Years ago, I went through some difficult things. Throughout my life, I’ve gone through many difficult things. Thankfully, God has brought me through these things and healed every piece of brokenness. It wasn’t always quick. It wasn’t always obvious. But looking back, I can now see where He was with me every step of the way. I was going through some old e-mails and I found one from a magazine editor who had published an article of mine back in 2009. The article was about my experience with miscarriage and how I dealt with the pain of losing a child. I’ve had five miscarriages and this article focused on the last one. I’d had some time to process it and wanted to write something for other women who may have been going through the same kind of pain. The magazine that published this so long ago seems to be gone, so I want to publish this article here for anyone who may wish to read it. If you have experienced the emotional, psychological, and physical pain of miscarriage, my heart goes out to you. It changes you. I breaks your heart and your spirit. But there is always purpose. We may not see it right away, but God will reveal it as He heals you. I pray that if you’ve had this terrible experience, you will allow Him to heal you as well.
(Previously published in Alive Magazine, 2009)
by Rebecca Benston
Anger. That was my first emotion. I wasn’t really surprised because I had been expecting that something would go wrong. .I had struggled not to invite a self-fulfilling prophecy, but it happened anyway. And so, the thoughts going through my head were not very nice. They ranged from, “Why me?” to “Anyone can have a baby, why does this keep happening to us?”
We had gotten past the point where it was supposed to be safe to be happy. We had seen on an ultrasound, at twelve weeks, a very bouncy, very lively fetus.. Even the doctor thought we had less than a 1% chance of losing the baby. Though there had been no indication up to that point that anything was wrong, I had been reluctant to let myself believe that I could have a healthy child after so many failed attempts. The pregnancy had not been a joyous emotional event, although I tried to have happy thoughts. I tried to picture a new baby with its perfect little hands and feet and that wonderful new baby smell. I tried to remember what it had been like when we were blessed with our daughter just four years earlier. I tried to make a connection to the new baby as I carried it, but it was just too difficult. I knew that I was risking major heartbreak if I allowed myself to love this child before it was actually in my arms. So I kept my distance emotionally and as it turned out, my instincts were right.
When we went in to see the doctor for the sixteen week checkup, she couldn’t find the heartbeat so she decided to do another ultrasound. We watched as the baby came into view. It was no longer the vibrant, energetic little person that it had been just four weeks earlier. It appeared to be sleeping quietly, not making a sound, not moving at all. As I watched, I realized that I was now seeing what I had been dreading for the past sixteen weeks. My baby was gone. Again.
This was our fifth loss and at this point, I was done. My husband and I had discussed what our options were when we had first learned that we were expecting again. He had agreed that if we didn’t carry the baby to term, he would have a vasectomy. If we were fortunate enough to have a healthy baby, I would simply get my tubes tied as part of the cesarean procedure. We agreed to accept whatever happened, but at the time we saw that we had lost the baby, I wasn’t feeling very accepting. I hadn’t wanted to think about telling everyone that we weren’t having a baby now. I hadn’t wanted to be here, in this awful place again. I wanted to disappear from everything for just a little while until people forgot that I was ever pregnant. But I couldn’t do that. Reluctantly, I made the first call to my mother and asked if she could just pass on the news to everyone else. The last thing I wanted to do was spend all day talking about it and hearing how sorry everyone was but it was inevitable.
By the end of the night, I had heard from most of my family. In between fits of crying, I was able to talk to them, but I really didn’t want to talk to anyone. I calledmy supervisor at work to let him know that I would be out for a little while. Everyone at work had been so supportive and had been interested in how things had been progressing. Just thinking about all of the questions and all of the “I’m sorry’s” that I would hear when I returned was enough to make me want to quit. I was extremely anti-sympathy. I just wanted to forget and for the pain to go away. I wanted to get back to being busy and to get my mind off of everything that was happening. I was hoping that I could simply jump back into my writing projects and eventually everything would be fine.
