Tuesday, June 3, 2008

How an Angel Gets His Name

I have written about Zach before; Today though - on his day, I am going to tell you how he got his name.

To be truthful, I didn't start out thinking I would name my miscarried babies. One of the hardest things I struggled with in regards to my losses was how much nothing there was. Sometimes I made it far enough that I had an ultrasound picture or felt a bit of morning sickness. A time or two I developed a bit of belly. Most of the time however, all I had to show for my efforts was a fading positive hpt. (and medical bills) I had no face, no name - no sense of who this little being was to become other than being something my dh and I struggled a bit to create and found ourselves inexplicably missing acutely. After all, how can you miss something or someone you have not known? Many times I heard that it was better for me to lose my babies so early on - rather than later. Somehow, not knowing them at all was supposed to make their loss less painful. In reality though - it was still a tragedy, and one I felt keenly. I did not lose a person I had spent a lifetime culminating memories of or experiences with. I celebrated no birthdays. I didn't decorate a nursery. I didn't teach them how to ride a bike. Fight with them, love them or grow with them. What I did lose was a person I should have had those memories of and experiences with. A person I expected and dreamed and wanted spending a lifetime accruing all those things with and more - and that in and of itself is also a tragedy to be mourned.

The well meant words of those around me often did not comfort me. The only hope I found was in the words of those who had walked a similar path; so I began to seek them out, finding my way to an email support group (SPALS). For the first time I was able to open up completely about my miscarriages and I was met with understanding instead of hollow platitudes. While there I noticed many of the women had given their babies names - even for the little ones who were lost so early on that gender was indeterminate. Had my babies been born still - I would not have hesitated to name them. A baby with a known gender - of course. I had never considered naming any of my miscarried babies and in fact, the one baby we had named at this point (Carena) was named by her older brother in a manner that completely took my breath away. I had just found out the pathology report had determined she had been a genetically normal female. For some reason my doctor never shared this information with me. I discovered it while going over my records that I was going to hand deliver to the specialist I had been referred to. I had a necklace with charms on it for each of my children - living and lost. My son was 5 at the time and only knew that was my "baby" necklace. He knew I had started babies in my tummy and that they didn't grow big enough to live outside my tummy with us. He did not know which charm was for which baby. I had told no one I had found out the baby I had lost in August 1998 had been a girl at this point, not even dh. Finding out she had been a girl was almost like miscarrying her all over again and I was trying to adjust to this new detail. On a particularly low day and in the midst of feeling rather sorry for myself, he came up to me and pointed to my necklace. Out of the several charms there, he picked hers and said "I know that baby. She's a girl and her name is Carena. I played with her before I was born."

Grieving is a highly personal thing. There really isn't any right or wrong way to mourn. There is no rulebook, no guidelines, no process laid out with steps to follow in order from begining to end and then you are healed. We knew no one with the name Carena. A five year old child can be highly imaginative and likes to make up stories - though they tend to focus around places, people and things the author is familiar with, even if the events are rather fanciful. By giving this baby a name, he opened up an avenue I hadn't found yet - another direction to take in my grieving and healing process. Simply - it felt better to have the validation naming that little girl begun and not finished brought. Though, I didn't start naming all my miscarried babies right then and there though. A year or more passed before the others were named. The funny thing is - their names often found me, when I wasn't thinking about them, when I wasn't looking - completely unexpected and unbidden. If I tried to come up with a name, I would always, always draw a complete and utter blank. When I would come across their name, it would just feel right.

I am a fan of Anne Geddes' photography. One day I found myself in a craft store the day they discounted all their small framed prints. Out of the dozens of Anne Geddes prints, I chose two butterflies - feeling drawn to them the most out of all of them. I paid for them and took them home. It wasn't until later when I went to hang them on my wall that I noticed the prints were named. On the back each had a label. One label read "Zac as a butterfly" and the other "Hannah as a butterfly" - and I knew. The significance in finding these two names together was not lost on me. I ended up naming the first baby I lost Zach. The second baby I miscarried became Hannah. I conceived her just several weeks after my first miscarriage. The pregnancy lasted to 12 weeks, the baby stopped developing shortly after 10 weeks - hb found, hb lost. During the entire time I was pregnant with that baby I felt a constant presence. I always felt like there was someone following along after me. I was certain if I turned around fast enough, I would catch sight of this someone. Initially, the first few times I had this experience, I was certain I would turn around and see my firstborn who was a toddler at the time. Each time though, I would turn around and no one would be there - just a something out of the corner of my eye and a feeling, and nothing more. The morning after my d&c, I woke up and that presence was gone and I never felt it again nor had a repeat of the experience ever again in any subsequent pregnancy. Because of this feeling, I always had the two pregnancies linked together and why this post is about him, but also about her. Zach looking after Hannah.


loribeth said...

