October is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month. One in four. That’s the ratio of women who have experienced miscarriage. One in four. That is 25% of the female population. How is that number so big, yet it feels so very lonely?
I have never hidden the fact that I have experienced miscarriages. In fact, I try to be very vocal about it because I feel like God has called me to minister to women in this way. It is a very known thing that women have miscarriages or lose babies. No one is surprised by it until it happens to you. I experienced my first miscarriage on October 8, 2012. I was 16 weeks pregnant and suddenly started bleeding. I went to the ER where I was told my baby was no longer alive. I had heard her heartbeat more than once. I had felt the flutter of her movements. And then it was gone. In a way, I labored and gave birth to a baby I knew was not alive. I had two more after that, both around 8 weeks, one of which was the twin to my daughter. I had one more, around 10 weeks, about six months after my daughter was born.
The grief of this experience is so different than any other grief ever felt. My babies died. All four of them were alive and then they were not. A tiny life that was wanted and known. I desired all four of those children. My husband and I both grieved the life of those babies. My son cried when we tried to poorly explain to him why his baby sister (our first loss) wouldn’t be coming anymore. My daughter will never know what it is to be a twin (our third loss) because her twin died. That grief is very REAL, my friend. Very real and it hurts deeply. And guess what, that’s ok! It’s ok that you’re sad. It’s ok that you long for and miss something you may have never even held in your arms or held for a short time. It’s ok to be angry and feel all the feelings that come with this grief. Grief is ugly and its hard and its oh, so, necessary.
Maybe you know their due date. Maybe you light a candle each year in their honor. Maybe you have a gravestone marker for them. Whatever it is, it’s beautiful. Grief is fickle and its weird and it comes and goes. Last year, that grief felt like it was brand new for me. I don’t know why. Some days you may be feeling it more than others and it’s ok. It’s been six years since our last miscarriage, but sometimes it feels like yesterday. You are allowed to grieve, even if its years later. If you need someone to tell you it’s ok, here I am sis. It’s ok to still be sad whether it happened ten years ago or ten days ago, whether you were 8 weeks pregnant or 3 months post-partum. You are seen and you are known and beautiful mama, you are LOVED BEYOND MEASURE by a Holy Father who knows your pain!
My husband bought this necklace for me a few years ago. It has four charms. One with our anniversary, one for Michael, one for Isabelle, and one for our four. Four hearts together. Each of my babies has a name. Why? Because that was part of my grief. I know our first loss was a girl but the other three are named by what I felt in my heart. Their names give a sort of peace to my heart.
While I was writing this, I thought about adding a list of things not to say to someone who has experienced miscarriage. I ended up deciding against it because honestly, as much as I want to preach giving grace to yourself, sweet mama, I also want to encourage giving grace to those around you who just don’t understand. Not everyone will get it. Not everyone will know what to say or when not to speak. And it will hurt. It will cut you deeply. You may feel angry. I get it! I have felt those things too. It’s so hard. But can I speak some gentle truth to you? Giving grace to someone in that moment does so much more for your heart! I know, I know. That is so much easier said than done, but please hear me out. Grace given in the times when it is hardest is one of the most healing things you can experience! I think it is one of the few ways we can visibly see Christ in this broken world. I have witnessed friends grow in empathy and kindness when I simply and gently talked with them about it. It was such a visible reflection of Christ that filled my heart with so much goodness and healing…because if ever someone was in need of grace, it’s me!
Grace sufficient is a prayer I pray every day. If I desire for Christ to shower me with His grace, should I not hope to do the same for others? I can’t say I’ve never responded in anger. I definitely have, but that did not do much for me in comparison to giving grace.
If you are a person who loves someone that has endured this loss, please allow me to speak a little truth to you as well. You will never have the right words. You will never be able to “make it all better.” And precious friend, that is ok. We don’t need that. We just need you, your presence, your ear, your kindness, your love. Miscarriage and infant loss are so very much more than just an experience we have had. It’s about our babies. It’s about their little lives and the love we have for them. Their story is forever woven into our life. It is such a gift to me when people ask about them, when I speak their names, when I smile thinking of the love I have for them! What a joy it is to share how God has carried me through and shown me His great and steady faithfulness. As I said above, I won’t sit here and condemn every wrong word ever said to me in these times. I will encourage you though, as a friend to just keep walking with them. This grief road is not straight or smooth. There is no handbook. It is rocky, winding, uphill and downhill. The love you show in these times is truly a gift. I can recall knowing exactly two other women who had lost babies when I had my first miscarriage. Two. After it happened, I realized I knew many, many more. Those women spoke to my heart, lifted me up, prayed for me, cried with me. They poured truth into my soul in such a way that absolutely helped restore and reaffirm my faith. What a gift it was to be loved in the moment I felt most unseen.
I can’t say I’m an expert on how to walk this road either as a mom experiencing this loss or as a friend walking with someone in this. It’s messy and it changes every day. I can say if you are walking this road and you need someone to love you and give you place to grieve, I’m here.
You are loved, sweet friend.