I wish I’d held my babies

This will be as personal as anything I’ve written. I wish I’d held my first two babies.

We’re on pins and needles waiting for the birth of this little darling, who’s 6 days overdue and who I’ve been praying for as “Zoe” for a about 7 months:

She’ll be our first granddaughter, and the first little girl I’ve had in my life. I had a chance, though.

My wife and I experienced “miscarriages” in November of 1973 and again in 1974. Each was at 4 1/2 months, and after two, the doctors saw a pattern, did some checking, and we were able, with some difficulty, to have our only living child, Zoe’s dad Jason, 35 years ago tomorrow, Zoe’s likely birthday.

When the Doctor told me in November 1973, in Elmhurst, Illinois, that my wife and son were fine, it was like a blow to the solar plexus.

“My son?” My son surely was stillborn! Except he wasn’t. I was just a young guy with no experience at these things. I thought my wife went into labor because “something was wrong” with the baby, and it would be a stillbirth. But the doctor was telling me it wasn’t.

I wasn’t prepared for birth, but I’d had a few hours to get used to stillbirth in my own mind. I mostly cared about my wife’s wellbeing. I couldn’t quite deal with this.

And so, I went home to sleep. They told me in the morning how many hours my little bruiser, already 1 pound 14 ounces, had endured. I forget, but I think it was a bit more than four.

I wish I’d held my firstborn son. It would have been terrible to watch his life slipping away. But it was more terrible to walk away and go home. I’m weeping as I type this — a lot.

In my defense, that’s kind of how it was done those days. They didn’t offer, I didn’t ask. I was spared some short-term pain. But after 37 years, pain rushed back today just the same.

I wish I’d held my daughter in Dallas a year later, too. That’s really the first little girl in my life, and I walked away from her, too.

I’ve been very anti-abortion since about February of 1980. I know no clear connection between that and my experiences of loss during the prior decade. I won’t use this hallowed occasion for a polemic, but the thought flitted across my mind that women who avoid some pain by “terminating the pregnancy” reportedly feel great remorse, in many cases, many year later.

I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to holding my granddaughter.

9 thoughts on “I wish I’d held my babies

  1. Thanks for sharing that, Roger. I like you and Jason, a lot. I’m glad you have a little girl coming into your lives.

  2. I miscarried four times and none of those babies lived long enough to hold, however; the grief was a strong and real as if I had cradled them in my arms and seen their tiny fingers and toes. I did, however, end up being blessed with eleven children, healthy and strong as babies and now mostly adults. My first miscarriage sealed my already vehement anti-abortion stance. We are so enjoying the blessed fruit of our labors now with seven grandchildren, so far. I trust you will be overwhelmed with gratitude for the blessed little girl who will rest in your arms very soon.

  3. @Laura:
    There’s no doubt my wife felt the loss more acutely at the time than I did, having felt the babies moving in a way that I hadn’t. And then, there were the post-partum hormones, as powerful, or nearly so, at 4 1/2 months as at 9.
    I had a Reformed Pastor in Dallas, John Pyles, who lived in the same apartment complex, two doors away from our oxymoronic “independent” Lakewood Presbyterian church (though they were affiliating with the PCA when I was transferred from Dallas). He was insightful enough to take me aside for a chat about my then-dismissive attitude, a part of my pain avoidance. I’m grateful for his wisdom.

  4. Words escape me. May you find peace as you hold your grandchild. I am sure your children know and understand. Pray to them, they know who you are.

  5. Thank you for sharing so personal and intimate a story. Thank God for recapitulation, you’rea brave man. Hats off.

  6. I relate. I wish I knew for sure what our babies were. I miscarried too early with both. But I am so glad that God can and does redeem our pain and loss. And that He can use it for good. And I’m just thrilled He’s given you a girl to hold now.

Comments are closed.