It was a warm, colorful day in October when we went in for our first ultrasound. I was nervous; and as I sat beside my husband in the waiting room, I trembled inside thinking about what was to come.
I knew lots of people were praying for us. I had messaged them all that morning: Going in for our first ultrasound! Pray all goes well and baby is safe. Even as I sat waiting I could remember their excited, hopeful replies.
Praying for you!
Everything will be fine.
The experience is so amazing! 🙂
My mom texted me in the waiting room. Are you in there listening to my grandbaby’s heartbeat yet?
Soon, I texted back, we’re in the waiting room now.
The nurse led my husband and I through the corridor to the ultrasound room. After changing into my skimpy gown, the nurse had me “relax” as she began the procedure.
My legs shook.
My husband took my hand and reassured me as everything went on.
But then, I saw the screen.
“As you can see,” The nurse was saying, “the gestational sack is there… but there’s nothing in it.” She shifted the monitor so we could get a better look.
“But there has to be.” My husband murmured, his hand tightening in mine.
“So either you are off by a few weeks, or it is not a viable pregnancy.” She went on, obviously trying to give us a little encouragement in this hopeless situation.
“Okay,” I said, holding back my emotions, trying to grapple with this bombshell that had been dropped on me.
She checked some more things and I changed back into my clothes. I didn’t cry until I was outside.
My pregnancy was over.
I didn’t find out until later that day that what I most likely had was a blighted ovum miscarriage, where the baby is lost within the first few weeks but your body keeps preparing for a pregnancy without it. The most frustrating part of it all was the fact that I still felt pregnant even when I wasn’t. All those weeks of weariness and food aversions made me feel like my body was lying to me, building me up for this crushing blow. I had built up a new identity for myself with the anticipation of this child. Where would I turn to now? What else was there to live for?
My story is not unlike many others I have come to know. Miscarriage has stained the lives of many women like myself and has led to serious problems and emotional pain. The more I look at what happened to me, the more I want to share comfort and advice to others struggling as I am. Here are a few things I had to learn—often the hard way.
- Don’t blame yourself.
First and foremost, remember not to blame yourself for what happened. I think it is often a natural response for women to blame themselves when they lose their baby. Whenever a tragedy occurs, pain comes out in different ways. Often people want something or someone to blame because once they have an object of wrath they can channel their feelings onto it. It is really easy to get into the habit of saying: “If I had only done this—or had not done this—then things would have been different.” The sad thing is, most miscarriages are caused naturally in a woman’s body and there was nothing you could have done to change the outcome.
“There are no ‘Ifs’ in God’s kingdom.” Says Corrie Ten Boom from the book The Hiding Place—and there are no “Ifs” when it comes to the loss of your baby. Accept that it happened, but also accept that it wasn’t your fault.
- Give yourself permission to grieve.
For some women, moving past a miscarriage is not that difficult. Others go into depression over this very real and deep loss that they have just experienced. Whatever your response, don’t make the mistake of stifling your feelings or trying to push yourself to “get over it.”
I had to be told multiple times that it was okay that I was still crying about it weeks after the initial shock of it all. Some days are easier than others, sometimes we just need to be sad. There are some unhealthy ways of dwelling on your pain, such as continually berating and blaming yourself for your “failure”, but for the most part it is totally acceptable to be working through your grief. Don’t diminish it or worry that you are a burden to people because you are struggling with the same stuff for days on end. You may run out of things to say about how you are feeling, but that doesn’t mean that your pain is insignificant.
- Know that you are not alone.
I was amazed how many women “came out of the woodwork” over this issue when I would talk about it. Women I had known for years suddenly revealed their past losses to me on Facebook or in messages. To my great astonishment, not all of the women were older women. As a young woman in my twenties, I felt that to lose a baby in my prime I had to have something very wrong going on with my body. Though I hate that it happens to anyone, I was encouraged to know that I wasn’t the only twenty something who had experienced this.
Miscarriage is not a topic many women like to talk about, but it happens to more of us than you’d think. You are not some lone oddball whose fertility is out of line where everyone else’s is stable. You are a woman who has experienced something that many of us have experienced, and it is tough stuff. Try to find other people you can trust to talk about it. Having a good support system is important.
- Know that God is actively involved in your pain.
My attitude toward God changed a lot as I dealt with my loss. At first I was angry at Him for taking away something that was so precious to me. Hadn’t I prayed? Did I not ask enough people to pray for me? As my anger simmered into despair I knew God promised that He is always with me and that He will comfort me, but I had a hard time accepting that as truth in my life.
In a time of worship, God taught me that He was more than just a comforter from the outside of the issue. He honestly wanted to share in my pain, become part of the mess of my life and be intimately involved. Pain wasn’t something meant to tear us apart, but it was meant to be used as a doorway to be closer to Him. God wants to be more than just a comfort. He wants to be close to your pain. Our weeping savior weeps along with you.
- Remember your baby without bitterness
It still is very difficult for me to see other young moms or pregnant women. It is painful to see others enjoying and continuing on this adventure without me. I have lots of friends and acquaintances having babies and I often feel that sour prick of jealousy for what they have. I have to constantly remind myself who it is that has my baby, and that He knows better than I for the plans of my life.
When it is difficult to move onward from the shambles of your dreams, remember that our babies are safe in the hands of God. They will never have to suffer or hurt in this broken world. All they know, and ever will know, is joy and the excitement of worshiping God face to face. Though they are not here, they are not really lost.
Make connections with other women who have also suffered loss. Remember your child together, and whether you have other children yet or not, remember that that baby is still your baby. You are no less a mother because your child isn’t here with you. Someone else is just looking after him or her for a while until you get there.