Shared by Jennifer Chavez Duran
If you haven't read my first story on abortion and miscarriage and want more back story, you can read it here.
The founder of Stories from the Trenches recently stated, “Grief sucks.” Such true words—grief does suck. For some, grief can follow them around for years, constantly reminding them of what is missing. For others, it can creep up unexpectedly, after years of repression. I fall into the latter category.
The Origin of Personality
For many years, I had been in denial about when a baby's soul enters its body; I had to believe that it was further in the pregnancy or after a baby was born, because I had terminated my first pregnancy and that was the only way I could feel ok with that decision. When my 2nd pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, I continued to bury these feelings because I didn’t feel like I deserved a baby, and this idealism made everything easier to handle. When I finally settled into a stable environment with my husband and we became pregnant with my son Noah, I began to slowly dig into this deep hole that I buried in my heart. After giving birth to him, I have come to the realization that this idealism is so far from the truth. Now I see my son's personality and how it collated from in the womb.
While this realization has been a hard pill to swallow, I feel that I owe it to my angel babies to remember them and grieve for them, instead of hiding them away in the depths of my soul. I never really allowed myself to grieve for them in the past. Whenever I would think about them and start to tear up, I would tell myself that since I chose to terminate my first pregnancy I wasn't allowed to be sad about it, and the tears would stop as quickly as they started.
Sisters in Struggle
As I read a lot of the stories from October, on Pregnancy and Infant Loss, they got me choked up. The one that hit me the hardest was from Estefania Roberts about her little boy, named Noah. She spoke of how she gave birth to him at 14 weeks, and that she could see his resemblance to his daddy, and how she could recognize her son among other 14-week fetuses. That's when the connection really sank in, that when we were watching our son Noah on the ultrasounds, that it was HIS soul the entire time. and how the child I see growing in person now was him the whole time, just... smaller. This realization of the denial I had been in hit me like a ton of bricks, and I haven't stopped thinking about my angel babies since.
I started doing the math on how old they would be right now. I never got to see them on an ultrasound, so I started wondering what they looked like and what type of personalities they had. I started wondering how this will affect my future as a mother. Now that I see everything on this different scale, what is in store? I can't go back and unrealize this truth. And they deserve to be remembered. Both of their Angelversaries are around the holidays. I started thinking about how all the previous years I would feel a little down inside as it became closer to their 'dates,' but I never spoke much of it. I wonder how this year will be different for me as I process this new reality.
My dear friend Britni has candles for all the Angel babies for the Wave of Light, and she has one labeled 'Parks Angels' for mine. Something suddenly felt very wrong about them being nameless. These are two of my babies, my children. It's bad enough that they are away from their mother, but to also be nameless souls—well, I had to change that. That is something that I can change. I searched through all the unisex names and picked out names for both of them with special meanings.
Nightmares and Namings
The first pregnancy that I terminated was November 7, 2009. I was 11 weeks along, just shy of the cut off for the in-clinic procedure. I remember so much and so little at the same time. I had been sedated for the procedure, so I don't remember much except feeling scared and unsure, and then counting backwards while the bright light above me faded out. When I awoke I was being wheeled out of a room by a nurse, and I remember telling the nurse about how I had to go to work and I was late. They asked if I knew where I was, and I started to come out of the sedation and realize what just happened. In the recovery room, I was surrounded by other women in the same situation—but I had never felt more alone. Before I left, they asked me how I felt. I told them I felt relieved, but that was only partially true. Inside I was hurting; I felt an overwhelming sense of loss like something was missing from me. I didn't sleep much the first couple of days after the procedure, due to the painful cramping. When I finally did sleep, I had a nightmare in which I was searching for my little girl. I kept spotting my ex in the distance, dragging her away by the hand as she screamed out, “Mommy.” I kept running after them, but they would disappear and then show up in another spot far away. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't reach her. I awoke to tears covering my face; I had been sobbing in my sleep.
These nightmares continued off and on for a couple years, sometimes the same dream, sometimes different scenarios. But the little girl was always the same little blonde girl, being dragged away from me. Although it's been years since I had one of these nightmares, I can still picture her face, looking back at me over her shoulder, with tears streaming down her face as she cried out for me. Her face was a spitting image of mine when I was a baby, but she had bright blonde hair. Between the choice that I made and her trying to reach out to me in my dreams, this child fought a hard battle. The name I have chosen for her is Casey Ryan. Casey means Vigilant at war and Ryan means Descendant of the King. While it is a unisex name, I know in my heart that it was a girl and I will always reference her as such.
The miscarriage was December 28th, 2011. I was only 6 weeks along, and had my first ultrasound set up for 2 weeks later. We never made it to that appointment. This ex and I had just spent Christmas with our families and shared the news about the pregnancy. Three days later, I started bleeding. A trip the emergency room confirmed a lack of heartbeat. At home, after passing the sac with the baby and a lot of blood clots, I became unreasonably emotional. The weight of the guilt and denial from the abortion were taking over, and the emotional pain was unbearable. My heart ached and ached. After many uncontrollable tears and tantrums, I chose to continue burying these feelings. It was just too much for me to delve into at the time. Since this child left us just after Christmas, I have chosen the name Jordan Noel. Jordan means to flow down or descend, and Noel stands for Christmas.
My third pregnancy, which has now given me my healthy, bouncy, beautiful son, has been bringing me a lot of healing—although there is still a lot more to work through. I know that the decisions I made led me to where I am now, and I am truly grateful for that. I can’t imagine life without my husband and my son Noah—maybe these events happened to make me truly appreciate them when they entered my life. I am trying to be the best mom I can be, and I am starting to feel deserving of these amazing blessings.
It has been 8 years since I made the decision to end my first child's life. That is a hard sentence to write, by the way—that I ended my child's life. Just reading it makes my heart ache. My anxiety has been building the last few weeks as I sort through these feelings and learn to grieve instead of repressing my feelings. My heart has had a consistent dull ache, and my mind is very scattered. However, I have recently started going to therapy, and I am excited about that. My overall goal is to work through some of these repressed feelings and learn to forgive myself. With the help of therapy, I hope to actually dive into this trench and build a bridge over it, instead of walking alongside it and never getting past. I hope that my angel babies can forgive me, and that when we meet again one day, I can wrap them up in my arms and finally be the mother they deserved.