I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to start a blog. I have also known for a long time that this would be my first post. Miscarriage and Stillborn Remembrance Day on October 15th allows me the perfect opportunity to dive in to blogging head first. Below you will find the raw account of my miscarriage 5 years ago. It took me 3 years to feel ready to write about it and 2 more years to feel ready to share. What I learned from my experience was that so many women share in my grief, but so many of those same women remain silent. To do my part in breaking the silence, I will take you on my very personal journey of losing my baby physically, but holding onto it both emotionally and spiritually.
“Everything is fine.”
My husband and I had felt the joy of seeing “pregnant” on the little screen. Hugging each other and crying—well, I cried, he just smiled—we were ready. With every ultrasound came more excitement as we watched our energized baby spinning and bouncing around in my belly. It was June 9th, and everything was fine. Doing what looked like baby aerobics, our baby didn’t have a problem one. Healthy heartbeat. Healthy movement. Healthy baby. Everything was fine.
“Let me try something different. I am not seeing any movement from the baby.”
Fast-forward one week to June 16th. One short, innocent week. Our 12-week ultrasound had arrived. Secretly hoping to catch a glimpse of the baby’s sex, we couldn’t wait to witness its fervor again so soon. No fear, just sheer joy. After all, what did we have to fear? Only one week ago, we had seen our healthy baby. Lying back on the table, I cringed at the shock of the cold nozzle. Even the nurse’s constant adjustment of the ultrasound wand didn’t alarm us. That is until she added the words, “Let me try something different. I am not seeing any movement from the baby. Megan, roll over to your side.” I did as I was told. Nothing. Just a motionless dot that had sunken to the bottom of the screen. False justification filled my mind. “Maybe our baby is sleeping. That’s why there is no movement.”
“There isn’t a heartbeat.”
That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less. That is all she said. Like a punch in the gut, her words sucked the breath out of me. Tears flooded my cheeks. My husband’s embrace only made them fall faster and harder. Gluing my eyes to the screen, I hoped she had made a mistake. I was sure it would move if I just kept watching. As I quickly realized, I was wrong; it was over. My baby was dead.
“I’ll give you some time.”
Time? Time for what? Was time going to bring back my baby’s heartbeat? Time had not been our friend. A week had passed, and that was enough time to kill my baby. I didn’t want more time. I wanted my baby to move. I wanted to hear its heartbeat and return to the anticipation of possibly finding out if it was a boy or a girl. I wanted to wake up from the nightmare I was living. My mind raced with thoughts of the recent week. What had I done to make this happen? Meals—maybe I ate too unhealthy; water intake—maybe I didn’t get enough; vitamins—maybe I forgot to take them. I needed a reason, an answer, something to blame. I wouldn’t find one.
“It is very common. We will schedule a D and C for next week. It is a routine procedure.”
My doctor had come to console us and share our next step. She assured me that miscarriages happen often, and although she knew that would not wipe away my pain, it should help me know it was nothing I had done. If they were so common, why was my mom the only person I knew who had one? Why didn’t other people talk about it? Even if others had experienced this, they couldn’t possibly understand what I was feeling. She continued explaining that the only way she would run any tests was after my third miscarriage. Three? I had to lose three babies before I could know why I was losing them? The reason my baby didn’t survive would remain a mystery until, God forbid, I had two more devastating ultrasounds.
The days that followed brought on a rollercoaster of emotions. My doctor told me that I might experience some cramping (my body’s way of getting rid of the fetus naturally), and if I began to bleed, I should go to the hospital. The last thing I wanted was to lose the baby my baby at home. Fighting through the cramping in my abdomen, I made it to my appointment on Tuesday. Minutes ticked slowly, and my trepidation grew. Finally, a nurse walked me into a coldly sterile room where she put a stack of papers in front of me. “I need you to sign these before we get started.” I turned the pages and signed on the appropriate lines until I got to the page where two bolded words stopped me dead in my tracks. “Missed Abortion.” What? Bewilderment covered my face. I protested, “I’m not having an abortion. I had a miscarriage. I did not choose to abort my baby. I wanted my baby.” I couldn’t stop the tears. The thought of signing a paper that implied I had chosen to end my pregnancy brought back the “punched in the gut” feeling I had felt only days ago. The nurse explained that an abortion is the removal of a fetus from the uterus. I was not ending my pregnancy, but the baby would be aborted from my uterus. I didn’t have a choice. I had to sign the paper to have the procedure. While it went against every ounce of my morals and values, I didn’t want to experience the alternative—losing my baby at home—so I signed the paper. When I woke from the surgery, I also awoke to the reality that my baby was no longer with me. Just minutes prior, it had been removed from my uterus. It all became very real. I wanted to go back; I wanted my doctor to give me back my baby. Dead or alive, I wanted my baby with me.
“I’m so sorry.”
If I had a nickel for every time I heard that, I could’ve paid for my D and C. As the word spread, my inboxes filled with emails, messages, and voicemails. Because I couldn’t bear to answer the phone, I just let it ring. “I’m so sorry.” It is the go-to phrase when you don’t know what to say, and people didn’t know what to say. I’ve said it. You’ve probably said it. It is what people say. I appreciated the sympathy. I still do, but at the time, it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. One person didn’t say this to me. Her words made the difference. She told me that it was okay to be sad, that my baby was still a part of me. I didn’t have to give that up. Ever. I didn’t have to “feel better soon” or “get back on my feet” if I didn’t want to. She also told me that I was already a mother, and that was making it hard. I felt it in my heart and had lost the baby I had come to love and nurture. No wonder my heart had been ripped in two. I needed to hear that. I needed someone to justify my feelings, tell me it was okay to get sad at the thought of the names we had picked out, the bedding we would purchase, or the Father’s Day gift I had already bought for my husband. All of these emotions were completely normal, and they were all part of the road to recovery.
