(Today's guest post is from one of my college roommates from Moody. She is still dear to me and today she shares her heart wrenching story of her experiences with miscarriage. If you've experienced this yourself, I pray that you'll be encouraged as you read her story of pain and hope. -Desiré)
Many women experience the grief and pain of losing their babies in the early stages of their pregnancy through miscarriage; I am one. I am under no illusion that I can speak for all of us, or even a majority, if there is such a thing. This is simply my story, and I hope that through it you may find a sense of fellowship or comfort, for yourself or perhaps someone you know.
Mother’s day, 2008. My husband and I were beaming with excitement and joy sitting in church that first Mother’s day knowing we had a secret to share: a little life growing inside me. That afternoon we would call our parents and tell our happy news.
As we checked the days and weeks off our calendar, we allowed ourselves to dream more and more of the life we would share together with this little one, due on my birthday. We looked with anticipation and wonder at our future.
Ten weeks later I started to bleed. It was just a little at first, so we tried to stay confident. My doctor’s office was just closed for the weekend, and we really didn’t want to sit all day at the Emergency Room, knowing there was nothing they could do to change things either way anyways. So we rested, watched movies, and tried to keep our minds off the situation until our ultrasound on Monday afternoon. When Monday arrived, I could tell things were getting worse and not better. The ultrasound they made me face alone, scared to death, while my husband waiting anxiously in the waiting room. I craned my neck to see the images—the tech was silent and just kept fishing around for more images with her wand while I winced in pain. Then she said she had all the images she needed, but was not allowed to tell the results—we would have to go back to our doctor and wait for her to tell us. I knew this could not be good.
After another hour of anxious waiting, our doctor could fit us in. “Your baby stopped growing at six weeks.” I was now more than four weeks passed that mark. “Normally, this is nature’s way of dealing with genetic abnormalities, and happens in ____ percent of pregnancies…” She kept talking, but I couldn’t listen. She was trying to be comforting by making me feel like part of a large crowd of miscarrying women, but that didn’t help. Instead, she made my deep sadness and grief feel unjustified and over-reactive. I didn’t care at that moment if this “normal event” happened to every woman—it did not diminish the overwhelming wave of grief we were being crushed by. Sesame, that was what we had been calling our little one, was my little life to carry, not a statistic. With the “comfort” of some rattled-off facts (I’ve never met a woman who feels any sort of comfort by hearing these numbers, in fact, usually it has the opposite effect), she sent us home with a Kleenex in hand to wait for my body to perform the inevitable.
My heart was screaming and crying within me: this is so terribly wrong. My body should have been a safe place for life to grow and thrive, and instead I felt like a walking graveyard. Sesame would have had a heartbeat by now, but now the professionals were just referring to him as tissue. No one prepared me for how excruciating it would feel physically…and emotionally. It was nearly a week long labor experience, without the joy of birth as my reward: only empty hands and wrenched hearts. I felt ashamed and violated that now everyone knew that I was bleeding out my baby. This should not be, I cried inside, …this is too heavy for me to bear, I can’t stand this grief…no one should have to watch the life that was growing inside them drop into a toilet.
“I found cheerfulness to be like life itself—not to be created by any argument. Afterwards I learned, that the best way to manage some kinds of painful thoughts, is to dare them to do their worst; to let them lie and gnaw at your heart till they are tired; and you find you still have a residue of life they cannot kill.” (George McDonald, Phantastes)
What is helpful
I remember coming home from the doctor’s office and feeling so helpless to even think of simple things like dinner. What do we do now? How can I cook dinner when I just learned my baby is dead inside me? We just needed people who cared about us to come along side us and be our crutches for a time. Some send cards, others flowers, people phoned. People now ask me when someone they know is facing a miscarriage, what is helpful? My answer is usually this: Do something. Don’t assume that someone who knows them better will fill in for you. Every expression by others that they shared our grief was helpful. Send an email, write a note, send flowers, pick up the phone, bring food or muffins, go grocery shopping for them, go for a walk together, take their others kids for an hour or a day so the couple can focus on grieving their loss together, pray for them (and let them know you are), give a gift certificate for dinner or coffee out together, bring over a latte or some wine and sit silently together for a while. Find a way, any way, to let them know you care. Lots of well-meaning people have told me, “I’ve been through that, I know exactly how you feel.” For me, an important thing to remember is that everyone’s experience with miscarriage is unique, and no one grieves exactly the same.
