“This is where the heartbeat would be”, the doctor said as she scanned the ultrasound screen, which showed our sweet baby floating like a lifeless little guppy. Shock. Disbelief. Immense sadness. Confusion. Just a week prior we had seen our baby full of life on that same screen… a lively heartbeat, with ten fingers, ten toes, ten knuckles. We even saw her spine, with all her perfectly formed vertebrae, her eye sockets, and organs. I was more than one third done with my pregnancy. This baby had made it into the second trimester … this baby was not supposed to die.
Before I continue, please allow me to clarify something. Being grateful is not the same as being glad. I am grateful for my miscarriage; I am not glad about it.
I am grateful for my miscarriage because to lose something or someone means that you once had (and loved) something or someone. When a baby dies in miscarriage, it’s hard to grasp the loss because a mother never gets to hold her baby. It’s heart wrenching actually, not to be able to hold your baby before you part with her. But, in actuality you did hold her – in your womb, in your dreams, and finally in your heart, where she will live forever.
I am grateful for my miscarriage because while the ‘Oh no … what if something were to happen to LUKE?’ feeling that descended upon me soon after was dark and quite unwelcome at first, it brought me to a place of sheer gratitude for the light and sunshine that is my living, breathing, loving, spunky and JOYFUL 15 month old baby boy. And while I thought I loved and appreciated him before, I didn’t realize how much more real those feelings could become at the thought of losing him…. a thought seriously exacerbated by our recent loss.
I am grateful for my miscarriage because it taught me how beautifully people can respond to grief when invited to share in the process, and how friends will really step up when family is so far away. The flowers, cards, emails, visits, saints medals, plants, and prayer shawls from friends and family showed me that they too felt this loss was real, which therefore solidified that this baby was real… and this is beyond helpful in the grieving process. Their response to my loss validated my grief and allowed me to begin healing all the more quickly.
I am grateful for my miscarriage because it allowed my husband and me the opportunity to love one another through the grief of a loss only the two of us shared so intimately. And every time I have an opportunity to grow in love and faith with my husband, no matter how challenging, I give thanks to God.
I needed desperately to slow down and adopt a sweeter pace in life, so I am grateful for my miscarriage because it forced me to do just this… to SLOW down, stop moving, stop worrying, stop planning, and trust God. In the classic football film Rudy, Fr. Cavanuagh says to the anxious young man, ‘Rudy, praying is something we do in our time, the answers come in God’s time.’ As a natural born planner and lover of all things organized, I thought I had it all figured out. But I am grateful for the reminder once again to trust in God’s divine plan for my life.
I am grateful for my miscarriage because it opened me up to the concept of life in a brand new way … whereas before I thought that being open to life assumed only one thing … bearing several of my own children. I now know that being open to life might mean many different things. It could mean that I am meant to raise my one and only 15-month-old bundle of joy/love/fun/delight/wonder whom I affectionately call ‘lovebug’, focusing all my love and attention on only him…. and I would be blessed. It could mean that I am meant to raise adopted children from God’s greater family…. and I would be blessed. Or it could mean that I am meant to raise ten more of my own children from God … and I would be very busy … and blessed indeed.
I am grateful for my miscarriage because it has allowed me to walk in solidarity with the many women before me who have suffered such a loss – friends, family, coworkers. I now share their experience, and am thankful for the opportunity to be united with them in such a meaningful way.
We don’t know our true strength until we are tested, so I am grateful for my miscarriage because when I felt sad but not angry at God, as many women report feeling, I rejoiced and gave thanks for the gift of my faith, and for the strength of a peaceful heart that only God could provide at a time like this.
I am grateful for my miscarriage because I now have an angel in heaven watching over me. I believe that babies have a very special role in heaven and this angel baby hears my prayers and petitions and shares each one directly with God, on my behalf. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
I am grateful for my miscarriage because it means I have actually fulfilled my one and only duty here on Earth … to get my children to heaven. While I still have much work ahead of me to get my baby boy, myself, and other loved ones there too, I have actually accomplished something on this Earth that God has asked of me, and in that I can take satisfaction.
I am not glad for my miscarriage. I miss my baby tremendously. I hate to think that September will not bring the excitement of her birth as I had hoped and dreamed. I hate knowing that I will not be able to smell her sweet innocence as she nuzzles into my neck. My arms ache to hold her. My heart aches that I did not thank God enough for her while I had her and that in the sheer chaos of realizing our loss and impending surgery, I forgot to say goodbye… and then she was suddenly gone. I face difficult reminders, such as the coming and passing of her anatomy ultrasound appointment last week, her due date this fall, and the pregnant friends whose bellies are now surpassing mine. I sobbed when I had to return her crib to the store, and pack away her bed sheets and wall paint into a corner of my garage. I am not glad for my miscarriage. But I am grateful for it.
And I am grateful to have a faith strong enough to trust in God’s plan for my life and for my ability to leave all of my suffering, anguish, and grief at the feet of Jesus. For he yearns to comfort me during this time with his infinite wisdom and love and I plan to let him. And this is a plan I am going to stick to… a plan to hand my planning over to God because he knows best. As he tells us in Jeremiah 29:11, ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ What better plan could I possibly trust in?