The Heartache (and Hope) of a Miscarriage

When I woke up that Monday morning, I had no idea what events were going to transpire over the next few days.  It seemed like a normal start to the week.  Kevin and I woke up together, spent about fifteen minutes in bed talking about our day, and I kissed him goodbye. “See you tonight. Love you”, I said.

I went downstairs to get the kids breakfast, and as I was standing in my kitchen, I knew I was starting to bleed.  The feeling is unmistakable. I rushed to the bathroom, and as I sat down on the toilette, I collided with the worst possible scenario as a pregnant woman.  This was more than spotting.  Much more. I immediately texted my best friend in Tennessee who miscarried herself a few years ago.  “I’m bleeding”, was all I texted.  I was shaking, in shock, and had no idea what to do.  I called Kevin and told him.  He remained calm, and told me he wasn’t alarmed, and if I needed him, he’d come home.  He then prayed for me and the baby over the phone.  As soon as I hung up, my best friend called me.  I was sobbing at this point. She cried with me, and put her husband on speaker phone because he was much more calm than we were at that moment.  “Jennie, it’s me, Ben, I’m going to pray for you right now”, and he went on to pray against all fear and anxiety, and invited God’s peace to come into the situation.

After we decided that I’d call them back in a little bit, I called out to my five children in the kitchen to pray because “Mommy is bleeding”, I said.  They knew I was pregnant.  We prayed for the baby everyday.  We talked about this child as if he or she was already their brother or sister.  “I’m so excited for this baby!”, my three year old would emphatically say daily.  I heard my oldest who is thirteen solemnly tell the others that what it means is that I could be losing the baby. Just overhearing that made my heart sink.  He was right…I knew he was right, but I couldn’t even process what was going on.

I sat there for a half hour, and began texting family and close friends to pray.  That Monday morning was the start of a very difficult week that would take up residence in my heart forever.  I had never miscarried before, and had had five healthy pregnancies, so it truly caught me off guard and I just sat there in shock.

When I finally pulled myself together and stopped crying, I came out of the bathroom and said to my kids, “guys, I need you to lay your hands on my tummy and pray for this baby.” My kids are amazing prayer warriors.  They laid their hands on me, and went to town. They stormed Heavens gates with prayers for protection for the baby, and health and safety for me.  But what touched me the most was they prayed that no matter what happened, I would have peace and my emotions and heart would be okay.

We pray with our kids every single day.  Not just before we eat a meal, but for anything.  They’ve learned to drop whatever they are doing to pray.  It was in that moment that I so appreciated that they were capable of lifting me up into God’s hands when I couldn’t do it myself. “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength…that You may silence the avenger”, Psalm 2:8. Your children’s prayers are powerful!

Kevin and I decided that he should come home as I didn’t feel like I should be alone.  So he cut his day in half, and came home at lunch time. The rest of the day, I just laid down and rested.  It felt to me like I was thrown into a situation that I had no time to prepare or process for, and so I was in this daze of confusion and fear.  But…I knew God was with me, and I knew He was in control.  At that point I had texted about twelve people who I knew would pray, so I knew I was being lifted up, which was good because I felt like I couldn’t really even pray myself.  “God….” was about all I could get out before my chest would heave with heartache and the tears would spill out again.

That night after dinner, we gathered the kids around to pray for me and the baby again.  This time, there was a desperation in all of our voices since I had been bleeding all day.  Kevin kneeled on the floor in front of me, placed his hands on me and cried out to God for the life of his child while I buried my hands in my face and sobbed.  When we finished praying, Kevin said to the children and I, “I would give every last dollar we have to our name to save the life of this child.”

What we wouldn’t give for our children.

The next few days turned into a journey I hadn’t packed my bags for.  No one really talks much about miscarriage.  I have seen two of my closest friends miscarry and I cried and prayed with them through some of it, so I knew a small taste of the bitterness of miscarriage, but to go through it myself was an entirely different wrenching of my heart.

Kevin ended up taking me to the ER the next day because I was having pain that could mean a tubal pregnancy, and my midwife told me I should get checked out right away.  An ultrasound confirmed that it was not a tubal, but also that there was no heartbeat.  The next day I spent twelve hours having contractions passing everything.  It felt so similar to labor.  I knew these pains, but normally these pains meant I was laboring to bring forth life.  This was an altogether different experience full of emotions I’m not entirely sure I had felt before.

