Hope After Miscarriage Sunday, September 1st, 2013
It was a cool rainy September morning just like this one.
On that morning, five years ago, hope was fading and fear was taking over my heart. I had been in agony for almost a week. My first appointment with my OB was not scheduled for another month, and I couldn’t get in to see anyone. I had been calling relentlessly and had found no one to help me. Is this normal? Should this be happening?
No one seemed to care that my baby was dying.
I can well remember the day that I found out I was pregnant. I just had a feeling. We hadn’t been trying…but we knew it was possible. I was at work, and I asked a friend if I could borrow a pregnancy test. Crazily enough, she had one with her. I couldn’t believe what the test seemed to be indicating and shouted, “Is that a second line?!” It was unmistakable. The second and third tests confirmed it. I was pregnant.
I told my husband on his birthday. Along with the usual birthday gifts, there was one more special present– a bib that said, “World’s greatest dad.” Oh, and I included the pregnancy test… because what guy doesn’t want to hold something that you peed on? After the initial shock wore off, we laughed and cried and I told him that I wanted to invite our families to a special dinner. We would pretend that it was to celebrate his birthday, but we would give each of our parents a little present once they arrived. Continuing the trend, I bought four more little bibs – 2 grandma bibs and 2 grandad bibs.
The day came, and we passed out the presents. I wish that we had taken pictures, because that moment of pure joy was irreplaceable. It would be the last time that we would say, “We are pregnant” without the quiet little fear that whispers, “but what if it happens again.”
I was so proud as I called to schedule my first appointment. I was moving into the ranks of “mother” a coveted title that I had dreamt of from childhood. The receptionist asked how far along I thought I might be. She told me that they didn’t usually schedule the first appointment until around 12 weeks, so we set the appointment for early October. I didn’t realize that they waited to schedule the first appointment until the end of the first 12 weeks for a reason. Did you know that the majority of pregnancies that will spontaneously end on their own will happen before 12 weeks? I didn’t.
I knew something was wrong the moment I woke up – I hurt. I remembered hearing that your body makes room for the baby and stretching can cause discomfort… but this was different. This was pain, and immediately, fear warned me what could happen next.
The phone rang 5 times. “Hello. This is Becky Thompson, and I am pregnant….
Yes, I know that my appointment isn’t for another month…
No. I haven’t been seen yet, but I am experiencing some discomfort and beyond that there some “other” indications that I might be losing the baby….
I know that there are no available appointments. I was just wondering if this was an emergency or if I could speak with a nurse.”
I left my name and number and prayed that someone would return my call. Three days went by full of unreturned calls and desperate voicemails.
No one seemed to care that I might be losing this baby. I felt helpless and unheard.
I spent my days at home lying flat on the couch as though it might stop it. As I laid there, I prayed. I asked God to heal my body and protect my child. I told Him all about how I had made plans for this baby. I stood on the promise of scripture, and I declared His Word over our lives. I told Him that I had a girl’s name picked out. She would be my sweet Kaylin Joy, and I desperately wanted to meet her.
There is a story in the Bible that tells about King Nebuchadnezzar who built a statue of himself and declared that all of the people bow and worship it. Three men of God defied the king and were threatened with death. Their response? “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not… we want you to know, O king that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” – Daniel 3:17
But even if He does not…
I made the decision to live right there on those words.
Even if He does not… He is still able and good and worthy of my devotion.
When the phone rang that Wednesday evening, a man’s voice was on the other end. “Hello. I am returning a call for Becky Thompson. I am going to prescribe you some medicine for the pain and some medicine that you can take the next time that you are pregnant to help you keep the baby.”
My hope refused to hear him.
“Thank you so much for calling me back! Do I need to come in?”
He continued, “No. It is likely that you are miscarrying. We will just be more proactive next time. In the meantime, I will get you started on some pain meds.”
I cut him off. “Proactive?! Next time? I have been calling for a week! I have been nothing BUT proactive. I am not concerned with my next pregnancy. I am concerned with what needs to happen to keep THIS baby. Can you do anything to help me?”
I honestly do not remember what he told me, but we were supposed to be in his office the next morning for an ultrasound.
