My Baby You’ll Be {the journey through miscarriage and recovery}

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“There is no heartbeat.”

Those words have echoed in my ears over and over again. I’ll never forget that terrible day; how I waited for an ultrasound to confirm my doctor’s fears… how I then drove to my husband’s office and we cried together in the parking lot.

Loss never looked this real before to me. Death never hit me so hard.

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It has taken me over two years to begin this post. I suppose for some reason, even though I’ve wanted to share our story for quite some time, not sharing seemed safer.

I know many of you reading this right now know exactly what I mean: you can’t change the reality of your circumstances, but sometimes it feels like it’s easier to work through the pain alone. And while that might be true for a season, there comes a day when the only way you know how to resolve your grief is to share.

Otherwise, we’d never know the comfort of hearing our hearts expressed through another’s words. There is something powerful that happens when we put our inhibitions aside and share our experiences with those who are hurting. Not only do we provide hope to those walking a similar road, but we find peace and healing that can only take place in the safety of honest conversation.

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I am the one in four, a woman who miscarried, and for many of us, that is far too terrifying of an admission to make. But it’s time that we began sharing our stories with each other, if for no other reason to encourage them to share their stories as well. We need each other, to know we’re not alone… to know there is hope beyond the loss.

And so it is with a hesitant but brave heart that I share these things with you today, hoping – praying – that somehow it might be a balm for those walking through these sacred halls on their journey through motherhood.

Not everyone must take this road, but those of us who travel it will forever be changed by our experiences. The sweet babies we never met have left their mark on us; the wounds may heal, but the scars will never fade… and we don’t want them to. A mother’s heart will never fully move on. Boy or girl I’ll never know, but I do know that as long as I’m living, I’ll know have another baby.

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My husband and I had been blessed with two normal, healthy pregnancies when we found out we were expecting our third. Absolutely ecstatic and with no history of problems, we didn’t even consider waiting the recommended 10-12 weeks before sharing our news with everyone we knew.

Our kids, 5 years old & 18 months at the time, were so excited. For nearly three months we thanked God every day for the baby in mama’s tummy, looked at growth charts and diagrams for how big baby was, went to doctor’s visits, and even gave him/her a nickname. We had yet to pick up a heartbeat, but that wasn’t too disconcerting at that stage and it wasn’t until my 12-week appointment that my doctor recommended getting an ultrasound to make sure everything was alright.

Blissfully unaware in my naiveté, I went straight from her office to the ultrasound alone, not thinking to call my husband to come from work. What I found when I looked at the screen, however, was earth-shattering. This baby – this child – we had already incorporated into our family, was resting peacefully in the safety of my womb, having never grown more than 7 weeks old.

I must have miscarried just a few days after testing positive on three pregnancy tests. For several weeks my body had continued to give me morning sickness, lightheadedness, nausea – all my typical First Trimester symptoms. We were absolutely devastated.

Telling our 5-year-old daughter the news was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done. It is for that reason alone that we have since decided to keep our pregnancies quiet until we have a 12-week ultrasound. That’s a parenting experience I hope I never have to relive.

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One of the benefits of sharing our good news, however, was that as we began to share our loss, our support system was there immediately.

Meals, babysitters, cards, and flowers – we were absolutely enveloped in love and support by our family, friends, and church. For days I felt as though I had been wrapped in bubble wrap, aware of my pain, but shielded from the intensity by the love and prayers of those around us. They were wonderful, and we were so blessed to have them.

But eventually, as it always does, support began to taper off and my husband and I braced ourselves for the rest of the journey. You see, I still had not physically miscarried.

My doctor reassured sometimes it takes time, but it was the longest three weeks of my life. Every day, I awoke to the same lightheaded, carsick feeling I’d had every day for the three months before. I even sneezed when I was really nauseous, which has been one of my tell-tale symptoms for all of my pregnancies.

As the days dragged on, my body continued to act pregnant and I began to feel so betrayed. That’s when the questions came.

Was it something I had done? Before I knew I was pregnant I had taken a couple pills for a headache you’re not supposed to have when you’re pregnant. Had I accidentally killed my baby?

What about all the Diet Coke I drank in college? Did I inadvertently harm my unborn child by something I had done? The questions raged and the guilt continued to accumulate and still, I was unable to miscarry.

Just days before my doctor was about to intervene, the process started, and with it, my nails and hair started falling out. Like actually falling out.

My hormones raged as I desperately tried to keep my emotions under control. The next few weeks included a big family wedding that kept us all preoccupied, but I found myself stuffing the guilt and emotions down deeper and deeper instead of dealing with them.

I would fluctuate from feeling relatively normal physically and emotionally one minute, to there being a raging storm inside as I resisted the urge to scratch my own skin off.

