Featured,  Miscarriage

The Miscarriage Misconception

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sy471Today, my husband and I received a card. It was from someone reaching out to us, letting us know that though they didn’t know what we were going through, they cared. I must have read that card over 1,000 times today, and matched each neatly penned word with a tear.

What a priceless treasure that card was to me; not because someone extended sympathy to us, but because in the sea of hundreds of people that knew we lost a tiny life, there was someone out there that recognized this child… this little life… my tiny little baby’s death was important enough to acknowledge… important enough to go out and buy a card. How full my heart felt as I read each word!

Believing in the significance of our little child’s life, however diminutive he or she was, has felt like a lonely stand in the recent weeks. All around there are people that will never consider that little one to be one of my children. Instead society will say our first child was a “disappointment,” “inconvenience” or “bump in the road.”  They will compare my little baby that only grew to 6 week gestational maturity to a 21 week gestational maturity and paint a picture that mine was less important, less devastating, less tragic than theirs. They will write off the little baby’s existence.

As I type this my fingers keep retreating from the keyboard. A gloomy fear lingers in my mind that people will misunderstand what I am trying to say. Maybe they will think we were offended by how they responded to the sad news. We were not. We were humbled by those who extended their condolences, and understanding of those who did not.

But I have made an observation, not only in the last couple of weeks, but over the course of the last several months, that has been twisting at my heart and I can no longer hold that perplexity inside.

I want to take a little bit of time and make a confession.

Like so many others, before babies were “relevant” to me… I was clueless about miscarriage.

baby_group_dv780037-621x351Oh sure…. I knew people who experienced them… I knew they happened. But understanding them?  It was a foreign concept.

For the handful of miscarriages I remember occurring in the lives of other people prior to wanting a baby of my own, I probably did a lot of what I saw in the last few days. I probably got curious about the status of their pregnancy or heard something went awry and did a little bit of online “verification” (snooping). When the news was verified, I probably went on my way without offering any condolences, because I most likely did not understand you were grieving. Maybe I wasn’t sure what to say. Maybe I didn’t realize it was a big deal. Maybe if I did realize you were indeed hurting, I didn’t feel qualified to offer a clumsy, awkward condolence and though I may have considered it, ultimately decided I should leave that to the “professionals.”

I remember on one occasion feeling really stupid because I asked a pregnant acquaintance in person:

“So how far along are you now?”   Only to be countered with, “Oh, I miscarried at 4 months.”

I don’t recall my own response. It was probably something cringe-worthy. It probably sounded hollow, because in all honesty, it more than likely was. Looking back I think… “4 months? What a tragedy!”

I used to think a lot of the stupid things people think.  Of course, I never realized I thought them until… like I said, it was a relevant issue to me.

Concepts like:

  • A miscarriage is a “disappointment” more than a loss. Grieving was probably more for babies of later term, like the ones that were potentially big enough to survive.
  • Miscarriage is “nature’s way” of taking care of damaged goods. God’s probably sparing them from something they couldn’t have handled like a “special needs” child. Almost like most people would be glad they wouldn’t have to worry about a lifelong journey of assisting a child with some limitations.
  • God has His “reasons.” (His reasons may or may not have been subject to my opinion.)
  • God withholds children for petty reasons. One time as I sat and listened to a young lady who was having trouble conceiving, as she told us the outlandish names she had picked out for her future children, I actually thought “and that is why God has not given her any children… He is sparing them from lifelong humiliation.”
  • It was a “false alarm.” Almost like they were never really pregnant to begin with. For some that had repeated miscarriages I thought “I will believe you are pregnant when you are delivering a baby.” I actually got annoyed with some people for their “false alarms.”

I hope the world will forgive me for my idiocy. I was young and stupid, and I’m sorry.

I am utterly ashamed of the way I didn’t realize I thought.

Because people are people, there are probably some reading this now thinking, “that’s why God is putting her through this. He’s teaching her a well-deserved lesson!”

He may or may not be teaching me the lesson you presume He is.

In all reality, God’s a lot higher than us, so our feeble and trite hypotheses and explanations in situations like these really amount to very little down here on earth… except for the fact that they are incredibly unfeeling, inconsistent… and usually wrong.

Oh. So. Very. Wrong.

You see… I know now, that a miscarriage is a loss. It’s a death.

3439449ffa94c911f0b94ec43fc79ef3From the moment you see those 2 pink lines appear in the window of that test, you are a mother and you have a baby. You are not someone sending off “false alarms”. You lost a child.

A Child.

