April 28, 2015

Miscarriage: An Inheritance of Tears

Kyle and I were giddy. I do remember that. We had practically floated into the doctor's office, he'd squeezed my hand as we waited for the doctor, and we'd joked with her as she prepared the instruments for my ultrasound. My exact words were, "We hope this pregnancy will be twins so we can get two for one--two babies for one pregnancy!" And then we'd laughed and laughed, like it would all be easy and life was fun and games, as if we could place an order for exactly what we wanted, as we wanted it.

I laid back on the exam table and waited as the doctor probed. I'd had a baby before, so I knew what to wait for: the magnified, pulsing beat of a heart reverberating loudly in the room. Not just any heartbeat; our baby's heart. I looked over at my husband, who was seated and waiting as well, and smiled.

But then the waiting stretched a little too long. I felt a small twinge in my heart, and I wished it was a twinge in my womb instead. Oh Lord, please.

The doctor, who had been quietly probing, put down her instruments, stood to her feet, and said, "Let's take you to the ultrasound technician for a better look."

Kyle and I waited silently for our turn in the ultrasound room, and I tried to be brave, but a lone tear slipped from my eye.

Again, I laid back on the exam table. Again, the technician probed silently. Again, I felt a twinge in my heart because the beating we all were listening for didn't come. Again, the technician stood to her feet and said, "I can't find a heartbeat but it's possible that we're a little too early and that another ultrasound will show a healthy baby. I'd like for you to come back after the weekend for another exam."

After the weekend? That weekend, we'd planned a 60th birthday getaway for my mother-in-law in New York City. We were supposed to be celebratory and happy all the while wondering if we had lost our baby?

I went home and went to bed, although I cried and cried instead of sleeping. In between fits of tears, I prayed for God to do a miracle, but I knew deep down that we'd lost our baby.

I couldn't believe I was having a miscarriage. We'd been joking one moment and then drowning in pain the next. How could that be? Why was this happening? The whiplash made me feel almost foolish for being excited over the pregnancy.

The next week, our fears were confirmed in the doctor's office. I had miscarried, and it was even further confirmed when I began to bleed heavily and painfully later that day.

The silent grief began. We hadn't told anyone we were pregnant, so we weren't sure who to tell that we'd miscarried. Those we told figuratively shrugged or reminded us how commonly it occurs. I wondered if I'd done something to cause it, because I'd been violently ill just a few weeks into the pregnancy. I wondered if we'd be able to have more children. I wondered why God chose not to do a miracle for our baby. With others experiencing more intense loss, I wondered if I should push through the grief as quickly as possible. How do you grieve a baby that you barely knew about?

We have three boys now, so some of my questions have since been answered. I've learned that grief is grief, that we all experience it, but we experience it in different ways. Obviously, some questions haven't been answered, because I can't explain God's sovereignty and goodness according to my human calculations. I don't know why we lost that baby, but I trust God's goodness toward me anyway.

And you know what? I still think about that baby, not with grief but with joy. That spark of a baby we lost came between the first and second of our boys. I always wonder if that baby was my girl, and I secretly hope it was, because that means I'll have a daughter to enjoy in heaven. And that's just it--that baby turned my heart toward heaven and taught me to be homesick for my true and eternal dwelling place. That baby taught me to cry, "Come, Lord Jesus!"
Many, many women in my life have experienced miscarriages, some even stillbirths. If you are one, I grieve with you and for you. I also want to offer you a wonderful new resource called Inheritance of Tears: Trusting the Lord of Life When Death Visits the Womb by Jessalyn Hutto. It's a quick read (I read it in one sitting) and extremely helpful for women grieving a lost baby, as well as women walking alongside one who is grieving. She answers many of the questions that I was asking after our miscarriage and helps her readers turn their hearts in trust toward the Lord. You'll also want to check out Jessalyn's blog. She has some additional posts and information related to miscarriage that will certainly be helpful for those currently walking through it.