Sunday Morning

Feb 17, 2011

Have you heard of Jed Wells? You should hear of him. I find him to be a little bit more than amazing.

Jed and I met and interacted only once. It was at my home in Park City. He came to film the documentary for BYUtv. I was a little nervous, not to meet him, but to spill my guts to the group of five or so strangers in my home. I was concerned they would not find our story worthwhile. Or they'd find my blubbering to be just that. Turns out, they were listening while they worked.

Jed contacted me after the filming and asked if he could share his experience with all of you. I won't tell you how I didn't see his attachment until...oh, six or seven months later. But here it is. I hope you will glean something beautiful from it.

Sunday morning I found her in bed, draped in the crimson of our linens. We sent H&P to church with Grandma so we could be more available to the process. Still so shrouded in mystery and worry. The pills were a little more than an hour in her system and their dark magic was beginning to take effect. And she lay, cramping, under all the color that was suddenly both winking and wicked in its irony.

I took gingerly to my pillow, facing her. She opened her eyes to greet me. I touched the cheek that did not rise when she did not smile, and I studied her face. So familiar to me now in its softened contours, its freckled peaks and downy valleys. There was a time—well over a decade ago—when I would stare at her this way, mapping her face, memorizing its shapes and cataloging my impressions of it. Rather, its impressions on me. All the diffuse and tickling explosions going on in my guts when I saw it. Back when it was what we did: just to look and touch. And sometimes to say syrupy things. Things that make me blush now. We wrote them in letters that neither of us can bear to read today.

I could see her in there. The girl that she was, hiding but not invisible, under the faint lines written by the years and the pain of the day. And that girl was smiling back at me, her eyes iridescent and loaded with hope for the future. A look that I
used to interpret as simple adoration. But it never was simple anything. I know that now.

I was busying myself with housework until I found her like that. I’ve been busying myself with an endless list of chores and tasks since she told me. I can’t think of anything else to do. I was sitting at the computer on Thursday, opening one program or another, when she came home from the doctor’s holding that awful bag full of pads and pills. The dizzying printed petals of some flower couldn’t mask the ugliness inside the bag trembling in her hands. She wore her composure for only a second or two, but long enough for me to put it together. Her eyes were instantaneously full to spilling, and the fat tears dropped to frame her words like shining parentheses.

“It’s not there.”

My busywork started immediately. I bought presents and treats. I cleaned the house and cleaned it again. I did the dishes and made comfort food: Chicken Pot Pie. I cut carrots and heard them bounce and roll in the pot. My fingers moving without
my attention. I chopped onions, my eyes crying without my heart. I laced the gravy with wine and curry, not because they’re traditionally comfort foods, but because that’s how I’d always imagined my Chicken Pot Pie.

I ran at night, to feel my lungs burn and to hear my blood pounding in my ears.

We sat the kids down at the kitchen table. She said, “I went to the doctor today to take some pictures of the baby, and he told me that it had stopped growing and so we’re not going to have a baby anymore.” They listened. P gave her a hug and H
didn’t know what to say, so she said “Okay.”

Jules was sick all weekend, complete with a high fever and an inability to hold anything down. He vomited and cried, he shuffled the floors moaning and fitting. And in spite of her own discomfort, she held and coddled the boy. She rocked him in the night, she caught his sick on her shoulder and in her lap. And when he screamed at her and fought her about medicine, my wrath was quick and my indignation ripe. I wanted him to understand what she was doing and what she was going through. But when it came my turn to hold him, I cradled him and kissed his cheek, because I knew it’s what she would have done. I could see her in my mind with her forehead on his, singing, Behind the clouds, the sun is shi-i-i-ning, and she is swaying gently
from one foot to the other.

