I wrote the following post 7 years ago yesterday. It expresses some of my thoughts, experiences, and questions in the first year after a miscarriage. The pain of losing our baby at 12 weeks has lessened greatly over the years, but it never goes away entirely. Because, even when no one else remembers, I do. This quote by Barbra Kingsolver expresses it so well: "A miscarriage is a natural and common event. All told, probably more women have lost a child from this world than haven't. Most don't mention it, and they go on from day to day as if it hadn't happened, so people imagine a woman in this situation never really knew or loved what she had. But ask her sometime: how old would your child be now? And she'll know.” It doesn’t matter how small that baby was, their life is always cherished in the heart of their mother.
Last week I was at the market, picking up groceries, and I saw the first daffodils of the season. Tears sprang to my eyes immediately. I wait for those flowers each year. They are a tangible reminder to me of that little life I once held in my body. After I lost the baby I received many bouquets of daffodils. They became to me a cherished flower, a reminder of grief, but also of hope and of healing.
Still, that first glimpse of them every year hits me hard. Because I don’t think of our baby every day any more. Not like I did in the beginning. At that time I couldn’t imagine there being a time when I wouldn’t. In fact, I was afraid of that happening. But grief changes with time. I know that now. And I’m not afraid of it anymore.
I do know that the road after a miscarriage can be a lonely one. It was for me. There are so many emotions to navigate. I didn’t know what was normal, or when it was no longer “ok” to feel so emotional. Was there a time limit to my grief? And I didn’t know who to talk to about these things.
So I share this post with you now because you may know someone who needs to read it. You might even need it yourself. At the very least, you can read it to grow your own understanding of how to help a mama who is walking through the pain and grief of miscarriage. Before I had one myself, I really had no idea how to minister to a grieving mama. I do now. And every time I do, I whisper a prayer of thanks for the life of my little babe, who’s short life blessed mine, so that I could in turn bless others.
II Corinthians 1:3-4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
February 18, 2011–One Year After a Miscarriage
One year ago I visited the dr. and learned my 4th child had died. Only 12 weeks old, but already such a part of me, and a part of our family.
A few days later I shared with all of you that we’d lost our baby and I was awed by the immediate outpouring of love showered on me. People I didn't even know sent me cards and notes. I saved them all. I'd wake from a nap to find flowers or baked goods on my front porch. People brought dinner. Friends came and sat with me and let me cry. I was blessed and humbled and felt less alone.
But as the months passed, it became lonely again. I couldn't talk to Aaron about it because he was still sorting through his own grief. The subject was so loaded with hurt and sadness that we almost stopped speaking of it. I felt self indulgent discussing it with anyone else, even though I wanted to so badly. I'd mention it on occasion, but eventually even felt that was too much.
Then I got pregnant again and there was so much joy in my heart. Everything went just as it should. We saw the baby's heartbeat at just 6 weeks, and there was weeping afresh, but a new kind. The tears were joyful, and grateful, but there was also still fear. Pregnancy after miscarriage is different. It’s terrifying. The fear of loss that accompanies every pregnancy is real now in a different way now. I know it intimately.
Then there was a scare at my 12 week check up. The dr. couldn't hear the heartbeat, and although she was very cool as she searched my belly, she began to ask those questions again: "Have you had any spotting? Any cramping of any sort? Everything seems normal?" Then she gave up and said we needed to do an ultrasound. It was just like the last time. My heart sank.
But Aaron was wth me this time. I wouldn’t have to face it alone. I could see in his face that he was scared too. Inside the ultra sound room, the doctor moved quickly. She found that baby right away, and she let us watch it move and kick and jump around. It was relief and joy unimaginable. And yet, that fear was there, lurking.
As soon as I began to show people began to ask, "wow! A baby! How many do you have?” That’s when I discovered a new part of this journey that I was still on. Despite my deep and abiding joy at the new life growing in me, I was still mourning the life that was lost. It hadn't even been a year since we lost our baby and I was, and am, still sad. So I wanted to answer every time, "5. This is my 5th baby.” But sometimes that led to other questions and that was awkward. I wasn't always prepared to share the story of our miscarriage. Still, I felt disloyal somehow to say “this is my 4th baby.” Because it isn’t. My 4th baby lived such a short time, but that baby was real, and a part of our life.
Grief is such a difficult thing. Especially in the face of a new happiness. I felt sad for the one thing and happy for the other. But my happiness didn't take away the sadness that the other happened. I’m still not sure how to sort through all of it.
A couple of months ago, a friend at church shared something with me that helped me more than she could have imagined. We hadn't seen them in a while and they were asking about our new pregnancy. "Was this planned or a surprise?" she wanted to know.
I explained that we had gotten a surprise pregnancy and lost it, and afterward discovered we did indeed want another baby. When I spoke about losing the baby, I couldn't keep the tears from coming to my eyes. This friend looked at me and said, " I lost a baby between my 1st and 3rd pregnancy, and even though it's been 20 years, I still feel the loss. And I still mourn for that baby."
Her words gave me life. They were so liberating! I felt like she was giving me permission to grieve still. I am so grateful to her for that. We never know how sharing a little piece of our heart and our story will encourage and lift someone up.
In the past few months, I have read the story of Lazarus several times. I have taken great comfort in that little verse found in the story:"Jesus wept." (John 11:35) Jesus knew Lazarus would not stay dead. He knew the miracle and the joy that was waiting before Him. But it did not take away the horrible sadness of that moment. Because death is horribly sad. It doesn't matter if it is an unborn baby, a grandma, a pet, or a teenager. It doesn't matter if it is someone who will be alive again shortly, like Lazarus. Death is a tragedy. And we are supposed to weep and mourn when it comes.
So here I am, feeling joy with every kick from my sweet 5th baby. But still mourning the loss of a tiny one that I never got to feel kick. And that is OK.
Thank you for being on this journey with me. Your love and support have been a comfort and a blessing. I have learned a lot. It is my hope that I have a softer heart to others in pain. It is the way I honor my tiny babe.
Love from Greta