It’s been several years since I miscarried on Halloween. I think I handled it pretty well. I spoke with my children, took them to daycare, cried for hours while researching miscarriages online, and then went to work, where I knew I’d be speaking to clients about their miscarriages.

Later that night, I shared the news with my husband who had not received any of my texts or voicemails. I guess God works in mysterious ways, and He wanted me to tell my husband in person. My husband needed to work through his own sadness over our loss, and his feelings of guilt because he wasn’t there to support me during the miscarriage process.

In the days and weeks that followed, I spoke with numerous people. I did not try to hide why I was sad (except in client boundaries). In fact, I often initiated the conversation because very few people knew we’d been pregnant. Jordan was 10 weeks when I miscarried so I was only beginning to show.

Through it all, I had this small nagging voice in the back of my mind saying “You did something wrong and your baby paid the consequence.” There were also the “You know you flushed your child down the toilet” (I was on the toilet when I felt the amniotic sac leave my body and knew there was nothing I could do) and a few angry-at-God thoughts.

In all my research, in all the talks I had with others, in all my rationale thinking, I know miscarriages happen and we don’t know the reasons. I don’t even know if God has a reason for taking our children before we can hold them and feel them breathing.

And years later, I find that nagging voice still haunts my private thoughts. It haunted me during my fourth pregnancy. It haunts me when my young children randomly ask what it would be like if Jordan hadn’t died in my belly. It haunts me now, during my current pregnancy, because I wonder if the baby is doing alright, and if I’m doing everything to care for him/her.

What if I drank too much in the early stages, before I knew I was pregnant? That happened with Jordan.

What if the supplements I’m taking hurt the baby? I was taking a supplement with Jordan, and he/she died…

What if my anxious thoughts get to the baby and he/she thinks I don’t want him/her? I need to stop worrying just because I barely feel movement and all my other children were kicking by now.

What if the doctor is right and I should accept the tests they can run? If I accept, does that send a negative message to the baby, like “If you aren’t genetically perfect, I don’t want you?”

Am I lifting too much? Risking my health through too much exercise? Is this horrible cough going to affect the baby?

What about the hernia I developed just after finding out I was pregnant? They won’t operate until after the birth, unless something really bad happens. What if something really bad happens? Will the baby survive?

These are just a few thoughts that plague my mind. I brush them away, knowing I am controlling what I can control. But the thought that “maybe…” never really leaves. I worried about my first two children but since my miscarriage, the anxiety is much higher and it’s more of a fight to push those thoughts away.

Sometimes the guilt likes to take me by surprise. Several weekends ago, my youngest sister got married. As I was working on a few things for the wedding, thoughts about another wedding and a guilty feeling overcame me without warning. When another sister got married in 2013, I was three weeks pregnant. I didn’t know. I don’t usually drink much but I allowed myself to have “too much fun” between the wedding and reception. People remarked that the groomsman practically carried me into the reception. I barely recall the first hour of the reception. Was it this drinking binge that caused my miscarriage? Because I drank so much, did it harm the baby? Perhaps it was my fault…

There’s a small inkling of guilt when I realize if Jordan had been born, we may not have our little girl, and we likely wouldn’t have the baby I’m now carrying. Things would be different. However, I also know that when I hold those two, I will hold a part of Jordan. During a mental health training to help abortion survivors, I learned of a term called microchimerism. It is the presence of distinctly different cells from another human that reside in the “host.” Think of them as souvenirs from pregnancy. Every pregnancy. Research found that women who have abortions or miscarriages have more of these cells from that child. The cells are passed on to consecutive children, and some stay within the mother. So my oldest child’s cells are present in her younger siblings. My son’s cells are present in his younger siblings. My Jordan’s cells are present in my youngest daughter and in my “belly baby.” I continue to hold a piece of Jordan within me, and not simply metaphorically speaking.

There are awkward moments when someone asks “How many children do you have?” I usually make a quick assessment. Then I will answer in one of two ways: “I have three kids and one on the way” or “I have three and one on the way, plus an angel.” If I answer without including Jordan, I feel guilty for not including him/her. I placate my guilt by thinking “and an angel” in my head, as well as rationalize that every stranger does not need to know, nor will they understand what I mean.

I don’t know if the feelings of guilt will ever completely disappear. I know I don’t want the thoughts of Jordan to disappear. After all, he/she was alive. There was a heartbeat, however faint. He/she is part of me. He/she is loved. Just the idea of forgetting Jordan leaves me with a sick feeling in my gut. So instead of hating the guilt, I try to look at the guilty thoughts as one avenue to remembering. I’ll remember the joy and sadness of that pregnancy. I’ll use the knowledge I gained through this experience to help others who have similar experiences.

No child is the same as another. They are all different from the time they are conceived. Each teaches us different lessons in life, even if we don’t understand those lessons, or we wish we never had to learn them. I may never understand why Jordan wasn’t born but I held that baby for his/her whole life, and I believe I will hold Jordan someday in Heaven. As it stands, I wouldn’t trade my pain or sadness for the chance to forget the child I never met. 

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You may also want to read:  My Week Long Baby

Jessica McCaslin

Jessica is a mom who is working outside the home part-time and who is learning to cope with the ever-changing daily challenges of full-time parenthood. She graduated with her Master's degree in community counseling from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2005, and works with a diverse mental health population. Jessica resides in Central Nebraska with her husband and four children on the family ranch.