The One About Joy, Grief, Loss and Guilt
Mother’s Day brings so many emotions. Some of us who are mothers are so excited to be celebrating the little people in our lives who brought us to this point, while also realizing what it means to be a mom and being thankful for all that our own mothers have done for us. Maybe you didn’t really have a great mom, someone who didn’t lead by example or didn’t show love, which brings a whole new set of emotions. Sometimes Mother’s Day is too hard because of the loss of your own mom, or the loss of a baby that would have made you a mom.
This past Mother’s Day was a little emotional for me as I learned I was expecting baby number six only a few hours before. I was filled with joy and guilt. I was apprehensively excited to learn that I was pregnant and I knew my kids would be super excited because they have been asking me when they would get their next sibling for months. Yet, I felt guilty because inside, my head was swimming with “what” questions. What am I going to do with six kids, when I feel I can hardly handle five? What are people going to say when they find out? What kind of vehicle am I going to have to get to fit the whole family? What am I going to do about my possible job? What? What? What? And those “human flesh” “natural response” questions made me feel guilty. They made me feel bad because I knew with those questions I wasn’t trusting God. I was letting my earthly life dictate how I responded. Over the next couple of days I simply let the fact sink it. One more mouth to feed. One more sweet baby to cuddle. One more tuition to pay. One more sibling to love. And I kept coming back to “what’s one more?” And it made me happy. I was learning to love the idea of six kids. I mean plenty of women have had six kids and live to tell about it…and love it…why did I have to be any different?
A week after my positive pregnancy test I started spotting. It wasn’t much, just enough to heighten my awareness that something could be going on. My kids and I were traveling back to Tennessee to spend a few days closing out the school year they started there and to spend some time with friends. Since I had not found a doctor yet in Missouri I decided to see if my OB/GYN in Tennessee could get me in, to see what was going on. It turns out I had a subchorionic hemorrhage. My dr said it could just absorb into my body or it could lead to something else…only time would tell.
Two weeks after my initial spotting I started bleeding heavily. So heavily in fact that I got scared and drove myself to the ER 25 miles away at one in the morning. Turns out that I didn’t lose too much blood and they sent me home and asked me to follow up with my new dr in the morning. After following up with my dr she scheduled an ultrasound so we could see what was happening with the baby. My emotions were still pretty numb. I didn’t really feel anything other than curiosity. I was wondering why I didn’t feel attached or like something serious could actually be happening here. Wednesday morning I went for my ultrasound but the tech would tell me nothing. I had to wait to hear the words from my doctor later that afternoon…”the baby didn’t have a heartbeat”. Ugh. Like a punch in the gut, this baby that I didn’t even feel or have symptoms from was now pronounced dead. It still didn’t hit me…it still didn’t register. This life that I was starting to feel happy about and also feeling like maybe it was better if I wasn’t pregnant (because again, I’ve got the world in my ear) was now no longer living. This baby that would have brought so much joy to our home, would now never get to meet its five awesome siblings this side of heaven. This baby that I originally felt could have been an inconvenience (because I am human) was no longer with us. And all I felt was numb. I felt like I should cry. I felt like I should be mad. I felt like I should have some sort of emotional reaction but it was as if when the doctor told me that my baby had died that she told me the grocery store was out of cheese puffs. And once again the guilt flooded in.
We told our two oldest children and it really hit me when my daughter said “but you haven’t even seemed sad”. Ugh. Gut punch. Guilt. Round three. I told her that I am grieving in my own way. After talking with my doctor we decided to wait and see if my body would pass the baby naturally but scheduled a D&C for two weeks later since my husband would be out of town the whole next week. I never noticed anything but my bleeding had completely stopped the Sunday after my ultrasound. So, on Tuesday June 21st I went in to the hospital for surgery. I was so worried that the anesthesia would kill me even though I have been put under before. I am good at irrational fears!! The night before surgery I stayed with friends who live close to the hospital since I needed to be there at 630am. I posted something on one of the Pastors Wives groups that I am on so that they could know to be praying for me. The responses started flooding in but I did not read them right away.
I came out of surgery successfully and my doctor told me that I had already passed the baby even though I didn’t know it. And honestly that brought me some comfort. I was glad to know that my body knew what to do and that God’s plan was perfect even though having surgery could have been avoided. I took the day to rest and slept a lot to get the anesthesia out of my system. During one of my awake times I decided to go back to my Pastors wife group and update them on my surgery. I started reading the words they wrote and the flood gates were opened. “I’m sorry for your loss”…”Praying for you as you grieve”…”I too have had a miscarriage and a D&C”…”Praying for you and your family as you experience this pain” over and over these women started sharing their stories of loss and saying they were sorry for my loss. THAT is the moment this all became real to me. The tears came easily and maybe it was the exhaustion from surgery but I think it was God revealing to me what really just happened.
Losing a baby, even during the first trimester, even when they are only 6 weeks formed is still a loss of life. “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:13 makes it clear that God is the one giving life in the womb…it’s not just outside the womb where life is easily seen…but God gave us life…and then God took it away. I have no idea why. I don’t pretend to understand. I don’t listen when people say “yeah, well at least you have five other kids”. No, this was a loss. A loss of life. Grief comes and goes. Different things hit me at different times. I suspect it will always be this way. And yes, the grief I am experiencing is different that if it were the loss of one of my kids whom I have gotten to know outside the womb…but it is still grief, it is still loss. The loss of this baby makes me long for heaven even more.
I could sit here and say, well, maybe I lost this baby to make me more grateful for the ones I have. Maybe, I lost this baby so I could share my story. Maybe I lost this baby so I could sympathize with mothers who have lost babies. But I don’t want to sit here and say those things. I don’t know why I lost a baby. I don’t know why God gave and God took away. And that’s okay. I can ask him when I get to heaven. But I want you to know that I understand a little more about this certain grief, this “club” that no one wants to be a part of. Even though my baby didn’t have ears and couldn’t share its gender with us just yet it was still a baby. I am sorry for going into so much detail but I just wanted to share my story with you. I don’t write this story fishing for sympathy, I don’t like to draw attention to myself, I just want my story to be told so others know they are not alone.
Maybe you have experienced this grief and like me didn’t know how to name it. Maybe you didn’t have people around you saying they were sorry for your loss. Maybe you haven’t told anyone about your loss. I want you to know that it was a baby. It is still a loss. It is okay to grieve. God is with you. I also wanted you to know that if you’ve experienced grief like this it’s okay to cry, yell, and ask questions. It’s okay to wonder why this happened. But remember to cling to Christ. He is your hope. He provides the comfort. He is your shelter.
For two years I have been making cards to help parents who have dealt with this grief. I didn’t know I would one day end up needing to make a card for myself. But if you have experienced infant or child loss I would LOVE to send you one of these cards. I normally only do the cards in October during child and infant loss awareness month but since this is so raw for me right now I wanted to offer the cards to you now. Please send me an email (purejoycreative at gmail dot com) with your details (name, address, child details, color preference) and I will get a card in the mail for you. Please put “memory card” in the subject line. I can also write out the name and dates of your baby if you have a later term loss or infant loss. I am so sorry that I am writing out these cards because it means that another sweet precious child of God was taken too soon but it is my way of saying those lives matter too. God cares about all those children as well. God is the creator of life and death was never part of His original plan. Thank you God for sending Jesus so that we could all live with you forever in heaven because of the pain and suffering He endured on the cross.
I am so sorry for your loss. Rest in peace sweet babies. My husband wrote a letter after the loss of our baby and it really sums up what we feel and believe about all of this. We would be honored if you would take some time to read it. You can read it HERE!