sharing your stories and remembering your children
By: Mariah Shull
“I was devastated. I did everything right. I didn't smoke or drink alcohol or caffeine. I took my vitamins faithfully and ate balanced meals. It never occurred to me that I would lose this baby.”
Connie Shull was a young wife and mother of a two-year old daughter when she experienced the heart-wrenching grief of a miscarriage. Since she already had a child, she believed that this pregnancy would go just as well until she learned at a routine check-up that her baby didn’t have a heartbeat.
“I passed the 3-month mark, so I thought that it would be safe to share with others that I was expecting. I miscarried at about 3 and a half months and had already told family, friends, and folks at church that I was pregnant.”
Amidst that internal heartbreak, Connie chose to act composed so that others wouldn’t feel awkward. “It’s an incredibly unpleasant conversation for people who haven’t gone through it. I then became responsible for their emotions. I had to say, ‘Oh, it’s okay…’ even though it wasn’t, just so they wouldn’t feel uncomfortable.”
Well-intentioned comments such as, “Oh, you’re young, you’ll have more,” would cause “those raw emotions of loss to come crashing back.” People did not seem to understand the significance of losing a child in the womb.
Connie felt numb. Empty. She recalled moving through life in a dark, depression-laden haze for about two weeks before she could move back into her old routine. The combination of postpartum depression with the pain of losing a child caused Connie and her family to spiral into what felt like an “emotional pit.” The loss of a child is enough pain; families shouldn’t have to deal with the social etiquette that miscarriages are something to be kept private and mourned in secret.
Connie’s husband was supportive, but he didn’t always know what to do: “I didn’t know how to make her feel better; all I could do was hold her as she cried.” Connie says that “I knew that I was loved and prayed over, but I felt completely empty.”
A friend from church, Linda, reached out to Connie, and even though she didn’t feel particularly social, Connie accepted her invitation. Having experienced several miscarriages of her own, Linda knew just what to say and what not to say. “She prayed with me and just listened. That's the thing about loss: you have to walk through those trials to be a comfort to those in need.”
It was from that experience that Connie began to heal. “I don't shy away from miscarriages or parents who have lost children now because I know their pain and how to minister to them.”
Melissa, lead labor and delivery nurse at a University of Michigan hospital, says mothers often struggle with the thought that their child will be forgotten or replaced. She tries to “meet the parents where they are and acknowledge that their grief is real, that their loss is real, and that their child will not be forgotten.” Though she cannot completely take away their emotional pain, she does her best to give them space and grieve with them. Mothers often need this kind of care.
The March of Dimes estimates that as many as half of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, which means that most people likely know someone who has gone through this tragedy. One way we can support one another is by openly talking about and sharing our experiences; just as Linda comforted Connie, we can help each other commemorate the precious life that was lost and move forward.
The EPLA seeks to help women and families find support in others who have experienced pregnancy loss and overcome the stigma of quietly “getting over it,” because no family should suffer the pain of miscarriage alone.
Mariah Shull is a senior Professional Writing and Information Design major at Cedarville University. She is also active in ROTC.
Remembering Baby Finn
By Caroline Tomlinson
“I was excited. It was the day David was leaving for Finland…I took a test in the morning, and I told him later that day.”
Emily and her husband, David, have two beautiful children and were excited to expand their family. Their youngest was just over 1 year old, and they felt like this was the perfect time to get pregnant again. You can imagine her excitement when two pink lines appeared on the pregnancy test.
Everything was going well. Nothing was different than in her previous two pregnancies. But about 10 days after her positive test, Emily experienced severe migraines. The pain didn’t raise red flags, as this wasn’t abnormal for her. She had an ultrasound, and the technician assured her that everything was OK. But a few days later, she began experiencing more alarming signs of miscarriage.
“I was bleeding a lot and could tell that was it.”
Emily lost the baby.
This baby is affectionately known in the household as Baby Finn, as Emily’s pregnancy took place during David’s trip to Finland. With each pregnancy, Emily was always cautiously excited because she knew miscarriage was a real possibility. Baby Finn was a beautiful reminder that life is precious and ultimately in God’s hands. Emily and David were fortunate to get pregnant a few months later and have since welcomed two more children into their family.
Everyone’s experience is different. Although Emily’s loss wasn’t a physically traumatizing event, she still experienced pain in a different way.
“I had a really hard time for at least a month, but I was never angry with God. The biggest thing was…where is my baby now? It was hard to talk to people about it because they would just be like, ‘oh of course your baby’s in heaven,’ but there’s no Bible verse that says that. That was really hard.”
