Pregnancy after loss

 

I am a mother of two. 
Our first baby is in heaven. 
Our second is growing in my womb. 

Last August, Charles and I lost our first baby at 7 weeks. This April was their due date.

It’s been months since then, and you might think that we’d be “over it” by now, but that’s not exactly how it works. With grief, you’ll find that it comes in waves, and while time does help with the healing, it never really goes away. We can't forget our babe in heaven.

Now, we’re expecting again and it’s been a wild ride. Miscarriage changes you. Pregnancy is different. And the topics of miscarriage and pregnancy after loss still feel very much taboo. It was a shock when we lost our baby, simply because I was unaware at how common it really is. It’s not something many people talk about or know how to address — and understandably so because it’s so raw and personal.

By starting with our own story, our prayer is that we can open that dialogue and shed some light on what miscarriage and pregnancy after loss is like. Our hope is that it can help anyone riding the same wave (or shed some light on this topic, so that maybe one day, you can help a loved one who is).

Our miscarriage

We candidly share our miscarriage story here.

What surprised me about miscarriage

  1. The pain was both deeply emotional and physical. I wasn’t prepared for how deeply it would affect all areas of my being. Emotionally, I wrestled with doubts about my body - what it was capable/incapable of. I was told it wasn’t my fault, but I constantly replayed the first weeks and questioned if I had done something wrong. Grief relentlessly hit us like waves (one moment I’m fine and the next I’m triggered by the sight of a mother and her baby). Physically, I wasn’t prepared for what my body would go through: the pain I would feel as our baby left; the adjustments after, as I still experienced first trimester symptoms until I had gotten rid of all the hormones that were preparing my body to be a home.

  2. The world doesn’t talk about miscarriage enough. We realized this not only because we weren’t prepared for it to happen to us, but also because of the interesting range of reactions we received. Don’t get us wrong, we were incredibly blessed from the outpouring of love and support from those who helped see us through it. But there were also moments where we knew that people didn’t know what the heck to say. And that’s okay. If the roles were reversed, we wouldn’t be so sure we’d know how to respond either. There was so much grace because we knew it was just something not talked about enough.

  3. It’s more common than you think. It’s one of those things that you don’t think would ever happen to you. We didn’t know the stories of the women around us who have gone through it, and so we didn’t realize how common it really was. 1 in 4 known pregnancies end in miscarriage.

  4. Miscarriage is different for everyone, but either way you are a mom. For us, it happened so quickly. One morning, I was pregnant and everything seemed fine. The next, I was in the ER. The morning after, I was no longer considered pregnant. In the span of 3 days, we spiraled through what felt like every single emotion — and the world didn’t stop. This was our personal experience. For other women, their bodies took longer. It’s different for everyone, but in each instance, a loss is a loss. And in all instances, you are a mom. Some for 7 weeks. Some for months longer.

Miscarriage changed us.

Miscarriage was the teacher we never wanted. It taught us so much about ourselves and about the world. It showed us how deeply you can already love the life growing inside you. It let us experience a deeper meaning behind finding hope + joy amidst suffering. And ultimately, it showed us how little control we really do have. It challenged us in our trust for the Lord. These were all difficult lessons to learn, but ultimately miscarriage reminded us of the hope we have in the gospel.

We know that one day we will meet our first babe, face to face. We’ve got so many questions that we won’t have answers to on this side of earth, but we hold on to the solid hope we have that one day we will meet our babe. For whatever God’s purpose was, he chose me to be my child’s mother for those 7 weeks. He allowed for Charles and I to learn to navigate grief together. May we always choose to proclaim his greatness, even through pain.

6 ways to help someone going through it.

If you aren’t personally going through a miscarriage, but know someone who is, here is what personally helped us. 

1. Listen. Be there for them by offering to be a listening ear. They may or may not want to talk about it, but being available can help them process and heal. Words of advice don’t always have to be given. Sometimes, listening is enough.

