My palms were beginning to sweat and the walls closed in around me. Instead of the rapid thump of our baby’s heartbeat a deafening silence filled the room. My grip around my husband’s hand tightened as the cold wand slid across my abdomen in search of life. “I’m so sorry, there is no heartbeat.” My heart sank in my chest and my eyes brimmed with tears. I was 12 weeks pregnant, or so I thought, but the little one inside of me had stopped developing at 8 weeks. My baby’s little heart was no longer beating and mine was aching so sharply I thought it might stop too.
Soon after this visit to the doctor, my husband and I experienced the far too early labor pains and traumatic passing of our first child. The week that followed was a blur, filled with visits from family and friends, meals from our church and conversations about the miscarriage. Life was on hold and this seemed appropriate and comforting as we mourned and processed our loss. However, the days soon turned to weeks and life had to resume. It was time to keep walking forward, and this was one of the most painful parts of it all. Everything around me was returning back to normal, while I felt everything but normal inside.
This little baby, barely the size of a grape, had already changed our lives and what we thought our lives would look like. But now, it was all gone. Everything had changed with the loss of our baby. The next nine months would no longer be marked by growing belly pictures on Instagram, baby showers, shopping for maternity clothes, or preparing a nursery. Instead of a due date to look forward to with excitement, fear filled my heart as I anticipated facing that day with empty arms. The bellies of other pregnant women seemed to taunt me and remind me each passing month of how far along I would have been. By the end of each day, weary of fighting back the tears, I could usually be found weeping in my husband’s arms.
Nearly two years have passed since those foggy days of grief, but the memories of the heartache remain vivid. I rejoice and thank God for the two little ones he has blessed my husband and me with since then, but I still long to hold the baby we lost. Though healing has overridden the grief in my heart, miscarriage has changed me and taught me things I would not have learned otherwise— even though if I am honest, I would gladly trade these things for my baby. The Lord has heard these honest cries of my heart and I am grateful that he is able to handle them. Though painful, I praise Him for the lessons He teaches in the valley. I pray whether you find yourself in the midst of the fog of miscarriage today, remembering the pain of your loss, or trying to encourage a friend in her grief, that these things would be a help to your heart.
1. Miscarriage changes you. Outwardly nothing had changed. We were a family of two before the miscarriage and we remained a family of two, outwardly, after the miscarriage. We had never even met the third member of our family, and yet continuing on with life as a family of two didn’t feel normal anymore. I will never forget the words of a dear friend during that time. She explained that loss ushers in a new normal and the process can be heart wrenching. This captured so well the path I was embarking on. It was heart wrenching indeed but it helped for me to understand that I wasn’t expected to pick up where I left off before the life of my baby. Life would be different. Things wouldn’t return to normal but there was a “new normal” that had to be adjusted to, and God’s grace would be sufficient for each step of that uncharted territory.
2. Rejoice with those who are rejoicing. Not only did life carry on for everyone around me but friends got pregnant and babies were born. I was not prepared for this but God in His goodness carried me along and friends were gracious as I learned what it looked like to rejoice with others even in the midst of my own grief. God gives and takes in different ways and at different times. You don’t have to say “yes” to the first baby shower invite you receive, but you are called to rejoice to those who are rejoicing. Even if you have to run to the bathroom and cry afterwards, as much as you are able, seek to rejoice with those who are rejoicing during your time of grief. Just as your friends have mourned with you in your loss, you are called to rejoice with them in their joys. Though it may hurt, seek to do it. God will be honored and your heart will heal in the process.
3. God will give grace for your due date. I anticipated May 3rd with dread. The thought of facing that day with empty arms was too much for me to bear, but I was reminded in Hebrews 4:16 that in our time of need we can draw near to God and receive mercy and grace to help. I didn’t yet have the grace that I would need when my due date would arrive. I had grace for today, and when my due date arrived, I would be given the grace needed for that day. I also would be in a different place in my grieving when that day would come. Fearing it a week or two after my miscarriage was not going to help. I had to place my trust in God and live by faith in his promise of future help. Looking back, I can testify that when that day came, the help and strength from God came with it.
4. You don’t have to wait until you are “done” grieving before you seek to have other children. For some reason I had it in my mind that we couldn’t move forward in growing our family until I had finished grieving or no longer cried at the sight of a newborn infant. I was grateful when that same dear friend pointed out that if I waited until I was “done” grieving, I could be 80 years old and well past my child bearing years. This advice freed me to not only move forward with growing our family again, but it also helped me to be okay when the tears came months and now even years later. My heart still grieves over the baby we lost and that is okay. Loss is painful and mourning over that is normal and healthy. Death is sad but when faced with it, we can let our hearts be pointed upward to Jesus, the one who came and conquered it once and for all. Because of Jesus’ perfect life, death and resurrection, those who trust in him have the hope that one day “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore” (Rev. 21:4). What a glorious day when death is defeated and miscarriage is no longer!
5. God will give again. Though he has taken this life from you, we have a God who gives. We see this most clearly at the cross. Romans 8:32 says that he did not spare his own son but gave him up for us, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? He loves you and though he may not give to you in the way you hope or expect, he has promised that only goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life (Psalm 23:6). Ask him for eyes to see evidences of his goodness and mercy. Perhaps one of the sweetest mercies, for those who trust in Jesus, is that he has promised to never leave or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). He gives us himself, his ever abiding presence, and I have found that it is in times of heartache that I cherish this most. He is with you and sees the heartache that no one else can see. Trust him. He is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, even in a time of loss, you may abound in every good work (2 Cor. 9:8).
One year after my miscarriage, I was the mother of my sweet foster son and pregnant again. God has given me two babies eight months apart—such goodness and mercy. For a friend of mine, it was almost two years after the loss of her first baby before she gave birth to her first children (twins!). Another friend was never able to conceive again but adopted a precious little boy. Both testify to God’s abundant provision and care to them in the midst of pain and loss—such goodness and mercy. Miscarriage is painful indeed but God walks alongside the aching heart long after the meals and sympathy cards stop. Whether you find him giving or taking today, I pray that this would serve as a reminder that his goodness and mercy is still following you and will continue to all the days of your life.
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