In December of 2006 my husband and I miscarried a baby. It happened in a cab on the way home from dinner in Manhattan with friends, friends sleeping on our couch. They were headed to see the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. I begged off, had them drop me on a corner close to my subway stop. I’ll meet you at home, I said. I’m fine, I said. And then I shut the heavy yellow door and stepped out onto the empty sidewalk. I remember it was eerily, unusually empty. I remember snow and Christmas music spilling into the street from a nearby deli. There may not have been snow, but that’s how I remember it, me standing in the snow, cold, alone and keenly aware I was probably losing my baby. I walked to Starbucks, ordered a Chai tea, and tried to muster the… I don’t know... The life? The energy? The will? It took me a half hour to get out of my chair, descend the subway stairs and catch my train.
I got home, unlocked the apartment door, climbed four flights of stairs and threw my body onto the bed like a too-heavy backpack after a long day at school. I wouldn’t get up for another three days.
A week later my doctor would say in a thick Russian accent, “You’ll have many babies. No problem.”
But there were problems, and we miscarried early again.
Looking back I feel a little guilty for being so sad--I was indefatiguably sad. Now, I think of those “lost” babies and feel joy, knowing we’ll meet again when I go to them. But then, then I didn’t know there would be more babies. I didn’t know the joy of holding an 8 pound girl, pulled from the soil of my very body, grown in me, like me. All I knew were miscarriages, babies without roots, too easily unsettled. And emptiness. I knew too well the feeling of being empty.
And then spring came. One day in March the sun came out and the temperature climbed and all of New York emerged from hibernation, stepping onto the sidewalks without coats, eyes squinting, smiles on pale faces. This day seemed too beautiful for sad, and so Justin and I took notebooks to the new park under the Brooklyn Bridge and let the sun kiss our kiss-hungry cheeks.
We talked on the way to the park, about how hard it was to believe we’d ever have a baby and how exhausting it was to be sad. We decided we didn’t want to think about loss anymore. We wanted to think about good things, about lovely and excellent things. We wanted to have hope. So we prayed God would help us believe a baby was possible, and we asked for one with as much faith as we could muster.
Then, on that beautiful day in March, sitting on the grass with a couple hundred other winter-weary New Yorkers, we wrote letters to the baby we would one day have. Justin told the baby he hoped she was kind. I told the baby I hoped he was more like his dad than me.
We left the park and dropped by a baby store on the way home. We looked at cute onesies and soft blankets and instead of feeling that familiar sense of dread and despair, we felt something different, something lighter. We felt hope.
I’d find out a week or two later that we were pregnant, that we’d been pregnant even as we wrote those letters. We’d find out months later still that we’d been pregnant with our London Jane, and years later that she’d be kind and the spitting image of her mother.
I thought of this moment today among a list of other moments, times in my life when I had to make a choice: Was I going to let the difficulties drain the color from my days, anchoring me to the bed, holding me captive? Or was I going to respond to hardship with hope, believing in God’s power and presence, looking for the good God was doing and would do?
My husband has a photo of our family above his desk at work. It’s of the four of us dressed up in our favorite, nicest clothes, waist deep in lake water, beaming with joy. It was taken the moment after London Jane’s baptism. It’s my favorite picture. Beside it hangs a print with these words in gold capital letters: GOOD THINGS HAPPEN.
I see it every time I sit at that desk to help with a project or print an email or counsel a couple, and I think of Jennifer and Justin sitting under the Brooklyn Bridge choosing to believe good things happen.
They were so right.
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