Note: This post contains somewhat graphic medical details.
I lay in bed on Christmas Day suffering a nasty stomach flu while my dear husband and 18 month old daughter were celebrating Christmas with family. I was miserable and lonely, but as I waited out the illness, I turned my heart to the Lord. I was thankful for the immense blessings He had brought to me. I specifically thanked Him for the new life that was growing in my womb. As I lay in the dark unable to sleep, I focused my prayers on that little one, praying that he or she would grow like Jesus, in wisdom, stature and favor with God and man. It was a precious time with my Lord and my little baby. Little did I know, it would be the last time I sat in stillness and “held” my tiny baby in my heart.
Through the week, my stomach flu seemed no better, and finally, on the Thursday following Christmas, I went and saw my OB. I had been fearful about my baby’s life, as I had miscarried at six weeks with our very first pregnancy. I was now twelve weeks along, nearing the end of my first trimester. The nurse at the clinic took a reading of my baby’s heartbeat. The little one was moving around so much it took a moment to get a good reading. I heard a steady beat of 160 per minute and breathed a huge sigh of relief. When the nurse left me alone for a moment, I began to weep and to confess my ongoing fear to the Lord. I praised Him for preserving my baby’s life and asked Him to give me faith that He was with me and our baby. My husband joined me in giving thanks and we went home with hope that I would soon recover from the stomach bug and we might enjoy a happy new year with our expectant joy.
I went to bed that night feeling on the mend, and at 2 AM woke up to use the bathroom. I lay back down and suddenly felt a wetness that I instantly knew was not normal. In the time it took me to walk from my bedroom back to the bathroom, I had a sudden rush of water and blood and my child seemed to just fall from my womb. I was completely shocked and began to wail, waking my husband to the terrifying sound. We saw together the little baby that we already loved and had prayed so much over. It’s body seemed so perfectly formed, but it’s life was gone. In a moment, without any warning, our child was dead. I was not pregnant. We were grieving.
As anyone who has had a later miscarriage knows, things are not over quickly. When I miscarried at six weeks, it was devastating, but physically not unlike a bad period. This miscarriage was much more violent and traumatic. Though I lost the baby in that one terrifying moment, my body had a lot of work to do to get rid of the remaining placenta and tissue that had housed that tiny life for 12 weeks. My husband and I spent the night dealing with the physical pain and mess of miscarriage while holding each other and praying and grieving our sudden loss.
As Christians, the Holy Spirit immediately began to minister to our hearts in the midst of this tragedy. I remember the first thing I thought of when I had cried to my husband that our baby was gone was that this precious one was already with Jesus. That little body that I longed to restore to life did not define the existence of my child. The soul of my unborn baby was with my Lord and I would see it again someday. I was immediately comforted by that thought and it brought me through the moment of saying goodbye to the body that once contained that little life.
The Lord reached out to me in the dark as I suffered through the physical and emotional pain, speaking hope of resurrection. My spirit longed for God’s restoration and redemption of all things in a deep sobbing cry. But we had hope. Real hope.
As Christians, however, we still are having to walk through the pain of losing a child. We still have to choose to put each other first and not allow that grief to make us selfish, closed-hearted people.
As a Christian, I still had to endure a procedure to remove remaining placenta, once a source of life for a tiny child. Now just something to be discarded. I still endured the agony of a long, empty ultrasound determining that my womb was indeed void of life. My husband had to experience this right along with me, trying to be a rock to his grieving wife, while enduring the loss himself.
Perhaps the most surprising thing is the fear that I have experienced as a result of this miscarriage. The loss came very suddenly, without any warning- no spotting, no cramps- and after a positive prenatal exam. It was a very violent experience and as a result, I have experienced symptoms similar to those who go through trauma. The night after my miscarriage, I dreaded putting my 18 month old daughter to bed. When she finally needed to sleep, I was so anxious. She slept with a humidifier with lavender essential oil, and I had a completely irrational fear that we had put too much oil in the diffuser and she would be poisoned by it. We prayed that my fears would be calmed and that I would trust in the Lord. Yet, I worried.
When we went to bed, as soon as my husband went to sleep, I had a full blown panic attack. Although I had not slept at all since I lost the baby, I could not sleep and had trouble breathing and felt that I may be having a heart attack. I believed firmly that I was going to die without immediate medical attention. After hours of trying to suppress the panic through crying out to God, I woke my husband and told him I needed to go to the ER. He rightly realized that I was having a response to the trauma I had just been through, and held me and prayed for me for a long time.
As morning approached, I was able to sleep and as my husband had assured me, my life had been preserved. I was so ashamed of my fear and I repented of it to the Lord. However, I felt no condemnation. Rather, He led me to read how trauma works in our bodies and minds and I realized that even though I am a woman who puts her trust in Christ, I am still a woman. A human. I am not exempt from human experiences because of my faith, and sometimes that includes things that effect my emotional and mental health.
I began to think on how the world is cursed since the Fall. I did not blame the loss of my child on God- death is the result of sin. God sent His Son to redeem us from the curse. He is the Giver of Life and He is the Restorer of Life. He is the Resurrection. I saw then that this applied also to our experience with the death of our child. Just as I must suffer the ramifications of the curse- the physical pain that came with miscarriage- I must suffer the emotional and mental pain. I was not sinning when I had a panic attack. My body and mind were responding to real trauma. Just as I looked to God to restore my child’s life at the Resurrection, I needed to look to Him to restore my soul, mind and body. I needed healing, not to just “trust God more”.
This changed my prayer from one of self-condemnation and apology to God to one crying out for His healing touch. I prayed for Him to heal me and my husband- for physical healing, healed hearts and restored mind. My husband has prayed for me so diligently and sweetly and we see God answering and bringing restoration day by day.
It has been 4 1/2 days since I lost our sweet baby. I felt very strongly that I needed to share this story because others may be walking through the same thing. I wanted to share the honest truth that miscarriage, in many ways, is no different for the Christian. The expectation that it should be- that somehow we should not struggle with these things- is a false one. It is a lie of the Enemy that if only we had better faith, we would not deal with the mental and emotional pains that come with traumatic loss.
I also wanted to share the wonderful truth that in so many ways, miscarriage is different for the Christian. We really do have hope of resurrection. It’s not a platitude. It’s a real, glorious hope. We really do have a God who reaches us in love and comfort that can not be explained. We really do have a heart transformed by His Spirit that can allow us to reach out in the midst of our own pain and love others selflessly.
I pray that you know the immense love and grace of Christ in whatever pain you suffer in this broken world.