Five times my womb has been a tomb. A sheltered, hidden place that was created to miraculously grow life instead housed the tiny dead. Five times. But it took just one loss to forever change me.
Talking about miscarriages is seldom easy or natural for me. However, I have an extended relative who I just found out this week suffered a miscarriage. This newlywed who just a few weeks ago had eagerly announced to loved ones and friends the happy news that their first baby was on the way has to now find the words to share the heartbreaking reality that their joy has turned to grief. This post is especially for you, Emily. Nevertheless, while I write with Emily in mind, I also write for all of you who know the unspoken sorrow of carrying the dead within you. Praying you find some measure of comfort and encouragement in my words as you walk this hard path.
First, no one will ever know your sorrow. You alone will carry it. You alone are the only human who ever will think of this child again and again and again. Even your spouse will not know your grief. Don’t expect him too. But before you fall into further despair by these seemingly cold words, look up. God who wonderfully made you and was knitting your tiny baby together is collecting your every tear that you will ever cry as you mourn what briefly was and is no more. (Psalm 56:8) He sees. He knows. He cares. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. Turn to Him again and again and again as the grief washes over you again and again and again. I have never known my God to be so close and present and real as in one of my deepest hours of sorrow which occurred when I had my fifth miscarriage. God was so clearly walking me through the trial that I was overwhelmed by His presence. No, I had no visions. I did not see Him. No angel appeared to me. But, the way He orchestrated events was such a clear sign that this was no random, unlucky accident happening to me. No indeed. Quite the contrary. God, the sovereign Creator of my tiny baby was doing something far grander than I could imagine. Keep looking to Him. He is your refuge in this storm. He will prove faithful.
Second, not all OB-GYNs are the same. Hurting one, I pray you have a doctor or midwife that sees this tiny unborn lifeless form as an actual human being. My first OB-GYN group included people that said things revealing they thought my precious child was nothing but tissue. But, praise God, when I had my fifth miscarriage, which was also my most challenging one in many ways, I was at a different OB-GYN group that held my 13-week developed unborn dead baby in such high regard that the doctor even mentioned I might want to consider holding a service for my child. The comfort I received from the value placed on my child was priceless to me during that dark hour. If you are hearing discouraging words from your doctor’s office, don’t take them to heart, but instead think on truth. I was told during one miscarriage ultrasound that the miscarriage was just bad luck and hopefully I’d have better luck next time. Where is the comfort in that?! There is no such thing as bad luck and good luck. There is only a sovereign God who does good even if pain is involved in the process. Think on truth!
Third, know your options. I am not here to tell you how to proceed with your miscarriage. However, I am here to tell you that I had five miscarriages and NEVER had a D&C. It seems that it is very common to have D&Cs. Again, not all OB-GYNs are the same. My first OB-GYN group highly recommended intervention if the miscarriage didn’t take place within two weeks of its discovery. I personally am a little adverse to medical intervention. Thankfully my first four miscarriages met the imposed deadline. However, when miscarriage five came along it was a completely different story. Again, thankfully, I had changed to another OB-GYN by this point. Not only did this new doctor value my child, but he also valued my freedom to choose how to proceed. He did not force me to have a D&C. He did not even highly recommend I have one. He told me my options. And one of the options was letting the miscarriage proceed naturally. He could not assure me when this miscarriage would end, but he gave me complete assurance that I could choose natural if I wanted. And, I did. I am forever grateful to that doctor. Instead of going into a hospital and choosing medical intervention, a few weeks after my appointment in the privacy of my own bathroom, I delivered a tiny human form with the umbilical cord still attached to the baby on one end and the placenta on the other. While it was heartbreaking to experience, it was also incredibly comforting to hold and see my intricately formed baby and be able to deal with all of my various emotions and reactions in private. You have options.
Fourth, miscarriages create an opportunity for significant personal growth. Never, ever would I have chosen my five miscarriages. Never. And, yet…if I had the option, I would keep them in my life story. Which is pretty amazing that I am saying that because I still feel such incredible pain from them. But, I see that they were good for me. They changed me so much for the better. They grew compassion in me. They grew humility. They grew trust in God. They grew in me a love for children. They challenged my views on birth control. My understanding of who God is that I gleaned from these trials is invaluable. I don’t want the miscarriages, but I can’t imagine how I would have learned all that I needed to learn without them. Now, it has been over four years since my last miscarriage. I did not immediately think after having a miscarriage that I would like to keep these horrific events in my life story. In fact, I specifically remember leaving the doctor’s office after finding out about my third miscarriage and being incredibly angry at God. How dare He do this to me!!! (how horrible of me to say!). When I got home I knew I should turn to God and read my Bible, but it was quite a fight to make my hand reach for my refuge. And, then where to turn to in that timeless book??? Well, I landed at James 1:2, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.” WHAT?!?! God wanted me to consider losing this baby a JOY?!?! My anger increased at first. And, then almost as immediately my heart softened, and I knew I had found the name for this baby: Joy.
Fifth, don’t take to heart the hurtful things people unintentionally say. People can say some really not cool things. To be honest, I guess it hasn’t happened to me too much. But, the times it does really stick out. However, I know for myself that I had zero clue about miscarriages before having one myself. I recall a fellow church member having one and me not saying anything to her. I just didn’t get that it was a significant event in a woman’s life. I just thought it was like a late period and a slight disappointment. Try again next time. Wow, was I wrong! So, as people have occasionally said not helpful things to me, I try to remember my limited understanding back in the day and assume that is where they currently are.
And last, swinging back and forth on the emotional pendulum is normal. So, I’ve just poured out my heart trying to comfort you, but you might not be feeling any sadness right now. I get that too. I experienced quite an emotional pendulum after my first miscarriage especially. I felt so sad at moments and then at other moments not sad at all. How could I be sad about a person I had never ever met? I didn’t know their personality. What they looked like. Didn’t even know their gender. Why would I be sad? Then, I would swing back unexpectedly to the other end of the pendulum when a cashier would randomly ask me, “How many kids do you have?” Suddenly, I was back to deep, private sadness and found myself in an awkward moment of silence as I processed how to respond to the seemingly easy question to answer.
Well, I could go on, but I need to finish up for now. To sum it all up, miscarriages are horrible. I hate them. They are part of the effect of the curse. I wish they had never existed. I wish no one had to suffer from a miscarriage.
But, I am not without hope. God is good. If He has written miscarriage in your life story, it was not done by mistake. God did not get sleepy on His job of watching over you. There is a reason this is now part of your journey. While you struggle through questions you might now have, I pray the book, Safe in the Arms of God: Truth from Heaven about the Death of a Child by John MacArthur will bring you further encouragement and comfort as it did for me after my first miscarriage.
Don’t give up. Cry. Cry. Cry some more. But, never, ever give up.