After the initial fit of anger passed, I began to rationalize that now I could accomplish all of the things I had put on hold when I found out that I was pregnant. I could finish that book, I could lose the weight, and I could get my house organized. Oh, the possibilities. This burst of enthusiasm was short-lived, though. It was overshadowed by guilt over not wanting to grieve. I didn’t want to sit around crying and being depressed when there was so much to do. I felt like I had wasted so much time already with my delusions of motherhood. So many hours had been spent dreaming of nursery themes and baby names and all of the stuff that was supposed to happen. I had been trying to make myself enjoy the idea of becoming a mother for the second time. My husband and I had been talking with our four-year old daughter about being a big sister and about all of the things she could teach the new baby. Now, we had to take it all back. How could we tell her that the baby wasn’t coming? How could we make her understand that the baby was with God now?
By the time we sat down with her to have the discussion about what had happened, we had agreed that it was best to make her feel comfortable about where the baby was now and not to give her more details than she needed to know. After all, she was four years old and she wouldn’t understand much past the fact that the baby would not be here. I was afraid that the news would break her heart and that I wouldn’t be able to make things right. She had to know that this was something beyond our control and that we would all be okay. We told her, carefully, that God had decided that he needed the baby in Heaven. She cried, my husband cried, I cried. She said that she wanted to be an angel and that she wanted to go with Jesus. As I fought the idea that God would ever take her away from us, I tried to explain to her that He wanted her here to take care of us. This seemed to appease her and finally, she declared that she was going to her room to play video games. Thus is the grief cycle of the pre-schooler.
Days later, after lots of tears, anger, and confusion, I am trying to put things back together. I am going back to work in a few days and I don’t want to break down once I’m there. Surely, I can get past this. Surely, it won’t hurt so much after I get back to doing what I used to do. I say this knowing that I am still hurting from the miscarriage we suffered just a couple of years ago. It was nearly the same, except for a few minor details. We were only twelve weeks into the pregnancy when we learned of that loss.
Scattered throughout my calendar are the due dates of babies that never came. For the past four years, I have been pregnant for at least some period of time every year. Whether it was four weeks, six weeks, twelve weeks or sixteen, it still feels the same. I was allowed to get used to the idea that I was growing a human life and then this reality was taken away from me. No explanation, no good reason for the loss. Only speculation about what could have been the cause. There was nothing to explain how we had been able to have one child who is absolutely wonderful in every way, but to lose so many others.
The only explanation, the only way I can even understand it is that God makes this call. No matter what our beliefs, it is certain that if it isn’t something that is meant to happen, it simply won’t happen. I grew up knowing and hoping that there was something up there, controlling things, making sure I learned what I needed to learn and that I would do whatever it is that I am here to do. Although the losses have been very difficult to deal with, I know that there is a reason somewhere that makes sense, even if I can’t find it here. I also know that we are very lucky to have a beautiful daughter who makes us so happy every day of our lives. I can’t let the sadness I feel over these losses take away from the love I can give her. I didn’t cry yesterday, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be tears tomorrow or the next day. The important thing is that there are smiles and love to wrap around those tears.
I’ve read that every woman who loses a child experiences these feelings in a different way. Sharing what we can about the experience is important, but we shouldn’t push ourselves if we’re not ready. I am writing this in part to help myself process the losses. Another part of me hopes that some other woman who has lost a child will read this and know that she is not alone in her grief. We don’t have to feel empty and alone. It will get better.
Rebecca Benston is the owner of Higher Ground Books & Media and the author of over twenty titles currently available through Amazon and other outlets. Her books include a mystery series (The Rona Shively Stories), empowerment resources such as Wise Up to Rise Up, Don’t Be Stupid (And I Mean That in the Nicest Way), and From Judgment to Jubilee, children’s books including Grumble D. Grumble Learns to Smile, All the Scary Things, and See How Strong You Are. Benston lives in Springfield, Ohio with her awesome daughter, Mya and enjoys traveling, reading, writing, and telling it like it is. She enjoys being able to help other authors get their stories out there through Higher Ground and has recently expanded her freelance services to offer more extensive guidance as a writing coach and social media manager. For more information, you can contact Benston at email@example.com.