Adriel’s Story—Grace like Scarlett – Finding God in the Wake of Grief after Miscarriage
For days I felt empty. But afraid to articulate my feelings, I dismissed them instead—searching for comfort in the possibility that the sudden change I felt was really just the mark between trimesters.
They say that once you’ve seen your baby’s heartbeat, your chances of losing her diminish to between 3-5%.
We had seen her through an ultrasound only weeks before—healthy, strong, growing right on track.
I knew the statistics. I knew the probability. But we had seen her heart beating. We had seen life. (We were safe, right?)
Two days after sharing my anxious thoughts about the feeling of “emptiness” with my husband we sat in the small, dark room. Fear gripped me while the sonographer worked silently over my belly, measuring and recording.
It’s amazing how five little words can feel so heavy and so big: Your baby has no heartbeat.
Since that day I’ve often wondered if those halls had ever witnessed the kind of wailing that came after my mama-heart had been shattered. But I didn’t care. I let my emotion unleash—it was far too big to swallow and I didn’t even try. I was devastated and broken and grief-stricken immediately as my worst fears were confirmed.
Our unborn baby was 13 weeks old—tiny and vulnerable— yet when we prayed about her we had felt a sense of strength and might surrounding her life and destiny.
How do you fit those contradictory pieces together once you’re told your baby is dead?
The next day I was admitted to the hospital to have a D & C. I was exhausted and spent as I curled up on a couch in the corner of the waiting room, my back to the rest of the patients waiting for their names to be called for various procedures.
Out of the quiet a newborn baby cried down the corridor and again I erupted into sobs, shaking under the weight of my broken-heartedness.
How could this be happening to me?
Though aware of the statistics and the “normalcy” of pregnancy loss, nothing could prepare me to be the one joining—against my will—the awful secret society of bereaved parents with empty arms and deflated dreams. We were so in love with this baby, so committed to care for her and teach her the ways of God, so willing to sacrifice anything for her. But there I was waiting to be dressed in a gown, wheeled down sterile hallways by strangers, and have my dead child scraped from my womb. (Wasn’t she supposed to be safe there?)
This was not the way a woman dreams of delivering her baby.
The days that followed were surreal—filled with moments of absolute despair and moments of almost blissful reminiscing about what it was like to conceive and carry our sweet baby and know that her life wasn’t in vain.
I battled with urges to rage, to withdraw, to lash out, to busy myself with work, or to pull the covers over my head and sleep until noon. I still had two boys under three to care for who demanded my time, love, and energy, but my tank felt so depleted as I tried to cope with my own grief and still be the mom I thought they deserved. I felt like I was constantly failing them, and the distance between us and our families (mine overseas, and my husband’s interstate) felt gaping and insurmountable. The grief felt so messy.
We embraced the huge learning curve of discovering (by trial and error) how to navigate the waves of grief. Some moments I wanted my entire life to revolve around my grief. It felt like somehow our baby deserved that. And some moments I desperately wanted to pretend nothing had ever happened and go back to the way things used to be. But I couldn’t do that either. Somehow I needed to assimilate those two urges into a healthy response to my pain. This wasn’t about how to overcome or resolve my grief, but how to walk through it.
Several weeks earlier we had shared the joy of our pregnancy through social media. (Our pregnancy announcement photo even went viral on Pinterest.) So when we miscarried we shared our loss publicly as well. I felt incredibly grateful to not live under the extra burden of a “dreadful secret” in the midst of my intense pain. We didn’t want to celebrate our baby’s life alone. Nor did we want to grieve her life alone.
As we shared our news, loving arms reached out to bring comfort, share stories, offer prayer, and mourn with us. In the earliest days and weeks I drank in every little word typed as emails and messages soothed my aching soul. I must have read and re-read each one dozens of times.
It was a beautiful time of experiencing God’s grace and being held by those willing to share in our suffering and love us through it. Family, close friends, and many, many strangers extended their hearts to us during our time of vulnerability. (I shared our story through my blog so received many comments and emails from readers, in addition to people we knew.)
You can know about the grieving process—even help people through it—but until you walk the path yourself you can never fully know the extent to which it consumes and transforms your life.
It’s been five years since we lost our baby, and we had two more miscarriages after our first. The pain grew less intense as the days passed, and the waves of grief got calmer and more evenly spaced. Eventually, the waves were replaced with a slow longing tinged by sadness—no more the crushing grief we once felt with such force.
Our losses caused us to grapple with theological questions and forgiveness, sadness and anger, jealousy and comparison, shame and guilt, and a number of other emotions that boiled to the surface in our grief—the kind we prefer would remain a part of someone else’s story. But we learned Jesus was there, present, through it all. He never once was repelled by our humanity.
If anything, our humanity tethered us to him in those days as we recognized our desperate need for his grace.
Ultimately we know that at the core of our pain there remains the heart of Jesus. His goodness hasn’t changed and his purposes remain. His suffering was not in vain, and we won’t let ours be either. He promises to write a redemption story out of any mess and we are no exception to that truth. (Nor are you.)
Loss and grief have changed us. We are more aware of our weakness, softer around the edges, and quicker to identify and empathize with others who are walking around with broken hearts. We’ve seen Jesus there and we’ve had revelation of his steadfast, unrelenting love at the bottom of our pain.
While we don’t believe God sanctions loss of life such as miscarriage, we do believe he can create something beautiful out of our wreckage. We’ve had five years to watch our redemption story begin to unfold and we are convinced of this: his mercy never fails and his goodness has no end.