“Well, you seem like a very strong person.” With that statement, she fought back her own emotion, threatening to reveal itself, and uncomfortably ducked into another room, leaving me standing in shock as I muttered, “I try to be.” I think she really was trying to be kind, but her words stung. Was I chosen to go through this because I was strong? Why was I the one that had to be strong again when others never had to go through this at all? If I really were that strong, why did this hurt so much? Was it supposed to hurt less because I was strong? There were a lot of questions during those long, dark days. There were days that I didn’t want to be strong; I just wanted life to go back to “normal.” I wanted to wake up and realize that this was all just a horrible dream: I wanted my baby back!
Allow me to give you a little background. After three completely normal pregnancies (in 2002, 2004, and 2006), I suffered a miscarriage in February of 2010 that was most likely due to low progesterone. I was around six weeks along at the time. Early the next year, I became pregnant again and quickly found a topical progesterone cream to use during the all-important first trimester. That October, our first “rainbow baby” girl was born, nine days overdue and weighing a whopping 9 1/2 pounds! As she grew and became a toddler, I once again caught “baby fever” and began to hope for another little one!
I discovered that the Lord had answered my prayer in early August 2013. I called the doctor as soon as I knew and explained my previous history. They scheduled me for an appointment and told me to call if there were any indications of a problem. When slight complications began before my initial appointment time arrived, the office worked me in. We had an ultrasound at 8 weeks and saw (and heard) a heartbeat and an active baby. I was placed on progesterone pills. The complications stopped. Wednesday, September 4, 2013, is a day that will live in my memory for a very long time. I had made it to 10 weeks, and we were back in the office for our follow-up ultrasound. As the technician placed the doppler on my lower belly, she told us that we should be able to see the baby more easily this time since I was farther along. Then, she stopped. Her face grew solemn as she said that we’d have to use the more invasive procedure. It was then that I knew. I tried to keep holding on to hope, but I knew. Our baby was gone! With the second procedure, she confirmed that the baby had died very soon after our first ultrasound two weeks before. (The progesterone pills had not stopped the complications after all; they had just taken care of the symptoms.) She stepped out of the room to allow us a few moments to grieve and returned when the doctor was on the phone to speak to me. He was very kind, but most of what he said was just noise to me. All I could think of was my sweet little baby. I reclined in the back seat of the van as we drove back to the church to drop my husband off at the office. Before I left, we brought our three oldest children from the school dismissal line and into his office to tell them the news. They cried; we all cried! My mom drove me and the kids home, while my husband stayed at the office to prepare for church that evening. I went home and went to bed, still numb and trying to process what was going to happen. As the progesterone in my system began to wear off, my body would officially begin the process of miscarrying my child. I did not know when it would begin or how long it would take, but I knew it was coming. When I went to church that evening, I felt open, exposed, and vulnerable. Once again, I cried…..a lot!
I spent the next few days resting as much as I could. I was thankful that my mom was there to help take care of the family while I rested. She stayed until early Saturday morning. For the sake of our four children (ages 2,7,9, and 11 at that time), we did our best to continue our normal routine, even going out soul-winning on Saturday. By that evening, I knew that the next couple of days would bring what I had been dreading: the official, physical loss of my baby. I don’t know that I heard much of anything at church that Sunday, but I was there since it seemed a much better option than being home alone. The physical pain came and went over the next few hours; and, by Monday afternoon, I was faced with the reality that I was no longer expecting. I literally felt empty and broken.
Physically, I recovered quickly and jumped right back into family and ministry responsibilities. Emotionally, I rode a roller coaster for the next few months. (Sundays were especially difficult, mostly because that is when the physical loss actually occurred.) Some people cried with me; some held me while I cried; some offered their prayers and condolences; and others just passed by as if nothing had happened at all. The stinging words about my strength were spoken just a few weeks into my struggle. I look back at pictures from that time, and I see sadness in my eyes. It was a time of silent suffering. I am thankful for the love and kindness of my husband during that time, as well as for those special friends who showed their love and concern after the initial time of grief had passed.
Miscarriage and pregnancy loss is a difficult subject which, unfortunately, is frequently ignored. While we talk about the horrors of abortion and the value of every life, Christians are often not as sensitive to the unintentional loss of a pregnancy as one would expect. Perhaps, this is because miscarriage is intensely personal. Perhaps, it is because, to minister to someone who is hurting, we must also be willing to reveal our own hurts or fears. Perhaps, it is because we are too wrapped up in our own struggles to set aside time for others. Whatever the reasons have been, it is time that we begin to look for ways to encourage those who have suffered a loss of this kind. Since October is the month set aside to help us remember those facing this grief, I will be posting a series of articles called “Suffering in Silence: Ministering to Those Who Have Suffered Through Miscarriage, Pregnancy Loss, Stillbirth, or Infant Death.” I hope that this will be a blessing to you and will help you as you look for ways to show the love of Christ to others!