Today is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss day. One in four pregnancies will end in loss by way of miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. Today is the day to remember those lost before they had a chance to live. Though their lives were brief, they stamped themselves into the hearts and minds of those who loved them and dreamed of them and anticipated them. Attached to them were hopes and dreams and infinite potential. They are loved still and missed always.

I remember Lauren. I remember her when she was still just called Lucky, when we knew of her but did not yet know her. I remember that journey through awareness, of coming to know who Lauren was and who she could be.

I remember how sure I was that I was pregnant and how terrified I was when I knew that it was true.

I remember the first ultrasound and loving her instantly.

I remember naming her and how easy it was, how the name “Lauren Joy” just fit so perfectly.

I remember feeling the first flutters of her movement, confirmation that she was there with me.

I remember the relief that washed over me whenever I felt her and knew that she was still there. Every time we saw her on the ultrasound, I felt that same relief, that calming of fears.

I remember how perfect she was at 20 weeks: the form of her spine, the beating of her heart, the bones of her limbs, the strength of her body. Healthy, Dr. Shoji told us. Perfectly healthy.

I remember the decisions we made about parenting, all the reading and research I did, all the excitement and anxiety about becoming a parent.

I remember the aches and pains, the heat and the strain, the hormones and the anxiety, and I wish I had enjoyed what pregnancy was and meant.

I remember the smiles and congratulations from the people in Moriya, from friends and students and co-workers. I remember how excited family and long-time friends were to welcome her to the world, how they loved her before they even knew her.

I remember how terrified I was about labor and delivery, and how I cried with the fear, and how Geordie held me and comforted me and told me that it would be wonderful in the end, that I would have a beautiful baby girl to love when it was over.

I remember making birthing plans and knowing what I wanted and didn’t want. I wanted Geordie there, and that was all that really mattered.

I remember the kicks and the rolls and the hiccups and how filled with life they made me feel.

I remember Geordie singing to her and the way she reacted to his voice. I loved to hear him sing to her. I loved the way he talked to her. I loved to hear him say her name.

I remember how he could always quiet her down if he placed his hand on my stomach at night while she was active.

I remember the waiting rooms of hospitals and clinics: how reassuring and familiar the Shoji clinic became, how cold and unwelcoming the other places seemed in comparison, how different the doctors could be in the apprach to patients. I remember understanding why some women chose home births.

I remember Geordie’s excitement and happiness when we finally learned Lucky’s gender. He smiled all the rest of the day, that big and goofy smile of unrelenting anticipation.

I remember how much Geordie took care of her and me, physically and emotionally.

I remember the plans made for the holidays, the joy that bubbled up in me when I thought of sharing Lucky with family and friends. I looked forward to showing her off, to seeing first time grandparents and great-grandparents and great-aunts. I couldn’t wait to put her in Ryan’s arms and assure him that he really was an uncle, that he wasn’t imagining it. I wanted to watch them all and see how happy Lucky made them.

I remember wanting to share Japan with her. We walked under cherry blossoms in April, and I thought, “she’ll be six months old this time next year.” We went to summer festivals in August, and I thought, “she’ll be nine months and adorable in a little yukata.” We went to shrines and temples, and I thought, “she’ll grow up with all this and learn to appreciate the wonders of life and the spirit.” We watched the changing of the seasons, and I thought, “I’ll have an autumn baby, a wonderful gift from my favorite time of the year.”

I remember the hopes and dreams we had for her, the things we wanted to share with her and teach her. I daydreamed often, imagining what she would be like as a toddler, dark-haired and light-eyed, stubborn and curious – a mix of myself and Geordie. In my thoughts, we held her and sang to her and read to her, and as she got older, we would do those things with her. We nurtured her and adored her in my thoughts, and I sent them to her to let her know how much we wanted her.

I remember cooking and baking, thoughts of old family recipes I wanted to save for her to make someday. There was so much of our families I wanted to share with her – our histories, our traditions, our togetherness.

I remember shopping for her with Geordie, picking and choosing what was right, lamenting the excess of garishly pink clothing, wondering just what size we needed and how much we would need.

I remember seeing other women with infants and thinking, “that will be me soon. She’ll be here soon, and everything will be lovely.” I knew it would be hard, that adjustments would have to be made, but I accepted that. It would be Geordie and Lucky and me, and everything would be alright.

I remember worrying about her room and its lack of temperature control – would she be too cold? too hot? I wanted everything perfect for her.

I remember the days and weeks and months before September 22nd, when I felt her strongly and my thoughts wended towards the future’s joyful moments and the challenges I knew I would have to face. The fears and worries were merely superficial, the typical anxieties of new parents who were content in the knowledge that everything would turn out right.

I remember wanting her and loving her, feelings that have not changed.

I remember her after her delivery: perfect and beautiful and silent as though asleep. There was no doubt that she was ours and no doubt that we would feel the void of her loss in her hearts for a long time to come.

I remember Lauren Joy, and I also remember the stories shared with me, of pregnancies lost and infants mourned. Today, I think of the stories told and untold, of the empty spaces in so many lives that will never be filled. I think of the pain of the loss of hopes and dreams, sometimes sharp and sometimes dull but always there. And I wish that no one else would have to feel this pain.

Today, I remember Lauren and her brief life and the lasting impact she has made on myself and Geordie and so many other people. I will remember her always. Every morning, I wake up and remember her, and I remember that she is not here where she should be.

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