Saturday, May 27, 2006

Spiritual Journey Through Miscarriage

My Spiritual Journey Through Miscarriage

My faith was shaken in a profound way, especially with the second loss. Everything I believed or thought I knew about my Heavenly Father meant nothing to me anymore. What I experienced with Him didn’t match up to what I knew about Him in my head. 

I felt angry, confused, and abandoned. Utterly abandoned.

 I was in the darkest place I’ve ever been spiritually. I had to dig and question and re-learn everything I had been taught. I share this because there shouldn’t be any guilt associated with doubting or dissecting your faith.

 There is a false message that if you question, your faith isn’t strong enough. I think faith that has been rattled and broken creates an unchangeable faith. 

I can forever look back on this time and say, my God delivered me, restored me, and showed Himself to me

I will never doubt that because I experienced it first hand. There are things that I believe now that I didn’t used to, and the opposite is also true. I know what I believe because the Lord changed my heart. And I am now more in tune to what He is telling me and doing in me than I ever have been before. Why? Because I know Him, personally. Better than that, I LOVE Him because I know Him.

The loss of my two babies changed my faith in a way I wish I could put into words. So much so, that I am convinced that was their purpose. The Lord used them to bring me back to Himself. Their purpose could only be fulfilled by dying in the womb, never meeting their earthly mother. I don’t know if I would ever have the faith that I do now if it wasn’t for those two babies. At times I feel guilty that I am so stubborn that it took two miscarriages for my eyes to be opened fully. But that’s what’s so freeing about a life in Christ, there is no guilt, no shame. 

He has redeemed. Fear and guilt come only from the enemy, and I am quick to extinguish them both when I feel them well up inside. Because as anyone who has experienced a miscarriage knows, fear and guilt can consume.

So here I am on the other side, one year from my first loss. I didn’t think it would take me this long to learn from the loss, and I definitely didn’t think I would experience more than one loss. But I did, and to my great surprise, I survived it. The Lord carried me through. It didn’t feel like He was always carrying me while I was going through it, but I know He was. He is good. ALL the time.

The Lord can redeem anything. A mistake, a death, a loss. He can and WILL redeem it. 

He has redeemed my two miscarriages and somehow turned it into good and was glorified through it all. I am so grateful for a Heavenly Father who knew me when I was in the womb, and knew my babies for the short time they were in mine. Now He holds them in Heaven until the day I can hold them. My heart hurts for the people who have experienced loss and don’t have the hope of Heaven. 

I hope my story will be used to further His Kindgom, and bring people to the Lord so that they can have the hope of Heaven too. Please contact me if you want to talk or need support. Sometimes just knowing someone has experienced this kind of hurt is comforting. To know that you are not alone.

If you missed my story, you can read about it here:

The First One

The Second Time

The Second Time

The Second Time Around...

If you read The First One, then you know that I got pregnant for a third time shortly after the due date of the first baby I lost. Needless to say, we were ecstatic. This was the first pregnancy that we actually were trying to conceive, which is probably why it took the longest to happen. 

Unlike the last pregnancy, I had all the major symptoms, which I took as a good sign. It never occurred to me that we would lose another baby, so we told family and a few very close friends that we were expecting again. I definitely didn’t shout it from the rooftops like I did with the first two, but I wasn’t very timid about it either. I felt very confident that this pregnancy was a healthy one and would end with a beautiful baby at the end of October. After all, God owed me a baby, right? He took one away, and He was going to give me another one. Not to replace the one I lost, but as a reward for going through the heartache, surely I deserved another child. Atleast that was my mindset. Wrong, I know.

Everything was going smoothly, I even told Lucy she was going to be a big sister. (Not that she understood...but still...)At exactly 6 1/2 weeks, I began spotting bright red blood. Mark was at work, and of course I started panicking and called him immediately. He rushed home to find me feeding Lucy lunch, a little shaken, but again, I was so confident this pregnancy was going to last. It HAD to be from the Lord, so why would it get taken away? I called my doctor, who calmed me down and said some spotting was not abnormal, especially since I had no cramping. She told me to lay down and take it easy, and they would get me into ultrasound in a few days just to make sure everything was fine. I obeyed, and by that evening the spotting had almost stopped. My confidence was back. I took it easy for the rest of the night. 