It was terrible, and not just for me. My two sweet kids didn’t know how to interact with me, not sure if I’d be normal or crying.

My husband was about beside himself for weeks as I helplessly personified multiple personalities in a matter of minutes. It all culminated one night when I absolutely lost it, flying off the handle even for an outspoken Maine girl with Irish roots.

He’s never looked at me that way before, and I’m pretty sure the poor guy thought I had really gone off the deep end. We were able to resolve it, but it still didn’t fix the unspoken question we were both now asking ourselves with unsettling uncertainty:

What was wrong with me?

That’s when he did what he has done so many times before in our marriage, and saved me once again. Thanks to a few hours of research and a very gentle approach, he was able to convince me I was going crazy due to postpartum depression.

And yes, before you ask, it does happen after miscarrying. Everyone is different, but for me the transition from pregnancy to not pregnant was extreme. Even the process of passing the baby (excuse the TMI) took almost a week for me. It was like my body didn’t know which way was up.

After talking to my doctor she quickly confirmed our suspicions. Most miscarriages happen quickly; mine had taken almost three months from beginning to end. This alone would wreak havoc on my hormones.

She reassured us that what we were experiencing was only temporary, and there were meds available, but, as we decided, the process would even out naturally on its own. I did some research on supplements and essential oils which all helped, but the biggest factor was the realization that my body, that had betrayed me so blatantly just a few months before, was going through a natural process.

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This gave us both such peace and reassurance and helped keep me focused on the bad days. I’ve struggled with postpartum before, specifically anxiety and night terrors months after giving birth.

I’ve had myself completely convinced that my husband was cheating on me, that the world was ending, or that someone was in the other room stealing my kids. I’ve worked through eating disorders, control and trust issues, and a natural tendency to OCD.

But I’ve never experienced anything as terrifying as the fire surging through my veins at the drop of a hat for no good reason. Once I knew what was happening it was so much easier to bear, but the process was so extreme.

And for good reason – my hair was falling out by the handfuls and my nails all fell off down to the nail bed in a matter of days – something was OBVIOUSLY unbalanced.

And that makes so much sense, really, because even if I had physically not displayed any drastic symptoms, emotionally, I was just as much of a mess. I don’t think any woman who goes through this experience can walk away unscathed.

There is a part of us that is tied to that little human, and for weeks once it was finally over, I would wake up crying for a baby I could never see again. The fact that I was unable to hold and protect one of my children was not only devastating but disturbing.

I would have to pray through the onset of panic attacks when the loss was still fresh, feeling as though I had left one of my kids at the store and I needed to go get him right away.

It was irrational on one hand but so normal on the other. Of course I was missing something; I was no longer complete. One of my babies was gone and I couldn’t go find him, protect him, or even hold him ever again. The process of letting go was a long, drawn-out journey for me, as I’m sure it’s been for many.

There are still days when my heart aches for that sweet baby.

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We’ve learned a lot in the time since then. I feel like a part of me grew up through that experience, like I had been living in a blissful world before, never knowing such loss.

As trials always do, the journey changed us; challenged us to rise to heights we didn’t know we could, individually as well as together in our marriage, and ultimately, our family.

A little over a year after I miscarried, we were blessed with a beautiful, healthy baby girl, who lights up our lives with her joy and spunk every day. When she was just seven months old, we found out we were expecting again, and although we kept it quiet for the first few months, we are now over halfway through a healthy pregnancy, expecting to welcome Baby Boy on January 1st.

{Update: Little Mr. arrived safe and sound as a late Christmas present, making him my first baby to come early, on December 26th! He is currently wrestling with my hand and drooling all over the place as I attempt to type with one hand. He just rolled over and broke his first tooth in the span of a week. I am blessed.}

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I know this is not everyone’s story, and my heart just breaks for those of you who are still waiting for your happy ending… but my point is this: there is hope.

God is faithful. So often in the trials, we experience we are unable to see past the wall of pain; it’s like looking into a privacy window and instead of seeing what’s on the other side, all you can see is your own reflection.

It is far too easy to become consumed by our grief when that is all we can see. I think that’s specifically what Paul was referring to in 1st Corinthians when he concluded the ‘Love Chapter’ with a strange analogy:

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

I Corinthians 13:12 NIV

Now, here on earth, we see only a reflection: our current pain, struggles, trials. Then, in heaven, we will see face to face. I believe that can refer to not just the face of reality, the actuality of our circumstances that will be so much easier to discern in the light of eternity, but the face of Christ.

Looking into his eyes on the other side, so much of our pain will heal as we suddenly understand. A lifetime of pain and questions resolved in a moment, we will know fully, even as we are fully known.

What a beautiful promise we have in Christ. He doesn’t promise we will never experience pain, but he does promise to walk with us through it, and someday, reconcile it.

