Let me start with these words and hear me clearly: a miscarriage is not about joy. The words spoken here have taken nine months to even begin to seem real and they have not been typed without tears spilling profusely onto this keyboard. I write these words while holding anyone who has experienced the loss of an unborn child with great compassion. A miscarriage is not about joy.
A miscarriage is about shivering in the doctor’s office as you wear a paper robe while staring at an empty circle on the screen where there should be a tiny baby. It is about looking into the sympathetic eyes of your doctor and listening to her assure you that no, you did not hurt the baby with all the core work you did when you taught eleven yoga classes the week prior. It is about wanting to apologize to your husband over and over even when there is no possible way that you were at fault and even when he is being so loving and so tender and so protective.
It is about finding the courage to pull back the covers and put two feet on the floor in the morning because pop-tarts and peanut butter sandwiches have to be made. It is about sitting through a full meal at the dinner table without rushing to the bathroom so your eight-year-old won’t see you sob your eyes out. It is about screening calls and staying off Facebook because you’re not sure you’ll be able to keep it together if you have to interact with someone. It is about deleting your secret Pinterest boards that held ideas on nursery color palettes…for a girl, of course, because somehow you knew in your mother’s intuitive heart that this nursery had to be pink.
It is about crying out to God and asking why everyone around you is either pregnant or has fourteen children. It is about feeling like you have received a blessing and then having it stolen right from inside your body. It is about desperately praying for the Lord’s mercies to come so quickly in the morning because you’re not sure if you will get through to the afternoon carpool line.
So this is where I was nine months ago. My second child, a child that neither me nor my husband thought was even possible, was due to enter the world this very week, somewhere around February 27th. More than anything else for our family, we wanted another child. I, personally, would have welcomed four or five more children. So the positive pregnancy tests last July and the ensuing nausea and fatigue felt like an answered prayer, a blessing…a reason for laughter-filled tears of joy. And perhaps it still is all those things; I’ll ask Jesus about that when I see Him face to face.
No, I do not think a miscarriage is about joy. It is heartbreaking, for you and for those that carried the hope and now carry the hurt with you. It is painful, physically and emotionally. It is defeating. But. Even in the midst of all the heartbreak and the pain, I do think joy and even gratitude can be present. It’s not a joyfulness or a thankfulness that is readily recognizable to the human heart, but they both can be found by wading deep in the calming waters of God’s love and grace.
My miscarriage was an early loss that took my body a while to recognize. Being the hippie that I am, I wanted to miscarry naturally at home and God graciously allowed this to happen 14 weeks into my pregnancy. But this meant that I waited for five weeks after finding out that we were going to miscarry for it to actually happen. During that time I had little interest in producing endurance or character. I was literally carrying death inside of me; how could I be concerned with my level of endurance for hardship? But I was desperate for hope. I searched for feelings of bitterness and anger, expecting them to be right around the corner every morning. And although grief and sadness were very palpable, bitterness and anger were not. Something else was present, though. His mercies were, in fact, new with each sunrise. Slowly, faithfully…hope began to peek through the shadows in the form of gratitude.
Yes, this shocked me also.
At the end of every single yoga class I teach, I extend an offering to pause for a moment of gratitude. A thankful heart is where I try to live most days. But feeling waves of gratitude during a miscarriage? I never expected that. I expected to feel angry and bitter and viciously mad. This was my life’s desire – a house full of children. I should feel so angry, and I have during far less trials than this one. But such is the nature of our gracious and loving Father. In the midst of unspeakable sadness, my God gently and tenderly whispered words to me that, like small laps of water kissing the shoreline in the wake of a fisherman’s boat, began to offer quiet moments of peace and thankfulness.
The knowledge that I alone was chosen to carry this child began to wash over me. I realized that for the time she was nestled deep within my womb, this baby heard laughter around the dinner table, sincere prayers on my back porch at every sunrise, a voice lifted in worship on Sunday mornings, and that she felt as much love as a family of three could hold. While the time that I mothered this precious child was heartbreakingly brief, I was the one who got to nurture it and keep it safe as it was ushered from earth to heaven. This felt like an incredible gift to me, not a burden. And I was thankful for it.
I know several women who have suffered a miscarriage. I know a few who have suffered multiple miscarriages. I have only had the one and I never intended to tell anyone about it, save a few precious friends and family members. But as the fog of grief slowly started to lift and the days became clearer, I was struck with the knowledge of how common miscarriages are, but how little our culture talks about it.
