The Lost Babies

Henry: “How old would the other children be if they were born?”

Me: “I think 14, 13, 10, and 8.”

Henry: “I would’ve liked the 8-year-old. We would have been buds.”

I don’t know if it’s strange or awesome or awkward that all three of my kids know about our multiple miscarriages. We don’t talk about them, really, but I guess the few times we have made an impression on Henry. I haven’t told him that there’s no way we would’ve had seven kids… or that if even one of those lost babies had survived, none of the amazing little people living in my house right now would be here – not with their particular genetic structure or personality or mannerisms. Maybe he’ll realize that one day, but for now, I like that they would’ve been buds.

I like to believe there’s some kind of soul recycling machine God employs for babies that don’t make it (I know, it sounds a bit like reincarnation, but I’m not making a theological argument right now – just a wondering.). Maybe Lydia, Elvis, and Henry were false starts the first time around and caught the next ride into this world to arrive as they are now. Probably not, but it sounds like something the God of the universe could figure out.

It’s all such a mystery, all of it – the conceptions, the losses, the redemptions, the births, the questions, the pockmarked and cratered bits of answers. Part of trusting God is leaning into those questions, and part of trusting God is resting in the mystery, without a whiff of a composed word in reply, except, perhaps,

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:1-3)

body-coffin-essayMy essay, “The Body Is Not a Coffin,” is now available for purchase on Kindle. It explores the complexities and questions having miscarriages can bring to one’s faith in God. My husband and I experienced four miscarriages – a partial mole pregnancy, a very early miscarriage, a miscarriage when on birth control, and a miscarriage after hearing the heartbeat. Our first two miscarriages happened before we had babies and our second two happened between when our second and third children were born. Each of those experiences changed and shaped our understanding of God and our relationship to the Creator of the universe. If you’ve experienced a miscarriage yourself, I hope this essay helps you feel less alone.

Download the Kindle version.

(Previously published in Under the Gum Tree and selected as a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2018)

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

3 thoughts on “The Lost Babies

  1. Beautiful. I just discovered your writing and I love it! I don’t have a Kindle but I’ll look for the Best American Essays at the library!


    1. Thanks, Ashley! It isn’t actually republished in the Best american essays – just listed as “notable” in the back – but you can order a print version of the original essay in a magazine called Under the Gum Tree.


  2. Love all of this, friend: “Maybe Lydia, Elvis, and Henry were false starts the first time around and caught the next ride into this world to arrive as they are now. Probably not, but it sounds like something the God of the universe could figure out.” ❤


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