2. Let them know you’re there if they need to talk. They might not want to talk about it (and that’s okay). A simple reminder that you are there for them will be appreciated. In not acknowledging their grief and loss, your silence can hurt more. 

3. Know that miscarriage is common, and often a result of a chromosomal abnormality. Refrain from trying to offer solutions, find explanations, or even offer comfort in ways that could come off more harmful than helpful. Examples:

“At least it happened early.” (This can minimize grief/loss. No matter how early, the grief and pain are very real). 

“Maybe it’s because you’re small” (yep, heard this one. petite women are able to carry to full term). 

“It’s cause you worked too much.” (this one was another specific one I heard. general ones are “maybe you should have/shouldn’t have…” miscarriage can be such a mystery. saying things like this puts the blame on the mother). 

Although we weren’t angry when we heard these things (we knew the intention was good), these comments left us hurt and confused, and proved to be more harmful rather than helpful.

4. Offer to drop off food. Family and friends stopped by to drop off food, and this helped us a ton. While we were grieving the loss, cooking was the last thing on our mind. 

5. Suggest specific ways to help. Saying “let me know how we can help” was so appreciated and helpful, but we found that we were more inclined to accept help when it was specific. A friend came over and offered to wash our dishes. That was a blessing to us. Offering specific ways to help someone who’s grieving can take the burden away from them naming their specific areas of need. Offer to do their laundry, walk their dogs, etc.

6Don’t gossip about it. This one might be a given, but we thought we’d mention it regardless. For us, some knew about our miscarriage before we had a chance to share it with them personally. It’s also a very private event, and at that time, we weren’t yet sure we wanted to tell people. If you are someone that the grieving parents confided in, please do not spread the news. It isn’t your story to tell. 


Pregnancy after loss

We’re expecting again, and we’re so overjoyed, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t filled with it’s own fair share of anxiety, confusion and even guilt. With each day my belly grows, we are grateful, but we also remember our first babe. A lot of the times, I get asked if this is our first child. I don’t know whether to say yes or not. He is our first babe on Earth, but we know we’ve got one in Heaven. Sometimes, that question makes me cry. And so even in this pregnancy, it’s been a rollercoaster.

If you try again, remember this. 

Dwell on God’s character. He is kind and gracious. So in the moments where you doubt your body, look to His word. Remember who your God is. Remember how He has already provided for your greatest need (salvation through His son). If you are expecting again, remember his character. As you feel your tight grip on your own child, let this truth resonate deep in your soul — that God our Father gave His own son for our salvation. Let that truth loosen your grip, not out of a lessened love for your babe but out of a deeper understanding that you are not in control. And the one who is, is deeply for your joy.

Lean on community. Those around you who love you and support you. Let them care for you. Be open and honest with those who you trust, and find those people who will speak truth to you when doubt and fear creep in.

And if/when you are expecting again, choose joy. It won’t come easy. You’ll want to be cautious and to protect your heart from growing attached. But choose to celebrate the life growing inside you. That life is a miracle. You are a mother.

a letter to our growing baby boy.

Here’s our prayer for you. That we love you fearlessly, knowing that each day we get with you is a gift. For however long we have you, you are ours, and we will celebrate you. We will rejoice in every milestone. Every heartbeat we hear, every wiggle on the ultrasound. We will give thanks to the Lord for each day in your life that He sustains. You are a gift. I pray we will choose joy, even amidst uncertainty (especially amidst uncertainty). You are teaching us so much already, and you don’t even know it yet. And if we get to meet you, may we model to you the bravery you taught us while you were still in my womb. 

I pray that as we navigate this pregnancy now, that Charles and I will depend on God, trusting that He allows all things for our good. And most of all (maybe selfishly of all), I pray we get to meet you on this Earth. We long to hold you, to know you, to raise you. But right now, we’re still playing the waiting game. We’re almost there, baby boy. May God continue to strengthen you. Three more months to go. Lord willing, we’ll see you soon. 

Kristine and Charles:  Pregnancy after Loss - tips on what not to say