This post originally appeared at www.ibelieveinlove.com
I believe in love because we were created by love, from love, for love.
We were married in August, conceived our first child in September, miscarried him in October, and buried him in November. They always said the first year of marriage would be the hardest, but no one could have imagined we’d face all that in just the first three months.
When I found out I was pregnant, I remember being flooded with two strong emotions: fear and commitment. We’d only been married for six weeks, and while we are well aware of where babies come from, to be perfectly honest, the odds of conceiving on the day we did were miniscule. We were surprised that we’d succeeded, and I was overwhelmed because it had happened so soon.
I’ve never felt more empathy for women who wrestle with having an abortion. We had everything we needed to do this, and do this well: we’re in a loving and committed marriage, we both have good, full-time jobs, we bought a house, we have insurance – and I was still terrified by the enormity of what it means to be pregnant.
But equally strong to my feelings of fear was my commitment. Every cell in my body screamed at me to protect this pregnancy. No more alcohol, cut back that caffeine, eat well, sleep well, drink plenty of water… Protect this little person, so wholly dependent on me. Immediately, I was changed – I was no longer just me. I was me, with him growing within me. I was pregnant. I’d become a mom.
After our initial (and, I’ll add, short-lived) panic, we started to dream. We were parents, now, and so we started planning. Names were easy, we’d picked those out before we were even engaged. When will this baby arrive? How does this affect our plans for next summer? How will we decorate the nursery? How will we tell our family and friends?
It turns out that those dreams would be short-lived. Two weeks later, I started bleeding, and my commitment to protecting this pregnancy was covered in fear again. An initial ultrasound, inconclusive – there was no heartbeat, but that might not mean anything, because it might just be too soon. Progesterone to stop the bleeding. Hope. Prayer.
Another ultrasound, four days later – and no change. No growth, no heartbeat. They were positive this was a miscarriage. My body just didn’t know it yet.
And so then grief, and tears, and medication to help my body catch on, to try and aid the natural passing. More bleeding, cramping, and pain. Another agonizing ultrasound three days later to reveal that the medicine hadn’t worked and he was still in there, still not growing, still no heartbeat. A surgery scheduled for three days after that. And then, suddenly, the night before the procedure, intense cramping and a natural end.
I was pregnant, and then I wasn’t.
No one knows what to say to you after a miscarriage, which was fine, because I was in no mood to talk to anyone. I only wanted my husband, and crappy reruns on TV, and to be pregnant again.
I didn’t really want to be pregnant again. I wanted to be pregnant still.
But I was still – and will now forever be – a mom.
Even though our marriage is so young, our miscarriage was an undeniable affirmation that I married the right man.
He was with me at every visit to the doctor. He held me while I cried, and cried with me. He sat with me as the medicine went to work, was by my side when it failed, held my hand as things progressed on their own. He collected what passed every time I used the bathroom, and gathered our baby’s remains for burial.
It was too soon to know for sure that our child was a boy, but we had both felt strongly that he was. Our first son’s name is Pier Giorgio Leininger, and we call him Georgie. He’s named after an Italian businessman and social activist, Pier Giorgio Frassati – a truly great man, the kind we’d hope for our son to be.
My husband built a small wooden box in our basement, with great care, so we would have something dignified to carry our son to the funeral home. When he brought that small box up the stairs, disheartened because the corners weren’t perfectly straight for our son, I hugged him tight. I was glad it wasn’t perfectly done. I hope it’s something he never has to do again.
I believe in love because I have been loved well in my life. By love’s providence, my husband and I found and committed to one another. From our love for one another, we became parents. And as we have grieved, and processed, and prayed, and dreamed again, we have received more love from one another, and from those who love us well, than we’d ever known before.
In my love for this child, I will miss him every day, and grieve, over and over again, with every reminder that he’s no longer here. But for love’s sake, I will do whatever it takes to get myself, my husband, and however many children we might have to heaven – because that’s the only way our family will be whole again.
I believe in love because we were all created by love, from love, and for love. I believe in love because I know that I will see my son again, one day.
Rachel Leininger is the Chastity Educator for the REAP Team, a retreat ministry of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. She is also the author of a LifeTeen book titled “The Next Step: A Catholic Teen’s Guide to Surviving High School” and she’s is recently married to a handsome, faith-filled man named David.