miscarriage

Five Things I Want You to Know on Mother’s Day – To the Women who had Miscarriages

I was so happy. I sat in church and locked eyes with my husband. We exchanged a smile over a secret only the two of us shared.

But then, the next Sunday, tears sprung to my eyes before the first notes of worship even began. I hugged a few close friends but shied away from everyone else.

As the singing of our church service began, I sank into my seat. I was broken hearted.

I had experienced loss. I had miscarried a baby.

I’ve been through this experience five different times over the span of eight years now. I am more in-tune to the emotional signs of loss than the average member of our congregation, but even with my watchful eye, I know many other women slip through my radar and suffer their losses in silence.

Maybe you’ve been there too.

Sweet girl at church, maybe you have experienced a miscarriage as well. Whether you’ve shared your loss or kept it silent, I have some things I want you to know on this Mother’s Day. Whether you sit in my pew, attend my congregation, or live miles away, this message is for you:

1. You are not alone.

Even if you’ve kept your loss private, you are not suffering alone. You may look around the room and see babies in seemingly everyone’s arms, but even the church is not free of heartache.

The most recent statistics state that 15-20% of all pregnancies end in loss.

Our scars are not visible, but many of the women sharing your pew have felt the heartbreak of infant loss as well.

2. Others want to love you.

If you choose to share your losses — and I recommend you eventually do — let the church body surround you with love. Let us bring you meals or bake you cookies. Accept our gifts – even if you don’t believe you need them. These gifts are a physical representation of God’s love for you.

After one of my miscarriages, a friend brought me a pair of fleece pajamas. Every time I slid my legs into those fuzzy pants, I felt the love and support of my friend.

Do not isolate completely, as the whispers of Satan can become shouts in our times of solitude.

3. Grief takes time.

Grieving the loss of an infant is not the same as grieving the passing of your grandfather. He was given the opportunity to live a full life. You have memories with him.

Grieving a baby you never met is unique. You lack the memories and shared experiences, but still posses the pain. You mourn what could have been as opposed to what was.

It’s ok to seem fine one day and struggle again the next.

After my second miscarriage, I took a few days to grieve and then returned back to work. One of my clients announced her due date that next week – it was the same date as the baby I had just lost. Following the announcement, I took a couple more days off of work. My heart was not ready; I wanted to be happy at the announcement of new life, but my wound was too fresh.

Trust your body and your heart as you mourn. Take a day. Take a month. Take what you need. Your grief is as unique as the baby you cry over.

4. God does love you, but Satan hates your family.

You chose to create a family and bring a child into this world. You planned to raise this baby in the church and according to God’s Word. God is not punishing you for any unfaithfulness in your past or anything you have done wrong. God loves you. He desires to give you good things.

But.

But Satan is present and powerful. He hates the idea of a family grounded in truth. He stops at nothing to harm and destroy.

These are facts of the world we live in, but dear friends, don’t allow Satan to win.

Do not allow this trial to breed bitterness or anger against God. Seek wise counsel and help if you need someone to preach and re-preach God’s promises and goodness over you.

Soak up the truth of how God loves you as you continue to read your bible during your grief. Remind yourself of the hope of heaven as you grieve for what sin has taken from you.

5. You were the best mama for your baby.

My babies typically perished between six and ten weeks gestation. For every one of those weeks, I was a good mama for my babies. I kept them safe. I nourished them. I loved them unconditionally.

These losses are not something I wanted. Quite the opposite. I would have done anything to keep them alive.

This is true for you as well, Mama. I don’t doubt your devotion to your children — no matter how long they lived on this earth. You were such a good mama.

If God grants you another babe, you will be a good mama again, no doubt. You will be the best mama for that baby. God made that specific child with you in mind.

 

These are the five things I want you to know on this Mother’s Day – whether you attend my congregation or not, whether your loss is recent or long ago.

Sister, even if your children are not still with us here on this earth, this Mother’s Day is for you. I’m sorry for your loss, but your baby was blessed by your love – no matter how short or how long s/he lived. Sweet girl, sweet mama, Happy Mother’s Day.

photo credit: Darrin Ralph

To the Girl at Church who has Suffered Loss – A Mother’s Day Message for Women who have Miscarried Babies

I was so happy. I sat in church and locked eyes with my husband. We exchanged smiles over a secret only the two of us shared.

