Motherhood & Education

Miscarriage

July 21, 2014

ANNAPOLIS AND CO: Miscarriage

Miscarriage was on my list of fears, right up there with a cheating spouse or living in Alaska. My mind simply could not grasp losing a tiny human for whom I was responsible to protect and guard in my womb. It seemed like the ultimate failure as a woman to me, for pregnancy is a time when your one job is to keep that baby alive and all your efforts focus there. What you eat, how you exercise, the doctor you pick, and the medications you treat your sicknesses with. You carry this weighty miracle for 9 months until one day it ends – in a delivery room with a crying baby.  And that cry is the relief of every mother’s heart, only sometimes you never get to hear it.

On a cold, January day I sat in the emergency room with my husband and a brown paper bag. An hour earlier I had been standing in church talking to a group of people when I felt a rush of fear and excused myself awkwardly to the bathroom. It was there in a stall with the sound of women chatting and washing their hands right outside my door that I “delivered” at 13 weeks. Your first thought is, “What is happening?” when you don’t expect anything to be happening at all. Then there is this wave of grief as it hits you all at once and you try to remember every single thing you ever read in brochures and pregnancy websites about miscarriage. I wondered how I could make it from the bathroom to my husband without crumbling into a pile of ugly tears. I wondered what I was supposed to do with the baby. I wondered what they would tell me when we reached the hospital. I wondered if it was my fault…there was that run yesterday afternoon…there was that poison ivy medication I took…I was nursing when I found out I was pregnant…

“MB! Stop. Focus. What do you do with the baby?”

I grabbed a paper bag and waited till it sounded as if everyone had left the restroom. I made a mad dash to tell my husband, but not before a group of women opened the door and began to ask me a series of polite questions, “Was I new here?” “How many kids did I have?” “Where did I live and what did I do?”

“Lose babies. That’s what I do, I lose babies. How many kids do I have? I had 3, but now I have 2.”

Awful things come to your head in moments like that.

I found my husband, we left our girls with my parents and headed to the emergency room at the hospital. There we sat for several hours. Holding hands. On a nightmare date of sorts with our little brown paper bag laid to rest beside us. If I could describe the kind of pain and hurt in my heart during those hours of waiting, I would. Maybe it would make me feel better. Maybe it would take away a little of that January day every year when it rolls around. Maybe it would explain why pregnancy is so different for me now that I know what it feels like to have life one minute, and not the next.

Pain like that is awful.

As we sat there together, I began letting out the tears I had held back while I was in public. I voiced aloud all my questions and my hurt. I looked at other people in the room and tried to trade places with them. I wished I could have had the screaming baby, or the really bad cough, or the toddler with the spiky fever…I would even trade places with the cancer patient. But not a dead baby. You can’t have my paper bag, Lord. I’m not ready to give him to You.

They finally invited us back and they took that paper bag and never brought it back. I laid underneath a thin sheet on the examining table…cold, vulnerable, and scared. The nurses buzzed around in zipped up fleeces smelling of coffee breaks and magazines and I wanted to pull them aside and demand of them to mourn. To show more respect. Act as if this was the last day of a life, and they were attending a funeral.

But nobody wanted to attend.

The doctor came in and I searched his face for any sign of hope that there was life left in my womb. But deep down, I knew. I knew that the size of the mass I delivered could be all that was left and I was as empty now as the faces that talked of nothingness around me.

He wasted no pleasantries and told me with practiced poise that my pregnancy had been “naturally terminated”. He began to tell me that I was healthy and sure to conceive again, but his voice trailed off and my eyes darted to the door. My paper bag was not coming back. I knew that now. There were no apologies or warm words of encouragement. Just sterile doctor facts. And truthfully, I hated everybody in that room for it. I hated that it had to end like this. With me on an examining table. With a paper bag in another room. With an emergency room bill in our mailbox.

The next few days were pure torture. I told myself that I was the cause of the death of my baby. That I shouldn’t have taken the poison ivy medicine, or gone on any runs. That I should have taken my prenatal vitamins more faithfully, and gone to the doctor sooner. My husband tried and tried to tell me that it was nobodies fault…but honestly? You don’t want to hear it. You want somebody to blame, and the easiest person is yourself.

