About two weeks ago I received something in the mail. It really wasn't anything terribly special of unique, in fact I've received many similar items in the mail before. But this one stood out and at first I couldn't explain why. Instead of stashing it away somewhere, I kept it. Some small part of me knew I had to, even if I couldn't explain why.
Recently I started reading a book that I had gotten shortly after Zachary died in early 2009. I started reading it back then, but never finished it. The book is called Naming the Child: Hope-filled Reflections on Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Death by Jenny Schroedel.
I recently finished the chapter on Signs and it was at that point (in addition to information I obtained this past Friday) that everything came together and the little surprise in the mail from a few weeks back suddenly made more sense.
Signs are an important way for parent's to cope with the loss of a child. And these signs can take many, many forms. Just every day occurrences can suddenly have more meaning as a reminder of their child, they can be a bit more supernatural in nature, or it can be something that occurs in a vivid dream. After both my first and second losses I had moments that I would now say were signs from God that my babies were safe with Him. I can never re-create those moments, but I remember the feelings of peace that I felt in my heart each time. Those were very special moments that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
Each of my losses have been completely different. And any "signs" I have received have also been unique each time. I also don't go looking for them, which is important to say here. Don't think I went looking for some sort of sign this time around just because I had previous ones. I honestly did not.
Now about that little surprise in the mail. I do have to admit that during this entire pregnancy I had a feeling that the baby was a girl. I had no reason, rationally, to think this, but I did. Part of me didn't want to believe it, afraid that I would be disappointed if it wasn't. So I tried to remain neutral, but that feeling was still lurking.
Shortly after we found out that the baby had died I was home alone trying to process everything and make some decisions. I went out to get the mail one afternoon and went through to find the usual bills, fliers, and random pieces of mail from non-profit groups. We generally donate money during the year to a variety of Catholic organizations. As a result we end up on the mailing lists of other Catholic orgs and so we get lots of donation requests in the mail. We also get little gifts in the mail from groups we've donated to and from groups who are hoping to get a donation from us: prayer cards, rosaries, little crosses, and other small things that can be easily mailed. In this particular pile of mail there was an envelope that contained one of these gifts and I guessed correctly that it was a rosary. They are usually easy to identify.
I opened up the envelope and sure enough a rosary. Just a small, cheap plastic one, but it was totally pink. All the beads were tiny heart-shaped beads that were pink. And it had a tiny pink carrying case as well. Even the center piece of the Rosary is heart shaped with Jesus in the center. On the reverse side is a more abstract looking engraving of a mother and child. Upon looking at it, I swear my heart skipped a beat. I wondered again if the baby that was still inside me was indeed a girl and this was a way for God to let me know. I didn't really want to put much stock in it. So I put the Rosary in its carrying case, left is sitting on an end table in the family room, and tried not to think about it.
So there it sat, looking at me every time I walked by it, for two weeks or so.
Fast-forward to this past Friday and I am at my doctor's office for a post-op exam/discussion. Previously she had told me that they would most likely only be able to tell the baby's gender if it was a boy, otherwise they wouldn't be able to be sure because of possible maternal contamination. So, what a surprise when the doctor comes into the exam room and the first thing she tells me is that it was a girl!! That was a complete shock! But the first thing I thought, was "Well, yeah, I kind of knew that already!" And then I thought about the pink Rosary.
There is a lot more I learned at that appointment Friday, and there was a reason why we can be confident that this baby was a girl. But I'll save that for another post.
What I came to see, was that this simple little Rosary I got in the mail was a gift from my little girl, my daughter. This little sign from her is completely different from anything I experienced from my other two babies. But that's because each child is unique in their own little way.
I think I'll be cherishing this little Rosary for a long time to come!! Thank you, baby girl!!