When I saw the pink tinge of blood on the toilet paper, I knew. I didn't want to admit what I knew, so I went online to prove myself wrong. I read the sentence, "It is very common for women to bleed during pregnancy" over and over again as if reading that phrase would somehow alter the inevitability of impending loss. I silently repeated that phrase through the subsequent hours of cramping and the unrelenting release of blood, hoping somehow I could use it as a mantra to will the blood, the baby, and my ballooning grief back into my body.
I miscarried a few days before Christmas, an especially poignant time to lose a baby when many are celebrating birth. I thought about Mary who also lost her baby after years, not weeks, of watching her son grow into a king of men. Unlike my loss, Mary's loss shook the earth and knocked the world off of its axis, a grief so deep even the trees cracked from the tumult. Like Mary, though, I mourned and I prayed. Mary understood, better than any woman, the price we may be asked to pay for the privilege of ushering in our posterity.
Two years ago a newly pregnant girlfriend and I talked about the uncertain nature of motherhood. We reverently reflected on the unspoken deal we make with God that if we accept new life into our bodies we must also accept its possible loss. As growing life dances in our wombs, somewhere deep and hidden we know that its joyful spinning also stirs up the sediments of death. This is inescapable as life and death are ever joined, one a silver shadow of the other. Our awareness of death is muted until we are compelled to face it head on and that muted melancholy becomes a primal roar.
In my bathroom many weeks ago, as my body twisted and my heart sunk deep, I could see the terrible beauty in motherhood: creating life would be nothing more than nature's magic trick were creation not so fragile, not so bound to death's holy call. And death is holy as it transforms magic trick into miracle and demands a profound vulnerability from women that will turn them into gods. Knowing this makes me proud to be a woman.
To the millions of women before me who have given life and lost life and to the millions of women after me who will do the same: the ability to give life has crowned us mothers, but the ability to let life go has crowned us warriors and saints.