It’s funny how the wake of death brings the strangest people into your life or maybe it just brings the strangeness out of people, I’m not sure. There were things said and done to me during those days surrounding our loss that baffle me to this day. There were the ones who listened, the ones who couldn’t wait to get a word in, the ones who ducked and hid, and the ones who got a pot of soup going on the stove. There were the ones who couldn’t empathize but sympathized, and the ones who weren’t sure what to do, but told me I could ask. Even if it was 2 in the morning.

It has been these very times in my life that I have been strangely surprised by people and the ones who stick around.

After three days of laying in bed and crying more tears than I knew I had, I told God I wasn’t mad anymore. That I was deeply hurt and wounded and a piece of me was gone with that paper bag, but that I would trust that He knew better than I did. That He saw pieces to the puzzle of my life, that I didn’t see. And I finally rested. I rested my baby in His lap. I rested my tears on His shoulder. I rested my head on my pillow at night believing there were better days ahead.

And there were.

Three months later we conceived our son, Keller. And I anguished over every doctor’s visit and ultrasound. I waited with bated breath every time they pressed the doppler to my belly…searching for a heartbeat. I sighed a huge relief when they kept telling me over and over again, “He’s growing. He’s strong. You’re doing a good job, Mama.”

I’m 30 weeks along today with our precious baby Hugh. I feel the fragility of my womb as if I had miscarried yesterday instead of 4 years ago. I can tell you, though, that life is more precious than words could ever describe when you’ve sat in the ICU with monitors and tubes, or waited in the emergency room to hear the news. Moving fingers, the rise and fall of the chest, the flutter of eyelids, and the sight of the scale climbing, climbing till it reaches a healthy weight. It is a rush of relief and a prayer to heaven all rolled into one. I fight for that. I fight for moving fingers and toes and a tiny beating heart that houses a human soul. I fiercely want to protect it. Strive to see it win. And yet, sometimes it is far beyond my own control.

People email and ask me how it feels to miscarry. How does it register with the brain when the life you are sustaining as the mother is snuffed out in a singular instant. And all I know is to say hurt. Deep hurt that courses through veins and exhales with breath. But do you know what else I know? A deep and sustaining power rushes in when you need it the most. The Lord cares. He hears. He binds up the wounds of the brokenhearted.

Your heart expands for the hurting, more than you ever thought it could.

This story is documented for every single one of you hurting women who have emailed me over the years wanting to know my story. I understand. I ache for you. I pray so fervently that you feel the love of God wrapping his arms around you because I know how much you need it.

all my love, mb

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21 Comments

  • Reply Kirsten Dalton July 21, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Love that last paragraph; it is so true. The depths of grief are so deep, but yet God’s love is DEEPER STILL. And His strength is enough, and more than enough. Losing a baby was one of the hardest things we have gone through so far (my mom lost five!), but God uses even those things to allow us to love more and share in others’ pain and encourage them. And He always brings hope for tomorrow!

  • Reply Dawn Davis July 21, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    I’m sorry for your loss. I can relate.

  • Reply Marianne July 21, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I cannot even imagine the pain you went through. Praying for you and your precious unborn son!

  • Reply Urban Wife July 21, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    You are so brave for sharing about something that is so incredibly difficult to talk about. Thank you for sharing your story. I know that kind of pain and am sorry you had to experience it. Praying for the remainder of your pregnancy…God bless you!

  • Reply Teresa Gonzalez July 21, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    MB, thank you for sharing this story. last december we had a miscarriage and i haven’t had the strength to revisit that time in our lives. thanks for your words and for the reminder that HE binds up the brokenhearted.

  • Reply Tabitha Blue July 21, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    Yes, yes and yes. I too “delivered” way too early and said goodbye through tears to tiny little hands, and arms and body parts that had yet to develop skin on the floor of my parents bathroom while we were visiting our hometown. The worst mix of thoughts and feelings ever. It’s a crazy place, a tough place to revisit… and beautiful for you to share your story!! xoxoxo

  • Reply Katie July 22, 2014 at 6:39 am

    I’ve been there… it’s amazing how much you can love someone you’ve never met.

  • Reply Erin July 22, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Thank you for your powerful words and your bravery of sharing. I have yet to have children and that’s a fear of mine, and your words have really spoken to me. Praying for you and your family.

