Today is Bereaved Mother’s Day, for mothers who have lost a child. Mother’s Day can bring up a lot — whether you are trying to conceive and have not yet, experiencing infertility or if you have lost a child in the womb or on earth. Last year Mother’s Day was hard in a different way, I had kept receiving negative after negative test and that in itself was something I grieved monthly. This year, having gone through a miscarriage last September, there is a different kind of grief, naturally. Had I not miscarried, I also would be giving birth this May. That’s a sting in a different way. I just know so many are going through the same thing and I know approaching this week will bring up a lot, so I wanted to share a few things that helped me when I initially miscarried as well as dealing with the aftermath.
I want you to remember this before continuing to read the rest of my post:
“You are still a mom, even if your babies are in heaven. You’re a still a mom, even if your babies only exist in the longing of your heart.” – Kierra Butcher (who also illustrated this beautiful piece for us above)
My positive pregnancy test, September 2019.
I honoured my loss
One of the things we do, especially at an early stage of pregnancy is try to dismiss or minimize how big of a loss this truly was. Miscarriage at any stage of pregnancy is hard, and comparing yourself to those who do further along in theirs or have stillborns, is not helpful to your process of grief. Of course, perspective is so necessary but you still had a loss. This was a baby we had prayed for all year, we had so many hopes and thought our prayers were finally being answered and then it was just all over. There was nothing I could do or did wrong that caused this. It was simply just not meant to be. I still remember deleting all of the apps from my phone that were showing me our baby’s progress week by week and the gutting feeling when the app apologized for my loss. It sounds silly, but I cried at the message that popped up on my screen more than I did hearing it from others in my life. Acknowledging this loss was important. We live in the fall and there is a ton of brokenness on earth and this is part of that broken aspect of our world. I am not broken. This was a loss of life, of our hopes, of our dreams for this little life, of our prayers to hold him or her and sing them to sleep. A loss is a loss.
I turned to God and my mentors…
One of the greatest gifts I felt during my miscarriage (and if you are not aware it was a pretty traumatic two weeks due to other complications they thought I had — you can listen to our podcast for the full story) was the peace God gave me. All year I felt a distance between God and I. I started to believe this lie that I wasn’t worthy of a child (the enemy really attacks our minds and can make you feel undeserving when it isn’t happening for you). I wondered why others would be given a child who didn’t even want them and yet here Neal and I were, praying and trusting God but it just wasn’t happening. Then it did and that was lost too. It felt like His answer just kept coming up as no, with every negative test. I had to really work on this and interesting enough, right before I got pregnant I had a breakthrough about the guilt between God and I, feeling like I wasn’t worthy. God has a purpose for this waiting season and what He was carrying us through. When I experienced the miscarriage, I wasn’t angry with God. I asked Him for a sign that we could get pregnant soon and He did — that same night I journaled it down was when I found out we were pregnant with a faint second line. I felt Him close to us, my spirit wasn’t fearful, He brought good people and doctors around us to nurture our souls and speak life. After my initial shock and panic attack (I also blame a lot of this on my hormones and ptsd of invasive ultrasounds as I bled), I found a lot of comfort reading His word, praying, being still and quiet in the times when I was in waiting rooms for hours, getting ultrasounds, blood test after blood test, back at home healing and as my body released the pregnancy. In Isaiah 66:9, the Lord says, “I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born.” I believe that.
Another thing that helped so much for both Neal and I was the week after we had confirmation of our miscarriage we had lunch with our Pastor. His words and his comforting spirit are what I will never forget. He also journeyed through infertility for years with his wife, and he said, “…Though you walk through the shadow of death, Jesus tells us He is preparing a table for you, what I see is that God is preparing you for what He has prepared for you…” That left us with so much hope. You need people to speak hope into you at the time you feel you lack it the most. You need to be reminded because the grief makes us forget.
