Please note: This blog post contains descriptions of the process of miscarriage.
There are moments in life where words cannot express the sorrow and heartbreak. This is one of those moments. Yet, I sit here attempting to do the impossible. Attempting to use words to express, share and process this tragic event.
Why do I choose to write about this? There are a few reasons. Firstly, writing helps me process my thoughts. It simply helps me to find clarity. Secondly, while I sincerely hope that people reading this have not experienced the pain of losing a child through miscarriage, I know that the statistics show this to be a common occurrence. Approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage in Australia. It is my prayer that these words offer a small comfort and encouragement to those who are working through this dark season. Thirdly, I don’t quite know what else to do with my time at the moment. So many things that filled my time before now seem meaningless, and I’m not ready to ‘go back to the way things were’, moving on as if I have not been changed by this event. Finally, my baby deserves a voice. My oldest daughter, who is now almost 1, has already inspired a number of my blog posts and will inspire me throughout the years to come. But this second baby, who is no longer with us, deserves a voice too. This baby shall also inspire my writing. This baby, loved and precious to me, is also worthy of being mentioned as part of my story. And so, that is why I write these words today.
Back at the end of 2019 I fell pregnant with our first child. My husband and I were thrilled as we expectantly awaited the arrival of our baby girl. Throughout the whole of that pregnancy I was highly anxious. During the first trimester, all I could think about was the possibility of having a miscarriage. I refused to say the word ‘miscarriage’ out loud, and even hesitated to think it. What an ugly and tragic word. I couldn’t bear the thought of it. In my tenth week of pregnancy I experienced some spotting. We rushed to the emergency department of the hospital, and after hours of waiting, an ultrasound confirmed that our dear baby girl was healthy and well, wriggling around in there with a strong heartbeat. I felt some relief when we reached the end of the first trimester, and finally started to share the news of our pregnancy openly. I didn’t want to share the news any earlier because if something were to go wrong, I couldn’t bear to share that with others. (How things have changed.) As the pregnancy progressed, I diligently counted baby girl’s kicks, becoming highly concerned if there was even the slightest change in her usual activity. At the end of nine months, after all that anxiety, I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl. What a joy she is to us each day!
When I discovered that I was pregnant for a second time in early 2021, I was just as thrilled as last time. Interestingly, I felt so much peace. In contrast to the anxiety I experienced last time around, I was truly calm and content with this pregnancy. After all, my body knew what to do. Things had worked out last time, and all my worrying had been in vain. This time, I was at peace and confident that things would be okay. I felt fine and had no spotting, so I thought my body was handling this pregnancy even better than the last one. It took longer this time around to realise I was pregnant, and by the time I had seen the doctor, taken the blood tests and booked in a ‘dating scan’, I was already towards the end of the first trimester. Between 10-11 weeks, according to the dates we had.
On Friday the 16th of April, 2021, my husband and I happily walked into the radiology centre, hand in hand, ready to get the first glimpse of our little one. We knew the drill now and had plans to announce the pregnancy after the ultrasound was complete. We entered the ultrasound room and I lay on the bed. The radiographer began the ultrasound and as the image appeared, she said with a smile ‘here’s baby!’ In a split second the atmosphere in the room changed as I noticed that the baby wasn’t moving. I removed all doubts from my mind, shaking them off as needless worries. Perhaps this baby was just a little less active than our first. It would start moving any second. Perhaps it had some sort of delayed development. I thought through this possibility. It would be hard, but we would give it the love and care it needed, no matter what its needs were. Yes, that was probably what was happening here. Something was clearly not quite as it should be, but we’d get through it and the baby would be okay.
The radiographer had been silent all this time. She turned off the monitor and asked to do an internal examination. I asked her: ‘Is something wrong?’ She gently replied, ‘sometimes we just can’t get a clear enough picture this way’. I went to the bathroom before the next examination. As I washed my hands I prayed to God. Lord, you are powerful enough to raise the dead. You are the God of miracles. Whatever is wrong with our little baby, please, please make it right in this moment. I know that you have the power to. Please let this next scan show a healthy baby. Not only had I not let the possibility that the baby might not be living enter my mind yet, but now I believed that there would be a healthy baby on the screen with no issues. God had heard my prayer.
We began the second examination. The monitor was off. My husband asked her: ‘Can you turn on the screen so my wife can see?’ She replied: ‘My hands are full at the moment, maybe in a while.’ Then, I lay there in the silence for what felt like hours. There was nothing for me to see on the monitor. Just an empty screen. I looked at my husband who was peeking at the radiologist’s screen. I couldn’t read his face. I then watched the radiographer as her face went from calm, to disappointed, to despairing. Then she started to sigh. She didn’t say anything throughout this process. Finally, she turned to me and said, ‘I’ll just get the doctor and then will be back’. I lay there crying. I asked my husband: ‘it wasn’t moving, was it?’ He shook his head.
