Parenting After Miscarriage: Exposing the Underlying Fear Monday, June 12th, 2017
Jared! Jared! Something is wrong with Jaxton! I heard him make a noise like he was going to throw up, and when I went in there, he was just lying there with his eyes open. I picked him up and he keeps falling over in my arms. Jared, I can’t get him to wake up all the way. I think we need to go to the ER right now.
It was early in the morning on July 1st two years ago, and my nearly one-year-old was suddenly non-responsive. I panicked.
It wasn’t uncommon for me to panic about our children and their health. I can detect an ear infection before they pull at their ears, and I can sense a temperature rise of half a degree with just my cheek pressed against their foreheads. I watch the health of my children closely.
But something inside of me that morning didn’t just confirm that it was okay to worry. It yelled, “Get help now!”
I remember racing the mile down the street to our local small-town hospital terrified that no one would believe that this was serious. I was afraid of being unheard. I worried that they would say he just had some stomach virus, and I needed to go home. I knew in my heart this was much much worse.
On that morning, it turned out that my instincts were correct. Jaxton had a severe case of intussusception. His intestines had telescoped… (imagine the way a tall sock rolls over on itself when you take it off). The blood was cut off. He looked like he had the stomach flu, but really… he was dying. The doctors at Children’s Hospital told us he wouldn’t have made it 24 hours.
But between the moments I pulled my son from his crib and he was rushed into emergency surgery, many old feelings resurfaced.
It wasn’t the first time I was afraid that the doctors would move too slowly and something terrible would happen. It wasn’t the first time that I felt completely helpless waiting to hear the diagnosis. It wasn’t the first time that everything felt outside of my control and all I could do was pray.
All of these feelings happened for the first time nearly ten years ago when I experienced my first miscarriage. I remember lying in living room on my couch desperately waiting for the OB/GYN to call me back with instructions on how to stop the bleeding. I remember calling their offices multiple times a day, praying they would hear my desperation and be able to do something about it. I remember feeling completely helpless as I waited to see what would unfold for my child and myself.
And when that sweet baby slipped from my body, I remember feeling like I was somehow responsible.
In the days following my son, Jaxton’s, surgery, I began to process my emotions. I realized the root of my fears. I wasn’t just afraid that the doctor’s wouldn’t be able to figure out his sickness. I wasn’t just afraid that he wouldn’t get well. I was reliving the loss of my first child, the one I wasn’t able to save.
There are many support groups now for women who have had miscarriages. We process through our grief and we encourage each other as we work toward healing. But something that often goes unaddressed is how the effects of miscarriage have this way of showing up later in our lives.
Often we don’t even realize it, but things like a loss that goes unmourned by others, or a sense of responsibility that we somehow failed someone we love, or a fear that no one will be able to help us in situations of crisis or emergency can all be traced back to those days of sudden and painful loss.
I took my daughter to the dentist last week for a possible cavity and her own anxieties prevented her from being able to complete the exam. When I got home, I told my husband that I was afraid. I couldn’t stop worrying about her tooth. But I paused, and I asked myself what I was really afraid of…
And I realized this. I wasn’t just afraid that she wouldn’t ever be brave enough to get her tooth fixed. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to help her in a way that prevented her from experiencing additional fear or emotional damage. I was afraid that some how I was responsible for the cavity. I was afraid that it was my fault and I wouldn’t be able to fix it without causing my daughter pain.
And in something as simple as a dentist appointment, that old wound exposed itself again.
But this time was different. I paused, and I thanked the Lord for showing me the areas in my heart that still need healing. I asked Him to begin the work of mending that pain. And I stepped out of from living in fear without realizing its root.
Friend, I don’t know where you are in your journey of loss. I don’t know how far your heart has come with healing. I don’t know if you’ve noticed the feelings I have mentioned here in your own life, but I do know just as the Lord continues to mend the pain, he will heal the fear. His Love will continue to work in our hearts, and it is His delight to help us recognize the places that still need to be touched by His Love.
And when we recognize our need for it, when we expose the wound, they can begin to heal.
I’m praying that the Lord would continue to heal your heart as only He can, and I’m praying that He would reveal the areas that still need to be mended, friend.
I recognize your loss, I see the pain, and I understand the fear – and not only have I been there, but the Lord is with each of us now… the same arms that hold our babies continue to hold onto us… even after all this time.
SO much love,
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