Most of the people that bother to read my blog will agree that “life begins at conception.”  We agree that there is a life within the womb…

 

But there’s an irony that I’m grappling with. That somehow… when a person miscarries… it’s not a death. It’s just a “disappointment.”

It’s not even enough for most people- even people very close to you– to take a minute to shoot a text that says “Hey, I just want you to know we prayed for you today.” Or to even walk up and say, “I’m sorry for your loss” and give a loving hug. It’s almost regarded as nothing.  It’s a “hush hush” scenario and I cannot understand why.

When a woman loses her little baby there is a life that is lost, but it is not treated as a mother who tragically lost a baby… Most people would not consider the mother who lost her first baby to be a mother at all… but she is. Even if she never has another baby ever, she is a mother to a child. You have to agree with that if you believe life begins at conception. Just because her child was never as tangible as the typical bundle of joy, does not mean it did not exist. Just because it had not matured to a specific point does not mean it wasn’t there.


Can I be very honest? When we lost our baby, I was actually tempted by the typical societal outlook on miscarriage.  My mind wrestled with fundamental concepts of where life begins, when babies get souls, if cells really constituted life, and if I really lost a baby… That probably raised a few eyebrows, but the reason for it was the primary reaction of people in all the scenarios I knew of.

AbortionI hate to be really plain like this, but if I (God forbid) had aborted my baby, you would say I murdered my child. But miscarriage?

Miscarriage is downplayed.  Miscarriage is a baby that “never existed.”

It would have been so much easier to get through the process of grief if I could actually believe the way you are pressured to believe in this society… that:

 

My “pregnancy” (masked term) was just a “false alarm” (masked term), and we were “disappointed” (masked term) with the outcome.

Instead of:

Her child (uncomfortable truth) died (uncomfortable truth) and they are devastated (uncomfortable truth).

In the past few days hundreds of people poured onto my blog. Most people never said a word to me, but the ones that spoke up were mostly mothers who had been there. I was actually stunned by how many out there have experienced this, and even more astonished by how many experienced it repeatedly. In the hospital the doctor told us that statistically 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. That’s a huge percentage… and yet, you hear almost nothing about them even when they are happening all around you.

Do you know what most of the women who contacted me said?

It wasn’t:

“We were disappointed, but man, am I glad God spared me from a child with special needs!”

Or

“Well, it’s just a bump in the road. No big deal.”

It was always something to the effect of

“there is still part of me missing after all of this time”  and  “Even after all of these years I still think about them”  and  “I feel like a part of me left with each one I lost”.

That sounds kind of like a mother who lost her child.

Do you know why?

Because it was her child.

She lost her child.

Four weeks gestation… 4 months along… 4 months old, 4 years old… 40 years old…

No matter how old that child is, a mother loves her child and she grieves when she loses her child.

I think if more people understood that, they would understand that it’s natural for moms to feel true, honest-to-goodness grief and that grief is 100% VALID… and it’s valid for her to grieve longer than a handful of days, and just because she grieves doesn’t mean she isn’t victorious.

It is therefore perfectly acceptable to treat the situation like you would any other situation involving grief.

It’s ok for you to ask someone grieving, “how are you doing?”

It’s ok for you to give them a hug and let them know you care.

It’s ok to write a little note or send a card, or even give them a little trinket or token that memorializes the life that was lost.

It’s ok (and advisable) to avoid giving explanations and reasons.

It’s ok to give them space, but let them know you are there…

It’s ok to acknowledge the validity of their loss, that the baby existed, that the baby was an important life.

Because you’re not dealing with just a shattered dream or some sad news, or a nothing…

A mother who miscarried, is a mother who lost her child.

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28 Comments

  • Claire H. Goodwin

    Becky you put your heart and soul into this blog. It is so revealing…of your innermost thoughts and feelings…and of things many people absolutely never even thought about. You did a graceful service to all mothers who have lost children by explaining all of these things. Thank you!

    I remember teaching about grief in the senior counseling class. Do you still have those class notes? First came the shock. “This can’t be true.” “No! I can’t believe it!”
    Then came the stage of disorganization. All your plans go upside down. Sorrow that can’t be described enters your every day life. Sometimes a little anger rises, a depressed feeling creeps in.
    These things are all real, and you no doubt experienced some or all of it. Thankfully, as Christians there is the wonderful hope of seeing that child, that precious one, again– in a perfect form in heaven.

