From the outside looking in, you may wonder why some women have such a difficult time getting over a miscarriage. Why do some women seem to snap back so quickly, and others find themselves weaving their way through a maze a mourning?
Our situations and experiences are all different, and that, mixed with our personalities, create varying reactions. My husband and I have been trying for a fourth child for a year and a half. I know we are incredibly blessed to have three children, but my heart longs for more. We dream of having a large, close-knit family. All around us, our friends have been announcing pregnancies and new births, and every month, we have found ourselves without. Of course, we genuinely rejoice with our friends for the blessings God has bestowed upon them, and we wouldn't want them to withhold their wonderful news from us, but it does make me ache just a bit, as I wonder, "When will God send us another child?"
The day we found out we were expecting, I asked my husband to pick up a couple tests. I figured I was not pregnant, as my cycle had been very strange for months- ranging from 28 to 40 days long, but I figured I would take a test, just to see. I had my hopes up before, and I was sure that this test would be yet another negative. Before taking the test, I prayed. "LORD, You know my heart's desire. I don't know what Your plans are for our lives, but I pray that You would help me accept Your Will. God, I will praise Your Name, whatever the case, but I'm begging you for another baby. I will praise you whether my womb is full or empty, LORD. Just give me the strength."
So you can imagine my surprise when a positive instantly appeared on the test. I had fully prepared myself for yet another disappointment, but here it was- the answer I had hoped and prayed for! I couldn't contain my excitement! I skipped into the livingroom and excitedly showed my husband the test.
"We're pregnant! It's positive!" I exclaimed.
Still, as long as I had waited for this day, fully expecting it to eventually come, I couldn't believe it. I even told a friend, "I hope it sticks." You see, a few of my friends had recently had miscarriages, and, in the back of my mind, I wondered if I was next. I knew I had escaped the odds by having three children without a miscarriage event, but I had a feeling the odds were catching up with me.
Even so, I rejoiced and began to go through the process of finding a midwife for my prenatal care. I told some friends and anticipated telling my family, attempting to come up with a creative way to reveal my news. Easter was coming, and I figured it would be a great time to announce that we had another "egg in our nest". I even made a cute little digital scrapbooking graphic proclaiming it!
With Easter a week away, I struggled to guard the news from my parents. I really wanted to tell them, but I also really wanted to wait! The Saturday before Easter Sunday, we were in their part of town running some errands. We stopped by their condo, and I knew I just couldn't hold it any longer. I printed out my graphic from their computer (because I had saved it online) and slipped it into my mom's hands.
My parents knew we desired more children, so they were thrilled for us (although, probably questioning our sanity).
Later, when we arrived home, I noticed that I was spotting ever so lightly. I had heard about women spotting during their pregnancy, and often it was nothing major, yet I had never had this happen in my three previous pregnancies. I offered up a silent prayer to God, pleading with Him from the valley of my heart, "No, God. Please, please, please... no!"
The bleeding continued, getting heavier and darker, and I knew without a doubt I was having a miscarriage. On Easter morning, my body passed the placenta- such a small organ this early in my pregnancy. I assumed the baby was within it, until, about fifteen minutes later, I passed the baby. The baby was so tiny, but I could see the little umbilical cord stretching from the middle of it's body.
I wish I could say that I saved that little body and buried it, but in my shock, I flushed it down the toilet. Later I found that many other women had done the same- not thinking clearly, not registering what was happening or what it was.
The mourning process has been a strange one. The tears did not come. I would love to just cry and ache, get it all out, and move on, but I guess that simply isn't how it works for me. Old coping habits emerged. I didn't feel like doing much of anything. I didn't feel like cooking or baking. I didn't feel like schooling the children. I didn't feel like cleaning. I didn't feel like getting the mail or doing the laundry. You would think that I would not have cared to get out of bed, but once morning came, I was usually content to throw back the sheets and begin the day, it was just getting through the day that was difficult.
I would have loved to sit around all day, reading books, watching movies, and munching on my favorite comfort foods, most of which are loaded with sugar and possibly chocolate. I purchased a big book of Sudoku puzzles, a series of Beverly Lewis' books (Amish Country Crossroads), and a few magazines (like Weight Watchers, maybe to inspire me to choose healthier comfort foods?) so I could sit back, relax, and breathe. I wanted to escape the walls of this house, roam the malls, the stores, the town but I know myself and my leanings towards retail therapy (which we cannot afford), so I tried to stick to my books instead.
I sat down with the kids and let them run around me. I tickled them, laughed with them, and played with them. Diapers must be changed, children must be fed, life must go on.... whether I felt like functioning or not. (And I am so thankful I have three children to brighten my day, although there have been some instances that have made me want to bang my head against the wall!)
It's hard to explain what I'm feeling. I guess what I feel is let down and disappointed. I'm not angry with God. I know He has great plans for our family. It's just that I went from such a high (finally being pregnant and looking forward to inviting another child into our family) to such a devestating low. It's being on a drug and becoming addicted to it and the way it makes you feel, only to suddenly be forced to go cold turkey. That's the only way I know how to explain what I feel, and it's still a poor metaphor.
Even though I loathe the taste of most alcoholic drinks (beer tastes like I imagine pee would, and liquids like vodka or whiskey taste like peroxide or drain cleaner), I felt tempted to just drown my sorrows with a large bottle of something strong. I felt like going out, doing something wild and crazy, just to feel that high again.
Except I knew that high wouldn't last, and I knew, at the end of it, I would be sorely disappointed with myself. Man's methods cannot compete with God's blessings and joys. While I kept repeating verses to myself and reminding myself to seek my comfort in God, my human nature desperately wanted to satisfy itself, to take the reigns and fill that hole that only God can.