Miscarriage brings different pain for each mother. Emily said, “For me, it was not so much healing from the loss of my baby, as it was, can I trust God with the eternal destiny of my children?”
Emily didn’t dwell on the loss of her baby. Instead, she wrestled with the hard, unanswerable questions of what happened to her baby. Was her baby in heaven? Will she meet it face-to-face one day? She didn’t know. The month following her miscarriage, her tears flowed as the question remained unanswered. Her husband supported her and encouraged her with scripture. She also received encouragement from her pastor and other mothers who had gone through miscarriages.
The encouragement of others, verses in scripture, and the peace of the Lord helped Emily find rest in God’s sovereignty. Those who have not experienced the loss of miscarriage can learn from Emily’s experience. You never know how a mother is struggling with the loss of her baby. She, like Emily, may not be wrestling with anger toward God for taking her baby away. The pain may be different, and that’s OK.
Emily also offered another perspective into how she’s doing, years later. “It’s not hard for me anymore…now we talk about Baby Finn, and it’s a sweet part of our family. I feel like there needs to be an acceptance of that, too. I hope I would not be looked at as not caring about my baby, because I’ve been able to rest in that Baby Finn is with the Lord and a sweet part of our family. I wouldn’t want there to be guilt if you’re just OK.”
The Early Pregnancy Loss Association seeks to walk alongside women in any stage of grief. For people like Emily, it may not be grief as much as it is unrest and uncertainty. The EPLA understands all women grieve differently, and their mission is to encourage women to speak freely about their loss and pain.
Everyone experiences grief differently, and Emily has been able to rest in her belief that her baby is in heaven. Mothers should feel comfortable speaking freely about their miscarriage, whether that be grief resulting in anger or heartbreak leading to peace and rest.
Everyone’s experience is different, and that’s perfectly OK.
Caroline Tomlinson is a junior Professional Writing and Information Design major at Cedarville University
By Emily Carrington EPLA President and Founder
It was late afternoon on a Saturday or Sunday. It was early March, and we lived in Texas at the time. Looking at today’s date, it was probably about seven years ago, give or take a few days.
I was starting to make a grocery list and thinking about what we would have for dinner that night. Suddenly I had the urge to take a pregnancy test - because you know, if I was pregnant, I should be focusing on all the good foods and avoiding all the bad foods. (You were my first pregnancy, and there was so much I didn’t know. I certainly didn’t know that by my 5th pregnancy I would be sharing slightly germy/slobbery McDonald’s fries with your sister Abigail and call it a win because I kept some food down! With you the standards started high).
Minutes later, I knew you were there! You were inside of me. My first baby. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with all the things I didn’t know. What ARE good pregnancy foods? What about bad foods? How do I take care of this child?
I told your dad about you, and he was thrilled! We were so ready for you. We were so glad you existed.
We decided on Chipotle because I could load up on some good protein and veggies. That was one of the last decent meals I ate.
For a while, only daddy and I knew about you. I remember going to a dinner party with friends and thinking about you the whole time.Every time I passed on the wine or the champagne, I thought about you.
During church I nibbled on Saltines, and the woman who sat in front of us figured out you were in there. But most people never picked up on the clues.
We were going to keep you a secret for two more months, but we just couldn’t wait anymore. We really wanted to tell your grandparents and your aunts and uncles you were in there. We went to Toys R Us and tried to come up with a cute way to tell everyone about you.
We bought the book “Are You My Mother?” and a cute little onesie. We added a piece of paper to the title so it read “Are You My Grandmother?” We then took a picture of the book with the onesie and sent it on to our parents. Then we waited in excited silence for their reply.
Grandma and Grandpa were the first to respond. They called confused and unsure what the text meant. I think we woke them up in the middle of a Sunday afternoon nap. When they figured it out, they were so excited!
Your Nana and Pop Pop were so excited, too!
A few days later we found out your cousin Tucker was on the way. Everyone was so excited you were here, with us.
Sadly, we never got to name you. We didn’t know yet if you were an Abigail or a David. It turns out you were neither. We called you Baby and we still call you Baby, because that is the name we knew you by.
Your life was so short, and it is often clouded over with grief. But I want you to know I do remember the good stuff, I think of you with so much fondness and joy. I know you were here with us. I know you were real. And I know you are worth celebrating.
Emily Carrington is a freelance writer, wife, mother, and founder of the EPLA.
