My pastor asked me to write a chapter for a book he was writing called Circles. The premise of the book is that we all end up in these ‘circles’ in our lives…some of the circles we choose to be a part of (church, friends, etc.) and some of them we didn’t intend to be in, but nevertheless, we are (divorce, cancer, infertility). He asked me to write a chapter on a circle that I didn’t choose to be in, so I wrote about my second miscarriage.
I know that Mother’s Day is very difficult for so many women…women who long to be Mothers, but aren’t yet. This post is to let you know that no matter what happens, God is with you. He cares. He loves you beyond measure. You mean the world to Him.
The Circle of Miscarriage
It happened on a Wednesday, in March of 2007. My husband, Bob, and I took our children, Presley and Bella, with us for my OB appointment so they could hear the baby’s heartbeat. I was around 8 weeks pregnant with our third child. Presley was 4 and Bella was just about to turn 2. We were all so excited. The kids were fired up to hear the baby’s heart beating – they had talked about it all week. Presley was dying for a baby brother and Bella just kept saying that it was going to be “her baby”.
I lay back on the hard, frigid table and lifted my shirt while the ultrasound tech put the cold, gooey gel on my stomach and began moving the instrument around on my stomach. I remember that she wore no makeup, had glasses and curly light brown hair. She told us that she was just going to do measurements first. She moved the knob around on my belly and clicked on her keyboard for a few minutes. I was watching the kids’ faces, eager with anticipation and excitement.
Then, with no emotion or change in her tone of voice, the ultrasound tech looked at me and flatly said, “I’m not identifying a heartbeat.”
“Ok”, I replied – thinking she meant she wasn’t looking for it yet. Then she just blankly stared at me.
“She’s odd”, I thought to myself, still clueless to what she was really telling me.
Bob spoke up, “Wait – that’s not good, is it?”
“No, it’s not. I’ll let the doctor explain more ” she said, very matter-of-factly and she walked out and closed the door.
That’s when it hit me – she wasn’t saying that she wasn’t LOOKING for the baby’s heartbeat; she was saying that she couldn’t FIND the baby’s heartbeat at all. My baby had no heartbeat – it was dead inside of me. I glanced over at Bob and saw the sadness in his eyes. The raw emotion I felt at that moment was overwhelming; it choked me. Even though Presley and Bella were right there looking up at me, I started sobbing uncontrollably…shoulders heaving, snot dripping, and coughing crying. Despite my best efforts, I just couldn’t hold it in. Presley jumped up on the table and rushed onto my lap and put his hands on either side of my face, rubbing it and saying, “Mommy! Why are you so sad?” I couldn’t pull myself together. Bob took Presley and Bella home in his car and left me there so I could cry alone, compose myself, and then talk to the OB about what to do next.
When my doctor came in to the room, I could only understand about one of every 5 sentences she said because I was in a sad, lonely, hazy fog. She said that I could do a D&C or let the miscarriage happen naturally.
(According to the American Pregnancy Association, a D&C, also known as dilation and curettage, is a surgical procedure often performed after a first trimester miscarriage. Dilation means to open up the cervix; curettage means to remove the contents of the uterus. Curettage may be performed by scraping the uterine wall with a curette instrument or by a suction curettage (also called vacuum aspiration), using a vacuum-type instrument.)
My doctor also said that a good bit of the baby had already dissolved in my body, so I wouldn’t have major bleeding if I decided to let it happen naturally. With that information, I decided to let the rest of the miscarriage happen on its own. For some reason I felt like if I had a D&C, I would actually have a hand in ending the pregnancy, but if I allowed it to happen on its own, it was beyond my control.
I had a previous miscarriage after my first baby, Presley. Presley was a little over a year old, so he was oblivious to any of it. I was only around 5 weeks pregnant, so basically I just started my period late. It was still really sad, but there were no decisions to be made or heartbeats to search for. This time it was so different. And now I had two other children who were emotionally involved in the pregnancy.
It was so weird to leave the doctor’s office knowing that the baby whose heartbeat I was so thrilled to hear less an hour before was not alive. It was just floating around in my stomach. It was such an empty feeling that I was experiencing as I made the seemingly long journey to my car. I had gotten out of the car an hour earlier with such excitement and anticipation; now I was climbing back in grief-stricken and numb.
The first call I made was to my Daddy and Momma. I am extremely close to my parents. I never went through a “teenager” phase where I thought my parents were dumb or not cool. I’ve always thought I was the luckiest girl alive to have them as my parents. I actually moved back in with them after college and lived with them until the day Bob and got married…and then after we got married I was terribly homesick! My precious husband suggested that we spend one night a week with them to help me get over my homesickness. We did that for a couple of months until I weaned myself. That just shows you what a great relationship I have with my parents and how their love and support have always comforted me. With all of that being said, even my parents couldn’t console me this day. I could feel how sad they were with me and for me, but their love and words didn’t fill the pit I felt.
