Sometimes I find myself as a mother of 1 saying “my kids.” It’s slightly embarrassing but mortifying when someone says “Oh how many?” And then you say, “one” and they call you out on saying “kids” and you don’t want to make them feel awkward but stutter out something about having one in heaven…to a stranger you barely know….Because once that little baby comes and goes, you can’t shake the truth that there should be one more…
It was never my intent to invoke pitty with my writing on the topic of miscarriage, but awareness, always awareness. Until it happened to me, I didn’t know how common it was. I just remember sitting in that quiet dark room waiting for the call from my midwife to tell me what I already had seen on the screen: there was no heartbeat. I was handed a packet of information on grief and loss similar to those I’d prepared for others, but never envisioned receiving myself. I’m now one of the statistics, I thought. And it hurts so so bad.
This is the story (in several parts) of our journey through the grief and loss of a sweet child who came and went almost one year ago: Avery Arlin. (Avery means comfort and Arlin means promise). God has laid it on my heart to share this story because I truly believe from the bottom of my heart, and knew even as I sat waiting for the formalities of that horrible appointment to be over, that Avery’s life was not lived in vain and that someday my wading through this journey with God would serve as a comfort to someone else.
In honor of October, International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, I’m writing a series called Picking Up the Pieces, where I’ll unpack some of the events that followed my experience with miscarriage.#Gopinkandblue
Here’s our story:
I woke up to find the contents of a packet I’d never imagined receiving poured out on the floor with used kleenex scattered about: a reminder that what I hoped was a nightmare was a very real yesterday.
“His mercies are new …” I tried to say.
“Rejoice when you face trials and tribulations…”
But I couldn’t breath to finish either sentence.
I tried to find anger hoping maybe by now I’d stepped into the next stage of grief, one step closer to the end of the huge ache I can’t explain, but I’m not mad. I’m just sad in the saddest way.
The sweet little life we’d hoped to announce in these coming weeks is gone, over night.
Four weeks ago, urged by my grandma to make sure I wasn’t describing pregnancy symptoms while I insisted that my TSH levels needed to be checked,I took a pregnancy test. After being disappointed a few times, I really didn’t feel ready to take it but we decided I would. I was distracted before I could look at the result so John broke the news after stumbling upon a clear blue “Pregnant” test result waiting in the bathroom as I was putting Afton to bed.
We’d both hoped, prayed, waited and now wondered how we’d ever keep such good news a secret, especially from sweet Afton, who prays daily for a baby brother.
The next morning, Afton asked me if God had put a baby in my tummy. I told her that he had and her reaction was priceless. Wide eyed she gasped and said, “In YOUR tummy? Our baby? Can I see!?”
It was everything and more that I could have hoped to see in her sweet face. Better than Christmas. Better than a puppy or a popsicle. Pure delight. God had answered her prayer and she knew it.
The coming weeks I felt great, other than easily distracted, forgetful and tired. Every pregnancy symptom that came was exciting. Symptoms I was never excited about in my first pregnancy were reasons for celebration this time. We were so “ready.”
Then other symptoms came. The ones I never had with Afton. I moved my ultra sound up a few days to make sure everything was ok. And it appeared that it was. I watched the screen hopeful and immediately saw the flicker of a beating heart. I listened to multiple professionals tell me how good a sign that was. I left the hospital that morning with a desire to have a renewed hope and comfort but it never came. Only more questions and reasons to phone people on-call.
The next day I sat in the same rooms where I heard the heartbeat the first time and saw an active little body wiggling on the screen, but this time there were none of those things.
I knew the U/S tech couldn’t tell me anything, so I watched the screen myself and when I didn’t see what I hoped I would, tears ran down my face and I tried to breath. She didn’t have to say anything. She rubbed my tummy, handed me the kleenex and said over and over, “I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry. I know that’s not what you wanted to see.”
I sat in a dark room waiting for the procedural phone call to confirm what I already knew to be true. I was handed a packet of information with the words, miscarriage, grief and loss, and support groups riddled throughout. A packet I would have never expected to receive.
But it happened. And there is no rhyme or reason.
“Nothing you could have done…. For reasons we don’t understand…”
When I found out that I was pregnant with Afton, I was surprised because she was conceived unexpectedly and by the world’s standards, we weren’t “ready”. As scary as it was, it was comforting, because we knew without a shadow of a doubt, that God decided we were ready and that he had given her to us on HIS time table.
With this little one, I was more than “ready”. I was “ready” months ago. . Yet in the strangest way, it’s comforting to know that this baby’s life was on God’s time table too. I felt His peace in a very real and strong way as I lay there alone with a stranger, searching for life.
“Do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
I know that not everyone who has miscarried talks about it. I’m not sure I’m ready to either, but I do know that if I were to continue through today as if nothing had happened yesterday, I would not be honoring the precious life I carried for 2 months. I would not get to share with you the joy of finding out we had, for a short time, a second child.
It truly is the hardest story I’ve had to tell but it’s one that I believe God is carrying us through.
And if I wasn’t excited enough about the promise of heaven, I really am now!
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
17 How precious are your thoughts about me,[b] O God.
They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!