But then, the next Sunday, tears sprung to my eyes before the first notes of worship even began. I hugged a few close friends but shied away from everyone else.

As the singing of our church service began, I sank into my seat. I was broken hearted.

I had experienced loss. I had miscarried a baby.

Maybe you’ve been there too.

Sweet girl at church, maybe you have experienced a miscarriage as well. Whether you’ve shared your loss or kept it silent, I have some things I want you to know on this Mother’s Day Sunday. Whether you sit in my pew, attend my congregation, or live miles away, this message is for you:

photo credit: Darrin Ralph

1. You are not alone.

Even if you’ve kept your loss private, you are not suffering alone. You may look around the room and see babies in seemingly everyone’s arms, but even the church is not free of heartache.

The most recent statistics state that 15-20% of all pregnancies end in loss.

Our scars are not visible, but many of the women sharing your pew have felt the heartbreak of infant loss as well.

 

2. Others want to love you.

If you choose to share your losses — and I recommend you eventually do — let the church body surround you with love. Let us bring you meals or bake you cookies. Accept our gifts – even if you don’t believe you need them. These gifts are a physical representation of God’s love for you.

After one of my miscarriages, a friend brought me a pair of fleece pajamas. Every time I slid my legs into those fuzzy pants, I felt the love and support of a friend.

Do not isolate completely, as the whispers of Satan can become shouts in our times of solitude.

 

3. Grief takes time.

Grieving the loss of an infant is not the same as grieving the passing of your grandfather. He was given the opportunity to live a full life. You have memories with him.

Grieving a baby you never met is unique. You lack the memories and shared experiences, but still posses the pain. You mourn what could have been as opposed to what was.

It’s ok to seem fine one day and struggle again the next.

After my second miscarriage, I took a few days to grieve and then returned back to work. One of my clients announced her due date that next week – it was the same date as the baby I had just lost. Following the announcement, I took a couple more days off of work. My heart was not ready; I wanted to be happy at the announcement of new life, but my wound was too fresh.

Trust your body and your heart as you mourn. Take a day. Take a month. Take what you need. Your grief is as unique as the baby you cry over.

 

4. God does love you, but Satan hates your family.

You chose to create a family and bring a child into this world. You planned to raise this baby in the church and according to God’s Word. God is not punishing you for any unfaithfulness in your past or anything you have done wrong. God loves you. He desires to give you good things.

But.

But Satan is present and powerful. He hates the idea of a family grounded in truth. He stops at nothing to harm and destroy.

These are facts of the world we live in, but dear friends, don’t allow Satan to win.

Do not allow this trial to breed bitterness or anger against God. Seek wise counsel and help if you need someone to preach and re-preach God’s promises and goodness over you.

Soak up the truth of how God loves you as you continue to read your bible during your grief. Remind yourself of the hope of heaven as you grieve for what sin has taken from you.

 

5. You were the best mama for your baby.

My babies typically perished between six and ten weeks gestation. For every one of those weeks, I was a good mama for my babies. I kept them safe. I nourished them. I loved them unconditionally.

These losses are not something I wanted. Quite the opposite. I would have done anything to keep them alive.

This is true for you as well, Mama. I don’t doubt your devotion to your children — no matter how long they lived on this earth. You were such a good mama.

If God grants you another babe, you will be a good mama again, no doubt. You will be the best mama for that baby. God made that specific child with you in mind. 

 

These are the things I want you to know on this Mother’s Day – whether you attend my congregation or not, whether your loss was recent or long ago.

Sister, even if your children are not still with us on this earth, this Mother’s Day is for you. I’m sorry for your loss, but your baby was blessed by your love – no matter how short or how long your child lived.

Sweet girl, sweet mama, Happy Mother’s Day.

[Many mamas of infant loss suffer in silence; please pass this along to a mama who needs to hear it on this Mother’s Day.]

Hope from the Heartache – Baby Loss Awareness Week

All week I’ve been struggling with what to write about infant loss during this year’s Baby Loss Awareness Week.

In 2010, we lost three babies in less than nine months.

Three times, I felt my belly swell and my heart practically burst. Three times we were crushed by the pain and sadness of loss.

Our arms were empty.

