It was a year ago Mother’s Day that I stood in church being honored along with all the other moms, tears flowing. The tears were not because I was proud to be a mom of four children, although I was. It was not because prayers were lifted on our behalf although I was grateful. Instead it was because, despite my amazing children and the pointed prayers, I was hurt and angry that what I’d hoped would be a fifth child for my family was ending as I stood there in the midst of hundreds of other people smiling and clapping.
I am choosing to share the pain of my miscarriage publicly for all you who bear yours privately. What I suffered is not an uncommon thing. Many of you can relate since it is estimated that at least 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. Yet, knowing that did not help me. It also did not help when well-meaning people offered platitudes like, “You can always get pregnant again” or pointed out that at least I already had children as though somehow this one was disposable. And it did not help to be told, “It was probably just God’s mercy”. It did not feel like mercy.
I had been to the doctor that Thursday excited to see my sweet baby’s sonogram image only to be told that things were not looking “as they should”. I was told to prepare myself for loss and to schedule another ultrasound in a week. I enlisted prayers and I believed against all hope that the following week would bring good news. It would not. Sunday morning, spotting began. I couldn’t bring myself to accept that this child we longed for and prayed for would die on the day I was to celebrate being a mother. It could not be. Not on Mother’s Day.
So I stood, smiling through tears, praying that God would stop what was happening to my body and my baby. He did not–not then, and not again five months later when we lost another baby in a sterile hospital room. My body had gone into shock from blood loss, and in that foggy, subconscious place, I wondered why God, who could have stopped all of it, had chosen not to despite my pleas. Was it my fault? Did I not pray hard enough? And in that limbo between life and death, I heard a resounding “No” as well as “Do you trust Me?” I chose to trust and I still do.
In the midst of unanswered questions, I am a woman who knows the goodness of God and who has had prayers of faith answered in inconceivable ways, so I have chosen to trust that God’s ways are not my ways but His way is better and that the hope of Romans 8:28 is true of both me and all my children: “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” I may not understand His purpose but I will trust in them.
So, on Sunday, a year after it all began, I stood again amidst my congregation as applause went up for all the moms and I cried. Oh, I know how blessed I am to have the son and three daughters who call me “Mama”, but I still long for the ones I can only dream about, and it still goes against my instincts to say I’m a mom to four when my heart says I have six. I know if you’ve lost a child before birth you can understand that.
To all you moms who know this loss or know someone who does–whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, or the pain of abortion–I pray your hearts will be restored one broken piece at a time. While we may not hold those babies in this life, they are still a gift from the Lord (Ps 127:3), He knew them even before they were formed (Jer 1:5) and He will complete what He started (Jer 1:5). I believe that one day I will see and recognize my babies, and they will see and recognize me as their mama and it will be better than what my finite mind can envision.
And, mamas, while it is true that “these things happen”, it is still a unique and personal experience and your healing is just as unique and personal. Seek help if necessary, but remember, it’s a process. It’s been a year for me, and most of the time it’s better, but sometimes it still stings. Sometimes I just need to cry.
Despite such feelings of intense loss, I am grateful for the opportunity to love more deeply and out of that love to reach out to others with compassion in a way I couldn’t have a year ago. And through it all, I hang onto the promise that one day “God will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain” (Rev. 21:4).
Here is a link to a book I highly recommend if you are struggling with this issue: