Lessons I’ve Learned in the 4 Years Since My First Miscarriage

four years

 

It’s hard to believe that this week is the 4 year anniversary of my first miscarriage. It had taken us almost a year to get pregnant, and we were so overjoyed! I still remember staring at the little bean on the ultrasound, being told that it was too small, and there was no heartbeat, like it was yesterday. The next week was a blur of tests and, eventually, a d&c in the hospital to end the pregnancy. My husband was out of town on his very first tour as a drummer, and I was alone. It was devastating.

4 years have past, and we couldn’t have know that this was just the first of three babies to be born into heaven in our family. I’ve learned a lot since that first precious little life left too soon, and I thought I would share some reflections.

MISCARRIAGE LOOKS DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE, EVERY TIME

Each one of our losses was different- our first, a “missed miscarriage” at 11 weeks- my body still thought I was pregnancy though the baby had stopped living. The second, a “chemical pregnancy” at 7 weeks- the first ultrasound revealed no baby after I had started bleeding. The third, a horrific preterm labor birth at 14 weeks of our son, Hudson. Each experience was devastating in it’s own right, and came with it’s own emotions and consequences.

Our second miscarriage came after a surprise pregnancy that was due the same week we were supposed to move across the country- and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit comforted by the relief I felt to not have to work out those details. It was an intensely confusing time as I committed to being honest with my emotions- both the deep grief I felt and the strange peace that this must be the best plan.

LANGUAGE IS IMPORTANT, AND YOU CAN DECIDE FOR YOURSELF

This might be slightly controversial, but I feel like it’s been an important part of my journey to identify the language that reflects my experiences the best- which might not be the appropriate medical language. Our son’s birth at 14 weeks is still technically called a miscarriage. To me, this doesn’t at all accurately capture the gravity of what we experienced- he was alive, moving around and healthy just the night before, and his heart was still faintly beating even while I was laboring that morning. I labored for 5 hours and didn’t deliver him until my water was broken. The doctors could find nothing wrong with him, and no identifiable reason for my going into labor.

To me, this wasn’t a miscarriage- it was a stillbirth, or a very premature birth. I have found it extremely important to my healing process to give myself license to use those terms both in my heart and in conversation, because it most accurately reflects my experience and the gravity of my son’s loss. I think this is important for all parents to identify.

EVERYONE IS AWKWARD, EVERYONE IS TRYING

I have had horrible, shocking things said to me after our losses, ranging from “well at least you don’t have to deal with my 4 kids, take some time before you try again” to “well that baby probably had something wrong with it anyway” to “you’ll get pregnant again”. I’m sorry, what? Do people hear what they are saying? It’s unreal that people think these things bring comfort in times of such grief. Would you say those things to someone whose child just died?

I spent much of my time in the first few months and years being really angry at the seemingly insensitive things people would say to me- I just felt like they should know better. But as I prayed through my heart towards them and looked at my closest friends, I realized they couldn’t know better, because they haven’t experienced what I did. Saying anything at all so someone whose grief you don’t identify with is extremely brave, and these people were trying. And so I have learned to prayerfully bring my heart to the Lord and give grace out generously when I hear these comments.

THE LORD REDEEMS OUR PAIN AND BROKENNESS

Let me be the first person to tell you that “everything happens for a reason” is the worst phrase ever and takes the most prayer and grace for me to respond to with a smile. That’s not what I am saying here. I believe in my core that miscarriage and infant loss are not part of the Lord’s perfect plan and that they deeply grieve his heart. However, I also believe in the power of the Lord to take the pain that we experience, and take these little lives that we carry, and use them to build His kingdom.

My decision, early on in our infertility and loss journey, to remain open about our struggles has led to so much prayer and ministry for others in the past 4 years. I have been blessed to rejoice in countless surprise and miracle pregnancies, cry alongside dear friends through their losses, and feel the depth of friendship that I might not otherwise feel with so many women because of the babies I have lost and that I have shared. Do I think that’s why I lost them? No. Do I see that the Lord uses my pain when I let him? Yes. It’s a legacy that my babies will continue to live through in the years to come.

YOU AREN’T ALONE

When you go through any kind of loss experience, you will feel alone. At least, that was my experience- though I now realize that it isn’t true at all. As I have shared my story and my babies’ lives over the years, women have come out of the woodwork with their own stories. I don’t think everyone is called to be as open or as vulnerable and public with their stories as maybe I am, but know this: this affects so many more families than you realize. It’s estimated that 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in some type of loss- not to mention the countless families that struggle to get pregnant at all. If you are struggling, reach out- to me, to a loved one, to a trusted mentor or friend. The chances are that this pain isn’t as far from you as you might think.

If you are reading this and you have experienced your own loss, I am so sorry. I am here for you. If you are a loved one of someone who has lost a pregnancy or baby, I feel your grief, too. I am praying for you all.

