sharing your stories and remembering your children
By: Emily Carrington EPLA President and Founder
For as long as I can remember, I have LOVED fall. As a redhead, coral colored swimsuits and bright sunny beaches just ended in painful sunburn and sand in my shorts. I was always ready to say goodbye to summer. I loved all the things everyone loves about fall: fall activities, fall clothes, fall food, fall football, back to school. I loved all of it (even before there was social media).
But this fall I noted the strange distaste that has developed. As I scrolled through my Facebook feed, my friends were celebrating the “ber” months, pumpkin spice lattes, and the coming of cozy sweaters. Even in a pandemic when the world feels like it is on pause, the seasons change and time marches on.
But I couldn’t embrace the warmth and coziness of fall, and I noticed that I haven’t for quite some time. While I looked forward to pumpkin picking, fun Halloween costumes, and apple cider, I also felt an underlying sadness.
I remembered the fall of 2014.
My husband and I had recently moved to Hillsdale, Michigan where he had started his first year as a professor at Hillsdale College. We had just bought our first house and so much of our life was seemingly coming together. We were no longer graduate students, but real adults with a real house and a real job. Now it was time for a real family.
Right before moving to Hillsdale, our first baby died during pregnancy. We had discovered the missed miscarriage during a routine ultrasound around 11 weeks. We were devastated. After a difficult but distracting summer, we were excited and relieved to discover we were pregnant again in early August. Much like my first pregnancy the morning sickness and the anxiety set in quickly.
Then, around 11 weeks pregnant I discovered I had another missed miscarriage. While I often tell my miscarriage story, it normally contains the details of doctor’s visits, ultrasounds, and the experience of a natural miscarriage. I speak of my emotions, my conversations, my reasoning, and my hormonal state, but I have never verbalized the setting.
The setting was a beautiful, southern Michigan fall. With cool crisp air, sunny days, and blue skies. The 45 minute drive to the hospital was lined with incredible tunnels of trees. From our first expectant drive there to our last somber drive home with no baby, the trees turned from green to a magnificent canopy of red, yellow, and orange.
In the days following, my sister, her husband, and I sat on the porch eating pumpkin rolls and drinking cider. The air smelled like the county fair and was filled with the sound of marching bands.
This was our first fall back in the Midwest after five years in Texas.
This was our first fall without our babies.
Now my heartbreak emerges as I feel the air change, taste the warmth of apple cider, and smell the leaves. My body remembers my children; my child that was due in November, my child that died and miscarried in September, and later a third child gone before we knew we were pregnant with the changing of the season.
Fall is a time of new beginnings and sweet fellowship; a time of harvest and fullness. It offers rest from the summer’s toil and offers warmth for the winter ahead. But it is also a time of death and slow decay. As time marches on and the seasons change, fall marks the truth that with every life there is death.
But with every death, there was a life. A life that was sweet, with infinite value, no matter how short. These lives deserve mourning; they also deserve celebrating.
So while this season ushers in heartbreak, it also reminds me of the lives I carried inside of me. And remembering their lives soothes my heartbreak with the warm comfort of a good Midwestern fall.
Emily Carrington is a freelance writer, wife, mother, and founder of the EPLA.