That's absolutely, positively NOT what it feels like when you have a miscarriage.
But once again I am learning that I should probably give a lot more credence to the feelings of others who consistently report the same experiences rather than dismissing their thoughts as if my ability to reason through a detached, emotional situation makes me superior.
I started bleeding on a Friday afternoon. When it hadn't stopped by the next day, I called the doctor. She told me it sounded like a miscarriage but would have to wait to confirm on Monday with an ultrasound. Right before she hung up the phone, she said “good luck.” She truly attempted to mask the hollow hopelessness in her voice that her experience brought. And, well, what else can you say to end that type of conversation? Two more days of waiting. Two more days of slowly bleeding. As my Facebook News Feed was infested with pictures, memes, and blog posts pleading for empathy on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, I was naively clinging to a tiny shred of hope that this bleeding was somehow normal, and that I would not be forced to join the ranks of a group for whom I would simply prefer to pray. The irony of this timing stung so much that my only option was to laugh cynically.
I thought I was prepared. I intentionally didn’t wear make-up that morning in preparation for what I knew was going to happen. I knew my baby was dead. Yet the moment the sonographer confirmed that there was no heartbeat and said the baby was only measuring 6.5 weeks, the pain of undeniable knowledge caused a fresh wound. She gently reassured me of the sweetness and importance of the 6.5 weeks of life my baby got to live. Those words - that my baby had, indeed, had life - lifted me. Then the nurse explained my options. After probably countless similar conversations, it was understandable that her voice was clinical - with an attempt at sympathy. I wondered what the other patients in the waiting room must have thought about me as I dashed out the front door to unsuccessfully hide the deluge of tears brimming at the corners of my eyes.
I had been thrown into a story that I didn’t want to read; that I didn’t want to know. And yet I was the main character.
Who knew you could steadily bleed for so long before it actually happened?
Who knew you could be carrying around a lifeless baby for 4 weeks before your body decided to dispel it? Who knew your body could continue to lovingly swell and prepare to cradle that sweet baby? Who knew you could still have some symptoms, as if your own body was trying to convince itself to keep trying for that lost cause?
And who knew it would hurt that badly when it happened? Who knew the cramping would begin hours beforehand, mocking you as your body remembered the exciting early labor pains at the end of nine successful months? Who knew the actual miscarriage would take over an hour? Who knew the cramping would be so intense and relentless that you would have to use your hip-swaying and breathing techniques that helped you labor through your other babies?
And who knew how hard it would be to see that lump of lifeless, indistinguishable mass? Who knew you would feel a strong motherly desire to reach down and pick it up, yet you wouldn’t? Who knew that, despite your confident hope that this little mass was already in Heaven, it would be so hard to flush the toilet? Who knew it would feel so irreverent to seemingly discard that precious life? Who knew you would feel so empty that you couldn’t even find words to pray? Who knew how awful it would feel to simply wash your hands and go back to bed, as if you did nothing more than get up for a routine midnight bathroom break?
Who knew the bleeding and cramping would continue for weeks as a constant reminder of your loss? Who knew you would have such trouble focusing on any of your normal day-to-day tasks? Who knew that you could struggle so much with the grief while also moving on so seamlessly that most people would never even guess the trauma you have experienced? Who knew about the intense struggle between wanting to forget about the awful ordeal and desperately wanting to cling to the memory of the life you had imagined for your child in your 11 weeks of pregnancy? Who knew it would feel so very lonely? Who knew a person could actually maintain a twisted desire to cherish the grief - because the alternative is to simply move on and forget since nobody else will remember your baby’s life with and for you?
Who knew it would be so painful for unaware people to ask you how many children you have, forcing you to constantly decide between denying your third baby and awkwardly explaining that you had a miscarriage? Who knew you would already feel like a mother of three?
Who knew one individual could flood the earth with so many tears for a person she had never even met? Who knew it would feel absolutely nothing like a sweet, sentimental longing to read more about your favorite protagonist? Who ever knew it could actually feel like you lost one of your children?
And who knew that in our information-overload society, any of this could have been such a traumatic surprise?
I never knew.
But what I do know has been the only thing to give me hope.
Because I do know that my mighty Maker is also my baby’s intimate Creator. (Psalm 139:13-15)
Because I do know that my omniscient Jehovah was not surprised by this. (Psalm 139:16)
Because I do know that my gracious Father loves that baby way more than I ever could. (Romans 8:37-29)
Because I do know that my Shepherd knows the name of my baby, even if I don’t. (John 10:3)
Because I do know that my El Roi sees me every second and records every one of my tears. (Psalm 56:8)
Because I do know that my great High Priest intimately knows my pain because He has felt it, too. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Because I do know that the Wonderful Counselor will heal my broken heart as He gently wraps me in His comforting arms. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
Because I do know that my Sovereign God has never wasted any experience in my life - especially not the awful ones - to help me grow closer to Him and eventually minister to someone else. (Romans 8:28)
Because I do know that my King has already conquered this awful thing called death. (Revelation 19:16)
And therefore, I have every hope that my great Rescuer will one day restore my sweet baby to me.
And I know that these are truths that apply to you, too, whatever it is that you are going through. I know that the Lord is your Maker and Creator who loves you more than you will ever know. I pray that you will allow Him to be your Jehovah; your gracious Father; your Shepherd; your El Roi; your High Priest; your Wonderful Counselor; your Sovereign God; your King; and your Rescuer.
So even in the midst of my hurt, I will praise the Lord. (Psalm 150) Because, thankfully, His story is one that has no ending, and one day, I will never be left with longing and sadness again.
**Thank you, my dear Abby, for the beautiful watercolor painting and reminder of how much both my baby and I are valued by God. It's absolutely perfect next to the ultrasound pictures of my little angel baby.
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." - Matthew 10:29-31