The next 5 calls were in a row to my 5 best friends. I’ve had the same best friends since elementary school basically – one of them the first grade to be exact. Everyone said that when we went to college we would all meet new people and that our friendships would change…wrong!!!!! Of course we met new friends (although I told my mom that I didn’t need anymore friends), but none of those friendships trumped ours. In fact, every year we grow closer. I know that it’s very rare to have these friendships that have literally lasted almost our whole lifetime, and I am so grateful and thankful for my best friends. We know everything there is to know about each other – we know everything each of us has been through – we are constantly there for each other – and we have a ball together!!!! Their advice has gotten me through many tough times in my life, but just like my parents words, their words and love couldn’t change the depth and rawness of my sadness.
I also talked to my sister, Melanie, who is 19 months younger than me. Melanie and I are very close. We are very different, but also very alike…if that makes any sense at all. I love her dearly. She is very objective, and a great listener and advice-giver. But again, I was left empty and sad.
I didn’t expect any of these conversations to make me feel any better; in fact, I was even more drained and upset after them because I had to keep re-living the awful experience with each phone call. But all of them knew that we were going to the doctor that day and were dying to know what Presley and Bella did when they heard the baby’s heartbeat. So to avoid waiting on their calls, I just took the bull by the horns and called them first. I also wanted each of them to be praying for me and for my family.
As I pulled into my driveway, I didn’t really know what I was going to walk into when I walked through the garage door. The last time the kids saw me, I was an emotional wreck. I gathered myself, took a long, deep breath, and opened the door. I walked through the door to see Presley and Bella at the kitchen table eating chicken strips and French fries from Braum’s. Oh, that precious Bob – he knew that the last thing I needed to worry about was dinner, so he picked it up on their way home. I was so thankful. I usually cook a complete, awesome dinner 5 nights a week (just being honest). He bathed them both, got their jammies on, read them bedtime stories and put them to bed. I honestly don’t remember what I was doing during that whole time.
I slowly ascended the stairs to go kiss the kids goodnight. When I went in to kiss Presley, he looked up at me and softly asked, “So are we not going to have another baby?” I could see the disappointment on his sweet face and the sadness in his eyes. “Yes baby…just not right now”, I answered. “Ok Mommy – I love you.” So far, these were the most comforting words I had heard…the innocence and sweetness of a child.
I took a long, hot, relaxing bath and then got ready for bed. Bob was already in bed reading his Bible as I slowly climbed in next to him. I started crying again…the tears were just streaming; it was really the first time I had been alone with him since we had gotten the awful news. He wrapped his arms around me and tried to ease my pain. “We’ll try again soon Baby. It just wasn’t meant to be right now. We’ll have another baby. As soon as you’re ready, we can start trying to get pregnant again.” Bless his heart. He was trying so hard, but saying all the wrong things. I don’t think a guy can understand what a woman is going through during a miscarriage. They have no bond yet because there is no ‘baby bump’, no kicking yet – nothing to materialize the pregnancy. But a woman can feel new life inside her, so she really needs to grieve the loss – not just move on to try for another.
In fact, my doctor had told me that I could start trying to get pregnant again as soon as the miscarriage was finished. But she added with a stern warning, “Just make sure that you are emotionally prepared to deal with another miscarriage because you know it could happen again. You need to make sure that you are emotionally prepared to handle another miscarriage before you get pregnant again.” I couldn’t even begin to think about that. As I drifted to sleep with tears rolling down my face, “I love you so much baby and I’m so sorry this happened”, were the last words I heard as the emotional exhaustion of the day literally knocked me out.