All the while Psalm 23 kept playing in my head…”though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me”.  

That Psalm was a banner over me the entire week, as I played it over and over in my mind through the shock, the tears, and the heartache.  If I didn’t have that to cling to, I know I would have had panic attacks.  I was so close so many times, but God’s Word rang in my mind and would remind me that He was near and I needn’t be afraid.

All the while, we kept a close eye on my bleeding.  Kevin would follow me to the bathroom to make sure I was okay, as he wanted to see how much blood I was passing.  My midwife and I were in communication, and she had given us guidelines that would merit us returning to the hospital. At 11PM, Kevin told me I should go to sleep.  He would stay up and watch a movie, and would set an alarm for every hour to wake me up and check on my bleeding. I tried to sleep, but the contractions were too strong, and they were every minute or two.  He came in at 12:00, and 1:00, and again at 2:00.  We decided that my bleeding was slowing down a bit and that we should just get some shut-eye.  My contractions tapered off at about 2:30 AM, but I laid there for a while in the dark room, with my eyes wide open like a deer in headlights trying to process what had just happened.

The next day I rested again as my body was continuing to cramp.  I was so uncomfortable all day it was hard to sit up or do anything.  Finally, that evening, I passed the placenta.  As soon as it came out, all the cramping stopped, so I knew it was over.  I knew then that I had passed the baby in one of the many clots I passed while I was laboring the day before. It was a bittersweet feeling.  One of complete loss that I had now lost all physical connection to my baby, but a sense of relief that the pain and fear was over.  We told the kids what had happened, and that we now knew for sure that their little brother or sister was in Heaven.

The entire week Kevin stayed level and calm, until the next day.  Our pastor, who is also Kevin’s friend, called Kevin because he had heard about the miscarriage.  Kevin answered, and I heard our Pastor say, “Hey buddy, I just heard about what you guys have been going through this week…I didn’t know…I am so, so sorry.”  He paused, and solemnly said it again, “I am so, so sorry”.  There was something in those words to Kevin that broke whatever was holding his emotions back.  He thanked him for calling, hung up the phone, and turned to me and started crying.

I think when someone suffers a loss, when we step into their pain for a few moments and tell them we are so sorry for what happened, there is a pin prick that happens on our heart.  Emotion can come out that really should come out.  Like someone give us the nod that we can let go of what we’ve been holding onto. We sat and cried together for a while, and then we had to head out to get an ultrasound to make sure I had passed everything.  After we left, we realized we had some extra time, so we stopped for a coffee.  We sat down in the corner of Starbucks with me as numb as I can remember ever feeling, and Kevin just started to cry again.  Now it was his turn to mourn the loss of our sixth child.  We ran into a friend there, and we told him what happened, and as he turned to me and said, “oh man, I’m so sorry”, I began to cry again too.

“Yes…it’s been a very difficult week”, was all I could get out.

The ultrasound confirmed that everything had passed.  To see my womb empty this time, where just a couple of days ago I saw a baby was surreal.  I wish no one had to go through the loss and suffering of a miscarriage.  That entire week I was very introspective, which is how I get when I’m in labor.  But instead of having my mind in tune with the goal of being able to hold my sweet baby at the end, it was just for an emptiness.  Nothingness.  Loss.  I was severely in tune with the fact that we are living in our broken, and fallen state.

The heartache we live with in this life is nowhere near what God had planned when He made mankind.

But my mind was also in tune with two types of women all week.  I couldn’t get them out of my heart and mind.  The first was women all throughout history and all throughout the world that have miscarried.  Or even birthed a child for that matter.  What females go through to bring life into this world is absolutely astonishing.  I kept picturing women hundreds and thousands of years ago going through what I was going through.  The pain, the heartache, the sorrow of their loss. And also women around the world who were going through a miscarriage at the exact same time…sitting in their bathroom crying just as I was.

Females are amazing, and I gained a whole new respect for each and every one of you who have labored to bring life…or death.  Like my heart had new heart-strings to millions of women that I’ve never met. 

