This month marks four years since our little butterfly went to be with Jesus. I don’t bring up my miscarriage very often, mostly because it’s not an “easy” topic and how do you even talk about something like that?! But it seemed appropriate this month to share a little bit from my heart based on personal experience. Everyone’s experience is different, so I’m not saying how I feel is how someone else feels or has felt. I can only speak for myself.
I’ve put together a (certainly not exhaustive) list of things I learned from my miscarriage:
- A miscarriage has a profound impact on your life. It changes how you look at things for the rest of your life. It can positively and/or negatively affect you depending on how you handle the pain. It has the potential to make you a more compassionate, sensitive, and caring person or a hard, bitter, and angry person. God can take your painful experience to use to comfort and minister to someone else.
- It hurts … A LOT. It is physically and emotionally painful. I’m going to do my best to not be too graphic or inappropriate, but there are also facts that I can’t avoid mentioning. Physically, a miscarriage is like giving birth, except the contractions aren’t quite as intense, nor the labor as long. The bleeding lasts as long as if you’d given birth … a good 4-6 weeks. So every day, all throughout the day, there is a constant reminder that the baby is gone and your heart gets stabbed all over again. Emotionally, the ache is so deep and so profound, there are no words to fully describe it. I cried myself to sleep every night for a month after my miscarriage. To a mother’s heart, losing a child only several weeks along in a pregnancy is no different than losing a full term baby or an older child. That might seem impossible, but it’s true. When people ask me how many children I have, everything in me wants to say “5”. Every time I answer that question, I’m thinking about our butterfly in heaven. When I see the number “7”, I think how that’s how many people are really in my family. Maybe that all sounds really strange to you, but I’m just showing you how aware a mother is (constantly) of that loss. There are reminders everywhere, sometimes in the oddest places at the most unexpected times.
- The reality of the loss isn’t fully realized by others. People acknowledge the immediate loss, but it is quickly forgotten by others and I am in no way faulting people for that. The loss simply isn’t very “real” to them … they never saw the child, never felt that “connection”. However, the same cannot be said of the family, especially the mother. I remember a week or so after the miscarriage, my husband got his guitar out, gathered the kids and I together, and played Matt Redman’s “Blessed Be Your Name”. We were all on our knees in tears with our hands lifted up as we acknowledged our loss together as a family and gave it to God, blessing His name and praising Him in the middle of the hurt. If you know someone who has suffered a miscarriage, keep in mind that their loss will be a part of their lives for a very long time, not just for the week you’re aware of it. Make an effort to acknowledge their loss as you would them losing a loved one you know yourself. A card, flowers, a meal, etc. My dad brought me some potted irises, and even though when they died it was sad all over again, it showed his care and thoughtfulness. Remember, their loss is emotionally difficult. It’s a death and loss. As months go on, see how they’re doing. Let them know you’re there to talk if they’d like to and that you haven’t forgotten about their loss.
- Emotional support from family and friends is so important. My family got over the loss fairly quickly, but I was a different story. However, I didn’t express that to my husband … I thought he didn’t care since he seemed fine after just a short time. If I knew what I knew now, I would’ve shared my heart more with him and expressed how I was feeling. Instead, I took his quick “back to normal” attitude as not being able to relate to me and I kept a lot of the grief and pain to myself making it that much more painful. We’re not meant to go through things alone. One of my very close friends emailed me after I posted something on Facebook that just didn’t sound like me and when I told her about the miscarriage, she was quick to share about her own miscarriage. She was “there” for me to bounce emotions off of and just to know she knew what I was talking about meant more to me than she probably even realizes. My mom is my best friend and she was someone else who, even though she’d not had a miscarriage, was very sympathetic and sensitive to my feelings. I think we underestimate how people really care and want to be there for us. We think we’re alone and that’s exactly what the enemy wants to do … isolate us. We’re much more vulnerable when we’re alone in our sorrow and loss. My advice is to keep those communication lines open with those you love and who love you and to also seek out someone who has been in your shoes and talk with them. It might be a hard conversation to start, but you’ll be glad that you did! =)
- Having another baby does not replace the one you lost. I was pregnant again a couple of months after our miscarriage. I was an emotional mess during that pregnancy. I was still grieving the loss of our little butterfly, but was excited and happy about the new baby coming. I felt guilty for grieving because I felt like I was saying I wanted to baby we lost instead of the baby I was expecting and that’s not at all how I really felt about the new baby, so I didn’t allow myself to fully grieve. I also tried not to get too attached to the new baby we were expecting, not wanting to get my hopes up. I wish I hadn’t let fear control me so much. I was trying to protect myself from getting hurt again, but it wasn’t emotionally healthy. When the December due date came along for the baby we lost, it was really, really hard. Which brings me to the next point…
- Anniversaries can be emotional and painful. April and December are harder months for me emotionally. Sometimes I’m not even thinking about what month it is, but subconsciously it’s just hard and when I take account and realize what month it is, it helps me realize why. And there are just reminders throughout the year that make that ache come back every now and then and the tears come again. It’s just part of losing something precious and special from your life. I still wonder if maybe that baby would’ve been the rare one of the bunch with blue eyes and blonde hair … you just never know. ;-)
- Hold on to Jesus and keep an eternal perspective. Grief is like an ocean. You just never know when a wave of pain will hit you out of the blue. In the middle of the sorrow that pulls you under, when you can’t catch your breath, keep holding on to Christ, His promises, His love for you … everything you know about Him that’s true. If you keep a journal, keep writing! Write out all your feelings, thoughts, and prayers to God. Write the verses He comforts your heart with. Hold on to the eternal hope you have through Christ Jesus which helps when our eyes are focused on the temporal and here and now. It doesn’t mean you don’t acknowledge that you’re feeling sad or that it’s wrong to cry again, but make sure you run toward the Lord and His will for you and not get stuck in the downward spiral pulling you away from God that can so easily occur when we are focused too much on how we feel and our pain instead of our God.
- Remember that your baby is safe in the arms of Jesus. Your little butterfly is free from pain, free of this world’s trials, and free of the cares of living on this earth. One day, you will be reunited in heaven not only with our Savior, but with loved ones, including your little butterfly. =)
Thankful for God’s comfort,
P.S. I forgot this one and it’s really important too. Find a way to say “goodbye” and gain closure. Whatever helps you to move on, whether it’s getting together with family and close friends and singing or having a time to grieve together and thank God for the life that He has given and taken. Our family ended up writing messages on a balloon and releasing it to say “goodbye”. I can’t stress the importance of this!