And I know these things happen all the time and I’m dead tired of the thought. I know we’re blessed to have the three that we do. But this is new for us and I am unapologetic about the loss I feel. I’m in love with the kids that she makes. I love to meet them and I was so looking forward to that pleasure in September. I wince when we say things like “we just need to get this over with” or the pill is necessary to “get rid of it.” That it was part of me. While it lived for only a few weeks inside of her, it still lives in my imagination as I know it always will in hers. It’s more of an ember, though. It’s a feeling that lives with me, and I will likely leave it that way. Forever avoiding names and physicalities.

There was a steady parade of sad faces and quiet phone calls at the house. Friends, sisters, Mothers. All of them united in affection for her and sorrow in her sorrow. She was tired, but never tired of their kindness. I urged her to lay down as often as she could while I puttered around wiping counters and vacuuming the floors. I was mute in my grief, rightly or wrongly. Even now, when people express their condolences I feel it is my masculine duty to smile, to thank, and to move on. But my wound is deep and wide. And while I feel I was gently guided in prayer toward coping with this—long before we ever got the news—it still came as a searing blow. It’s not there, she said. And when she fell to her knees by my chair and wept on my shoulder, I gathered all my strength and put it into steadying my hand as I stroked her soft hair.

And so, after finding her on Sunday morning, I laid my head on the pillow across from her and I let sleep come. I dreamt about my family. My three little ones and their little mother. I dreamt we were in a meadow somewhere outside of Swan Valley. The land was thick with grass the color of honey and sage that exhaled its perfume into the approaching evening. The kids were calling out and laughing, their voices muffled and echoing as if from across a grand canyon. I took Jayne’s hand to squeeze it three times. Her eyes held our future and they shone out of her face like mirrors in the sun.

 

 

*footnote: it was february 18, one year ago, when jayne went to the doctor and discovered the miscarriage.  and i asked her to marry me (with a ring) on feb 18 ten years before that.


Comments

Rebecca Jeppson on 02/17/2011
Speechless.....This was so beautiful, I am deeply sorry for your loss. You are a beautfiul couple.

Michelle Boles on 02/19/2011
Jed- We went through the exact same thing, three children and we were finally having our first child following my husbands graduation from BYU. We actually planned this pregnancy and we were so excited. I went to the doctors for an ultra sound at 14 weeks and when the technician asked if I was sure I was 6 weeks pregnant I knew there was not going to be a baby. I asked if there was something wrong and he said the doctor would talk to me. I took the stairs back up to the doctors office because I didn't want to be seen crying in the elevator. I stood there at the door leaving the stair well and I couldn't open it. I stood there gasping for air knowing when I went through the door the doctor would confirm what I already knew. I had to have a D&C which the hospital refers to as an abortion the following day. Three months later I am pregnant again and the same thing happens, the technician asking if I am really as far along as I thought I was. This time the doctor argues with the technician because I have had a blood pregnancy test to verify the pregnancy but, the technician doesn't believe I am as far along as the pregnancy test confirms. I doesn't matter because the results are the same and again I am back at the hospital for a D&C which is referred to again as an abortion. I decided there were not going to be any more children because the loss of an unborn child is too painful but, two years later the desire returns and we welcomed a little boy into our family. We now had two boys and two girls and we thought we were done. But, in the hour following his birth we would hear the sweet voice from heaven say don't forget about me. My husband and I looked at each other and said "There is still a little girl that is to come to our family" This is the only time I have ever experienced this and we went on to have 8 children in our family. It was hard to put the space between the two but, we managed to wait two years and then welcomed our little daughter into the world. My joy of raising these two children cannot even be put into words. I can't help but smile when my mind recalls different times of their lives. They loved each other and as I look through pictures of our large family they can often be seen holding hands or the little sister looking up at her brother with so much love. While in high school the principal actually thought they were boyfriend and girlfriend because they were always together. On Oct. 25, 2008 they left early in the morning to start the 40 min drive to the high school where they would take their ACT test. My son a senior waiting to the last minute to take the test, my daughter only a sophomore taking the test because she wanted to be able to take it again in case she didn't get the score that she wanted. Life changed that day, as they left I felt a panic in my heart and I woke my husband up and said "We have to say a prayer that the kids will arrive safely to the test" we knelt by our bed and prayed for our children. A peace came over me and I actually didn't think about them very much the rest of the morning. It seemed so surreal when the state troopers showed up at our door around noon. An accident had occurred and our son had died at the scene. Our daughter had been taken to shock trauma. They never arrived to take the test. We went to the hospital and waited all day before we could see our daughter. She was on life support but, she looked so peaceful like she was just sleeping. I was wondering how we were going to tell her about her brother when she woke up. The brother she was never separated from. We didn't need to worry because 13 days later we had to take her off life support. The brain damage was to severe. Like Lucy, our daughter was able to be an organ donor. We had to fight for it to happen but, it was one of the best blessings we could have received. We have met two of her organ recipients and the joy we felt was overflowing. I don't know why we faced the challenges we face with these two children. Their lives were difficult to bring into the world but, so much more difficult to let go. The sadness we feel at their loss cannot compare to the happiness and joy we felt over their short 17 and 15 years of life. We have taken their names through the temple and felt for a brief moment the beauty of heaven. For one brief moment the veil was lifted, I felt their arms around me hugging me and comforting me letting me know they were okay and I know that my son and daughter are happy and safe. This brief beautiful gift keeps me going.