The second group of women I had on my mind all week were women who were walking into abortion clinics, handing over money to have their pregnancy terminated.  The life they were growing inside of them ripped from them in a matter of minutes.  The tiny heart that was working around the clock to fight for their own little lives violently stopped.  “No!”, I wanted to shout to all of them, “Yours is still alive! Please, please don’t do this!”  I wanted to grab their sweet and confused faces in my hands, and show them my tears, and tell them how heartbreaking it is to have your child go from life to death and be abruptly taken from your womb. It just felt so overwhelmingly heartbreaking to think of a woman paying money, and voluntarily asking for their child’s life to end, when I was grieving so deeply for the involuntary loss of my own. The numbers continue to climb every second of the day and night…another life gone…another life gone…another life gone. Or should I say another generation gone, for you are taking away more than just one person when you abort a baby.  For example, if my parents would have aborted me, they would have been erasing from the planet me, my six children, and all the grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc which will come from me. It’s generations being erased. So has the world really lost 1,522,371,300 lives worldwide to abortion since 1980? No! So many more! (at the writing of this, numberofabortions.com clock has this number, but it clicks away at another number higher every second).

I don’t judge these women.  I feel a deep and painful sadness for them…and their baby.  

In fact, I have sat rocking and nursing my own babies on several different occasions, crying out to God to save any babies that are about to be aborted with warm tears streaming down my face. If you have had an abortion, please know that there is healing.  God forgives in radical ways when we ask Him to. “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your sins for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins”, Isaiah 43:25.  If you need to, please get healing. I know most pregnancy care centers offer counseling/healing classes for post abortion trauma, and I have friends who have gone through it and have said that it was incredibly healing for them.

Well, I’m sure you noticed that my title of this blog entry is “The Heartache and Hope of a miscarriage”.  So, you are probably asking, “where is the hope in all of this?”  I’m glad you asked, and I’d love to share…

The day after the miscarriage was over, I had a few quiet moments at the house while my mother-in-law took my kids out to lunch. I sat down and closed my eyes and prayed.  I asked God, “why? Why would you allow me to even get pregnant if you knew all of this was going to happen?  Why didn’t you spare me all this pain?”  I sat quietly before him, waiting, and fully expecting an answer.  I simply needed an answer in that moment…and He knew it.

God is so gracious when we go through deeply difficult times.  I’ve had things God has shown me before.  Some would call them visions.  Well, I believe God showed me a vision in that moment that I desperately needed.  I closed my eyes, and I saw my little boy. In the vision, it was like I was sitting on God the Fathers lap, and then He took his arm and pointed to an adorable little boy.  He was about thirty feet away or so, so not right in front of me. He was standing there in a white robe that was too big for him.  He looked to be about three or four years old, and he looked just like how my youngest boy would look in another year or two.  Blonde hair, blue eyes. He was wearing a gold crown, and as soon as I saw him, he looked at me, lifted his hand, pushed his crown back up over his eyes, and waved at me.  And with the biggest smile, he shouted, “Hi, Mommy!”

I immediately sobbed a deep, grieving, but healing cry for a long time.  I so desperately wanted to hold him.  To kiss and feel his soft, rosy cheeks.  To pull him close and tell him I loved him. My heart swelled with love for him, and in that moment I was silenced by healing tears.  Each tear was sadness wrapped up with gratitude.  Gratitude for his life…gratitude for him being in Heaven safe with Jesus…and gratitude that I got to see a quick picture of my little boy.  Through the sobs, I shared the vision with Kevin, and we cried together.

I think in that moment we grieved the loss of our son together, and that was another level of healing, and another gift God gave us along the way.

The next day I did a painting of him.  I didn’t want to forget it.  I cried most of the way through creating it, but it is lovely to me.  It has his name on it, as well as the meaning of his name.  It will grace a wall in our home until the day we pass on to join him in Heaven.

