So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago about her recent missed miscarriage. As we talked through the experience, made uniquely difficult by the pandemic, one phrase she said just kept echoing in my mind, “I just didn’t know this could happen.”

It took me back to my own missed miscarriage, also called a blighted ovum. The cells stop dividing, the sac is empty, there is no heartbeat, but your body continues on, business as usual. Before I stepped into that ultrasound room, I just didn’t know either.

I just didn’t know.

RELATED: My Baby Was Gone and So Was I

I wasn’t having any spotting or cramping. In fact, if sprinting to the toilet due to all day and night sickness had been an Olympic event, I would’ve been on track for a gold medal. I was so confident that these were all signs that everything was OK, I reassured my husband that he could stay home and watch our son when we couldn’t get childcare.

I just didn’t know.

When the ultrasound tech was taking a bit longer, I didn’t worry. With my first pregnancy, I worried all the time. I was determined to be more relaxed and enjoy it more this go around. Then she asked me quietly if I had experienced any cramping or spotting. I confidently said I wasn’t and listed the pregnancy symptoms I was having in abundance. She got quiet, looked at the screen, did a few more things, then said,

“Here’s the thing honey, I’m so sorry, but I can’t find a heartbeat. I’m going to talk to the radiologist, then we’ll call your OB.”

I just didn’t know.

RELATED: There is So Much More To the Loss Mom’s Story Than Meets the Eye

I was shocked and left breathless by how fast the situation had turned. I was supposed to be leaving with pictures to show my husband and be excitedly speculating about if this long-awaited baby was going to be a brother or sister for my little boy who was so very ready to be a big brother. Instead, I was in a little consultation room that you don’t even notice when things go well, but you are forever aware of after you’ve spent some time in it. I spoke to my OB, and she wanted to wait a week then repeat the ultrasound just in case the dates were off, but to please call her immediately if I experienced any cramping or bleeding.

I just didn’t know.

I went home stunned and managed to tell my husband. The following week felt endless and grey with small patches of light fighting to get through. Every mad dash to vomit came with a slim ray of hope- surely I wouldn’t be this sick if this wasn’t a viable pregnancy? But there was a corner of my heart and mind that did know how this was going to end. It was that part that compelled me to research options before the follow-up appointment and reach out to a few friends to discuss those options. In between times I reassured myself I was just doing due diligence, I wouldn’t need this information, but if I did, I would be prepared for what came next.

I just didn’t know.

At the follow-up ultrasound, nothing was changed and it was confirmed—this pregnancy was over, my body just wasn’t getting the memo.

I’d never heard of this. I’d heard heartbreaking stories of bleeding, early ruptures, and loss, but never one where someone’s body just didn’t seem to be on the same page as reality.

I just didn’t know.

I was not prepared for the pain and the messy reality of the treatment plan. It wasn’t that my doctor didn’t prepare me and provide me with compassionate, thorough care- I just couldn’t wrap my brain around the fact that all of this was happening. I was not prepared for how angry and sad I would feel at the same time, culminating in the day I went to pick up my son from preschool and another mother looked at me and said,

“You just don’t understand how lucky you are to have just one—you got the whole morning to yourself”

I’d spent the whole morning with a hot pack and changing pads.

I never spoke to her again.

RELATED: 25 Things NOT To Say To a Mother Who’s Had a Miscarriage

I knew rationally she didn’t know, but I just couldn’t get past that statement.

I just didn’t know.

Physically, I recovered quickly. My doctor reassured me that there was no cause to believe this was a symptom of a larger problem. She tried to assure me I’d done nothing wrong, my age wasn’t a factor; it was just horrible luck. It took longer to trust my body again and heal emotionally. As I talked to more women, I began to hear more experiences like mine, and in almost every case, they had been as stunned as I was that this could happen. Eventually, I was pregnant again and held my breath between bouts of all-day sickness—my little boy had a baby sister. I was lucky and extremely thankful.

I still think about that pregnancy, though, and the experience of pregnancy loss.

What I do know now is just not knowing makes the whole experience so much more isolating. As a culture, we’ve gotten better about talking about pregnancy and infant loss and that has to continue. One in four pregnancies will end in loss- it is an almost unfathomable hard truth. Some will say sharing these stories does nothing but scare all expectant mothers, but being blindsided adds another layer of anguish and shame to an already devastating time. Nothing will take away the heartache of any woman who becomes one in four. However, removing that isolation, the illusion that she is the only one because she just didn’t know this could happen, is a crucial step in clearing the path to healing.

Katie McNally

Katie is a mother of gingers (kind of like dragons but scarier at points). She is currently at home reheating a mug of tea for the eleventh time and working on various writing projects as well as getting her life together in general. She is on the verge of turning 40 and mining it for any blogging material she can. You can read more on her blog, Knock, Knock, Knocking on Forty’s Door or follow Katie on Facebook or Twitter

When a Rainbow Baby Meets Mama

In: Baby, Loss, Motherhood
newborn baby on mother's chest

This week, one year ago, was one of the most difficult weeks of my life. Fast forward to exactly one year later, and here I am cuddling you, my sweet boy. I never truly understood what “rainbow baby” was all about, but I get it now. Sure, I knew what it meant and what it represented. I had read the articles and heard the stories. I had seen the meaningful images and understood the definition. But I never truly and deeply knew what happens when a rainbow baby meets their mama . . . until you. When a rainbow baby...