Redeeming Easter Traditions (plus Resurrection Eggs project!)

Redeeming Easter Traditions | FREE Resurrection Eggs Printable! | Feed Me Mama

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is written by Kathleen Willet, a dear friend of mine. Kat and her husband, Jeremy, adopted their son, Evans, from Ghana this past year, and are in process to adopt their daughter from Ethiopia this spring! You can read more about their family and ministry right here. Kat and Jeremy are great examples of parenting with intentionality and they are constantly seeking to redeem the things of the world for the glory of Christ. I’ve asked Kat to begin contributing a monthly column on mindful, Kingdom-centered parenting, and this is her first post! Thanks, Kat!

This is our first Easter being home with our son Evans from Ghana. Last year, we were able to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior in Ghana by attempting to dye our brown eggs from the local market and attending our first church service as a family of three. There are quite a few things different with this Easter as we are here in the states! So many things are associated with the U.S. celebration of Easter:

  • Good Friday service
  • Easter Sunday service
  • Visiting with family
  • Dyeing Easter eggs
  • Easter egg hunts
  • New Easter outfit
  • Easter baskets
  • The Easter bunny

…I must say, I am very much overwhelmed and missing the simplicity and focused reality of Easter! Now, I am not saying that any of these ways of celebrating Easter is wrong, it’s just our family always tries to be extremely intentional with our decisions, and when Easter comes around, we view that as a time to reflect and remember the sacrifice and resurrection of our Lord.

Before kids, Jeremy (my husband) and I would celebrate Easter by attending a Good Friday service and an Easter Morning service, as well as making sure to visit both sides of the family. Having a child now is making us truly think about what we want our children to relate with Easter as they grow up. Our goal is for our children to grow up knowing the true meaning behind each holiday and celebrate each holiday as The Lord leads.

We don’t want our children feeling deprived, left out, or secluded from the world, so we chose to look at different Easter traditions and see how we can be more intentional with how we celebrate. Here’s a few things we are going to try:

Dyeing Eggs with Natural Dyes

We have 7 chickens in our backyard, so we are looking forward to dyeing their eggs! A few dyes we are going to try are red beets, frozen cherries, chili powder, tumeric and red cabbage. If this sounds exciting to you as well you can visit this site and get more detailed instructions. There are all natural dying kits available, but if you have the time and resources, why not experiment and let the kids truly see where these dyes are coming from? 🙂

An Easter Basket

Since we don’t encourage the consumption of sweets with Evans, we are going to do a fun alternative. I found a wooden vegetable crate with plush vegetables online and we are also going to fill the crate with fun things like balloons, a ball, a book and bubbles. SSHHH don’t tell Evans☺.

Resurrection Eggs

Redeeming Easter Traditions & Resurrection Egg Project | Feed Me Mama

This is one of the things I am most excited about trying! I had never heard of this project before, and when I found it I was so excited and eager to start this tradition with Evans and our children to come. I found many places that sell Resurrection Egg kits, but because I had the time and resources, I decided to create them myself. I saved lots of money, and its was fun running around the house trying to find string and tying toothpicks together to resemble a cross!

You’ll need:

  • 12 plastic eggs
  • Permanent marker
  • Optional- Stickers or washi tape, or other decorative things for the eggs (you can even decorate the eggs as a family)
  • Printed or handwritten scripture cards (use our printable at the bottom of the post!)
  • Symbols for each day

Day 1: Matthew 26:39 (Tiny plastic communion cup)
Day 2: Matthew 26:14-15 (3 Coins)
Day 3: Matthew 27:1-2 (Piece of knotted string)
Day 4: Matthew 27:24-26 (Piece of soap)
Day 5: Matthew 27:28-30 (Piece of red fabric)
Day 6: Matthew 27:31-32 (Small toothpick cross and tiny nail)
Day 7: Matthew 27:35 (Pair of dice)
Day 8: Matthew 27:50-51,54 (Small bag of crushed rock/soil)
Day 9: Matthew 27:57-60 (Square of white cloth/linen)
Day 10: Matthew 27:60,65-66 (Small stone)
Day 11: Matthew 28:2,5 (Clove and cinnamon stick)
Day 12: Matthew 28:6 (Empty)

Number the eggs from 1 to 12. In each egg, place the Scripture card and corresponding symbol. Each day (beginning 12 days before Easter) open an egg with your child and discuss the meaning of the Scripture and symbol. You can even hide the egg in the house and have your child search for it each day! On Easter morning, the egg they open should be empty, representing the empty tomb.

I am so excited to start this new tradition with Evans, making the death and resurrection of our Lord the main focus at Easter. This is a great way to foster intentional conversation within your family and build anticipation to Resurrection Sunday.

How have your celebrations changed as your family has grown? What traditions do you celebrate during the Easter season with your family?

resurrection egg printable