Speaking of his name, on the evening of the day I saw the vision of my boy, we sat down together as a family. My kids had quietly watched their Mom retreat to her bedroom for the last few days, and their hope and unanswered prayers had been shattered by the loss of their sibling.   I said to the kids, “Guys, God showed Mommy a vision of the baby.  You guys have a little brother in Heaven.”  I went on to tell them what I saw, and they were all so happy to hear about their little brother. They were sad that they wouldn’t get to play with him here, but they were also in awe that they have a brother that is spending his days playing with Jesus.  I said, “I’d like us to give him a name.  And I’d like any suggestions, Dad and I just want it to be meaningful.”  We are big on the meanings of names.  We believe there is a sense of destiny in someone’s name.  We sat in silence for a minute. Then my middle boy said, “what about John?” And with that my oldest said, “oh my gosh-I had just asked God what his name is, and right before Ellis said that, I heard the name John.” We explained to them that that is how God speaks sometimes, through two of us that are praying together and confirming the same word.  So we looked up the meaning, and it means, “My God has been gracious and has shown favor.”  I knew that was it, because that’s exactly how I felt about the whole experience.  Even though the whole week was difficult, sad, and scary, I felt so taken care of by God.  The meals friends were bringing, the constant texts from friends and family checking in and saying they were praying, the fact that I got to see my baby in the ultrasound in the hospital, and the fact that I got to see him in Heaven.  God had been so gracious to me through the darkness.  I was keenly aware of 2 Corinthians 12:9, “and He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness”.  So John, to me, was perfect.

Then we said, “okay, middle name?”  We threw out a few names, but none sounded right.  I said, “we need a name that means royalty or something, since he was wearing a crown.”  So Kevin went to looking on the internet, and said, “Ryan means little king.”

“Oh my gosh, that’s perfect.”  So that night, we as a family together, named our son, and their brother John Ryan. It was perfect, and with that, I had peace.  Peace that he was in the Fathers care.  Peace that we would someday get to spend eternity with him.

I squeezed and kissed all my other five kids so much tighter that week.  As my tear streaked cheek pressed against theirs, I whispered to God dozens of times, “Thank you God for letting this one make it through.  Thank you for keeping them strong, and bringing them into the world for me to hold and touch and raise.”

The battle for life was never more evident to me.

The next few weeks were an emotional rollercoaster to say the least, and I think I walked around with tears sitting on the brim of my eyes continually.  I have cried so many tears throughout this, only God could know the number of them.  Psalm 56:8 says, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book.”  I don’t really know why God keeps track of this, but it shows me that He cares deeply for me, and my sorrow in this trial is not overlooked by Him.

So, as I close…if you are a fellow Mama who has miscarried, I wish I could give you a hug, and tell you, “I am so, so sorry”.  We are in a sisterhood now.  A sisterhood that only those who have gone through the pain of miscarriage know.  But you are strong, Mama, and nothing you did caused your baby to not make it.  It wasn’t your fault.  Your child will never know the heartache of this world.  NEVER.  They will never cry, mourn, or feel depressed.  They got the amazing privilege of taking the express train to Heaven where Jesus was waiting for them with open arms.

The Bible tells us about life in the womb. Isaiah 44:24 says, “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the One who formed you from the womb, I, the Lord am the maker of all things…”.

Also, in Psalm 139, it says, “For you formed my inward parts, You covered me in my mother’s womb.  I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…my frame was not hidden from you when I was made in secret…Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed, and in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me…”.

We will never know why some of our little ones didn’t make it.  I do believe God was forming and fashioning them in our wombs, and He did have His plans and days written out for each of their lives, but something else got in the way…it’s a word in our society that seems to be outlawed…but it’s called sin.  Not your sin, or their sin…just sin.  It came into the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and it’s still here. He warned them it would happen, but they didn’t listen.  It still haunts us today with each pain, each sickness, and each death.  This is the heartache of a miscarriage. It’s not God’s plan for your little one to have not grown up in your loving arms.  But if there are any arms where your child will be safest and most loved, it’s Jesus’ arms…and this, my sister, is the hope we can have in the midst of the sadness of a miscarriage.

Hugs to you from my heart to yours. XOXO

 

 

 

In memory of Jeff

I write to you today on the coat tails of receiving news that a childhood family friend of mine has lost his battle to ALS.  He was my age, and I even messaged him hours before he died.  My words to him were to not fear death.  That we all have to be ready to die, because any of us could go at any minute.  That night after writing to him, I was in and out of dreams where he was in them.  I would partly wake between them, turn over and whisper a prayer for him.  Little did I know he was slipping into the arms of Jesus during those hours.

