This month will mark two years since we lost our daughter Elizabeth.
A lot of people are familiar with her story because we shared it publicly as it happened, but less people know the details of our previous losses. We have had three completely different pregnancy experiences. Our first was an early miscarriage, the second was an ectopic pregnancy, and the third was a second trimester loss due to “cervical incompetency.” The doctors told us that none of our losses were related to each other. Meaning that they weren’t caused by the same thing. Basically, they were three random, unpredictable, non-preventable strokes of “bad luck.” I don’t believe in luck, especially when it comes to life and death.
I believe God created each soul that was given to us for a purpose!
I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to write about at first, but I decided to write about each pregnancy separately in a series. I wanted to do it this way because I felt like just writing a concise, overarching story of our whole journey wouldn’t do justice to the differences in each individual story. I also wanted to acknowledge each of our babies as separate individuals that were loved and mourned for separately. So this will be the first of those blog posts.
Before we got married, Brandon and I made the scary decision to not use any kind of birth control when we got married. We were so nervous about the possibility of having a baby right away, but we felt like God specifically wanted us to trust in HIS timing. Everything was dandy and great, and then, in December 2013, I had a positive pregnancy test, only four months into being married! For those who have experienced seeing that positive sign on a pregnancy test for the first time, it’s a surreal moment. The reality and weight of that “+” sign just punches you in the face and changes your whole life!
It was a Saturday morning, and I got up before Brandon and took the test. It was positive…and I couldn’t hold it in! I tried to go back to bed and act normal, but I was so heart-eyed over imagining Brandon as a dad, so I snuggled up to him and told him that he was going to be a great father. His shocked and excited reaction was just what I was hoping for! We were immediately full of baby dreams! We told our parents and siblings the very next day, made our doctors appointment, and talked about our new future constantly! We were beyond excited!
Then, only a week later, I went to the ER for pain and bleeding. The doctor came in and told me that I was in the middle of a miscarriage and there was nothing he could do to stop it.
I was so unprepared for that news. Having a miscarriage was not something I thought would ever happen to me. I thought those stories were about OTHER people, not me. I was devastated, and so was Brandon. We could hear a crying baby being treated in the next room, and we both felt pangs in our hearts. I was discharged with some medicine to help me pass everything, and we went from the ER to the Cheesecake Factory with some of our dear friends (which seems like a weird thing to do, I know).
I didn’t cry for the first time until the next night, and Brandon never cried (like actually cried with tears) at all.
I mention that because, if you are feeling guilty about the way you are grieving, just know that everyone does it different, and it’s okay if you don’t cry right away, or ever at all, if you don’t feel like you need to. I had so many mixed feelings about that miscarriage! On the one hand, I was in shock, I was devastated, I was depressed, I felt like this was the worst thing that had ever happened to me (and it was!).
On the other hand, I felt like a fool for being THIS upset, after all, I had only known about this baby for a week! Plus, I knew of others who had suffered so much more than me, and my loss seemed so insignificant in comparison. I felt like I had no right to complain, or even voice my pain after a few weeks because I should be over it by then.
That’s when I asked Brandon if he wanted to give our baby a name.
At first he really didn’t want to. He was having many of the same feelings I was about not wanting to make this a “big deal.” But we decided that we didn’t want to shy away from the pain. This baby deserved to be loved to the fullest by us, its parents! We wanted to acknowledge that this baby actually existed, it had a distinct identity, and it would get a name! We obviously didn’t know the gender, so we picked something neutral and symbolic, Jordan River. After settling on the name, I cried new tears with strengthened feelings of loss.
Giving our baby a name helped me legitimize the grief in my mind.
Earlier this year, a friend was telling me about her recent early miscarriage, and she said something along the lines of, “I just had to keep telling myself that it wasn’t a baby yet, that it was just a clump of cells trying to be a baby.” She too was struggling with feeling silly for her sadness. I had no idea what to say to her in the moment, but I wish I would have reassured her that her loss was significant, her grief was legitimate, and that even though her head was telling her that it wasn’t a baby, her heart was telling her that it was. The emotional attachment to your baby begins at that first glimpse of a “+” sign, and that all-consuming love grows exponentially daily.
So even if you have only known about your baby for a week, you have permission to be devastated. It’s okay to feel the pain, to cry, to grieve.
Jordan River taught me all of this and also opened my eyes to realize how common miscarriage is. One in four women will experience a miscarriage in their life. So many women say that they feel lonely while going through a miscarriage. I hope some of this resonates with those who have gone through this trial and encourages and comforts those who feel lonely and in pain.
Every child you conceive is a gift, and YOU are its mother (or father), no one else. God knows the number of days we will live, and even if he knows a life will be cut short, he still creates it anyway. Why? I think it’s because he loves us.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” -Romans 5:3-5
Your pain doesn’t have to be wasted. You CAN endure, heal, grow, and eventually, find joy again!