Even before we said ‘I Do’, we knew that we wanted to start a family right away and have lots of kids. Even though we were young by society’s standards, I being only 21, we knew we were ready. I had waited my whole life to be a mom! When asked as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said ‘A MOM’! I used to imagine I was pregnant-what would it feel like to feel that child move around inside you? I longed to hear the words, ‘it’s a girl’ and bring MY child to my breast. I just knew that God created me to bring forth life and to mother them with my whole being.
When I saw those 2 pink lines just 7 weeks after we exchanged vows I was elated. I couldn’t wait to share the news with everyone we knew-but we decided to wait-until we just couldn’t wait anymore, which was just a week or so later. As an announcement, we got our parents a Valentine’s card from their future grandchild. I was already very sick at this point and this child was making their presence known every hour or so, round the clock.
I called to schedule our first OB appointment-could this really be happening? Were we really expecting the child we had longed for? Could I really be pregnant? The emotions were as intense as the smells that sent me running to the bathroom.
1 Samuel 1:27-28
“For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me my petition which I made to Him.
One Sunday night, after a weekend with family, I noticed some cramping as I lay in bed. I tried to ignore them, but they were intensifying quickly. When they were more then I could bare, I went into the bathroom and took some Motrin, hoping it would bring some relief. While standing there I felt warmth between my legs and I panicked. I sat on the toilet and in one big gush; my hopes and dreams were gone. I called Jim and can remember him sitting on the bathroom floor holding me and telling me it would be ok. How could it be ok? I wanted to scream! I didn’t want to get up. I didn’t want to look down. I didn’t want to flush the toilet. How was I going to flush the toilet? What kind of mom could do that?
I don’t remember who actually flushed the toilet that night or how I got back into bed. But I remember that I didn’t sleep much, I just laid in the comfort of my husband’s arms.
We were both up early that morning and Jim made the call to our parents and at 8 am sharp we called our OB. Of course they said to come in right away and we left for the 90 min drive to their office.
The waiting room was full of pregnant women and babies and I let the ‘why me’ set in. What had I done wrong? Why did they have babies and I didn’t?
It was finally our turn to be seen, the doctor was a close to the family and he just hugged me when he saw me. The ultrasound showed a small sac-it was small-but it was there! Was there still a chance that our child was snuggly tucked inside my womb?
I was still sick. I was still tired. I still felt pregnant. My belly was starting to swell. But all of this was in vain. My hormone levels were increasing, but no baby was growing, the sac was empty. Several weeks, lots of blood tests, a few ultrasounds and many sleepless nights later it was confirmed, we had lost our baby.
Lost? Such a terrible term we use for miscarriage. I hadn’t lost my baby. I knew exactly what had happened and where they were. And despite my overwhelming love for them I could not save them. What I had lost, were all of the hopes and dreams I had for that child. I lost the chance to hold them, rock them and to kiss them. Our baby had died-was gone forever-and as their mom there was nothing I could do to save them. Everything I had planned for our child was flushed down the toilet with them.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”
The next few days were a blur-the numbness that over took me was consuming. I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t grieve.
We scheduled a D&C since my body was still holding onto parts of the pregnancy, like me, my body didn’t want to let go. Due to Jim’s crazy work schedule my parents took me to the hospital. I understood his work load, being together for over 6 years, his long hours were nothing new to me; but it was hard not having him there. I wish it was his face that I saw before I was overtaken by the anesthesia.
I woke up in a sterile room all alone. I remember feeling cold and thinking that the white lights were blinding. When I first saw my doctor I had to confirm that there indeed wasn’t a baby, the thought of aborting my child was a big fear. He confirmed what we already knew, there was no baby.
The grief, the sadness, the raw emotions were wiped away when I saw those 2 pink lines a short time later. I was trying to be very guarded in my emotions, but that was impossible, we were pregnant!
We had decided not to tell anyone this time until we hit the ‘safe’ point in the pregnancy. My OB prescribed steroids to start right away and assured me that I would not miscarry while using them-what a relief, until a few short weeks later when I started spotting and cramping. My doctor was on vacation so we decided to wait it out and see what would happen. He had told me I wouldn’t miscarry right? So this must be ok. For 10 days my body fought to keep the pregnancy. I was tired! Both physically from the pain and blood loss and emotionally for hoping against hope that this baby would survive.
