There is no easy way to write this. This post may be difficult for some of you to read. This is your one and only warning. However, in my spirit of honesty (mostly to myself), I have, and likely always will, deal with and process things through writing. I have shared some, certainly not all, of my deepest and darkest personal struggles on this blog over the past 10 years, and today is no different.
As you know, just a few weeks ago, we announced that our family was expecting our third child coming this July. I wrote a blog post, we published a video that has nearly 21,000 views now, and the messages of congratulations from so many came pouring in. We were elated. John and I have always wanted a big family and adding a third to our zoo was so exciting.
On Tuesday of this week, January 30th, I went that morning to see my midwife for my routine 16-week checkup. It was such a routine thing that I just went by myself with Amos. John took Lilly to school and I told him I would text him after I left my appointment.
My midwife came in and she asked me how things were going, we chatted how I’ve been feeling, etc. and she said to Amos, “You ready to hear this baby?” My midwife put the doppler on my stomach and we couldn’t hear anything. She fiddled around and fished around for what felt like 10 minutes, but was maybe 1 or 2 minutes at most, and she said, “These little 16-weekers can really play hide and seek with you. Where are you, little one?”
My heart started to race. My babies have always had strong, loud heartbeats that you can hear from the moment the doppler touches my belly. Previous appointments during this pregnancy were no different. And I started to quietly panic to myself.
My midwife told me, “No worries, we’ll just have to go find this baby on the ultrasound. Sometimes these 16-week babies like to try to play tough to get. I’ll be right back, let me go get the ultrasound tech so we can get you in.”
She didn’t have to say it, but I could sense worry in her voice. I immediately started to panic. I texted my husband and a few close friends and I said, “I need you to pray. Please pray hard. They can’t find the heartbeat.” I was shaking. I began to cry, but I pushed back the tears and I said, “Everything is going to be fine.”
My midwife came back in just a few minutes later and said it would be a minute, that they were finishing up with another patient in the ultrasound room, but that they’d get me right in. Another few minutes later, she came back, said it was my turn, she picked up Amos, and we went into the ultrasound room.
I laid down on the table and the ultrasound tech put the wand to my belly, and immediately I could tell something was wrong. I looked at the baby up on the screen – a beautiful baby with a fully formed head, hands, feet, fingers, toes, spine, a belly… but I saw no little flickering heart. My midwife and the ultrasound tech were quiet. So quiet. And they were moving the wand around and around and the ultrasound tech said the words no mother ever wants to hear, “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat. We’ve lost the baby.”
I started shaking and crying and my midwife nearly collapsed on me, hugging me, and I cried out and I said, “No. No. No. No. No. No. This cannot possibly be happening. This cannot be happening. This is a nightmare. This isn’t happening. I’m too far along. That’s a fully formed baby. That baby is okay. The baby is okay. The baby is okay. The baby has to be okay.” They went and got the doctor and brought the doctor in to double check, but really I think it was just to confirm what we already knew.
At 16 weeks and 2 days, my precious baby was gone. I texted John to come to the doctor’s office as soon as possible and the rest of the morning from then on was a blur.
There are still a lot of questions to be answered. So many questions that I would like answers to… some answers I may get, others I may not. It appears as if the baby had some type of rare genetic disorder that caused the death, but we do not know.
Let me be clear, and extremely raw and honest with you. I’m not okay right now. Not at all. I have moments, but overall, no, I’m not fine. And frankly, I’m not supposed to be. I can pretty much guarantee that any woman and any family that has walked through this horror can tell you the exact same thing. I do not have to be okay right now. I’m in an awful waiting period. It’s awful. Simply the worst. I will not deliver the baby until next week. So right now, I’m walking around in a horrific, nightmarish daze. I look at my body and I look pregnant and technically, I still am. I’m walking around physically carrying a baby I will never get to hold in my arms. I will never see that baby smile. I will never hear that baby laugh. But I knew that baby.
Sure, I only shared with you that I was pregnant just a little over two weeks ago, so for you this is new and fresh because you just found out I was pregnant. But I found out I was pregnant at just 4 weeks… so, for four months, I’ve known this baby. I’ve talked to this baby, I’ve sung to this baby, I’ve prayed over this baby. I’ve felt the flutters of this baby in my belly. I’ve heard the strong heartbeat coming from within the chest of this baby. Amos would lift up my shirt every morning, smile and say “BABY!” and kiss my belly. Lilly would talk to the baby every day and tell the baby all the things they were going to do when the baby came out to play. John and I would dream up what the baby would be like and what our life was going to look like as a family of five.
I did not carry this baby to full term, but for four months, this baby has been no less real to me than Lilly or Amos ever were. Yes, my relationship with this baby is different. I don’t know what I would do if something were to happen to Lilly or Amos – it’s unfathomable. But this baby was still real to me in every way and I am grieving the loss of this child.
I am clinging to scripture and clinging to Jesus and clinging to my husband right now. I have also never been more thankful for community. My friends and family and our church have all been amazing. They’ve brought meals, they’ve sent flowers, they have picked up my kids from school, they’ve given me space, and they’ve given me a place to cry and to talk. Most of the time I’m not really in the talking mood, but they’ve given me a space to do that.
My immediate thought while I lay there on the table in the doctor’s office, looking up at the screen on the wall, staring at that sweet baby with no heartbeat, was this: “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord. He is good and He is good forever. His mercies are new every morning. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. He has come to give us life and have it more abundantly. Before He formed us in the womb, He knew us.”
The past few days I have repeated these things over and over in my head. The only thing giving me real peace and comfort right now are the truths that lie within Jesus.
I am not mad at God. I am not angry at God. I do not blame or question God. 10 years ago, that probably wouldn’t have been the case… however right now, I’ve never felt closer to God. For months, I have felt God preparing me for something like this and I have felt Him say to me over and over again, “Trust Me. Trust Me. I have you in the palm of My hand.”
So that’s what I’m doing. I’m trusting Him.
God does not cause miscarriage. He does not want miscarriages to happen. He does not love death. And this is probably a whole ‘nother blog post for another day, but God mourns with me. I know that and I believe it because that’s what scripture tells me.
Exodus 23:24-26 (MSG) says: “But you—you serve your God and he’ll bless your food and your water. I’ll get rid of the sickness among you; there won’t be any miscarriages nor barren women in your land. I’ll make sure you live full and complete lives.”
Ecclesiastes 11:5 (MSG) says: “Just as you’ll never understand the mystery of life forming in a pregnant woman, So you’ll never understand the mystery at work in all that God does.”
Matthew 5:4 says: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Psalm 34:8 says: “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 139 13:16: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
I know these things to be true and I am clinging to every word right now. I choose to picture and see this picture of heaven in my mind’s eye, a picture of Jesus holding my sweet baby in His arms and telling that baby how much he / she is loved. I choose to see my mom meeting her grandchild and rocking the baby to sleep and singing the baby songs. I choose to see that. I will never know this side of heaven what is really happening, but in my heart of hearts, that is what I know and see.
The next few days and weeks and months to come will be hard. I know in the end I will be okay. It’s okay to grieve, and I’m allowing myself that time right now. I’m grounding myself in scripture and in community. I will probably share more as I process things because again, it’s how I process. Although I may choose to not. I have no idea.
But for now, this is where I am. I know that it’s okay to not be okay.