*Trigger warning – talks about baby loss and miscarriage.
There was a day not so long ago when I could walk down the card aisle, picking up the new baby and mum to be cards with a smile, reading the words without a thought. A day when my eyes didn’t fill with tears when hearing the words ‘baby bump’ or looking at a friend’s ultrasound picture posted on Facebook or the baby sale catalogue coming in the mail.
There was a day when I knew about miscarriages, had hugged friends who had lost a baby and had thought,
“I am so pleased that that will never happen to me.”
I know terrible things happen to wonderful people all the time, but like most, I never thought I would be at the end of a hug from someone telling me that they were sorry for my loss.
The journey over the past 6 months has been full of ups and downs. Terrible aches that I never knew I was capable of feeling alongside joy that I feel is going to pour out of me, so grateful for the lives I have held in my womb, and particularly for the promise that I will one day meet each of my children.
I have thought a lot about writing my thoughts out and if I should share them with others. I have never been very good about talking about my feelings, I stumble over words, can never quite find the words to speak about the depth of my conviction or what is going through my head. Writing gives me the chance to press the delete button, find the thesaurus and sit in silence and ponder a point without making a conversation painful.
One out of every four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. When my forth pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at just 6 weeks, I was devastated. I had found out a week before that we were expecting again and never once did I consider that this baby wouldn’t be born into my arms. My experience to that point had been that I was blessed to be rather ‘fertile’, joking that all we had to do was wash our clothes together and I would be pregnant. Besides being very sick with an undiagnosed Intestinal parasite during my pregnancy with Caden, my first trimesters had been rather dull. To me pregnancy was a joyful period of expectation, a time to ponder baby names, browse through the baby ailses with a goofy, expectant grin and watch my belly expand. Anxiety, blood, pain and tears never entered into my dreams.
After my first miscarriage, I at times felt guilty, feeling that my pain was out of balance with what I had lost. I had two close friends who miscarried their babies within weeks of me, the difference was that they were both at the end of their first trimesters, while I was just short of 6 weeks pregnant. But do you know what; pain is pain. Loss is loss. Once conception occurs a baby is a baby, no matter whether it is the size of an apple seed or 9lbs. And love is love. Love can not be measured by time and neither can grief. I had to come to realise that I didn’t need to feel guilty because my baby didn’t have fingers yet, I could feel however I wanted to because my baby had been there and now he wasn’t. So I cried.
The loss of the baby we named Quinn meant that the discovery of a pregnancy was now different. While still exciting, being pregnant was now tainted with anxiety, a loss of the innocence of pregnancy and a knowledge that two little pink lines on a stick didn’t necessarily result in soft squishy cuddles from a sweet smelling newborn. I found out I was pregnant on Thanksgiving. I think I took 4 tests, each resulting in a faint line and I fretted that the line wasn’t dark enough and something must be wrong already. A few days later and another test showed a dark pink line and finely I could exhale…already I was feeling tired and nauseas, a wonderful reassuring feeling. I past 6 weeks and began to feel more comfortable and confident. This time, things were different. This time things were ‘normal’. My body was doing as it should, I was exhausted and sick, gaining a little weight and I took joy in all of this. We began to share our news with our friends and family, I don’t think I have ever waited till 12 weeks to tell anyone. Being pregnant is news to be shared! But then my heart nearly stopped when there was a spot of blood on the toilet paper. I tried to dismiss it. I had just been to the Drs and had all my blood tests. I called the Dr and everything had checked out fine. My hormone levels were perfect for 10 weeks, I put it down to one of those things that you can experience and got on with the day. But later there was a little more. The next day an ultrasound showed that my baby had stopped growing at 6 weeks and had no heart beat. I am sure my heart stopped at that point too.
How could I have not known that my baby wasn’t alive anymore?
How could my body be pregnant but my baby be dead inside of me?
How could this happen to me again?
Wasn’t I a good mother?
