Shh . . . it’s okay, baby.
I whisper as I gently rub my lower abdomen. It’s okay, Avelyn. It’s all going to be okay. It is a strange thing to think, a strange thing to vocalize when you know the child inside is dead, but these pains, these cramps strike me as a crying baby—my crying baby. It will all be okay.
I wrote to a friend recently about the importance of breath in the Jewish faith. There is no life without breath, an idea that I believe comes from the second creation story in the book of Genesis, where God breathes life into creation. To live, to be human is to be bearers of the breath of God.
I am not Jewish, but I love this imagery of God breathing life—the symbol of breath as the Spirit of God. I do not hold to the idea that life begins with first breath, but that didn’t stop me from losing my own breath when I realized that Avelyn will not be gulping air into her tiny lungs when she is birthed into this world, nor will she be issuing a borning cry.
But these contractions now (if that is indeed what they are) feel like soundless cries, feel like deep distress calling out. In these pains, my girl is breathing and wailing—even if only symbolically.
Without thinking, I do what seems natural—I soothe. I whisper. I mentally sing or hum lullabies—one in particular, a song I was introduced to at St. Louis Mennonite Fellowship, though it originated with the Iona Community: Don’t be afraid. My love is stronger, my love is stronger than your fear. Don’t be afraid. My love is stronger and I have promised, promised to be always near. I’m not sure if these words are for her or for me, and I suppose it doesn’t matter.
Hush, baby. I am here. It is okay.
Author’s note: This is the eleventh post in a series on pregnancy loss/miscarriage. Read the first post, “First ultrasound,” here.