On our tenth wedding anniversary, BJ and I took a weekend trip to New York City without our boys. On our third and final night away from them, I missed them like crazy. We called BJ's mom, who was keeping them, and she let us speak with both Silas and George (Van was still in utero). Both boys were wailing because they missed us, and after our conversation I hung up the phone in tears. Suddenly I didn't want one last night on the town sans children. What I really wanted was to be stepping off the plane into Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City and hugging my children tightly. In that hour, I was absolutely miserable.
The same helpless emotion that I felt in New York City that night is the same miserable emptiness that I have been feeling since I learned one week ago tonight that my unborn child has died. BJ and I studied the ultrasound monitor and could clearly see that our baby did not have a heartbeat. I have now gone seven days feeling like part of my heart has died too. I wouldn't wish this on anyone, yet I'm learning from my experience that a huge percentage of women know exactly how I feel because they, too, have lost little ones "extinguished before their time," as my friend Julie so eloquently stated. I had no idea that miscarriage was so common.
Let me not dwell on the loss, on the absence of my sweet child. Let me instead tell you that my child was real and was here. Let me tell you how excited I was to be sharing a body with this baby! I was nine and a half weeks pregnant with a beautiful being that was to be the fourth beloved child of our family. This child is deserving of all good things, and cannot be forgotten. Therefore, when my generous mother-in-law Susan drove to my house this past rainy Friday afternoon to corral my three kids and kick me out of the house, I knew where I needed to go. I drove to one of my favorite restaurants, ordered an iced coffee and a giant piece of chocolate cake, and sat down with my computer to name my baby. BJ told me the choice was entirely mine, and I took him up on it.
I am so pleased to announce that my baby's name is Hjarta. Pronounced Hyarta (the 'j' sounds like a 'y'), 'Hjarta' is the Icelandic word for 'heart.' I love that it denotes strength, compassion, and a deep-seated emotion--characteristics which I firmly believe that my child already embraces on the other side of eternity. I also love that it resonates so nicely with the song that I have chosen to dedicate to Hjarta, which is "King and Lionheart" by Of Monsters and Men. The song was written by lead singer Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir to symbolize her separation from her brother, which is one of the great emotional pains of her life. Choosing a beautiful, meaningful Icelandic word for my baby's name seemed perfect, given my interest in Iceland and the way in which the Icelandic band 'Of Monsters and Men' seems to have stirred my soul in recent months. Hjarta's entire existence was surrounded by this impactful music and the passion of a mother who loves nothing more than her children and husband. My friend Jennifer spoke the perfect words to me when I told her my baby's name. She replied that Hjarta is "a perfect name for a perfect life." Sweeter words could not have been spoken to this grieving mother.
How foolish I feel for not having announced my pregnancy with Hjarta on this blog! I have known for weeks of this beautiful being within me, and I chose not to share because I feared that I might miscarry and lose this child. And then what? Then I would have to tell everyone! Oh, but I feel foolish because I had no idea how desperately I would want everyone to know about the baby that once was. My beloved readers, I had a baby--a baby named Hjarta--a baby that was real and beautiful and lovely and loved. May everyone know far and wide, because the more people that know, the stronger my baby's voice is, and the more distinct Hjarta's identity is to others besides just me! I have a piece of my heart waiting for me on the other side of eternity, and my grief is as real as my child once was. I have a child named Hjarta that I will be with someday. My friend Sam, who has her own angel and who has been instrumental in this last week for me, pointed me to this poignant line from The Velveteen Rabbit: "Once you are real, you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."
Not every single moment has been miserable since last Sunday. Monday night and Tuesday were spent just trying to survive a miscarriage gone wrong, as you may read about in the next post I will write. My kids still make me laugh, and my husband makes me feel more loved than ever, and my family members and friends have lavished me with hugs, kisses, cards, food, flowers, childcare, and listening ears. Acquaintances have suddenly become friends for life, as we have bonded in grief over our lost babies, some of whom passed away years ago and some only just this year. It hasn't all been horrible. The most peaceful moments I have had have been when I'm surrounded by my boys listening to this song and watching this video. Hjarta will forever be my Lionheart, and the figure of a lion will now always bring me comfort. When I hear this song, it's the closest thing to having Hjarta in my arms. "Though far away/ We're still the same."
A week has passed since the bleeding began, and it's easy to realize that the emotional wounds will last for a very long time. I'm better than I was a week ago, though. I'm not okay yet, but I'm making my way toward okay. I will be okay. But I will always be missing Hjarta and wondering what might have been.
Thank you for your support, my dearest friends and family. You make me feel special, and you make me feel what I already know to be true--that Hjarta is special, too.