Day 6: Starting Over After a Miscarriage
It is very likely that the most devastating thing(s) that have happened to me personally were the 3 babies that I lost due to miscarriages. The first one happened after Jay and I had only been married a year and a half. It was in April 1982. I found out I was pregnant in early March and elated does not begin to describe my state of mind. Eight weeks later I was no longer pregnant and depression began to descend over me like a cold, dense fog. You see, my goal in life was not to be a career woman, a writer, a decorator, Bible Study teacher or any of the other things that have been “sidebars” along the way. All I ever wanted was to be a mother.
Well-intentioned folks would comment that at least I wasn’t too far along, I would see the baby in Heaven some day and that it was probably God’s way of correcting something that was wrong. All I felt was a terrible sense of loss and that something I desperately wanted had been taken from me.
It may sound a little crazy, but some days afterward I would think I could feel it move, and then realize, nope that was my imagination. I cried myself to sleep at night and worried myself sick during the day, wondering if something was wrong with me and perhaps I’d never have children. For several months, I went through the motions to appear that I was “getting over it”, but I can honestly say there is no description of the ache and emptiness I felt inside. I wanted to start trying again right away, but after many tears and lots of discussion, we decided to wait until we were at least in a house and not an apartment, because this pregnancy had been a surprise.
In March, 1983, we moved into our first house and the minute we were settled, I went to the doctor to see if we could try again. My doctor was one of the sweetest on this earth, Dr. Ronald Henderson. He sat with me on his couch, put his arms around me and cried with me after that first miscarriage. He put me through some tests and discovered that I was not fit as a fiddle and had what he called, “late ovulation.” Once again, I felt the fog begin to descend. But, Dr. Henderson put me on a drug to make my ovulation more prompt. (My friends are chuckling because there is nothing prompt about me!) It was two, long years of mother nature showing up every month. The months that I was late, I would begin to hope and think maybe I’m pregnant and then boom, I would feel the loss again and again.
Finally in March, 1984 we found out we were pregnant. In January, 1985 my beautiful, perfect son was born. I decided that day that birthdays would be a HUGE deal in our house. Celebrations would be a BIG deal in honor of what God had given us. If my children can say nothing else, they definitely have great birthday memories because each one was special to me and I made sure special to them.
Dr. H advised us that things were usually different for parents after they conceived and birthed the first child, so we could wait to try again when we were ready. I wanted to trust him, so we waited until Aaron was 2 years old to start trying again. A second miscarriage happened in the summer of 1989. I was devastated again, but with the added joy that I could look in the eyes of my precious son every morning. We were in St. Petersburg, FL on vacation when it happened and I had to schedule a D and C with a doctor who showed up in ratty jeans and hair down to his waste. To say that I feared ever having a second child is an understatement!
Jay and Aaron played at the beach while I recovered in our rented condo. I knew I needed comforting but didn’t want to totally ruin our vacation, so of course I turned to my best friend and He was the perfect sympathizer. In Psalms 25, I read:
10 All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.
11 For the sake of your name, Lord,
forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
12 Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?
He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.
13 They will spend their days in prosperity,
and their descendants will inherit the land.
14 The Lord confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever on the Lord,
for only he will release my feet from the snare.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart
and free me from my anguish.
18 Look on my affliction and my distress
and take away all my sins.
19 See how numerous are my enemies
and how fiercely they hate me!
20 Guard my life and rescue me;
do not let me be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my hope, Lord, is in you.
Now, as a Bible student, I know that David was speaking about the future of Israel and his own battles with King Saul, but this was the most comfort I had had since the first miscarriage. It also brought into perspective a precious card I received after the first loss from a dear Jewish couple. They simply signed the card…”God in His infinite wisdom.” I didn’t really understand why then, but that card had given me such comfort. I understand now, that it has everything to do with our trust in His wisdom. I also know that as an adopted child into His kingdom, I was eligible to receive His promise of descendants to inherit the land.
After many fertility tests, procedures and drugs, I began seeing a specialist at UAB and soon after the second miscarriage, we were told by another doctor that our son had been a “fluke” and it was likely we would never have more children. Because of my comfort from my Father after the previous loss, this statement did nothing but make me mad. My son was a gift from Heaven and in my opinion, there is NO life on this planet that is a “fluke!”
We continued with the specialist to the point that we were going to begin fertility shots that were $800 and not totally covered by insurance. That was in the spring of 1991 and while we had the syringe in the refrigerator, we decided to take the summer off from everything related to fertility. We went on a second honeymoon to Aruba and returned content to accept whatever God decided was right for us as a family. One child, two or several more, it was in His hands. We were pregnant without any pills, drugs or procedures in July. In April of 1992, my princess was born. It took us 5 years, lots of drugs, tests, procedures and a trip to Aruba – of all places – to get to a point of total trust in our Father. Am I saying that this is the answer to all infertility couples? Not at all. Adoption would have been a likely next step, but to say I was content as a mother to have these two is a major understatement.
My next miscarriage was in 1998 and the pregnancy was a complete surprise. I had been content with two, but the thought that I might have a third… well, at the age of 38, I would be lying to say that I was not a bit scared. I would be 56 when that child graduated from high school. But, Jay and I talked long into many nights and were truly beginning to enjoy the idea of another baby in the house, when at 8 weeks (just like the other two), another miscarriage.
So, how do you start over after a miscarriage? You grieve, you cry, you may even scream at God asking why. You put away the nursery ideas and the first things you’ve bought for the baby. You read everything you can get your hands on about fertility. You see specialist after specialist. And then as you go through the different stages of grieving, you begin to accept that there may be a “better?” plan for your life? For those who think that Christians just magically trust God with all their heart the minute they begin to know Him, they are sadly mistaken. In all honesty, after the first miscarriage, I did not trust God with my future. I knew what I wanted and if He wanted something different, well then, He was just wrong. There were times when I didn’t care what He or anyone else thought was best for me. I knew that I wanted to be a mother. Period. It made me sad, hurt, disappointed and very angry after each loss. I began to think that God was vindictive and was somehow punishing me for past sins. And that my friends, is because I didn’t really KNOW HIM. To see how I began to know Him, read Starting Over After Being Found.
My prayer is that somehow this post will be a comfort to those going through this same thing. My encouragement – get to know your Father – so you can better understand Him when these things happen. Knowing Him is the only comfort that soothes.
And then, to borrow the words from a song we sang a lot around our house,
Praise Him, Praise Him!
Praise Him in the morning,
Praise Him at the noontime.
Praise Him, Praise Him!
Praise Him when the sun goes down.