Today’s post has been a difficult one to write. It has taken about a year for me to get more comfortable with sharing this part of my story. While miscarriage will never be an easy topic to write or talk about, I believe there is power and comfort to be found in sharing our personal experiences. Even though we all have different stories, my wish is that me sharing my story can offer you some encouragement and hope in your own journey.
I mentioned our November 2016 miscarriage in a recent post, but I just barely touched on it as part of the bigger picture of trusting God through life’s plot twists. I have been meaning to talk more about miscarriage, however, and now seems like a good time to write more about it. It has been wonderful and humbling at the same time to see how God has used my posts in the past to uplift Just Bee’s readers and speak to you in your own journey. I’m grateful for times in the past year when God has used my own experience with miscarriage to walk through similar journeys with several people. (Had I not opened up about our miscarriage, these people would not have known and therefore may not have asked me for prayer.) When I write posts like these, I go with my gut and trust that God will use my words to encourage others who will come across this post at the right time.
My Experience With Miscarriage:
I’m currently 35 weeks pregnant with our precious baby girl, but this is not our first pregnancy. I got pregnant last October (2016) and in mid-November, we lost that baby. We actually took our time before taking a pregnancy test, so we only knew I was pregnant for a week when I had the miscarriage – a week full of excitement and letting the news soak in, just as the two of us. Losing that baby was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through. And it was a lot for us to process together in our marriage. Last winter was a difficult winter. I was not “very” far along in the grand scheme of things (around 7 weeks) but I don’t think that matters. A life lost is a life lost. Sometimes you may have more weeks or months to get “attached” in pregnancy, to love on your growing little one, but for me in this circumstance, the full intense swath of emotions still picked me up and swept me along. It was still a deep grief.
That miscarriage rocked my world. It was the first time I had ever gotten pregnant, and we were excited to become parents, so it was a week full of intense joy and then uncertainty with this whole new journey, and then finally grief as I lost our baby.
We told hardly anyone about the miscarriage. It’s a hard enough topic to talk about when the pain is still pretty fresh…and then as time goes on, it’s a topic that you don’t feel like randomly bringing up. And it’s an intimate sort of situation so I wanted to guard our privacy and our story. (I still feel a bit torn about sharing it, to be perfectly honest. I just do feel like now is a good time to open up about it.)
I struggled to stay joyful – even cheerful – at work. It was so difficult to figure out how to grieve – I found myself wondering often if I was grieving too much or too little. (Hint: there is no perfect way to grieve. Everyone does it differently as they process loss.) My miscarriage happened around the time of the school year last year when some major changes and extra responsibilities were being added to my plate, so everything felt like it was out of my control as my body was figuring things out and my workload was essentially doubled. Add to that a long Minnesota winter, and I felt so so down.
I felt like my body had failed me. Since it was my first ever pregnancy, and it had resulted in loss, it filled me with fear that I could never have children. I didn’t know if we were about to embark on a journey of multiple miscarriages or infertility. I didn’t know if something could be labeled as “wrong” with me. When I missed work to recover physically from the miscarriage, well-meaning coworkers asked me if I had been gone because I was pregnant…and it was the actual opposite. All of the unknowns about any future pregnancies really shook me, since I had always wanted to be a mother.
My husband grieved with me. We leaned into God and His plans – His care for the little one we lost, and His plans for any future children. Bjorn pointed me towards God’s wisdom, omniscience, and care.
I was wandering the aisles of Target in early December, and found myself in the Christmas decorations section. I came across a little white and tan colored wooden bird ornament and I instantly knew I had to get it. For me, it was a symbol of the precious life that we had lost – our little one who “flew away too soon.” I brought it home to show Bjorn and cried all over again. But it started the healing process for me. Now I can look at that little bird without crying – and instead place my grief fragments into God’s hands and His greater understanding of things.
I also reached out to a friend who had been emailing with me about some natural family planning, and she ended up supporting me so well, and checking up on me throughout the miscarriage and the following weeks. She even mailed us a special snowflake ornament. A couple other friends who found out about our miscarriage sent cards or bought little gifts as reminders of God’s presence. I am so grateful for each of these people who have so thoughtfully come alongside us.
I found out around Valentine’s Day 2017 that I was pregnant again. And I was terrified. I felt like all of that first-time mom innocence was gone. I wasn’t naive anymore. I knew what could happen – and I didn’t know the likelihood of it happening again for us. But I still remember the morning I woke up super nauseous. I started to cry, because even though I hadn’t taken a pregnancy test yet, I knew I was pregnant again. I was so fearful, and in that moment, fear outweighed excitement. But Bjorn wrapped his arms around me and reassured me that God’s plans prevail – not our own – and we could trust Him.
While we obviously came out on the other side, I do still think about that first baby. I ache for anyone who has lost their little one at ANY stage. A miscarriage – no matter how far along – is still a loss and it is heartbreaking.
