Today is a bittersweet one.
As I post this, we’re enjoying time with family at one of our favorite places on earth: Walt Disney World. There are few days in our lives when we wouldn’t rather be here than wherever we are.
But we weren’t supposed to be here today.
Today, we were supposed to be meeting our first child. Obviously, due dates are only estimates and few babies arrive exactly when expected (although I did – perfect from the start with my right-on-time arrival!). But for a few short weeks last summer, February 28th was a date we were looking forward to more than perhaps any other in our lives.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “about 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage.” While that number seems shockingly high, it’s probably too low: “the actual number is likely higher because many miscarriages occur so early in pregnancy that a woman doesn’t realize she’s pregnant.”
We knew. From basically the earliest moment we could trust a pregnancy test, we knew we had a little Poppyseed Baby on the way. One week later (apparently according to the pregnancy apps, babies only grow in a sudden spurt one time per week, jumping to the next size), we had a Sesame Seed Baby. Then at six weeks, they were Chocolate Chip Baby (Kelli actually had multiple size comparison options each week based on all the different apps, but I definitely wasn’t turning down chocolate chip as an option). Just a few days later, Kelli called me from work to come take her to the emergency room.
Chocolate Chip Baby was gone. Just like that, February 28th went from a day we’d circled with joy on the calendar to one that only held sadness and pain.
“About 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. But the actual number is likely higher…”
We learned far more than we ever expected to know about miscarriages during that week, including those numbers. More importantly, doctors reiterated the essentially random nature that meant we did nothing wrong. There wasn’t anything we could’ve done to prevent it. For whatever reason (and we will never know), Chocolate Chip Baby simply could not develop properly.
While I believe miscarriages are vastly underrepresented in culture – and when they are, it usually is an indicator of serious infertility or health issues – we will forever be so grateful for the numerous friends and family we knew who’d been through our exact situation and could speak love and encouragement into our lives. Just that weekend, we’d spent time visiting friends who’d endured multiple miscarriages on the way to having their first baby only a month earlier. They shared so much of their journey with us, and I thank God for that weekend coming right before the most difficult experience of our lives to this point.
A few weeks ago, one of my college friends shared her own heartbreaking story of miscarriage on Facebook. She expressed the pain and surreal confusion perfectly in talking about how in a moment your entire life changes as you begin to imagine and prepare for parenthood. Then another moment shortly after brings it all to a halt. But it’s not like it just disappears and you return to the life you were living. Nothing is the same again. You’re stuck somewhere between the life you had and the one you thought you were about to shift into.
Today was supposed to be the day that new life truly began for us. Instead we’re in “The Most Magical Place on Earth.” And this is not where the story ends.
We’re taking back February 28th. While Chocolate Chip Baby will always be part of our lives and our story, we’re reclaiming February 28th as a day of joy and celebration rather than one of dread and sorrow.
So we came to our favorite place in the world. Well, one of them. There are multiple Disney parks around the globe, after all.
And, more importantly, we’re announcing to the world (both the digital world with this blog and Disney World with the shirts you can see in the picture) that we’re expecting an addition to our family to arrive in August.
While we were incredibly fortunate to have another pregnancy less than six months following the loss of our first, each month with a negative test brought sadness and a reminder of what we’d lost. It wasn’t until just before Christmas that we saw the positive once again, and even that brought with it a lot of anxiety.
As each day passed, we nervously looked forward to 10 weeks, when we had our first ultrasound. When we saw our little baby squirming around all over and the doctor said “We have a healthy baby!” both Kelli and I started crying. Kelli will be 15 weeks along as of tomorrow, when baby will switch from Baseball Baby (or Troll Doll Baby, as Kelli prefers) to Apple Baby or some similar-sized alternative.
During the past nine months, we’ve experienced tremendous joy and devastating sadness. Through it all, we’ve been so thankful for the love and support of our amazing friends and family, particularly those who know firsthand what this experience is like and came alongside us to use their own tragedies to offer us faith and encouragement. Perhaps our journey will be able to offer others similar hope that this chapter isn’t the end of the story.
Today is a bittersweet day. February 28th will always hold a certain significance and reminder in our hearts. Even as we eagerly look toward the future with our growing family, there are still moments where the loss hits us unexpectedly and reminds us of what could have been. And that’s okay.
But we won’t let that have the final word. So just like the ending of the Pixar classic “Inside Out,” (#spoileralert) when the characters discover that the most important memories blend emotions, we’re creating a core memory for February 28th that blends the heartbreak we’ve endured with the joy of Disney World and the announcement of our pregnancy news.
Today may be a bittersweet day. Both pieces are important, but we choose to remember the bitter while turning our focus to the sweet. And if it takes a Mickey Bar or churro for that to happen, we’re just giving Baby an early start loving Disney.