A turning point towards healing came for me a few days into the miscarriage. A dear friend who lived far away phoned. I could hear the tears in her voice. She didn’t say much, but she said this: “This is too heavy to bear alone; I’ve been asking the Lord to allow me to help you carry this grief. We can do this together.” My husband and I had felt so alone, but at that moment I stopped my downward spiral. It has been a long road to healing, but I look back at that moment as the one where I turned a crucial corner.
What is not helpful
A little over a year later, we had a baby boy and enjoyed watching him grow from a screamy, premature baby to a joyful, sweet little boy. When we were finally ready to hope for another, the unimaginable happened: another miscarriage. At that time, I could not conceive of a more horrible combination of words. Not me. Not again. Now that I know how horrible it is, I can’t go through this again.
For some reason which I do not know, it felt that we suffered silently. Those around us misunderstood our grief for a desire to be alone, and so that is how we felt: alone. We didn’t get cards or flowers this time. Everyone seemed uncomfortable around us, not wanting to bring it up and cause more grief. This time we weren’t living far away; was that why they didn’t send cards or flowers? I don’t know. Everyone who lived close enough to help seemed to think that someone else had done something for us. It seemed all our friends and family were having babies and talking about them nonstop. We withdrew into ourselves with our pain. We tried to give others the benefit of the doubt, but it was incredibly difficult to feel supported and loved by others silence and avoidance, especially, I felt, because they knew how difficult it was for us the first time. It does not get easier with practice.
Time for healing
Soon after our second miscarriage, I was again pregnant, full of fear that we would lose this one too. But as this life grew, hope grew in us too. As we approached her birth, our thinking and reading kept centering on the resurrection of Jesus. If we really believed he is making all things new in his resurrection life, surely our broken and wounded hearts were not exempt. Though our hearts felt dead from the grief we had suffered, we found that Jesus was recreating us, creating that cheerfulness and life and hope that only he could produce. We chose a name for her that would remind us daily of the new creation of which we are apart and for which we hope. Nothing is lost in Christ, not even pregnancies that end at six or ten weeks. God is at work in our world rescuing his creation by the resurrection of Jesus, transforming brokenness and injustice. The difficulty comes when we try to come to terms both with the wounds this world has handed us and the promise of resurrection, learning how to express and respond to both at once. Day by day, I am finding more and more courage to choose to let go of the pain and forgive others for the isolation we felt. Trusting Christ to redeem even these terrible memories and losses is not easy. Death, and all the pain and shame our experiences with death brought into our lives, does not have the final say. We ache for him to establish his kingdom fully, though we see it breaking in even now, and make all things right when we will be raised incorruptible. We will see this day come to completion with our own eyes when we finally experience our resurrection in him. In his resurrection, he has overcome death and pain and heartache and shame. He has indeed begun this work in us and in our world, in our communities and in our own bodies. Oh, give us hearts of faith, and eyes that see your kingdom coming.
“Behold, I am making all things new.”
(Lindsay asked me to share this song with you all. God has used it as a comfort and encouragement in her life lately and she thought it might be a blessing to you as well. It is absolutely beautiful!)
|Lindsay and Desiré hanging out in the dorms at MBI.|
Lindsay and Desiré were freshman year roommates at Moody Bible Institute, where Desiré inspired Lindsay to change her major to Applied Linguistics and train for the dream of someday working in Bible translation. From there Lindsay went on to Wheaton College for her master's in Biblical Exegesis. After marrying a fellow Moody grad who also happens to be Canadian, she immigrated North to Calgary, Alberta, where they currently live with their two small children.