It’s a story I haven’t really told, one that not many people know about. It isn’t like I wear a badge on my chest or a ribbon to show support for a cause close to my heart. Those like me suffer in silence, our faces shielding the pain that has run deep in our hearts.
In ways, I like the term ‘miscarriage’. It evokes the image of a wrongful action, the life cut short, before it even has a chance to begin. Of course, the many reasons for the loss of a baby have been well documented medically, but not one, not even the most graphic and worst case scenario situations eases the pain.
When Daniel and I first married, my idea was to wait a year before we attempted to have children. We were both in school, and I was extremely close to having my degree. With that goal within reach, I didn’t want to jeopardize that opportunity to see it to completion. Looking back, I see that it may have been somewhat selfish to think that I could control the situation like that. But I realize now, that while it works for some to wait, it wasn’t in the cards for me. After about a month of marriage I had these very, very strong promptings that I should revisit my desire to wait to have a baby and start trying right away. Daniel and I talked about this desire and prompting and while he had supported my desire to wait, he was more than thrilled with the idea we start trying right away. He had felt that we should be trying for a baby right away. It was a spiritual experience for me and I knew without a doubt that things would work out for me to finish school and still follow the inspiration I had been given. One month later, I was pregnant and filled with joy and longing for my baby.
My first miscarriage took place at a wedding. I’m sure that somewhere that can be seen as a bad omen. We were only seven to eight weeks into this pregnancy, but enough to know that it made a huge impact on my body. Never nauseous, but constantly running to the restroom was my biggest indication of the change going on inside me. It started as something light, a bit of spotting. By evening, it was in full swing and I was scared. The news there, was not good, although the nurses tried to console me with talk of losing a twin, and that I could still have a baby. The blood work came back as the final nail in the coffin of my dream. I was indeed losing the life inside of me. I sobbed.
The next few months were difficult to say the least. A doctor’s visit where the nurse brushed off the experience as “normal” and nature’s way of dealing with “bad DNA” wasn’t as consoling as perhaps it was intended. I grieved silently, and occasionally with someone close to me. I don’t know if I have recovered from it to this day. My mother had never had a miscarriage and didn’t understand, although her heart broke for me being in pain. Her arms were never far away and her tears flowed with mine. My mother in law had lost a child at four or five months, carried cradled in her womb for some time before her body rejected it. She wept with me too, for her own experience as well as mine.
I did get to a point where the tears didn’t shed as easily and I was able to function. Imagine my joy when I found myself pregnant, a year later, after graduating from college. I was estatic, thinking that the odds were in my favor, not many women had multiple miscarriages. I was thrilled when I made it past the ten week mark, almost breathing a sigh of relief. Just mere days before my first appointment at 13 weeks, I started spotting. Rushing to the office, and meeting Daniel there, we faced the horrific reality of no heartbeat. A procedure was scheduled to “take care” of the problem, and I went home numb and unfocused. A week later I went into labor. I didn’t know it at the time, but as the waves of pain washed over me, and I lay on the couch, alone, my heart was ripped from my chest. I remember biting my hand until it bruised, trying to stop the shaking and stem the flood of tears.
A few months later, another positive pregnancy test was taken with much reservation. There was no joy, or anticipation. A lead weight rested on my chest and I wasn’t ready for the disappointment that came just mere weeks after my discovery. I would sit on the floor of the shower and cry until the water ran cold.
Another attempt ended before it began. I remember my mother asking me why I was running to the bathroom so often. She thought I should see someone. My throat almost closed up as I told her that I knew perfectly well why I was running to and from the bathroom, but there was no hope, and calling the doctor wouldn’t matter. It was over….I now knew the signs. I could see the tears in her eyes and I knew her heart ached for me, much like my own ached for the child that would not be.
By now, I wasn’t sure if my heart would ever recover from the pain and loss. My arms were empty, they ached. I wanted to hold my child, to look on the gift from God that was so precious. I was angry. I yelled, I cried, and I prayed. I wasn’t comforted, although the comfort was there for my taking if I had only recognized it. I sat behind a dark curtain, unwilling to see the sunlight on the other side.
My next pregnancy was difficult to deal with, as were all the others. I remember being about seven or eight weeks and calling the new doctor I had to see due to changes in insurance and telling them I was bleeding. They told me they could get me in six weeks later, and asked if morning or afternoon was more convenient. I think I hung up the phone before answering and sinking to the floor. I rocked back and forth, lost to think that I knew my baby wouldn’t be there in six weeks. It was leaving now.
I remember that I almost watched myself from a distance. It was almost if someone else were moving me and making me pick up the phone to call my mother. I don’t remember what I said, or even what she said for that matter. I was still a million miles away, where shields were laying shattered on the ground and a small heart writhed in pain. I know now that the Lord took over then. Perhaps He knew I had been through enough and it was time for me to find the answers I needed.
Five times...Five times I grieved, and with each new loss, it ripped the scab open that had formed over my heart. The gouges were deeper with each baby that I lost. Five times I cried, and often cried alone because my husband didn’t know what to do for me. He grieved in his own way, because his loss was just a real as mine, but we didn’t quite see it that way at the time. Too many times, I would hear the well intentioned words “It’s for the best”, or for those who had no idea of our trials, “When are you going to have a baby?” and it would cause a sharp pain to shoot from my chest to my soul.
Perhaps there are some who say that losing a baby shouldn’t affect me the way it did. I wasn’t very far along, and it really wasn’t “real”. Oh how I beg to differ. You just don’t know until you have been there! I suppose that twelve years later, and with the joy of two blessed children in my life, the pain would have gone away, but it hasn’t. I don’t think it ever really does. It may dull to an ache that sits at the back of your soul, handled but still there.
I’m sure that my story isn’t necessarily unique in the fact I lost a number of babies. Nor am I alone in my grief and sense of loss, because others have lost as well. Perhaps I don’t like to dwell on what I have been through because I have been blessed with children now. As I said, the Lord had his hand in the birth of my two children. It wasn’t easy getting them here, and I don’t regret the journey one bit. I suppose the fact that I experienced pain has made the sheer fact that I became a mother all the more sweet and satisfying.
I don’t share my story often. Occasionally, I will whisper it to a mother who has lost her child, to let her know we are kindred souls….I have lost too and know her grief. But mostly I hold it in, next to my heart, the only way I can cocoon my lost ones because they didn’t have a chance to be held in my arms. What good does it do to hide my story anymore? Maybe I was afraid of the judgment or the pity that was sure to come my way. I’m sure I didn’t handle myself with aplomb and dignity and my husband saw far more swollen red noses and puffy eyes than he thought he had signed up for. I argued with the Lord and was angry for a long time. This doesn’t bode well when sharing what I feel was one of the darkest moments in my life. There isn’t anything especially inspiring, or a lesson learned to tie up nicely in a pretty bow.
The fact is, twelve long wonderful years later, I still grieve. It’s okay. The fact is never going to change that I was pregnant seven times. The fact is never going to change that of those seven, only two made it to birth and beyond; and it isn’t going to change that one of the biggest fears in my life is going through that anguish again. But I have been blessed, and so will those mothers going through similar things. I came out of the dark, with a purer appreciation of the light; light which is bright and healing. They will too.
*Thanks Google, for the image!*