One of the amazing women in one of my online loss support groups posted a link talking about her 5 (yes, FIVE) miscarriages. She's compiling stories of miscarriages for a book and had some questions at the end of her post for anyone who felt up to contributing. If anything, I want to be able to help others after my experiences, so I'm going to post my answers here.
Suzanne asked -
In your experiences with miscarriage:
What happened? How did you feel? How did you grieve? How did those around you feel and grieve? How did your experiences affect you spiritually? What was your greatest challenge with miscarriage? What, if any, was your greatest gift or life lesson?
Let's go through them.
Rather than type it all out again, I'll just direct you to my posts about what happened.
Taylor - Background Post
Taylor - Birth
Seth - Background Post
Seth - Birth
Seth - After Birth
How did you feel?
I had lost one very early between Keith and Mitchell, back in February 2007. Around 5-6 weeks, I started bleeding and knew something was wrong. I finally got someone to listen to me and do an ultrasound at 7 weeks. They said my 5 week fetus was just fine. Except I was 7 weeks. They insisted my dates were wrong. A few days later, I passed a little gray "blob" that was my baby. I had never really felt like a spirit was connected to this body, so I was sad at the missed chance at parenthood but was overall fine. It was in the ensuing 15 months to finally conceive again that I had emotional issues. I felt like I must have been such a horrible mother to Keith that I wasn't going to be trusted with another of Heavenly Father's children. It hurt. But finally, with some help, I had Mitchell and then Kiersten.
I was so thrilled to be pregnant again in November 2011! I hadn't started taking supplements to help me get pregnant yet, so it was a bit of a surprise! People called me crazy for spacing my kids only 18 months apart. And I was nervous about a summer delivery (I'd previously had Keith in February, lost in February, had Mitchell in February, and Kiersten in January - love my winter babies!). Then, to lose her, and not see her tiny body... I was crushed. I hurt. I felt like a terrible mother for not finding her body in the toilet before flushing. I was drained. I cried a lot. But I received comfort quickly and it helped a lot. I looked to the positive. I had a child waiting for me, a perfect child, and I would get to be a mother during the Millennium, and that was amazing! So I focused on the good and continued on, remembering and loving, but not being overwhelmed.
Then came Seth. He was a first-try baby, just as my early loss between the boys had been. With that tidbit plus being so soon after Taylor, I was nervous. VERY nervous. But even when pregnant with Taylor, I envisioned that this new pregnancy would be a boy. So, I had hope. I was fearful as I came up on 5 months since Taylor was born at the same time as I hit my mark in my new pregnancy when Taylor had died. I had a quick-peak ultrasound in between my monthly prenatals just to make sure all was well. When it was, and it was still well at my regularly scheduled appointment, I decided I needed to not be the crazy lady who was constantly fearful and asking for quick-peaks to make sure all was still going well. After that 15 week appointment, I wanted to check in again so many times, but I was trying so hard not to be obnoxiously scared. So I waited it out until that 19 week ultrasound when I found out that Seth had died at 16 weeks.
I should have gone in sooner. I should have listened to my instincts. As I was thinking all week how, if Seth had no heartbeat I would not be going on our weekend trip to see family, I should have realized that those thoughts were not mine, but inspired thoughts. When I went in for the ultrasound, she checked the cervix and such first, then went toward the baby and I asked if there was a heartbeat. She was shocked, especially as there wasn't one. I held it together well, though I asked Ben to take the kids out of the room. They were still excitedly asking for a gender and I could tell it was upsetting the ultrasound tech. I was surprised at myself for breaking down against the wall of the clinic. I was both surprised AND not at all surprised. I had envisioned my baby boy for MONTHS but I had also felt like he wasn't going to live. I didn't ever actually THINK "why did you do this to me twice in a row and so quickly" but the feeling was underlying. I've never been angry with my Heavenly Father. In fact, I continue to pray asking that He lead me to what is best (as opposed to good or better, I want best) and I don't question if this is part of leading me to that "best" because I know it is. But my arms sometimes literally ache for my babies. I'm comforted that Taylor and Seth are together, or I at least assume they are. I'm just very sad that I don't have them both with me.
I still hurt that I never got to see Taylor. And that neither baby is in my home or my belly. But, I'm mostly okay. Life continues on for the rest of us, I'm just sad that I can't get to know my children right now. I know it's selfish because they are in a much better place than this crazy world, but that doesn't make me miss them less. I'm not a horrible mother, despite the days that I feel I might be. All of my children know I love them. I just have this lingering aching pain/hurt. It's something that I don't anticipate will ever go away. And I don't want it to because the lack of the lingering pain would mean I'm not remembering my children. Anytime love is taken away, pain lingers. A love that's as pure as a mother's love for her children lingers longer than I think any love/pain could. I don't think it matters how old your child is, you still miss your children every single day. You miss what they could have been, you miss what they were, you just miss them. Age and accomplishments have nothing to do with it.