So many people have expressed their condolences, and often reveal that they "don't know what to say." The thing is, I don't know what to say either. When people tell us they are sorry for our loss, I often feel awkward. I'm sorry too. It stinks. It sucks! When people tell me they are proud of or amazed by how strong I have been, I think, If you only knew!
I would almost rather people come right out and ask what I am sure many of them desire to ask. Our close friends John and Ashley drove three hours to see us after they heard our news. I was thankful that I didn't have to put on a mask in front of them. I was thankful that John bravely asked, "So, what was it like? How do you feel?" Leave it to a man to throw aside the delicate wording and just come out with it! I felt like I could set aside the comforting words I feel people want to hear from me, and just speak plainly.
I mean, when people ask, "How are you doing?" I give them the same old lines. "I'm doing fine," or, "I'm okay." I'm not sure people honestly want to hear how I really feel, and I'm not sure I really want to talk about it most of the time. "How are you doing," is one of those generic sayings we ask everyone, often in place of hello, and most people give the generic answer.
One reason it's so difficult to explain how I feel is that I'm not always sure how I feel. My feelings are such a jumble of emotions and thoughts, it's hard to define them. While I am mourning the loss of a child that never made it to term, I am also mourning the loss of a dream, aching for that natural euphoria that comes with finding out you are going to have another child.
In that window of time that I was pregnant, I had already conjured up so many visions of what life would be like with the newest addition. I had pondered names for either gender, had gone through the racks of adorable little baby clothing when I was at the store, looked forward to nursing and caring for another child. I had wondered how little Keagan would get along with a younger sibling, wondered if he would be ready to switch to a "big boy bed" before the baby's arrival, imagined how the set up of the bedrooms would be since children would soon be sharing rooms.
I had wondered how the birth would go, since this would have been our second unassisted homebirth (if things went as planned, but I guess it was exactly that- a miscarriage leading to a baby birthed quickly, unassisted, in our home). I thought about the month of her birth (it could have been a boy, I know). It would have been December, and I wondered if it would have been chilly and cold, like when Nolyn was born, or unseasonably warm, like the weather had been last Winter.
I talked with a friend about slowly stocking up on diapers whenever there were sales and such. I spoke to a few midwives in search of someone to do my prenatal care. I had even looked into 3-D ultrasounds, anticipating the day when we would find out the gender. My husband and I both hoped it would be another little girl, but, of course, we would have been just as excited if it had been a boy.
I dreamed of frilly little dresses and thought back to the days of Merikalyn's infancy. I wondered if this baby would have the springy little curls I had always hoped one of my children would inherit from my husband's father.
In my mind, the baby was practically here, even though I had about seven more months of pregnancy left, and had yet to hit the most trying parts of it (like the extreme "morning" sickness I suffered through during my three previous pregnancies).
And, of course, there are the symptoms following a miscarriage that serve as a reminder of what I have lost. My body is still healing and recovering. Under normal circumstances, my body would be recovering from the labor and birth, but the joy of holding a precious baby would be worth it.
Last Sunday, exactly a week after my miscarriage, God really spoke to me through our pastor's sermon. Jerry made the comment that it was not what he had originally planned on speaking on, but God had prompted Him, so he knew there was a reason. I felt like that reason was me.
Now, I can't do it justice here, but he was reading in Luke 24, following the Resurrection of Jesus. The two Marys had returned from the tomb to find the rock rolled away and the body missing. Two men appeared before them (v 4-8) and told the women, "Why are you looking for the living among the dead? He is not here, but He has been resurrected! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, 'The Son of Man must be betrayed in the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and rise on the third day'?"
When they returned back to their people, they reported the news to the disciples, but "these words seemed like nonsense to them, and they did not believe the women" (v11). Later, two of the disciples headed out for Emmaus, and while they walked, they argued and discussed the events. I am sure they were quite disappointed in this man called Jesus, who they believed was going to be a great earthly ruler. (Read the rest of the chapter, it's quite wonderful and will give you more of an idea of what I'm talking about here.)
Jerry pointed out that these men were walking around, sullen and disappointed, and that's how so many of us are today. We claim to believe in Christ, claim to believe in the Jesus who died and rose again, yet we don't live like it. We feel like giving up, throwing in the towel and heading home.
This is exactly how I felt, despite all the wonderful blessings I had around me. I felt like giving up. I knew God had promised us a large family, and I was questioning his promise.
In this weak time, I feel like Satan has been attacking me from all different directions. He's attempted to lure me with temptations, tried to keep my focus off of God, and just been pulling at my ankles. I think one of the biggest lies he's been feeding me is that it's okay to do whatever I want because I'm mourning, I'm hurt, and so I have an excuse.
But I was reminded that I have an excuse to live right, to lift up my head, to smile and move on, and that excuse is Jesus, the REASON is Jesus.
Jerry also said something that struck me hard. Sometimes we want to know why this and why that. We want to understand God's reasoning; we want answers. We may never know the answers to many of our questions, but we have the only true answer we need, and that is Christ.
The 139th Psalm is a comfort to me. David talks about how God is everywhere and knows everything. "Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thoughta far off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether." [2-4]
I know Jesus understands my pain. He knows how I feel, and He wants to comfort me. He "gives and takes away", and is worthy of praise.
Thank you for all your notes, emails, and calls. We are so glad that we had friends who have lovingly reached out to us. We are so thankful for the strangers who had left us a note, those who have told us their stories and shared in our pain.
Some of you have asked what you can do for us, and all that I ask is that you would pray that God would strengthen us as individuals, as a couple and as a family, that He would protect our minds and hearts, and keep us focused on Him. And, maybe you could throw in a little pray Her for more children. (Smile!)
Those who know me, know that I am a very upbeat, positive person. I don't like to dwell on the "downer" things!