This post may be hard for many to read, but I realized that not many people talk about this subject. Not nearly enough women share their stories with others, their struggles, grief, tears. For such a heavy weight, we seem to feel like we always have to carry it alone. Is it shame? Guilt? Fear?
I’m not sure why we don’t discuss miscarriage. But I feel it heavily on my heart to talk about. I promised to talk about the real, the bad, and the ugly. Here is the real.
I remember when I found out I was pregnant. I was in the Walmart bathroom because I couldn’t wait to find out. That line showed up and my heart leapt for joy! I headed straight to Babies’r’us with the little bit of break I had left to buy a onesie and gift for my husband to surprise him with! Father’s day was approaching in a month and I decided what better thing to do then buy a “#1 dad” shirt.
When I told him, we shared a hug in joy and immediately had to go and tell our families. We couldn’t wait to share the news! We hadn’t been planning a baby, but we sure were so joyous to know such a blessing was coming. The next month passed uneventfully. My morning sickness dissipated pretty quickly; I thought I was just lucky.
That Father’s day weekend is when it happened. I remember we were discussing buying a home because we wanted to have extra room for the baby. We went to Home Depot and my back was hurting so bad. Having past sciatica pain, I didn’t think much of it. The next morning I went to get groceries by myself so I could spend the rest of the day with my husband. When I got home, I spotted for the first time. It was only light pink. I immediately texted my sister and mom to make sure it was okay. “Well, as long as it isn’t red and clotting, you should be fine.”
My heart was in my stomach, I knew something wasn’t right but I had hope. I prayed and texted my husband who immediately came home to be with me. We went on with our day, both carrying a heavy worry with us. That day the spotting continued. We went to see fireworks that night and I remember so badly wanting to enjoy the moment, but my heart was hovering over that little baby in my womb, trying to protect it while I could.
The next morning on Father’s day, I woke up to more spotting. And cramping. Each time I went to the bathroom I dreaded having to wipe. Fear gripped my heart but I had to have hope. I had to.
We went to dinner with my father and I had to run to the bathroom. My sister (a nurse) came with me, and saw the clotting when I wiped. I still remember her look, because although the words I heard were reassuring, the reality had set in for both of us. We left early and my body went into labor as I sat on my couch. I began to shake because I had never felt such pain in my entire life.
We hurried to the hospital and I felt like I was walking on air as I made my way into the waiting room. I had to tell the woman at the front desk why I was there, “I think I’m having a miscarriage”. I felt like someone else was speaking, but the words came out. As I stood up from the desk chair in the middle of the lobby I felt the gush of blood come out. It was running down my legs and getting all over the lobby. I began to shake.
They immediately got me back and every where I walked, blood followed. They wanted me to pee in a cup. It was only blood. I told the nurse I couldn’t do it. I wanted to throw up. There was so much blood in that bathroom, I even felt guilty and was apologizing to the nurse for the mess. Tears consumed me. I dare not look in the toilet but I did and I saw my baby. That still haunts me to this day.
When I went in my room my husband’s eyes met mine and he could only utter, “Oh God.” There was so much blood he didn’t know what to say or do.
What was really ironic was I was begging for pain to come back. Because after the gush, the pain stopped. And I knew what that meant but I didn’t want my mind to go there.
An interesting point about me and my husband is that we were both twins in the womb and both of our mothers lost our twins.
I remember sitting on that hospital bed, about to have my first ultrasound, hoping, begging, praying that there would be a baby. That maybe I lost a twin too. God please let there be a baby. In walks my ultrasound tech who just happened to be 8 months pregnant (that one hurt). She wheeled me into the room and it took me a while to get the guts to look at the screen. Empty.
Empty was a good word for how I felt in that moment. My first doctors appointment was supposed to be in two days. Instead it was going to be him having to make sure I was that word again: empty.
