Today I was praying for some friends of ours who are going in to be induced to deliver their baby who has already passed in the womb. The death of an unborn child; it is something that happens to many of us, but seems to be this unnoticed, unsympathized loss. 2nd man and I have been through this three times. I know everyone’s experience is different, so I don’t try to speak for anyone else, but here are my thoughts and observations about the losses that we’ve been through.
Our first loss, consequently, was our first pregnancy. I had discovered in this tiny, scary, gross bathroom at senior camp that I was pregnant. I remember the joy and excitement as my dear friend, Dalene was with me and I shared this moment with her before anyone else even knew. We were like two schoolgirls giddy and giggly with a secret. When I told 2nd man we immediately started calling the family from the camp payphone. I was eager and excited like most first time moms. Then just weeks later while at about two to three months along, we lost the baby. Our pastor’s wife was so precious as she came into the house while I was put on bed rest and cleaned and spruced. I’m not sure if she did it for me or for her as I could sense she was so sad for us and didn’t know what to say or do. Then I had to go through doing blood work, but the nurse couldn’t seem to find the vain. After about 8-10 pokes she sent me up to the hospital lab to get poked with a child’s needle…in the hand!
I didn’t know how common miscarriage was at that time. All I knew and 2nd man knew was that we had lost our baby and we were devastated. I say that to show how even more devastated I was at the response of others. Many people came and gave us hugs, but I was astonished at how many people, even women, said things like “you’ll have more.” Excuse me? I’ll have more? Is that supposed to be comforting? My arms were empty, my baby gone, and I was mourning. This response made me feel ignorant and patronized, As if I wasn’t supposed to mourn this loss simply because it is a common occurrence.
After a while and some heartache at watching teenagers get pregnant, we finally were able to have our Katie. About a year and a half later our sweet Megan came along and we were overjoyed. We desired more, but were ecstatic at our sweet little girls. We felt blessed.
After Megan, came another pregnancy we were excited about in the fall of 2003. We were preparing for our annual teen retreat called Spiritual Boot camp that 2nd man put on every year for about 400-500 teenagers. We held it in Tulsa, which is about an hour and a half from where we live. The night before leaving to set up we went out to eat and I discovered to my dismay signs that I might be miscarrying. We decided to have 2nd man go on down and I would see the Dr. the next day before heading for Tulsa. The Dr. alleviated my fears saying that something looked a little off and my progesterone was a little bit low but that it didn’t look like it was a miscarriage. He suggested rest and taking it easy as well as taking some progesterone. I went to the retreat, but didn’t really do much. However, after multiple trips to the dr. about a month and a half later we ended up in the E.R. delivering our baby. I was only about 18 weeks along.
This one, I’ll admit, was a bit rougher. People don’t recognize the loss as a legitimate death of a child unless you’re 20 weeks along or more. There was no ceremony, no naming of the baby. We went in contracting in pain, delivered a baby and went home empty handed two hours later; nothing, but a phone call a few days later from a nurse who was confirming that I delivered tissue that was my child. Tissue!
A few weeks later a dear couple to us also delivered their baby early. She was further along than me and the baby much more developed. There was naming and a funeral for this sweet dear child. I’m not proud of this, but I lost it at the graveside. Here I was again empty handed and an unnoticed loss of a child. More people were sympathetic this time, but the comments didn’t get any better. This time it was things like, “well you have two sweet healthy ones at home.” I am so thankful that even 2nd man didn’t like this comment. His response was, “that doesn’t take away the loss and heartache of this one.”
I had my moments and got through the mourning stages and discovered just a few short months later that I was pregnant again. This time I was warned that the progesterone was again low. Immediately, my Dr. put me on progesterone supplements and tried all he could to save the baby. We lost this one too.
It was a week after this miscarriage that I went to Jr. camp with our church group. Knowing that I had to move on. While there, though, my pain got unbearable. I called my Dr.’s office back home and was told by the nurse that, “sometimes we just have to suck it up.” WHAT!? I explained that I had been through two losses already and had never experienced this pain. 2nd man took me to the ER. there in the town where our camp was located. After being forgotten in the room for 5hours! They determined through ultrasound that my body was just building up fluid in my womb area in response to the loss and everything would be ok. They put me on Loratab and sent me on my way.
The Loratab was great. It knocked me out for a couple of days and then it just really eased the pain both physically and emotionally. I’m not saying I was addicted, but I ended up throwing away the bottle before finishing because it kind of scared me. I loved the feeling of not feeling for a while. After throwing it away though, the depression really set in. I loved the girls I had, but mourned the children in heaven. I sunk deeper and deeper in a spiral of negativity that I felt like I was drowning and couldn’t get out.
On our vacation back to my parents that year 2nd man got me a hotel room by myself for two days. Those two days meant the world to me. I don’t know if anyone other than he and I really understood just how important they were. I holed up and hashed things out with God. No kids or husband to distract or take care of, just God and me alone. It was then, in that quietness, that He spoke to me and comforted me and even chided me too. I was brought to the realization that it was I who was not excepting the comfort he had been sending my way through his word and the words of my own husband. I hadn’t wanted to listen; I wanted to be mad a while I guess. I remember before those two days the Psalms didn’t seem applicable to me and I couldn’t even sing hymns as I had a sarcastic thought to argue almost all of them. I had allowed myself to be blinded to God’s goodness. I relinquished all my rights and even my children back to God. Knowing that I was blessed to have the two at home and blessed that I had three who were being taken care of perfectly in heaven. I found Grace and contentment in those moments.
As time passed and I did become fully content with our family the size that it was, of course, I became pregnant again. This time it was the son for whom 2nd man had specifically prayed.
I do feel blessed and contented now. However, I have some thoughts about losing a baby or babies. It’s ok to mourn those children. Feel it, express it, take it to God and trust Him. We Christians are so vehemently fighting these days for the rights of the child in the womb, and trying to convince mothers to have their babies. Yet, we lack in the area of comforting those who’ve lost their unborn babies through natural causes. We over look it like the mother just went through a common flu or something and is now “over it.” This is a shame. The commonality of miscarriage does not negate the precious life that was created and now lives in heaven. Nor does it negate the feelings of the parents who already love that child. Why do we judge the level of pain upon whether or not we got to hold our baby? As if those who have lost children already born are more qualified to mourn? I am not trying to lesson those situations, only reason with the thought process. I understand and have witnessed the trauma of losing a baby only a few months old. But, I challenge us to also remember those who’ve been unseen and not forget those mourning parents as well.
I am thankful for the deeper perspective I have through these losses. I am thankful for being able to realize just what a miracle birth actually is. My strong feelings for mourning parents parallels, our often lasez faire attitude, with the miracle of a healthy birth.
For those related to, or friends with, someone going through this kind of loss, please don’t ignore the loss. One of the best comforts for parents who’ve miscarried is the acknowledging of their loss and their love as real. Let them know you are sorry and for goodness sake don’t try to lessen the pain. Just try to sympathize with it. Pray for them and let them know you are praying. Those friends who cried with me and prayed for me are the ones who helped me the most in this world.