The radiographer returned with the doctor who explained that they couldn’t find a heartbeat, and that the baby was measuring at about 8 weeks in size, when it should have been 10 to 11 weeks by now. She told me that I needed to make an appointment with my GP the next morning to continue the process. We asked her what the next steps were. She replied, ‘I don’t know. Your doctor will talk you through the options tomorrow. I’m sorry, but this is just something that happens sometimes. I take it that you haven’t experienced any bleeding?’ I shook my head. She said, ‘yes, sometimes this just happens’. She left the room and the radiographer printed us some photos of our baby. The only photos we’ll ever get to see.
As we left the radiology, our world was turned upside down. What a cruel, cruel way to discover that something was wrong. So many questions filled my mind. Why did this happen? Could it have been prevented? What was the next step in the process? How would we get through this? Why would God allow us to experience the joy of finding out we were pregnant only to have it end so quickly? Why didn’t God allow us to give birth to this child, when we had already shown Him that we were trying to raise our oldest daughter biblically? And why hadn’t he answered my prayer of faith before the second examination?
The next morning, we met with the doctor. She explained what the next steps were and wrote a letter of referral for us to take to the hospital. We went straight there, and as we sat in the same waiting room where we had sat on the day that I went to check that everything was okay with my first pregnancy, I felt heartbroken as I compared the two experiences. This time around, I knew we would not be walking out with the assurance that our baby was ‘healthy and well, wriggling around in there with a strong heartbeat’.
We didn’t have as long to wait this time around, and our options were outlined again. We could either: 1. Wait for another week or so to see if my body naturally registered the miscarriage and continued the process. 2. Take a medicine to cause my body to start contracting and then take over the rest of the process. 3. Book in to have the baby surgically removed. I felt like it was such a cruel thing to have to choose any of them. How could I sit there and choose the way I wanted my baby prematurely removed from my body? What kind of a choice was that?
Waiting for it to happen naturally did not seem like an option to me. I couldn’t bear the emotional pain of extending this process for any longer. We didn’t want to go straight to something as invasive as surgery though, so we went with option 2. The medication was administered there and then, and I waited in the hospital to get the okay to go back home. The midwives sent us home with subscription medication – nausea medication, strong pain killers and stronger pain killers. They told us that there would be lots of blood and it would be painful. If the pain became more than I could manage even with all the medication, I needed to return to the hospital. On that note we headed back home, not knowing what this next stage in the process would look like.
The next part of the process is more difficult to put into words. I will say though, that there was bleeding, there was pain, and it was traumatic. I had never realised how horrific the physical process of having a miscarriage was – as if the emotional process isn’t horrific enough.
While I was thankful that things had gone relatively smoothly, I still had so many questions. They continue to enter my mind, and every day there are little things that trigger moments of deep overwhelm and grief. Yet, somehow, amongst the grief and the questions, my mind recalls the truths that I know about God. While some of my questions may never be answered, some of them can be responded to with scripture.
When I wonder: why would this happen? I know that this is not how things should be. This is not what God intended. We now live in a fallen world though, so it is not how God designed it to be. Genesis reminds us why.
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.Genesis 3:6
Now, we live with the consequences of a fallen world.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.Romans 8:22-23
But we aren’t without hope.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.Revelation 21:4
And one day death will be defeated.
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”1 Corinthians 15:51-55
When I wonder: how will we get through this? I know that
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.Psalm 34:18
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.John 16:33
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.Matthew 5:4
When I wonder: how can God allow this? I know that there are some things in this life that we cannot comprehend.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.Isaiah 55:9
As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.Ecclesiastes 11:5
Yet God is still worthy of our trust.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.Proverbs 3:5
And when I wonder: where is God in my miscarriage? I know that God’s character does not change with our circumstances.
I the Lord do not change.Malachi 3:6a
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.Hebrews 13:8
If God was good and loving and gracious before my miscarriage, He is still good and loving and gracious now.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.Psalm 100:5
Therefore, as in Lamentations, while I sit in sorrow, I can remind myself of who God is.
I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord.” I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”Lamentations 3:17-26
While these truths are more comforting in some moments than others, I will continue to repeat them as I move forward, one day at a time, through the tragedy that is now a part of my story.
I have learned that when we walk through events like this, we should allow them to teach and shape us. We should be moved by them. We should be changed. Things do not need to return to the way they were before, because we now have new experience that will influence our perspectives and decisions in the future. Heartache is not meaningless if we allow it to transform us, and when we have the courage to share these experiences with others, perhaps it can speak to their hearts too.
During this season, I found music to be so helpful in the healing process. If you’re after a list of recommended Christian Songs and Readings to Help You Process a Miscarriage, you can find that here.