Updated: Oct 21, 2019
Miscarriage. I never thought that word would be a part of my story. But it is.
In 2018 Ryan and I walked through a miscarriage. It was terrible and traumatic, there is no other way to say it. Why am I just talking about it now? Bluntly put : I wasn't ready; I was still healing. But also, I'm a big believer in processing pain in the presence of God. I believe He knows you best and gives the best comfort and advice. Sometimes when we share our wounds too early in the name of being vulnerable people who mean well can actually deepen the wound and thwart what the Lord is doing with comments and reactions. We shared this part of our story with a close circle of family and friends who held our hands and walked and wept with us. But with this month holding the title "Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance“, I felt a wave of courage to do my part in adding to this conversation.
I won't go into all the details, but I will say this:
Ryan and I were thrilled to be pregnant for the first time.
I have a journal full of scriptures, prayers, and promises for a child I never get to hold on earth.
I carried this baby in my body for 11 weeks and 6 days only on the eve of my "first trimester complete" to be laying in an emergency room in the middle of the night being told my baby didn't make it.
Ryan and I crumbled, clung, and cried in each other's arms more than anyone will know.
As if the emotional trauma wasn't hard enough, I went home and had 5 hours of contractions and physical pain as my body let go of this pregnancy.
The next few days followed with 8 vaginal ultrasounds, 10 blood tests, and lots of physical pain and bleeding.
Four days later, I stood on a stage and hosted baby dedication at our church as I smiled by faith with countless couples to remind the devil that he messed with the wrong mama.
I have spent MONTHS of weeping in the night from flashbacks, and what-ifs, and what-did-I-do-wrong?
I had a lot of question marks then, and honestly I still do. You can't prepare for this kind of pain. But you can prepare your faith. And my friendship with the Lord is what carried me through. I remember two days after I was laying in bed weeping, Ryan brought me a cinnamon roll (don't underestimate the power of sweet carbs in the grieving process) and wiped my tears and kissed my forehead. He told me, "You are beautiful and strong and need to talk to Jesus. I'm giving you space, I'll be back in an hour. Sing, yell, weep, pray, declare, do whatever you need." (Husbands, we need you to do this. This is a part of protecting and pursuing our hearts.) I've spent thousands of morning minutes in devotion with the Lord, and all of a sudden it felt like those culminating minutes were for this very moment. I felt Jesus sit right beside me, wrap His arms around me, and weep. I journaled, I prayed, I sang, I yelled, I laughed, I danced by faith, and listened to that sweet voice of the Holy Spirit that had navigated me through so many seasons of life. I knew how to stand in faith, but now I needed the Holy Spirit to teach me how to grieve. And He was. He was teaching me how to feel all the emotions in the safety on His presence. When Ryan returned, Laura Hackett Parks was blasting, our bedroom walls were plastered with crayola scripted scriptures, the cinnamon roll was gone, and through my tear stained face he found his Abigail had her twinkle back in her eyes.
"Good chat?" he said in reference to my time with the Lord. "Yes. We had a good chat."
Don't get me wrong, my heart was still shattered, my body still recovering, but you see, even in the midst of pain, I had tapped into my stored oil. I can not tell you how grateful I was to have stored oil! It was my stored oil that poured gladness over me when I was mourning. It was my stored oil that poured into my wounded heart and brought healing. It was my stored oil that lit my candle and gave me the proper place to grieve. It was my stored oil that anointed me to continue to pour when I felt empty. THANK YOU JESUS FOR THAT STORED OIL. (May I take this teacher moment to remind you, you store His oil by spending time in His presence.) So off I went, clenching my lantern of hope, still burning for Jesus even in my time of grief. I went back to teaching and leading and preaching and deeply desiring to carry a child again. It wasn't a perfect process, even right now as I'm typing this blog I'm crying from the pain. Things didn't just click back to normal, BUT the emptiness I felt from the void of carrying a child that was no longer there, I intentionally filled myself with carrying the presence of God, in that brings great redemption. I'm not comparing my story with anyone else. Countless lives have endured much more pain in situations like this. If you are one of those, I'm hugging you right now deeply and tightly. You are not alone.
Here's my advice to help someone who is walking through a miscarriage. As well as my practical tips to those who are still believing for a child. These are phrases and things that DON'T help. Please, don't be this person.