How did you grieve?
Mostly, I grieve through pictures. I take the few images I have (whether Taylor's ultrasounds or Seth's NILMDTS pictures) and edit them into collages or add words of remembrance. I speak a LOT about my experiences because other people speaking to me has helped me a lot. I choose to take these sad experiences and find something worthwhile to make out of their lives. Their lives cannot be meaningless. I've started making angel clothing for other stillborn and miscarried babies. I even have a few others working on angel clothing, too. Someone mentioned making mini-scrapbooks and donating them to hospitals. I absolutely love the idea. The hospital I delivered at had nearly nothing for angel babies. No memory boxes. They had a couple blankets and bracelets. No hats. No clothing. So I plan on taking items to hospitals. If I can get full memory boxes made, that would be amazing! I just keep talking, keep crying, keep looking at pictures, and keep trying to do whatever I can for others in such a sad point in their lives. Doing things in their memory and honor makes their short lives have meaning and purpose - and expanding it to more than just meaning and memories for ME makes me feel even better. I should say that, just because I can type out positive stuff today doesn't mean that every day is positive. Some days, that lingering pain just doesn't ease up and I cry at the tiniest little things. Some days are still very hard, but it's only been 3 weeks since his birth.
How did those around you feel and grieve?
I know that others have been effected. My mom was saddened, as was my sister. For some, it stirs up painful memories of their own loss. For others who have lost, they take the opportunity to help me to return the favor of being helped by someone else during their first days and weeks. Some are inspired to help me as I try to make clothes and such. Some prefer to ignore the whole thing. I had an amazing outpouring of love and help like I had never experienced after Seth was born. Other than that, I'm not really sure.
How did your experiences affect you spiritually?
I think many who know me need to read this part. I feel like my losses continue to bring me closer and closer to my Heavenly Father and my Savior. My prayers change. I pray more and more to know how to help others. I pray for chances to serve others. I pray that He'll tell my children that I love them and miss them. I pray more fervently than ever that He will lead me to what is best. I'm more likely to cry when praying than ever before. In fact, nearly every prayer includes tears now (or, at least in the last 3 1/2 weeks since we found out Seth had died). My faith has not diminished at all. It continues to grow and strengthen. I know that my Heavenly Father loves me. I know it. With no doubt. And I recognize in prayer that I am just sad for my own loss, but that I am grateful for the chance to know them and raise them later. I may not focus on that on my bad days, but on my good days (like today) those thoughts are very prevalent.
What was your greatest challenge with miscarriage?
Maybe the people who know me should stop reading now. It's hard to see how miscarriage affects a mother and a father differently. Ben hadn't yet bonded with our children. He thought it was sad, but he's overall pretty fine and not in any stage of grief or mourning. I'm sure he'll not be pleased with me sharing this online, but those going through miscarriage should know - I had my NILMDTS photographer take a picture of Seth in the same pose as each of our children have been photographed in. I intended from the beginning for it to be hung on the wall with our other children, which happens to be in the dining room. I chose an edited picture so that Seth's eyes were closed so the kids wouldn't be confused by his opened eyes. I chose black and white rather than color to be a little more kind to anyone who came to our home. Ben took it down a couple days after I hung it up. I let him know that him removing the photo was like him rejecting Seth as one of our children. He said it grossed him out to see a picture of a corpse when sitting at the dinner table. A picture of my son should not "gross out" my husband, his father, and should not be referred to as a picture of a corpse. That hurt me SO MUCH.
Also, others telling me in their kindest words that I needed to stop being sad and get over it already is amazingly difficult. Every birth day and due date is going to be hard, and there will be random hard days in between. Imagine losing your child. You don't just get over it.
So, it wasn't the physical stuff that was hard. It wasn't my own coming to terms that my child would not live in my home. It was that others move on more quickly than I am.
What, if any, was your greatest gift or life lesson?
My greatest gift is my faith and devotion. I have a Heavenly Father and Savior that love me and comfort me. And they guide me to where I can help others. I try to look at my losses as a way to show me that there is a great need that isn't being met, and I'm being entrusted to help meet those needs. So I will keep making angel clothing and other items. I will keep telling my story. And I will keep holding nothing back in the hopes that someone will be helped by my experience. I may have severe heartache every single day as I sew these tiny little clothes, but Christ comforts me as I follow His guidance. How could any gift be much greater than that?
If you’d like to be interviewed, please email tuckersuzanne @ sbcglobal (dot) net, or feel free to comment on the link to her post provided above. You can see the videos from other moms she has talked to on Hopeful Miscarriage.
And as she ended her post, I would like to end mine the same:
Blessings to you on your journey, and thank you from MY healing heart for listening.