We recently experienced a very hard loss. It is one that is sadly too common among my friends and acquaintances of childbearing age.
On January 15th, we were surprised to discover that a new addition would be joining our family at the end of the summer. One week later, on January 23rd, that little life left us before we ever had the chance to meet it.
Miscarriage is one of those losses that is impossible to understand unless it has been walked through. In the past, I have talked with friends who were experiencing the pain of a lost pregnancy, and though I could listen and empathize and imagine the hurt, I couldn’t understand.
The week of the miscarriage was filled with feelings of guilt, failure, and shame, though I rationally knew I should not and could not take responsibility for the loss. I struggled deeply with one question: “Why couldn’t my body let this baby live?” This made it very hard for me to let people know what happened, as I felt like I was admitting to a failure as a mother. Am I not made to carry a baby to term? How did I fail at that?
There was also the hard fact that the pregnancy was unexpected, and very overwhelming for me at a time when the whole family had been sick for four weeks. If I had just been happier about the news, could it have turned out differently? Was I paying for a lack of joy?
There was a life that began, and it is no longer there. I thought my arms would hold a newborn in September, and now I know they will be empty. What could I have done differently?
To those who have never lost a pregnancy, it seems obvious that the answer to these questions is “No, it is nothing you did.” I am settled on that now, and even as I was struggling with those thoughts last week, I knew that I shouldn’t think those things. But in the middle of the storm, it was all I could do to just keep my head above the swirling waters of blame.
While there were a few things said or done (or not said and done), that added to the hurt of it all, I have been greatly comforted by those who knew early on about our loss. One thing that was an incredible help to me during those long and tearful days was the contact I had with friends who had walked this road before me. They understood the loss that was so real to me, but that no one else could see. They had felt those same feelings that seemed irrational to everyone else. They let me know that while those feelings weren’t something to be trusted, they had felt many of the same things and could relate to the wrestling. They offered words of wisdom, comfort, sympathy, and hope.
Jesse has been a constant source of comfort. He has grieved with me, listened to me, held me while I cried, and never tried to fix it or make the problem go away. His love has been so precious to me during this time.
I wrote a very detailed account of everything that happened in a journal, and that has been very helpful as well. Just recording the events of last week helped me feel like I was recognizing and honoring the little one we were never able to hold, and somehow making it clear that I never wanted such a loss to occur.
I picked out a flowering vine that will bloom at the end of summer when the baby would have born, and knowing we will have that also helps me to have an open kind of closure with the loss. I will have something to remember what we lost, but without dwelling on the devastation of it. We also never told the children about the pregnancy since it was early, and therefore didn’t try to explain the loss. I am glad that when the time comes to tell them, I’ll be able to show them the vine and tell them why it was planted.
A friend also suggested writing a letter to the baby, and I look forward to sitting down and doing that in the near future. I knew I couldn’t do it right away while I was feeling so burdened with guilt and failure, but now that my heart has healed of those feelings, I plan to write it soon. (Update: you can read that letter here)
But more than any of the things that friends told me, or thing that I did, I know what has helped my heart to heal the most has been the Lord’s touch and the countless prayers of friends, family, and the saints of God. I can honestly say that I have never before felt the power of others’ prayers as I have these days since the miscarriage. Every single morning I wake up, and every day I go through, I feel a greater sense of hope and comfort instead of the deep mourning that surrounded me at first.
A real turning point came this past Saturday while I was writing a tearful letter to someone about the loss and asking for their counsel. I was confessing that I believed that as the Lord knew about a sparrow who falls, He surely knew about my loss and the hurt of it all. It was then that I remembered a sermon preached not long ago that really blessed my heart. I wrote a post about it called Sparrows and Farthings and recorded there how I so appreciated the reminder that God highly values His children. To me, it was a great confirmation that God’s Hand is guiding this all, and He has been preparing my heart for some time for this hard situation.
I cried long and hard. I prayed. And I woke up in the morning without the sinking feelings of failure, guilt, and shame.
God is so real and so near us when we are brokenhearted. I don’t understand why this happened, and if I could have that baby back to grow in my belly until September, I would be thrilled. But I know that while God is not the author of miscarriage, He can take this heartbreaking situation and use it for His good workings. I am already seeing the start of that.
I have truly come to love the Lord more through this, and feel so blessed and humbled to be the recipient of His grace in a time of need. His comfort has been given in a way that no one else could comfort me. I can also now recognize my children for the little miracles that they really are. I have always felt blessed to have my three healthy children. But now I look at them, and I have a much greater appreciation for how easily the Lord allowed for them to be born into our family.
I trust that the Lord will continue to use this for His glory as I allow Him to work in and heal my heart. Thank you to all of you who have been praying for us, whether you knew the whole situation or not. Jesse and I greatly appreciate it.