If I have learned anything in my almost 39 years on this planet, it is this: one of the most dangerous lies we can tell ourselves is that we are alone in our suffering. Among the tears, another sweet gift began to rise up….a reminder that we are truly never alone. We are never alone because my hurt is the same as your hurt, and our hurt is the same as the hurt you see in the stranger’s eyes in the grocery line who may or may not have experienced a miscarriage. Either way, we hurt together and we are not alone in this.
More importantly, we are never alone because this is what God promises us: He is always with us. Always. This is italicized because I’ve made enough mistakes in my life to know that this promise holds true for everyone, not just for those who look like they’ve got it all together. He is with us when we don’t understand His plan. He is with us when we don’t want to open our Bible. He is with us when we can’t wait to open our Bible. God is with us always.
The two truths that have framed all of the work in my relatively small amount of time as a yoga teacher glaringly resound from the pages of the gospel: you are never alone and you are infinitely loved. This is the promise that I clung to twenty-seven years ago when I told Jesus He could have my heart and it is in these truths that I found joy and gratitude in the midst of my miscarriage. It is a joy that resides in the knowledge that every single tear I’ve cried has been seen by my Father and a gratitude for the solid truth that I am never alone. My prayers are heard. My tears are wiped away. My heart is safe with God because He, better than anyone, understands what it feels like to lose a child.
I would be lying to you if I did not confess that some of the days during and after my miscarriage were, admittedly, dark. There were days when I allowed the lies of our fallen world to creep into my mind and there were days when I couldn’t bring myself to open my Bible. But thankfully, our God is so very patient with His brokenhearted children, and when I did stir the pages of hope once more, I began to hear two small words spoken repeatedly throughout my quiet times. At first, they were spoken quietly between the gentle, summer breeze and the early morning bird songs from my backyard friends. Then those two words began to echo again and again throughout the days and weeks that followed as I slowly healed. Get Ready.
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The words below are from an email that I sent to our small group leader who is a pastor at our church. They were sent in October, a few months after I miscarried and a few weeks into my first and only chemotherapy treatment. A treatment that was intended to fight an auto-immune flare-up thought to be caused by the miscarriage. But unbeknownst to my husband and I at the time, we were walking into a much larger battle.
Speaking of God’s master plan, I’ve shared this with Tom and a few other close friends and don’t mind sharing it with you. Over the past several months, and after we knew that we were going to miscarry, I sensed two very specific words coming from God in my early morning quiet times – Get Ready. I’ve heard these words from God over and over again for almost three months now. A while ago I asked Tom to pray over this and another prayer warrior /mentor friend to pray over this…that I would be able to discern God’s voice on this above anything else. And I have spent the better part of my quiet times over the past few months reading and researching all the verses in the Bible from Genesis – Revelation that reference those two words. Most of the scriptures revolve around preparing oneself for some sort of battle, physical or spiritual, or both. And I feel very solidly now that God, in his gracious wisdom and compassion, was giving me fair warning to prepare my heart and my home for this. And so, beyond praying for Tom and Thomas, if you pray anything over me, please continue to pray that I would be worthy of God’s calling to indeed get ready for whatever the next few months may hold. And that God may be glorified through it all.
Tom and I chose to name our second baby Faith, because we knew that God has a plan for all things, a plan that is for our good, and that whatever He intended to accomplish through our miscarriage, we knew He would also build our faith in Him. Get ready, indeed. The next several months after the miscarriage would prove to be challenging, to say the least. It would be, and still is, a battle that would require us to relinquish any faith we had in the knowledge of man and place it all squarely in the arms of Jesus.
What will follow here is a story that, not unlike the process of nurturing a precious and growing child inside the womb, is challenging, painful, and, at times, frightening. But it is also a story that is not lacking in hope; glorious hope in a faithful God whose great love for us is unfathomable. And isn’t it this, a hope steady enough to anchor our soul, that we are all pursuing in this fallen world?
So. Nine months later, instead of a bringing a baby into this world, I bring you The Rescued Letters. These are letters of faith and sorrow and love and hardship and hope. At the end of the day, they are letters that have been rescued by God over and over. I hope you’ll join me as the letters fill these pages to hear all the incredible things God has done for me and my family. Because He can do the same for you.
Read the next step in the story here.