By: Kathryn Wales
Losing my daughter at 16 weeks gestation was a time of both personal breakdown and communal buildup. I could not have anticipated how much my friendships would grow in the torn soil of my soul, or how much my marriage could prosper thereafter.
Miscarriage was not talked about much in my social circle until it happened to me, partly because mine came after we had announced the pregnancy publicly and because I was eager to talk in order to process it. Within the span of the following year, 11 of my friends would miscarry, and several of their babies now lie beside mine in a plot tucked inside Notre Dame’s cemetery.
Together—without resources or scripts beyond instinct, desire, and hope—we developed a way of grieving such a unique loss. We laid our tiny children to rest in the earth and marked their spots with stone as if we had seen them grow up and had not just felt it; as if we had heard their voices and could remember their smell; as if their names could conjure entire personalities. We did what people have always done for their dead and were immensely blessed to be able to do so.
Whenever I visit Theodora’s grave, I see those other surnames and think about those dear parents—our true friends who wept with us, prayed with us, made meals for us, and received all this back in their turn. I send photos of the graves to those who live too far away to visit as often as they wish, and ask how they are faring. They know I mean it in a deeper sense, from our place of shared trauma. And even when there is not world enough and time to reconnect with each other, this special kind of care helps us to reconnect with ourselves. We look at the scar that has become part of our identity. Together, we remember those members of our families who wait for us on the other side.
Those particular witnesses are not part of my regular life anymore, save one: my husband. He and I grieved differently in the immediate aftermath and struggled to understand each another’s pain and process. I was desperate to see my own parents, feeling I had to care for them, while he delayed our journey because he could not leave without oiling the wooden wardrobe. Unable to care for our daughter, each of us wanted to care for someone, for something vulnerable.
Then we did what we were advised not to do and conceived again as soon as possible, pushing a necessary period of shared mourning far into the future. It was not until another, much later personal crisis in which I called upon my daughter for help did I realize just how much my husband is part of my very self and I can do nothing, signify nothing, without him. Our children are acts of love made flesh, and every act of unlove dishonors their very existence. That is the meaning of marriage. That is family. Rebuilding in the light of that hard won wisdom is the brightest way of being.
I recently returned to thank her for the goodness that my husband and I enjoy in this new season of life. I saw my friends’ names and wished them the same new intimacy. The heart is certainly fuller for having loved and lost and loved again.
Miscarriage: 15 Years Later
Fifteen years ago, I woke up bleeding. I had only had a positive pregnancy test a few days before, and we had only been married a few months and weren't trying to get pregnant. We were still very much wrapping our heads around the idea of a baby, but it had never crossed our innocent minds that we might not even end up with a baby in our arms in nine months. Suddenly, that morning, my heart was racing and we were driving to the ER, where they would confirm a "spontaneous abortion." I hated seeing that word "abortion" on my paperwork and wondered later if my bloodwork showed that I had really even been pregnant.
We hadn't yet had our first OB appt. (It was scheduled for a few days later, and of course the doctor’s office called to remind me of it the next week, even though the pregnancy was over). We hadn't seen a heartbeat. I only had one positive pregnancy test and a few other symptoms.
I've always wondered, because of this, if there really was a baby or for some reason my body just thought I was pregnant. It is surely hard to see the heartbeat and then have a loss, but it's also hard not to have ever seen that heartbeat - at least for me.
Clearly, we had thought we were going to have a baby, though, and we mourned that loss. The baby we weren't sure we wanted we suddenly wanted more than anything. We hadn't yet said anything to our parents, and when we called them that evening to tell them of the early morning visit to the ER, they were full of unhelpful comments like, "Well, it's probably for the best since you just got married," "You're young and have plenty of time to have children," and even, "Well, I'm not ready to be a grandpa yet anyway." What?!
Physically, I was fine pretty quickly, but emotionally, I didn't know what to make of my great desire to get pregnant again as soon as I could. Now aware that every pregnancy didn't end in a baby, I couldn't stop worrying that we were going to face this cross again and again. All of my thoughts about the future and prudential "family planning" were out the window. I just wanted a healthy baby, or babies, as quickly as possible.
We didn't really talk a lot about our changed perspective (that I can remember), but we made no effort to avoid pregnancy from that point forward and I happily, and frighteningly, got pregnant on my next (delayed) cycle. The early days were met with much trepidation and I said a prayer every time I pulled my pants down to use the bathroom. I did have some spotting (of course while we were out of town and I couldn't easily get to the doctor), but it resolved without any issues.