11 days after the cramping started I delivered our 12 week old baby into the toilet at work. I was alone. No one to call. No one to hold me. There they lay, at the bottom of the toilet-how was I going to flush this time? I didn’t. Somehow with strength that wasn’t mine, I was able to gather them up and put them in a cup. I left work early, with my baby in a cup beside me and my heart on the floor in a million pieces; and I headed home to my waiting husband.
I wish now that we had buried our baby, but we didn’t. Instead we took them to our Dr who confirmed that all had been passed and I didn’t need a D&C this time around.
I was angry! I was mad! I was consumed with grief. I had suffered much loss in my life and buried many that were close to me, but NOTHING compared to the pain of losing a child. To me, this baby was somebody. It wasn’t just a fetus. They already had a heartbeat and they were mine. But to others, there was no physical evidence, so there was no baby. I wanted others to recognize that our BABY had died, not our fetus. We didn’t have an ‘early miscarriage’, our baby had died. I craved recognition for my baby. I wanted to scream to the world, ‘my baby just died, don’t you care?’
At this point I didn’t think that I would ever try to get pregnant again. How could I? How could I physically or emotionally EVER go through that again? I knew I couldn’t. I put my hopes and dreams of being a mom in a closet and I threw away the key.
“I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief, it grows weak because of all my foes. Depart from me, all you workers of evil; for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord accepts my prayers.”
But as the days, weeks and months passed, as the grief started to diminish, as the tears came less often, I began to desire to feel life grow inside me again. And a little over a year after our second miscarriage we were pregnant with our first son, Justin James. He was our rainbow baby. He was who made me a mom. The joy he brought to me was immeasurable. All that I had longed for, for so long, was in my arms staring up at me.
Justin was born in May of 1999 and over the next 8 years the Lord blessed us with 5 more children. I could have never imagined, during that year of extreme sorrow and grief that I would one day be the mom to SIX amazing miracles.
But that isn’t where our story ends. You see, I still had this longing for more children. I still felt like we had room for at least one more child. Jim however, didn’t see it this way. He thought our family was perfect just the way it was. Even with the kids begging him for another baby, his answer was always the same, we are done! But in my heart I was still asking God to bless us with another baby. He knew my desires and if it was His will, he would give us another baby.
In November of 2014 we had a very early miscarriage. We hadn’t had a positive pregnancy test, so this loss didn’t have a profound impact on my heart, but I had a little glimmer of hope that God was hearing my heart and would bring us a baby. I didn’t share this loss with anyone; I kept it between God and myself. In January 2015, I saw those two pink lines again!! I was shocked. I was in awe. I was scared. I was excited. I was nervous. I was 39!! How could I be pregnant? I was too old for this.
When I told Jim he just kept repeating, ‘Really???’ over and over again. He was in disbelief also. How could this be? We were going to have another baby!
When we told the kids we expected some push back from the older ones, I didn’t want them to be embarrassed that their mom was nearly 40 and pregnant. But we were met with joy and excitement, especially from Chloe, our youngest. She just couldn’t wait to be a big sister.
We decided to tell our family early on, and again we were met with lots of excitement and well wishes. Not really what we expected, but it was very welcome.
The kids and I started to day dream about our new baby. Would it be a boy or a girl? What would we name them? Who would they be like? Would they have blue or brown eye? Who would help change diapers? It seemed our whole house had gone baby crazy. Everything said seemed to be about the baby. My heart was full. The Lord had heard my heart and was blessing us with another miracle. How lucky were we?
We met with a midwife and we were planning the home birth I had always wanted. We were looking at vans since we were going to outgrow our suburban. We had a lot to figure out, but we were going to make this all work.
