This year is one for the books. Over the years I’ve tried to start about 4 separate blogs, and every time I end up writing not even a handful of posts in them. But now I have something I want to write about. Something that has changed who I am, all within a matter of months … even weeks. I’ve experienced both great happiness and great sadness all in a short time, learned some hard yet needed life lessons, and don’t feel like I’ve come out the other side yet. I’m still in the process of learning these lessons. But I’m allowing myself to, resisting the urge to hole myself up away from the world, which is huge for me. It’s only been 5 weeks since my miscarriage. I would have been 17 weeks today.
I’m trying to stop and realize that it can’t all be over just because I want it to be. I’m learning to be content in all things. (Phil. 4:11) This world is full of turmoil, and everyone’s life is full of struggles, and if you are constantly resisting them and denying them, you’ll never have the life God wants you to have. You’ll never be the person God purposed you to be. And I can definitely tell you that you never feel joyful, grateful, or at peace about anything.
There’s a reason God’s truth almost hits you over the head when you’re going through sad or difficult times. It’s because many times He can’t get our attention when things seem be going alright. He really does get our attention through adversity. (Job 36:15) And He needs to get our attention, or we’ll never experience that joy and peace we so desperately struggle to have in our lives. He wants to teach us about Him like crazy during these times so that we learn to lean on Him for everything, not just for the hard stuff. That’s the secret of the Christian life. It’s not about judging others to see if they are good enough or doing what they are “supposed to,” it’s about evaluating ourselves by God’s standards, and every. single. day. trying to be more like Him (plus, as He says, get the rod out of your own eye before you complain about the speck in another’s — Luke 6:42). We might not always see why it’s important to consistently try to be like Him, but God knows it is and that’s why He uses trials to refine us. He sees into the future whereas we can’t. He knows everything whereas we don’t. I don’t believe He likes what we have to go through; I think He hates it. I think it breaks His heart that I lost my baby. But I do believe He is sovereign over my life and is using something bad for His good, for His glory.
With so many things in life, I rush. I rush through housework because I don’t want to leave a corner of the room not clean if the rest is spotless. I rush through a task at work because I can’t stand to stop in the middle of it. I even use to rush through sex with my husband because I thought, well, isn’t the end the whole point? (I’m much better at not doing that now! Learning to enjoy the ride. No pun intended.)
Well, maybe ‘rush’ isn’t the word for all of this — but let’s just say I always aim for the destination in things, and don’t fully enjoy the journey. I race through various things. Who wants to be working at something when the final result is better? Or so we think.
The journey is where the meat is. And that’s what I’m learning about this whole miscarriage experience. I have to let myself heal. Physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, relationally. I have to let myself feel this, experience this, as tough as it is. I can’t just snap my fingers and make it all go away in a few weeks. It happened. It was horrific. My body isn’t back to normal yet, and my heart surely isn’t. But my God is bigger than this, and He’s with me every step of the way. He knows I’m fragile right now. He’s close to the brokenhearted. (Psalm 34:18) He is my Healer. And He intended for this to change me. Otherwise, what’s the point of the struggle? This is all part of His plan for me, the life He designed long before I was even born. I am His. And so is my sweet baby. (My sweet child is sitting in Jesus’ lap right now.)
My miscarriage story
J* and I found out we were pregnant on February 26, 2013. We had only been trying since the new year, so it happened pretty fast. That’s one really big way God has blessed us in all of this — we know we can get pregnant without too much trouble. Not everyone can say that, and I feel enormously blessed and grateful to Him that we can. (J* is my husband. I won’t use his full name on this blog.)
This was our first pregnancy. We’ve been married about 2 1/2 years and were finally ready to start a family. We didn’t really even consider the fact that something might not go well. Although, when we finally started trying and I began reading up on everything, I started to worry about the possibility of having trouble conceiving or having a miscarriage. I even got upset that we didn’t conceive on the first try. Funny, we did on the second try. Another lesson, looking back, on not making a mountain out of a molehill.
Well, everything did go well. I never really was sick, I only had that ‘pit in the stomach’ feeling as though I needed to eat pretty frequently, even though sometimes I really wasn’t even hungry. I was tired off and on in the first few weeks, and by week 6 or 7 I was tired every day in the afternoons. All in all, it wasn’t a difficult pregnancy/first trimester. We saw the baby and heard the heartbeat at 8 1/2 weeks, and the ultrasound tech called the heartbeat “perfect.” I’ll never forget that. We even got a 3-D picture, and they don’t usually give those out at their office. I think God gave me that, because it is my most treasured keepsake now. You can see his/her little nose, eye sockets, cheekbones, arms, elbows, and legs. You can’t see all of that in a typical ultrasound photo.
The entire time I tried to eat really well, limit my coffee drinking (that was hard!), completely avoid things like alcohol and deli meat, take my prenatal vitamins religiously, and not lift heavy things or exercise too hard. I did everything I could think of to ensure that I would not miscarry. The sad truth about that is, most of the time you just cannot control it. In fact, I think that’s one of the major things God tried to teach me through all of this — you can do everything you want in life, plan it how you think it should happen, but ultimately He is in control. You aren’t. (Prov. 16:9 — we can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.)