Hearing, "God knew I'm not strong enough to go through something like this. God knew you could handle this."
Being told, "You should thank God, you would have ended up with a special needs/deformed child."
Pretending like nothing happened.
Over spiritualizing things. (I say this as respectfully as possible : a Preaching Pollyanna doesn't help in these situations. (For context : Pollyanna is one of my favorite books and movies about a girl who always sees the silver lining in situations.) I get it, I am totally a Pollyanna who feels like I'm doing God injustice if I sit in negative thinking. But what I had to learn and I hope you can learn from this as well : Faith is about partnering with God in the uncomfortable and unknown. So it is still an act of faith to sit and mourn with a friend.)
These are phrases and things that DO help.
Having someone say, "I'm so sorry. My heart is hurting for you."
Having someone simply listen to you process and bleed without interrupting or trying to "make things better".
Praying through text, in person, or on the phone. (Reading prayers people text was especially helpful to me)
Having someone bring you food. (I found it especially helpful when people gave me two choices instead of asking "What do you want?" Ex: "Would you prefer burgers or enchiladas". Your brain is in shock and making small decisions actually can add to the stress of everything.
Getting a text that says, "I'm in the store right now, what do you need?" You feel loved and don't feel like you're making someone go out of their way to get you something.
Mailing a card.
Hearing women of faith share their story of miscarriage and restoration.
By the grace of God, we got pregnant again within weeks. This brought on a whole new battle ground of fear of the possibility of this happening again. I remember one day, about 8 weeks in, I had a breaking point after being tormented with fear day in and day out. I remember YELLING in my living room, "Devil, you will NOT steal the joy of this pregnancy." In that moment, fear broke. I felt a tangible weight lift and I began laughing. In that moment, I believe Oliver in my womb became our Joy Boy.
I still had to be VERY proactive in protecting my joy.
These are practicals that helped me do so: 1. Communion. I took communion multiple times a day. Anytime I would have a thought of fear, or a "what-if" I would bust out crackers and grape juice and remind myself and God, "Jesus, Our family is in covenant with you. I put my trust in your provision and protection. I resist fear and remember your faithfulness." 2. Worship. I would worship in the bathroom. Because of my personal experience, the bathroom became a traumatic place for me. So at home, in restaurants, at friends houses, you name it- from the second I opened that door I would begin humming, singing, shouting worship songs. Whatever it took to make songs of praise louder that the lies that were being thrown at me. Was it awkward at times? Maybe for others (ha!) but I was doing warfare for my family. 3. Prayer. You know in wedding ceremonies when they read that flowery Ecclesiates 4:12, "a cord of three strands is not quickly broken". Ya. It's in these types of season you feel the weight of that. God unites you with a spouse for strength. I leaned on Ryan SO MUCH in this season. Every flutter I felt (or didn't feel), every thought I had (or didn't have) I would reach out to him, and we would link hands and pray or he would lay his hands on my belly or brain and declare life and truth. 4. Banning Symptom Searching. During the ENTIRE pregnancy I made it illegal for me to look up any symptom online. If something was weird (or should I say when something was weird, because pregnancy is full of awkward stuff) I would tell Ryan, he would look it up and give me the "Yes, that's totally normal for second trimester" report. The internet has a lot of gold in it, but it also has a lot of junk. And one comment in a mom's forum can flood you with fear. If you're still reading, thank you. Posting something this personal takes a lot of courage. I hope my tone and words have honored the Lord. I feel the best way to end a blog like this it to end with a prayer. "Faithful Father, Thank you for bringing healing to my heart, my mind, and my body. I trust in your character to bring redemption from this story, for my family and the body of Christ. Right now I pray for these readers. For those who have walked through this pain, I ask for your grace to cover their heart and body right now. I declare peace in their mind and life in their womb. I ask Father for THOUSANDS of miracle babies to come from this blog of obedience. I release supernatural faith to believe in supernatural conception, development, and delivery. I break the attacks of the enemy that has tried to destroy the lineage of faith in these families. I ask Father for you to grant deep healing for anyone who has experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, or infertility. And for every person who holds a baby, may they never again take that miracle for granted. I love you Jesus, I trust in your character and promise to redeem."
Keep Hope Alive, Abby PS - Don't forget the Cirkles are cheering you on!