Image by Sparrow's Flight Photography; Interview by Katie Kline
There is something about miscarriage that sends a ping of fear, sadness, and shame down a woman's spine. Whether they have walked through that journey or know someone who has, there is a lot that needs to be understood about miscarriage and where God is during that time.
I found myself not knowing what to say to someone who has experienced a miscarriage, because I myself have not had one. I have heard other people say certain things before in attempts to comfort someone, but I never knew whether they were truly the right things to say or if they were comforting at all. And I bet you know the things I'm talking about. "Well at least it happened early" or some recent statistic about how many pregnancies end in miscarriage or one that was my go to prior to learning more, "It will happen in God's timing."
In an attempt to learn more about miscarriage and the feelings someone is struggling through in the process, I reached out to a friend and asked her to answer these questions when she was ready to do so. Because miscarriage is sensitive and I want to respect her privacy, I'm not going to name her.
Share with us the emotions you felt after finding out you were miscarrying.
Shocked. Though I knew early pregnancy loss was fairly common, especially for a first pregnancy, I had never once considered the possibility that it could happen to me. Betrayed. By my own body, and by the Giver of Life Himself...why plant a little soul in my womb only to carry it home just weeks later? Confused. Pregnancy loss, especially as early on as ours was, is such a complicated grief. We'd only known about our little one for a few short weeks, and no one had really gotten to "know" his or her little self. We'd never heard a heartbeat or felt movement or seen a little body on the ultrasound screen. It almost felt fake. I knew many of my friends didn't understand why I was so upset. At times I even felt guilty for grieving...and then I'd feel guilty for that.
Did you struggle to feel God's love during this time?
YES. I knew His love was real and I felt His grace sustaining me, but I found myself not WANTING to believe that there could be any love or any goodness in the wake of my baby's death.
Who did you seek support from and how did they comfort you?
I leaned heavily on my husband...since he was the only person in the world who "knew" our baby as well as I did. With no one else to reminisce with, like you do after the death of someone that family and friends got to meet in the flesh, the grief is extra lonely. In addition, I reached out to friends who I knew had experienced and truly mourned the loss of a child en utero, for empathy and camaraderie. I was introduced to the Lancaster Garden of Hope and its signature statue of Jesus cradling a tiny baby while holding the baby's mother hand brought me so much peace and joy in the midst of my sorrow.
Was it hard to trust God's plan?
This wasn't as hard for me as feeling His love. I knew that He would bring beauty from it, like He had proven Himself to me in other dark valleys of my life, and that joy WOULD come in the morning. Imagining that my baby had opened his/her eyes for the first time to see Jesus and that he/she was being well cared for by those in Heaven who knew my husband and I brought me immeasurable comfort.
Share with us your journey to becoming pregnant again.
It was thirteen long months before the Lord opened my womb and allowed us to conceive again, and every negative pregnancy test during that time compounded my feeling of loss. What if that had been my only chance to carry a child? I also knew that finding out that I was pregnant again would be shadowed by worry and fear, and felt anguish at the loss of innocence and joy I had known the first time around but would never know again.
What would you share with someone who is currently experiencing the loss of a pregnancy?
I think it's impossible to know just the right thing to say, since it's something that affects different mothers in different ways. But what meant the most to me was when people acknowledged that my tiny raspberry baby was a human, our son or daughter, and that he or she had had life in my womb, been named and loved, and died, leaving us bereaved parents. Life does begin at conception. A baby is a member of the family immediately...not only at birth, not only at the so-called 12-week "safe mark."
How can we love on a family who is going through a miscarriage?
Treat the weeks following a miscarriage with the same respect as the postpartum period. Offer meals, and help with housework and errands, and time off from work and responsibilities and social obligations, so that both parents can heal and rest. Know that premature termination of pregnancy takes more of a toll on the body than most people acknowledge.
Be sensitive to whether the family has a hard time seeing or being with others' children, especially young babies, and other pregnant women. Personally, celebrating with pregnant friends and holding others' babies was very comforting for me and distracting in the best possible way, but some women have a hard time with this as they are mourning what could have been.
Remember the baby's "due date" and acknowledge that the days and weeks surrounding it may contain another wave of grief for the parents as they think about the baby who should by now be in their arms. We had several dear, dear friends send flowers on what would have been my due date, and it was indescribably touching.
There should be no shame or embarrassment. A miscarriage is a loss of a life, and should be respected and treated the same as any other loss of life. Because I didn't know what was appropriate to say, I sometimes didn't say anything because I didn't want them to feel worse, but didn't know how to make them feel better. I learned after a few other friends shared about their miscarriages that sometimes the best thing to say is just "I'm sorry for your loss" and allow them to grieve. Bring flowers, offer a meal or a hug... just respect that they are grieving the loss of someone who was in their life, even for just a few weeks, but someone they had hopes and dreams for, someone who they already loved even though they have not technically met them yet.