“You’ll get through it.”
Lie. Lie. Lie. You don’t get through it. Or over it, or in front of it, or on top of it. All of these imply one thing—you can or should put it behind you. That one day, you will wake up and not feel sadness at the thought of the baby you lost. Thankfully, it is a lie. I didn’t want to get through it. “Getting through it” or “over it” meant I would forget in some way. I didn’t want to forget. That baby was real. It made me a mother. It was, and always will be a part of who I am.
“How far along are you Mrs. Thompson? Wow! You aren’t even showing yet!”
I survived the summer and welcomed the new school year with open arms. Anything to take my mind off the tragic summer I had endured. I walked into my classroom with a newfound confidence. Work would provide the distraction I needed until my husband and I got the all clear to try to expand our family again. Shortly after I took my seat at my desk, the students started pouring in. All my sweet angels from the previous year came in to see my pregnant belly and request that we choose his or her name on the birth certificate. To their surprise, my belly had not grown an inch over the summer. High school students lack filters, usually one of my favorite things about them, and they proceeded to ask me why I was not showing. Through tears, I had to explain to my students that my baby had not made it long after school had ended. Their sadness hurt my heart. They apologized for bringing up the touchy subject, and I assured them it was okay; they couldn’t have known. These conversations continued as the day progressed until the word spread through the hallways not to mention the baby to Mrs. Thompson. My students weren’t the only ones who made this mistake. Several of our friends missed the news and asked us about our pregnancy. Every time ended with the same look of embarrassment on their faces and an empty promise of our well-being. Despite the awkward encounters it caused, I wouldn’t change how we handled our pregnancy. We were overjoyed to become parents and wanted everyone to share in our excitement. It just meant we had that many more people to share in our grief.
“I’m in the arms of Jesus, and He sings me lullabies.”
So, how did I move on? On my darkest days, I looked for a new perspective. I had to understand in some capacity why this tragedy happened to me. Desperate for answers, I turned to poetry and literature. First, I came across a poem by Claudette T. Allen, which describes the loss of a baby beautifully. I found solace in the lines that read, “You see I’m a special child, I am needed up above. I’m the special gift you gave Him, a product of your love.” Knowing that my baby was with God gave me a sense of peace. I have always been strong in my faith, but it wavered in this dark time. Questioning His plan, I wondered how He could give me such pain. Allen continues in her poem:
“When you see a child playing and your heart feels a tug, don’t be sad mommy, that’s just me giving your heart a hug. So Daddy, don’t look so sad, and Momma, please don’t cry. I’m in the arms of Jesus, and he sings me lullabies!”
After finding Allen’s poem, I looked for more inspiration. I stumbled upon a poem by Jennifer Wasik called “What Makes a Mother,” Wasik brilliantly captures the essence of motherhood in her poem about the loss of a child. She writes,
“I miss my mommy oh so much, but I visit her each day. When she goes to sleep, on her pillow’s where I lay. I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek and whisper in her ear, ‘Mommy, don’t be sad today, I’m your baby, and I’m here.’”
Allen and Wasik’s words provided me with confidence that my baby will find ways to make its presence known to me. I will always see it “dancing in the rain” or among the stars. I often read this poem and remind myself that I can see my baby anytime I want; all I have to do is pause long enough to look.
Heaven is for Real because our baby is there.
Finding hope in times of pain proves difficult. My strongest sense of hope came from the book Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo. Among the letters and emails I received was a book suggestion to read “just what I needed.” I downloaded Heaven is for Real and enjoyed its message about a boy who went to Heaven and met God. The book affected me in a number of ways—it solidified what I had believed all along, it gave me hope that I would reach Heaven one day, and it reinforced the miracle of faith. It wasn’t until I reached Chapter 17 that I realized the remarkable power this book would hold for me. In Chapter 17, Todd’s son describes another encounter he had while in Heaven to his parents. He informs his mother that he has two sisters- one still on Earth with him, the other in Heaven. Shock overwhelmed Todd and his wife, Sonja because they had never told Colton of the miscarriage they had before he was born. Colton had met the baby they had lost in Heaven, and it was a girl, novel information to Todd and Sonja. Since my miscarriage, I have often regretted not asking my doctor the sex of our baby. I longed to know if my baby was a boy or a girl. I wanted to call it “he” or “she” instead of “it.” In addition, I wanted our baby to have a name. Names give people identities. We never named our baby, and I wish we had. The Burpo family got that chance, and reading this chapter gave me hope that one day, we will, too. Also, the Burpo family strengthened my faith that I will meet my baby someday and until then, it is in good hands. My baby is right where it needs to be. Whether it was sick, weak, or simply too beautiful for Earth, I find unbelievable comfort in the thought of my baby walking with Jesus in Heaven, awaiting the day we will meet in joy, share stories of our adventures, embrace in unconditional love, and walk the golden roads hand in hand.
A note to end on… Even five years later, my first baby remains at the forefront of my daily prayers and thoughts. I do find peace in knowing had I not lost my first baby, I would not have my two precious daughters, Aubrey and Maycee. It doesn’t make it easier or less painful, but it does give me faith that God has a plan for every single one of us, including my first baby who lives with Him in Heaven.