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Under the Olive Tree (A letter to my baby)

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Under the Olive Tree: A letter to my unborn baby, lost to miscarriage but delivered to Jesus.

Dear Baby,

Your name is Oliver David Booker and you were born far too soon.

I want you to know how we longed for you and waited for you and hoped for you. Months and months before you finally came, you were a dream in our hearts. And when that day finally crossed over from dream to reality, Daddy and I were on top of the world. We knew you belonged to us – an extension of this family we love so fiercely.

Your sister left us too soon, and the pain of that still surfaces now and then. I had been afraid I’d be racked with fear and anxiety when I became pregnant after losing her. But with you, I wasn’t.

I had some nerves that I worked through, of course, but mostly I just felt a peace. You were ours – a gift from heaven – and I didn’t want to waste a precious, desired, prayed-for pregnancy worrying the days away over what ifs.

You made me tired though. Oh Lord, was I a basket case! I’m so thankful that Daddy was home to care for your brothers because I was napping twice a day as my body worked hard to make a space for you, help you grow, and give you everything you needed.

I’m not sure what went wrong, but I first discovered you were gone before you’d been with us eleven weeks.

How can such a big life last for such a short time? It’s so wrong, so unfair.

I’ve dealt with far more guilt since losing you than I did when losing your sister. Not guilt because I feel it was my fault (though it might have been?), but guilt over my reaction to losing you. Instead of being overwhelmed with sadness I was mostly just angry. Furious, in fact.

How could this happen? How could this happen? How could this happen?

Sometimes my anger (and lack of sadness) has made me feel guilty. I felt like you deserved my sadness. Intellectually I understand that all of those jumbled emotions are part of the grieving process, and yet nearly two-and-a-half months later I still deal with waves of guilt. If only I was sadder instead of angry, maybe I’d feel ‘better’ about you being gone. 

(Can you see the irony of me wishing I would feel sad so that I would feel better? Amazing how the grieving heart works – a mystery to be sure.)

I loved you from the second I suspected your existence was real. . . and my love multiplied the second your existence was confirmed. It was the kind of excitement that left no room for pre-meditating a fancy announcement to Daddy. I ran to the store to buy a test and ran home and then just ran right out of the bathroom to show him my pregnancy test.

POSITIVE.

We had felt like that day would never come. A year is a long time to wait, love.

But when it came it was as if we’d been kissed by heaven herself. There was so much divinity wrapped up in your conception and existence, we were sure of it.

And then, when I first suspected I was losing you I was in Tuscany – a sort of dreamland of it’s own. What a strange time that was for me – so much of so much. (How can I ever process what Tuscany was all about? Layers, so many layers.)

I wailed there in the tiny bathroom under the abbey stairs, and then all the way home I was silent. My rationale told me not to rush to a definitive conclusion of your death, yet my spirit knew you were gone. Things had been different that week. I credited my circumstances for that but subconsciously I knew.

Two days later I was resting on a lounge chair under the olive tree outside our villa and I was sure – Oliver. Your name was Oliver. It was a name Daddy and I have liked since before your biggest brother was born, but I knew right there under the olive tree at ­­­­­­­Le Casine di Castello that it belonged to you. The scent of jasmine was thick but not overwhelming. The sun warm but not harsh. The grass was lush but manicured.

I was sad but not crushed.

My heart felt such a peace even as my emotions reeled otherwise and I imagined us—you and I—under that tree with a branch of peace extended towards us. Would I take it? Would I be at peace despite my sadness, my wild anger, and all of the unknowns?

The name Oliver originates from the olive tree – symbolizing beauty, fruitfulness, and dignity. Your branch extended means peace and that’s how we see you, little one – an invitation to choose peace while at war.

David means beloved and you are – our beloved son. Although we don’t know for sure that you were a boy we always sensed it to be so, right from the beginning. Daddy and I were agreed on that one (and also agreed that we could be wrong!). I had such joy thinking about you three – a band of brothers – and the privilege it is to be a mother of sons. It makes me cry now to know that a part of our family is missing and how much you and your brothers are missing out on each others’ lives.

I don’t understand why you died, other than knowing we’re caught in this big cosmic war where evil still exists and sometimes takes the form of physical defects passed through our genes or accidents or illnesses or even, perhaps, more sinister and demonic ways at times. I just don’t know what’s on the other side of the veil and I know I see dimly all that the world really encompasses.

But I’m at peace with not knowing the details of the why and I cling to the fact that I will hold you one day when Jesus makes all things new. I imagine what that day might look like, but the truth is. . . I don’t really know.

All I do know is that my tears will be gone then. I’ll hold you and your sister on that day, and your brothers and your daddy. At least that’s what I like to imagine I ‘know.’

Even in the not knowing, I trust Jesus with my future. And yours.

I miss you little one. Always will.

Please know how loved you were and are and that you’ll never, ever be small to me.

Daddy and I choose peace, Oliver, even while the war still rages.

