My Journey of Loss and Grief

My blog was initially supposed to be a place to share memories, recipes, and the happenings on our little homestead in the country.  But I also want it to be real life.  And real life can be messy.  Real life can be sad.  Real life can throw all kinds of curveballs.  Today’s post is very personal.  I don’t have any delectable food to share, just the pieces of a fragile, broken heart, wading through a maze of uncertainty, pain, and sorrow.

November 14, 2020.  March 29, 2021.  September 17, 2021.  These three dates are burned into the core of soul.  Dates I will never forget.  Dates that will haunt me with each passing year.

It all started in December of 2019.  Husband and I decided to start growing our little family.  In early February, we found out that I was pregnant.  I was excited. Husband was in shock that we got pregnant so quickly.  I took the classic “bump” pictures with a vegetable in front of the mirror for 3 consecutive weeks.  And then it happened.  At first, it was just mild discomfort.  Soon the spotting started, followed immense pain.  We had lost our baby.  I was 7 weeks pregnant.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

~Psalm 34:18

Fast forward to a July of 2020.  I got my second positive pregnancy test. We were happy, but I also had some feelings of anxiety, not wanting to get too excited because what if I lost this baby too?  I made it past 7 weeks with no problems.  I started to allow myself to hope, to look at maternity clothes, to check Marketplace for baby gear. Then the bleeding started, later accompanied by contractions that got steadily worse.  We had lost our second baby. I was 9 weeks pregnant.

We got pregnant with our third baby in December of 2020.  I got my positive pregnancy test in January of 2021.  This one was met with similar feelings as the last one—excitement clouded over by feelings of dread and anxiety, almost expecting that we would lose this one too.  The weeks went by and everything seemed fine. I had an ultrasound at 4 and a half weeks and again at 8 weeks.  The baby looked healthy and was growing at a normal rate.  We told our parents the good news.

When I passed 9 weeks, I felt relief.  No blood.  No pain.  I seemed to be experiencing all the normal pregnancy symptoms—fatigue, some nausea, swollen breasts.  When I got to 12 weeks, I went to a couple thrift stores looking for gently-used maternity clothes.  I started sending Husband advertisements for cribs, and we almost bought a nice, used stroller.  I registered on Amazon, reveling in all the cute baby cloths and practical day-to-day gizmos and gadgets.

2 days shy of 13 weeks, I went to my OBGYN for a routine checkup.  Husband wasn’t allowed to come with me because of COVID restrictions.  After a doppler check and 2 different ultrasounds, I was told that my baby had no heartbeat.  I lay there, alone, taking in this news, not sure how to process it; not sure what it all meant. I was in shock. I had to call Husband from the doctor’s office and tell him the devastating news over the phone.

We lost 3 precious babies in less than a year.  Friends, life just downright sucks sometimes.

Dealing with the loss of a baby can feel so isolating.  I’ve been amazed at how many women have experienced this kind of loss. It’s not readily talked about—it’s almost a ‘taboo’ topic.  It doesn’t take much googling to find forum after forum of women pouring out their broken hearts and sharing their stories with others who have gone through the same thing.  I wish it was talked about more. I wish it was shared more.  It is nothing to be ashamed of, Friends.  It’s a part of life in our broken world.  Some experience it, and some never have to feel that pain. 

A beautiful Friend hand carved this dog and sent it to me shortly after miscarriage number 3—a precious “You Are Loved” gift.

I don’t know that I’ve dealt with it all as well as I should have.  At times, I’ve hardened my heart towards God, refusing to read my Bible or even pray.  Other times, I’ve wept on bended knee before my King, letting His peace that passes all understanding wash over me. I still have moments of numbness, not really believing that it’s true.  Today, September 17, would have been my due date for baby number 3.  Had I not lost that sweet one, I may be holding him in my arms right now or any day soon.  But, that’s just not reality. 

I have moments when all I want to do is ask why. Why does this keep happening to us? I start to doubt myself and believe that I am unfit to be a mother.  I’m not worthy. I look back on my life and all of the things that I have done wrong and wonder what it was specifically that I did to deserve this?  What sin did I commit that was so bad that it cost me the lives of my 3 children?

Deep down, I know that these are lies, but in moments of great weakness, sometimes it’s hard to see and believe the truth.

“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

~Psalm 103:10-12

Friends, it’s okay to be filled with sorrow.  It’s okay to doubt. It’s okay to weep. It’s okay to drink that bottle of wine alone, letting the flood waters roll down your cheeks.  It’s okay to lay in bed a little longer because you’re struggling to face the day. It’s okay to not be okay.  

Those feelings don’t just go away overnight. They linger, sometimes hidden behind a wall of our own making, but ready to pounce when we least expect it.  I often go for days without thinking of our sweet little ones.  And then the reminder hits me like a ton of bricks when I see the shy smile of a toddler in the shopping cart next to me or hear the infant crying in church or see the pregnant mama lovingly rub her swollen belly.

One day, it will get better.  The pain will never go away, but it will soften, I think. 

“He gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

~Matt Redman
I took this picture just an hour before my 13 week appointment, eager to share the news with the rest of our family and close friends. Little did I know…

If you’ve experienced a loss, my advice to you would be this:

  • Let yourself cry—a lot. 
  • If you want to drink, then drink, my Friend! 
  • Don’t watch TV shows like Firefly Lane or Longmire (if you’ve seen them, you know what I’m talking about). 
  • Go for walks. 
  • Love on your significant other and make sure he doesn’t feel alone in his suffering because they feel it too, maybe not physically like you have, but it is a very real loss to them as well.
  • Cuddle your fur babies. 
  • Pray. Even when you don’t feel like it, just pray. Tell God what’s going on in your heart and mind. Don’t block Him out.
  • Drink lots of tea.
  • Skip church on the dreaded Mother’s Day or the Baby Dedication Sundays. 
  • Accept help and love from your dear friends and family—its not a sign of weakness.
  • Most importantly, love yourself.  Don’t listen to those lies that you are unfit to be a mother. The lie that you made some mistake in the past that you’re paying for now. The lie that you’re not enough.

I’ve never gotten to hold my sweet babies.  I’ve never kissed their cheeks. I’ve never touched their soft skin.  I’ve never held their chunky, little hands. But, Friends, Jesus gets to hold them!  My Jesus held them first!  A friend, who recently experienced a miscarriage of her own, shared this quote with me (I’m not sure where it comes from originally, but it’s just a beautiful image).  I hope it brings you some comfort, dear Friend:

“…and to think, the first thing he saw when his little eyes opened, was the face of Jesus.”