In my deep sleep, I was walking. I didn’t know where I was going, but I just kept walking. Hanging clouds were all around me and there were soft rays of sun shining through them. I continued to walk and walk – deliberately, as if there were an imaginary rope slowly pulling me. The sky around me was a soft gray, somewhat overcast. All of a sudden, there were huge – actually, GIGANTIC – concrete stairs right in front of my feet. I felt like Jack looking up at the Giant’s front door. Unsure of what was at the top, I carefully ascended the stairs. When I started getting close to what I imagined was the top, I saw a long, white robe flowing down the stairs and blowing all around in the wind. The robe was so long, flowing down probably a dozen steps. The sound of the robe whipping softly against the stairs echoed around me as I kept climbing…it was all I heard. Suddenly, an enormous hand came from the top of the stairs and stretched down to me, palm up…beckoning me to come. Without hesitation, I put my tiny hand right inside the palm of the huge masculine hand. Then, in an instant, I was being cradled like a sleeping baby. I was in the lap of my Heavenly Father, and He was gently rocking me back and forth with my head resting on His chest. I was on the throne of God Almighty. One of His arms was cradling my back and the other one had my legs. Back and forth, back and forth, gently and softly, He rocked me in His powerful, massive, yet gentle arms. I was so small and He was enormous, just huge. The love I felt is indescribable. I won’t even attempt to explain it – like NOTHING I’ve ever experienced on earth from my husband, parents, children or friends; not even close. It literally seeped from His body and His heart right into me. He didn’t have to speak to tell me that He loved me – I could feel the love burning into my heart. I cried and cried while he hugged and rocked me. No words were ever spoken – I never saw His face. I didn’t see anyone else or anything else. I never even heard a single sound, except for His robe in the wind as I was climbing the stairs. He just rocked me. Slowly but surely, my pain began to fade a little – or I guess it didn’t really fade, but His love wrapped itself around my pain. My heart was more full; it literally felt warm. And not the warm feeling that people mention when they have lovey-dovey feelings; I mean physically my heart felt warm and heated inside my chest. I don’t know how long the dream lasted – it seemed that He rocked me all night long. I didn’t want it to end. I honestly could have stayed right there for the rest of my life. I was so secure and I felt…complete, whole and at peace.
And then I woke up. I was just floored. I could not BELIEVE what had just happened in my sleep. In fact, I kept thinking, “Was I asleep?”. It was SO real. I walked in the bathroom and looked at Bob, ready to tell him about what had happened to me, my Divine experience, but I was speechless. No words came. He came over and hugged me and asked how I was doing. “Better” was my reply – that’s all I could muster up.
All day I kept returning to my dream. It was so surreal! You know how you wake up the morning after you’ve had a dream, good or bad, and you can’t fully remember the events of the dream, or the sequence – like it’s kind of foggy. You may try to retell the dream, but then you leave out parts and you cant remember the events fully enough to properly retell it. And then as the days go by, you can’t remember it at all. Well the dream that I just awoke from was so far from that. It was like part of me stayed in the dream – the feeling that I had when I was on God’s lap enveloped me so fully that it was with me in my earthly life. I wanted to go back. I wanted another hug. I wanted to sit in His lap again with His comforting arms surrounding me. I would venture to say that God’s love is addictive.
That afternoon, Bob met Bella and me for lunch while Presley was at school. Bob made the comment that I was a totally different person from the day before. My friends and family also commented on how well I was doing after being such a wreck the previous day. Again, I was speechless and just couldn’t bring myself to speak of my secret. I wasn’t ready to tell anyone about my dream for a couple of different reasons:
A. I selfishly wanted to hold on to the experience for myself. I wanted that memory to be just between God and me…it was such a personal, intimate feeling and I didn’t want to let anyone else in on it.
B. I was worried that I couldn’t do it justice in trying to retell it. I didn’t want to ruin it.
C. I didn’t want people’s reactions to offend me. The dream was so special to me and held such a dear place in my mind and my heart. I was worried that people’s response to my dream would make it fade, or become less special, or taint it. I wanted it to be as special to everyone else as it was to me, which I knew would be impossible.
So I went on about my week, keeping my dream to myself, but thinking about it constantly. I also had a longing to return to God’s arms, that magical hug, the soft and gentle rocking. I was hoping that every night as I fell asleep, I would once again find myself among the clouds, the stairs, and ultimately in my Father’s lap. I was also still grieving the loss of our baby, but each time I would start to get sad, I was immediately and instantly back in His arms, remembering the exact feeling of being slowly and softly rocked…back and forth, back and forth…secure and complete with a warm heart.
Finally, Sunday night after Community Group at church, I told Bob. It had kept it to myself for four days. I really don’t even remember his reaction at all. I have no idea what he said to me and I have no idea what the look on his face was. Telling it for the first time was so powerful, that I was transported right back into it and felt all the same emotions and love that I felt during the dream. Slowly, over the next couple of weeks, I shared the dream with my family and friends – and just as when I told Bob, I couldn’t begin to tell you what their replies were, or what their facial expressions were. I was transported back to the throne, lost in my own emotions. I believe that God was protecting me and sheltering our experience together. I don’t think He wanted the feeling I had to be diminished either, or to let it become more earthly than Heavenly. So each time I’ve told my dream, which is not often at all, I’m put right back in His arms. I don’t see the face or faces of those I’m telling it to, just clouds, stairs, and a huge hand. My dream has not lost any of the power that it had when I actually had it…I still have the same exact feelings, which is so wonderful and amazing.
