Advent is my favorite and most anticipated season. I enjoy the preparations and beauty in the waiting. It’s the wonder and awe of prayerful longing for the awaited baby that always brings a joyful hope.
Back in the Spring of 2004, we had a 19-month-old when we found out we were expecting baby #2. I was so excited when we found out the due date was December 17. I thought that a Christmas baby would be the most delightful blessing to look forward to that Advent season. I boasted of not even really feeling pregnant and no sickness to speak of, not that I’d been terribly sick with our first child either. I began to contemplate names and the only one that really stuck with me was a girl’s name, Natalie. Being born close to Christmas would mean a special Christmas name would go along fittingly. With hardly a thought, the name Natalie Noel just seemed to fit together. I was just weeks into the pregnancy by then, but was so in love with my unborn child.
Just short of nine weeks into the pregnancy, I ended up having signs of miscarriage. Being married not even three years yet, those days both challenged and strengthened our young marriage. Fourteen years later, those days are still embedded in my mind and in my heart. We ended up miscarrying that baby and it left a void and sadness on my heart that, over time, did heal. We still say that we’ve had six children and our earthly children all know about their sibling who awaits them in heaven.
We were guided by others to name our baby formally and we did so just after miscarrying. We felt that it helped us heal, gave him or her an identity and enabled us to grieve the life we lost. Of course, we named the baby Natalie Noel, since that was the only name placed on our hearts during that short pregnancy. Fittingly, I looked up the name Natalie and found it means ‘Christmas Child’.
Each year, we honor our baby on May 14, the day we miscarried and each December 17, my husband brings me home a rose with a card that says, “Love, Natalie.”
That summer of 2004, I asked a family friend who is an artist, if she would consider painting a Christmas ornament in memory of our Natalie so that during my favorite season we’d still remember our heavenly baby. That ornament is proudly displayed near the top of our Christmas tree each year and there is a feeling of connection between heaven and earth each time my eyes fall upon it in the twinkling Christmas lights.
On a tree laden with ornaments celebrating life moments of our children and family joys, it is still good to have a more bittersweet memento that accompanies them. Like Advent, it carries an ache of waiting, but also the hope of reunion.