Then, in 2011, we experienced a different kind of infant loss. We held a brand-new baby boy in our arms. We made plans to bring him home to our waiting nursery. We mapped out his future as our son, until the woman who gave him life decided to raise him.

Again, we had empty arms.

This week, I have spent time remembering my babies. I’ve thought about what could have been, and what was not. I have relived each loss and remembered each baby’s story. I’ve thought about a little boy who may never know how much I loved him, and how hard it was to walk away from him.

But I haven’t felt oppressing sadness.

This fact made me uncomfortable. I thought I couldn’t write about my losses, unless I was still struggling with them.

I assumed this week was entirely about sharing heartbreak, but right now in my life, all I have to share is hope.

Friends, the loss is real. The pain is hard. The sorrow is great. Chance and I have cried many tears over what could have been.

My arms still ache for the four children I have lost. Now though, my heart is full with the children I have gained.

Our losses have helped to form the weave of our story’s tapestry.

Following our second loss, Chance and I were driven to become certified foster parents. We went through the training and the process of certification. We’ve never taken in foster children, but we’ve offered respite and knowledgable advice for our friends who are walking through that fire. The training also gave us a foundation for working with children from trauma.

After our third loss, we decided to partner with a ministry that was doing domestic infant adoptions. We learned much from their priorities – their first was to minister to the birth moms, and their second was infant adoptions. We learned what it looked like to have an open adoption. Over the past few years, this training has helped us minister to a few women who were contemplating adoption plans. It also gave us the love and mission-minded approach we had as we worked with our birth mom in 2011.

More recently, we’ve recalled the foundation laid by this training as we’ve advised some of our closest friends. They entered into an open adoption over a year ago, and have tirelessly shared the love of Christ with their daughter’s birth mom.

We were in-process with Nasko’s adoption when our own open adoption failed. After meeting Nasko, we realized how much care he would require, and knew it would be best for him to be an only child upon finalization of his adoption.

Nasko’s file was sent to us from an agency who saw that his fate was bleak without an adoption. Our hearts were prepared to take on a child with such needs because our eyes had been opened to the orphan crises around the world.

Around the time Nasko was adopted, I made major dietary changes and began seeing articles on the links between food intolerances and miscarriages/infertility. We prayerfully conceived and carried our healthy baby boy, Louis, just over a year later. I’ve become a walking billboard for the understanding that food issues can cause miscarriages; since Louis was born, I’ve told our story to many women with loss-filled pasts. At least four of these women have delivered healthy babies.

Five years ago, our lives were filled with sadness and heartbreak. We had no idea the hope and the promise that would come from our emptiness.

I’ve written about our losses a few times here on the blog. Each time, it has been healing for me, but I know it has also been healing for those of you who were reading. Friends have shared their stories and their memories. Women who have never previously spoken of their miscarriages, have honored their children by sharing their stories here.

This week, I also want to give hope to the hopelessness of loss.

If you have experienced loss, feel free to comment here on my blog with the way you remember your child (whether it be a name or a date). You can share your story here. You are loved and your children have value. I am truly sorry for your heartache.

Also, if you have seen your sadness turned to hope, be encouraged to share that story in the comments  as well.

This week, let us remember our babies and our losses, but let us also cling to the hope that God will use each of our experiences for his glory.

Baby Loss Awareness Week, infant loss, miscarriage,

Infant Loss and Failed Adoptions

Yesterday (and all this week) are designated times when mothers who have miscarried, delivered stillborns, or experienced the death of an infant, pause to remember those children.

Many women lit candles last night in honor of their babies who have passed. We don’t light candles in our home for obvious reasons (one of those reasons rhymes with “Rasco”), but I often remember the three unnamed babies we lost to miscarriages in 2010.

Another loss that isn’t shared by a large number of people, is the loss we experienced through failed adoption. We regularly talk about “Baby I”, the sweet little man we were set to adopt in April of 2011. Almost weekly, we drive past his house.

Yesterday, as I was taking Nasko to a therapy appointment, we turned onto the street where Baby I’s family still lives. As we rounded the corner, Nasko said, “Baby I’s house. Pray. Dear God. Baby I. Love Jesus. Amen.”