Life can feel so sorrowful at times.  I was driving home right before writing this, crying over the heartbreak of death.  My friend is survived by a mother and three sisters.  His Dad died when we were in high school.  As I rocked Jude tonight before laying him in the crib for bed, I thought about his mother.  A sweet lady who has buried a husband, and this weekend will bury a son.  My mother’s heart cried for her as I thought about all the nights she did the same for her boy as I was doing for Jude.  All the night waking, the rocking, the kissing skinned knees, the wiping of tears, and the singing of lullabies. She tucked him in at night all the way up until his very last.

We all know people who have died.  No one is exempt from the pain of loss.  But as I was crying this evening, what kept bubbling up out of my heart over and over again was the Bible verse, “oh death, where is your sting?”  I looked it up when I got home and it is 1 Corinthians 15:55.  It says “oh death, where is your sting?  Oh grave, where is your victory?”  The loss of a loved one is like a deep horrifying sting.  It hurts terrible…and it lingers for a while.  Two verses later, it says “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”.  This tells us that there is good news.  In verse 55, the word “grave” in Strongs definition states that the original Greek word here is Hades, or Hell.  Paul was saying that Hell does not have victory over us…or better stated, Hell does not have the final say over us.

So if this is true, how do we get victory over Hell?  Verse 57 tells us.  It is God who has given us that victory through Jesus Christ.  Without Him…there is no victory.  There is no good news.  There is no hope for us.

But praise God, we have a blessed hope.  For those of us who have put our faith in Jesus Christ, His blood paid for our entrance into the glorious place where God lives, far from death and pain and loss.  The place where Jeff slipped into just a couple nights ago.

But he is not crying like we are.  The Bible tells us that Jesus will wipe away every tear.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or sorrow, or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away”, Revelation 21:4.  This doesn’t mean that Jesus is walking around Heaven with a tissue in his hand wiping everyone’s tears.  It means that there ARE NO MORE TEARS in Heaven.  For He wiped away all the reasons to cry for us and from us.  His death meant there will be no more death for us…no more Hell.  The pain He suffered meant we will not have pain anymore.

What a Savior.  What a God.

I don’t have the answers as to why some of us seem to have more grief and loss than others.  Some would look at my friends Mom and say that she has had a terrible lot in life because she lost the two men in her life that she loved the most.  Some would blame it on God, or question why He would allow it.  Or worse yet, many people throw out the blanket statement, “it must have been God’s will”.  This statement is as far from the truth as possible.  God’s will has NEVER been for death to even happen.  We weren’t even created for it.  That’s why it’s so hard.  Our original DNA wasn’t hard-wired to comprehend and live through the death of a loved one…but because of the fall of man, which the Bible says started with Adam, death came.

Romans 5:12, and Romans 5:21 says “therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man(Adam), and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all have sinned…as sin reigned in death, even so grace must reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (emphasis mine)

What is all this saying?  It’s saying that death came into the world through Adam’s disobedience, but life and victory came into the world through Jesus.  That’s why Paul wrote “oh death where is your sting?  Oh grave, where is your victory?”  Because death is not victorious anymore!  Death is not the final statement on our lives!  It may feel like it because it hurts so much to say goodbye.  But, to those of us who have put our trust in the saving grace of Jesus, it’s just “see you later”.  That person who has their faith anchored in Jesus who slips out of life here, slips into Heaven without as much as another thought.  It’s like taking off a coat.  A coat that is cumbersome and worn out that desperately needs new life.

So to my friend, Jeff, who is now running around Heaven side by side with Jesus in a perfectly strong new body, I say…”I will see you later, my friend”.  No goodbye.  No sympathy for a short life.  He just got promoted to the best place we will ever see or know.  Where Jesus Himself is ruler over a whole new order of things.  Where he will never again know pain, loss or grief.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be in a place like that…forever.

Thank you, Jesus, for giving your life for mine…and for giving your life for Jeff’s too.