Keep Reading

Losing a Child Changes Everything

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Woman at beach sunset

I‘ve had my life planned out since I was a teenager. My dreams were to be a teacher, wife, and mom in that order. I would teach elementary school and have the cutest classroom with the greatest lessons, and I’d teach until I was old and retired. The man of my dreams would sweep me off my feet in college, and we’d have a romantic wedding and start our great life together. Then, after a few years, we would have two children, a boy and a girl. We would be a blissfully boring, happy little family.  I didn’t want extravagant...

Keep Reading

Some Babies Are Held Only in a Mother’s Heart

In: Baby, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Ultrasound of baby

“Whatever may come and whatever may pass, we have faith that our God will bring us to it and through it.” That’s what I wrote in a post after we announced our third pregnancy. It was the first pregnancy we went public with, but it was the third time we had two positive lines on a pregnancy test. You see, we had miscarriage after miscarriage after miscarriage. We went from surprised optimism to guarded yearning and finally stolen joy. The first baby was nothing more than a what-if before that test. It was a surprise to two people who loved...

Keep Reading

Sweet Child, Thank You for Helping Me Navigate the Pain of Miscarriage

In: Loss, Motherhood
Child playing with mother

You’re far too young to understand the words I’m about to write, but still, I will jot them down so the memory pops up and reminds me (and one day, you) just how much of my rock you’ve been over the past years and especially these past few weeks.  Miscarriage has been an unpredictable mess. One that’s taken about two months to be over. Every week, I dreaded my weekly appointments because seeing all those expecting women there was gut-wrenching. I knew I wasn’t there for such a joyous occasion. Rather, just to check that my hCG levels were steadily...

Keep Reading

“God, Please Put a Baby in Mommy’s Belly. Amen.”

In: Loss, Motherhood
Little girl praying by bed

“God, please put a baby in Mommy’s belly. Amen.” She’s added it to her prayers every night for the past year. Woke up two weeks ago. Didn’t feel well.  Dark positive pregnancy test Shock. Joy. Excitement.  Thank you, God. We’ve all wanted this for so long. My husband jumps up and hugs me. He’s so happy, maybe even more than me, if that’s possible.  Three more positive tests over the next week to double-check. More excitement with each definite positive. A Christmas baby. Pure joy.  A few unusual symptoms. Shrug them off. Telling a few people but not too many,...

Keep Reading

All I Wanted Was For My Baby To Stay Alive

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Sad woman with head in hands

Today is the day I’ve dreaded and resisted for almost a year: the day I face going through the white plastic bag the hospital sent home with me after my D&C, 10 months ago. This bag held my clothes, shoes, and wedding ring for the short time I was in surgery, but I rescued all of those precious items soon after waking. The items that remain show the paper trail of that difficult day—receipts from my hospital admittance and anesthesia, general post-operative care instructions, and a consent form for “treatment of incomplete abortion.” That last part brings tears to my...

Keep Reading

My Husband Makes Me a Stronger Woman

In: Grief, Loss, Marriage
Daddy standing over hospital crib with infant, black-and-white photo

A little over a year ago, my husband and I went through the unimaginable. We lost our child, Lillian, to a congenital heart defect. The days following that, and even to this day, people will comment on how strong I am. How well I’ve dealt with this darkness. How they can’t imagine what I am going through. The truth is I was never alone. From the day we found out I would give birth to a child who had complex heart defects, my husband has been there. Always in the background of what others saw but ever so present in...

Keep Reading

Mothers Don’t Teach Us How To Live Life Without Them

In: Grief, Grown Children, Loss, Motherhood
Woman in dress with corsage, smiling color photo

When you’re a little girl, you dream of marriage, children, a career, and memories that you will cherish forever—and you want your mother by your side at all times. Our mothers teach us how to live a life we will enjoy, but they never teach us how to live a life without them in it. Our mothers don’t tell us that one day they will not be here to answer the phone when we call or go on spontaneous dinner dates. My mother never told me there will come a day when she will be gone and how bad it...

Keep Reading

When Mother’s Day Feels Awkward, Find Comfort in Community

In: Grief, Living, Loss, Motherhood

Mother’s Day can be beautiful for some women. It can be hurt filled for others. Or in my case, it can just feel plain old awkward. I felt eight years of awkward Mother’s Days. In my late 20s to mid-30s, I felt like the woman no one knew what to say to or what to do with. I felt a double whammy on Mother’s Day. My mother was home in Heaven. My womb was empty and always would be. My desire to have a child was filled with an intentional choice to go a non-traditional route to motherhood and was...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Mother’s Day Hurts

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Mother holding baby near grave, black-and-white photo

I see you moms. I see the moms who will never see all of their children together on this earth at the same time. The moms who dread the question, “When are you having children?” or “Will you have any more?” The moms who pray for that second line, month after month. The moms who are seeing that positive test and don’t know how they are going to make this work. The moms who can’t shake the blues or depression, who feel guilty for not feeling happier about their baby. The moms who feel as though they are doing it...

Keep Reading

5 Secrets to the

BEST Summer Ever!

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Creating simple summer memories

with your kids that will  last a lifetime