Then they started, the symptoms I knew all too well. The spotting first, then a few days later the cramping. I kept telling myself that this was normal for some people. Not everyone who had these symptoms miscarried. I kept praying and pleading with God. He surely wouldn’t give me this baby to just take it away would He? How cruel that would be, not only to me, but to my whole family. We may have only known about this baby for three weeks, but that seemed like a lifetime of joy and excitement. But as the days went on, I began to realize that this wasn’t normal and we needed to have an ultrasound to check for viability.
On the morning of January 31, we drove to Ontario to have an ultrasound. As we sat in the quite, cold office, I was preparing myself to hear the words no mother wants to hear. We were brought back to the exam room and I remember it being dark and unwelcoming, like it was also preparing me for those words. The tech was doing measurements and checking my ovaries, tubes and uterus and I was screaming on the inside, ‘I just want to know if my baby is alive or not!’ After what seemed like an eternity the words I had been dreading came, ‘I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat.’ My hands and heart went numb.
I remember Jim coming to stand next to me and take my hand, neither of us able to say a word. The screen was still bright with the image of my baby, how could she not be alive? As I got dressed and prepared to leave the office the tears began to flow, then the sobs, then the uncontrollable crying. I thought I was going to die. How was I going to tell me kids? Will the little ones understand what we tell them?
“The Lord is near to the broken-hearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.”
Being pregnant, feeling pregnant, but knowing your baby has died is the cruelest form of emotional torture any women can endure. I was still having symptoms of pregnancy. I was still carrying my child inside me. But it was all in vain because there was no heartbeat. Being pregnant and knowing that your baby will soon leave your body is an emotional death sentence. For several more days my body protested the death inside me. We waited-I waited-for the inevitable end that would make this all real.
And in the early hours of the morning, that time came. The physical pain was almost more than the emotional pain as I felt my hope for this baby slip away. Here I was again, 17 years after my first miscarriage, sitting in the bathroom crying over my baby. Wondering why me? Why us? I knew that somehow God would work this out for the good, like He always does, but why? I didn’t think that God caused my miscarriage, but He had allowed me to get pregnant. The God who says, “seek and ye shall find, know and the door will be opened to you’ Matt7:7 had allowed for this to happen. Maybe I didn’t pray hard enough. Maybe my faith wasn’t strong enough. Or maybe God was telling me that we were done having kids.
The next couple of weeks were hard, physically and emotionally. The whole process this time was over 3 weeks and that took its toll on my body. I felt worse than when I gave birth, but I didn’t have a baby. I found myself crying all of the time. There was no reason to shower. No reason to get up and get dressed. No reason to apply makeup that would be washed away by tears in mere hours. How was I to go on? What was there to keep me going?
The answer to that question was found one morning when my youngest, Chloe, came and climbed into bed with me. She asked me about our baby in heaven, she wanted me to tell her how it happened and if she would ever see her. We talked, we cried, we hugged and I realized that I needed to get up and get dressed and keep going for my kids. They needed me. They wanted me. They were hurting also and they needed me to show them how to walk this road. They needed to know that they weren’t alone.
When you lose someone close to you, somehow life changes. You can’t call them on the phone, you can’t see them, but you can still hear them in your head, you can still picture them. But when you have a miscarriage the change doesn’t happen. Your belly doesn’t grow, the nursery doesn’t get painted, life just goes back to normal and nothing changes. There is extreme sadness and grief, but everything around you stays the same.
People around you don’t know what to say or what to do, so instead they just ignore what happened. But to a mom who just lost a baby, that is the worst thing. You want someone to say it is ok to cry, it is ok to grieve. You want someone to acknowledge your baby. The grief is isolating, you feel all alone, and you just need to hear someone say it is going to be ok, not today, not next week, not next month, but it will be ok!
Today marks the 2 year anniversary of hearing those words every women dreads, ‘I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat’. And I can’t say that I am ‘recovered’, some days I don’t know if I am even ok! I may never get over the loss of our children, the hopes and dreams I had for them or the prayers that were unanswered, it may be something I never completely heal from, and ya know what? I am ok with that. I know that I may not be recovered this side of heaven and I have made peace with that. I was expecting a baby, I wasn’t expecting to grieve, and sometimes it takes awhile to get over the loss. But the Bible tells us that, ‘blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted’ Matt 5:4. Notice the bible doesn’t tell you when, it just says you will. If you have experienced a loss, give yourself time. Let the emotions come. Be cleansed by the tears. Take your time to heal. And grieve. Allow yourself to dream about your baby and wonder what could have been. Keep their memory alive but don’t let it overtake you.