A sob caught in my throat as I realized what had just taken place. Nasko, my adopted son, was praying for the child I would never get to parent; a child he would never meet. In Nasko’s limited vocabulary and understanding, he was echoing the prayer I always pray as we drive past Baby I’s house — a prayer that Baby I might come to have a relationship with The Lord.

You see, despite the heartache and the tears on that rainy day in April of 2011, I handed Baby I over to God when I handed him to his birth mother for the last time.

I knew that she was wavering in her decision to have us parent him. I knew she was being pulled by her family to sever the adoption plan. And despite the fact that it wouldn’t be my job to kiss Baby I’s bruises, or to change his diapers, or to rock him to sleep, I promised God that I would continue to fulfill the most important role as his parent, despite what any legal documents said about my status — I would pray for his salvation. I specifically asked God to place Baby I in the home where he would have the best opportunity for a relationship with Christ.

Of course, I had hoped that home would be mine; we are raising our boys to know and love God, but that does not mean they will have a relationship with Him. A child can receive the best biblical instruction, and still not KNOW their savior.

When the decision was made that Baby I’s birth mother would parent him, I trusted that God had His hand in the decision, and I believe that He will faithfully draw I to Himself. And I have not stopped praying.

Obviously, my children are now echoing this prayer. They are praying for their brother, not a sibling, but a future brother in Christ. I maintain faith that these boys will some day be united in heaven as brothers who share a father — our Heavenly Father.

This week, please remember all of those affected by infant loss. Those of us who have experienced the loss remember each of our children; it is healing to talk about them. Also, please pray for those children who have been affected by failed adoptions. And please pray for Baby I to come to a relationship with his Heavenly Father.

Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone!

I’m not so far removed from this holiday to remember that it is sometimes filled with dread, sadness, and resentment. For those who are unable to have children, for those who have lost their mothers, and for those who struggle to honor the women who have fallen short, I am praying.

This year though, my Mother’s Day is bittersweet as I remember my three babies in heaven, and I’m blessed by my new, beautiful baby boy here on earth.

When my mother was here visiting last week, we were preparing a meal or cleaning something together when I started rubbing my left eye.

I complained to my mom that my left eye had started this annoying habit of twitching all the time. I’d never had this happen before, so I had pretty much written it off as a symptom of my seasonal allergies.

My mom chuckled as we worked side-by-side. She told me that she suffered from that same twitch. It had nothing to do with allergies, but it had everything to do with exhaustion.

She said that she also developed the same twitch when my older brother was born. Now that I (the baby of my family) have been out of her house for almost a decade, she said that the twitch is finally starting to go away.

For thirty years, my mother has suffered from this left-eye-twitch.

Despite her lack of a medical degree, I suspect her diagnosis is right; My life currently is exhausting.

Nasko moves at 100 miles an hour. He’s still mentally as impulsive as a toddler and cannot be left in a room alone (otherwise, you know, he might stick a serving spoon into the outlet where his fan was once plugged in or lick an unidentified object in our front yard – something potentially deposited by the dog.)

I’m currently trying to balance the life of a minister’s wife, working woman, housekeeper, and cook, all while figuring out this new role as a mother – a new mother whose baby doesn’t take a bottle, and who certainly doesn’t take three naps during the day.

Being a mom is exhausting. The hours are long, the pay is non-existent, and the job is messy.

But, let’s be honest, it’s really not about the moms.

Let’s look at Proverbs 31 in the bible. This chapter is somewhat of a guide or a checklist for godly women, noble wives, and Christian mothers:

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.
Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

I try to bring good to my husband, check! So, it’s typically in the form of good eating, but it’s good nonetheless!

She finds wool and flax
and busily spins it.
She is like a merchant’s ship,
bringing her food from afar.
She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.

Number one – I missed the part where I get servant girls…
Number two – getting up before dawn! Check! Nasko sees that I am a “Proverbs 31 woman” by dragging me out of bed before the sun comes up!

She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She is energetic and strong,
a hard worker.
She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
her lamp burns late into the night.

I am an energetic and strong worker these days. Do you even know what type of muscles can be built by jumping on a trampoline three to four times-a-day?!

Her hands are busy spinning thread,
her fingers twisting fiber.
She extends a helping hand to the poor
and opens her arms to the needy.
She has no fear of winter for her household,
for everyone has warm clothes.