Nine months later, we welcomed our first child (do we call her that? I never know...) with no major complications, thanks be to God. We've gone on to have six more children since then and no more losses. But that first pregnancy ending how it did changed everything for us. We didn't really plan to have a large family. I didn't really think of children as a gift from God, but really more of a semi-controlled natural consequence of marriage. I quickly learned that we're not in control, and even without further losses, have only become more and more aware of that as I've watched dear friends struggle with infertility, miscarriages, and stillbirth.
Other friends struggle with more frequent, unexpected pregnancies than they feel they can handle. Or spouses who aren't open to more children that a mother desperately wants. Or health issues that make it extremely imprudent to seek out another pregnancy even when more children are desperately wanted by both parents. Crosses and suffering abound when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth, but so does joy. Some people just get different proportions of both, for reasons only God can know. Even well removed from my loss, I have never really been able to enjoy pregnancy, and I wonder how much of that is just because of that first stressful experience of it.
You never forget the children you lost even when you have a houseful of others. Every other pregnancy and child born is "impacted" by that loss--you never stop thinking about how if that child had survived, you likely wouldn't have had "x" or "y" child--or maybe all of them if that loss hadn't come first. I don't know exactly why God "put us through" that first loss, but today I can primarily look back with a feeling of gratitude, as without that experience, I expect I would be leading a completely different life. I would be a very different person. I never would have accepted children so willingly, joyfully, and thankfully from the Lord. I would not have such firsthand experience and awareness about how much in our lives we cannot control. I would not be surrounded by all of this love without that spell of sorrow 15 years ago. Not that I am really glad we went through it, but the final fruits feel beautiful this morning, even amid the sadness that always comes with this day,
Written anonymously by a loving mother and friend of the EPLA on the 15th anniversary of her loss.
By Brittni Faircloth Guest Writer
I was an only child growing up. I never babysat or had any real experience with babies. That is not ideal when wanting to start your own family! I always told myself growing up that I would never have kids. I never saw myself as being the motherly type.
I met my husband in 2011 and we got married in 2016. In August 2019, we decided to start trying to have a baby. I see all over social media the seemingly high rates of infertility, so when I found I was pregnant just a few months later, I was shocked!
I found a doctor, and she was highly recommended from what I saw online. We were so excited about our little baby that we told all of our close friends and family almost immediately. I called the doctor to set up my first appointment, but they didn’t want me to come in until I was 8 weeks along. This way, they could see the baby better on the ultrasound. I didn’t think twice about this, but I wish I would’ve. We anxiously waited for Nov. 6, 2019, to come so that we could see our little jelly bean for the first time! We had the whole day planned. We both took the day off from work, our appointment was around 11 a.m., and we planned a photoshoot around 3 p.m. After our photoshoot, we were going to announce it to the rest of our family, friends, and the whole world if we could.
Nov. 6 came, and it will be a day I will never forget. We did the whole routine checkup, answering tons of questions, etc. It was finally time to do the ultrasound. I laid on the table with my husband sitting in a chair by my side. The nurse inserted the ultrasound wand, and there it was! Our little jelly bean. My husband grabbed my arm and shook it excitedly. As soon as I saw the screen I immediately knew something wasn’t right. I couldn’t even form words before the nurse numbly said, “The baby is measuring small, and there isn’t a heartbeat. I will go get the doctor so she can talk to you about your options.” She pulled the ultrasound wand out and walked out.
Just like that. Like it was no big deal. I just laid on the table unable to do anything or say anything. My husband put his head in his hands sitting in the chair next to me and it was just silence for what felt like hours. We finally got it together and I got up and got dressed. The doctor came in and said that she was sorry and discussed our options. First, we could wait for the baby to naturally come out. Second, they could give me medication to force the baby out. Third, I could have a D&C procedure to surgically remove the baby. She said for us to think it over and to let them know what we wanted to do. Then they sent us on our way.
My head was spinning. I couldn’t even process what she was saying to us or what I was feeling or thinking. I was shocked at how nonchalant they acted. It felt like we were just another number to them. This tragedy might be something they see multiple times a day, but we were completely blindsided. I had no complications, no pains, and no warning signs that this would be the outcome for us. Maybe I was too naïve about it. Miscarriages happen but I never once even thought that it could happen to us. No one in my direct family has had this happen, so miscarriage wasn’t something we even talked about.