Love,
Mama xo

Written: September 13, 2014

 

* * *

Dear friends, October 15th is pregnancy and infant loss awareness day. (It’s also the due date of the first child we lost; Scarlett would have been turning one.) I’ve been so busy with renovations today (and for the past several weeks), and have had no time to be online or “helping” raise awareness even though this issue is immensely important to me. But I’ve constantly been thinking about the babies I’ve lost and so many dear friends and others who know this same awful grief.

I’m still sad, you know. Sometimes really sad.

Mothers around the world grieve silently or loudly, privately or publicly, not just today… but every day. Sometimes I find it relatively ‘easy’ to talk about the losses of our children; other times I find my grief feels intensely private. Even though I wrote this more than a month ago, I’m publishing this letter to our son today because I really do want others to know that our babies are not just “lost pregnancies.” They are lost children and we are hurting parents. Somehow, sharing helps validate the pain a little, if only for it opening up an opportunity for others to say me too or I love you.

The thing is, mothers (and fathers) are grieving the death of our babies collectively today, but we grieve their losses privately far more than anyone will ever know.

And yet even in my own heartache I would be amiss to say there is no hope. There is hope — the hope of all things being made new one day. One day — when heaven comes (fully and completely) to earth and all things are renewed by Jesus himself. I believe that with all my heart. But even that potent hope doesn’t completely erase the sadness. I’m hopeful and also sad. (There’s room for both.)

Because I’m a mother of four, but I only tucked two into bed tonight.

* * *

My miscarriage stories: The Day I Lost My Baby (Scarlett Grace) and Among the Fields of Gold: Losing My Baby in Italy (Oliver David). You can also read/search all of my posts about miscarriage and baby loss here.

 

 

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27 Comments

  • Reply Sarah 16 October 2014 at 4:23 am

    Amen. Thank you…., xoxo
    Sarah recently posted..6: to my own infertilityMy Profile

  • Reply Jill Ludwig 16 October 2014 at 6:10 am

    Oh Adriel, this letter is so beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. Fighting back the tears, it made me reflect on my own family. I always thought we’d have 3 children, but at the this point, sadly, my husband feels we should be done with 2, for many reasons, some of which include all of the difficulties we’ve had birthing our miracle babies. They truely wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for our God and for the technology of today. I’ve often thought that without today’s modern science, we would be without children, seriously, I too would have lost two children. Its just awful to think about. However, I have gone through some mourning of not having a 3rd, I could go into detail, but I will spare you. Sometimes, I feel selfish and guitly for wanting a third when so many of my friends (including you) are unable to conceive or miscarried in many cases more than once. There are so many things I don’t understand about life and our God, but I do know that he only has good things in store for us, or at least, the end result will be good, even if the process is painful. Thanks for sharing this heartfelt letter, friend. As always, God bless you and I continue to think of your family often and to pray for you all! XO

  • Reply Bethany 16 October 2014 at 8:28 am

    Oh Adriel… my heart is with you. I won’t forget Oliver’s life either, the beauty and joy he brought to this side of the ocean in his short time on earth. Thank you for writing this. XO
    Bethany recently posted..“Me Too” Moments With MyselfMy Profile

    • Reply Adriel 8 December 2014 at 7:48 pm

      Italy is a good place to live and die. Oliver is blessed. 🙂
      Adriel recently posted..Come Jesus, Come My Profile

  • Reply Alicia LaBeau 16 October 2014 at 9:11 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I understand the anger! And in some strange ways, I maybe wasn’t as sad over my second and third losses (not that they didn’t hurt my heart immensely) but I think the scars on my heart from that first loss caused a bit of a callous. and the callous just thickened a bit with the second loss. But you are so right. There is HOPE for us and one day… One glorious day, there will be a divine family reunion!

  • Reply Lisha Epperson 16 October 2014 at 10:01 am

    Thank you for making a space for those touched by infant loss and miscarriage. Your words made me remember my second miscarriage and how differently I handled it than my second. How much love I still have for the children I didn’t get to meet. Love knowing your heart Adriel. Truly.

  • Reply Laura 16 October 2014 at 1:00 pm

    I believe that everyone existed as a spiritual child of God that lived with Him in His love before we each got sent to earth to get a body and to be tested and tried. In my LDS faith it is often said that the souls who don’t make it past infancy were so pure and good that all they needed was to accept the gift of a body, they didn’t need to accept testing and trials for growth, and that it is a great honor to the parents to receive those children, and that they will raise them in the second coming.

  • Reply Mindy 16 October 2014 at 3:26 pm

    I can only imagine the hope and healing you are bringing to others who have faced this same loss. Thank you for being brave in your sharing of this beautiful letter. Such a short life…but so loved.
    Mindy recently posted..Giving Thanks FridayMy Profile

  • Reply Kleighann 19 October 2014 at 5:59 am

    Adriel,
    I have yet to experience pregnancy, so I have no earthly idea of the experience or emotions that go along with pregnancy or the loss of a child. Yet, your words and the depth of emotion you convey while writing set me on an emotional journey. Personally, what I do know of motherhood , is a deep and soulfilled desire to become a mother. Knowing that desire and experiencing just the emotion of your words, broke my heart. I cannot fathom what the actual heartbreak must be like. You are an amazingly strong woman to be able to bare your soul to us readers. Thank you for sharing… God Bless!

