grief is defined as: a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something to which a bond was formed.
I'm going to be very open and vulnerable here... so don't read on if you don't want to hear it.
I hadn't experienced grief until Saturday, March 1st, 2014. Very few knew this, but I was pregnant with our second child, to be born in late September. This pregnancy was a sweet surprise, just like our pregnancy with Jaden. We were shocked because my hormone levels had been so low... low enough to where we were uncertain if we could get pregnant until they started to increase.
at the end of December, I just knew I was pregnant. I took a couple tests (not drug store tests, I had some test strips from a co-op I'm a part of. they tend to show up earlier) and got a slight positive reading. However, I had my midwife draw my blood and it came back negative. The following week, I had her draw it again and it was positive! I couldn't believe it. Surely it was a fluke! I couldn't possibly be pregnant with our second love. I was ecstatic. to say the very least. I wanted to tell everyone immediately. One of the things we advise our clients is to wait until after the first trimester to "announce" your pregnancy to people other than close friends and family, because the risk of miscarriage goes down significantly after 12 weeks. Jordan really thought we should wait, and so we did. We announced to our families and best friends the weekend we had Jaden's first birthday party. It was perfect. There were tears, hugs, laughing... everyone was so excited with us and for us. I immediately started dreaming of Jaden as a big brother, if this baby would be a boy or girl, how I would decorate the nursery... all the things that go through a mother's brain.
As the pregnancy progressed, I was a little alarmed because it was a drastically different pregnancy than what I had experienced with Jaden. With Jaden, I never doubted that I was pregnant (even though I never showed positive on a pregnancy test) because I vomited several times a day until 15+ weeks. Other than being exhausted and having a suppressed immune system, I really didn't have any symptoms at all. I kept taking tests to make sure I was in fact still pregnant :) my body is wonky and my dates tend to be really off, as they were with Jaden, so we scheduled an early sonogram to best get an accurate idea of how many weeks we were gestationally. We went to the sono at 6 weeks, 4 days. I saw the flickering heartbeat and immediately felt peace wash over me. That was my baby. I loved it so much already. I cried as I saw my baby being perfectly formed in my womb. I started dreaming of my home birth: who would be there, the music that would be playing, catching my own baby...
I get to experience new life all the time as a midwifery student. I get to walk with women through their most wonderful times of their lives... I get to stand by and assist as their babies come forth into the world. I see the Lord's perfect handiwork all the time. Part of that though, is that I experience loss too. It is heart wrenching every time a mom miscarries her baby. The loss that's felt... not only the loss of a child, but the loss of a dream. It never occurred to me that this would one day be me. This surely wouldn't be my lot, right? This is the kind of thing that happens to other people, right? I had a previously semi-easy pregnancy, I'm young, I'm healthy...
on February 28th, Jordan and I were getting ready to go on a date night, and I started spotting. I texted my midwife to let her know, but cramping hadn't yet started, so we weren't alarmed at that point. Spotting (and even cramping) can be pretty common in early pregnancy. As the night went on, I started cramping and still bleeding, though it hadn't increased at all. I tried my best to enjoy my night with my husband and keep the worry from creeping in. When I got home that evening, the cramping had continued all through the night on/off, as had the bleeding. I called my midwife, Ann, and bawled to her. I wasn't feeling peaceful anymore. I knew too much to be peaceful. Deep down I had a really horrifying feeling that something really was wrong. Our sweet sonographer, Robin, who works at the birth center I apprentice at, came in straight from her vacation that night to do a sonogram for me. All I needed to see was the heartbeat. I was almost 9 weeks on Friday, so she should've been able to do the sonogram on my belly, instead of internally. She started on my belly and she couldn't see anything, as my uterus and the baby hadn't grown to that height yet. I knew at that moment and started crying. Still, we decided to do an internal sonogram...the baby measured 7 weeks, 1 day. no heartbeat. my baby... dead in my womb for over a week and a half. I lost it. How could I not have known? I laid on the table and sobbed as my husband and my midwife laid their hands on me and tried their best to comfort me. the loss was unbearable in that moment.
the first thing the enemy tried to say to me in that moment was, "Malloree... you know your name means unlucky. why are you surprised?" I almost told Ann that. I'm unlucky. I'm not surprised. but for some reason, I didn't. I battled back and said to him, "no. I'm not unlucky. I have one beautiful son and I had the privilege of carrying this angel for 7 weeks." something in me kind of shifted at that point. I realized that my baby was safer in the arms of Jesus than he/she would ever be on earth with me. My baby would never know pain, hurt, heartbreak, grief... just fullness, joy, and safety. Ann reminded me that when a baby dies this early on, it was the Lord's mercy for that baby... something would have been wrong, or even fatal had the pregnancy continued. My response was, "I would have loved it anyway." and she told me she knew... but it was the Lord's mercy for me too. I just hugged her and sobbed. I was so glad she was there with me.
