The Face of Miscarriage
Dearest Avery Rose,
It’s been three years since you went to heaven, my little one. January 19, 2016 changed everything. It was the beginning of a whole world of challenges I just didn’t expect, plan for, or ever want. I’ve missed you! I talk about Elliot a lot these days, because his life and death are so fresh still, because I had more time with him, and because the circumstances of losing him were very traumatic. But I think of you, Avery. Oh, how I think of you!
You are the third baby I was ever pregnant with. I remember taking a pregnancy test on a Friday, and it was negative. I was disappointed, even though it was only our first month “trying.” I really wanted you. Then I tested again on a Sunday, and it was positive! I told Daddy in the car as we were driving to our small group. He was so happy! Of course we calculated your due date, and I loved that you were due August 21, 2016, just a little over two years younger than Valerie.
I remember that familiar joy/sadness that came when I was about six weeks pregnant with you and coffee suddenly tasted awful. It has always been the biggest confirmation of pregnancy for me!
I remember going in to the doctor at your eight-week appointment and seeing your beautiful growing form, and your strong, perfect heartbeat. Everything was just as it should’ve been. I remember a friend harmlessly mentioning, “Once you see a heartbeat, it’s very unlikely that you’ll miscarry!” Of course, miscarriage was the furthest thing from my mind.
I remember Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 18, when I was nine weeks pregnant; I exercised and then saw a little blood when I went to the bathroom. I remember going to work, thinking I’d schedule a doctor’s appointment after I taught my tutoring lesson. I wouldn’t even accept the possibility that there was something wrong.
But while I was teaching, I remember feeling something was not right.
I remember the shock and horror and devastation as I ran to the bathroom and saw all that blood.
I remember shaking and crying and falling into a hole inside myself while a friend drove me home. Days later, I had to scrub the blood off the passenger seat of the car.
I remember Daddy taking me to the doctor and thinking, What’s the point? I know this is a miscarriage.
I remember my favorite nurse practitioner, Pam, was the one to see us. She got the ultrasound ready. I wasn’t expecting to see anything, but I prayed for a miracle. Avery Rose, you cannot imagine the relief that flooded me when she said, “Oh yeah, there’s the baby!” And there was your perfect body with a perfect heartbeat.
I remember Daddy and me crying happy tears of joy, convinced that you’d been saved by a miracle of God! Pam printed us some information on what she believed had caused all the bleeding: a subchorionic hemorrhage. “You may have some more bleeding, but it should subside. This is fairly common, and usually women go on to have a perfectly normal pregnancy.”
I remember being hungry and asking Daddy to get us hamburgers on the way home. Your sisters were at Grammy and Grandpa’s house, so Daddy and I watched movies that night, high on the happiness to know you were fine and would be fine. Almost losing you solidified how much we loved and wanted you.
I remember going to bed that night so thankful. I woke up in the middle of the night, feeling fine, but with a name in my mind: Avery. I didn’t know where it came from or why. I fell back asleep.
When I woke in the morning, Daddy had already left for work. I got out of bed.
I remember trying to think it didn’t mean anything when clots of blood fell out of me. Pam said there would be more bleeding.
I tried to eat breakfast. But there was too much blood. I was terrified to lose you. I remember one of my best friends telling me after her first miscarriage, “I just can’t believe my baby went down the toilet.”
I sat in the bathtub. I called the doctor. They said to go to the emergency room. I called Daddy, told him to come home and get me. I tried to watch Once Upon a Time on my iPad to distract myself. I was so cold. I was shaking.
We went to Skyridge. “Why are you here?” They asked at the front desk. “I think I’m having a miscarriage,” I sobbed. But maybe, maybe, maybe there would be another miracle! Maybe you were still going to be there!
I remember they put warm blankets on me when they laid me on the bed in the emergency triage room. I couldn’t stop shaking.
I remember an ultrasound technician coming in. She was not friendly. Did she think you were still inside me? She searched for what felt like several minutes. She didn’t say anything. Finally I had to ask her, “Do you see anything?”
“No,” she said. “I’m sorry.”
And then my heart was in pieces. So many pieces, Avery! How could this be? We just had seen your beautiful form and heartbeat less than twenty-four hours before! Pam said you’d be fine! What in God’s name was happening?
I remember hearing Daddy call my mom and say, through his own sobs, “Gelene, Heidi miscarried the baby.”
I remember crying to Daddy, “I want to name her Avery Rose.”
I remember Daddy’s mom coming in and holding my hand. She asked, “What are you feeling?” I moaned, “I want to hold my baby!”