Having a miscarriage is not a Plan A. Our baby would have been due this past July 1st, and that day did not go by unnoticed by me. However, I know that this precious little girl dancing in my tummy right now would not be here if the miscarriage hadn’t happened. Does that mean I’m glad it happened? No, of course not. It is a sadness no matter what. But I can be grateful to God for the gift of this little one and His plans for her life as well. I am trusting God’s plans for our family, even though sometimes hard times come along. We are so thankful for this baby girl and we can’t wait to meet her! All children are a gift from God and are an amazing miracle of creation.
Fighting Fear in Pregnancy After Miscarriage:
One of the biggest ways that our 1st trimester miscarriage affected me was a new onslaught of fear. Fearful thoughts basically plagued me every second that I was not actively distracting myself with something else.
Instead of just being a “nervous new mom,” I was now a nervous new mom whose only experience with pregnancy had ended in loss – in physical and emotional pain. I desperately wanted to know the other ending of pregnancy – the joyful, magical ending that resulted in an infant.
** Note: this post details my experience with miscarriage and what has helped me fight fear in this current pregnancy of mine. Any “tips” shared are certainly NOT personalized for everyone and therefore aren’t necessarily “the key.” But if any of this uplifts you or makes you feel less alone, then I’d consider it a success. <3
Here are the things I’ve been putting into practice during this pregnancy:
Resist the urge to “Google” everything. I’m one of those people who’s super in-tune with their body. Therefore, even though I’d like to think I have a pretty good pain tolerance, I’m at least aware of each twinge or every little sensation. After having had a miscarriage, this brings “reading into things” to a whole new level! But it’s SO not a good idea to search every symptom online. That’s why people joke about it – because it’s so true that even when you search the most harmless-sounding symptom, a dramatic article suddenly catches your eye and you’re suddenly much more afraid.
Cling to Jesus and to promises found in the Bible about God’s character. I leaned on some of my favorite Bible verses in Isaiah, like Isaiah 40:25-31, and Isaiah 40:10-11:
“Here is your God!”
See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
Use songs for stress-relief and for reminders of God’s promises. I already love low-key acoustic music, but I also played a lot of choral music by Eric Whitacre in the early stages of this pregnancy. I highly recommend his song “The Seal Lullaby.”
Don’t be afraid to call your doctor with questions. (Even having them snag a nurse who may know the answer.) I’m one of those people who would rather call the doctor with a “dumb question” than just sit at home wondering about it. At the beginning of this pregnancy, as I was figuring out what pregnancy was like and what was normal, I did call my nurse practitioner quite a bit and I’m grateful I did, because it gave me reassurance and allowed me to go on with my day.
Pray for discernment and wisdom when it comes to knowing if a certain symptom is a “big deal” or not. This was a big thing I prayed for during this pregnancy. Since I had only known miscarriage, having never had a healthy pregnancy before, I prayed that God would give me wisdom. I wanted to wisely discern whether or not something was an actual concern, or just a new mom’s worries.
Turn to worship. During my miscarriage experience, I played only one song on repeat: “Psalm 46” by the husband-and-wife group Jenny & Tyler. This song is a beautiful way to worship God through difficult times – and comes right out of Scripture. It’s amazing how turning to worshipping God (even when it feels like the last thing we want to do) can reset our minds and give us fresh peace.
Reach out for prayer or advice from positive, helpful sources. Although we didn’t share about the miscarriage much at all, I did reach out to a few people for prayer or advice. Being able to even email back and forth about the situation really comforted me. It helped so much to know I was not alone in my experience or feelings.
Try to take a healthy approach (physically and mentally) to this pregnancy. Many miscarriages that women have, we’ll never know why they happened. There are SO many opinions out there about ways you “could have” prevented a miscarriage, or ways to prevent it in the future. And that brings a TON of guilt with it. Taking on guilt and “what ifs” is not worth it, especially with so many unknowns and countless factors that can contribute to a miscarriage.
While I certainly did get wrapped up in Googling those kinds of things at first, I eventually came to realize that I couldn’t craft some perfect scenario that would 100% ensure no miscarriage. It’s a hard realization when we so want to control the situation, but I HAD to put open my tight fists and put my pregnancy and this new precious little life into God’s hands.
That being said, I did try some things to stay physically and mentally healthy – just for the positive changes it would bring. I tried to back way off of stress. (I’m the type of person who can let work stresses seep into every aspect of my daily life.) I tried hard to avoid getting caught up in swirls of gossip or negativity at work. I did not stay extra long hours at work, even though sometimes people make comments about who stays the longest (or not) at work. I worked very hard teaching 2nd graders to the best of my ability, and then I went home to rest, physically and emotionally. I surrounded myself with positive friendships. I spent time with my husband, soaking in the adventures of marriage together. I worked through a book on being more assertive. This summer, I jumped into the habit of having a healthy smoothie for breakfast each day – a routine I’m still continuing and loving. I made sure to take all my vitamins, drink water, and get enough sleep at night. Would I say that these things prevented a miscarriage this time around? No. I can’t say that. We all know I am not a doctor!! However, these little steps were positive changes in my life, no matter what, and helped me to both heal from the previous miscarriage and peacefully celebrate the new little life growing in my belly.