One of the worst things we had to do was call everyone that knew and tell them the bad news. It was awful. We repeatedly had to say over and over again that we lost the baby. My mom came over that afternoon to be there for us. She talked to us about getting a second opinion. I didn’t even think about this at the time because my head was flooded with emotions and questions that I couldn’t even comprehend. Maybe we got the dates wrong. Maybe the baby was only X amount of weeks instead of X like we thought. We didn’t want to decide to have surgery or force the baby about via medication if there was still the slightest chance of a positive outcome. I didn’t get my hopes up, but we decided to give it a try.
We called the doctor that a previous OBGYN I had used suggested. Looking back at it, I wish we would’ve gone to them first. They were able to see us the very next day. Going to their office was a complete 180 from going to the first office. They were so compassionate and sympathetic and made us feel comfortable even though we were going through something traumatic. They did the ultrasound and confirmed what the first doctor told us. The baby had stopped progressing, and there wasn’t a chance of a miracle. They even gave us ultrasound pictures; something the first doctor neglected to do.
We asked my mom to go with us to this appointment because she is a question asker, and I felt like I needed her there in case our heads were too in the clouds to comprehend anything.
This doctor strongly recommended having the surgery. He said he encourages patients who have miscarriages around the 9 week mark to have the surgery, due to how dangerous a natural passing can be for the mother -- mainly because of excessive bleeding, cramping, and the possibility of hemorrhaging. The first doctor never told us this! I was terrified to do the surgery. Once I noticed my husband asking more and more questions about the surgery, I knew he would rather me to do it since it was the safer option.
My surgery was scheduled the very next day. My husband, mom, stepdad, and grandparents were there. The nurses did my work up, and everyone gave me a kiss and left the room. I had a few moments by myself, and I remember putting my hand on my belly and telling the baby that I was so sorry that this was happening. Before I knew it, I was being wheeled back to the operating room. Honestly, the work up and waking up from anesthesia took longer than the actual surgery did. My nurses were so awesome and kind. They helped me from check in to helping me get in the car to go home. I was told to be prepared for a lengthy time of heavy bleeding and cramping and was prescribed a few medications for pain. Luckily, the side effects weren’t too terrible for me.
Three days. That was the time span from being super excited for our first appointment, finding out we lost the baby, getting a second opinion, and having surgery. It all happened so fast. We got so many texts and calls from family and friends checking on us. People even sent us food. I think I was on an adrenaline rush from everything because I was actually OK for the first little bit. Yes, I cried a bunch, but I was OK. I think my survival mode kicked in because I didn’t really have any other choice but to be OK. I felt like I just survived something extremely tragic and if I could handle that, I could take on anything the world threw at me.
The sadness really didn’t start to set in until a few weeks later. I found myself getting very emotional; I would cry all the time. I was feeling extremely anxious, and I would get overwhelmed very easily. Women get post-partum depression after giving birth but what about women that experience a miscarriage? I am not sure if there is any depression named after experiencing a miscarriage. If there isn’t, there should be, because it is just as serious and I definitely had it. I had so many emotions at one time that it was frightening. Going from extremely sad to even embarrassed when people talked about my miscarriage. Why embarrassment? I have no idea, but I felt it. I felt like I failed and that I was already a bad mother because I couldn’t protect my baby.
The only person that I could really talk to about it was my husband. He was the only one that really knew what I was feeling. I couldn’t talk to any women in my direct family because no one had experienced this and they couldn’t really relate to what I was feeling. Even my husband told me that he couldn’t really understand what I was going through because it was different for me. He lost a baby too, but I was dealing with it emotionally and physically while he was just dealing with it emotionally. He was right: it hit me a lot harder than it hit him. The emotions had a longer impact on me than it did him.
Everyone says to not blame yourself, but how can you not? How can you not blame yourself when you were the one carrying the baby? One of the hardest things for me is the “not knowing" aspect of it. We will never know what really happened and why we lost the baby. We will never know if it was a boy or a girl. We will never know what his or her personality would’ve been like.
One thing that haunts me is how silent everyone is about miscarriages. It is like no one wants to talk about it or bring it up. Through this experience I have learned that many of my friends have had this happen to them, but they never said anything. It’s like there’s a stigma around it. I felt like everyone was walking on eggshells around me. This needs to end!
Women everywhere shouldn’t feel isolated or alone through this difficult time. It just makes it worse. We need more support groups and more people that will openly share their stories to help others. We need more awareness so women aren’t blindsided like I was.
After my surgery, my period cycles were not regular, so it was hard to tell ovulation dates, fertile windows, etc. It was so frustrating when I would get my period. I was so frustrated that we were having to start the process all over. I spent two months feeling sick and dealing with pregnancy symptoms and had to start all over.