Katie on 02/19/2011
I also had three children, tried for number four and lost the baby at about ten weeks. I immediately got pregnant again and lost this one quickly. And I haven't been able to get pregnant since. I feel the same way - that I have three beautiful children and I should be more grateful - but the loss still hurts. It's so much harder than I thought. Thank you for reminding me that I'm not the only one who has felt this way.

Jed on 02/21/2011
Thanks, new friends, for sharing. Thanks, especially to Michelle for that incredible story. What an exceptional trial of faith and how exceptionally well you seem to have passed. Miscarriage is such a unique loss, not having the chance to develop a relationship with the body that came and went, but building an abiding affection for a soul that flashes into your life and then out again. And how strange to be able to bank and cool the pain of it by sharing it with others. Thanks to Molly, then.

Sydney on 02/22/2011
Simply beautiful writing. Oh, how it took me back to my own... Thank you for sharing.

Lisa on 03/04/2011
We have four beautiful children and I am currently typing this from my bed, 32weeks along with baby number five and on bed rest. We are so excited to meet our little girl, but there is a bittersweetness to it because she is a twin...we found out at 9 weeks that we had lost her identical twin sister. I have experienced two previous miscarriages in the past and the pain and grief is real and acute. This time, the loss has been so challenging to cope with--because I am still pregnant, and with a healthy baby! Yet, I want to be allowed to still grieve the one we lost, the one that would've looked just like this little girl, the one I saw in my dreams just a few nights ago. When we first found out about the loss and shared it with a few close to us, there were actually reactions such as, "Oh, we'll maybe this is a blessing because twins would've been so hard!" and, "So, were you kind of relieved?". I still feel speechless as I type these comments because those words would never have been spoken had we only been expecting one and then lost that one...I guess these are examples of people not knowing what to say so they say what they shouldn't. All I know is that a loss of a baby is a loss of a baby. Even in the early stages, it is the loss of what might have been and off who they were going to be and what joys life would have held with them in it. A loss of a miracle created between man, woman and God. Thank you Jed for sharing this beautiful and personal story, and thank you Molly for sharing sweet Lucy with us. As a side note, we had recently settled on naming our little girl, Lucy Ann, so when I discovered your blog just yesterday, her name has even sweeter meaning to me now...good luck with the benefit concert and if I wasn't stuck in this bed, I would be first in line. :)

Jenn on 03/09/2011
That writing was beautiful. Thank you for sharing this with us. I am so sorry for what you've had to go through.

robin on 10/31/2011
loved this post. thank you so much for sharing. it is so similar to mine that it is comforting and unifying to find others who have walked in this same grief.


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