What a wonderful story, & I LOVE that Anne Geddes print!! As you know, butterflies have become very special to us in recent years. Our real-life support group's annual picnic & butterfly release is this Sunday. I'll be thinking of you & all the other babyloss moms as we release our monarch in Katie's memory, & silently giving thanks for all the support I've received from my cyberfriends as well as our real-life angels. (((hugs)))

Lori said...

I completely believe in the interconnectedness of the seen and the unseen, of the manifested and the unmanifested.

And I think children have fewer barriers to sensing this.

Beautiful post.

SAHW said...

What a beautiful story...I especially loved reading your son's words.

I'm so glad you named all your children...I imagine many people don't, but a name has a way of giving real meaning, real life, even if the life didn't last for too long.

CLC said...

That's a great story Julia. I love how your son named Carena. And I love that Zach and Hannah's names just came to you. All of your children are missed.

Kathy said...

Many (((HUGS))) to you. What an awesome story! Thank you for sharing. As you may know, I also feel a special connection to butterflies, since I carried and we lost our baby girl Molly. Thinking of and praying for you and your angel babies today. I think that is very cool that you named them.

Kim said...

I loved this post. Thank you so much for sharing! What a great story about your son and the charms! I have a similar story to yours. I have three sons, but have had a total of 9 pregnancies. Five of the early losses were at about five or six weeks and one was at nine weeks. I was never able to do testing on them. I never thought about naming either since I don;t know genders. I also lost my second son's twin at 7 weeks and lost my third son's twin at 18 weeks. The twin I lost at 18w had stopped growing at about 13 weeks (all was fine at 12w u/s). By the time delivery came about, they could not do testing or tell me the gender. Of any of them, this bothers me the most. I want to know. I want to give the baby a proper name. Your post has really made me thing and I have chosen the name Sam. I have always like Samuel and Samantha. And Sam can be for either! Thanks, I feel a little bit more healing going on just typing this! I will have to see if any names come to me for the others. NCLM

Still Standing Strong in A Bloom of Hope. said...

I cried through this post and i love it.

I would like to dedicate one of my favourite poems to you:

I thought of you and closed my eyes
And prayed to God today
I asked "What makes a Mother?"
And I know I heard him say
A Mother has a baby
This we know is true
But, God, can you be a mother
When your baby's not with you?

Yes, you can he replied
With confidence in his voice
I give many women babies
When they leave it is not their choice
Some I send for a lifetime
And others for the day
And some I send to feel your womb
But there's no need to stay.

I just don't understand this God
I want my baby here

He took a breath
and cleared his throat
And then I saw a tear
I wish I could show you
What your child is doing today
If you could see your child smile
With other children and say
"We go to earth to learn our lessons
of love and life and fear
My mommy loved me so much
I got to come straight here
I feel so lucky to have a Mom who had so much love for me
I learned my lessons very quickly
My Mommy set me free.

I miss my Mommy oh so much
But I visit her each day
When she goes to sleep
On her pillows where I lay
I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek
And whisper in her ear
Mommy don't be sad today
I'm your baby and I am here"

So you see my dear sweet one
Your children are okay
Your babies are here in My home
And this is where they'll stay
They'll wait for you with Me
Until your lessons are through
And on the day you come home
they'll be at the gates for you

So now you see
What makes a Mother
It's the feeling in your heart
It's the love you had so much of
Right from the very start
Though some on earth
May not realize
Until their time is done
Remember all the love you have
And know that you are
A Special Mom.

I am having you in my prayers and because of you, I'm putting the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness ribbon on my blog.

big hugs.

m said...

A beautiful post. A thoughtful son. Thank you for sharing.

Dreams Come True said...

That is a beautiful story. And a truly beautiful way of finding the names for those abbies who you were never able to meet.

Your son's words about Carena gave me chills. That is truly one of the most special things I've ever heard.

Pamela Jeanne said...

You're in my thoughts ... and you've written here some of mine ("After all, how can you miss something or someone you have not known?")

thanks for sharing such personal and poignant memories.

AlmostMrsJoyner said...

Thank you for sharing (commenting.) I too named my baby I lost too soon. The name actually came to me while I was dreaming a few days before I lost her. And she became Genevieve. I hope I didn't offend you with my post about ADHD, that was not my intent in the least. I was just frustrated. Thank you for reminding me to have more patience.

Chris said...

Beautiful post and a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing!


AlmostMrsJoyner said...

I totally forgot to thank you for the hyperlinking help. And there was no reason for you to apologize, I just sometimes get to writing and don't want to remember that living with ADHD is hard, and I don't know what it's like since I don't have it. Your comment was kind of a gentle push that said "hey, give him a little break" and I needed it, so thank you!

Nine said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. You've had an amazing journey so far and I'm looking forward to following it!

Searching said...

I love the stories of all your babies, each and every one of them. Each one so special and unique. Thinking of you and your baker's dozen of darlings.