For Those Who Haven’t Lost

Since the Lord led me to “go public” with my pregnancy history, and since we’ve really begun telling people about our road to parenthood, I have learned a lot about people. Once you admit publicly that you’ve had a miscarriage, you’d be amazed at the people that come forward with their own story of struggle or loss. I’ve had people I never would’ve dreamed, come whisper in my ear and give me a knowing hug. According to statistics, about 10-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. That’s as many as 1 in 4 pregnancies….1 in 4 babies never make it! In our case, it took 9 tries to bring a pregnancy to birth. And as heartbreaking as this has been, it truly has been a blessing to me… a way to open a door, to share a story of hope.

But y’all, that statistic holds great news! It means that, of those 4 babies, 3 made it! Three of those precious little humans were able to be loved & hugged & cuddled by a Mommy & Daddy. A Mommy & Daddy that, hopefully, anticipated their arrival as eagerly as the Mommy & Daddy of Baby #4. It means that they didn’t have to hear dreaded words, give dreaded news, or feel dreaded emotions that come with miscarriage and pregnancy loss. And friends…that’s a great thing! A gift from God!

Most of my messages here on the blog are directed to the parents of Baby #4…the one that slipped away. That’s my story- my background. That’s what I know. But today, I want to take a minute to talk to the rest of y’all. The ones who haven’t had to experience the loss of a pregnancy…of a baby.

Before I begin, I should tell you where I stand. I believe firmly. . . FIRMLY . . .that life begins at conception. And as much as my struggles with miscarriage have strengthened my stance on this issue, I believed this long before I ever experienced pregnancy loss. I believe that life begins when life is formed…not at the time that it can breathe air through its’ own lungs, or at the time that it can move its’ own limbs, or even at the time that it has viable brain activity or a beating heart. I believe that life begins when it is formed…when it is officially “under construction”. When GOD creates it. I believe this because this is what Gods’ word tells me.

“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee…” -Jeremiah 1:5

The emotions that come along with miscarriage and pregnancy loss are some that are hard to explain. And they are definitely different for everyone. Hurt. Jealousy. Sadness. Confusion. Doubt. Anger. Bitterness. Regret. Isolation. Grief. It is an emotional rollercoaster of some or all of these feelings, and more. And that’s ok. You probably already guessed that.

But today, I want to tell you what you may not have already guessed. A few things that, if you’ve never been in the shoes, you may not have ever realized. 1e0e6ecbec1bb60936ab80cf130e5b85

As painful as miscarriage is emotionally, it is also painful physically. I know that the majority of people “get” the emotional pain associated with pregnancy loss. What I don’t think many people realize is the physical pain that comes with it. Friends, even though that baby (or fetus, if you prefer)  is only a little over an inch long, barely the size of a kumquat, they are still inside us. At ten weeks, our babies have fingers and toes. Their vital organs have formed. They can bend their wrists. They are tiny humans. And just like your tiny human at 39 weeks gestation, they still have to come out – even if they aren’t making it out alive. How does that happen? The same way it does for everyone else. Contractions. Bleeding. Pain. Basically, labor….or a surgical procedure, if so chosen.  Now y’all don’t get me wrong – I’m not likening it to full-term labor pains by any means…but the physical pain of miscarrying a baby is still present. And it’s real. Coupled with the emotional pain and, well, it’s a lot to handle.

Besides the feelings of grief, it’s a WEIRD feeling. The most often talked-about part of miscarriage is the initial onset. The moment when you “find out”….the initial finding of blood, or the unexpected ultrasound, or the Doppler with no heartbeat. What isn’t often talked about is what comes next. After you find out your going to miscarry your baby, but before you actually miscarry your baby (or have the surgical procedure), you’ve got a few awkward days to deal with. Y’all. I’m about to be harsh. I don’t know how else to put this, except to tell you how it’s hit me more than once. “Oh God. I have a dead baby inside me.”  I don’t care how you look at it…that’s a weird feeling. It’s a feeling I don’t think you can truly understand until you’ve felt it. I know it’s a jarring reality. But, in the world of miscarriage, it’s reality nonetheless.

They were real people to us. We think about them every day. We wonder who they would’ve been. Just like you dream about your kids – what they’ll be when they grow up, who they’ll marry, where they will go in their life. We wonder about them too. We wonder what they would’ve looked like. What type of personality they’d have. They were our babies. And every so often, it crosses our mind – that we should have a 9 year old, and one starting kindergarten, this year. And our heart breaks a little bit again….for who they would’ve been. It doesn’t mean we can’t try again. It doesn’t mean we won’t have more babies. And we will love them & hug them ever so tightly. But it doesn’t change the fact that some of our babies are missing.

