Monday, September 13, 2010

One Perfect White Tulip

Photo courtesy of Mitzi Bodie, Bodie Photo.

I decided to post the first story I ever had published after reading Knoxville MamaBelle's honest post sharing news of her miscarriage three months ago. I experienced two miscarriages between my three babies close to the end of the first trimester. I planted bulbs as a grieving process one October and wrote this essay the following April. It was published in the May edition of EvaMag and thus began my writing "career." Something beautiful and life-changing did emerge from that sad loss.

If you are experiencing a miscarriage or loss of a loved one at any age or if you want to celebrate the birth of a child, I encourage you to plant flowers in their honor. It's best right as the weather starts to turn cold, mid to late October. Now is a good time to purchase bulbs.

Gabrielle at Couponing in Critical Times has this good post about buying and planting bulbs. She recommends buying them online through Van Engelen or John Scheepers (same company, different divisions) for the best quality, selection, and customer service. Locally, she mentioned Saplings and Stanley's. story.

One perfect white tulip. There it is like a beacon in a sea of fuchsia. Five months ago, I thought I had planted red tulips, but they have emerged pink…with the exception of this one pure specimen. I’m sure there’s a scientific explanation for this anomaly. But my heart has its own theory.

On October 11, my plans for the future took a terrible blow. I was 10 ½ weeks pregnant and already picking names for my second child. Will my two-year-old have a brother or a sister? Will he be as active and daring as our first? Will she be artistic, good with numbers, or just happy to explore the world around her? The possibilities seemed endless. I hadn’t counted on the possibility that they would never come true.

I know the statistics of miscarriage are staggering: 1 in 4 clinically recognized pregnancies end this way. Due to the number of unknown pregnancies, an estimated 50-75% of all conceptions may result in loss. And it doesn’t help that I’m in my mid-30’s. But when I first discovered the blood, I was in a state of disbelief. I had no cramping and I FELT pregnant: tired, a little dizzy, and did I mention tired? Maybe there was nothing to worry about. Three days later, my fears were confirmed. I had clearly lost the baby.

My husband had been very supportive during those days of uncertainty, but at the moment of what I call the “passage,” I was all alone…just like that perfect tulip. A friend had advised me to see the experience like birth. Trust your body; your body knows what to do. There are several parallels but with a sadder ending. When the miscarriage was over, I felt empty.

The next two days I cried a lot. Just when I thought I was getting better, anger set in. I felt like Sally Field in “Steel Magnolias,” my grief racing from one emotion to another. I had no sense of control. That’s really what this all boiled down to…loss of control with this birth and the question of whether I’d ever have another child.

I decided to help myself heal through four ideas I could control: journaling, prayer, riding a mechanical bull, and planting some bulbs in honor of my lost soul. I unloaded my honest feelings in the first two. I tried to get some girlfriends together to support me in riding that bull, but the holidays came and days slipped away. The best positive step I took in healing was digging in the dirt on a crisp autumn day beside my father. He had helped me plant bulbs in honor of my first child’s birth, and he had helped my mother plant bulbs in honor of my birth. I was secretly afraid the bulbs would not bloom; wouldn’t that be a kicker?! But I decided seeing their beauty rise from the earth each year was worth the risk that some wouldn’t make it. Trust Mother Nature; she knows what to do.

It’s now March, and brilliant color greets all who pass our house. Neighbors come to take pictures near the tulips. I proudly show my son the flowers he had helped plant. But what strikes me most is the surprise of that one perfect white tulip. Feeling heaven wink my way, I am finding peace with my loss and faith in new beginnings. I smile and pat my belly, for I am pregnant once again.


16,438 women become pregnant

11,018 women give birth

4,780 women endure a pregnancy loss

8,219 women experience an unplanned pregnancy

1,172 women become pregnant while uninsured

5,479 couples begin to struggle with infertility issues

Source: (2006)


  1. I planted a tree for our daughter and hadn't even thought about flowers for her or a lost one--I'm so glad you shared this story.