What I know of Grief

What I know of Grief


I remember looking at the pregnancy test about 100 times. I had bought a pack of 50 for really cheap off amazon when David and I decided to try for another baby. I took it from room to room looking at it in different lights. I asked David if he thought he saw a second line and he said, “Well…maybe.” but the test the next day was much easier to see.
I went to the grocery store and got a Clearblue test so I could see the word…”Pregnant”
We were so excited. I told a few family members and one close friend. What did we get V for her first birthday? A sibling.

The next time was not so different. I kept the secret a little longer. I wanted a few days for me to be the only one who knew about the tiny life growing inside me. I watched as the lines on the pregnancy test got darker and darker. I finally told David after I got that beautiful “pregnant” written out on the test again.
I can remember exactly what it felt like to realize that I was pregnant and exactly what it felt like to realize I wasn’t anymore.
I remember the crushing disappointment of the fact that there wouldn’t be a baby at the end of this.
I wish I could say that through all of this I had incredible faith that never wavered. I wish I could say that I clung to God and trusted Him completely.
That’s just not where I was. I was so broken-hearted. I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me.

I was supposed to be able to have children without thinking about it. I remember my mom, laughing with me while I was in high school saying, “You’re a baby making machine, you can tell just by looking at you!”

What was wrong with me? Why was I able to get pregnant but not able to carry my babies?
It was also strange because in my pain I sometimes felt that other people thought that I shouldn’t be so devastated by my miscarriages. I already had a perfectly healthy baby girl, I should be grateful for that. At least I could get pregnant. Or worst of all, it wasn’t really a baby yet…just a blob of cells.

The second baby we lost, who we named Hope, we saw on an ultrasound the night before my miscarriage. At only 11 weeks along, my baby was a baby…not a blob of cells. She had a little heartbeat fluttering inconsistently. That morning I had been looking at ideas on Pinterest for ways to announce a second pregnancy. I was so happy to almost be out of the first trimester. All within 48 hours my dreams about the future were gone, leaving a gaping hole in my heart.

Retrospectively I am able to see that I never really healed from the first miscarriage I had, the baby we named August. I knew I was pregnant with August for two short weeks. David and I got pregnant easily and it was exciting. When the miscarriage happened, I was extremely sad but I also stuffed a lot of my hurt about it down because life at that time was hard and chaotic. David was working a crazy amount while taking some college courses. I remember that I thought something along the lines of, “Almost everyone has one miscarriage in their lives. I’ve got mine over with now.” I also just assumed that my body wasn’t ready to be pregnant again while I was still breastfeeding my 1 year old. Five short months after the miscarriage we were literally moving across the world, and I know that if we hadn’t lost August we wouldn’t have made that move. I hate to say that something as painful as losing a child could possibly work out for the glory of God, but He is a mystery to me. (Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV)“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”) 

Obviously after moving I wasn’t really thinking about immediately trying again to get pregnant, but I did feel like having another baby would heal some of the hurt and loneliness I was feeling. When I was pregnant with Hope I remember feeling extremely anxious leading up to my first prenatal appointment at 8 weeks along. I also remember that the appointment was horrible. The midwife made me feel guilty about my weight, which had slowly increased after the miscarriage. She did an internal check that made me bleed and was really horrible for me. She also said that since I was “obese” I would have to do the glucose tolerance test right away at 8 weeks pregnant. She also wasn’t happy that I was there for an appointment already at 8 weeks pregnant, since for most practices it is around 10-12 weeks when they will first see you. I knew that, but I assumed they wanted me there for an earlier appointment because of my previous miscarriage.

It’s weird for me to remember that pregnancy because even though I was nervous, I was also really sure that everything would be fine in the end. I remember getting my blood work done and thinking, “Ok! I’m really pregnant now.” David and I went on a tour/required registration of the birthing center we would deliver at. We told all our close friends, excitedly. We told all our family. Everything would be perfect this time, we were sure. I started taking weekly belly photos so I could watch our baby growing. We tossed baby names around, and decided we would find out the gender this time.

I remember that evening we were just relaxing at our apartment. I was drinking a cup of peppermint tea. Now I can’t not think about my miscarriage when I drink it. Afterwards I remember thinking, “I am going to be scarred from this. There are things in my brain now that I can never unsee or forget about.” The second miscarriage was much worse than the first. Emotionally, I was much more invested since I had been pregnant for a much longer time, and physically it was terrifying and painful.

I want to tell my story because I remember feeling alone at that time. People are funny because they often don’t know how to respond to loss or pain for someone else. A lot of people often don’t want to talk about death of family members. They wonder if bringing it up will make it worse. They wonder if you would rather just not talk about it and be focused on something else.

I think all people grieve differently and go through the grieving process at different times. I remember the first week I went to church after my second miscarriage and I had two vastly different experiences. First a women asked me, “How are you doing?” with a compassionate look on her face. Since I had not told her about the pregnancy I just responded with, “I’m doing ok.” (You know, the normal thing you say when your existence is falling apart, but you can’t get into it right now.) She responded by telling me that my husband had told her about the miscarriage. I remember feeling a strange protectiveness about myself and (weirdly) my baby. It was like I hadn’t invited this person into that hurt and it felt strange that they were there and offering sympathy. The other encounter was with a dear friend who I had specifically told about the baby who said absolutely nothing to me about the miscarriage and just treated me like everything was totally normal and fine. It really hurt my feelings for some reason. It was like all I needed in that moment was a, “I’m sorry and I love you.” Any acknowledgment of the loss I was going through. Don’t misunderstand, I am not upset with either of these two beautiful ladies, I’m just saying where my head and emotions were during that delicate time. How strange that the response I needed was there for both of them, but I just wanted it from the opposite person.

Now when I know someone is grieving I always try to err on the side of offering sympathy. There is no way to fix a broken heart. A loss is a loss and you can’t change that-but you can offer your love and compassion in other ways. When I lost my grandfather suddenly I was hurt that one of my dear friends (who I had seen the night before) did not say one word to me about it. In hindsight, I’m sure I didn’t say anything to her when she lost her grandparents either, because I didn’t know what to say.

How funny that in this culture so saturated by oversharing we don’t know what to say when those close to us are going through trauma or tragedy. Here’s the thing though-I don’t know if you really even need to say anything. I think the simple act of just being there can minister to the hearts of those hurting.

I remember the day my grandpa died. It was a really horrible day, for many many reasons. I remember those around trying to offer my grandma words of comfort. I remember looking at her and thinking, “there are no words right now that are going to help.” There are no words that bring back a spouse. I just held my grandma’s hand, or hugged her and prayed for God to help her and her broken heart.

Friend-if you are reading this and going through a loss-I am sorry. And I love you. I have no eloquently written advice for how to step by step achieve healing. All I have is some humble, but true words for you. I am sorry, and I love you.

Revelation 21:4 NIV “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.”

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