  • Reply Summer Rose July 22, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Thank you so much for this. I had an ectopic pregnancy that ruptured leaving me with one tube. Then, five months later, we went through a “missed abortion”. The heartbeat had stopped and my body didn’t miscarry. Going to a doctor’s appointment so anxious to see a healthy, growing baby and finding one that was lifeless was quite a blind-siding moment. We had our son and for a bit, I didn’t know if I even wanted to try again. Part of me just felt thankful for the one healthy boy we had and part of me wanted another but was too afraid of the risk of losing a third baby in a row. We took time off from “trying” and eventually, God helped us ready our hearts again to risk it one more time. Today, we have our three-week old Cooper and are filled with love all over again. We are a blessed family today and will always remember the sweet ones that we never got to hold in our arms but they are forever in our hearts.

  • Reply Rose July 22, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It brought tears to my eyes (and I’m at work!) as I’ve personally experienced two losses. I’m currently on my third pregnancy and hoping and praying like crazy that God allows this little one to enter our lives permanently. I sometimes wish more people would have the courage to discuss their experiences as you have. So many women suffer through these heartbreaking experiences in silence and, as someone who has experienced both loss and infertility, I think more women opening up would help those who haven’t experienced either be more sensitive to those around them who have. Can’t wait to meet your newest little one. Praying for you both!

  • Reply Meredith July 22, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Your words are encouraging and inspiring to an adoptive mama-to-be and I’m sure many, many women who have suffered on their road to mamahood. Thank you for your vulnerability and for sharing!

  • Reply elizabeth July 22, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. you heart is beautiful. and you are a blessing!

  • Reply Isabelle July 22, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Oh gosh, this is so heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing such a hugely painful memory for you.
    You make me believe that my PCOS will not be the end to my dreams of being a mum!
    Belle x

  • Reply Terin Garrett July 22, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Oh gosh, this just broke my heart! Bawling my eyes out at my desk! 🙁 Praying that this baby will be perfectly healthy! 🙂

  • Reply Susan July 22, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    It is very difficult to lose a child with a miscarriage. Most people around you will tell you that you already have several children, like it’s no big deal. Or they say you can try again. I’ve had several (5) miscarriages and the last one was the most difficult to get over. It was pretty much the same as the story above. Later on I found out I had MTHFR mutated gene which means that miscarriage is a strong possibility. Most women with it will miscarry. It simply means I can’t digest Folic acid well. Taking more of it will help. But not every miscarriage is caused by this. A lot of mine were probably stressed related. It doesn’t bring back the ones I’ve lost but the pain lessens as the years pass. The guilt of losing the child is hard to get over so when my doctor finally decided to test me for this for other reasons and I found that it could have been the reason for losing some of my babies it gave me some relief. But few doctors will test a women for this problem because they’re not aware of it. Most people don’t even want to discuss miscarriage. This article is very helpful to so many women who are grieving and fearful of losing their next child they’re carrying. Have strength and know that an untimely birth does happen without it being anyone’s fault.

  • Reply Liz Marie @ LizMarieBlog July 22, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    Your post is perfect. It’s what my heart feels a lot. We have lost three babies; have no babies here on earth; most days my heart aches for them. I just shared my fertility story today on the blog; that’s rough too. Thank you for sharing your heart about this. xx

  • Reply Kristi Phillips July 23, 2014 at 7:25 am

    Such a vulnerable post! Thank you for sharing. Oh the day when we are all reunited with our loved ones that went to be with the Lord earlier than expected! What a day that will be! xoxo

  • Reply Katie July 24, 2014 at 8:02 am

    MB, what a powerful post. Though I’ve never lost a baby, the moment you told me your story on that cold winter run through our neighborhood, I began to understand the pain and sorrow mommies go through. You made me open my eyes and heart to that pain. I’m glad I can be tender hearted and more understanding towards this common struggle a amongst women and dear friends. So happy for you and your strong growing baby Hugh! How amazing! Beautiful post

  • Reply Kristen July 25, 2014 at 5:19 am

    A beautiful post about a heartbreak so deep. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply Barbara H. July 25, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Miscarriage was one of my top fears, too, with every pregnancy, I never had to experience it. I could imagine sorrow but I never would have guessed that guilt was a factor as well. I’m sure the guilt was not justified, but that doesn’t make it go away. Thank you for opening your heart about this. Though I would try to comfort a woman in this circumstance, it just doesn’t mean the same as it would from someone who has experienced the same thing, and now God has given you this avenue of ministry.

  • Reply Lisa Kauffman August 12, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Thank you thank you for sharing! We have two little ones in heaven can’t wait to meet them! One of the hardest things we’ve ever go e through!

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