Living with the Loss of our Child
“Oh Wow! So you’re married?” she asked.
”Yes I am”, I replied.
“So any kids?” she followed, “no, not yet”, I said.
These types of interactions seem to happen so quickly that I find myself unable to formulate uncomplicated truthful responses. I’ve included the word “truthful” because every time I respond with a “no” to the question of whether I have a child, I lie. I don’t mean to, I just don’t know yet how to say that I had a child who died in utero.
I feel like I betray our child every time I say no; I feel as if I deny their existence with every reply. This feeling is excruciating because it is also a reminder that our child isn’t here with us. We’ve had people coming into our home and exclaiming -kindly- that we can have the light coloured furniture we had because we didn’t have children yet. Some have asked me why I don’t have children yet and others have told us that our lives are a little less complicated because we don’t have children. These interactions are gloomy, to say the least.
I replay these interactions in my head and I think about the perception that our reproduction is fully in our hands when it isn’t. I think about the perception that we’re childless by choice when we aren’t. I think about the normalcy of asking married couples about their reproductive plans. I think about all this and conclude that none of these interactions are meant to harm me; they are innocent, not malicious.
My Own Personal Nightmare
So what do I do then? My pain is raw, deep and constant. Sometimes I can’t breathe and I have to swallow so I can force myself to take a breath. Other times I lay in bed at night, wetting my pillow with my tears, wishing that I could see or even hold our child. I wish that we had had a chance to hear their heart beat or something that could linger longer than an ultrasound image. It’s been 5 months since we lost our child to a miscarriage and I am not even a little bit over that. I oscillate between the knowledge that our child lived and died in the same place and the disbelief that they were there to begin with. I still can’t believe that we lost our Bean who just needed a chance to grow.
It turns out that what happened to our family is a common phenomenon. According to the statistics, 31% of pregnancies end in a miscarriage1. So about one in three pregnancies end in a loss like ours.
Comfort has been hard to come by. This journey has been my most difficult and loneliest yet. I couldn’t (and still cannot) understand why it seemed that mothers who lost their children in this way did not have a lot of support based on how common miscarriages were. I wondered this because I found myself suffering alone. My husband and I were not provided with much comfort beyond sincere expressions of sorrow and prayers when the news initially broke. No other on-going support- that we were aware of- was provided for us as church going people with friends and family. I have no doubt that those close to us continued to pray but no one else reached out, save for my mother. That perception hurt me deeply as our Bean was a real human child who was wanted and loved. This also hurt because I have found that people who are grieving need support more after the initial shock of the loss has worn off.
Mother’s Day was possibly the hardest day this year as it reawakened the grief and left me wondering if I truly was a mother. Could I be a mother if my child passed before they had fully formed? Do other mothers acknowledge me as a mother? Later, I became depressed and seriously contemplated self-harm until I was able to work through my pain with a Therapist.
Where could comfort be found?
Our comfort came from the Lord who proved Himself strong, secure and unchanging, saying: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”- John: 1-5
Colossians 1: 15- 17 says “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
In the Word, I found comfort in the truth: our child’s creation was an activity of God. Our precious child was made by God, for God. He/she wasn’t truly ours. The one who made our child saw it fitting to take them away and that is okay. I learnt that the Lord is trustworthy, although I do not have my child, I have the Lord and I am trusting in His goodness.
The Lord then directed our eyes at Him and it caused me to be grateful. I am grateful for the 2 months I got to live with our precious Bean. I am in awe of the Lord for using a small human to change our lives forever. I am grateful for the babies that make it safely through their journey in the womb, who emerge, beautiful and perfect; I appreciate the care the Lord takes while knitting together precious humans in their mother’s wombs. I am as awestruck as ever by the Lord’s creative ability. I am grateful for those who did pray for us because I could not do so myself in the beginning. I am grateful for the stories I heard of similar losses as they helped me know that I was not the only one to know this pain.
The Lord directed my eyes to the pain and suffering of others and caused me to be more mindful in future of how I support my grieving loved ones; I am now a lot more aware of how crucial providing long-term support to those who are grieving is.
The comfort also came when we realized that the Lord had been seeing us through our grief. It was the Lord who helped me note that I was depressed and in need of urgent counselling. I could not have had the desire or the awareness without Him. It was the Lord who comforted us through His faithful provision of shelter, food and faithful preaching at our local church.
I’m still learning how to navigate through interactions with people regarding the absence of children in our marriage without lying or feeling like I’m betraying our child. I’m getting better via online conversations that can be thought through; I was able to answer the question about whether I had any kiddos with a modifier. I replied, “We have no little ones running around yet”. Maybe the Lord will grant us little ones who will run around in the future, maybe He won’t; either way, may His will be done.