hope we would be joyously expecting a child by December.
Well, conceive we did. And then we miscarried. When I opened the Christmas box last year, the sight of that fourth stocking brought me to tears. I couldn't bring myself to hang only three stocking up, so we hung up none. We were flying out of state for Christmas anyway, so they weren't exactly necessary.
This morning, I opened the Christmas box again. Again, I saw that stupid fourth stocking. Again, we have no one to hang it for. This year, there are four babies it could have been for. Two of those little ones would be celebrating their first Christmas. Two of those pregnancies would be announced this Christmas. All four I would have joyously hung a stocking for. Instead, I force myself to hang only three stockings.
I know some families who have lost children during pregnancy who hang stockings for their missing children. Who honor them in big, beautiful ways in their homes. I feel like we don't really have that choice. It becomes a little too much when the number of family members who have died outnumber those who are living.
And then the reality hits me. I will probably never have enough living children to use all those stockings I ordered. But if I were to hang a stocking for each member of our family, we would already need each and every stocking. We are a family of seven. I have five children. Four are dead.
Recurrent pregnancy loss denies me the right to fully acknowledge and memorialize each child, to incorporate each soul fully into our family. I already have trouble remember the names we've picked out for each and the special dates for each one - dates of conception, those positive pregnancy tests, when I miscarried, their due dates. It's better to forget anyway, by this point it seems like every week or two brings another once, but no longer, significant date. More thoughts of what could have been, what should have been. We can no longer celebrate each due date as I'd like. My husband just can't take off that many days and I can no longer think of special ways to remember them.
Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks about stockings and loss: The Stocking That Was Never Hung