October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month and, as this is an area very close to my heart, I felt it was important to share my
own story of pregnancy loss.
When my husband, King (yes, his real name) and I decided to try for a baby, I felt so ready. I started taking prenatal vitamins from the moment we decided we were going to go for it; I was so excited!
Amazingly, I found out we were pregnant within a month of beginning TTC (trying to conceive).
I couldn’t believe it! I felt so blessed.
Then came the pains. These horrible cramps, much like period pain but worse. I was 10 weeks pregnant. My husband and I went to the early pregnancy unit at the hospital and they confirmed I was miscarrying, although I already knew that. I was told I could go home with some painkillers and let the process take its course.
It was, at that point in my life, the most horrific pain I’d ever endured. The whole experience was more physically and emotionally traumatic than I can describe. When the doctor told me I could just “go home and let the process take its course”, they didn’t prepare me for the practical issues that that entails. No-one warns you that you may see your baby once it has passed, or what to do with it.
So, one day I was expecting our first child, the next, the baby was gone. I didn’t understand. I was a Christian. I had prayed for this child. We were ready.
Why was this happening?
I was so angry with God. I felt He had let me down. I’d put my faith in Him and now this awful thing was happening.
I’d already had to tell my boss about my pregnancy, even though I was only a few weeks along, because I had hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness) and it was affecting my getting to work on time in the mornings. Cue the most awkward conversation ever, then, when I had to explain what had happened and why I wouldn’t be in for a while. Thankfully my boss at the time was very understanding and told me I could take as long as I needed.
I took some time to be real with God and let Him know how hurt I was and He comforted me and gave me hope with the words:
“”For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.”” Jeremiah 29:11
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
Eventually, after a lot of prayer and healing, we were ready to try again.
It took a long time for us to fall pregnant this time and I became slightly obsessive and stressed about it happening (which, they say, can make conception even harder) but, 13 months later, there was another pair of pink lines, double- and triple-checked with a digital test. “Our rainbow baby“, I said to myself.
It was a Sunday morning when I hit the ’12 weeks pregnant milestone’ (out of the ‘danger zone’, we could start telling people!).
As I got up and started getting ready for church, I had a feeling that something wasn’t right. I was in pain. I told my husband we needed to go to the hospital and I’ll never forget the look on his face. “Not again“, the devastated yet determined expression on his face said. His mouth, however, said “ok, let’s pray”.
This time was absolute agony, so much worse and more intense than the last time. I remember trying to be very British while we waited to be seen in that now familiar early pregnancy unit and was trying to contain my groans, but I couldn’t sit still and I couldn’t be quiet; the pain was unbearable and steadily getting worse. I heard the sounds I was making but it was as if they were coming from someone else.
I was rushed in to be seen by a doctor who said I was indeed miscarrying but something was stuck at my cervix, which is why I was in so much pain. There was a quick, sharp movement of the doctor’s tool and then she said it was “all done”. Except it wasn’t. My cracked heart, not long healed from the last loss, had just been torn apart again. And so had my husband’s.
I don’t think people talk enough about the impact of pregnancy and infant loss on fathers.
My husband was an absolute rock for me when we had our two miscarriages but I do wonder how he did it. He is a praying man so I’ve no doubt the Lord covered him and equipped him to be able to help me in the midst of his own devastation.
Once my body had recovered and I was ready to go out again after a period of rest, some people around me asked why they hadn’t seen me in a few weeks. I felt as though I couldn’t tell just anyone as it was such a personal thing, whereas with others, I was open. The reaction to the news of our losses surprised me. People who I thought would be understanding and compassionate replied, coldly, “well, that’s life”.
There were people who I considered friends who just completely blanked me and, until this day, have never mentioned or acknowledged what happened. I understand, now, that they weren’t necessarily being cold, but that they just didn’t know how to react or what to say.
I remember when we dedicated our first son to the Lord in church, my husband testified and included the fact that we’d tried for a long time for a baby and had two miscarriages in the process. I sensed the shock in the room as some had no idea that we’d been through that.
That really made me think. How can people miss such a massive event in a person’s life?
When a baby is born, everyone rushes round to congratulate and celebrate the occasion, but when a baby dies, where are those people?
Before our first son was born, we also had people saying “when are you going to try for a baby?”, and “what are you guys waiting for? Have a baby already!” They were totally clueless that, actually, we’d been trying and it just wasn’t happening. That’s one thing I would say:
Never pressurise a childless couple by asking when the baby is coming. You have no idea what struggles with pregnancy loss or infertility they may be dealing with.
My faith took a beating through these experiences. I was angry with God, I refused to talk to Him, or to listen. I didn’t want to go to church. I didn’t want to give or serve. I had been doing all of those things faithfully before this had happened and what good had it done?
That’s when God really got a hold of my heart and asked me if I trusted Him or not. I knew the Lord had helped me immeasurably in my life already and answered many prayers; He had healed my mind, mended my broken heart, cleansed me of my past, given me a new life, a wonderful church, an amazing husband and so much more.
I decided to trust Him through this situation.
Eventually, after a long period of heartache, I got to a place where I could say that even if God chose not to give us a child, I would still love Him and live for Him.
King and I took the ‘not trying, not preventing’ method to TTC after that. No stress, no pressure, whatever happens happens. Not long after adopting that approach, I became pregnant for the third time. I was anxious about the possibility of a third miscarriage, but I gave those fears to God in prayer and He helped me to remain hopeful and positive.
I carried that third pregnancy to full term. This was my son, Eden, given to us by a faithful God.
I shared this (long!) story to help break the silence there often is around the subject of miscarriage and pregnancy loss. It can be an extremely lonely experience so it helps if women who go through this have the opportunity to talk about it.
This October, let’s be there for those who may be going through or have gone through pregnancy loss, still birth, miscarriage or infant loss. Be a friend. You’ll never have the right words to say, but just saying “I don’t know what to say but I’m here for you” is a great start.
Praying and hoping,