Time doesn’t heal it all, but it does have a way of changing things. You will never be the same person, you will forever be changed and that is ok. You may cry at the sight of a baby or a swollen belly, but it does get easier. The sad days become fewer and the tears dry a little quicker. I still have good days and bad days. There are days when a song stirs up emotions and I try and embrace that. When I hear that a friend is pregnant, I realize it is ok to be sad for myself, while being happy for them. I have come to realize that life isn’t fair-bad things happen to good people every day. And even when you do everything right things can go wrong. Plain and simple, life just isn’t fair! Today I will cry and I will remember and I thank God that when my babies opened their eyes, the first thing they saw was the face of Jesus! How great is that.
I truly believe that God gives us struggles and hardships so that we can come along side someone else and help them through their tough time. God uses our pain and grief to be a light to those around us. If you have suffered a miscarriage you have great insight to what others are going through, but if you haven’t, you can still help. You can still be a light during their darkest time. I have compiled a list of some ways that you can minister to a mom is going through or has gone through a miscarriage. I hope it will help you be able to bless someone in the future.
What to do or say:
*send a card-add a note but keep it short and simple.
*listen-be there when they are ready to talk and just listen. (and maybe bring ice cream or chocolate)
*send flowers-just like you would for the loss of a family member, send flowers for the loss of a baby.
*send a memorial gift-there are so many beautiful figurines and jewelry, choose something personal and send it.
*REMEMBER-weeks and months down the road remember that they can still be hurting. Remember dates and let them know that they are special and their baby is remembered.
*bring or send dinner-I know each person is different, but most of my miscarriages were physically taxing on my body. To not have to worry about meals would have been huge for m.
*send or deliver a snack or treat-who doesn’t find comfort in chocolate?
*fuzzy socks-I know for me the blood loss left my hands and feet always cold, fuzzy socks are fun and are functional.
*soft blanket-we received a care package after we lost Robin and it had a soft, fuzzy blanket in it. It felt like I wrapped in a hug from my friends. I still grab that blanket and wrap up in it when I just need to feel comforted.
*reusable cup-moms need to drink a lot of water to replenish all that they have lost and a fun or pretty cup will bring them some joy as they drink
*date night-moms and dads need to have quality time together and having gift cards make that a little easier
*let them know that it is ok to be sad. They need to allow themselves to feel before they can feel better.
*acknowledge that their baby died-this may sound harsh to some, but they were alive and had a heartbeat and now they are gone. We NEED others to acknowledge that they existed.
*Let them know it is going to be hard-grieving sucks-death is terrible-but they need to push to live and they will get through it.
What to give to someone waiting for the miscarriage to start:
*soft toilet paper
*high iron food
What Not To Say:
I can go on and on and write a whole blog series of what NOT to say to a grieving person, but I will keep it to a short list:
*you can always have more-don’t say this, you don’t know if it is true or not and it doesn’t bring any comfort in the here and now
*at least it was early-I think this was the hardest for me, early, late or in between, the loss is still there and needs validated
*maybe your body is trying to tell you something-don’t say this please, most moms already have guilt and wonder what they could have done differently and this just adds to that guilt.
*I’m glad you already have enough kids-yes someone said that to me. And while I love each of my children, it doesn’t take away the pain of losing one.
*everything happens for a reason-this is such a downer, it is the equivalent of ‘it was meant to be’. What mom wants to hear that when she lost her baby? She may realize later this is true, but that takes time, a lot of time. This phrase also minimizes the intensity of what is a very real reality to the parents.
*God has a plan-while most women realize this deep down, in the moment they can’t imagine anyplace better then in their arms for their child. They are to overcome with grief to see the big picture.
*don’t ignore a mom in grief because you don’t know what to say or do-usually the mom just wants someone there. No need to talk at all. They just need to know that someone cares and is there for them.