By Reba Phelps
If you have given birth in the last twenty years or even visited a newborn baby in the hospital then you are familiar with the uniform blanket that is issued to every single baby. It is soft white flannel cotton with gender stripes that do not identify them as a girl or a boy. It is so hard to pay much homage to the generic blanket when there is a sweet baby swaddled so tightly that an adult couldn’t breathe inside. The blanket has a job to perform in hospitals and it does it oh so well.
For whatever reason baby blankets were my absolute favorite thing when my daughters were younger. They were multifunctional and could literally be used for years or at least until their tiny feet poked out from the bottom. Then our blankets were always repurposed for baby doll blankets.
Baby blankets also shield the infants from the elements. The blankets sometimes could match the ensemble of the tiny little overpriced clothes. Blankets could clean up a huge mess in seconds if you were traveling. Blankets could be sentimental if you were lucky enough to get one that was handmade. Needless to say, they are a staple and incidentally become the background of most family photos.
When my friend gave birth to her first child this past month, the very first thing I noticed was the same blanket that has kept infants warm for decades. My first thought was, wow…will they ever change this style? My second thought was, awe this is so sweet they have the same blankets that they did at least twenty years ago. Nostalgia had set in.
It brought me back to a time remembering each birth of my two daughters. I could not wait to get them home so we could start using all of the blankets and begin the many routines of infant-hood.
During the middle of all of my reminiscing I just kept thinking that I have two sets of these generic blankets and they are not marked for which daughter they belong. But, does it really matter? They are identical but I could vividly remember what each face looked like in the hospital swaddled in this blanket.
All of the sudden, a dull pain suddenly came over my heart that I could not describe. It was a pain that I had not felt in so many years. I should actually have three sets of baby blankets. I should have a child who was finishing their Junior year of high school this year. I should have a third box of baby memorabilia. But, I don’t and I had not even thought about this in so many years.
It actually took me a little while to do the math as to how long ago the miscarriage was. So much of my life had been lived not even thinking about it. I am not sure if that was my mind’s way of dealing with the loss. I just remember being sad for so long and mostly shocked. You are pregnant and preparing for the new life that is coming and all of the sudden it is no longer. In a flash it is gone.
I remember our preacher and his wife coming to see me in the hospital and the looks on their faces were so somber and supportive. They prayed with us in the hospital room that God would bless us with another child. And he did, three years later. I remember coming home and having to explain to my oldest daughter that we were no longer having a baby. She was confused but soon quit asking questions about it.
Everyone stopped asking questions after a while. Everyone moved on with their life except for me. There was a deep emptiness that lingered for so long. There was no consoling me during this time but I internalized most of it, so really no one knew that there was any consoling that needed to take place. I remember my friends tiptoeing around me when they found out that they were expecting. I still felt so much joy for anyone that shared the great news of being pregnant.
Time definitely does heal wounds. You remember the pain but the sting goes away and it doesn’t hurt as bad to think back on it. I honestly cannot remember the last time I had even thought about it until my friend welcomed her blessed baby boy. Every so often I would wonder if it was a boy or a girl. I would wonder what he or she would look like today and even wonder if it would have been multiples like their father’s ancestors were famous for. I do still wonder if we will meet someday.
I cannot tell you why tragedies like this happen to families. In a perfect world, we would all have perfectly healthy babies with no surrounding issues at all.
The thing I can tell you is that I know God never left my side during all of this and I didn’t blame him at all. We went on to have a healthy baby girl some years later and I can also tell you that I am abundantly blessed with the two sets of generic baby blankets that I do have neatly tucked away in the attic.
“But he said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” – 2 Corinthians 12:9