Which makes me feel better about trying again — I won’t deny myself the joy of thinking about baby names or even talking to my tiny baby who can’t hear me yet. Those things bring me joy, and I missed out on so much by trying not to love on my child in fear that I might lose him/her. I can’t control what happens anyway, so why not disregard the fear/worry and fully immerse myself in the joy of the experience and the joys of being a mother early on? Again — why race through the experience and not allow myself the journey?
Just a few days after I hit 10 weeks, I began seeing my symptoms dissipate, and started to worry. My mom, J, my sister who has 2 kids, and a pregnant friend of mine told me not to worry, that it was the end of the first trimester and that was normal. Still, I had a bad feeling about it. Sometimes you just know your body. (About my friend — she’s one of my oldest childhood friends and we got pregnant around the same time — unplanned! She was 4 weeks ahead of me, and is now 21 weeks and all is well.)
Then, a few days after I hit 11 weeks, I noticed spotting. And achy ‘period’ pain. And dull lower backache. No cramps, though, so when I called the nurse to get some peace of mind, she assured me that I would be fine and that I should just rest and prop my feet up. Again though, I knew my body and I had a feeling something was wrong.
The next day I was still spotting. And then came the next morning. April 20, the morning of my 30th birthday. I had ideas of how great this day would be in my mind… and now I feel so numb about it. Not that my birthday was at all important in the grand scheme of what happened, but still I feel as though I never even had a birthday. And 30 is kind of a milestone. (I guess now I can just tell people I’m forever 29!)
My parents came over the night before, to spend the night, for my birthday. I woke up in the middle of the night with a very unnerving symptom, and immediately went to my mom and asked her what to do. She said not to panic, just call the doctor. So I got the midwife on call, and she said to watch it over the weekend, and if it doesn’t get better to go to the ER. I went back to bed, but I don’t remember falling asleep easily.
The next morning I woke up, went to the bathroom, and had another unnerving symptom. Looking back, this was my water breaking; it was just so early on that I didn’t have much water and didn’t know that’s what that was. My mom seemed to know, because she’s never hugged me so long or so hard in my life. J still was trying not to worry, but asked me if I wanted to go to the ER. (We had to go to the ER and not the doc because it was a Saturday.) I finally just decided to go. This was 2 days before my 12 week mark, the supposed “safe zone” at the end of the first trimester, when the miscarriage rate drops to like 1%.
I got to the ER and went to bathroom again, noticing some smallish clots. I told the doc all of this and he said not to worry, that 90% of the time when pregnant women come in with those symptoms, it’s nothing. But I just knew I was in the 10%. Not because I was overly negative, but because I really was in tune with my body and I knew something wasn’t right. I hadn’t spotted in the slightest throughout my whole pregnancy, and this was just too weird. (Not to worry those reading who are experiencing spotting while pregnant — it happens a lot apparently and most of the time it’s normal.)
We were in the ER from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm. They ran every blood test, did a pelvic exam, and did both types of ultrasounds. They waited until the very end to do the ultrasound, which kind of ticked me off because I just wanted to know if there was a heartbeat. For 5 hours I just wanted an answer to that one question. I gripped J’s hand so hard in the ultrasound room when looking at the screen. I didn’t think I saw anything on the screen, but I couldn’t see well so I tried not to think about it until they gave us answers.
We went back to our room and waited. And waited. And waited. It seemed like forever for the doc to come back in. An hour and a half later, the doc came in and said, “It looks like you might have had a miscarriage.” Seriously. He couldn’t even give us a definite answer after all of this. He explained that my hCG levels were at those of a 4 weeks-pregnant woman, and they didn’t see anything in the ultrasound. I told him that I was almost 12 weeks along, so he said well then you definitely had a miscarriage. Very helpful wasn’t he. All I needed in that moment was a straight answer from someone, and he was still digging around for one. Even though I pretty much knew I miscarried, hearing it confirmed was very hard. My heart just sank. The thing I fought so hard to prevent over the last 2 months … it just happened. And there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.
Looking back, knowing the ultrasound showed nothing, I figured out that one of those small clots I passed that morning was my baby. It didn’t register at the time, and it makes me really sad that I had to lose him/her that way, but I had no idea what to make of it at the time. I was so new to all of this. I wish I could have really said goodbye.
I’m going to wrap this up since this has been a long first post, and will share a lot more in the coming weeks about how I am handling this emotionally. I will say that something like this really does change your heart. People think that if you don’t have kids, you aren’t a mother, and technically that’s how it goes. But I think I can speak for all women who have had a miscarriage — you may not necessarily be a mother by the world’s standards, but you certainly feel like one. You’ve never had more love for anything in your life. Never had more compassion, longing, and feelings of self-sacrifice for anything in your life. This sweet little child came and stole your heart, and just up and left. You would give anything to have your baby back, anything. You never got to know your child. You may have never gotten to hold your baby, never gotten to see if he/she had your eyes or your husband’s smile. You may never even have known if it was a boy or a girl (we didn’t, although we feel it was a boy). Let me say this for those reading this through streaming tears right now — you ARE a mother. And you will always be this child’s mom.
I know I am a mother. I know that I will see and get to hold my child in heaven. Because of Jesus, that’s possible. And that gives me great joy in the midst of all of this.