It took a little bit of time, but I am now four months pregnant with my rainbow baby! So far everything is perfectly fine, and the baby is healthy.
As soon as I found out I was pregnant I called my doctor. I am sticking with my “second opinion” doctor’s office, the one that performed my surgery, because we love them so much. They had me come in the very next day to confirm the pregnancy and do blood work. If the first doctor would’ve done this during my first pregnancy, it possibly could’ve prevented my miscarriage because we discovered that my progesterone level was too low. They prescribed me medication, and I started taking it immediately.
After further research I found out that low progesterone levels cancan lead to miscarriage. This could’ve been the reason for my miscarriage last year. Unfortunately, by the time the first doctor decided to see me, it was too late. Obviously, we will never know for sure if this is the reason for the miscarriage, but it makes sense in my head.
In February 2020, I decided to start seeing a therapist to help me cope with all of these emotions. She has helped me get through it step by step, and I am in a lot better place mentally and emotionally. I will say that I have learned so much from this experience. I had no idea how common miscarriages are. According to my doctor, every 1 in 4 women will experience this. It is also common to experience a miscarriage on your first pregnancy and then have a completely healthy pregnancy after a miscarriage. If you are currently experiencing this now, just know it will get better. Only time and support can heal a pain like this. Keep your chin up, momma!
By Stephanie Gordon EPLA Editor
When I went through my miscarriage, I didn’t share the news with the world until years later. I felt like talking about miscarriage was still a silent topic – even in 2012. When I shared the news with my 86-year-old grandma, Rosemary, she told me she, too, had lost a baby four months into a pregnancy. Her loss was something we never talked about until recently.
In 1962, she became pregnant with her third child. Four months later, she lost her baby. At the time of her miscarriage, she had two healthy girls.
“I didn’t talk to anyone about it,” Rosemary said. “Back then, miscarriage was kept a secret and wasn’t talked about. It wasn’t a good experience.”
My grandma worked in a local school system at the time of her miscarriage. She made an appointment with her doctor before going to work one morning. She was experiencing blood loss, and wanted to determine if she was losing her child.
“My doctor confirmed that I was losing the baby,” she said. “Back then, there weren’t options like there are today. The laws were different. I felt so helpless.”
If you have experienced miscarriage, you know that there are options for mothers experiencing loss. A few options would be to pass the baby naturally, a D&C (dilation and curettage), or a pill, usually misoprostol, to help complete the miscarriage. My grandma’s only option was to wait to pass the baby naturally. To this day, she believes her doctor wished he could have helped more.
She continued to work even though she was losing her child. She remembered crying to her doctor as she waited for her baby to pass. He again told her that he could do nothing to help her.
A few days after bleeding began, my grandma passed her baby during the night at home. My grandpa stayed by her side as she delivered the baby. Apparently in the ’60s, it was common practice to be admitted to a hospital after miscarriage for close monitoring.
“I stayed in the hospital for a day-and-a-half,” Rosemary said. “I felt so relieved that it was all over. I went home and it was fine.”
My grandma went on to tell me that back then, women didn’t talk to their doctor, family, or friends about the things they do now. This was interesting to me. Was this a generation that just dealt with the situations they were put in with little support? Were they forced to bottle up their emotions and act like nothing happened? Sort of like an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality? It felt as though it was.
After my grandma’s miscarriage, her doctor said that she wouldn’t be able to have more healthy children. I’m not sure what made him think that – maybe because she had experienced miscarriage. But, two years later, she became pregnant with my mother. She birthed one last healthy child, and I am so incredibly happy she’s here.
Stephanie Gordon is a paleo food enthusiast, wife, full-time SAHM of two girls with one on the way, marketing professional, and blogger. You can follow her on Instagram at @stephgordonblog.
By: Sonja Bindus
I was pregnant with my first child and was very excited for her arrival. I was a teacher at that time, working with toddler/preschool-aged children. There was much relief when I had passed through the first trimester with no complications or issues.
It was the end of my second trimester when I became very ill with pneumonia. My cough was so severe that my doctor considered hospitalizing me because he was concerned my oxygen levels were low. However, I seemed to progress in my recovery with antibiotics, so my doctor was no longer worried about my health or my baby. My husband and I drew a breath of relief and continued on with anticipation of the arrival of our baby.
