My Mary

I took the test in a spur of wouldn’t it be funny, but, it couldn’t possibly be true moment of early marriage. Married for three weeks, I looked to Google for further instructions on “how to read a pregnancy test.” Positive, it was, and the Internet said so, too.

I found my very new husband playing Sega NHL 95 in our attic and wearing Wheaties flip flops and a T-shirt with the insignia of his favorite bar, perfect parent attire if I’ve ever heard of any. “I’m pregnant!!!” I said excited and terrified, both of us with eyes wide open and hearts beating in fear, neither of us ready, but who ever is? “Are you sure that test is right, I mean its just a stick?” he asked because, I don’t know, he’s Jim.

I spent a lot of those early days thinking about whom we made, and what she would be like, moments of instinctive knowing that I’ve had during each of my four pregnancies. It was a girl, with dark slightly wavy hair, chubby cheeks and chubbier thighs, long eyelashes, lips like her dad, sanguine at heart, and clumsy by nature just like her mother. Although already claimed by my big sister who seems to only make boys, on my list of names, Mary Margaret was first, but, by the possessiveness displayed by my sister rivaled only by Gollum in Lord of the Rings, I decided it would probably be best to let that one go.

For the next few months, my husband, baby and I traveled to Australia, where she made it clear that she hated salmon and its smell. She preferred me sleeping, and eating Captain Crunch. Through nausea and tiredness she began to teach me that motherhood is a full time position through which I will be made better and more humble, especially as gagging in public or frantically running away from restaurant tables on which calamari is served became part of my normal behavior.

In August, at 8 weeks gestation we heard her heart beat in elation, and learned she would be due four days before my St. Patrick’s Day birthday. Dreams of drinking birthday Guinness and holding my new baby girl dressed in green and wearing a bow filled my mind and had me searching for infant St. Patrick Day attire immediately. At 9 weeks, the swamp of Washington DC made us both eternally grateful for air conditioning. At 11 weeks, we began going to graduate school together, and I announced that I would be having a baby during Spring Break and returning to class directly after, because I had absolutely no idea what birthing a baby is like.

At 14 weeks, with my baby bump beginning to pop, Jim and I drove to our first sonogram, with our car packed to spend a weekend with friends at a lake. Running late due to indecisive packing abilities and an inability to choose the proper bathing suits for a belly beginning to protrude, we drove as fast as Fairfax, VA and all of its 4 billion stoplights allow. I called my sister on the way. “I know you want a Mary, but I just can’t get over today’s feast! It’s the Holy Name of Mary, today and I get to see my baby!” It was Friday, September 12, 2008. Five years ago, today.

I laid back in the small room in the back shivering with excitement. As the image appeared on the screen, we stared, unsure of what to look for, and before we had a chance to ask where she was, “This is what we call a missed miscarriage,” the short statured doctor said. “No it isn’t,” I fought back. “I’ve had no symptoms, and we already heard the heart!” I continued angry that such a tiny woman could announce something so hugely devastating. She continued with options and choices, detailing each terrible procedure available, attempting to make eye contact, but respecting my stubborn opposition. We left in silence.

We drove home in silence, too.

We broke down at the bottom of the stairs. I was crushed to lose her, terrified and embarrassed to tell others that we weren’t pregnant after all, furious that my own body gave me no indication of its failure, flabbergasted that we were being asked to suffer a loss so early into our marriage, determined it was a bad doctor with a broken sonogram machine.

The mourning continued for months and still does. There was confusion, and hormones, anger, and grief, gratitude, and thanksgiving, self-gift, and acceptance, a marriage made closer, and a deeper appreciation for those little growing babies no matter how small, and whether or not they come at convenient times.

Every year, on this day I feel sadness and a longing to see her face, and learn more about her. She’s my Mary. And on her due date of March 13, I woke up missing her, only to discover my pregnancy with James, a boy I imagined to be just as he is, because God loves me so much, even if flowing Guinness could no longer be part of my birthday plans.

