While a family picture can be a reflection of so many blessings and lots of happiness, it doesn't always show the hidden heartaches. When people look at our family picture, they see our three precious children we were blessed to bring into this world. What they don't see is the pain and loss we experienced through miscarriage. Four painful times, actually. A lot of people know this about me, but many do not. And until I personally went down the awful road of miscarriage, I didn't realize so many other women have also. Which I why I'm choosing to write about it.
Most women don't openly talk about their miscarriage and can feel isolated and alone and even shame. I found once I started talking about it, more and more women that I knew had also gone through it. Knowing this didn't make me feel any better, but I didn't feel so alone and so "abnormal". Miscarriage is a very different experience for a man. My husband was extremely supportive and loving during those difficult days for me, but I couldn't expect him to understand exactly what I was going through because his experience of going through it was very different than mine. No one can truly understand the dark, painful, horrible, heart-breaking road a woman travels down with regards to miscarriage unless she's been there herself.
All four of my miscarriages happened around the same time, about 6-7 weeks into my pregnancies. Some people would say, "well at least it happened early in the pregnancy" and I agreed, but that didn't make it easy or less painful for me. In my eyes, a loss of life is a loss of life, no matter what stage or age. My first miscarriage came with my very first pregnancy. My husband and I were so excited to start a family and I'll never forget seeing my first positive pregnancy test. I immediately began to picture our family of three and all the hopes and dreams that came with a baby. A week or so later, everything changed. I'll never forget that pit in my stomach when I knew something was wrong. After an ultrasound confirmed that I had lost the baby, we were crushed. I felt all kinds of emotions. I was afraid I would never be able to have a baby and that something was wrong with me. It was almost a feeling of failure, that my body had somehow not been able to take care of that baby like it needed to. My husband and I met with the doctor after the ultrasound and I just sat there and cried and cried. She assured us this is very common and many women go on to have healthy babies. That gave me a glimpse of hope, but didn't cure my pain. The only thing that got me through it was my faith. I knew God had a plan for us. I truly believed that. And I knew I had to trust that his plan was far superior than mine, so I did. I trusted he knew what he was doing. A few months after that, I got pregnant again and I went on to have a healthy baby girl, who is now 6 1/2 years old.
The other three miscarriages came between my first and second children. It was about two weeks after I had my third miscarriage that I got a call one evening from a good friend to tell me she was pregnant. It was their first baby and I was so excited for them. I knew the joy she was experiencing and I wanted to share in that joy with her. I honestly felt no jealousy or hard feelings towards her. I wanted the best for her. I remember lying in bed that night and I couldn't sleep. The conversation I had with her had brought back the pain of my recent loss. Tears just streamed down my face and I just kept thinking about how I wanted another baby so bad. It almost seemed harder to deal with the miscarriages that came after having a healthy baby because I knew what it felt like to experience the love, joy and excitement of a baby like we were with our first born. I knew what I was missing out on when I lost those other three babies. God had placed this desire in our hearts for more children. So even though I was thankful to at least have one child, I couldn't just shake off the hurt of losing those other three babies. I kept trying to remind myself that some people aren't fortunate enough to even have children, so I really should be thankful I have one already. And I was very thankful. But that desire for more children was so strong and I couldn't let go of it. I finally said to God one day, "If it's not your plan for us to have more children, please take this desire out of my heart because I can't bear another loss like this." It was extremely difficult to pray this because I couldn't imagine not wanting more children. But I also knew that I had to pray for God's will, not mine. I remember thinking, "Wow. I cannot believe I just prayed that." That was a huge step for me in my faith and if I had not gone through the pain of the miscarriages, I probably would never have turned the corner in my faith and learned to pray for God's will, not mine.
While I was in the difficult season of the last three miscarriages, another close friend of mine was going through the heartache of infertility. I remember her saying "well, at least you can get pregnant". This was true, but that fact didn't take away my pain. We both had the same desire for more children and we were both hurting, but in different ways. We were there for each other, but it was difficult to find the words to console one another since our pain was different. We didn't pretend to know what the other was going through because we truly didn't. We just understood that we were both going through heartache. She told me, "Please tell me if you get pregnant. I want to know". So I did. I remember calling her and although she was happy for me, I could hear the hurt in her voice since she was still trying to get pregnant. I was early in the pregnancy so I told her I was not getting excited about anything yet. It was a difficult situation to be in. I wanted to be happy I was pregnant again, but I was hurting for my friend and her pain as well. After many, many prayers, God faithfully provided for both of us. About a few weeks later, she called me to tell me she was pregnant as well! My second child and her second child were born less than a month a part, and we were now able to share in each other's joy. God's timing couldn't have been better. But then again God's timing is always perfect. Sometimes we need to be reminded of that.
If you've never read the book Heaven Is For Real, I highly recommend it. It's a true story about a little 3 year old boy's trip to heaven and back during his emergency appendectomy. If you haven't read it yet and don't want me to spoil some of it for you, skip down to the next paragraph now :) I started reading this book on a road trip from CO to IA and I was literally reading about Colton (the little boy) going to the hospital in North Platte, NE right as we were driving on I-80 through North Platte! Crazy. By this time, I was 4 hours into the book and couldn't put it down. I got goosebumps and had tears in my eyes numerous times throughout reading this book. But the chapter that really hit home for me was chapter 17, titled Two Sisters. Colton's mom had a miscarriage in her second month of pregnancy before Colton was born. His parents had not told him about this. He talks about how he knew he had two sisters (not just his one older, earthly sister) because he knew his mom had a baby die in her tummy. When his mom asked him who told him this, he said, "She did, Mommy. She said she died in your tummy." He then told his mom, "It's okay, Mommy. She's okay. God adopted her." I loved the part where he described what she looked like and when he said "In heaven, this little girl ran up to me and wouldn't stop hugging me!" His parents then asked him what her name was and he explained she didn't have a name because his parents hadn't named her. They agreed as they explained to him they didn't even know the baby was a girl. I had tears flowing reading all of this and just lost it when I read the part where he told his parents, "Yeah, she said she just can't wait for you and daddy to get to heaven." I was crying so hard at this point my husband looked over and said "What's wrong?!" For me, it was almost tears from peace and comfort that had come over me reading this. Picturing my four other babies I've never met, waiting in heaven for me and my husband, is just an indescribable feeling. I've always believed life begins at conception, but trying to picture a baby at 6 or 7 weeks old in heaven was not something I was ever good at. I have just always trusted they were in heaven. And the thought of God adopting those babies brings comfort beyond words. This book brought more healing for me by giving me the peace of mind that my unborn babies are being loved and taken care of, even though I can't see them and hold them and even though their life ended so quickly. It also gave me more hope that one day we will meet and my three other children we've been blessed to hold and love on this earth will also meet their four siblings they do not yet know about. Amazing. Simply amazing.
For those of you who have babies in heaven too, who never had the chance to live on this earth, my prayer for you is that you have faith, that although we have suffered great loss here on earth, one day God will bring us all together again and we will experience the wonder and miraculous works of him when we hold those babies. I pray your hearts are healed and that you trust in God's will for those babies. One day we will know why, but until then, trust that God is holding them and loving them even more than we ever could as their mother and they are in heaven waiting for you.