This is a big lesson that I learned from losing Cecilia. I learned that I was not alone in my suffering and that my suffereing didn't merit me anymore points from God than a mother who could not get her toddler to sleep. Yes, sleeping trials and miscarriage trials are very different but God loves us all the same. Learning this lesson about compassion and pride was a hard one to learn and it did not come easy the days, weeks or months following the miscarriage. It is easier to unpack the physical aspect of the miscarriage it is much harder to explore what happened on the emotional and spiritual level.
I am such an internal person that there was a period of time after the miscarriage where I felt like I was in my own world, even away from JJ. I would wake up in my thoughts and go to bed in my thoughts. I was still seeing clients about a week after the miscarriage as I was a new intern and had just gotten my first clients. It was hard to teach women and couples about their fertility when I felt like my body was betraying me. Even as I was working and learning there was a part of me that I shut away because it was broken and hurt. The mothering part of me was in shambles. Some may think this pretty extreme, I mean we never even saw our baby or held our baby. Well what those people don't understand is that life is so important in all it's stages. Life means there was an undeniable soul, spirit, energy that exists that has touched your life in a profound way and it becomes part of you. Our baby touched our life in a profound way, she came from part of us; not just the physical part. She was sprung forth from the fountain of love which JJ and I share which ultimately has it's root in God. This all sounds deep and epic, well God is deep and epic and so much more. So since all life has it's root in God then this doesn't sound so dramatic, it sounds appropriate. Make sense? Good.
I first went through a shock when we miscarried but I feel like I was not all that surprised given our situation. The day after the miscarriage started we went to the church and lit a candle on the St. Joseph side for our baby. I wore black and green which have been the colors that I associate with our little one. We knelt down and prayed there, JJ led the prayer, it was the middle of the afternoon so no one was in the church. I cried a little but I mostly felt numb, like was this really happening. It all happened so fast that I was trying to make sense of what was going on. We saw a friend outside the church when we were leaving and it took all the strength within me to not tell him what was going on especially because he is a really good friend. I didn't want to share because I just wanted to go home and crawl back into bed. I felt alone and I wanted to be alone.
The weeks and months after the miscarriage I still felt very alone and I allowed myself to feel that way. There was defintley wallowing in my own self pity that went on, even accusing JJ of not being on my side. I felt bad for myself when I saw pregnant women and walking near the baby isle in the store. I thought "wow I have suffered so much, these women don't even know." I also thought of wanting to isolate myself from all pregnant women, yeah not very practical. I just didn't want to be reminded of what I had lost (my baby), what I could not do (get pregnant) or who I could not be (a mother). Part of this was because we had already been dealing with IF and a lot of those feelings were wrapped up together. Losing our child really forced me to face my feelings about IF which I thought I was hiding pretty well prior to the miscarriage.
I had to face the grief and sadness I felt about not being able to have children. I had always wanted to be a wife and mother. I would think about what kind of man I would marry and how many children we would have. I remember shocking my friends in high school with talking about wanting a big family and they would always say I'm crazy. I remember my friends in college saying that I was "such a mom" because I always had food if they were hungry or I just exuded motherly qualities. When I was engaged a lot of my friends would say what a great mom I would be and expected us to have children right away. I worked in parent education with mommies and babies and I was really good at it. I was good with the kids especially with the 12-24months children. So a lot of my identity was wrapped up in becoming a mom. When I finally got pregnant it is as if I breathed a sigh of relief that yes, being a mom is who I am meant to be. So when we lost the baby, I was reliving all of those fears and anxieties about who I really was. If I am a wife I must be meant to be a mother, right? I was questioning my worth to the world, to my husband and to God.
