On the flight home from the FamilyLife Speaker’s Retreat last year, Ray and I talked about praying, again, to look into adoption. I loved how God had, surprisingly increased our family two years ago with Ryland through the gift of adoption. I just didn’t want him to be the only adopted child in a family with eight biological children. So in February, I was surprised to learn that, indeed, our family would increase … I was pregnant.
I asked the Lord for a baby, not a pregnancy. I was astounded because this was NOT in my plans. I was 47 years old. So in the week to follow, I couldn’t believe this was my lot for the next nine months. Morning sickness, shortly thereafter, let me know this was indeed a reality, and I better begin preparing for this new little McKelvy.
I began planning for this new baby, but never did I plan for this pregnancy to end. But on February 24, our child was with the Lord, and we were left with sad hearts and empty arms. Just as this baby came to us with surprise and disbelief, he or she left us the same way. The death of this baby left a big hole in my heart.
This was my 7th miscarriage, so I probably shouldn’t have been so shocked; but each loss is very devastating to me. The days of bed rest so that the cramping and spotting would stop. The big question: what’s wrong with my body? The hormones, sweats, and tears, sometimes heavy, sometimes all day, sometimes months later, many at odd times, sometimes just one. And just when I think I can move on, my due date rolls around. That’s when I notice the cry of the newborn at the mall, the growing crowd at church over another mom’s new birth, or the new mom with baby in tote at the grocery store. I then realize the effects of my loss are with me forever.
Death is normally not the chosen topic of conversation. Often times we are forced to talk about it because of the loss of someone we love. If the person who has passed away has lived a long life, we are thankful for the time we had with them and usually have fond memories we can express about them. When children pass away, we can think about their smiles, their gestures, their kisses, the cute personalities that made them who they were, no matter how short the life. But the aspect of death that has been so difficult to talk about, for me, is miscarriage. There is no long life; most miscarriages happen before anyone can even tell the mom-to-be was pregnant. To everyone around you, there is no tangible reminder of this loss of life.
There is one comforting thing about my miscarriages; I am not alone. In the United States alone, 1 out of 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. I know every day I pass another mom in the grocery store, at the school, or at a stoplight who has gone through this very same thing.
To help me out while I recuperate, my church family has cleaned my home, washed my clothes, and made us more spaghetti meals than I could imagine. (I never knew that the same dish could be made in so many different ways.) My family and in-laws have called or stopped by just to “hug me.” These visits temporarily soothe the pain, like an ointment on a wound that still needs time to heal. The old saying goes, “Time heals all wounds,” but miscarriage is a wound that will never completely heal.
To the many women who experience this, there are many defining moments in this journey. There is the moment of realizing you are carrying a new life inside of you: the surprise, shock, anger, or happiness. No matter how you are processing this pregnancy, your body has already begun preparing to house this new life.
God also gives you friends, family, and others who want to give you advice to make it all better. With my first miscarriage, one of the mothers from the church came up to me and said, “Sorry to hear about your miscarriage, but God never intended us to breed like dogs.” (I guess because this was my third pregnancy in three years, I was a breeder). Another well-intended friend thought my cramping shouldn’t take as long as it had; “After all, you weren’t that far along.”
I have learned to examine the intent of the heart of those who offer me words. I know when I miscarry, I am very hormonal. The words said by those who love me may come across as uncaring because of my abnormal hormones or maybe because they are not great at saying comforting words. Whatever the case, I know they have taken out the time to console me, and for that I am grateful.
God has never allowed me to experience the pain of miscarriage without learning more about His goodness. I have learned many things by saying goodbye to my babies I may not have had the opportunity to learn any other way. I know God is in control of every life. Each life created has a purpose, a beginning, and an end. Like miscarriage, our own life will come to an end; we shall come to an end, like David said in 2 Samuel 12:23b, “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.
I know from my many miscarriages that I will “miss the carriage.” Sadly, I will not stroll a baby carriage. I won’t be able to experience the opportunities, adventures, or challenges this child may have brought to my life. I know I won’t be able to kiss this little baby’s toes, help with homework, take him or her to college or plan his or her wedding. But I rest assured, knowing that Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. This little precious child was given to me but for a short time and is now in the presence of Jesus.
I may cry. I may get down about the loss of this gift, but I am comforted in knowing, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5b). I am overjoyed in knowing that when I die, I will go to heaven and see my children worshipping the Lord, our Savior.