To the Miscarrying Mother

miscarrying

You wanted this child. You prayed for him. When you saw the positive on the test, you rejoiced over it. You told your husband, thanked God, and even told some family and friends. You wanted to share the joy. You marked the due date on your calendar, started thinking about names, and daydreaming of how to decorate the nursery. You wondered about his/her gender and hair color, and whether he’d look more like you or your husband. You may not have felt him move inside you yet, but you loved him. You may already have begun feeling sick and tired and emotional as you began to lay down your body for another. You were a mother, perhaps for the first time, perhaps for the fifth.

But then, one day you weren’t anymore. Perhaps you knew when you began to bleed. Perhaps it was at an appointment, when you waited to hear the sound of your child’s heartbeat on the monitor and heard only silence instead. I’ve been there. I’ve fought the numb disbelief, felt the panic of not being able to keep my child inside where he belonged. I felt the grief, the confusion, the gnawing dread that perhaps it was something I did. Perhaps it was that badly-timed stomach flu. Perhaps I didn’t eat well enough or start taking my prenatal vitamins soon enough.

“There may have been a genetic problem,” some will try to reassure you, “Often the body miscarries when it recognizes that the child won’t survive well anyway.” But that reason never satisfied. Saying it wasn’t my fault, just made it the child’s fault. Unhealthy or not, I loved this child. I didn’t want to lose him.

Having a miscarriage is one of the most trying times in a mother’s life. Shattered dreams, conflicting emotions, anger, guilt, sometimes even relief at not being sick or exhausted anymore. And then there’s the opportunity for doubt. The hard truth is that, although God is always good, God still gives and God takes away. How can those two truths be reconciled?

After I had my miscarriage, I had a friend from church invite me out to coffee. Although she has three healthy, lively children now, she has experienced more than that many miscarriages in the past. She wanted to share some comfort, reassurance, and insight about what to expect from someone who had survived the grief before.

Today, I’d like to offer the same to you. Sit down with me. Let’s chat. Let’s talk about the hard things, the hushed things, the tragedies that the world likes to ignore. Calling these ‘practical tips’ seems a bit cold somehow. I prefer to think of them as thoughts of encouragement, each given with a hug, a gentle smile, and many prayers for God’s grace during this hard time.

1) It’s okay to take it really hard.

This wasn’t a blob of tissue. This was your child. This was you and your husband becoming one flesh in the most literal sense. This was a gift from God. Your heart and womb were full, and now your body and arms are empty. It’s okay to grieve and not brush it off like it was ‘no big deal’.

2) It’s okay to NOT take it really hard.

As a Christian, with the worldview that life begins at conception, sometimes I worried that the child I lost was too easy to forget. I cried all day the first day we discovered we’d lost him, but it was weeks later before I shed another tear. During the weeks in between, life progressed surprisingly like normal. I found myself worrying that perhaps I didn’t value that life enough. After all, I was hardly grieving to the same depth as if I’d lost my husband or older child, even though their lives should have been valued the same.

But it wasn’t like a long-time friend had left me. I had only known I was pregnant for five weeks and those five weeks weren’t long enough to alter everything. In many ways, you lost a stranger. Someone you never spoke with, never saw. So it’s normal to know this child was a treasure and simultaneously not grieve like your world is ending. Especially if you lost your child early… Don’t feel guilty for not knowing your child well enough to grieve him according to his worth.

3) Regarding regrets, leave them in the past.

I have regrets, legitimate ones. I openly resented the aches and sickness that came with the pregnancy and did more than my fair share of complaining. I had gotten pregnant sooner than I had planned to (and everyone knows how much I like to plan things). This child messed with my life plan and I told people so. It wasn’t until I had lost the child that I realized I spent hours of my preciously little time together just complaining about him.

These were things I had to repent of but I couldn’t change the past, just the future. When I got pregnant with my next son, Matthias, I learned to be grateful for each bout of nausea and each episode of back pain. The aches and pains of the 3rd timester simply meant I had made it that far with him. I learned to give thanks for it all, not just the fun parts. (It’s amazing what a good attitude can do, by the way. A cheerful heart really is good medicine!)

4) Take comfort in the knowledge that you haven’t LOST this child, just been parted for a time.

