Today is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day. I spent the day with my husband at the last day of foster parent training. And you know what? That feels like the absolute best way we can love and honor the children we've lost.
Becoming a foster parent feels like an essential piece in my healing process. For three years now, I've forced myself to keep a space open in my life, a void that reminded me of of our loss. I didn't let anything fill that space because I felt like I needed to have this painful opening in order to feel the raw wound of the absence of our children. I thought that the only way to appropriately honor them was to be in constant pain, to stay in that place, and to always have a hole that reminded me what could have been and everything that was lost. Doing something that we wouldn't have done had our child(ren) lived seemed to be a form of treason, like leaving them behind or pretending they never existed.
It's only now, three years after my first loss, almost two years after my last, and just weeks away from the first birthday of my healthy (living!) baby boy, that I'm realizing the best way I can honor the children I've lost is to fill that void with something good.
No, we can't fill that open space in our lives with another child, that's not what foster parenting is about for us. Other women who have lost a child may fill that space with something else completely non-child related - volunteer work, prayer, art, etc. This is not about replacing our children, but forging ahead and creating a full, meaningful life with what we have been given.
David and I have talked about being foster parents since before we married. We've moved around frequently and struggled financially so that it was never a viable option until now. After buying our home earlier this year, we finally have the space and stability to be able to care for foster children. It was time.
And yet in the back of my mind, there was that thought, that reminder that if one of the children we lost had lived, we probably would not feel capable of being foster parents right now. We'd most likely have three children then, closer together in age, and I imagine we'd feel like there wasn't the extra time or energy or space right now for foster children.
The truth, however, is that our children did die. Francis died. Julian died. Adrienne died. Christian died. And I have a choice. Either I can continue to dwell on their deaths and make my life some kind of morbid mausoleum to them, or I can choose to turn their deaths into something positive. Because they died, my family has the resources to care for foster children. I think maybe I've not wanted to admit that there are good things we can do because they died for fear that in some way that could be twisted to mean that it was good that they died.
It was not good that they died. But their death can still bring about something good. I'm finally at the place where I'm ready for that. Where I no longer have to torture myself with thoughts of "what would have been". Where I no longer feel the need to punish myself with continual reminders of their deaths for fear that if we move on we are somehow betraying them, that we are in some way saying "it is better this way". No, it is not better. My four babies, four unique beautiful souls are missing from this world, but in their absence we can still go on living. It is not better, but it can still be good. It is good.
I don't know how I missed it in the past, but it seems fitting that Infant and Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day is also St. Teresa of Avila's feast day. My favorite quote of hers seems so fitting today:
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
-- St. Teresa of Avila
In honor of Infant and Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day, I would like to give away a beautiful printable of this quote from the etsy shop brickhouseinthecity. (Giveaway sponsored and purchased by me.) Also, Usborne Books consultant Kayla Fellows has very sweetly offered a giveaway item as well:
I am a stay at home wife and mother. I have felt the heartache of infertility, miscarriage and the anxiety of pregnancy after miscarriage. I am very blessed to have given birth to my rainbow baby almost a year ago. In honor of the baby I lost, Bernard Marie, I'd like to donate $15 worth of product from my Usborne Book Store.
I'll also throw in a Lilla Rose hair accessory, as always, since that's my little side biz. I'd like to keep the entries to parents who have lost a child to miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. To enter, simply comment telling me something you do to remember your baby/babies.