In my experience, loss through miscarriage is not something that is often talked about, and, (big surprise!) I like to talk. I needed to and (clearly) still do. But, beyond my own needs, I believe these little guys and girls have stories to tell as well, and that’s my Mary’s.

Happy Feast day to all, especially those with the name of Mary!

20 thoughts on “My Mary

  1. This was really beautiful…it made me cry– at work. It also reminded me of how much a prayed to Mary during my pregnancy! Happy Feast Day!

    • Thank you! Sorry for the tears, but so glad to remind you of Mary! I love when you comment so I get to stare at that adorable picture of your little one in her pirate shirt. So stinking cute. cheers to you working and mothering!!

  2. I just saw my own little girl for the first time on an ultrasound this week and I’m sitting here crying in gratitude for the gift of her, and of your words. Sweet baby Mary, pray for us.

  3. this was so beautiful regina, thank you! i found your lovely blog thanks to grace over at camppattoo, and i’m so glad this was the first post i read. i’m so so sorry for your loss. i went through a miscarriage (would have been our second baby, we have a one year old) about four months ago and there is not a day that goes by when i don’t wake up and wish i could hold that little one. thank you for being willing to speak up about this subject. blessings to you and your family!

  4. This is beautiful. I am sorry for your loss. I lost my 6th after 5healthy, in eventful pregnancies, early this year. I went to my mid-pregnancy ultrasound expecting to find out the gender and all, only to see that my baby boy’s heart was no longer beating. He died of an “unknown infection” that resolved but was strong enough to kill him first.

    Mourning my son has been the hardest thing I have ever done (am still doing). I miss him all the time. I miss what our family was to be with him here on Earth. Over time, I have healed, but I will always have a hole in my life where he was supposed to be. I am grateful for his prayers for me and my husband, and try to see the wisdom in God’s choice to bring my Gregory on to heaven ahead if us. We celebrated his feast day last week and it gave us all a place to share a little happiness if having a Saint in the family.

    I sometimes worry I have shared too much publicly, but you are right–some if us just need to share and tell our babies’ stories. Thank you. God bless you.

  5. We just lost a baby to miscarriage in August, and it was so sad, such a crushing loss, so much more overwhelming than I ever imagined when miscarriage was something whispered about in conversations and not yet the reality of our lives…thank you for sharing your story of your baby. It is so powerful and healing when we celebrate and mourn our losses together.

  6. Wiping away tears over here. What a beautiful tribute to your Mary….your advocate in heaven now. I am going to keep this to share with friends who also suffer a loss. Thank you for this…I know it will be a strength for many.

  7. I had a missed miscarriage in April of this year and as you know, it’s something I feel I will never not be sad about. The due date was November 24th, and I’m dreading that date already, wondering how I’ll cope with it. I’ve written a little about it on my blog, but have just been too heartbroken to go into it much. Maybe that day would be a good day to write about it and spread the word about miscarriage, it needs to be talked about! I’m sorry for your loss, even though it happened so long ago now. It doesn’t make it any easier!

  8. Regina, you are amazing. I’m so glad you started this blog – it always brings humor, beauty, and insight into my days! Also, concerning: “I announced that I would be having a baby during Spring Break and returning to class directly after, because I had absolutely no idea what birthing a baby is like.” I’d like to point out that you took finals like days after giving birth to James. Regina, you are amazing. 🙂

  9. This is a lovely post, Regina. Thank you for sharing. We lost our Nicholas to a late miscarriage a few months after you lost your Mary. We also treasure his feast day – December 6 – and find that this day, as the years continue, serves as a day of remembrance, and mourning, but also a day to celebrate him, how loved he is, and how important he has always been to our family. Blessings to you and all of the others who shared their stories of loss above. Please know that you and your families, and all of your beautiful children are in my prayers.

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