The next morning I woke up and there was a lot of blood. By mid morning I was cramping and passing clots. I called my doctor and they fit me into ultrasound that afternoon. Waiting on that ultrasound was so painful...knowing that my baby was gone, but not having complete confirmation, so still clinging to what little hope was left that maybe everything was fine. I even convinced myself that maybe it was twins and I had only lost one of them. 

But soon my hope was crushed, as the ultrasound tech confirmed that we had lost the baby. I cried through the whole ultrasound. The doctor saw us afterwards and I cried the whole time I was talking to her. She probably didn’t hear a word I said. She told us that since I had miscarried twice in a row they wanted to do some testing to try and find a cause. But before we tested, I had to get my hCG back to a non-pregnant level, so they would monitor my levels once a week until they got back down to zero. We left the office completely stunned and devastated.

This time the grief came like sweet relief. My tears flowed freely and my heart ached. I’m not sure why this loss seemed so final, or why I accepted it quickly. Maybe because I began bleeding on my own, it seemed more real. Whatever the reason, I grieved fast and hard. I didn’t want to leave the house, didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning, and barely had enough energy to shower.

 But spiritually is where I was injured the deepest. I felt disappointed with God. I didn’t pray for a few weeks. I grieved, and accepted, but I didn’t pray. More on my spiritual journey in another post. Looking back now, I was depressed.

 It didn’t last long though. Finding a cause for my miscarriages gave me something to look forward to, a way of possibly fixing what went wrong. I thought we would be testing in about 2 weeks. Well, 6 weeks later I was still bleeding and my levels were falling, but weren’t at zero yet. It was agonizingly long and drawn out. My mind and heart wanted to move on but my body wasn’t ready. As those 6 weeks passed, I had time to think and began to doubt doing some or all of the testing. Mark didn’t have a job at the time, so we didn’t have health insurance, and were planning on paying for all the testing out of pocket. It was not cheap. We battled the pros and cons and finally decided to just do some basic bloodwork for now.

 The day came for me to have my bloodwork done, and the Lord miraculously provided the money to pay for it. We were so relieved that the Lord confirmed in our hearts what we thought we should do to move forward. Everything came back normal, so we still don’t have an explanation for the miscarriages. My doctor put me on baby aspirin and gave me a prescription for progesterone for when I get pregnant again. She said we could do more invasive testing, but we just didn’t feel comfortable with that yet. 

For some reason the Lord wanted us to get the basics done, and then trust Him for the rest. So that’s what we’re doing, and that’s where we are right now. 

Trusting, Praying, Hoping.

The First One

The First One...

When Lucy was 10 months old I found out I was pregnant again. I hadn’t had a period yet since she was born (my body is super slow to respond to hormonal changes) so were were VERY shocked that I was pregnant. I had been taking the “mini pill” since I was breastfeeding, but it gave me terrible migraines and mood swings so I decided we would try the natural method so I stopped taking the pill that month. I was also weaning Lucy from breastfeeding that month, and I think the combo of the two threw my body back into ovulation. So once again we were pregnant unexpectedly. (Lucy was also an unexpected pregnancy, in case you don’t know) At first I was freaked out, because I knew they would be less than 18 months apart and I wasn’t really sure if my body was ready for another pregnancy. But after a week or two I started to get really excited, and realized how thrilled I was that Lucy was going to have a sibling so close in age.

From the beginning, something just didn’t feel right. I can’t explain it any other way. I guess a mother just knows. Exactly the same way you “know” when you’re pregnant, even before you’ve taken a test, I just “knew” something was wrong. I didn’t have any of the same symptoms I had with Lucy, which I know can be normal, but it was just one more thing that made me a little uneasy. 