I for sure don’t fear winter. This has been the warmest spring on record…

She makes her own bedspreads.
She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
Her husband is well known at the city gates,
where he sits with the other civic leaders.
She makes belted linen garments
and sashes to sell to the merchants.

Ok, so I’m not much of a seamstress, but I will admit that Chance is well-known by others. EVERY time we go ANY where he sees someone he knows. And has to chat with. So, check mark on that one…

She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.
When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.
She carefully watches everything in her household
and suffers nothing from laziness.

Now, does my three-and-a-half hour nap today count as laziness?

Her children stand and bless her.
Her husband praises her:
“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
but you surpass them all!”

In fact, Chance regularly says nice things to me, but I’ve never once heard him say that…

Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
Reward her for all she has done.
Let her deeds publicly declare her praise. (Proverbs 31:10-31 NLT)

So, if you look at Proverbs 31 as a checklist, I pretty much fail. I don’t own my own property. I can’t sew to save my life. I do NOT stay up late at night…

But as I mentioned right before reading these verses, it’s really not about the moms.

It’s about our selflessness.

This ideal woman that Solomon is describing is very, very selfless. She puts the needs of others before her own.

She would wake up before dawn in order to read her bible and pray, knowing that soon her sleepy child would enter the room.

She would cook many of her family’s foods from scratch because of her child’s allergies and intolerances.

She would jump on the trampoline or sing the “There Were Twelve Disciples…” song 34 times before putting her child to bed.

She would diligently rub lotion on her child after every bath in order to prevent a skin infection.

She would kiss her child goodnight and forgive him for all the times he hit her, bit her, and defied her in the past hour, let alone the past day.

Because friends, it isn’t all about us.

It’s about selflessness.

It’s about putting others before ourselves.

It’s about taking a sick friend to the hospital when they have no one to give them a ride.

It’s about praying with a friend who fears an overseas trip.

It’s about caring for the oppressed by helping to feed them every month.

It’s about giving a coworker the job with a bigger commission because their family is struggling.

It’s about mowing the neighbor’s yard while she’s receiving treatment for cancer.

It’s about encouraging a child who seemingly receives very little encouragement.

Dear friends, let us not just focus on mothers today. Let us all focus on being selfless in every role of our lives.

Let us all demonstrate noble character by thinking of others as better than ourselves.

Let us not only imitate the Proverbs 31 woman, but, more importantly, let us imitate Christ:

Philippians 2:3-5 NLT-
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Infant Loss

You may have seen a “copy-and-paste-this-status-update” paragraph floating around facebook in honor of infant loss this week.

I have realized that my loss cannot be summed up into one paragraph that someone else wrote.  My loss can never be fully expressed in written or spoken word.

Many times, I have cried out to God in anger, frustration, sadness, confusion, and desperation.  I am sure that my words have jumbled together and meant nothing to anyone who was quietly listening in the next room, but thank goodness I have a God who understands – even when the cries of my heart don’t make sense.

Romans 8:18, 26-27

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

There is pain, and there is suffering in this world.  There is glory and there is blessing in my future though.  The Lord is preparing to welcome me Home someday.  He already holds three of my babies in His presence.  Also, I pray daily that our other lost baby will join us when he has left this world of hardship and pain.

Romans 8:18

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.

Today, on October 15, 2011, National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Rememberance Day, let us remember the children who have died and who have been lost.  Let us pray for the 2,000 women who daily suffer from this loss.  Let us thank God for His future glory and his ability to make all things beautiful.

I found the following video out in blog-land, and I’m sharing it with you all today.  I hope that it touches you and possibly gives you a glimpse of the loss that the women around you are feeling every day.

Possibly you are one of the women who lost a child.  I’m praying for you.  I’m praying for healing.

Feel free to honor your lost babies by leaving a comment on this blog.  You might want to include your child(ren)’s name and a date you associate with them.

Please know that you are not alone.

Lord, please heal the families who have been affected by pregnancy and infant loss.  Please remind them of the hope that is offered in knowing You.  Please allow the mothers who are suffering to know that they are not alone.  Grant us Your peace and protection.  Amen

Baby Newingham 1 – 12/26/2009

Baby Newingham 2 – 03/22/2010

Baby Newingham 3 – 08/09/2010

Israel Kevon (Newingham) – 4/19/2011