October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. My world has changed so much between October 15, 2017 and October 15, 2018. And I’m deviating from my normal posts about bread and dessert to open my heart to all the women who are suffering today as they remember the babies that are no longer with them.
On October 15, 2017, one year ago today, I found out I was pregnant for the first time. My period was a few days late and I woke up early and sneaked into the bathroom to take the pregnancy test. When I saw that plus sign, I couldn’t believe it! I was so overwhelmed, I ran into the bedroom and woke James up with the news. We curled up together on the bed and I cried tears of joy and tried to think of what my life was going to be like with the baby growing inside of me. We talked about baby names. We planned out fun ways to tell our families. Suddenly, minor frustrations during the day meant nothing to me because nothing was as important as my tiny baby.
But, just a few weeks later, I was on the same bathroom floor, sobbing uncontrollably as I unexpectedly miscarried in the middle of the night. I don’t use this word lightly, but it was traumatic. The weeks that followed were full of blood tests, ultrasounds, and doctor’s appointments. Doctors assured me that these things happen and most of the time there’s nothing that can be done to prevent it. I learned that this happens to 1 in 4 women, and that I’m not alone. By the grace of God, we began to heal with the help of friends, family, pastors, and even strangers. I am still so thankful for the people who reached out to us and prayed for us during one of the worst moments in my life. But that’s not the end of my story.
Just after Christmas, James and I found out that we were pregnant again. There were no tears of joy this time. I couldn’t bring myself to get excited, not knowing if I would be able to meet this baby or not. I found myself reading pregnancy announcements from friends and grew jealous of their blissful ignorance. I felt robbed that they could see a positive pregnancy test and feel nothing but happiness while all I felt was fear.
A few days into the New Year, I started experiencing concerning symptoms. The doctors were concerned that I had an ectopic pregnancy, and they scheduled an ultrasound for later that day. Thankfully, the results showed that I didn’t have an ectopic pregnancy, although the baby was measuring a little smaller than expected and they couldn’t detect a heartbeat. I was told to come back in a week for another ultrasound to see how the pregnancy was progressing.
A week later, James and I went back for the follow-up ultrasound, and I mentally prepared to receive bad news. I knew the doctors were going to tell me that I was going to lose another baby. I couldn’t bring myself to look at the screen until I heard the ultrasound technician say, “And there’s the heartbeat!” My heart stopped and I started crying again as I watched our baby’s little heartbeat flicker on the screen. Even still, the baby was measuring small and my hormone levels were lower than normal. We left the doctor’s office with cautious optimism and were told to come back again in a week.
But we didn’t make it a week. Only 5 days after seeing my baby’s heart beating, I started experiencing the same miscarriage symptoms as before. I went back to the doctor’s office and wept as the ultrasound technician said, “I’m so sorry” and they escorted me out the back door of the office so I didn’t have to face the women with healthy pregnancies in the waiting room. I was crushed.
My world changed dramatically after losing my second baby. Suddenly, I went from being one of the 25% of women who will experience a miscarriage in their lifetime, to one of the 2% of women who experience two consecutive miscarriages. This time it wasn’t a fluke. It was me. Something was wrong with me. My body had utterly betrayed me. I would lie in bed at night and be overwhelmed by my grief. My heart was completely broken. I had lost two babies. Two babies in less than 3 months. Two babies and I have no idea what they look like. But that’s not the end of my story.
James and I decided to wait a few months before trying to get pregnant again. We started the healing process over again and slowly started to learn our new normal. It’s hard for anyone who hasn’t experienced a miscarriage to understand. Half of our country believes that what we’ve lost wasn’t a baby and has no worth or value whatsoever. So we grieve in silence. But by the grace of God, we came to terms with our losses and just before Mother’s Day, we found out we were pregnant again!
I remember squinting at the results window of the pregnancy test. It was faint, but it was there. A plus sign! I told James that I had decided to be happy about the pregnancy. I had withheld all excitement in my second pregnancy and the miscarriage was just as painful as the first. So I might as well let myself be happy. There were two more pregnancy tests in the box, so I took another one the next day, hoping to see that really clear plus sign. I was already pregnant, what did I need to save the other tests for? It was still pretty early and again I saw the faint little plus sign, and I resolved to wait a few more days before taking the third test.
I woke up on Mother’s Day and took the third pregnancy test first thing in the morning, ready to finally see that super clear plus sign. Instead the test came back negative. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have taken that test on Mother’s Day. I cried all through church that morning and James and I decided to go out and buy a digital pregnancy test after church. Maybe the last test was a fluke? It wasn’t. The digital test came back with those words “NOT PREGNANT” and my heart sank into my stomach. I stared at the pictures I had taken of the first two tests for hours, zooming in and trying to convince myself that I wasn’t crazy for seeing those plus signs. Two days later the miscarriage symptoms came.
The doctors confirmed that I had experienced a very early miscarriage called a chemical pregnancy. I was relieved to hear that my grief was justified, but at the same time I felt like I wasn’t allowed to call it a miscarriage. If a chemical pregnancy is, by definition, a miscarriage, then why doesn’t anyone call it that? I felt like I wasn’t supposed to be upset about my loss. How long do I have to know about my baby before I’m allowed to be upset about losing it? Why is it that, months later, I still feel like I’m not allowed to count that baby? Thankfully, I have scoured the internet and found that many, many other women who have experienced chemical pregnancies feel exactly the same way. And so I can say, giving each of my three babies the recognition they deserve, I have had three miscarriages. I have lost three babies in less than a year. I have three babies who I will never meet this side of heaven.
As I write this, I wish I had good news. I wish I could say that I’m healthy and everything is fine and we’re expecting a healthy baby. But I can’t. The doctors don’t know why this keeps happening to me. We may never know. But I can tell you what God has taught me through all of this, and if you’re one of the 1 in 4 women grieving a miscarriage, then I hope you find comfort in these things.
- Your circumstances don’t change who God is.
- There is hope for the broken.
- God knows exactly what you’re going through because He lost his only son.
- God gives children to barren women and uses those children to do unbelievable things for the kingdom. Here’s an extensive list.
He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord. – Psalm 113:9
I remember my heart being overcome with dread days before my second miscarriage. It’s like my soul knew I was losing my baby before my body did. But the Spirit kept repeating the words of a worship song to me. The lyrics say, “Hallelujah, all I have is Christ. Hallelujah, Jesus is my life.” Through tears I remember thinking, “why am I saying hallelujah to having nothing but Christ?” Hallelujah? I have no job, family, friends, house, comfort? All I have is Christ? Why is that a good thing?
And finally I understood. Everything that we have can be taken from us. But Christ still remains. As John Piper said, “When we have little and have lost much, Christ comes and reveals himself as more valuable than what we have lost. And when we have much and are overflowing in abundance, Christ comes and he shows that he is far superior to everything we have.” It’s only when we’ve lost everything that we realize that Christ is the only thing that can satisfy us.
If you are grieving a miscarriage today, I hope you find encouragement in knowing that God sees you. He knows your heart. He hears your cries. He knows your pain. Call out to Him. He wants to comfort you.
And please know, whether I know you or not, if you’re grieving a miscarriage or battling infertility, I want to bear this burden with you. I want to pray for you and hear your story. Let’s praise God together knowing that He is good above all and in all.
Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her. -Luke 1:45