I had the hardest time trying to figure out how to title this post. It should be simple; today is Story‘s 5th birthday. Five years ago, after a long and sleepless night, we drove to the hospital to confirm our first baby had no heartbeat. It was confirmed, and that precious baby was removed from my body via D&C. We never really knew the gender, although most of me thinks it was a boy. We named the baby Story because it’s life was the beginning of a greater story we never would have chosen for ourselves, but that has brought incredible hope and joy nonetheless.
The pain is still very real, and every time I see a Facebook post of a friend who is going through that very loss it breaks my heart. I cry, regardless of how closely I know the woman, because the pain of losing a child is the worst pain I have ever felt. It is lonely, it is heartbreaking, and it is the most abundantly fertile ground for the Enemy to grab hold of our hearts as women. There are many lies to be sewn, very real fears to be had, a great amount of sadness and anger – all of which can twist our hearts and make us question the very foundations of what we know.
After I miscarried it seemed as though other women I knew who had been through the same thing came out of the woodwork left and right. The books will tell you that 1 out of 4 pregnant women will miscarry, but in the awe and excitement of a pregnancy it never feels like you’ll be that one woman who is dealt incredible sadness. It never feels like you’ll be the one who watches friends and strangers go on to have healthy babies while you sit back and ask, “WHY?!” I had a friend who told me that it was a sick little club that I’d been ushered into, one that no one knows about til it happens to them. While I’m unsure of the wording of her statement, there is a lot of truth to it in that as women who have lost a baby – we aren’t alone.
This is the first year I have really seen joy in the sadness after losing Story. Between that first day and now have been a lot of changes: the births and lives of two precious and healthy boys, multiple moves, marriages in our families, vacations, deaths of beloved family members and friends. We’ve loved and lost a lot in the past five years, but one thing remains the same through all of it: God is good. He always has been. And to you sweet mommas out there who have lost babies in any stage, my prayer is that you can see that too.
In honor of Story’s 5th day, I’d love to share five things that really helped us through that incredibly difficult season in the hope that God works it for His good in another woman’s heart. This isn’t a list of “how to feel 100% better after miscarriage” – it’s just sharing bits of my story that, in hindsight, I can see helped me heal.
- Community. I actually started miscarrying at a friend’s house during our community group, and the way the men and women rallied around us to pray was amazing. From the moment we left to go to the hospital they covered us in prayer. Truth? I don’t think I could feel it – I was hurting and scared and angry. But looking back I can SEE how their prayers brought us comfort and safety and even a little bit of peace. After the D&C our friends Robbie and Stefanie came over and we watched When Harry Met Sally and The Hangover just to find a way to laugh. They didn’t pressure us to talk, they were just physically there for us when we needed to not be alone. I’ll never forget that simple act of kindness on their part. Right before they left Stef gave me a tiny teddy bear and a note that just spoke God’s truth into that time; I’ll keep those things til the day I die. If you are going through a miscarriage, I can’t encourage you enough to talk to someone about it. Tell a friend, as for prayer, allow others to love and care for you. And if you know someone who is going through a miscarriage? Be there for them, pray for them, do a physical act of service for them – you will never know the hope and comfort it will bring them.
- Truth. As I said before, this is a time that the Enemy will feed you lie after lie after lie. He’ll tell you you’re not worthy, that there’s something wrong with you, that you did something to deserve this, that you did something to cause this, that you yourself are not beautifully and wonderfully made. He’ll pit you against your spouse, he’ll keep you from your friends and family, he’ll make you tell everyone that you’re totally fine when it feels like your entire heart is completely gone. These are lies. And I can’t stress enough that when you feel and think and believe those things, you must turn to God in prayer and read His word. You won’t want to; I didn’t. But you must do it anyway. Tell God that you’re angry and hurt, that you’re pissed off at Him for letting this happen, that it’s not fair and you don’t understand. There were many times that I cried out in anger to Him, said things I wish I could take back, but sister? He is God and he LOVES you. Even in your anger and desperation and disappointment. In sin, in goodness, in hard times, in easy times, all the time – he loves you. He will not shy away from or take back that love because you’re mad at Him. Like a good Father he will hold you tighter in the midst of your anger. He will wrap you in a blanket of love, slather it on extra thick, and in little things you’ll see that redeeming love start to heal your soul.
- Eat. I feel like I should be careful with this one and say first off that food will not heal your broken heart. You can eat all organic and raw and drink a gallon of water and the right amount of coffee. You can indulge in pizza and burgers and Diet Coke and wine because you can. The food will not heal your heart, but food will likely bring you into the presence of others and open the door to share. When I was cleared to go home after the D&C I was starving, and the first thing we did was stop by Chili’s and ordered cheeseburgers, fries, and massive Cokes to go. I ate every bit of that meal, and it didn’t heal my heart but it is a sweet memory that I have even in the midst of that searing pain of loss. Nate and I devoured our meal together, probably in silence at first, but just being with him and eating brought comfort that I can’t explain. It wasn’t the food, it was God, and the medium was a cheeseburger. Don’t be afraid to eat.
- Use your words. It’s likely that you telling someone is the only way that they’ll ever know a) what you’ve just been through and b) how much you’re hurting. Because most miscarriages occur early on in a pregnancy it’s likely that you haven’t shared the news with a ton of people. Dear friend, don’t keep it to yourself. As I said before, there are so many women who have been through the same thing that you would never guess, and the joy in that sadness is that they can love you through it in a way that no one else can. They can show you compassion and give comfort, knowing that same pain and showing you that you will actually be able to live. After we lost Story I took a long weekend off from work. The only person who knew what happened was my boss, but when I went in Monday morning I saw a friend who had been through the same thing twice, only a few months earlier. She took one look at me and knew and we cried together in that lobby. I don’t know if she knows God, but I know that He used her friendship to speak volumes to my aching heart. Over the past few years I’ve shared countless times about losing Story, only to find that women all over the world have resonated with the words they’ve read. To this day I get many more emails about miscarriage than I do about any recipe I’ve ever posted.
- See the good, even in hindsight. I won’t lie: you likely won’t see anything good in this until you look back. Miscarriage sucks, stillbirth sucks, losing a child sucks. None of it is easy, it all hurts, and the pain won’t just disappear. It has been five years for me and I still cry multiple times a week because my heart misses the baby I never met. But those sweet little moments of community, prayer, quiet, stillness, and emotional overload will be the things that you remember down the road. Something that has helped me immensely is compiling a box of Story’s life. The ultrasound pictures, lovies that were congratulations presents for us, the teddy bear, and the notes from friends and family that we got after the miscarriage – it’s all in a sweet little box in my closet. I take it out from time to time, read through it all, and celebrate the fact that even though I never got to meet our baby, Nate and I were the two people on earth who fully knew it before it went to heaven. That precious baby has left a bigger legacy than I could ever hope for myself, bringing comfort to women all over the world. Story’s life has been used to tell a bigger picture of hope and peace and everlasting love. Especially to his own mother.
I look at my boys now, in all their health and beautiful rambunctiousness. It is hard to see what I missed out on the first time around, but even more so it’s amazing to see how God redeemed the loss of our first child. Losing Story made me a more grateful mother. Losing Story made me a softer and more compassionate woman. Losing Story helped us to take part in a much larger story of grace, in our marriage and parenting and relationships. Most of all losing Story helped me to see God’s true love for me because in my complete and total brokenness He held me up with our community, His truth, a cheeseburger, my words, and the gift of life.