That night, we prayed. We prayed harder than we have ever prayed. I laid my head against my husband’s chest and cried out for God to save the life of my sweet baby. I pleaded for Him to intervene.
The pain the next morning was unbearable. My body trembled from it, and beyond the physical agony my heart ached. Hope was fading and the voice of fear seemed louder than ever. I looked out the window on the way to the hospital and thought back over the week. I was exhausted and felt defeated…. And then we arrived at the doctor’s office.
My husband helped me through the door and guided me into a chair. As if the physical pain was not enough, the room was full of greatly pregnant women – Women with hope in their eyes and joy in their hearts. I was a picture of hopelessness – fear was winning. “You will never know that joy. It is over for you,” it sneered.
They couldn’t have called my name soon enough. I couldn’t wait to get out of that room.
The nurses had no clue why I was there. Each one that entered congratulated me on my pregnancy. I told at least three different nurses that I thought I was losing the baby, that I had “shown signs of it” for a week, and that this appointment was to basically confirm my fears. None of them were prepared to counsel that. Who is?
The doctor came in, and I wanted to punch him. He was big and jolly and didn’t have a concern on his face. I didn’t realize how angry I was with him. How had he abandoned us? How had he just ignored our calls? Rationality played no part in this meeting or my feelings towards him. I needed someone to blame.
The screen came to life as the ultrasound began. “See that little sphere there? That is your baby.” He continued and sounded a little surprised, “See that little flash? That is the baby’s heartbeat.”
Hope sprang to life inside of me!
“Your baby is still alive. I don’t see why you shouldn’t be able to continue taking that medicine I prescribed and keep the child.”
I cried and laughed and hugged and thanked and suddenly, that man was a saint. I left with renewed hope. I walked out with my head raised and my heart set on new life. I called everyone. We had told everyone so early that we had a huge team to share our additional good news!
But as we left, something didn’t feel right. The pain had escalated and was absolutely unbearable. I recognize it now as labor. I told my husband that I would just keep making phone calls and stay in the car while he picked up our lunch.
We made one more stop and the extreme tightening of my abdomen became intolerable. We rushed to get the pain medicine. I made the last “good news” call and my husband walked into the drug store to pick up my relief…. And then… it happened.
Right there, in the Walgreens parking lot, I lost the baby.
When my husband returned to the car, he understood instantly what my lips couldn’t say. I was frantic and just wanted to get to the hospital.
More phone calls. Hysterical words sobbed from my throat as I told my momma it was over. I have tried to remember what happened in those few minutes on the way to the hospital, but I was honestly in shock and remember very little of it.
I can tell you very factually what happened when we arrived at the hospital.
My husband helped me into the emergency room. I walked past the front desk and into a little bathroom. It was cold. I put the baby into a napkin and carefully placed it in my purse. A wheel chair was waiting for me when I got out. I sat down and waited. My husband knelt beside me. My parents arrived. I sat longer. Apparently, almost an hour went by while I sat in a wheelchair with my baby in my purse. I began to feel lightheaded and numb. There was no privacy… But privacy couldn’t provide what my heart needed. My baby was gone.
I was jolted back to reality by yelling. My mom directed my husband to get the car and help me into it… however much time had passed was too much. We were leaving and the hospital was made aware of how displeased we were.
We drove to another hospital near our home. I was immediately taken into an exam room and the last words I heard my momma say as they wheeled me around the corner were, “Don’t let them take the baby.”
It was the first thing I told the nurse. “I want to keep the baby. You can’t have it.” I couldn’t imagine my child being shipped off to some lab.
Her soft words echoed in my heart, “Honey, what are you going to do with it?”
I couldn’t answer her. I just sobbed. It wasn’t just a ball of cells. It was my baby. It was hopes and dreams. It was a future and a life, and if it was a girl, it was my sweet Kaylin Joy.
I knew she was right. They would be able to tell me what had gone wrong. I handed her that sweet little life, and suddenly a stillness came over me.