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I have recently been confided in by several of my friends who have experienced this tragedy. My heart continues to ache for them, day by day, as they pick themselves up and keep trudging along this road, one foot ahead of the other.

The few months after our miscarriage was such a dark time for me, and regardless of the fact that there was a physical explanation for it, the feelings I endured were still incredibly real.

To be confronted with such inner turmoil on the heels of such pain is just unfair. The recovery process is long and grueling, and I can’t honestly say I’m fully recovered. Yes, the birth of a healthy baby healed parts of my heart that I’m not sure would have ever mended if it wasn’t for holding her.

But as much as I adore the children I have been given, there is a part of my heart that will always belong to the one I never got to meet. I don’t think this is unhealthy; grief takes many forms, but in the end should always leave us recovered, not unchanged.

I will never forget the child who left my womb to be with Jesus. I will never stop looking forward to the day when I will finally get to hold him or her. But as I wait, there is peace.

Peace that my God carried me through one of this world’s greatest hardships: the loss of a mother’s child. Assurance that if it is ever my task to walk this road again, He will be there to lift me up.

This is my prayer for you. Whether your scars are still bleeding or have long since grown silent, I pray you would find the strength and peace freely offered by our Savior. What better way to honor the memory of these sweet, lost loves than to fully recognize the hope we have in Christ?

Perhaps your experience was unwarranted… I’ve heard the cry of many mothers as their hearts churned with grief:

I never asked for this.

And yet, the pain of their loss still hits just as hard. There is peace for you as well, relief from the guilt. I firmly believe God is the giver of life, as well as the one who numbers our days.

My past choices, while they may not have always been the best I could have made, did not change his plan for this baby’s life. In his sovereignty and his plan, we can find comfort and peace as we trust him. He knows best. He promises to carry us through our trials and give us the strength to once again lift our heads.

In conclusion, I know many of you are reading this from a heart that has been torn and re-torn many times over. My one miscarriage, although devastating for me, is but a footnote in the journey you have walked. I understand that.

So, with permission, I would like to briefly share another woman’s story, one that I hope will resonate with those who have continued to struggle down this path for years.

There once was a couple who had a dream; a prevailing dream, that dwarfed all others: to have a large family. They discovered this dream slowly, in stages, but like the pieces of a puzzle map falling into place, they became to recognize raising a large family as one of their God-given callings.

A passion, not just a desire, they continued to pray and believe God for healthy, safe pregnancies. With one miscarriage between their first and second children, their faith was shaken, but not broken as they continued to believe God for their dream.

Four babies in they started to see a shift.

A second miscarriage. Then a third. Then a fourth. The heartache was nearly unbearable, but God answered and two more babies were born. The final test came several years later when an unexpected pregnancy gave way to great excitement in their maturing family. But several weeks in, they lost this sweet baby as well.

Broken, confused and resentful, this mother cried out to God, “Why? I didn’t ask for this! You gave us this dream, this calling, and we have done our part. Why do you continue to let my babies die?”

And God, in his sovereignty, knowing the depth of her faith and trust in him, replied, “My child, when you made me Lord over your life you gave up your right to know why. Trust me.”

And that’s what they did. They never had another child, but the fruit of their labors of love have continued to bless them in insurmountable ways and will continue long after they are laid to rest.

I know this because as a teenager I held my crying mother as she wept the loss of her last baby, this baby, and she told me with a peace and resolve I have never seen from anyone in my life, “And that’s why it’s ok. Because God is God, and he is trustworthy.”

These words have both haunted and encouraged me as I’ve grown in my own relationship with the Lord over the years.

That kind of trust – that kind of faith – sometimes seems impossible. But I watched it come to life in my parents’ lives, and my husband and I have strived to bring that same faith to our family.

If nothing else, we pray to teach our kids that we have this peace and strength during the hardest of times, because of God’s faithfulness. Now we see through a glass darkly, then we shall see face to face. 

This peace – this faith – can only be achieved by walking through the darkest of trials and trusting the Savior that leads you to get you through, regardless of the reason why he led you there. But as we trust him, he will lead us through, and someday we will know… fully.

That’s why it can be ok. Because God is God, and he is trustworthy. These sweet scars that mark the strength of our faith, the depth of God’s peace, the breadth of his love for us – they have made us who we are.

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This journey can never be erased, the pain will never be muted or the tears completely washed away, but these precious children we have wept for will forever live on in our hearts…

As the sweet children’s book says,

“I’ll like you forever, I’ll love you for always.

As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”

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Love You Forever Paperback
September 1, 1995 by Robert Munsch

 

 

 


I Corinthians 13:12 NIV & KJV Bible.com

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One thought on “My Baby You’ll Be {the journey through miscarriage and recovery}

  1. Pingback: How To Survive Postpartum | JOY FOR MOM

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