Celebrate any little milestone you want! I use the pregnancy app Ovia, and I love it. They have little notifications each day that tell you things like “baby’s heart can now do this” or “her hand size is this big already!” Every little “checkbox” is so encouraging to keep track of. Some of my favorite updates throughout this pregnancy have been notifications about her lungs or brain being more and more fully developed! Grow baby grow!
Write out a prayer you will pray each day. I struggled so much with fear at the beginning of this pregnancy (because I knew many miscarriages take place during the first trimester). It got to the point that I had to physically write out a prayer and hang it in the bathroom, where I could look at it and pray it out loud every morning. Everyone would probably craft their prayer in their own way, but I included the reminders I needed and what I wanted to give over to God each morning. My card says something similar to this: “Each day is a gift. I will not live in fear. Thank you for all you’ve given me, Lord. Create a clean heart in me. I will live one day at a time to honor You. Fill me with trust and joy.” I can’t tell you the number of times I have prayed this. And it has brought me comfort and joy – to hand things over to God while trusting Him to care for me and this little one.
Share your story with others only when you’re ready. You don’t “owe” someone your story simply because they are being nosy or persistent (and especially if you know they have a tendency to gossip). However, over time, you may decide you’d like to share your story so you can be an encouragement to others. That’s where I’m at right now. Regardless of if my miscarriage or fear-in-pregnancy journey looks like others’ journeys, I want to at least share my experience so that you know you are not alone.
Focusing on the Positives and Blessings:
It has really helped me to place emphasis on the positives and the blessings during this pregnancy. Of course, I will never forget our first little one and part of me will always grieve the loss. But in the process of moving forward, I’ve come to realize some blessings.
- We get to meet and raise this precious little girl! I’m almost 36 weeks pregnant now. The baby we lost would have been due this past July 1st, and then this little girl dancing in my belly now would never have existed. It’s a blessed sort of mystery…and bittersweet for sure. It’s one of those “had that not happened, this blessing would not be here” things – just like in my post about when Plan A doesn’t turn out. It doesn’t necessarily take the “what-ifs” or the shock or sadness out of the picture, but it does still bring me to my knees in gratitude for this little soul whom we get to meet in October.
- I wholeheartedly believe that the baby we lost is in heaven with Jesus right now. And my mama’s heart feels so at peace with this. Where else would I want my children to be, if they cannot be with me here? No, we never got to meet that little one, but the ultimate joy for me as a mother is that my children end up in heaven with Jesus someday. This child just got to be with Jesus before the rest of us. I believe we will meet this child in heaven someday, and while it’s so sad that we didn’t get to know him or her on earth, I am reassured by the fact that God watches out for His little children and cares for them in loving ways beyond our human understanding.
- Miscarriage opened me up to a whole world and community of women whose stories may have been kept quiet otherwise. Even though it’s not a fun topic to bring up, I keep thinking if I don’t share about it, then women who are walking a similar path or are struggling with fear in pregnancy may end up feeling alone. I don’t want you to feel alone! I firmly believe that every woman has a story, whether it’s full of dramatic ups and downs or other, quieter journeys of loneliness or perseverance. And it’s not right for people to have to walk alone. There are huge communities of women out there whose stories are either being told or are waiting to be shared. I feel we should be comforting and encouraging each other along the way – even if it’s not a huge swath of advice. Even walking a road together is meaningful and important.
- Having a miscarriage did draw my husband and me closer together and closer to God. There is nothing like a situation out of your control to remind you of Who is in control. And we chose to lean on each other and lean on God’s providence and plans for us. It was a new opportunity for me to exercise putting control back into God’s hands, not my own. And I learned that during a difficult time like our miscarriage, defaulting to worshipping God (no matter how much I hurt) was so healing.
- I can choose to celebrate every little milestone in this pregnancy. Even though I’m feeling huge, uncomfortable, and tired at this point, I can still be joyful about the life that is growing inside me now. Even when BB (our nickname for her) kicks me with sharp jabs in the ribs, which I don’t love, I can turn my thoughts to gratitude for her ever-strengthening and growing muscles! Pregnancy may not be the most comfortable thing, and I know it’s easy to complain, but even in the uncomfortable and painful parts, I want to turn my mind to thankfulness. It is such a privilege and joy to carry this life in me, and I want to thank God for her daily.
Miscarriage definitely changed me. It was an unexpected, difficult chapter that was written into my story when I didn’t want it to be. I know that many, many women have walked this road – whether it’s miscarriage or fear in pregnancy, or both. If anything you read today encouraged or helped you, I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to share this post or to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m praying for all of you as we all navigate the difficult AND the joyful journeys in life.
** I just want to note again that this post is meant as an encouragement (and not a “You Should Do This”) for those of you who have walked through miscarriage or any kind of fear in pregnancy. I don’t believe that any advice I shared here is “one size fits all.” This is my story and what has helped me during my journey.