Sure, you don’t have the privilege of raising him or her in this life, but that child was still a covenant child of God. One day you will meet again and have all eternity to get to know each other. Eternity, when held up against this meager maaaaybe-seventy-years you would have spent with this child on earth, puts that parting in greater perspective, doesn’t it?

You are parted only for a time. You will be reunited again. That’s part of the good news of God’s kindness to us! Sure, God has ‘taken away’, but it’s not forever. Keep the faith and an eternal perspective. God is good to us in ways we don’t always realize, especially if we insist on living only in the immediate moment.

 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.  But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep…  What is sown is perishable; will be raised as imperishable.  It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.  It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body…  When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15

5) Remember your child. He/She is still part of your family.

Name him or her. My husband and I chose the name Aaron (if he was a boy) or Erin (if she were a girl). It was a ‘gender-neutral’ name we liked both ways and we thought the meaning (Peace) was fitting. It gives us the ability to refer to him in everyday life.

Celebrate their birthday. Since we really weren’t sure the exact day he left us (and it didn’t feel right to celebrate that day anyway), I’ve always kept his due date birthday each year. It helps me keep in mind where he fit between my other children. How old he would be now, etc. On January 11th this coming year, he would be three. On that day, I ask Christ to give him a special hug from me and tell him that I haven’t forgotten about him, but will see him someday soon.

Put their birthday birthstone on your necklace, display his/her pregnancy journal on your shelf, and tell your other children about their sibling in heaven. This child is just as much a part of their family as they are, and keeping positive memories about your little one elsewhere can help teach your children about the heaven that waits for us. Because of the future Christ promises us, death is not something to be afraid of.

6) Your husband will grieve differently.

Your husband will grieve, but it will be differently. In many ways, this unborn child was ‘less real’ than he was to you, since he was not the one carrying him. He may have had ‘head knowledge’ of being a father {again}, but it had not expressed itself in any physical way yet. Expect your husband to worry far more about you during the miscarriage process than the loss of the baby. This is normal and shouldn’t be resented. Of course, every husband is different (and I’ve only had one, which I still can’t entirely figure out, so I’m hardly an expert).

Just be willing to give him grace during this hard time. It’s a hard thing for both of you. Remember that when your own life starts falling apart, is when your partner’s every failing will seem more apparent. This is not the time to start pointing out his faults and building a divide between you. This is the time when you need each other’s support the most. Remember that your husband is your ALLY, not your enemy. Overlook what you can, understand your own shortcomings, and do what you need to keep that relationship protected.

7) Find something to keep yourself distracted while you heal.

You will heal, but it will take time. Find a hobby or distracting project to keep you occupied. Plan a trip! Take up an exercise challenge. I’m normally not a ‘crafty DIY’ person, but I decided to hand paint a mural on my son’s bedroom wall soon after my loss. It took me several months, but kept my hands occupied, my mind elsewhere, and made me feel like I was being a good mother to the child I already had.

P1310896

8) Learn more about getting healthy and miscarriage prevention, but don’t let guilt or worry take control.

Since my miscarriage, I’ve learned more about fertility and health. I learned I probably have a low progesterone problem that can contribute to miscarriage risk and was able to begin supplementation. I’ve learned about small dietary changes that can help lower your risk. As you learn more, don’t let your new-found knowledge tear you up with past guilt of what you could-have or should-have done. Let the past stay there and learn from it.

So look things up online, read books about health and fertility, learn more and be prepared as possible, but once you’ve done what you can, be prepared to give that child back to God anyway. We still aren’t in control of everything. Every child is a gift in the first place. We are not owed any of them.

9) When you get pregnant again, you will worry about miscarrying again, but don’t let that worry steal away your joy.

Instead, use your past history to enjoy each moment you have with your child, to the best of your ability. I tell people I’m pregnant right away these days, so I can recruit people’s prayers and let them rejoice in the knowledge of another grandchild, son/daughter, friend’s child while he/she is actually here. Every life is meant to be celebrated, even the little, tiny ones you can’t even see yet. If a few weeks or a month is all you have together, let it be a love-filled and rejoicing one.

So, in summary. You are a mother.

If you lose him/her, you were STILL a mother and in many ways, you still are, even if at a distance.