I remember driving home in shock. I went to the bathroom and looked through everything. I found you. I knew it was you. I think I had already known it was you. Your form was so delicate, I was afraid to touch you too much. So I pulled out a blanket I had started crocheting years before when I was pregnant with Sylvia. Since I didn’t get very far, it was just the right size for you. I wrapped you up. I wish I would’ve taken a picture of you first.
I remember Daddy saying, “I want to build her a coffin.” So he spent the day in the garage, making a beautiful coffin to bury you in. I spent the day holding you. The one and only day I ever got to hold you. I rocked you. I sang to you. I wept and wept and wept.
That night, I slept with you beside me, but I didn’t really sleep. I got up early and wrote in the journal I’d already started for you. Then, with you laying on my lap, I wrote on Facebook that my baby had died. I told the world your name. The dozens of comments I received in love and support validated your existence and my heartbreak.
I remember holding you as Daddy and I left the house to take you to Grammy and Grandpa’s to bury you. Before we passed through the door, I stopped and started crying. I told Daddy, “This is the last time she’ll ever be in our house!”
I remember reading part of Gerard Manley Hopkin’s poem “The Golden Echo” while we buried you. I remember Grandpa crying, and then offering to fill the dirt back into the grave while we went inside.
I remember waking Sylvia up from her nap. She was just three, and had been so excited when I told her a couple weeks earlier that I was going to have a baby. I had to tell her we’d lost you. I pictured her being a little affected, but it not upsetting her greatly. So I was not prepared for how she did react. I told her you died and went to heaven. She immediately cried, wailed, sobbed, and repeated over and over and over “Please may I have the baby? Please may I have the baby?” I will never, ever forget that profoundly devastating scene.
I remember feeling so empty in the days and weeks and months that followed. There was supposed to be a baby inside me. And there was none.
I remember Grandpa writing the most beautiful poem for you. I remember my best friend and her husband having a star named after you. I remember my talented author friend putting your name in the dedication of one of her poetry books. I remember a dozen ways loved ones have honored your name and memory.
Mostly, I remember you.
You’d be a busy toddler now, a 37-month-old tearing up our house. What a different life we’d all have if you were here! I think maybe my writer’s mind gives me the imagination to clearly picture what you’d be like, what life would be like.
But there is another reason you are so real to me: Elliot.
Elliot put a face to you, my little Avery Rose. Elliot gave me many gifts, but that is one of the most precious. Far from making the lives of you and Everett “smaller” in my mind, his life has made yours bigger, more real. Because, really, the only difference between you and Elliot is some time. Just a few short months of growth. I’ll stare at pictures of him and think, “That could just as easily be Avery. Or Everett.” And I think I miss you all the more because of it, and long for our reunion more deeply.
Your faces and lives are so real, so precious, so longed for. And not just yours. There are so many babies with you in heaven. Babies I know of now, and love, really. Some of them miscarried early. Some of them stillborn. Some of them who passed away days or weeks or months after birth. But I think of them. Miriam. Isa. Ceila. Kamryn. Hope. Lilias. Evelyn. Eli. Joey. Joshua. Many other names. And all those whose names are not spoken on earth, but are surely known in heaven. I really do remember.
Oh Avery, I don’t know why so much sadness has to exist for so many. I’d gladly have all my babies here, all five of you running around, and me up to my ears in diapers and runny noses. What a gift that would be!
But you are in heaven. With Everett, with Elliot, and with all those other precious souls. I’ve started to come to terms with the fact that God didn’t want or plan that. I don’t know why He didn’t prevent it, but I have to trust He will take care of you until we can be together again.
When I look at Elliot’s photos, I picture you as well, my precious child. You carved love so deeply on my heart. Like a rose, you bloomed and gave perfect beauty. Mommy is so proud of you and so honored to have carried you.
-Heidi Treibel, mommy to Avery, Elliot & Everett
“Yes, I can tell such a key, I do know such a place,
Where whatever’s prized and passes of us, everything that’s
Fresh and fast flying of us…
Never fleets more, fastened with the tenderest truth
To its own best being and loveliness of youth, it is an
Everlastingness of, O it is an all youth!…
And with sighs soaring, soaring sighs deliver
Them; beauty-in-the-ghost, deliver it, early now, long before
Give beauty back, beauty, beauty, beauty, back to God,
Beauty’s self and beauty’s giver.
See, not a hair is, not an eyelash, not the least lash lost…”
From “The Leaden Echo and The Golden Echo” by Gerard Manley Hopkins