    Then comes the time of reorganization, where you realize it is not possible to change what has happened. The reality sets in. You begin to pull the pieces together again…as you lean on the Lord and gain comfort in His Word and in His Presence. Any denial is gone. A comforting sense of acceptance occurs as you keep your life in His wonderful hands and will. With His assurance comes.a feeling of victory, peace, positive submission to an unchangeable event.

    And then comes a return to building together for the future.

    It is all easy to type on a blog form…. but you have experienced it. The Lord has worked so marvelously in your life, Becky, and molded you into a precious, tender-hearted, and loving young handmaiden of the Lord. It amazes me to see all that the Lord has put in your hands to do and be. But more thrilling is to see how you have “stepped up to the plate” and shouldered all kinds of responsibilities. May you and your husband be abundantly blessed as you continue to walk in the center of God s will. You are loved and appreciated!

    • Mrs. Pruett

      Sister Goodwin, thank you for your comment! This was probably the scariest article I have ever published, but after I hit the button, so many people privately shared their stories of grief and how they felt they were not allowed or permitted to because of how society has portrayed this for so long.

      Right after we lost our baby, I looked for your notes. I was not able to find them, but I knew you would have something encouraging to say in them. I have actually thought of you so often throughout this, missing your wise words.

      I went through many of the stages you mentioned, and I found the Lord to be such a sweet presence in the midst of everything. I have found so much comfort knowing that what He does is for His glory. In the immediate days after the event, my heart broke out in a spontaneous song and though I could not sing it without tears streaming down my face, or without a cracking voice, it was honest and sincere. You may have heard it already, but it is at the very bottom of the post “A Reservoir of Glory”.

      You are very right about the times of disorganization and things not fitting together at first. I remember early on Mark said to me that it helped him to know that the baby was in Heaven and my mind wrestled that concept. I wasn’t sure it was true and I had such a difficult time grasping some of the most fundamental things I have believed my entire life. I believe that now, as you said, we will see that child in perfect form when we get to Heaven. What was once so hard to accept, is now so certain in my mind.

      Most days I feel very normal now. There are the occasional moments where you are blind-sided by something that brings a wave of grief, but God has been so near to us, and I have the greatest peace that this is for His glory.

      Thank you for so many kind words. I truly do not deserve them. God has been so gracious to me to allow the many blessings and opportunities that have been set before me. I am forever indebted to Him.

  • Hannah R

    Great post. And I’m so sorry for your lose. Empty arms are always hurting arms. This I know from experience. It is never easy to talk about fertility issues, but so many couples today are facing them. I know God is using this blog to help other heal and realize they aren’t alone.

    • Mrs. Pruett

      Thank you Hannah! My greatest comfort is truly derived in believing God will receive glory through this. My hope and prayer is that the Lord will minister to someone!

  • Jennifer Brooks

    I really loved your article Becky. I miscarried our first child while we were still in Mexico. I was around 6 weeks along. He/She would have been a Valentine’s baby.She would have just turned 3 last month. God saw fit to give us another baby a few months later, but I still remember my first baby, there are times I still cry over him/her. I really didn’t have anyone to comfort me because most people just really don’t understand unless they’ve been there. You and your husband are in my prayers. I am extremely sorry for your loss!

    • Mrs. Pruett

      Thank you Jennifer! I am so sorry to hear of your loss. There are so many that go untold and unheard. What a day it will be when we meet all of these beautiful little children we never got to hold here on earth! Thank you for your prayers! They are the greatest gift one can offer!

  • Diana

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I also had an early miscarriage and struggled with many of the same feelings you described. One of my friends sent me flowers, and that meant the world to me. It validated the loss. That was almost three years ago, and there are still tears for that baby.
    I also really appreciated this blog I read couple weeks ago “Why Miscarriage Matters if You’re Pro-life” http://thelewisnote.blogspot.com/2014/02/why-miscarriage-matters-if-youre-pro.html
    Praying for you! Thank you for your honesty and boldness in speaking truth about such a tough topic.

    • Mrs. Pruett

      Thank you so much Diana. I actually read that blog while I was still pregnant. It was very insightful and worth reading. Somehow I knew while reading it, it would be relevant to me in the future. I had no reason to think so, but… I just did. I really would like to see the way miscarriage is seen and handled, changed to reflect the truth behind it. I visited your blog today! It’s great! I am having a link-up party on Wednesday here at Operation Wife. I’d love to see some of your posts on it!

  • Andrea

    Rebecca,
    I am so sorry for your loss. I know I never grasped how difficult a miscarriage was until I went through one. She was our 3rd and I miss her terribly. Friends sent us flowers and cards. We have a wonderful church and live in a small town where everyone knows everyone and most are very supportive. Its been six years and we have had another daughter since and are very thankful, but I still miss our little one. My joy is knowing that she is in Heaven waiting for us. Eternity will be spent with her. My prayers are with you both.