18 thoughts on “To the Miscarrying Mother

  1. Felisha says:

    Beautifully written Kelsey! I went through pretty much all of the above. I still worry with this pregnancy. It’s a fear you have to hand to God. But he is a God of many blessings. Even if there short lived

  2. Laura Williams says:

    Kelsey, what a beautifully written article. I didn’t realize you went through this, and I’m so sorry you had that experience. It was a tough time for me, too, because I was afraid I would not be able to stay pregnant after that. My doc told me early on I would not have children, but we chose to try. The second time, I was fine. Thank you for sharing this wonderful information. I know it will encourage and bless many families.

  3. Alina says:

    Well I’m pretty sure this was written just for me. I saw this email this morning and only skimmed through it since I’ve never dealt with a pregnancy loss. In my mind I thought, I’ll have to remember this just in case this ever happens to me. I just got back from my doctors appointment at 11 wks only an hour ago and they told me my baby has no heartbeat and stopped developing more than 2 wks ago. So thank you. Thank you for the encouragement as I am now reading through every bit of this post. You have such a positive outlook and I know it will help me get through this!

  4. Audrey DENIS says:

    Been there…he/she was baby #1…beautiful words, Kelsey. Thank you.

  5. AnnaP says:

    I would like to add to the Dad’s experience. My husband, though he grieved differently than I did… still says today, almost 5yrs later, that finding out we lost our little one, was one of the worst days of his life. It is still difficult for him to talk about the baby. My BIL, when my sister miscarried, couldn’t go to work, and cried most of the day. Some men feel it VERY acutely. Just because they weren’t carrying the baby, or having to actually go through the physical part of the miscarriage, doesn’t mean it wasn’t ‘real’ for them.

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      Yes, husbands are totally different! My husband ‘knew’ it was a real child and still talks about him often, several years later. At the time, though, it felt like I was taking the loss much harder. Thanks for the additional insight!

  6. Mary says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I read it immediately when I got the e-mail update and it just really spoke to me. I had a miscarriage two months ago and it has been so so hard, but God is good. My husband has been so supportive and our marriage has gotten so much stronger. He has cried right alongside with me. Thank you so much for this post.

  7. cindy says:

    Hi, chance upon this post. I saw the title but didn’t think it was about that topic but decided to read it. I am so sorry for your loss and thank you for the thoughts and things listed. I am currently going through one and it’s turn my world upside down right or left, I just don’t know anymore. It’s my third pregnancy and found out by chance that I was when getting my preop exam. Am I sad, mad, hurt or confuse? I can’t figure it out. Am I being bless or punished but am leaning towards punishment.

    I have been thinking about that topic of keeping his or her name (the moment we were to via hcg testing that we were pregnant, we discuss names already) and considering when we found out when we’re pregnant or the due date as his or her birthday.

    It’s hard, I didn’t cry immediately but my heart ached. Later I googled why I am not pregnant anymore I cried myself crazy when reading other so experiences. I still working, should I take time off? I haven’t fully miscarriage but my Dr said it’s a missed miscarriage. I took medication to speed it up but it haven’t happened and my hcg is still stable haven’t really decrease or increase. What am I to do? I thought I should seek second opinion because there’s a chance it’s a viable pregnancy.

    It’s true, my husband is aloof. I am upset and mad and sad. Why can’t he feel the loss? Or does he not care.

    Sorry for ranting on here, I feel like no body understand me.

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      Oh, Cindy! I can tell you’re in the middle of a confusing and heartbreaking time. First off, definitely be sure it’s NOT a viable pregnancy before taking any more medications to induce miscarriage. You’ll want to be sure! I’m not a medical professional, but if you give your body time to miscarry on its own and it doesn’t, a D&C might be in order.

      Try not to look at it as being punished. Good people go through loss all the time. It’s part of how God grows us and teaches us to rely on him and not keep our treasures only here on earth. Also, your husband is probably just coping with the loss in a different way. Men often turn their grief inward instead of outward and can give the appearance of not caring, even when they do.

      Hang in there. Tell God of your pains and confusion. He is willing and able to carry your burdens. You have created and lost a child, so that sort of pain takes time to recover from. Prayers your way during this hard time!

  8. Colleen says:

    Really needed this. I am currently going through my second miscarriage in 8 1/2 months. Thankful I have a beautiful 4 3/4 year old son who I adore but really miss these other two.

  9. Laura says:

    I have 3 babies in heaven. We lost each one of them around 10 weeks..You never forget those children, bit God gives grace to get through it all. I’m so thankful to know my children are safe in the arms of Jesus. We will see our children again.

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