Here I am again, a few years later, sharing my pregnancy story. Once again it is all still so very fresh and tender. Once again my hope is that those who share similar experiences would not feel so alone. I hope I am one more person taking a step to open up this conversation many are afraid to have.
This time my story is quite different. This time I looked down at that fading line on my belly, that I once resented, longing for it to darken again. That growing line represented growing life, and oh how I pleaded that life would still be growing inside of me. But after days of waiting, after days of hoping for the best but fearing the worst, we got news that confirmed those fears. I had a miscarriage. This time around there was no joy at the end of the physical pain. It felt so hopeless. After the physical pain, there was only more pain. The kind that goes down to the deepest parts of you.
Like any parent is tempted to say when something happens to their child, I wanted to tell my baby I was sorry I couldn’t protect them or keep them safe. I know it wasn’t my fault. But I wished so desperately I could have done something.
Oh for me to feel those kicks. Oh for our 15 month old daughter to know her little sibling. Oh for us to touch that sweet face. If you long to embrace that little child of yours you carried inside of you (whether for weeks or months), dear friend, my heart goes out to you. We long together.
At times it felt like it was all I could think about. Somehow everything circled back around to it. Yet at other times I felt okay. I would smile, or laugh, or think about something else. Then I would feel guilty. Like I wasn’t as sad as I should be. While I don’t think it’s healthy to suppress sadness, I don’t think we should force sadness either. Or at least force it to look a certain way.
Sit alone. Give yourself enough time and space to let the reality sink in. And then grieve hard. It might take some intentionality. But it’s times like this that it is appropriate and even necessary to feel. A day after I miscarried a friend sent me a simple statement that wrecked me and liberated me, “pain can lead to growth, but pain can also just be pain for a while.”
But I have been realizing that grief comes in different forms and in different ways. And it also looks different for different people. The grief of miscarrying has already hit me in unique ways and at unique times. It has come at obvious times when the reality of what could have been stared me in the face, and other times it has come in the most unexpected of ways.
If you are able to enjoy yourself for the moment, do it! It’s really okay, and good. But if a wave of grief hits you, crash into it. Feel it. Let it pour over you. It is 100% worthy of every ounce of grief.
Painful not shameful
I never could have imagined just how devastating this sort of unique loss would be. Everything suddenly felt emptier- my body, our home, and our family. While it is all so deeply painful, it is not shameful. Just like the loss of any loved one. Miscarriage is not a dirty word. It is not taboo.
Something incredibly helpful to me already has been to read and hear other women’s stories. Miscarriage is devastatingly common, yet rarely talked about. It can be healing to not only listen to others’ stories but also to tell our own. You don’t have to share your story with the world, but speaking it to a trusted someone can be a crucial step in the grieving process.
“Remembering and telling our story takes us home to ourselves. There is no possibility of soulful relationships without an integrated soul that has embraced its story (the good, the bad, the ugly).” Richard Plass The Relational Soul. There is freedom, security, and comfort found in sharing our story with someone who cares and wants to listen. Being known is such a good thing.
Letting people in
Telling people something so personal can feel like you are putting a big label on your forehead. Like that’s all anyone will see. Like no one will treat you normally. Like everyone will pity you. But in my experience, while the first few times seeing people after sharing the news might feel uncomfortable, it ends up being one of the most comforting things you can do. Telling people helps it to become more real yet more bearable. Good friends won’t let you forget about it yet won’t let the grief swallow you. For us personally, our families/friends (even from thousands of miles away) poured so much love out on us. Find your people, and let them in. Let them care for you. You can’t bear it alone.
Having good friends is incredible, but having blood bought brothers and sisters is incomparable. A part of our church covenant says that we promise to “participate in each other’s joys, and endeavor with tenderness and sympathy to bear each other’s burdens and sorrows; (Gal. 6:2; James 2:14-17)” I have seen that lived out so powerfully over this time. There have been tears shed with us, countless prayers prayed for us, meals cooked for us, and so much kindness lavished on us. These people have taken our tear filled eyes and weary hearts and gently pointed them to our savior. I can’t even list all the ways we’ve been actively cared for during this time, and the comfort it has brought is indescribable and incomparable.
Side note: When we see someone we love going through something pretty foreign to us it’s easy to think we aren’t equipped to help them. But you don’t have to have all the right words. I’ve realized there really isn’t that much to it. Just be there.
When the meals stop coming
I think like with any loss, one of the hardest parts is when it feels like everyone else has moved on but you can’t. The reality tends to hit in a new way when you have to get back up and keep living life normally. Life doesn’t stop for us and I think that can be both a good and hard thing. Not long after life “resumed” I was pushing my daughter on a baby swing and there was another empty one beside her. It was a vivid reminder that there will always be an empty “swing” in life that I wish was occupied by our second son or daughter. It was a lonely thought, but it also helped me to feel like I was honoring them.
People do different things to remember and honor their child. Some people do outward and tangible things and others do personal and private things. And sometimes the opportunities come on their own. We are already trying to plan what we can do as a family on the due date. It helps to find your own way of coping, grieving, and healing.
Not yet healed but hopeful
As I have walked through trials and sorrows with others, I have begun to not prefer the word “healed.” When humans experience the loss of something or someone precious to us, hearing we will “heal” can feel a little dismissive. It can feel like if we fully “heal” we are not giving rightful honor to the person/thing that was taken. Life does go on, and we do (thankfully!) experience forms of healing. But at the same time, we’re forever changed. A friend once said she was told that it just becomes a new part of who we are and we learn to live with it. It’s not the only thing about us, but it’s certainly something about us. These sort of things shape us. They change us. They make us see the world and people differently. And hopefully they soften us, not harden us.
This side of heaven, the sting of loss will always remain. And some days it will feel extra sharp. It reminds us we’re not home yet. It reminds us God hasn’t yet made all things right and good and new. But there is unshakable hope in what is to come for those who are in Christ. Though we often use the word “hope” the same way we use the word “wish”, the bible uses it very differently. Romans 5 says hope does not put us to shame. Hebrews 6 says this hope is an anchor for our soul. This kind of hope is sure, certain, and fixed. Just as a watchman knows the sun will rise every morning, we know we will be raised with Christ to new life. And this is part of our hope, Christian:
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
One day our hearts won’t hurt anymore. God will fully redeem and restore. Oh what a day to look forward to! But today, God is near. Use the heartache not to cower nor to run, but to find his nearness all the sweeter.
Draw near. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. He is a gentle father.