  • Reply Carrie 30 October 2014 at 8:05 am

    I would have been due October 15, 2014 with a baby as well. That baby is not here. I am grieving with you and admiring your strength and insight from afar.

  • Reply melissa 23 November 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Thanks for sharing this precious letter to your precious son.

    Love you all.

    Mel

  • Reply Jessica 15 December 2014 at 4:57 am

    This letter is so beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. My heart goes out to you and your family. I experienced one miscarriage in my lifetime, thus far, and it was far harder than I ever imagined it to be. So I get this. Cheers to your bravery through this. Lots of love to you.

    p.s. I have really missed you and your blog. Life has gotten busy so I haven’t been able to keep in touch as much as I’d like, but I’m often thinking of you and your lovely family. 🙂
    Jessica recently posted..Talking About Police With My DaughterMy Profile

    • Reply Adriel 11 January 2015 at 7:07 pm

      Thanks Jessica. <3

  • Reply Izabela 8 October 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Thank you Adriel for sharing your story and I am sorry for your loss.
    my happiness turned to sadnesses and unbearable mental pain when I lost my pregnancy at 15 weeks. Everything seems so fresh and raw as it happened just few days ago. I will never forget the night at the hospital when we lost our baby. That night seemed endless. I woke up the next morning on the hospital bed feeling so empty and numb. The only comforting thing is that we could say goodbye to our tiny Angle. We called our baby Miracle because we didn’t know whether it was a boy or a girl. Reading your story helps to understand that I am not alone and this tragedy unfortunately happens to many of us:(( I miss you and Love you so much my Baby Miracle xxo

    • Reply Adriel Booker 5 November 2015 at 11:10 pm

      Hi sweet Izabela. Thank you so much for taking the time to share some of your story. I’m heartbroken for your loss, and all the other hurting parents out there. You certainly aren’t alone dear one. So glad you named your baby—Miracle seems very fitting. All the best to you as you grieve and heal. x
      Adriel Booker recently posted..Coming Clean: This teen star’s confessional should inspire us allMy Profile

  • Reply Christy Hillier 26 November 2015 at 3:51 am

    Thank you so much for sharing. I had a loss almost a year ago, and every now and then I’m hit with such deep emotions. A bit of pain, but mostly just deep love for my baby and a love for my God who is so faithful. The thing that has helped the most is knowing that God loves my baby even more than I do, and that He is with her in heaven, where I will one day meet her.

    Pregnancy loss is a painful thing, but my husband and I always make sure to celebrate her life. Thinking back to when we first found out we were expecting was once too painful to think about, but now it is our most favourite memory since being married.

    Thank you for writing the words “that you’ll never, ever be small to me.” That hit me hard and made me realize that sometimes I try to brush the loss off, as if it wasn’t a big deal. Talking about a miscarriage can be so taboo sometimes. But my baby, and other babies who have been born too soon, no matter how long or short they were in the womb for, were never too small. They were a life and they were wanted and loved and knitted together by a loving God.

    Anyway, thanks again. It’s so comforting to not be alone in this. God bless.

  • Reply Cat 2 May 2016 at 12:29 pm

    Adriel,
    I was drawn to your page while looking through the Internet for articles to help me through my first Mother’s Day after a miscarriage. I miscarried at 7 1/2 weeks along in October. Seeing you bring light to your 8 1/2 week miscarriage resonates with me and really helps me feel like it’s ok that I experience so much pain and heart ache for the loss of my baby that I only even knew about for 3 weeks. I often wonder why on earth would God even put me through this pain- why even let me find out I was pregnant if only 3 weeks later my baby would be called home? I’m not sure I’ll ever know, but you helped assure me that my grief is real and valid despite the length of my pregnancy. I also love that you named your baby Oliver, despite having proof of his sex. I feel like mine was a baby girl and whenever I think about my loss, I always refer to her as a “her” in my head and whenever I talk to her.
    Thank you for sharing so candidly- you are truly making a difference at least in my life that I can vouch for, and by reading through your comments the lives of many others. May God bless you and your family, Cat

    • Reply Adriel Booker 9 May 2016 at 10:36 am

      Thank you for your note Cat. I never take it lightly when someone opens up a part of their story to me. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve experienced three miscarriages ranging from 7 to 13.5 weeks and they were all heartbreaking. Don’t let a number cause to you feel you need to restrain your feelings. Grief has a way of it’s own and I’ve found it’s best to listen and follow.

      I hope you are able to do something special on Mother’s Day to remember your little girl and to celebrate the fact that—although you may not feel like one—you’re a mom, too. May you experience the grace of God today and always.

      Love, Adriel x
      Adriel Booker recently posted..Looking for a unique gift this Mother’s Day? Let’s do something powerful together.My Profile

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