Today I would like to talk about a very personal struggle I have had in my adulthood. While I actually find that most conversations around this topic are deep and meaningful, there is also a stigma about it and I am cautious to bring it up. Ian and I have suffered multiple miscarriages. It is hard and sad and I am not looking for pity, but am wanting to open the conversation up for those going through similar pain.
When Ian and I were dating we both wanted a big family. We wanted to have a lot of kids and adopt, too. We didn’t expect the biology of having babies to be the hard part, thinking instead finances or the judging gossip of others would be bigger problems for us. We discovered early on that getting pregnant is fairly easy, well within all the medical terms of normal, but getting past 8 weeks is extremely difficult and passing 12 weeks has only happened twice with only one making it to full term.
Medically I have be advised of several things I can do to improve my odds, but mentally, it is a very difficult situation. For years, I didn’t talk to anyone about my experiences beyond Ian and my doctor. This was not healthy. Not only was I grieving the loss of loved and wanted children, but also I blamed myself. “There must be something wrong with me” is a phrase that frequents my mind, while better now that I am more open about it, I still have that debate sometimes. The self loathing that would meander in my thoughts as those around me would announce happy and healthy pregnancies. While happy for them, I was also jealous and self-centered only wishing that Ian and I would have success.
When we did successfully conceive John and carry him to term, it was a miracle and blessing. I felt as though finally my luck had turned… though it was really not luck at all, it was the perfect combination of health, prayer and reduced stress. My pregnancy with him was easy and Ian and I were so thankful to have a child. And we hoped that siblings would join him easier now, perhaps he had cleared the way.
For a while we struggled because Ian was away from home so much, but eventually we conceived again. We made it to 8 weeks, but I was extremely nervous, for many reasons and shortly there after lost all hope again. Since having John the mental struggles are more difficult around a miscarriage. Now I have questions like: “Am I being ungrateful for the blessing I have by trying so hard to have more?” “Is it okay to cry for children that never were born while holding one that is here with me?” “did my anxiety do this?” along with “is it my fault?” and “what did I do to deserve this?” Most of the time prayer settles my mind and while it may not answer my questions, I am reminded that death is a part of life.
Shortly after that loss and coming to grips with the fact that John may be our only child, I asked Ian if he minded if I came up with a way to honor our losses, which of course he didn’t. In our entry way we had three pictures of John and we had already decided to switch one out and so I said what if I made a sign for the last one, keeping John in the middle. We agreed. I had decided on a phrase “Grieving the past, Praying for the future” and I was going to put the outline of either a fetus or a baby bump in the center, but Ian felt that was a bit morbid and that the word praying was too desperate. So it says hoping with a cross in the center and hangs with our family photos. While I have no idea if visitors understand what this is about, it has helped me immensely recognizing that our family is incomplete and reaching acceptance of our lost angels. I also feel that reaching this point has allowed me to become more open with others and starting conversations about pregnancy loss, the pain and mental struggles associated with fertility issues and how hard it is to talk about.
Only God knows what our family will end up looking like and with Him all things are possible. He knows our desires, our love and our pain, may we use them all to be our best selves. I invite you whether man or woman, if you know of someone who has struggled in this area, reach out to them, even if you didn’t hear it from them, offer an ear or a shoulder, both can go a long way.