As sad as we are that this happened to us, we truly are happy that it didn’t happen to you. It has been suggested, after some of my losses, that I was angry at people that were able to have kids without any problem. Friends, I can assure you that this couldn’t be farther from the truth.  I’m going to be blatantly honest right now – I’ve made the statement, in times of grief, how aggravating it is that people can drink alcohol, do drugs, abuse their bodies and have disregard for the life growing inside them, and still have babies left & right with no problem. When you’ve been in these shoes, I think you could understand how frustrating that can be. But you know what else? I’ve never, ever been less than happy that those little lives came to fruition! And I don’t think any other miscarriage mommy has either!   Mommy friend, I would never wish the hurt or grief of miscarriage on you- for any reason. I am not angry that you have what I couldn’t. I am not upset that you didn’t have to struggle to have your babies. I am so, so happy that my story isn’t yours. Jealous? Probably. Is that a sin that I wrestle with? Definitely. Angry? Never.

You don’t have to know what to say to us. I think one of the most awkward parts of pregnancy loss are the condolences. It’s why so many people that have experienced recurrent pregnancy loss choose not to disclose their pregnancy until later into or after the first trimester…because although so many are kind-hearted and well-meaning, they just don’t know what to say. And that’s ok. In the back of our minds, we may know that everything happens for a reason, that God has a plan, and that our babies are in a better place…but friends, it sure doesn’t feel like it at the time. I’m sorry – it’s enough to just say that. We understand that you don’t understand. We’re ok with leaving it at that.

I’m not really sure why I felt led to write this post today. Maybe just to speak a word of togetherness. Oneness. Today is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day. To some, it’s just another October 15th. To those that have experienced the loss, it’s a day to remember. I hope that this post will open the eyes of those that haven’t observed this day before. Light a candle for your friends’ angel baby. Give them a call or a hug. Let them know that you remember. And even if you can’t relate, you care.

Fellow Mommies, just because our babies never lived outside our bodies – it doesn’t mean they didn’t live. It doesn’t mean they weren’t real – they were our reality. They were hoped for. Dreamed about. Prayed about. Anticipated. Loved. Just like yours. Y’all, there’s a lot that could be said here. And some may say it better than I. But losing a baby – it’s hard. after birth, 38 weeks in, 20 weeks in, 9 weeks in – it’s still hard.

Let’s just love each other through it today.

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. ”  -1 Peter 4:8

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Being There: A Mans’ Perspective

Friends, today I’d like to share this post with you. It is a guest post, written by my husband. He wrote it some time ago now, and I’ve been holding on to it for just the right time. So, here it is…pregnancy loss in a marriage, from HIS perspective.

We’ve been in this car for nearly 60 hours this week. I’ve heard “Daddy” a lot of times. It’s been enough times that it probably would’ve gotten on your nerves by now. But, as I’m riding in the passenger seat on the way home from vacation, looking back at the not one, but two, boys that call me “Daddy”, I’m reminded of how great our God is. I’m also reminded of how far I’ve come, to hear that word. Daddy.

You know, there was a day that I thought I would never hear that word. At least not directed toward me. Over the years, my wife and I have been through a lot of ups & downs on the road to becoming parents. We wanted a baby for a long time. We never thought it would be so hard. We never thought it would be so heartbreaking.

As for a man, we can’t be heartbroken. We’re not supposed to be heartbroken. Or at least that’s what I thought. That’s what I was always told. I grew up in the country…dirt roads and fishin’ and deer hunting… where boys are taught to be tough. You don’t break down. You don’t cry. You don’t even really show your feelings at all.

I tried to not be heartbroken. I tried to keep everything bottled up, and be the strong one. I was a hard person to get along with at times. Looking back, I can see this now. At one point I even left Leslie, because I wasn’t sure what I needed to do any more. I didn’t know how to be there for her. I didn’t know how to deal with what I was feeling. I just didn’t know anything.

I saw so many of my buddies having kids, and I really was happy for every one of them. But, honestly, it was hard to not be a little jealous. Eight miscarriages will do that to you. Yes, eight. I’ve always been the type of guy that was great with everyone else’s kid. Our friends’ kids loved me. But I couldn’t have one of my own. What was I doing wrong?

