I was supposed to become a Mum on the weekend, just passed… But way back in February, I had a miscarriage.
It feels like ages ago now; and I guess it was: 7 months / 32 weeks / 223 days… And at the same time, it feels like it all happened just yesterday…
It really hit me last night at church (again!) when I saw a friend who is due very soon – and I realised, “That could’ve been me…”
They say that between 10-25% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage – but it feels like it’s much more common than that… When I lost my baby, I quickly found out that 3 other friends had also had miscarriages in the past 2 months! Even that same friend I saw last night had had a miscarriage not long before me… And throughout the year, I kept hearing of more and more women – close friends, and friends of friends – who had lost a baby at some point!
I don’t know what to do about this, but of course it’s very close to my heart. It’s not something that is easy to get over; I only realise this now after having been through it myself. One of my closest friends had a miscarriage not long after I did – thankfully she’s pregnant again and everything is going well (besides some serious morning sickness… Maybe it’s a girl??); but she tells me that every time she’s sick or just doesn’t feel right, her mind totally freaks out and she can’t help but think something’s going to go wrong again. This is something I’m terrified of as well, if I’m ever lucky enough to fall pregnant again – that sense of dread that this actually might not work out! Again!
As I said, I don’t know what to do about any of it… Only to tell my story in the hope that this stigma around keeping quiet about miscarriage is one day lifted. I know too well that this isn’t something that you want to go around telling everyone about; but we need to start creating safe spaces for women to come together, to talk together, to grieve together, to hope together…
So here goes:
In the beginning
My husband and I believe in God and do our best to follow Jesus. Some of you will be thinking, “Well, there’s your first problem!” But our decision wasn’t made out of fear or brainwashing. Yes, we both grew up in Christian homes, but we didn’t take it seriously. We really made this decision for ourselves about 4 years ago, in 2013 – I was 25 and he was 29 – so I believe we were pretty well informed about our options by then… We jumped straight in, hungry to know more about God and to hear from Him. Things were good!
Then in 2015, we started thinking about our ‘forever home’. We started looking at houses and, during the process, we were asking God what we should be doing. I heard the words, “You can buy any of these houses, there’s nothing wrong with them – but it’s not my best for you”; and my husband saw God wrapping up a gift for us and felt that we should wait until the end of 2016 for whatever it was that God had in store. So, frustratingly, we put things on hold…
As we got closer and closer to the end of 2016, my husband kept praying for us, asking God what it was that we were waiting for. Even all the way through December and up until Christmas we had no idea what this gift was. I had assumed it was a beautiful new house, and was getting worried that we’d missed it – but my husband kept hearing, “It’s not the end of the year yet”.
Then on 31 December I found out I was pregnant. We thought long and hard about this – was this the gift God was talking about? And from what we could discern, it had to be! There was nothing else that had happened that year that seemed particularly out of the ordinary, so why wouldn’t this be it? We were in a stable financial position (thanks to *not* buying a new house?) and I couldn’t have been more excited! This was something I’d been hoping for, for at least the last 12-months.
But soon after, we started receiving not so supportive messages from my Doctor – my blood test results weren’t coming back in the normal ranges they would like for me to be progressing with a normal pregnancy. I did lots of research and found that things could still be fine, even with these numbers we were seeing – plus the added bonus of this hopefully being God’s gift that we’d been waiting for, made me so confident that everything was going to be fine. It had to be!
So I told my closest friends and my family and everyone was getting excited. I even crocheted a blanket, especially for my baby!
And, even though things didn’t go to plan, I’m so thankful I told people I was pregnant. I know some women choose to wait until after the ‘danger period’ has passed at about 12-weeks; but I can’t imagine having a miscarriage and no one knowing… That’s just from my perspective.
Very early on Tuesday 7 February, at about 9 weeks, I miscarried. I found out 3 surprising things that morning:
(1) miscarrying ‘naturally’ is incredibly painful. It’s essentially a mini labour, so it makes sense, but it was not something I was prepared for. Nothing I’d read talked about anything like it…
(2) I never thought I could be so fiercely in love with someone I’d never met. I’d never even seen my baby, even on the ultrasounds – but something my friend said to me later on is just so true: “The moment you find out you’re pregnant is the moment you become a mother”. I didn’t have to see my baby on an ultrasound or in the flesh to know that I’d just lost a part of me.
(3) I’d never considered God could be to blame for anything going wrong in my life, previously; but this experience started to bring up some serious questions inside me and created a lot of confusion.
For a number of months after the miscarriage I was quite content to be angry and upset. I had no desire to go to church anymore; and the only reason I kept leading a Bible study for the young guys at our church was because I simply enjoyed having them over for dinner and finding out what was happening in their lives. We were quite open with them about what was happening and how we were feeling – if I was going to continue to lead, I didn’t want to be a fake – and every fortnight they insisted on praying for us and reminding us how good God is. After those Monday nights I’d feel good, I’d start to feel refreshed – but it never lasted. By the next morning I was sad again, and over time my bitterness towards God was building.
At the same time I would find myself feeling so angry towards other women I saw who had babies or who were pregnant – women I didn’t even know! Still, there was a small voice inside who kept reminding me that I didn’t know their story; how was I supposed to know whether they had been through what I’d been through? Or worse?