  • Melissa Huhn

    My sister sent this link to me. She lost a child, too. At the time, I didn’t have kids, and her little boy was like my own. We were so excited when she became pregnant again. I was with her when she heard the baby’s heartbeat for the first time;I’ll never forget it! The whole family went to the next appointment to hear the baby’s heartbeat, too. We waited in another room, expecting a nurse to come get us when they were ready. After a few minutes, we heard a gut-wrenching scream. My brother-in-law thought someone was in labor. Then the doctor came in. The scream had been my sister. I still get very emotional when I think of it, and it’s been about 13 years.

    Our family is missing a member when we get together, even though we never saw our baby and don’t know if it was a boy or girl. I’m sure my sister still feels the loss and always will. In the meantime, there is a measure of comfort knowing we’ll meet our baby in Heaven someday. I know your blog will help people see the pain of losing a child even if it was an unborn child. You do “move on” with time, but there will always be a missing part. Thank you for putting all your emotions out there for all to see. This is such an emotional and difficult situation, and people need to know that.

  • Morgan

    Yes. Yes. I lost my little boy 7 weeks ago at 16 weeks gestation. I held him in my hand. He died, and it is devastating. I’ll never ever be the same.

    Prayers for you momma.

  • Rachel

    Thank you. I’m a mother of six, but three of my children did not survive the first trimester. My first, third, and fifth children died at six, four, and seven weeks gestation, respectively. And people are heartless about these things. I’ve actually had people tell me it’s “just as well” and that I “deserved it.” It needs to change. Thank you for putting this in “print.”

    You have my deepest sympathies.

  • JB

    I was there. Malachi, 7w,4d. My angel always. He has an ornament on our Christmas tree. I will never, ever forget him.

    Praying for you. What a beautifully worded blog post. I too do not understand why this is so “hush hush.” Maybe because people fear grieving and grief so much, or because people don’t know how to respond, I’m not sure.

    • Mrs. Pruett

      I think you may be right. I think it has a lot to do with the inconvenience and fear of handling a grieving person, and putting people in a position where they feel awkward and don’t know what to say. I think somehow it has become an unspoken obligation for someone who miscarries to protect others from feeling awkward, which is crazy, but, that’s how it seems. I think also, the nature of a miscarriage may play a role in it. If someone has never been there, they may think it is nothing more than a false alarm and a really late cycle, which may put some undue stigma on it.

  • Rebecca

    I have been there and walked the same path. You are so right – losing a baby is the loss of a child, no matter the age. We just lost our son two and a half weeks ago. I’ve been writing my thoughts on my blog too. Blessings!

  • Eileen

    Hi, Becky–

    I am so sorry to read about the loss of your baby. I have lost two, and I know it hurts like nothing else can. It took a lot of courage for you to share your story, and it has already blessed others, I’m sure. I’m very glad you wrote what you did, to affirm that regardless of the baby’s gestational age, the parents still lost a child. I have been on the end of some of those horribly insensitive comments, and I always wondered why people can’t just be quiet when they don’t know what to say! I pray for comfort for you and your husband, and for all the parents who have lost children and are still aching from their loss.

    God’s biggest blessings to you–
    Eileen

  • Laura Lane of Harvest Lane Cottage

    Oh Rebecca,

    I have tears in my eyes for you. What a treasure that photo of your baby is. I do so wish your child had not died. You are right. You’re a loving mother. May God comfort you dear one.
    I’m going to pray for you just as soon as I click send.

    Sincerely,
    Laura Lane
    Harvest Lane Cottage

    • Mrs. Pruett

      Thank you Laura for your kind words. 🙂 The pictures I used were not of my baby though. I used images I found online that depicted a child that was the size it should have been at 6 weeks. The baby did not grow beyond four weeks however. I did get to see my baby though. I held it in my hand. I wish I had taken a picture but at the time I was afraid people would think I was weird. If I had a picture though, I would have it proudly displayed on my office desk, unashamed. She (I just imagine it was a she) was my daughter no matter how far along she was developed.

  • Kemi Quinn

    Oh Becky I’m so sorry. Yes you are a mother who lost a child and I hug you to offer comfort for your loss. My son was stillborn but it matters not how old the child was but that a life was lost at all. Each life is precious. And you are so right that so many women have experienced this and it’s like a private club where we don’t mention we’re a member until we see new one come to the suffering fold. He would be 11 this year.