Eight years later, I can still remember my dream as if I just woke up from it…down to the warmness in my heart. I am fully convinced that God was with me that whole day. He was so sad for me. He felt my devastation. His heart was hurting and aching for me. He saw my sadness and grief and wanted to hold me, to comfort me and let me know that He cared about my feelings – about me and the baby that I was losing. He just wanted to love on me and wrap His arms around me. Now, every time in church when we’re singing and the words “throne”, or “His hands”, or “His arms” are sung, I am overcome with emotion – because I’ve been on that throne…and I’ve felt His hands and been in His arms. Oh how I wish that everyone could. It’s a game changer. And now when I pray, I picture myself in His lap, just talking to Him – and I believe that’s how He wants it. He is, after all, our Daddy. So when I go to God with prayer requests, I imagine myself in His lap, with His hands on mine, just like our children do with Bob.
Over the past year during church, I’ve felt a tug on my heart, like God has been trying to tell me something or telling me to do something. And I’ve realized that He wanted me to tell my dream – after all, I’m certainly not the only person to have a miscarriage. According to the March of Dimes, as many as 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage — most often before a woman misses a menstrual period or even knows she is pregnant. About 15% of recognized pregnancies will end in a miscarriage.
More than 80% of miscarriages occur within the first three months of pregnancy. They are less likely to occur after 20 weeks’ gestation; if they do, they are called late miscarriages.
I know that in this circle of miscarriage, there are so many others with me. What an encouragement we can be to one another. We can be there to listen, to cry, to pray, to bring a meal – just to name a few. By being in this same circle, we can be the hands and feet of Jesus to each other. Sometimes, after you get past the initial pain of a situation, you realize that a huge blessing came out of that pain and grief…sort of like a rainbow after a storm.
Everybody deals with pain in their life…nobody is immune. There are people who have lost babies, or children, or spouses, or parents. And there are those dealing with devastating illnesses, devastating circumstances, and devastating situations.
Some people have the misconception that Christians don’t have problems, or don’t have bad things happen to them. In the Bible, it says
James 1:2-4New International Version (NIV)
Trials and Temptations
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds,3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
“When you face trials”…not IF, but WHEN. Every single person on the face of this earth WILL face trials – that’s just part of life. But we can also have hope knowing this:
In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
That’s exactly what happened to me. I was so weary and carrying a huge, heavy burden. What I’m here to tell you is that God cares. God is there with you, even when you are so deep in your sorrow or hurt that you can’t feel Him, He is there. Picture yourself cradled in His arms, rocking back and forth, slowly and gently – let His love comfort you. Step outside of the pain and into His arms and let Him love you.
I had not planned on writing about this dream of mine, but it would be so selfish of me to keep it for myself. I know that God wants me to share it, because I believe that people in this circle of miscarriage, or any trial, can be reminded of His love. I planned on writing this down only for my children…because if for some reason I never got the opportunity to share it with them, I want them to know the entire story, from my mouth. I want them to know that God’s love for them is real and that whenever they go through something difficult, that He cares and He wants them to come to Him. I want them to know that God is real, He is alive and He loves them so much that He sent His only son to die for them…for each one of us.
I actually sat down with my children and told them about this dream two years ago. I took them to get a Josh’s sno-cone and we opened the back of the car and sat swinging our feet off the back and eating our sno-cones. I don’t know why I chose that time, but it felt right. They all handled it very maturely. They asked LOTS of questions about the miscarriage and Presley kept saying “So you’re supposed to have five kids, not just three?” And he kept reassuring himself that he was the first pregnancy, so he would’ve been born no matter what. They asked me if Cross would’ve been born if I hadn’t had the miscarriage since he’s the youngest. I told them that no matter what, all three of them would’ve been in our family – that’s how God intended it. They wanted to know if the miscarried babies were boys or girls and if the miscarriage hurt. It’s crazy how often it actually comes up in their conversation. Randomly, they’ll tell the cashier at Target or our waiter at a restaurant, “My mom had five babies, but two died.” The expression on those people’s faces is hard to describe. It’s really awkward, actually. But lots of awkward moments happen in childhood, right?
About a month ago, as I was tucking Presley into bed one night, he looked up at me with his head resting on his pillow and said, “It’s not fair. I wish I could have a dream like yours…the one where God held you. I want to feel that too.”
“You just may one day, darlin’,” I told him. I just wonder how often that thought floats around in his little head.
The core of the circle of miscarriage is full of sadness, but the circle can also be wonderful. Because of my miscarriage, I had the dream. And because of the dream, I know that His love is real, His love is life changing, His love is healing, and His love is beautiful. And crazily, through this circle of miscarriage, which was a horrible tragedy and full of sorrow, I am more confident and aware of that love than ever before in my life. And I wanted to share it with the world…just in case someone out there is wondering if God really cares. You bet your life He does.