I let myself rest and held space for healing physically…
Being present online is definitely apart of my job, showing up on Instagram stories, creating content for my different platforms, going out and shooting and creating — it’s all part of the job. When something tragic happens, I tend to take a step back. Many have to continue going back to work but my life is my work, I put it on the internet and I couldn’t fake a smile or talk about something like an outfit when I was feeling so heavy. For me, this is what I personally needed. I held this close and private for months before sharing online and really wanted to come at it from a place where I could breathe hope and help others. For 2 weeks I let myself physically rest, I didn’t put pressure on myself to get back to work or post. For months after that, we gave ourselves a lot of grace and didn’t want to hustle or distract ourselves. We really took the time to heal. I feel very fortunate to be self-employed that I could let myself rest, but I know many employers would understand as well. This is not something small, you don’t have to think it is and brush it off even if society does. I nourished my body to replenish from the blood loss with bone broth, healthy vegetables, soups, hydrated well and did this gentle yoga flow for after miscarriage (her words were so helpful) and my body needed extra love. I am so grateful for the friends and family who dropped off groceries and soups during that time. It was so kind and helpful.
I Connected with others who have lost…
One of the most helpful things when you are going through something as isolating as a miscarriage is that you can feel so alone. The truth is, this is one of the most common things that happen to 1 in 3 women, yet it is so uncommonly spoken about. What helped me was connecting with people I knew had gone through this to lean on them for support and ask personal questions regarding what was happening to my body. I’m grateful to the women in my life and those I’ve met online or have been touched by their personal stories of grief shared. That’s what truly encouraged me to share my own. If it can help just one person, then I knew I had to release this. I also know sometimes we are meant to go through things to come alongside and help others as they go through the same thing later on too. This happened for a reason, I refuse to believe it is all senseless and meant to cause immense pain and just leave us hopeless. I have to believe and look toward what good can come out of this, even if it’s just more compassion through my suffering. There are so many great communities, online forums, therapists, doctors and bloggers who can be there as a support system to you during this time.
I learned to grieve with a professional…
Thankfully, I had been seeing a Christian Counsellor all year and this really equipped me to handle something I had feared the most — a miscarriage. I realized I can do hard things. I survived. My marriage didn’t crumble, in fact we became more close and even more connected. I was familiar to loss, I have lost many people i’ve loved, from one of my good friends at 17 to all of my grandparents on both sides (one side that lived with me and raised me and were like second parents to me). I am not a stranger to loss, I have a peace knowing the hope of heaven, but I do think I still held a lot of that grief and never quite processed it. It doesn’t go away, your heart always aches for them, but grieving is not something you can rush or skip over. A lot of us in western culture don’t hold space for grieving. If you got to the middle east, they will have a grieving period for weeks, people just cry with one another and be in their sadness. Here, we are forced to move on, get back to work, put a smile back on and get over it. In fact, people judge or get annoyed if someone doesn’t just get over their grief, or worse, they call it unbelief. Jesus wept – He mourned loss, make no mistake, this is not a form of unbelief. One thing my therapist suggested was having a ceremony or a commemorative little box to honour this child. We got little booties before we found out we were pregnant while we were on a trip, we just saw them and loved them. Those booties were for that baby, I wouldn’t feel right putting them on our (God-willing) next child. I have those booties and my positive pregnancy tests stored together. Sometimes i’d just hold them or look at them and cry. Holding space to cry and feel and miss this loss has helped me in my grief. I allowed time for it, otherwise i’d burst crying in the middle of a grocery store triggered out of nowhere because that grief was being bottled and held in my body. We so often avoid it, I get that visiting those feelings isn’t what you want to do, but it’s vital. I’ll never forget that child that could have been on this side of heaven.
The bible shares stories of women in the bible that are so inspiring and ones I have leaned into and personally related to. The story of Hannah is one I held onto all year and I remember snapping this photo to remind myself of the sign from God He gave me once because I didn’t want to forget that before the year was out He blessed me with a child. I never got to hold them, or name them or hear their heartbeat, but I love them with all of me. I believe God can do it again. He never causes pain without something new to be born.
I have cried my whole way through revisiting these memories and writing this post and it feels healing. Writing is healing, sharing this is healing and it’s all part of the process. Let yourself fall apart sometimes, sit with your grief, don’t live there forever, there is hope, but honour it all. It’s yours.
Peace and Grace,