Our first prenatal appointment was at 5 weeks, and everything looked great. We didn’t have an ultrasound because the doctor said it would be too early to see the baby. To this day I regret not demanding an ultrasound anyway. But I had already had a health baby, I had no reason to worry, right? Everything would be fine. After all, we had to be “super fertile” in order to get pregnant twice without trying, right? That’s what I told myself. By 8 weeks I was in complete denial. The few pregnancy symptoms I did have had disappeared completely. I never got nauseous at all, and by this point with Lucy I was vomiting atleast twice a day. We had an ultrasound at 9 weeks, our second prenatal appointment. I felt really uneasy in the parking lot before we went inside. Mark prayed for me and for the baby, and prayed that God’s will be done no matter what. We went inside for the ultrasound. No heartbeat. They said it looked like the baby either stopped developing or died around 6 weeks. No words can describe that moment.

Because I hadn’t had a period before that pregnancy, there was no “day of last period” to base the due date off of, so the ultrasound tech and nurse practitioner decided that perhaps I had calculated wrong and I wasn’t as far along as I thought. But I knew I had lost the baby in that moment. I had a positive pregnacy test in the middle of May. This was the end of June, there’s no way I could have tested positive if I was only 5 or 6 weeks now. But, to appease them, and because I didn’t have the energy to disagree, I went in every other day for bloodwork to test my hCG levels. It only took 3 times for them to agree that yes, my levels were dropping, which meant I was indeed miscarrying, even though I hadn’t had any cramping or bleeding. We waited about another week, still monitoring my hCG levels, and I still wasn’t bleeding. My doctor decided that if we waited any longer it could be dangerous for me to miscarry on my own because I could hemorrhage pretty severely, so we had a D&C on July 9, 2009. 

The hardest part was the week after the ultrasound, but before the surgery, walking around knowing I had my dead baby still inside of me. I felt so empty. The surgery went fine. I don’t remember any of it. I don’t even remember Mark driving me home that day. I was numb. I can’t even remember crying about it.

One thing I want to mention, a way that the Lord just wrapped me up in His arms during this loss, was through a bible study. My friend had just started a bible study literally the same exact day that we found out our baby didn’t have a heartbeat. Obviously, I missed the first meeting. But I went to the second one, and learned that those girls (some of whom I had never even met) had been praying for me since that first day. I also learned that one of the girls had miscarried twice before having her son. She was a wealth of knowledge and comfort to me. I have thanked the Lord for her many times. I can’t stress the importance of finding someone to talk to who has been through it. More on that later...

Other than the girls in my bible study, no one talked to me about it. Not my family, not even my doctor. When I went in for my post op visit, she said, “this happens a lot, and there’s no reason to think you won’t have a healthy pregnancy next time. Call us when you get pregnant again.” That was it. Umm, okay? So apparently I was just supposed to go home and get pregnant again. We had to wait 3 cycles before we could try again because of the surgery, and because I STILL hadn’t had a period since Lucy’s birth, so they wanted my body to get back to “normal”. It’s strange how an unexpected pregnancy can make you realize how badly you really do want another child. After those dreaded 3 cycles passed, I became obsessed with getting pregnant again. At this point, I hadn’t really grieved. Other than a few short outbursts of tears at night or during bible study, I hadn’t really acknowledged that I had lost a baby. I kept the hospital bracelet from my D&C, and I kept all the notes people had written me after, but there was never a moment where I sat down and grieved and cried out to God. I think I assumed I would get pregnant again quickly and the pain would disappear, so if I could just get pregnant, I wouldn’t have to accept that it happened.

Something I never thought would happen due date came....and I wasn’t pregnant. That day was one of the hardest days of my life. A good friend delivered her baby the day before my due date. Our babies were supposed to be playmates. Mark and I had just joined a small group, and they had been anticipating my due date. I got countless text messages, emails, written prayers, and cards. 95% of these came from people in our small group who didn’t even know me when I had miscarried. The Lord used them in a powerful way that day. I grieved and cried, all day long. I cried out to the Lord in pain, I asked Him why, and I prayed for healing. I had done none of this before. It was a turning point for me. It was like I went through every step of the grieving process in that single day. 

We conceived one week later. I do NOT think that was coincidence. I think I was suppressing stress and fear and guilt, and it all came out in one day. It was like my mind let it all go and my body said, okay, you’re ready. That sounds all new age, but you know what I mean. Obviously the Lord was Sovereign over my body, and He knew I couldn’t handle another pregnancy until I fully let go of the one I lost. 

I wish that was my happy ending, and that my story ends there, but it doesn’t.