Approximately 15-20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Did you know that? About 24,000 babies are stillborn each year and over 23,000 infants less than one year old died in the US in 2016. That is a staggering number of babies lost. That is a heartbreaking number of grieving mothers and fathers. Do you know what that means? It means that odds are you know someone who has lost a baby. Odds are that someone is you. That someone is me.
National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Not a month to celebrate…but a month to know you’re not alone. Before I had my first loss, I did not know one single person who had suffered a miscarriage. Then I lost my baby and so many of my friends shared in my grief because they, too, had lost a baby. It’s just something that’s not talked about. Whether it’s too painful or just plain taboo, women aren’t sharing their stories.
I want to share my story, though. I want you to know that you’re not alone. I want you to know that there’s hope on the other side of grief. There is sorrow and pain and there is also redemption and joy. I’ve had four losses but I want to tell you about my first. It is truly a story of beauty for ashes. (Please allow me to be honest and vulnerable, even if some of it doesn’t sound very nice.)
I had no trouble getting pregnant the third time. It happened rather quickly. I had two successful pregnancies previously. This time was different. This time, along with the all day nausea and extreme tiredness, I felt sad. More than sad. I felt depressed and helpless. Looking back I feel like that was foreshadowing what was to come. While I planned this baby and knew I would love it dearly, I wasn’t happy to be pregnant. I kept thinking to myself that I would be absolutely fine if something happened and I no longer was pregnant. I have so much guilt for feeling that.
I went for my 12 week check up. We listened to that beautiful heartbeat and I even recorded it on my phone for my husband since he couldn’t be there with me. The doctor asked if I wanted to get a nuchal scan and while I had declined that with my first two pregnancies I decided to go ahead this time just because I would get an ultrasound. I wanted, needed, to see this baby. As the tech was doing the scan we realized something was wrong. There was a strong, steady heartbeat, but the baby wasn’t moving. At all. I was scheduled for a level two ultrasound four days later.
Over the weekend I put every bit of faith I had in God healing this baby. I prayed scripture, I cried out to God, I refused to doubt, I had friends and my pastor speak life over the baby growing inside of me. I was standing firm on the foundation of my faith. I believed with all of my heart that God was going to heal this baby. I believed that this “scare” and the miraculous healing/restoration would be to His glory. God promises healing in the Bible. His Word is true. I had no doubts.
I walked into my appointment smiling, knowing all is well. Within a minute of the scan starting my world came crashing down. The moment she told me that there was no heartbeat and that my baby had died is the moment my faith crumbled and everything that I knew to be true was flipped on its head. My world shattered.
Grief, Resentment, and Anger
I drowned in sorrow for awhile. My heart was crushed. I longed for my baby and I wanted him back. After the all consuming grief waned a little I began to get angry. It was almost like thick anger and resentment were poured over me and in me, slowly filling me from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. It ran through my veins, settled in my bones, and hardened my heart. I was angry with other mothers who were allowed to stay pregnant, to keep their babies. Why them and why not me? I resented my church and my friends there. I felt they had fed me lies about who God is.
Mostly, though, I was angry with God. I was devastated because I knew that God is omnipotent. He can do anything…even heal a baby in utero. Yet, He didn’t. He didn’t heal my baby. That hurt so bad knowing He could but He didn’t. Instead of trusting Him in all situations, even when I don’t understand, I did the opposite. I ran from Him. My heart hardened and I put a wall up. Instead of knowing He was a loving God, I began to believe that He wasn’t who His word said He was. All those promises in the Bible? They weren’t for me. I felt like God had abandoned me and that is an awful feeling.
Over the next three years I had three more miscarriages. Three more, and each time my heart hardened a bit more. My resentment grew a bit more, until I was a totally different person. I didn’t know who God was and I certainly didn’t know who I was anymore. I was bitter, I was hopeless, and I was tired.
Redemption and Joy
My husband and I made a decision not try for any more babies. We figured it was not in God’s plan for us, (even though it was one of the greatest desires of my heart), so we stopped trying and started preventing pregnancy. We were broken and had given up.
One day while I was in the shower I told God how tired I was of wearing a cloak of resentment. And even though I believed He no longer cared about me, I asked Him to help me forgive those I was angry with because I couldn’t do it myself. I felt it all wash off of me, running down my body in rivers of soap and water and washing down the drain. I emerged from my shower still with an empty, hurting heart, but it was a heart lightened, no longer resentful and angry.
A couple months later I felt the need to take a pregnancy test. I realized I had no idea if my cycle was late or not and even though I had made sure there was no action happening around the time of ovulation, I needed to make sure. Surprise, surprise…it was positive! I’m not sure how it happened, but it did. I was pregnant again. And I was actually excited about it. I was a little nervous, of course. Who wouldn’t be after four previous losses?
This baby stuck. She grew, she developed, she was healthy. I didn’t lose her. She was a miracle. She was a true gift given from God. I believe that with every fiber of my being. I believe that He was just waiting for me to truly have forgiveness in my heart. When I had shut Him out and harbored resentment for others there was nothing He could do for me. But when I forgave, when I freed myself from that bondage with His help, He was able to pour blessings on me and He gave me a gift. I have a beautiful little girl who is here as a reminder of God’s love for me. We named her Keatyn Grace, which means “a town/settlement of grace,” because God had shown us grace when we least deserved it.
You are Not Alone
Some stories have happy endings, some do not. I don’t know why things happen the way they do. I don’t understand it and I don’t like it. What I do know, though, is that you are not alone. Whether you’ve had one loss or ten, whether your baby was just a few weeks formed in your womb or had lived and been carried in your arms, you matter. Your baby matters. I am thinking of you and praying for you today. I understand where you are and where you’ve been. If you want to share your story my ears and heart are open and ready to listen.