Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Thoughts on a Miscarriage

It has been over a month since we lost Baby Fourtner #3.  Everything was so busy in the two weeks following my miscarriage.  I would occasionally pause and wonder “what on earth has happened?” But I would press onward while shoving all of my emotions into the back of my mind.  

Since then, I have been able to contemplate more, process, talk, pray.  Recently, a sweet friend asked me this:
“Is there anything you've learned or thought or wish you had known beforehand that you know now about having a miscarriage that you would want others to know?”
While I don’t have any earth-shattering answers, here are a couple thoughts I’ve had and I thought they might be worth sharing for the right people. 
I had to realize my baby as an individual.   Each baby is its own individual with unique DNA and a different story, no matter how short.  I didn’t want to bunch it with all other miscarriages rather than mourn it for its very own.  I am so thankful for the understanding support I received from those that have lost a baby to miscarriage.  They know each one is important.  Perhaps this was a failing on my part in bunching miscarriages together in my mind before experiencing it for myself.  Even if this was my 5th miscarriage, each one is its own loss.  I can’t imagine it ever getting easier.  I don’t think it should.

      I did not know how to grieve.  My baby was 6 weeks old in utero when he or she slipped away.  There was no small body to wrap and bury.  There are no personal face-to-face memories to ponder.  There isn’t even a sonogram picture.  But my baby was a complete reality to me.  I had three positive pregnancy tests, I was sick & sore, I had prayed for his or her future, for a name & for his/her salvation.  But then, just like that, gone.  There was nothing tangible to hold onto.  One of the things I did to commemorate my baby’s existence was my blog post.  That actually helped a lot.  But besides that, I had a very hard time knowing what to do.  It was something I’d never really thought about before.  I’m sure it would be different for everyone – writing a letter, planting a tree, putting up a cross – but doing something to solidify that my baby had been on this earth, even for a short time, helped me.

      I had no idea how to tell people.  I started miscarrying 2 days before Christmas.  The last thing I wanted to do was tell those around me “Merry Christmas!  I’m having a miscarriage.”  I hardly told anyone except a few when I was doubled over in public and felt my behavior needed an explanation.  Maybe I should have told more people.  I don’t know.  But I didn’t know how or if I should bring anyone into the loss of someone who was important to me but, as yet, non-existent in the minds of those around me.  It was awkward.  It was blunt.  I don’t know if there was any better way to do it.

      Miscarriage is a result of the Fall.  Reading through websites, this is what I saw: “Miscarriage is most often the body’s way of ridding itself of an unhealthy pregnancy.  Between 10-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.  This is a normal way for your body to react”.  Miscarriage might be normal but it is not how it should be.  A baby dying inside its mommy is never how God made this world.  Every time I flushed the toilet I wept, wondering if that was my child.  There was nothing right about it.  Miscarriage is a result of what happened that black day in the Garden.  Acknowledging it as a manifestation of our fallen earth helped me to put it in perspective – and it also brought me hope.  Death will be no more in Heaven. 

      If it was even possible, I hated abortion even more.  It was horrifying to me before, but now…why any woman would purposefully go through that is utterly beyond my comprehension.  The lies being told to women daily in the name of choice…It. Must. Stop.

            I wasn’t prepared for how the pregnancies and babies of others would affect me.  By now, I would have heard the heartbeat and maybe posted a sonogram picture announcing it to everyone.  Within a 24 hour period this week, I heard of 4 pregnancies, all of them due when I would have been.  Seeing pregnancy announcements, round bellies and scrunchy, beautiful newborns gives me a hollow feeling, but at the same time, a hopeful feeling.  Others are pregnant and having babies - that means life continues and I rejoice.  But not for me now, which also makes me mourn at the same time.  A joyful mourning is a strange feeling.

      My trust in God has grown.  I know this could sound callous and I don’t want to offend anyone, but I find no mention in the Bible of what happens to a baby when it dies.  Rather than worry about that, I want to say this: the question for me was not “where is my baby now?”  The question for me was, “will I trust God’s perfect wisdom in this?”  Do I fully and truly believe that in His implicit goodness, perfection, justice and mercy, God will do what is absolutely right for my baby?  I believe he or she has a soul and was created in the image of God, even at the tender age of 6 weeks.  I struggled with my answer, but it had to be yes.  And by saying that and trusting, I have drawn closer to Him.  He has brought me comfort.  I trust Him with my life, and I must trust Him with my child’s.  Each night, with my two walking/talking babies, I bow over their beds and give them to Him, asking that He would be glorified in their lives.  My prayer is the same for this sweet one I never held: May God be glorified.


Brittany Farmer said...

Thank you so much for that post Hannah. You have given me new insight and understanding. We lost a baby in October at 6 weeks, it was devastating. After 2 years of trying to get pregnant, we could not understand God's plan. I still do not understand God's plan but I cling to my Almighty Father's hand and allow Him to lead me. My little baby is in heaven rejoicing with the angels and resting in my Lord's infinite love. Thank you for sharing your story and for allowing the Lord to work through you!

Erika said...