A few weeks passed and a friend of ours, who was an ultrasound tech, offered to do an ultrasound so we could have a peek at our baby. Of course we jumped at the chance. At that appointment we would hear some devastating news. As soon as my friend started the ultrasound, I noticed her face and knew immediately something was terribly wrong. I asked her if my baby had died, and she sadly confirmed.
Because I was 20 weeks along, the process of delivering my baby was by far the most difficult thing I had ever faced. Fortunately, I had a wonderfully supportive doctor and nursing staff who tended to me through 12 hours of induced labor. After a few minutes of holding my baby, I had to say goodbye to the most beautiful child I had carried and loved. The loss left a hole in my soul that I will never be able to fully replace.
As a part of my aftercare, my doctor ordered a series of bloodwork. The bloodwork revealed I had CMV, or Cytomegalovirus. CMV is a virus that is prevalent with children under the age of five. Because I had daily exposure to children of that age, I knew I had contracted it from one of my students. This stirred up a new set of emotions within me.
My first instinct was to get pregnant again as soon as possible. However, I learned that until my body started producing antibodies against CMV, it was not safe for me to become pregnant. That took about six months.After my body began producing antibodies, my focus became self-care, health, and conceiving. God definitely knew my soul needed healing and blessed us with a healthy pregnancy and delivery the following year.
The loss of my child changed me dramatically. The sanctity of life became much clearer after loss, and I treasured it even more than before. For a while I became obsessed with germs and keeping my hands clean, especially at work. While I’m still mindful of clean hands, I now focus more on general wellness strategies for the school I am now the director of. It is my goal to educate parents on how they can best care for their sick child and also on the reasons sick children should not attend school. There are many people who have compromised immune systems, and they are at greater risk for developing severe symptoms of viral and bacterial infections.
My advice to parents who have lost a child would be to find a way to grieve together and with others closest to you. The tragedy of loss can only be understood by those who have experienced great loss of their own. Also, faith was a big component in my healing, and it carried me through my darkest days.
I did not share my story with many people, but most people knew my story because I was halfway through my pregnancy when it happened. Not many approached me or talked with me about it, other than saying, “I’m so sorry.” I did reach out to people who had miscarried and mentioned to them I had experienced loss like theirs. Sharing the whole story was very painful and mostly made me uncomfortable. I thought at one time that I should seek out a support group, but there wasn’t anything close to our hometown at that time - 23 years ago.
I proceeded to have three children and kept my focus on their lives and to be present with them each day. My children know about their sister that died, and from time to time her name, Emaline, comes up. She is never forgotten and I think of her often and look forward to reuniting with her one day in heaven.
Sonja Bindus resides in Hillsdale, MI, and is a wife and mother to three children. Sonja, a Hillsdale College alumna, is the head of Early Childhood Education and the director of the Mary Randall Preschool at Hillsdale College.
By: Clara Meli
I took a deep breath and began to rethink what I was about to do. If I asked this, would I be an insensitive daughter? But, if I didn’t ask, would I be an uncaring sister? Some questions are better left unanswered, but I wanted to know. I swallowed hard. I whispered, “Did they have names?”
As a child, I asked a lot of questions. Information delighted me, and if something confused me, I would always strive to understand it. One day, I heard my brother mutter about another brother he would have had if… If what? I failed to grasp the rest of his speech. Something happened, and everyone seemed to know but me. If I had another brother, where was he? Did he leave us? How could he? How did I not know about him? Why did we never speak of him?
After this, I came to my mom seeking answers. In a way I can’t remember, it was conveyed to me that I had two siblings who were lost in an event titled “miscarriage.” I was young, and I was unable to fully comprehend the extent of what this meant right away. My brain needed time to process this information, and slowly it began to make sense to me. I finally connected the dots when I was playing with my friends. I stopped playing abruptly, and my face displayed concern and anguish. My companions pleaded with me to tell them what was wrong, but I couldn’t articulate the words. Two of my siblings were dead. They were gone, and they were not coming back.
When I realized this, I fell into fear. I assumed talking about this would upset people. Surely, Mom did not wish to discuss what happened, so I would do everything possible to avoid alluding to what I knew. This would be a traumatic memory that we all would need to repress. I didn’t wish to cause more pain, so instead of addressing the pain, I decided to ignore it. To prevent future grief, the elephant in the room had to be ignored and forgotten.
Grief is an unusual concept. From my experience, grief feels as if my internal organs have been carved out of my body. It makes me feel empty. When I connect this to miscarriage, my heart aches, and I can’t imagine how a mother feels after this happens. The physicality of the emptiness is much more real, and the grief is personal. How could I let the control of my curiosity manipulate me to rub salt into such a deep wound?
