Hiccups of Love and How My Puppy is Helping Me Grieve

My most tangible memory of Poppy are her hiccups. Towards the end of my third trimester she got hiccups every day. Once her head was down, I could reliably rest my left hand on my lower abdomen and feel as she rhythmically hiccuped in my womb. I miss those little beats so much.

I have come to believe something really beautiful though — Poppy shows up in our puppy Wilson. That’s right, our dog gets hiccups. Regularly. Often times he’ll start hiccuping when we are talking about her. He’ll get hiccups when we are all snuggling on the floor — just me, Eli, and Wilson…and then hiccup! Poppy shows up too.

We adopted Wilson on March 18, the weekend of the Spring Equinox. He was a stray from Stockton, California, transferred up to Washington by the Human Society. Eli and I were the first potential adoptive parents to meet him. We were smitten. We rescued him that day; however, he’s the one who continues to rescue us.

The first night home with him felt like what bringing our baby home could have been. We gave him his first bath and as he calmly let me massage lavender shampoo into his fur, I felt like I was cleansing my baby. You see, we never gave Poppy a bath. Her skin was so fragile, her body so heavy. I couldn’t bear the thought of hurting her. I didn’t understand, nor was it really communicated to me, that there are special ways to wash a stillborn baby. It’s my biggest regret from the hospital, not giving her a bath. But Wilson’s first bath helped me work through that a little.

Our post bath snuggle session when Wilson first got hiccups

After his bath we snuggled on the couch together. Wrapped in a big bath towel and resting on my chest, Wilson got hiccups for the first time. I couldn’t believe it. I felt immediately that Poppy was thanking me for choosing love, for inviting a new “baby” into my life.

This past weekend I was telling my friend Loren about Poppy’s hiccups and how we believe that she shows up through Wilson. We were spending the holiday weekend with Loren and his wife Robin at their lake house. Robin was my doula and has since become one of my dearest friends. Her compassion and empathy continue to lift me through my loss. Loren joined us at the hospital when we learned that Poppy would be born still. He was there primarily to support my husband, but his fortitude, kindness, and grace helped carry us all through our tragedy.

As we sat together on the floor petting Wilson and reminiscing about my daughter, Wilson started hiccuping. “See! There she is!” I proclaimed. Right on cue. We both burst into smiles and with wet eyes we loved on Wilson a little more.

Before Poppy died I never had cause to look for signs, messages from those who have moved beyond. But I do now. And I’m looking. I see her in rainbows and poppy flowers bursting up everywhere and especially in my puppy’s hiccups. Keep it up little girl. I’ll never stop looking for you.

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