What All Have Borne, Each Can Bear

This is difficult to write. I’ve hesitated to sit down and put these thoughts on paper for many reasons. I don’t want to seem like I’m looking for sympathy or asking for anything, and I’m not sure I really want the attention. It is also easy for me to discount my own pain in light of the greater pain of others. After all, there is war in the world, people are being murdered for their faith, there are children seeking refuge in our country being met with hatred and rejection — how could my loss be worth notice? But I also know that my God is the God who sees. And a sparrow does not fall without His notice. So I am writing this in pursuit of healing, and in hope of helping others to grieve the way they need to.

Four weeks ago, at 6 and half weeks pregnant, I noticed I was bleeding. After hours in the ER, bloodwork, days of waiting, and more bloodwork, I found out that I had lost my baby.

As a mother of 3 other children, it is hard to take time to grieve the way I might need. It’s also hard to feel deserving of that grief. After all, I’m not facing the possibility of never having children. I have had the great blessing of growing and nurturing my own sweet babies in my own body. Three times. So it’s easy to try to talk myself out of the sadness over this loss because it’s not “as bad as it could be.” But were I trying to comfort someone else in the same situation, I would never say, “At least you have other children.” This tiny being was real. He or she was there, taking up space in my body, making me feel sick, and weak, and weepy. And now that soul — that constant thought throughout my days that I have a beautiful, magical secret growing inside me — is gone. I believe my baby is with Jesus, but now the constant thought is now of hidden emptiness and unspoken, unfulfilled hopes.

sweet-pea-flower-tattoo-beautiful-blogger-48174And that is one of the hard parts, and the reason I am writing about this. Miscarriage and loss are so, so common, but also so private. We are advised never to announce a pregnancy until 12 weeks “in case something were to happen.” As if being joyful about something you could possibly lose (which is everything) is something to be embarrassed about. And then some of us lose our babies, and we haven’t shared our joy, so we are unable to share our sorrow. We, the grieving, fear making those around us uncomfortable with our grief. So we are silent, and rob ourselves of the healing balm of sharing our sorrows.

As humans, we want to know why. Many women blame themselves for miscarriage and stillbirth. This is almost unavoidable. We look for security in knowing what we did wrong so we can fix it next time. If you’ve experienced a pregnancy loss, hear this: you did nothing wrong. Getting your hair dyed before you knew you were pregnant did not kill your baby. Exercising did not kill your baby. Taking a Tylenol did not kill your baby. It is not your fault.

I didn’t struggle with blaming myself for physical failure as much as others may, but I did find myself coming up with spiritual reasons. This is the only child of ours that we really “planned.” And we planned it around my dance schedule and my husband’s touring schedule. We “decided” to get pregnant. Maybe, I thought, this was God’s way of showing us that we are not ultimately in control of our lives. Maybe He is trying to teach us not to put our own desires first. But is that really the God that I serve? Is He really mocking my plans and showing His authority through taking the life of my unborn child? Of course not. He is our Jesus who wept with His friends at the death of their brother, even though He knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead that very day. He is our Father, and it pains Him to see us hurting. No. He did not do this to me to teach me a lesson. And He didn’t do it to punish you, either, dear sister who has also lost. I don’t have an answer for why 15-20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Except that we live in a broken and abnormal world, and God is more grieved than we are at the pain and death that occurs in it.

So, if not to garner sympathy for myself, why am I writing this? Why am I making public the thing that we have cultural “rules” set up to keep private? Because I know that suffering, and this particular suffering, is common. I know that someone reading this has had a loss that no one knows about. And I know the great comfort that comes in knowing you are not alone.

I am so blessed by a strong support system. One that is, unfortunately, full of women who have also lost babies. And here is the gift they have given me: permission to grieve, even though my loss was early, even though I have other children, even though so many others suffer so much more than I have. They have given me permission to be happy and grateful when I feel happy and grateful. They have given me permission to cry in ballet class because somehow not feeling exhausted and sick while I dance is one of the worst reminders that I am no longer pregnant. They have offered the most healing words, “Don’t be afraid to cry about it because this was a real baby. It is a real loss that you will grieve for the rest of your life. And God loves that baby more than you could know.”

Even though I know this was not a punishment, as a teacher and a learner, it is hard for me not to look for a lesson. Some days it’s hard to know what I’m meant to learn from this, besides how empty a womb can feel, but I do know now, firsthand, how having someone see your pain can help ease it. I see, more than before, the importance of God’s instruction to grieve with those who grieve. And also, to rejoice with those who rejoice. And that we can do both at the same time. We have to, really, if we’re going to live in this world, because there are so many beautiful and terrible things happening all at once. So if you are suffering any loss, whether it looks great or small to the world, know that to Christ, it is great, it is real, and He weeps with you. And I encourage you to share your burden with someone else. Your burden will get a little lighter and their shoulders will get a little stronger.

And if you are not the one grieving, offer yourself. Forget that it is uncomfortable, and remember that it is vital. If you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything. Let the grieving ones be the guide of your conduct. If they want to talk about it, listen; don’t change the subject. If they don’t want to talk about it, don’t push it. Pray.

I want to close with a passage from one of my favorite books. It is one of the best descriptions of bearing one another’s burdens that I have read. It’s from The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and is from a scene in which Penny, the wonderful, strong father of the protagonist, is comforting a family whose son has just died. Penny and his wife had lost many babies, themselves.

“The talk broke over Penny in a torrent. The relief of words washed and cleansed a hurt that had been in-growing. He listened gravely, nodding his head from time to time. He was a small staunch rock against which their grief might beat. When they finished and fell quiet, he talked of his own losses. It was a reminder that no man was spared. What all had borne, each could bear. He shared their sorrow, and they became a part of his, and the sharing spread their grief a little, by thinning it.”

  • onesassymama

    As inadequate as it seems…all I can offer is my sympathy (even though I realize you didn’t write this for that) and I’m so very sorry for you loss.