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October is Pregnancy and lnfant Loss Awareness Month. I never knew that before this year. I never needed to know. I knew people who had lost babies, but I had five healthy, uneventful pregnancies and beautiful, healthy babies. Now I know grief and healing after miscarriage is hard. I always knew it must be. I tried to empathize with others in their loss before, but now I truly can.
I have five biological children and two adopted children. At age forthy-one God decided to give me another baby. Although we were excited, my husband and I held back the news primarily because we’ve heard all the comments before. See Questioning the Value of a Child.
We were not worried. Yes, I was a little older, but older women have healthy pregnancies all the time. I know several who had babies after forty. I’ve never had problems. Why would this time be any different?
Then very early in the first trimester I started bleeding. I kept researching, praying, and hoping that it was no cause for panic. Many women bleed early on and go on to have normal pregnancies. My doctor tried a sonogram, but it was to early to show much, so he orders a hormone blood test. After a miserable weekend and holiday, he tested again to see if the numbers were increasing as they should. They were almost back to pre-pregnancy level. I had miscarried.
Two months later, I had another positive pregnancy test. This time we hesitated to tell others out of fear. When I had just a tiny bit of spotting, we went on to the doctor. Again, the ultrasound showed nothing helpful, so I had another hormone blood test. Two days later, the levels were increasing, but not at the expected rate. Another ultrasound a week later, showed no growth and the doctor was reasonably confident that the pregnancy wasn’t viable.
For nearly two weeks we continued to hope and pray that God would work a miracle in our baby. His answer was not what we wanted. My doctor told me to expect cramping and a heavier period. What an understatement!
When I finally began miscarrying, the bleeding was sudden and much, much more dramatic than my first miscarriage. I felt like I passed a lot of tissue as I lost my baby (and everything my body was doing to take care of my baby).
Only those with experience can understand the pain of losing a child. Although I know the farther along the pregnancy the harder it must be, it hurts at any stage. Although I know my grief does not compare to that of those who lose a child they’ve seen, held, and loved, I still need time for grief and healing after miscarriage.
6 Keys for Healing After Miscarriage
1. Give yourself permission to grieve.
“Although any miscarriage hurts, but my pain must be so much less than someone who does not have healthy children creating blessed chaos in our home. What do I have to complain about? So many women have been through so much worse.”
Grief is both normal and necessary. With each miscarriage, I lost a baby I loved and valued, just as God loves and values all of His children. In the midst of my first miscarriage, I read a post from the Courageous Mom. It Is Good to Grieve the Loss of Your Unborn Baby. This mom, who is in a strikingly similar place in life as I, helped me let go of any guilt I had about grieving. We need to grieve.
Also, remember ours husbands lost a baby, too. These keys for healing after miscarriage apply to him as well. Grieve and heal together.
2. Grieve in your own time and your own way.
“I still cry, but not constantly. Sometimes I am fine, then suddenly my eyes filled up without warning. I don’t want to be away from my husband for long. Shouldn’t I be getting over this by now?”
Everyone grieves and heals differently. It’s okay. Don’t listen to how the world tells you to move on. Listen to your heart and give it time. Don’t feel guilty about your tears or lack of tears, or your need to be alone or your need to stay around people, your thoughts of your baby or not thinking of your baby enough.
Although everyone must grieve in their own time and way, some need more help than others. When grief turns into a depression that regular interferes with daily life, seek out a Christian counselor or family therapist who can guide you through the grief process. There is no shame in asking for help.
“Sometimes, I am so angry with God. I just don’t understand how this could be a part of His plan.”
Pray, even when you don’t have the words. Be honest with God. Share with Him your anger, questions, and pain. He can handle it. (The Psalms are full of honest emotions and questions.) But keep trusting in His character, His goodness, and His love for you.
Christian friends, only God can heal. Our Father is the “God of all comfort.” Let Him hold you as you grieve and He heals.
One night after my second miscarriage, I stayed up late crying and taking to God. I wanted to badly to stop bleeding. It was a constant reminder of my loss. Also, I could not think of my baby’s name. So I went to my Father with these requests. Within a few minutes of going to bed, He brought the name to my mind. The next day, though not gone, the bleeding began to taper off. I felt so loved and cared for by the One who willingly gave up His Son for me.
4. Give your unborn baby a name.
The first time I miscarried, we already had a gender neutral middle name that we decided to give our unborn child. We call our baby Shepherd. Like King David in the Bible, he or she was our eighth child. Though others may not see value in this life (David was overlooked when his brothers were called anointing a king, remember?), God does and so do we.
The second time, God gave me the name Shannon. When I looked up the meaning and found “God is gracious” I knew the name was from Him. My Heavenly Father used our baby’s name to bring healing after miscarriage.
5. Find your unique source of comfort.
“This certain song reminds me of my baby. Though it often brings tears, somehow, it also gives me peace.”
For me, music is my source of comfort. The Courageous Mom posted We Will Worship While Weeping, a list of songs that encourage us to worship inspite of, through, and even for our pain. I began compiling my own playlist. I used some of the songs she suggested, but began with one that I sang throughout our adoption journey. It Is Well, by Bethel Music reminds me that God is still in control and no matter the circumstances, I can say it is well with my soul. I listened to it online, I worked on playing the piano music, I sang and I cried, but found comfort and healing after miscarriage through music.
What brings you comfort? Maybe it is music or writing. Maybe it is running or crafting or drawing. Perhaps getting outside and taking in the beauty of nature soothes your soul. Find the unique source of comfort for you, then take the time to indulge. It is a gift from God.
6. Tell a few close friends and family.
“If people know, then I will tear up every time they ask how I am doing or say they are praying for me.”
My husband, who is a pastor, really felt the need to share our struggle with our deacons and Sunday School class. (We had only told our family and a couple close friends.) Very reluctantly, I agreed and soon we had a group of Christian friends praying for us.
As I shared with one of our deacon’s wives, she expressed how good, but unique it is to be a part of a church family where a pastor could trust something so intimate to his deacons. I told her the hard part of so many people knowing was how to hold back the tears when they gave encouragement. She said, “We don’t expect you to.”
God instructs the church to “bear one another’s burdens” and “weep with those who weep.” Christian friends, the body of Christ is our family. Let them love and pray for you. Maybe just tell a few and trust them to keep confidence. I was surprised how many women told me they knew what I was going through. So many hide the pain of miscarriage, but though it is very personal, it is not shameful. Your Christians brothers and sisters can be a significant part of healing after miscarriage.
A Friend or Your Mother
All of the gory details may continue to run through your mind for a while. Tell a friend or maybe your mom the details. Talk about what you experienced as you lost your baby. Getting those thoughts out can help with healing after miscarriage.
A sweet friend came over for just a few minutes during the worst part. She has never experienced miscarriage, but is a mom and was interested in the details. Another friend who happens to be a doula, had an experience very similar to mine. It is good to know some else understands. Although I hope I didn’t worry her too much, my mama listened in love as well.
Healing after miscarriage is not easy or quick, but healing after miscarriage will come.
You can get through this. Then you can help others through their process of healing as well.
Today, I still think of my babies often. At my age I do not know if God will bless me with another child. These may be my last and I will meet them someday, but meanwhile, I can rejoice as I remember my children are in the arms of Jesus whose face was the first one their eyes beheld.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NKJV
If you’ve experienced healing after miscarriage, what helped you? Please share in the comments below to help others heal as well.