A little while ago I was asked to write an article about my experience of miscarriage. I received some really kind and positive feedback on it, so thought I would post a slightly edited and abbreviated version here, in case it is helpful to others.
I ve had two miscarriages. Both were very different and both were hard in different ways. I fell pregnant not long after my husband and I got married. Although we hadn’t planned to start having children then, we began to replan our lives around our new, exciting situation. And then very early in the morning on the day of my 12 week scan, my first scan, I woke up and discovered I was bleeding, and bleeding heavily. My midwife advised that I should still go to the scan, which was at 12 noon. I spent the morning feeling helpless with what felt like endless bleeding, and begging God for a miracle that would mean that I didn’t lose the baby. My husband collected me and we went to the scan. We sat in the waiting room, surrounded by happy, heavily pregnant women whilst inside all of me was crying. When I went for my scan, we explained the situation and then had a scan, which showed there was nothing left in my uterus. It was heartbreaking. As we came to terms with the miscarriage and told people what had happened, I was amazed by how many women told me that they too had experienced one or more miscarriages. I discovered that miscarriage is both very common and very taboo as a subject. My husband and I prayed and talked about trying again for another baby after my first miscarriage but decided it was not the right time. Every so often over the years before we started having children, I would see something that reminded me of the loss or a child of the age ours would have been and there would be a tug of grief and sadness.
Time helped the grief significantly, as did having children. With every pregnancy though, I felt on edge and could not just enjoy pregnancy, particularly for the first 12 weeks. I had 2 children and then fell pregnant with what would have been our third child. A dating scan showed that the baby had died at about 7 weeks and I was given the choice of waiting for a natural miscarriage or medical assistance. I opted for a natural miscarriage and ended up waiting a number of weeks before the miscarriage started. That miscarriage felt much more like labour than my first miscarriage. I was trying to pack to go on holiday with friends and would have to pause in my packing with each set of labour pains. We decided to go on holiday still and I was grateful that it was with very good friends with whom I could be very honest. When we returned home, I had another scan and was told that some tissue had been left behind and would need to be removed as it was an infection risk. I was given misoprostol tablets, which unfortunately did not work, and so eventually had to have it removed surgically. The procedure was done in the morning, and I spent the rest of the day in bed at home, feeling empty and deeply sad.
Although both of my miscarriages were difficult, my first miscarriage was harder emotionally whilst my second miscarriage was harder physically. The first miscarriage highlighted to us that we had almost no support network in the city where we lived, particularly at our church – usually our first port of call in crisis. Ultimately we ended up prayerfully moving to a new church. The isolation during that deeply painful emotional experience for my husband and I meant that we learnt to depend more on each other for emotional support and thereby grew our marriage and our relationships with God as we sought Him in our pain and for wisdom about various life decisions that the pregnancy and miscarriage made us face. Both miscarriages have made me face the frailty of life and that all our lives and times are in the Lord’s hands. Through them God has shown us that He is good and loving and dependable even when we don’t understand why events happen as they do. I did not seek to be pregnant before my first miscarriage, let alone to lose that baby, but God taught me much about compassion for others and their unseen experiences through that experience and the stories I was told when others discovered I had had a miscarriage. During my second miscarriage, God showed me His sustaining strength and encouragement through the months-long process from finding out that the baby had died to the day of my surgery and beyond. With hindsight, we also see that His timing is better than ours – we went on to have twins after my second miscarriage, and the timing of their birth was perfect for our older children’s maturity levels and for our family dynamic. I would not have chosen to go through either of my miscarriages or the other hard times in my life, but the Lord has used them to teach me and grow me.
Every person’s experience of miscarriage will be different – in some ways I feel unqualified to talk about miscarriage as I know women who have experienced that heartbreak more times than I have. Miscarriage is incredibly challenging to talk about to other people – with both miscarriages my husband and I went through a grieving process, but it was for hopes and dreams and expectations that were not real for those around us. We found strength and sustaining during those times by praying through our grief and reading the Bible. During my second miscarriage, when we were more part of a church community than during my first miscarriage, we also appreciated sharing the struggle with friends and family who were willing to listen and wanted to help. If you know someone going through miscarriage, I would encourage you to take time to listen when they need to talk, ask how you can help – even a meal might make all the difference – and pray for and with them. Remember that the prospective Dad as well as the prospective Mum have experienced a loss, and grieving for an unseen baby can be a very isolating process. Miscarriage pain is very real and can feel overwhelming and lonely. In the long term, however, I found that God used my pain from miscarriage to grow me as a person and in my faith. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28