For the first time in over a week, it was quiet. There was no rushing. There was nothing left to fight for. I didn’t have to convince someone I needed help. I didn’t have to plead a case of desperation. Hope was gone. Fear was gone. My baby was gone. It was all over. My body that was designed to protect my child had betrayed it. I sat there with a cold numbness. My baby had died.
When God made woman, He made her to bring forth new life. Yes, He made her to birth children, but when God made woman, He made her heart fertile as well. It is in the heart of a woman that dreams and visions are born. It is in a woman’s heart that she makes plans for a future. I might dare say that the soft ground of a woman’s heart is the most fertile thing about her.
At home, I slept for a long time. I was exhausted. The struggle had ended and left me shattered. It took a few days for my appetite and strength to return. I was heartbroken. So, I withdrew my hope. But what the enemy intended for evil, the Lord has used for good… Because as I withdrew hope, I pulled it back into the fertile ground of my heart… and there, without me knowing it… it began to grow new life.
About a week later, I returned to my job at a Christian University. Chapel service would be held that morning and the faculty and staff were encouraged to attend. As the music began, I remembered my promise to myself and God. Even if He does not… He is still worthy. He is still good… and then a miracle happened. Hope began to rise.
I told God exactly how I felt. I poured out my heart to Him. I told Him that I was heartbroken… but He already saw it. I told Him that I was discouraged… but He already knew it. I told him that I still loved Him and that I knew that He was still good… but I needed help to say it….and He helped me to praise. He helped me hold my arms up and sing of His goodness and faithfulness. The words sprang up out of my heart, and I sang as though it was the only way I would keep breathing.
Praise became my weapon against grief.
The goodness of God had not changed because of the brokenness of this world. He still loved me. He saw me in all of it, and He was right there with me. Because even though the baby had died, I couldn’t lose my Jesus too. I couldn’t believe that He had done this TO me. I couldn’t make Him the bad guy and blame Him and yet run to find comfort and peace in Him. I needed Him more than ever… and when I blessed His name, I found peace. Because the truth is, He is good.
When bad things happen, God is still good.
I asked Him to show me where He was while all of this was happening, and He did.
He was right there with me as I discovered that I was pregnant. He shared in my joy.
He was with me when the pain began, and He held me close.
As frustrations led to desperation, He told me, “You are not alone.”
As fear whispered in the waiting room, “You will never know their joy.” He whispered, “My daughter. That is a lie. Joy will be yours.”
He held me as that little life slipped into His arms.
He wept with me at the brokenness of this world…
He promised that the story wasn’t finished and that one day, I would meet my sweet baby in Heaven.
And then, He gently put the broken pieces of my heart back together and sang with me as I remembered how to praise.
He is my friend. He is my comforter. He is my healer and my redeemer. He is my refuge. He is my joy.
These are the faces of my beautiful children.
I have trusted God through grief, and I have rejoiced with Him in gladness. This one thing I know, His worthiness is not dependent upon the outcome of our prayer. He is good and His goodness endures forever.
Friends, there is hope after miscarriage. There is hope after death. There is hope after devastation. There is hope when the prayer isn’t answered. There is hope when the bills aren’t paid and the baby is hungry. There is hope when your husband leaves and says he is done. There is hope after cancer. There is hope during cancer. There is hope when the war is raging. There is hope in Christ alone. My prayer is that you would come to know that hope as well.
I revisit this story of God’s faithfulness at least once a year. It is a time for me to praise Him again specifically for guiding me through such a painful time. I thank Him that I didn’t lose my faith, but that through this, our relationship became deeper. As I was praying the other evening, I saw her. An image flashed before my eyes of a little brown haired girl sitting backwards in a chair pulled up to a big table. She looked a lot like my sweet 2 year old, but had a long brown pony tail. She was about 5 years old and was just beautiful.
Yes, the baby died well before we knew who or what it was, but I believe with all of my heart that the Lord gave me a little glimpse into heaven. While there are times that my heart still aches to know the child, there is no greater peace than the assurance that she is held safely in the arms of Jesus… the same arms that hold me today.
“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. They that go forth weeping bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126
This post was adapted and included in my book Hope Unfolding: Grace-Filled Truth for the Momma’s Heart. You can find your copy here.