March 22nd. The day my second child was due. The day we prepared for since we were given a due date at 7 weeks. The day that would actually bring about sorrow instead of joy.
When I was pregnant with my first child, we decided to share our little secret at 5 weeks. We knew many people who kept the news of their pregnancy a secret until they escaped the “miscarriage time frame,” but we just really felt like if we celebrated, we wanted our loved ones to share in our celebration, and if we grieved, we wanted them to share in our grief as well.
It was no different when we found out we were pregnant the second time. But something felt off with this pregnancy. This time our celebration was met with questioning as to why we told so early. I remember almost feeling silly for telling so early, but we kept our original beliefs. The pregnancy felt completely different than the previous one- something wasn’t right. As we pulled into the doctors’ office at 10 weeks, I had this aweful feeling that we would not receive good news. As soon as we saw our little baby for the first time, I knew something was wrong. It did not look like what an ultrasound should look like at ten weeks. After trying to find the heartbeat, the doctor gave us the devastating news. Our baby had stopped growing at 7 weeks. This would begin a long journey including another ultrasound to confirm the loss, a D&C surgery, more appointments to check my hormone levels every week, and telling our loved ones that what we thought we were growing, actually wasn’t growing anymore. We were heartbroken. We went from dreaming and making plans, to awaiting another ultrasound that would confirm what we had already known. I remember sitting in that waiting room after being told that our baby wasn’t growing anymore and watching others in the room anticipating their ultrasound to confirm the sex of their baby. It was so unfair. Where was our joy?
We were very open about our loss. We were not afraid to grieve in front of the same ones that had questioned why we had told so early. And they grieved with us. Everyone did. But eventually they moved on and we were left with our grief. As the weeks went on, I still longed to dream and make plans like the many others around me who were journeying through their pregnancy, and I longed for the child that would never be.
My miscarriage immediately put me in a new group of people: people who have lost a child. A group I never wanted to be apart of, but as soon as I became part of this group, I learned some important truths that help me identify with those who have had any kind of loss.
1. A miscarriage is a loss.
According to prolifeaction.org, DNA is determined from the moment of conception and a baby’s heart begins pumping blood at 21 days. At the time my baby stopped growing, he/she had fingers, a tailbone, elbow joints, and even eyelids. It was a life that one day was growing inside of me and then the next day was not. Calling it a fetus or saying that it was not a life does not take away the reality that it was growing inside of me and was my child. A miscarriage is a loss. The loss of a living being.
When I lost my baby, it almost felt foolish to still be grieving over something that the world does not consider a baby. I was only 10 weeks along. Shouldn’t I just move on with my life? I began to realize that the world was wrong. I was growing a baby. I lost a baby. A living being. So I decided not to be silent anymore and I began to share my story. I wrote an article that was published in the local newspaper telling my story and the work God had done in my life at the time and immediately received phone calls, emails, and letters from other women sharing their story with me- many of them had never shared their story with anyone, not even their own families. This boggled my mind. Why would women keep their sorrow and grief silent? That’s when I began to realize that the world, its view on pregnancy, babies, and miscarriages is what has prevented women from sharing their story. Many people do not know how to identify with someone who has lost a baby because of this reason.
2. Plans and dreams have been lost.
From the moment a woman finds out she is pregnant, she begins making plans. She not only thinks of all of the physical changes that will be taking place, but what the baby will need, how her family willl expand, what needs to be done to accommodate the growing family, if she will work or stay at home, and many other plans. There is also a connection that begins from the moment she knows she has a little one inside of her. When she loses that baby, she also loses the plans and dreams that had begun developing. That connection is still very much there, but it has changed. She now longs for what is gone. I felt as though the plans and dreams my husband and I had begun making were gone. In the blink of an eye, gone.
3. Grieving takes time.
I have come to understand that with grief, the rest of the world will move on before you’re ready. When everyone else moves on, a woman is left with her grief. I dealt with the empty feeling that plagued my happiness for weeks. Every time someone else announced their pregnancy, it was another reminder that I was not pregnant anymore. Every time someone asked what our family plan was, I was reminded that our plans for our family were temporarily gone. Even now, whenever I go to the doctor they ask the question, “how many pregnancies have you had and how many children do you have,” and I have to answer, “3 pregnancies and 2 children.” Every time it’s a painful reminder of my loss.
4. Miscarriages affect more than just the woman.
Grieving brings people together. My husband grieved along with me. I didn’t realize the connection he had made to our baby and the plans he had begun making until our loss. He cried, we held each other, we prayed and asked God why? Our parents, who had known since the beginning, grieved with us. They had already opened their hearts to the possibility of another grandchild. Our church grieved with us. We were public about our loss and the Sunday after we found out, we went to the alter and just poured our hearts out. Our church family surrounded us and grieved with us. Other families that had been through the loss of a child grieved with us. We experienced the love of God firsthand through His people as they hugged us, grieved with us, and poured out their love and care on us.
5. A baby lost cannot just be replaced by another baby.
I remember thinking that if I could just be pregnant again, all would be restored. Then, I became pregnant three months after my miscarriage. I was terrified. I tried to keep from connecting with this one, just in case I lost it. I went weeks before I allowed myself to develop a deep connection with my growing child. I allowed fear to dictate my connections. I soon realized that once I allowed myself to connect, I developed a new and different bond with this baby. There was still this void that would never be filled by anyone else, but my new baby had come into my heart and taken up residency there. However, many women never try again because the effects of their loss are so great.
Knowing these truths not only help women get through the depths of their loss, but will help others uderstand that loss. God’s desire for us in our loss is to cling to Him who heals all wounds and share our story with others that they may find healing as well. That is my prayer for you as you read this. May you find hope and healing in the midst of your tragedy and storm. May you grieve without worrying about what the world will think, and may you trust in the One who mends, restores, and creates.
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Romans 5:3-5 NLT)