Oh, October. If you live in the Midwest, you know that October is such an unpredictable month. It’s 80 degrees one day, and 20 the next. Actually, I’ve seen the temperature swing that much in the same day! While the weather can be a roller coaster, October has always been my favorite month of the year. Mainly because it’s my birthday month. Who doesn’t love their birthday month?! And now, it’s the birthday month of my sweet rainbow baby.
Two years ago during this time, I discovered that October 15th was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Why was I only just discovering this two years ago? Because, I was in the midst of experiencing my first pregnancy loss. Little did I know, I would experience my second loss just three months later.
I am that statistic you see floating around on social media: I am 1 in 4.
My story is not easy for me to share, as I know most women who experience loss can relate. But, for me, it is a necessary one to share. I had no idea what to expect when my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. And, because it had ended before we told anyone other than immediate family, I really didn’t have anyone to turn to. I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone, because I could barely think about it without the tears flowing. How could I possibly speak those words out loud?
I turned to the Internet to find some sort of encouragement that I would be okay. That I would eventually have a healthy pregnancy. And, most importantly, that I wasn’t the only one experiencing this pain. That I wasn’t alone.
Of course I found all the statistics, informing me of how common pregnancy loss is. But, I couldn’t find anyone talking about it. The Internet didn’t hold the answers I needed.
The day you lose a baby is a day you will never forget. August 27, 2014 was that day for me.
It all started with a little spotting, and ended with me sitting in a cold, white hospital room, in the most deafening silence I have ever experienced. It was the silence that occurs right before the doctor has to tell you something that will change your life forever.
That she can’t find a heartbeat.
It’s the worst kind of silence, and it still haunts me to this day.
I’m not here, though, to educate you about what happens during pregnancy loss. That’s all physical. You can find medical descriptions all over Google.
What I’m here to share with you is how I handled my loss emotionally. Because, that is the part that nobody can prepare you for.
Honestly, I can’t say that I handled it the best way. Immediately following my first miscarriage, all I could think about was getting pregnant again to fill the void that was left. I didn’t want to deal with the emotional pain, I wanted to mask it with the joy of another baby.
So, I planned.
I scheduled when I could start trying again, when I would be ovulating, and if I conceived, when my baby would be born. I obsessed.
When the 3 months had passed that the doctor recommended we wait, I was pregnant again.
And, one short week later, I lost our second baby.
I was numb. Broken. Angry. Confused. And, done.
Having two pregnancies 3 months apart is hard enough on its own. There are many hormones involved in the process, on top of the grief I was already experiencing. I knew I couldn’t take anymore. Physically or emotionally. I was done trying to have a baby.
I threw all of my focus into other things. Specifically, getting myself in shape, physically through exercise and spiritually through faith.
When tragedy strikes, it is often our first response to question why God is doing this to us. How someone who is supposed to love us so much could cause us this kind of pain. It’s a totally rational response from someone grieving. But, it wasn’t mine.
Quite the opposite happened for me, actually. My tragedy brought me closer to God. I began attending church regularly, dusted off my Bible, and really gave myself to Him.
During that time, there were several instances I felt God was speaking directly to me. One Sunday at church, the preacher spoke about Elizabeth, and how she had been barren and unable to conceive a child. Then, miraculously she conceived.
It was around Christmas at this point, and of course, the story of Mary and Joseph was being told everywhere. How Mary, a virgin, had conceived a baby.
Being surrounded by these stories of miracles, my hope slowly started growing again. If God could do this for these women, he surely could for me, too. I knew deep in my soul that God had meant those words for me.
Surrounded by so many people who knew nothing of my circumstances, God was using that preacher to let me know He had not forgotten about me. And, I felt so much peace.
Another Sunday, the preacher shared a verse that stuck with me from that point forward:
But with God, all things are possible.- Matthew 19:26 (NIV)
I felt so much weight leave my body at that point. Because that was the point I was truly able to hand all of my grief- all of my burden- all of me- over to God.
And, two months later, completely unplanned, I was pregnant with our rainbow baby. And, she’s about to celebrate her first birthday on Halloween!
Am I telling you that handing everything over to God will solve all your problems and you will have a perfect pregnancy?
No. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.
What I’m telling you, is that there is freedom to be found in handing it over to God. Releasing the stress of planning, scheduling, worrying- and just trusting.
Trust the process. Trust the plan.
So, I share my story with the hopes that it will find someone experiencing the overwhelming pain and bring them back to the light. That it encourages someone to keep their faith strong, don’t lose hope, and most importantly, don’t lose yourself.
If I hadn’t experienced what I did, I wouldn’t have my daughter. And, I can’t imagine life without her. It doesn’t make the pain disappear- it’s still there. But, there is also a deeper understanding. A hope. And, the knowledge that I have two angels watching over me. Always and forever.