It’s been years since I had my two miscarriages, but I can remember them like it was yesterday.
Miscarriage was a surprise to me. My mother had four babies with no problems. I had four babies myself, all normal births with no complications.
So I was not prepared, and in fact, I had never considered, that I would not carry my fifth baby to term.
A sonogram told my doctor why I had begun to bleed: a clot had formed under the placenta. We could see the dark shadow on the screen, close to the snowman-like seven week fetus with a beating heart. The doctor gave me hope, sometimes this will resolve itself, he said. But there was nothing medically he could do. He said I should go home and lay down, maybe that would help.
I did my best as a stay at home mother with four children. I spent my days managing my household from a recliner. Friends from church brought meals. But as the days passed, the bleeding got heavier, and on the eighth day after I first began to bleed, my baby was born.
I opened the clot, and inside a little bubble was my eight week old fetus. Its little heart was still red, so I knew it had lived until it left my womb. It had the beginnings of fingers and toes, and it was precious to me. I cried over the loss of this little life I had looked so forward to holding, nursing, loving and watching grow up.
I did get pregnant again seven months later, and had a healthy boy. But my next pregnancy also ended in miscarriage. Four months later, I was pregnant again and had my sixth living child. I had one more live birth in my forties, and we have since adopted three more.
I came away from this experience with several observations that I hope will help women who are going through this hard time, and maybe help those who are supporting mothers who have lost their babies through an early birth:
First, it is alright to grieve. You have lost a child. You were pregnant and bonding and the child died. The very best advice I got was to “just cry until you feel better”. It did help to release my grief. Not many people will understand your intense suffering, because the mother is usually the only one who has bonded with the baby.
Second, a funeral helps, if you were able to ‘catch’ the little body. I had some flowers in my backyard that had been my grandmother’s, and I buried my two babies under those flowers. I felt a sense of peace thinking that my babies were with my grandmother, and she was holding them for me.
Third, the doctor may use language that is offensive if you call him for help as the miscarriage threatens. With my second loss, the doctor talked to me on the phone, telling me what to expect. He used phrases like “You will pass some tissue.” My mind screamed “That’s not tissue, that’s my baby!” The only thing to do is forgive him, or instruct him gently.
Fourth, friends will say inappropriate things that may hurt you. Forgive them too, they are usually trying to comfort you, and just don’t know how. I heard many times “A miscarriage is God’s (or natures) way of getting rid of deformed babies.” I remember telling more than one person, “I would have loved it anyway!” Another person told me “You can always get pregnant again.” “But I wanted THAT one!” I cried. The most insensitive comment I heard was “Maybe this is God’s way of telling you you have enough children!” For that one, there were no words. The God I read about in the Bible welcomes children and calls them a blessing.
On the other hand, you will have friends who instinctively do the right thing. I remember talking about my miscarriage to one friend, who suddenly grabbed me in her arms and hugged me without words. It was exactly the right thing to do. Another friend brought me a candle and talked about light. I have forgotten her exact words, but I remember how comforting it was, and how I cherished the candle. It’s nice to have something to look at.
Fifth, you may find yourself trying to ‘figure it all out.’ I remember struggling with missing my lost baby while holding my next child in my arms, realizing if I hadn’t lost the first one, the second one wouldn’t be here. One night, while bathing my toddler son as I felt sad, guilty and confused about the lost baby, I realized I didn’t have to make sense of it. One baby does not replace another. It was fine for me to miss the one I lost, while completely loving the one I had in my arms.
Sixth, no pregnancy after a miscarriage will ever be the same. There is a loss of innocence. There is a heightened sense that having a child is not a ‘given’. That life is truly a miracle, and we should not take it for granted. You will probably be more careful, more in tuned, more grateful for a live birth. And that’s the way it should be.
Seventh, you will never forget. I remember in those months after losing my babies searching the Bible desperately trying to figure out exactly when a person received a soul. I wanted to know if I would see my babies, if I would ever know whether they were boys or girls, what they were like.
And finally, this is one of the Bible verses that comforted me and brought me peace. I found that God had ordained all the days for my babies before there was even one of them. This told me that God had intended for my babies to go straight from my body to heaven. They never experienced pain or sadness. They were blessed!
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.