Every year (obviously) this date comes and goes. Some years it passes and I just keep moving. Some years, I suddenly catch my breath realizing what day it is. You see, 17 years ago, on Feb 8, 2000, our world suddenly stopped spinning. We were living in Cincinnati and moving through life - enjoying relationships with some really great friends and enjoying (yes, enjoying!) residency life for me and work for Jeff. 2 weeks before that, we had started telling family and friends our exciting news. We were having a baby! All of the excitement and hopes and dreams young couples have for a growing family had been swirling through our minds, our families were excited--the first grandbaby was coming--and our friends joined us in celebration.
Then it happened. As I sat in a classroom in the hospital listening to a lecture, I noticed a very odd feeling -- ‘bubbly’ I’d later say. Must be nothing, I thought. Then again, and again. My mind began to wonder, then worry, then panic. When class was over, I went straight to my car and home - and my worst fears were realized. I called Jeff. I called the doctor. They said to come straight in. I honestly can’t remember if Jeff even made it there before I had the ultrasound confirming what, in my heart, I already knew.
“There’s no heartbeat. I’m sorry.”
“But”, I thought, “that is our baby”. The baby we just saw 2 weeks prior with a strong heartbeat. The baby we’d taken tiny little ultrasound pictures of to my parents’ house and surprised them with our news. The baby we were supposed to welcome in September.
Just like that.
The next few days were a whirlwind of medical procedures and grieving. Grieving over and over again with each person we told--people who just 1-2 weeks before had rejoiced with us, now cried with us, prayed with us and loved us well. We took a few days and went to see both of our parents. Rested. Grieved.
And then life began to move on. And healing began. Quickly. The Lord’s grace was so felt during that time and we never felt hopeless. I said before that some years I catch my breath realizing what day it is. That ‘catch’ isn’t because I am suddenly overwhelmed with sadness or grief. It is actually a sudden realization that the pain has healed-that I didn’t see the day coming and dread it. That it might have just passed in the whirlwind of the week and I might not have remembered. But most years I do. That memory, though, isn’t of the gut wrenching pain of that day, but of the path we were led on.
In the weeks after our loss, so many people loved on us and so many women told us that they had lost babies, too. Most of whom I’d never known that about. I was surprised how common and how un-talked about miscarriage was.
What a shame.
What a shame that for some they feel so alone when they are not.
What a shame that we/I still don’t talk about it much.
What a shame that some people brush it under the rug and say insensitive things like, “oh, you were so early” or “you can try again”. Yes, we were early, and yes, we could try again, but that didn’t make our loss any less real. In NO way does what we lost compare to losing a child you already know and have held and raised, but it was definitely still a real loss. A loss of hopes and dreams. A loss of the future we had already started to plan. A loss of a baby that we already loved.
The initial pain and grief was definitely real, but the healing is real as well. I remember being overwhelmed with a sure feeling of hope. That my heart’s desire to be a mom would be fulfilled. I knew, just knew, that the future held at least one adoption for our family. To be honest, I was a bit scared, though. I’d always wanted to adopt, but my plan was to do that AFTER having a baby or 2 by ‘the old fashioned’ route. Being our first pregnancy, the fear and worry of ‘what if we can’t?’ was definitely there and I was worried that if I got pregnant again soon, I’d be overwhelmed with worry.
Well, the Lord was gracious. He didn’t allow much time for worry as we were busy with life and when we found out we were expecting again, the joy returned - and the worry did not. I can’t even explain it. I had a ‘peace that passes understanding’ about this pregnancy. I’d like to say I was mature enough that I deliberately gave it to God, but I’m not sure about that. There was definitely prayer, but it just happened. The Lord gave me peace, knowing all was in His plan.
At the end of that year, we joyfully welcomed our first son into our arms. And what a joy he was. And is. Every time I think about the miscarriage, my immediate next thought is, ‘but we wouldn’t have him’. And I can’t imagine that. I sometimes wonder what life would have been like if we hadn’t lost that first child. I wonder if we’d have a child with a chronic illness, or if we would have lost that baby later in the pregnancy or at birth for some reason. I wonder if that was the Lord’s kindness to us, but then I wonder, well, why couldn’t we have just waited a few months to get pregnant? I won’t know those answers in this life. But I do know what amazing blessings I’ve been given. And those who know our family know the Lord blessed us with not 2 but 3 babies the ‘old fashioned’ way and not 1 but 2 adoptions to add to our family. And I can’t imagine that any other way, either. Each is such a joy. Parenting these 5 is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever done and the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I would trade a bit of it. (Well, maybe potty training...)
I write all of this to stop the silence. To talk about it. To say, “I had a miscarriage” to those of your struggling now.
But, I also write all of this to remember. To remember the Lord’s faithfulness to me and to my family. To remind myself this year--when I did catch my breath--of how the Lord says:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
I would not have chosen to walk the path I did that scary, awful day in February seventeen years ago. But I do know that it has made me more of who I am today. And that, in this fallen world, the Lord chose to use that pain and grief in my life to remind me of his redemption--how he can make right from wrong--and of his faithfulness to me and to my family. I am blessed to have walked that hard road and I want others to know that there is hope and healing.
If you are currently in the midst of pain and grief from loss or infertility, I hope you hear that.
And let it sink down deep.
I know you may not see or feel it right now. Your pain may still be so palpable that you can’t see a way forward. The path to healing in your story might be very different than in mine. You may even be angry at me right now thinking, ‘of course she can say that--now--she has 5 children’ ‘she was able to get pregnant again’ ‘she carried 3 healthy babies’ ‘she was able to adopt’. But I will say that it was not the pregnancies, or the children--or even time--that healed my broken heart.
It was the Lord.
I have learned that my story is mine alone--but also that it is part of His much bigger and better Story. So, if you are grieving now, I pray you can look for the healing and hope in your own story--knowing that you don’t have to write it.
Lean hard on the one who is the Author.
Because He writes the best stories.