It wasn’t until I started resenting my own friends and family who were falling pregnant and having babies that I realised this was becoming a real problem – I couldn’t let this event and these emotions dictate the rest of my life. I’m not an angry person, and it started to scare me – I was terrified of ending up alone with no baby, no friends, no family, just because of my anger and the potential of pushing everyone one away in the end. I needed help… So I saw a counsellor and after just one session I felt like this huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
Speaking with her was different. Up until that time I’d only really spoken to my mum and other friends who had also experienced miscarriage; and that was helpful, but only to the point that I had wonderful, loving people around me who could sympathise and empathise with me. However, I found that those conversations would often end up with me feeling like my anger and sadness was justified and so I would continue to feel angry and sad – I wasn’t moving forward. I was sitting still, wallowing in this growing depression. Speaking with the counsellor meant retelling my story from the beginning – she had no prior knowledge of what had happened, so she was free to ask the simple questions to better understand my journey.
Recounting the whole thing in that way was surprisingly therapeutic. Hearing myself describe certain things out-aloud that were frustrating me, made me realise how insignificant those frustrations were (no matter how valid they seemed). By the end of the session I was still sad and confused – but the anger towards God and everyone else was gone! It was such a relief, and things have only gotten better since – albeit, slowly…
Can’t live without
I love music. There aren’t many moments in my life that can’t be summarised or complimented by a song. And this experience has been no different.
I remember driving to my parents place in June / July, probably going over for dinner, not really thinking about anything in particular – and when I pulled up outside their house, a song started playing on the radio. It was speaking to me! It was mesmerising! It felt like it was written for me, about me… The song was “Can’t Live Without” by Hollyn. I’d never even heard of her before, but I couldn’t get out of the car until the song had finished.
It was so clearly outlining my journey over the those 4-5 months: like I said, I was so incredibly angry and confused and sad at God but, just as the words in this song say, “I can’t get You out of my head”, despite how I’d been feeling, nothing that had happened to me could shake the fact that I knew, that I knew, that I knew that God was good even if I didn’t want to believe it at the time; and no matter how much I wanted to hate Him for what happened, I just couldn’t.
As I said, I was still upset and wasn’t sure if He even cared about me anymore, but the small voice in me kept telling me that none of this was His or my fault…
“Can’t Live Without”, Hollyn (One-Way Conversation)
After I hear a song I like, I always go away and check out the artist. So I looked up Hollyn and her albums and found another song that spoke to me. This next song really describes where I am now.
For a long time I couldn’t praise or worship God – I couldn’t even be in the room at church when the worship was happening. All week I’d be fine and would feel like I was ‘getting better’, but as soon as we walked in the door at church I would always find myself in the bathroom, crying and asking “Why?” and feeling like God was being silent.
Finally one Sunday night, after I’d seen the counsellor, I had gotten to the point where I could at least stay and stand through the worship time and even speak the words of the songs. At one point I was speaking the words out-aloud but inside I was thinking, “God, I can’t do this, it hurts too much. I’m just so sad.” And I heard Him – for the first time in months! – I heard Him say, “I know, it hurts me too”. And I was finally able to start believing again that He was still there.
All I can do if I want to move forward through this is to trust that God is the only one who was, is and always will be there for me. I think these words in this next song, along with the chorus, really sum this up: “No matter what the pressure, You will be the answer”.
“Steady Me”, Hollyn (Hollyn)
Every day is still a struggle, some days more than others. This is a ‘to be continued’ story – and I know it will look and sound completely different to others. Even just simply going through a ‘natural’ miscarriage is a completely different experience to many of my friends who had to have surgery… Or the fact that I miscarried at 9-weeks having never even seen my baby, when one of my friends miscarried at 21-weeks and actually held her baby for his very short, premi life…
But I hope to at least encourage you all to find that one thing / person who you can hold on to. I had an amazing ‘support team’ through my friends and family and counsellor – but in the end I personally believe that, even through the unbearable times, the only one who is faithful all day every day is God. His call is so simple: come to me for unconditional love – then go out and share that love with everyone!
I feel like my faith is a house: my basic understanding that God is good and always faithful is the foundations of the house, which are made of steel and concrete. It’s rock solid and reinforced by a lifetime of being aware of God and gradually getting to know Him. My other beliefs about who I am, what it means to be a Christian, and receiving the blessings of God, is the rest of the house. I thought my faith was a completed house – all bricked up, fully rendered and painted. But it turns out I was still just looking at the artist’s’ impression; I was relying on other people’s knowledge and wisdom and faith to get me through. My house was really just the wooden frame that was still under construction – I hadn’t started living in it yet; so when this storm came through it was quickly blown over like a pile of sticks…
It’s been really hard – incredibly hard! And I’m still working through it. I’m super hopeful and excited to fall pregnant again one day but, just like my friend, I’m also terrified that this is going to happen again… Knowing how painful this has been, I just don’t know if I could go through that again.
At the same time, I know so many women who have had miscarriage after miscarriage, in what seemed to be such a pointless struggle to have children… But their persistence through the pain and their amazing hope that “it *will* happen one day” has landed them with absolutely beautiful babies!
And I also know that’s not the case for everyone… And my heart breaks for those women…
I guess, I don’t really know where to go with this from here. I’m not looking for your sympathy or pity – but at the same time, I could sure use all the support I can get!
I guess I was just so strongly compelled to share my story after realising that my due date had passed… I hope that by doing this, it helps me to keep moving on – those awful 9-months are behind me now.
And I hope that others may be encouraged to reach out for support, and share their story. Everyone’s experience is totally different, and we need to encourage each other in that because (while they’ll try their hardest) no one will understand what it’s like unless they’ve been through it themselves.
Sending so much love to you all!