  • Jaen

    I really needed to read this to find words for my grief. Thank you for posting this and for the passionate testimony you have had the courage to express.

  • Megan Kaiser

    My heart grieves with you, for you. I have never known loss of a child, praise God. My husband and I have been married 4 1/2 years and God has brought us through a lot – I didn’t know any better either when I heard of someone going though infertility or miscarriage before I married. However, no one is thinking you are getting “paid back” for being unaware of things you said to others who went through it before you did yourself. People say things still to us about being infertile, they just are unaware of what we are going through and how deep what they say can cut – however well intended. (((hugs))) Lovely post.

    • Mrs. Pruett

      Thank you Megan! Over time, God has brought me to a place above the hurt that used to come with such comments. When people make remarks or say anything about the loss or infertility, there is such a love that wells up in my heart for my Savior and for them because it gives me the opportunity to share how God has helped us so much. Before I went through all of this I was desperate for a child, anxious every (rare) cycle, fretful about the ‘what if’s’ of infertility and as God brought me through this time, all of that desire (though it is still there) became quiet and restful and took its place quietly on the backseat, just waiting for its time. I have so much more peace about just letting God take the reigns and not trying to ‘make things happen.’

  • Kimberly

    I feel for you Back in 2003 and 2004 I lost to babies to two miscarriages and it took a long time for me to come out of denile and grief. When I did I still could not look at baby clothing or even attend a shower with out crying. When my bother got married it made it worse on me when I found out he was having his first son did not attend the baby show, birthday, or such things. Then His second came a long will not go visit him or his wife not confortable at all around the family or kids.

  • Thomas

    Rebecca. Thank you so much for sharing. I feel encouraged and comforted by your testimony. My wife and I lost our little baby Pearl at 8 weeks, but the baby didn’t pass until 10 weeks. Those two weeks that Pearl was dead in her belly were excruciating! We were suffering for the loss of our baby and found it difficult to cope. We purchased flowers, a small coffin, cross and a baby picture holder for the ultrasound pic in preparation. Once Pearl passed, we gave them a burial and said a prayer, although we know the baby is with our Lord.
    My wife and I were talking about how taboo it seems in society to speak about the life that was lost. I guess since society doesn’t see the baby as a life until so many months have gone by, they see our loss as just “another abortion”. As you pointed out, so heartlessly they say it was nature’s way of removing something that wasn’t properly formed. We were also surprised at how the “birthing” of a miscarried baby is downplayed. She suffered severe cramps and bleeding, similar to labor, and at the last point I had to practically carry her to the bathroom. Even after she was still experiencing major cramping and heavy bleeding for the next few days. At one point I almost took her to the hospital because it was so bad.
    Fortunately several people at work were very supportive and comforting during our grief. The things that helped the most were the hugs, prayers and those who saw our loss as the loss of a child. Most people also don’t seem to realize how much a loving husband suffers during this loss as well. Altogether, awareness needs to be brought out for those of us who lose our babies, and your blog is a great step in the right direction.
    It has only been about 2 1/2 weeks since Pearl died, but I know that the first thing their little eyes will see when they open them is Jesus holding them in His loving arms. We still start crying out of nowhere and have trouble focusing as we keep thinking about our little baby and what it would have been like to hold them, at least once, alive in our arms. One day we will see our baby and it will be a beautiful reunion. I thank God that He has given us strength during this painful and confusing time. Perhaps one day He will show us the reason for this loss, until then we will just have to trust His will. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.

    • Mrs. Pruett

      My heart breaks to read about the loss of your precious baby, Pearl. I am grateful to hear you have supportive people in your lives to help you through this difficult time. Don’t be ashamed to grieve outside the expected “norms” implemented by society. You lost a child and even if very few people acknowledge it, that is a huge and devastating loss. We lost our little baby over 3 years ago and we still think about who she would have been and what she would have looked like. We celebrate her “birthday” (the day she was due) every year. I will always refuse to call my son the oldest, or an only child. I still tear up when my son learns something new and I realize I never got those moments with her. These things may not fit the mold of grief society deems appropriate for miscarriage, but they are certainly appropriate for the loss of a child. It may take awhile for our culture to understand that they are one and the same, and I hope God can use us, and you and your wife, to shine a light on the value of these teeny tiny human beings that changed our lives forever. My husband Mark and I will be praying for you and your wife. There is no hurt like the loss of a child and we pray God will wrap loving arms of comfort around you in the days and weeks ahead.

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