I’m pregnant again—almost 12 weeks. I’m healthy, and I’m taking every precaution: naps each afternoon, folate tablets, and iron boosters. But then it begins—some soiling. Within 48 hours, the smear becomes heavier and darker, then a tinge of pink.
I speak to my husband and family. “Wait and see,” they say. My husband and I have our 12-week ultrasound the next day. I call a friend who has miscarried twice. I ask all the questions. I need to know what to expect.
I call the doctor. She sends me to the hospital emergency room. Two hours later, my husband and I finally talk to a nurse. She uses phrases such as, “possible nonviable pregnancy,” “pathways of treatment,” and “spontaneous abortion.” I feel helpless. I try to catch my husband’s eye, but he’s looking elsewhere. I start crying. Is this not my baby we are discussing—its life and death? The nurse tells us to return to the ultrasound clinic. It seems no one wants to touch me.
God is the Life-Giver. In the moment of a new creation, God is. When two people conceive a child, God is. When a baby takes form in the womb, God is. When a baby takes its first breath, God is.
The ultrasound technician places gel on my stomach. I’m too scared to look at the screen. “It looks eight weeks,” she says.
Could I have my dates wrong? Is this just a small baby?
“Is there a heartbeat?” I ask.
The technician places her hands firmly on my stomach. “I’ll get a second opinion.”
She leaves the room to talk to the radiologist. Thank you for caring enough to touch, I think to myself.
The radiologist and the technician return. They pause, and then the radiologist says, “I’m sorry, your baby has died.”
According to the Bonnie Babes Foundation, in Western countries one in every four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. The foundation is an international nonprofit organization that raises money for medical research and provides counseling for families grieving the loss of a baby. In many cases, doctors can’t identify the cause, and even when they can, the mother usually has little control over it.
My husband and I return home, and now I’m angry. Why should this happen to me? I need an outlet for my anger. I start beating the bed with my fists. I throw a family photo on the floor, smashing the glass in the frame. My husband quietly cleans it up. He doesn’t know what to do. I’m angry and alone.
It’s 12:40 a.m. I sit on the toilet in agony, but every contraction brings the end closer. My husband holds my hands and gets a warm pack for my feet. Norah Jones sings softly in the night.
It’s not meant to be like this, I cry; my head is spinning because I’m losing so much blood. I pass a large clot.
Could that have been my baby? What kind of a mother am I, flushing my baby down the toilet? I cry with terrible guilt.
Counseling psychologist Diane McGreal says that death seems most remote during early pregnancy. She says miscarriage may be the last form of death to which we accord its due. McGreal bases her statements on a 12-month study of how parents coped in grieving the loss of a child following miscarriage or stillbirth.
Because we haven’t seen a baby before it’s born, it’s easy to overlook the fact that a miscarriage is the death of a real person that carries with it a burden of grief that is as real as the grief over any other death. McGreal says that friends, relatives, and medical professionals can help parents to move through the grief process over a miscarriage or stillborn baby by legitimizing their grief.
The doctor makes an appointment for me at the local hospital’s gynecology clinic. My husband and I sit in the waiting room with all the expectant mothers. Pictures of babies suckling their mother’s breast and of mothers cradling their babies adorn the walls. They are taunting me. How could the hospital overlook this aspect of care?
We see the gynecologist—death shortens waiting times. He confirms what we know already. She is gone.
My husband comes home each day with tales of women losing children. It’s sad, but it’s also comforting to know that we’re not alone. Others have experienced the pain and have survived. We plant a tree in our front yard.
Another revelation: when God thought about my baby, He smiled in anticipation. When I conceived my baby, He felt proud. “My frame was not hidden from you / when I was made in the secret place. / When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, / your eyes saw my unformed body” (Psalm 139:15, 16). When her heart stopped beating, He cried. I have my husband to hold me. Who does God have?
When I get to heaven, I know God will restore my child to me. It doesn’t matter whether He places a baby in my arms, puts her back in my womb, or introduces me to an 18-year-old child. It will be a perfect beginning. And she—or he—will be a perfect child.
A friend who has suffered through two miscarriages wrote to me, “I feel we are left with sufficient comfort in the character of God and His loving mercy and grace.”
God is indeed good.
HOW TO RELATE
Do . . .
- Touch (A hug brings healing.)
- Give a bereavement card or gift (Chocolate products or a gift certificate for a hair style, massage, or facial are all suitable.)
- Maintain support (Acknowledge miscarriage as if it were a death in the family.) Help (Stay close by to offer support, even if it appears you’re not needed.)
Don’t . . .
- Minimize, saying, “You’ll have another baby someday.” (This implies that one child can replace another.) Rationalize, saying, “It’s nature’s way”; “It is all in God’s plan”; or, “There must have been a reason for it.” (This is unhelpful when you don’t know the reason.)
- Patronize, saying, “You seem fine now!” (Don’t assume a woman is over a miscarriage if she’s had a couple of good days.)
These type of comments only serve to invalidate feelings of loss.