Hannah, I didn't comment on your actual miscarriage post, but I shed tears for you. Before this pregnancy we lost two in a row, and I mean, I lost baby #2 in December last year, and found out we were pregnant again in February, found out very soon after that baby #3 was also going to be with Jesus. I decided not to blog about it for many reasons, but as time went on and people kept asking me when the next baby was coming I had to put on face and say, the LORD knows. Because had it been my choice I would have had two children by now. I love that you mentioned finding our about others being pregnant. It was SUCH a hard time for me to grapple that! I wanted to be happy, but it grieved me that I wasn't one of those people. I still think about my babies that are not of this world, and I don't believe that I will ever forget them. And I whole heartily agree about the abortion thing, makes it so much more evil.
So, all that to say, know that there are many that are grieving with you, even if we talk about our new babies. Even if people ask the question of when they get to see another Fourtner. God is gracious even in these times of question and hardship. Praying with you Friend.

Dana Loper said...

Hannah, I wanted to tell you how much I appreciated your post. I think you know some of my story through Marie and how I have lost my first 3 darling babies. I can echo so much of what you have posted. How true it is. And I can validate how you felt about others being pregnant. I have been so excited for them but at the same time mourning for myself. I also completely understand what you are saying about hating abortion even more. I also feel that way about mothers who abandon their babies or who outright mistreat their babies and call them horrible names in the middle of Walmart right in front of me. It really makes me sick. I am so sorry for your loss, Hannah. I will be praying for you with tears of empathy and understanding on my face. Praying the Lord's perfect comfort and peace!

Heidi Zeller said...

I love you dear Hannah, and I love my little niece or nephew who I did not have the pleasure of knowing personally. Thank you for sharing your heart. These thoughts are not easy ones, but they are ones we need to hear. I particularly appreciate your insight on grieving the loss of each miscarriage individually and not bunching miscarriages together. This is something I have not thought about, but I realize I have done, and I think everyone needs to understand this concept because it requires you to consider the true loss anyone who miscarries is going through/goes through which is necessary for handling the loss rightly. May God give you peace and comfort.
With Love,
Aunt Heidi

Jamie Laslo said...

My miscarriages have taught me to be more thoughtful and never assume you know someones whole story. One of the reasons I was so open with my losses is because I grew weary of others asking me (or in some cases telling me) about having another. Even now I know some who are confused about why we are "choosing" to have an only child. What they don't know is that I have been pregnant 5 times. We are all too quick to jump to conclusions and speak thoughtlessly.

It has also caused me to treasure my one child even more. I do not know if I will ever have another baby. So each stage and phase is more precious because it may never get repeated for me. I savor them.

A miscarriage is so hard to explain unless you have had one. And the hardest thing to explain for me has been the presence of the Lord I experience in the midst of them. It is a simultaneous feeling of complete emptiness and complete fullness.

Renia said...

From Jamie: "And the hardest thing to explain for me has been the presence of the Lord I experience in the midst of them. It is a simultaneous feeling of complete emptiness and complete fullness." I think this is so true. Hannah, thank you for sharing. My heart grieves with you. I honestly don't know if there are different stages of a miscarriage. I am not sure sure if I have had one or not. Several times in the last 24 months I thought we were pregnant again only to be saddened to find we were not. I am not usually late. On 2 specific occasions I was 3 to 4 weeks late and showing many of the symptoms I remember from my pregnancies. Then not feeling well and my period would show. Each time I felt loss and sadness. Our youngest will turn 5 in April and although with HIM all things are possible I feel my "window" to have more children has closed. As I am older and being that both pregnancies were difficult, the first almost losing both myself and our son, maybe it just is not to be.

I understand and feel with you the pangs of of hurt as you see others in pregnancy. I have felt that painfully lately. Feelings and desires never spoken or put to paper. And the few with whom I have shared give heart felt words of "it is probably for the best." No words of comfort to be sure.

I am blessed and thankful for my children--something I thought I would never have. And though I would change nothing that I have experienced with my LORD, that yearning and thoughts for more does not change. It is a daily offering to HIM and like you a prayer over the ones HE has blessed us with.

Thank you for sharing, it has caused me to acknowledge that which I would not and cry tears that I had buried. Blessings and hugs to you.

Libba said...

Hannah, I appreciate your openness so much. I've never had a miscarriage, that I know of, but know of many women who have. It is so easy to bunch them together, like you said, as is any pregnancy/new child for someone else - at least for me. It's like "Oh - ANOTHER person had ANOTHER baby" or "So-and-so is ALSO pregnant". But, no, each child is its own unique life and experience. I remember feeling that pregnant with mine - especially Nathan - it opened my eyes to every pregnancy and mother - that each one I see is unique, individual, and miraculous. MIRACULOUS. Each life is a miracle. It is so difficult to lose a miracle. I choked up for you about flushing the toilet. It makes me sick, literally, to imagine my dead child in the toilet. I think that, having had children, you REALLY know what you're losing. Not lessening the miscarriages of first babies - but I guess I imagine my Nathan or my Adelaide dying. And that's such a true point about abortion. There is a "holocaust" happening in our country. It's so sad that women willingly choose that experience- probably lots of them not knowing what it will be like. Much love to you in Christ, sister, and love to that little life that God created and called "good".