..."so what next?" I asked her. She told me I could go to the hospital and have a D&C, which meant they would surgically remove everything from my body... or, I could just let my body do it on it's own. Which it had already started to, obviously. I opted to let my body finish what it started. I couldn't even believe we were having that conversation...
so we headed home. I texted my parents, my friends that I had asked to pray, and let them know the news. My best friend, Holly, called me. She was the one person the Lord knew I needed to talk to. she let me cry and she cried with me. I came home, held Jaden for a long time, and thanked Jesus for my precious boy and I just wept... how could I feel so much love and so much loss all at once? Just earlier that day, I would tell Jaden to kiss the baby, and he would give my belly the sweetest kiss. Now, we knew the baby was no longer there... our baby was with Jesus.
I couldn't sleep that night, as my body had started to labor, essentially. The cramping was hard. It would start dull and then peak, just like a contraction does. I lathered myself in essential oils, grabbed my heating pad, and tried to rest inbetween them. By the morning, I could tell my body was trying to finish the process (I'll spare you details). But, it was pretty beautiful... I got to labor and birth this baby. I got to labor in pain, have the cramping and the contractions that come with labor, and give this baby the same labor of love that I did with Jaden and that I will with our future children. This child got all of me in that moment... It felt so final once the baby was out. Just like normal birth (well, for a first time mom), the cramping stopped shortly after the baby was out. I saw the sac that the baby was in, and everything that was starting to form, and just like that, I felt peace. At first, I told Ann and Jordan that I didn't want to see anything... but now, I'm so glad I decided to look. I'll always remember it and I'll always remember the release I felt. I had to say goodbye to my baby and to my dream, yet there was more peace than I ever remember feeling before.
I have never experienced personal tragedy until this. I knew it was bound to happen at some point, it just wasn't how I pictured it would be. I never thought I would lose a child. some people who have never experienced this are probably thinking... you were only 9 weeks, how can you mourn over someone you never knew? The pro-abortion people would say, that's not even a child... but oh how wrong they are. Let me tell you, there is NOTHING like a mother's love for her children, born or unborn... 9 years or 9 weeks. The attachment is usually instantaneous from the second the positive reading comes on the test, or the first sweet sound of a heartbeat is heard. The Lord entrusted ME with this baby for those 7 weeks he/she was being created. He used my body to grow her to her fullest potential. I will never understand why this baby died so young. I really thought I would wrestle harder with that idea, but I haven't. Reason being, that while I don't know why this happened, what I do know is that the Lord is good. Everything He does is good... it always has been and it always will be. That never changes, though my circumstances change. I updated my facebook status saying, "...and if not, He is still good." I feel that way, truly. I am not angry, mad, or bitter like I thought I would be. I feel deeply sad... heartbroken... but not angry. I really am comforted knowing that my baby is with Jesus and that one day I'll see him/her again.
Psalm 34:18 says, "the Lord is close to the brokenhearted, He saves those who are crushed in spirit."
I am so thankful. That is me. Broken hearted and crushed in spirit... but I KNOW with everything that I am that the Lord is FOR me. He is never against me. He loves me, He loves my babies... He promises that His yolk is easy and His burden is light. He says for me to come to Him when I'm weary and heavy laden and He will give me rest. (Matt. 11:28)... and He has.
Job 1:21 says, "the Lord gives and the Lord takes away... blessed be the name of the Lord." though I may not know why, still I know He is good.
going back to the definition of grief at the top... It's safe to say that I'm grieving. But it's not in the way I expected. I'm grieving, I'm heartbroken, but I'm filled with comfort and encouragement. I'm not overcome by anger, resentment, and questions. I've asked the Lord to give us a name for him/her.. and I really believe He has, and also spoken that this baby was a girl. We will always love her and always be thankful for the things we were taught by her short life. Though an insignificant amount of time to most, her life is worth all the celebrating. Though we mourn, we are filled with joy. Thank you, Jesus, for letting us be her parents. We are so grateful for the privilege.
I write all this to encourage. I do not want a single ounce of pity. I have learned more about grace in the last 36 hours than I have in my entire life. I have learned more about the goodness and the sovereignty of God than I ever thought I would. So please, let it encourage you and not lead you to feel sorry for us.
THANK YOU to everyone who has been praying, texting, calling, offering to feed us... you are gems and we are so grateful. love you all.