Friday, March 31, 2017

Changing the conversation on miscarriage

I had a miscarriage--two actually. 

Tomorrow marks exactly one year since our second child went to heaven. It had been seven months since our infant son, Ethan, had passed away and we had cautiously opened our broken hearts to make room for another child. We knew that we would never be 100% without hurt this side of heaven, but we felt confident that we had plenty of love to go around. On April 1, I woke up to discover that Ethan's younger brother or sister had joined him in heaven. It was as if our baby left as quickly as he or she came. 

Four months later, I became pregnant for a third time. A part of me was terrified of what may come, but my heart opened wide to the possibility of heartache. A mother's love starts at that first discovery of new life and I dove headfirst into embracing the life was grew inside of me. I breathed a sigh of relief when I passed the 6 week mark and began to dream about the future. 

Our third child joined his or her siblings in heaven when I was 8 weeks pregnant. My body, just like my heart, didn't want to move on. It would be an entire month before my body finally realized what my heart already knew--our baby was gone. 

Talking about my miscarriages hasn't come easy for me. At times, I've sat down to consider why it has been so easy for me to talk about the loss of Ethan and why I have hesitated to talk about the other two children that I have lost. In my observations, it all comes down to the way that our society views miscarriage--the way our society views life in general. 

One of the reasons that we don't talk about miscarriage is because society tells us that it isn't a big deal. Perhaps we have bought into the lie, even if only subconsciously. Perhaps we hesitate to share about our miscarriages because each time we have, we've quickly been dismissed and assured that our experience is scientifically normal. 

This happens all the time. 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in a loss. 

Your baby probably had a chromosomal abnormality. They probably wouldn't have survived or would have had a lot of problems. This is nature's way of speeding up the inevitable. 

It's no big deal. Wait one cycle and try again. 

At least it was early. At least you never had a chance to meet them and get attached. 

Yes, miscarriage is much more common than any of us ever realize until it penetrates our world. Yes, most miscarriages do occur because of a chromosomal abnormality. Yes, miscarriages are a natural part of life. 

But normal does not mean painless. Normal does not equate to "no big deal". 

It is for this reason that miscarriage brings women a unique, and often silent, kind of pain. It takes a toll on both the body and the heart. For me, our miscarriages opened the wounds of shame, inadequacy, and abandonment that I had battled after the death of our infant son.  Yes, the pain of miscarriage was much different than the pain of losing Ethan, but I refuse to compare them--it would be like comparing apples and oranges. Both types of loss are painful. Both carry their own unique set of sorrows. Both result in the death of a dream, shattered hopes, and ultimately, the passing of a child. 

At least it was early. At least you never had a chance to meet them and get attached. 

I wish I had a chance to get attached. I wish I knew the color of their eyes, whether they were boys or girls, and whether they looked as much like their dad as their brother did. I wish they were more than precious strangers, loved unconditionally without any knowledge of who they were. 

Your baby probably had a chromosomal abnormality. They probably wouldn't have survived or would have had a lot of problems. This is nature's way of speeding up the inevitable. 

Although this statement may be true, it shocked me to realize how much I subconsciously allowed this way of thinking to impact the way that I viewed new life. Perhaps the doctors were right; perhaps they were too sick anyway. Perhaps we were better off without them. Despite the possibility of any genetic "defects", these babies each have unique souls. Their conception was miraculous. 

Miscarriage is a taboo subject in our society and so many women keep their experiences to themselves. I know I did. Sometimes it was for fear of what types of insensitive yet well-meaning remarks I’d receive as a response. Other times it was because it was just too painful to bring up that I had been pregnant, only to explain that my third child had gone to heaven. Often it was because of shame and guilt. At times, it was from fear of being dismissed and made to feel as if my pain was silly. 

Let's change the conversation on miscarriage. May we join hands and encourage one another, regardless of when our losses may have occurred or how different our experiences may look. If you have had a miscarriage, you have permission to mourn. You have permission to grieve. You have permission to call yourself a mother. You have permission to call them your children. Each life, no matter how short, matters. Their lives, no matter how short, deserve to be celebrated and grieved. A loss is a loss. A life is a life. May we continue to cling to hope, knowing that our precious children are forever without defect, celebrating eternity in heaven. 

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