There were times during that 7 year stretch that I just wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my life. I always thought my life would include a family of my own, but it was looking like that wasn’t in the cards for us. We did everything that the doctors said to do. Still no baby. I wanted kids so much, and I wasn’t sure if my wife was going to be able to give me one. I mean, I was getting her pregnant . . . that meant my job was done, right? I have been there with my wife through it all…or so I thought.

I questioned things like, did God really love me? Did He really have a plan for my life? Was I ever going  to experience the life of a father? Well let me tell you something ….all my questions were answered when I put God first in my life over everything else.

Let me say this before I go any further. I am a Christian man… I was saved when I was seventeen. But, until a year and a half ago, I didn’t know how to live my life according to the way God and His word wanted me to. All those times I thought I was there for my wife or I had done my job.. I was completely wrong.

Being there” doesn’t mean just being in the presence of your wife.

It means meeting her every need like a husband should. It means being there for her physically, spiritually, and emotionally. It means talking to her about your feelings through the tough times, and listening when she needs to talk about hers. It means being strong for her, even when you don’t think you can. Doing your job? Well, being a husband isn’t a job. It’s a blessing from God, to get to do life with your soul mate. So until I quit looking at my marriage as job, it was never actually complete. All the emotions that we went through, and hope that we lost with every pregnancy, they made us feel like we weren’t doing something right….for each other or for God. And, at that point, we really weren’t.

Men, if you and your wife are going through the loss of a baby, the only thing you can really do for her is to be there for her. Talk to her. Pray with her. Maybe you don’t know what to say or do to make anything any better…that’s ok. Just tell her that. Ask God to show you how to make it better. When you’re in the middle of a loss like that, you and God are all she has. So just be there.

And eventually, when I got my mind right, my God gave me a relationship with Him. He gave me a meaningful relationship with my wife. And then He gave me my sons. We adopted our first son 3 years ago, and he is just like me! My wife laughs at how much he acts like me. God gave me the perfect little boy, in a way that I never would’ve expected.

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But my story doesn’t end there. Toward the end of 2013, my life was changed again. Leslie was pregnant. All I could think was “Here we go again.”  We made it through the New Year, and everything was going good. But it was so hard to not feel in the pit of my stomach that it would probably end the same way. I knew I was never going to let Leslie know how I felt!  I had lost all hope of us ever having a biological child of our own. I didn’t have my mind right! And sure enough, it wasn’t long before we found out we’d lost our eighth baby.
It’s sad to say, but even though it should have…it didn’t phase me much. I had been here so many times and the story was always the same. I mean, I already knew the ending! Then about 3 am the next morning, Leslie got a call that would change everything for us. Her grandmother passed away. That, my friends, was my last straw. I did exactly what I was supposed to do…what God had taught me already when we were given our first son. I was strong for my wife and made sure she was okay! But I was really just going through the motions.
Inside, I struggled with it all week. I knew at that point where I needed to be, and that was with God. We had to give it all over to Him. What I knew was that He would take care of me and my family, if I was only willing to let Him! So, we did. Then, that summer Leslie came to me with another pregnancy test. But, for the first time since this adventure started, I felt calm. Not even scared. For the first time, we had a plan. No medicine, no shots, just leave it all in Gods’ hands. We trusted Him. We prayed constantly for that baby. We trusted God with all our hearts. 8 months later, we had another baby boy.
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Gentlemen, I know that sometimes we have to be strong. We are supposed to be strong. But I hope this story lets you know that we can be vulnerable too. I mean, we don’t have to be a sissy, but we can let go and give it to God. He wants us to lead our families in the right way, and that starts with putting Him in our lives. The moment I surrendered to Him wholeheartedly, and let Him guide me, I saw an amazing change in my home, my family, and myself. My prayers got stronger than ever. We often joke about how we prayed this baby here, but really….that’s what we did!
“What is impossible with man, is possible with God” – Luke 18:27
So many times we listen to people…we let people tell us what we need to do… instead of listening to what God is telling us! Once we listened to God, claimed His word for Leslie and her pregnancy, and believed with all our heart that this child would be born healthy and at term –  that’s what happened.
Miscarriage is hard. Losing a baby is hard. Having your dreams shattered is hard. Not knowing what to do or how to be there for someone you love is harder. But what I have learned is that God will help us through all of that, if we will just let Him.
This is a small part of my life that I hope inspires or gives someone out there a little calmness. If you are struggling with anything…give it to God, pray about it and let God take control.
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Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.  Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” – Psalm 127:3-5