I can’t begin to tell you the grief that comes with a miscarriage. You only understand if you have been through it. There were no words, no scriptures, no prayers that helped. Every dream we had dreamed up, the names we had called out, the prayers we had prayed for that baby, all gone. I sat in my bathroom floor and weeped for weeks. Because what people don’t talk about is that you continue to bleed for weeks. You have to go to your doctor and “make sure” that you have completely passed your pregnancy.
How horrible it was to go to my first visit and see an empty womb. What was supposed to be a joyous day was a day of pure torture. I remember looking at my husband and asking, “why” as we stared at the screen. My doctor told me the usual. It is very common for first pregnancies to end in miscarriage. There’s nothing I could have done to stop it. It wasn’t my fault.
I wish that those words would have helped but I went home and felt, well, still empty. I had bought the baby some classic Winnie the pooh dolls because that was what the nursery was going to be. For the longest time I couldn’t pass the nursery without wanting to throw up. Those dolls just laid there in the bassinet my sister had let me borrow. Mocking me.
We got pregnant right away (unplanned). And John was born a month after our first baby was to be born. And I felt guilty for feeling happy, because without losing my baby, I wouldn’t have the baby I’m holding. It is such a weird moment of joy and grief mixed together. It is so hard to describe.
To have a miscarriage is not just to lose a baby. It’s to lose a whole life that you dream about when you see that line show up for the first time. It’s to grieve all of the kicks and somersaults in your belly. The cuddles, kisses, and hugs. A part of you and your spouse, gone.
It wasn’t just a pregnancy, it was my baby. I still grieve over my baby. That week I prayed begrudgingly to God, to at least let me know whether my baby was a girl or boy. That night I had a dream that I was holding a small baby in my hand that was sickly and grey. She was beautiful and looked like my husband. And in the dream tears ran down my face, as I said, “Her name is Grace.”
I woke up bawling my eyes out because although I was mad at God, He was good enough to let me see my baby girl, Grace. When I had John in the hospital, I thought of Grace. When he smiled at me for the first time, I thought of Grace. When I see baby girls, I think of my Grace.
When you have a miscarriage, there are many things to do and to not do. But I will leave you with the things I learned.
1. Let yourself grieve. Do not try and cut off what you feel too early. You lost a child, it’s okay to not be okay.
2. Let yourself feel ALL of the emotions. The anger, fear, sadness. I was so mad at God. I didn’t understand. “You let a drug addict have perfectly healthy babies and you take mine?!?” I yelled at Him. I was so angry and hurt. But in the midst of that pain I also knew He was the only place I could turn to. And I truly feel like He held me, like a Father holding a child who doesn’t understand pain quite yet.
3. Let yourself remember. When time passes and the grief gets a little less heavy, let yourself remember that baby. I think about Grace, and I let myself cry (as I am right now). I let myself think of her, in heaven, growing and maybe watching her parents attempt to raise her brother and thanking God she got a free pass (I say this with a smile).
If someone you know has gone through a miscarriage, please do not throw scripture at them. Please do not throw the trivial, “Everything happens for a reason”, “You will have more kids, don’t worry,” or the “It’s all in God’s timing.” Do not go there. You will only tear a deeper gash in an already deep wound. Just learn to be there in the midst of grief with another. Bring dinner, a hug, a comfy blanket. Don’t bring “wisdom” you know nothing about.
The most healing moment for me was when my mother in law came over. She sat next to me and with tears she simply said, “I know.” And she hugged me and I weeped.
The grief doesn’t ever go away but you get stronger to carry it. My mother still cries over her miscarriages 26 years later. Because they aren’t just “lost pregnancies”, they are lost children and it’s okay to say that. There feels like a stigma that because it was “too early” or you “never saw a heart beat” or “never held them” that it somehow discounts that you were once carrying life and now it’s gone.
So you grieve that baby, you remember that life, and you celebrate it. Because although that baby was here for just a little time, it’s life deserves to be celebrated and cherished.
If you are going through a miscarriage or have recently gone through one, just know that I love you and I know. Time passes, wounds heal, and you get stronger.
“Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5