While these were my initial thoughts, I didn’t want to forget about my siblings. On the contrary, I desired to know everything about them. When were their birthdays? Were they girls or boys? Did they have names?
There was no way I could walk away from this, but I resolved to approach the matter gently. I waited for a peaceful moment before I brought my questions to her. She looked directly into my eyes. Her voice broke a little. “One of them was too young to tell the gender,” she slowed her speech as she continued, “but the other was a boy, and I always like to think of him as Timothy.”
His name was Timothy. I did have another brother, and his name was Timothy. I wondered if we would have called him “Timmy.” Would he have been my close friend? Would my brother and he have been best friends? What would Timothy like to do? What about my other sibling? Would he or she have been my friend? What would he or she like to do?
I found myself missing people I had never met. Their lives began and ended before I was even a thought in my parents’ minds, yet I feel the pain of their loss. A multitude of questions continue to attack my brain. I don’t have all the answers, but that is okay. I know that my siblings were created in the image of God and their lives had a purpose. Though I miss them and wonder about what might have been, my disconnected sorrow allows me to look forward to the day when I will meet them.
Clara Meli is a Professional Writing major at Cedarville University.
By: Chelsea Luedecking
For the last 31 years, October 15th has been an ordinary day. The older I get, the more I appreciate these ordinary days - but not this year. October 15 represents pregnancy and infant loss day. This year marks the first year I knew this day even existed because it’s the first year since we lost you and became members of the club no one wants to be a part of.
We should be putting the finishing touches on our baby’s nursery and preparing our sons for their new sibling - instead the only thing I have left of you is a small diamond I wear on my neck next to two others that symbolize your brothers. As simple as it is, it brings me overwhelming comfort. You are with me wherever I go, and today is the day I finally have the courage to share you with the world.
Our society has no clue how to deal with miscarriage. It makes people uncomfortable and one way to avoid this is to just not talk about it. By ignoring it, it’s almost as if I’m pretending you never existed - but my sweet love, you were loved from the very moment you were created. I’m sorry I can’t find the strength to share more about you - to wonder who you would have been, if you’d share the same bright blue eyes as your brothers; your dads loving demeanor or my empathetic heart. You deserved more than I was able to give you - but you will always be a part of our story.
For me, losing you has caused so much guilt and shame. Everything runs through my head. My baths were too hot. I drank too much kombucha. I was too stressed. I worked too hard and slept too little. I should have known. How did I not know what was happening to my body? I’m so sorry, my love. We all know none of it would have made a difference, but then the doubt sets in. Maybe. Maybe not - but maybe. The guilt for my boys. I’m sorry I’ve been detached as your mama lately. I’m hurting so much for reasons you’re too young to understand. I’m trying my best but I know it’s not good enough. I’m sorry for the sibling you’ll never know, but I can promise you, you’ll meet one day.
Our society has no clue how to deal with miscarriage. It makes people uncomfortable and one way to avoid this is to just not talk about it. By ignoring it, it’s almost as if I’m pretending you never existed - but my sweet love, you were loved from the very moment you were created.
The guilt for my husband. I’m sorry for falling apart. For the nights I need to cry and be alone. I know you’re experiencing this loss with me, but it feels more raw for me. I’m sorry I can’t be there for you how I need you there for me, it’s not fair. None of this is fair, but it’s our new reality.
I believe with my WHOLE heart that God makes no mistakes. Your life had a purpose and happened for a reason. Although I don’t know that reason yet, I pray every.single.day that God exposes his truth for your life to me so I can start to understand why. Your life has completely changed my perspective. I find joy in small moments, I love your brothers harder, I cherish each day, I worry less, I admire your dad more, I care less about what others think of me, and I trust God on a deeper level. Your precious, short life has forever changed me.
I hope your story brings comfort to others. That suffering mamas read about you and feel emboldened to grieve aloud if they need to. Through these reflections, maybe they will see how much I love and value them and their miscarried children. Regardless, Little One, of how your story affects others, I hold on to one thing above all else: you will always be my baby, and I will always be your mama.
Chelsea Luedecking is a Hillsdale native and Hillsdale College graduate. She is currently on a stay at home mom sabbatical from her work as a school counselor.
Chelsea and her husband, Michael, and live in Jackson, MI. They have two beautiful boys, Maxwell (6) and Hendrix (3) with their expected rainbow due this Christmas!