It was December 28 – three years ago. A day I can’t help but remember, although a part of me wishes I could forget it. Honestly, I wish it had never happened. But it did.
We had made our big announcement multiple times over the previous days as we celebrated Christmas with both sides of our family. Our two-year-old proudly wore his “Big Brother” shirt that I had made for him; it was his way of sharing our good news.
But the excitement and smiles soon turned to sorrow and tears, to fear and helplessness, to hurt and disappointment.
The first ultrasound revealed a fetal pole and a heart rate of 60 BPM. The ultrasound technician gave us hope. The doctor told us the hard truth. I didn’t like her much. Not because of who she was but because of what she said.
Little did I know that the image on the screen that day was the only picture I would see of our baby. A follow-up ultrasound a day later on December 28 showed no fetal pole, no heartbeat, no life. … He was gone.
But the heartache was here to stay.
I felt utterly helpless for the second time in my life. (I blogged about the first time here.) The child within my womb had been taken from me, and I couldn’t do anything about it.
Friends and family members offered what they intended to be words of encouragement. Most of the time they were just theologically shallow attempts at making me “feel better” about the situation. They usually left me devastated and wanting to fight back verbally.
But I was too overcome by sorrow to say what I was really thinking. In hindsight now, that was probably a good thing.
The experience did make me realize how important it is to “think before you speak.” I try to be much more sensitive to such situations now. Many times a simple “I love you, and I’m praying for you” speaks volumes. Much more so than man’s well-intentioned but feeble attempts to explain why God has allowed something so devastating to happen. Most of the time, we just can’t. And that’s ok.
Losing our child to miscarriage also made me realize how important it is to acknowledge the loss as the death of a loved one. The death is just as real as any other type of death, yet different in many ways.
When we lost our baby, we received a sympathy card from an older couple in our church. That card meant so much to me because it made me feel like they understood our loss as being a real loss. No, we never got to hold our baby or even know our baby, but we loved our baby. Still do. It was as if that simple little card gave me permission – in a sense – to grieve our loss.
After all, grieving pregnancy loss through miscarriage is often unmentionable. Something people don’t want to talk about. In fact, just the other day I mentioned our deceased baby in conversation, and it immediately became awkward. The people with whom I was talking just nodded their heads and steered the conversation in a different direction. Perhaps such responses come from a lack of understanding.
But for me, it has been more about going through the grieving process. Honestly, it’s been three years since our loss, and I’m just now able to talk about it. Time does heal, but it doesn’t take away the loss or the pain. I guess it just becomes easier to process – and accept – with time and with the Lord.
A recent interview I conducted with Kristi Bothur helped me put all of this into perspective. Oh how I wish I had been familiar with her ministry to bereaved parents three years ago. She tells all about it in the January 2016 issue of AFA Journal. God is changing lives through the support being found in Naomi’s Circle.
And He continues to comfort me now – during a season when memories of what could have been, flood my soul. I heard these familiar lyrics from the song “My Savior, My God” by Aaron Shust in a fresh way this morning:
I am not skilled to understand
What God has willed, what God has planned;
I only know at his right hand
Stands one who is my Savior.