My palms were beginning to sweat. The walls seemed to be closing in around me. I tightened my grip around my husband’s hand as the cold wand slid across my abdomen in search of life. Instead of the rapid thump of our baby’s heartbeat, a deafening silence filled the room.
“I’m so sorry, there is no heartbeat.”
My heart sank in my chest, and my eyes swelled with tears. I was twelve-weeks pregnant, but my baby’s little heart was no longer beating. And mine was aching so sharply I thought it might stop, too.
Soon after our doctor visit, I experienced the far-too-early labor pains and traumatic passing of our first child. The week that followed was a blur filled with visits from family and friends. Life was on hold as we mourned the loss of our little one. The days soon turned to weeks. Life had to resume, but I felt everything but normal inside.
Lessons from the Valley
Three years have passed since those foggy days of grief, but the memories of the heartache are still vivid. I thank God for the two little ones he has blessed us with since then, but I still long to hold the baby we lost. Though healing has overridden the grief in my heart, miscarriage has changed me and taught me things I would not have learned otherwise — even though, if I am honest, I would gladly trade these things for my baby.
I am grateful that God has heard these honest cries, and that he is patient and compassionate with my hurting heart. Though painful, I praise him for the lessons he teaches in the valley and that he walks alongside the aching heart long after the meals and sympathy cards stop. Whether you find yourself in the midst of the fog of your own miscarriage, or are trying to encourage friends in their grief, these are four things God has taught me through mine.
1. Miscarriage changes you.
Outwardly, nothing had changed. We were a family of two before the miscarriage, and remained as two afterwards. But we couldn’t pick up where we left off before the positive pregnancy test. The following months were no longer marked by growing belly pictures, baby showers, or nursery preparations.
The pregnant bellies around me seemed to taunt me, reminding me of how far along I would have been each passing month. Fear filled my heart as I anticipated facing our baby’s due date with empty arms. Our home felt painfully quiet and clean, void of newborn cries and dirty burp cloths.
Though barely the size of a grape, the loss of our baby changed us and left us with a new normal that came with painful adjustments. After our miscarriage, pregnancy and parenthood were no longer rights we felt entitled to, or in control of. We saw clearly that God alone is the one who creates and sustains life, and children are an undeserved, miraculous, and fragile gift.
2. Rejoice with those who are rejoicing.
Not only did life carry on for everyone around me, but friends got pregnant and babies were born. I was not prepared for this. But God in his goodness carried me along, and friends were gracious as I learned what it looked like to rejoice with others even in the midst of my own grief.
God gives and takes in different ways and at different times. You don’t have to say “Yes” to the first baby shower invite you receive, but you are called to find your way to rejoice with those who are rejoicing. Even if you go home and cry afterwards, seek to rejoice, as much as you are able, with those who are rejoicing during your time of grief.
As friends mourned with you in your loss, you are called to rejoice with them in their joys. Though it may hurt, seek to do it in God’s strength. He will be honored, and your heart will heal in the process.
3. God will give grace for the future.
The thought of facing my due date with empty arms, or being pregnant and vulnerable again, seemed daunting. The innocence of pregnancy had been lost, and the fear of silent ultrasounds or seeing blood too early were now realities that would mark any future pregnancy.
Praise God we have a faithful high priest who himself wept over loss and is able to sympathize with our weaknesses (John 11:35; Hebrews 4:15). When my due date finally came, when I saw another positive pregnancy test, and when the time arrived for me to enter the ultrasound room again, I drew near to God and found fresh mercy and grace to help in time of need.
4. God will give again.
We have a God who gives. We see this most clearly at the cross. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). Though he may not always give in the way we hope or expect, he has promised that only goodness and mercy will follow his children all their days (Psalm 23:6).
Perhaps one of the sweetest mercies, for those who trust in Jesus, is his promise to never leave or forsake (Hebrews 13:5). He gives himself, his ever abiding presence, and I have found that it is typically in times of loss that I cherish him most. He sees the heartache that no one else can see, and is able to heal, comfort, strengthen, and give again in his own perfect timing and way.