What had I done to deserve loosing another baby?
How could God have not heard my prayers to hold my baby in my arms?
So many questions went through my numb body. I lay curled in a ball while others took care of my kids, brought us food and cleaned my house. I wanted someone with me but I didn’t know what to say or do with them there. I cried more tears then I knew I had. I was grateful, so grateful for friends who hugged me and made themselves available but sometimes their well meaning words made my ache deeper.
Phrases I know that I have uttered at times of grief to other people just seemed so hollow as I mourned the loss of my baby and struggled through having no control over my body.
“God does everything for a reason” or “God can make anything good” made me so angry. Even a loving message that a friend was praying for me would send me into a foetal position on the couch, tears streaming down my face as I wondered what the point of God answering their prayer now was when he hadn’t answered my prayer to hold my baby in my arms. None of what I was feeling seemed to fit into these cliches. How could my baby dying be for a good reason? Or what good could come out of it? Others told me to cling onto the children I had, that at least I had been blessed with them.
Please understand; A child is a child. Once conception has occurred, a baby is a baby it doesn’t matter how big it is. And a mother’s love is what it is; powerful and unconditional and never ending. It is not determined by time or sight, it is an instinct and the reason a woman puts up with throwing up every day for 3 months, why a woman allows her body to go through changes that will end in surges stronger then she has ever experienced before. A mothers love does not have a start time or and end time. For some the love occurs years before she ever pee’s on a stick, for others it starts as a little flame. But please, never tell a mother who has lost a child that was real, tiny and out of sight, but no less real then you are, that it does not matter because she has other children. Through my heart ache I was thankful for my children, they brought me joy with their cheeky grins and my thoughts went out to the many women who suffer through miscarriages and infertility without little arms that tug on their legs or sweet voices to say I love you. But you can not compare grief, because what is the worst kind of grief? The worst kind of grief is your own grief and no one can take that away from you.
I would like to tell you more about my journey. Over the past few months I have felt torn apart. I have felt alone, ashamed and forgotten, or worse as if I was being punished. I have learnt though that this is far from true. I have never once been alone. Not only have I been surrounded by friends and family and the most amazing husband, I have come to understand that God cares deeply and shares my pain.
Jesus’ death and resurrection have a completely new meaning to me now. They are not distant, wonderful concepts, they are now a painful reality.
The pain in them is that our world is fallen, people make selfish decisions everyday and through those decisions consequences occur. The pain is that Jesus, God in person, grieved the suffering he was going to go through. He grieved the suffering he was going to put his mother through. The pain is that my babies, a much hoped for and loved being that was growing in my womb died and I will never hold them in my arms.
If I were to dwell on these aspects, I think I would still be a curled up ball on the couch, but the reality is that there is hope.
I wasn’t being punished. I wasn’t to blame. My selfishness, anger, temper, gossiping ways were not being held against me because someone had paid for them. I am not under the system of law and justice where I receive penalties and punishment for every wrong thing. Christ’s death on the cross has paid the price for my penalties.
13 When you were dead because of the things you had done wrong, God made you alive with Christ and forgave all the things you had done wrong. 14 He destroyed the record of the debt we owed, with its requirements that worked against us. He canceled it by nailing it to the cross.
There is hope because God entered into a covenant, a promise, an identity with us when Jesus came as a baby to earth and died on the cross. There is hope because he did not stay in the grave, he rose again and he promised to prepare a place for us with him.
There is hope because I know my beautiful Quinn and Aria will one day be in my arms because of the love of God who saw that we were a broken people and he stepped out in pain to make it right. I understand this on a new level today then I ever have before.
There are days when I wake up and this hope is harder to see and feel. I find myself curled up on the couch, soaking the pillow in tears as I miss my children. But, each day is a new day. Each morning the sun comes up again and I have another chance to show the love that my children have given me, all of my children, and each day I am trying to find the hope in my new reality.