Miscarriage is a subject people mention little. When they do, they tiptoe around it. Abortion even more so. They are not the same, miscarriage and abortion. And yet, in some ways, they are.
In both, a child is conceived and gone before it is born.
In one, the child was wanted, prayed for. The mother, with all her swinging emotions, grieves the loss of that child, saves small mementos, the few there were. If she is young enough, she starts dreaming soon for the next.
In the other, the mother is caught between grief and a void. How can she grieve what she did not choose? And yet, just like the mother in a miscarriage, she wonders sometimes what her child would be. Would it be a boy or girl? Shy or talkative? What would be its birthday, its likes and dislikes, the color of its hair?
She cannot talk to anyone about it. Those who say abortion is murder would look at her in a way that would heighten her shame. Those who say it is a woman’s choice would remind her that she did what was best for her and that the fetus was not a child yet.
Maybe she didn’t want the child. Or maybe she did, but circumstances choked her, made her feel panicked inside, told her the time wasn’t right. She couldn’t give this fetus a life, and so it could never live.
But if it had lived — that is the question. If it had lived, what would it be? It is the question every woman who had a life inside her cannot help but wonder.
I wrote a letter to our child before it was born, before I’d even taken the pregnancy test — which I didn’t need. Already I knew.
“Dear Child,” I wrote. “I don’t even know you yet, and already I love you. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that you are an entire new being come into the world because your father and I loved each other. We knew that our love would change our lives; I do not think we totally comprehended the fact that our love would change eternity.
“Because you will change eternity, you know. You will come into it, a presence and a soul that has never before existed, and you will exist in it — forever. In this small world you will make a small mark, and in that big world you will make a bigger one. You will make eternity a different place just by being you, a person created by God — like and yet unlike every person who ever existed.
“In the circle, the completion, the wholeness of life we call heaven, there you will sing. But before then, I will learn to know you, at least a part of you. I am so very excited for that.”
Our child no longer develops inside me. I will never know it on this earth. But I believe I will know it in heaven.
“I think it’s so exciting to think about your own cheering squad already started in heaven,” a friend told me.
I like that. After our child’s death, my husband gave me a small lamp set with the figurines of two children — a boy and a girl — in the sheltering arms of an angel. Every night before we go to sleep, I turn the silver dial at the back of the lamp and listen to a few lines of the tune I know as “Angels We Have Heard on High.” It reminds me that our small one is alive somewhere, changing eternity with her presence.
Lucinda J. Kinsinger lives with Ivan, the love of her life, in Oakland, Md. She is the author of Anything But Simple: My Life as a Mennonite and blogs at lucindajkinsinger.com.