I faced the natural feelings of losing someone you loved. I missed our baby and wished she were still with me. I wished God would take away our IF and give us children. I thought I must've done something wrong like eat what I wasn't suppose to or I exercised too much. I knew the reality was that I had done nothing wrong but I still felt shame. Oh shame, that horrible feeling. I felt like I was bad because I couldn't do this one thing that most women can do. Shame is not good y'all it takes away the dignity of who you are and that is not ok. The biggest battle I fought spiritually and emotionally was overcoming this shame that I felt. If not for the grace of God, I would still be in that pit. I also had a lot of anxiety after the miscarriage. Thinking about if we'd ever get pregnant again and if we did would we lose that child too or thinking I would lose JJ filled me with anxiety. Each time I got my period after the miscarriage I would be reminded of that horrible day and the sadness would creep back in. I clung to the cross and asked Jesus to help me with the shame and anxiety. Lent was shortly after the miscarriage so I prayed part of the stations every day.
As the time came near to go back to my non CrMS job with mommies and babies JJ and I decided that it was just too much. I could not be around that environment anymore, it hurt too much. So I focused on CrMS which was a lot of work anyway. When I went up north almost 6 months after the miscarriage to my second education phase for CrMS my body was a mess and so was my heart. It was so hard to be there to learn about how to help women know about their fertility and get the help they needed when I felt like I was a total wreck. I had a hypoglycemic and anxiety attack in the middle of the night on my 2nd night there. I called JJ and he came up in the morning and spent the rest of the week there making sure I ate and got to my classes. JJ was becoming my security blanket, I needed him with me. I felt so weak in all aspects and he was really the one who was so strong for the both of us. I got through EP2 because of God's grace and my husband. As we were all saying goodbye one of the other interns pulled me aside looked me straight in the eyes and said "I know you're sick and hurting. There is no one else that can take care of you like you can take care of you. You need to get better for yourself and your husband needs you. You can do this and I am praying for you." Her words pierced through my heart and they stung a little but she was so right. I needed to start climbing out of the pit of self pity and allow God to strengthen me through this.
I felt like I was climbing out of a pit and needed to get to a mountain top without any gear, compass or a trail to follow. How do you start to move on from grief? How do you heal from a miscarriage without feeling like you are ignoring the life that was created? I had no idea. I just started to focus on others instead of staying within myself. I started to turn that grief into actions of love toward my husband. I tried to be the best practitioner I could be for my clients. I cried when I needed to cry and I laughed when I needed to laugh. I took my time to be sad and angry without putting any expectations on myself to be the perfect Christian who was happy all the time. Life is not always happy, there is suffering. Once I started to surrender to the suffering and unite it to the suffering of Christ then my world and perspective started to change. I started to see that I was not the only one who has gone through this nor was I the only one suffering. I saw that other people are dealing with their own crosses and we should all be compassionate toward others. Even if I felt like my cross was bigger than theirs it didn't matter they needed compassion and understanding too!
The shame and self pity started to melt away as I started to lean more on God and His grace, not my own. If I were relying on my own strength I would still be in that pit. I had a great amount of support from my husband and close friends who prayed for me and comforted me. I know there are women who go through this and don't have the same support. Sure people said some things to hurt me, unintentionally of course, like "at least you know you can get pregnant now" or "the next pregnancy will go better" or "be thankful your baby is in heaven." Those statements were not helpful especially if they were coming from people who don't know what it's like to go through a miscarriage. I haven't been able to get pregnant again, I don't know if I'll ever be able to get pregnant again and I didn't want my child to go to heaven yet I wanted to meet her and hold her first. If you have children, which one would you choose to send to heaven right now? Probably none right? You want them safely with you until you were ready to let them go.
Each woman goes through grief from a miscarriage or stillbirth differently, it is so important that we not ignore this heartbreaking event in a woman's life. I have gotten so much support from women who have had miscarriages, they have shared their stories with me after they found out about ours. I have gotten so much prayer and support from amazing people and I am truly blessed with lots of love. I pray that I can be there for women going through this tragedy, walking with them and praying for them as they go through a very devastating time. In part 3 I will share where I am at now, two years after the miscarriage. I think it's good for me to share where I am at now to see how far God has brought me. God truly is amazing.