A soul filled with rainbows (my journey with miscarriage)…

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The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears. -John Vance Cheney

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I pushed through the gym doors with maybe 13 minutes to spare before the 2009 Turkey Trot kicked off and made a beeline for the bathroom. There was no way my full, 13-week-pregnant bladder was going to make it through a 5K without something embarrassing happening. Especially not with its being my third run at this whole pregnancy business.

As I walked, I absentmindedly massaged my lower abdomen, which had been feeling crampy all morning. I banged through the stall door, creating quite a ruckus in the thankfully deserted bathroom. My mind on the race ahead and the bread rolls I needed to mix up as soon as I got home if they were going to have time to rise before we headed to my mom’s for her annual Thanksgiving feast, I sat down on the toilet and stared unseeingly ahead.

It wasn’t until I moved to stand up that I saw it.

Blood.

And not pink or spotty either. But thick and so dark it was almost black.

Everything froze. My mind. My body. Time itself.

And then, as if someone had taken their finger off of “pause” and mashed the fast-forward button instead, a barrage of emotions pummeled me in quick succession. Fear, panic, and above all, guilt.

You see, I hadn’t been very excited about this baby. I had thought I would be. That I was ready. That after having my first two only 18 months apart, a 22 month break from pregnancy would be sufficient to recharge my baby anticipation meter. I was wrong. I had been fighting frustration and borderline resentment for most of the pregnancy. I felt disconnected from the little life growing inside of me. And it didn’t help that my emotions were all over the place. Although, let’s be honest: they were mostly in an ornery, short-tempered place. I wasn’t much fun to be around, and I knew it.

Granted, it was a stressful time of life for us. We had just finished building our house completely from scratch and were barely moved in with lots of work yet to do. I spent my days chasing toddlers and changing diapers with one hand while holding a paint brush in the other, fighting nausea and fatigue along the way.

Still, this pregnancy seemed different–leeched of joy somehow.

But none of that mattered when I saw the blood, and the chill of possibly losing my child crept its way up my arms and into my soul. Once I could breathe again, I called my mom, who is, sadly, no stranger to miscarriage, and she listened and talked and prayed and just generally did the things that good moms do when their daughters are hurting.

But I think we both knew what was happening.

That didn’t stop me from hoping, though. From praying and frantically shoving away the thought that I deserved this for not being excited enough about this baby. Because, surely there was no “this.” Pregnant women bled all the time during pregnancy. My midwife said as much when I called her, stumbling over my explanations and apologies for disturbing a day of grateful happiness with my mess.

For several hours after we hung up, I hunkered on the couch, trying to be as still as possible, as if, somehow, my lack of motion could hold my baby inside where it was safe and warm.

At first, it seemed to work. But then, then there was another trip to the bathroom and more blood. More nauseating fear.

My roll ingredients languished on the counter top, unmade and ignored. There would be no feast for us that Thanksgiving.

My midwife called to check on me again, and I told her the grim news. She offered to leave her own family feast to drive 40 minutes to the childbirth center and listen for a heartbeat. Clinging to hope, we agreed, thanking her effusively for her selflessness.

I’m not sure I breathed once as she ran the wand over and over my belly, to no avail. No familiar whump-up, whump-uh, whump-up emerged from the faint crackle of the Doppler signal.

I lay there, feeling numb as she described what I could expect in the upcoming hours.

I think I remember tears leaking out of my eyes, down my cheeks, and puddling in my ears, but I can’t be sure. Everything about that moment is blurry and strangely metallic.

The contractions began in earnest before we were even all the way home. I had to pause to let one subside as I dragged myself up the stairs. I know I cried then. Tears of sorrow and self-pity and anger. No one had ever told me that miscarriage could be a mini version of labor, except with no sweet, squishy babe at the end to make it all worth it. This was not supposed to happen.  It was Thanksgiving day, for the love of all things sacred! How was I supposed to be thankful for this?

I spent the next several hours surviving the process, mostly in the tub, pretending to read The Count of Monte Cristo, ignoring the pain and trying to ignore the impending moment when I would have to hold my tiny baby for the first and last time.

The only thing that kept the sobs at bay was a thought that Thalia had offered when I described how odd I’d felt throughout the pregnancy as well as some other unusual things I’d noticed. She had suggested the possibility that I might be looking at a blighted ovum, which meant thatalthough my body had been behaving as if it were pregnant, with heightened hormonal levels and a developing placenta and everything, there would be no actual baby.

In the end, when all was said and done, I think that’s exactly what happened. I never saw a baby, but I did experience the other symptoms, subtly different though they were, that Thalia had said to look for in this kind of miscarriage.

And, relieved as I was, I was also battered and exhausted. And sad. Sad that my body was broken. Sad that I wouldn’t get to meet that particular iteration of me and Shaun. Sad that the last 13 weeks had been wasted. Sad that Thanksgiving Day seemed destined to bear the taint of loss.

The thing is, with God, no sadness is truly wasted. He keeps count of our miseries, collects our tears in a bottle. It is we humans who shovel sorrow away by the double fistful, hoping to bury it beneath activity and sound and something, anything that will make it ache less. I know that sounds trite. And believe me, I would never have chosen to be pregnant for three months, only to endure a miscarriage and discover that my body had been misfiring all along. But I learned some things about myself that I needed to know. The experience stretched and reshaped me, forcing my gaze up from my own navel and outward towards the hurts of other women to whom I would have never related in some ways.

And three months later, after my body and heart had both had time to heal, I was genuinely thrilled and oh-so-grateful to find out that we were pregnant with Della. That was a pregnancy full of anticipation and joy and complete redemption of what had been lost.

She was my rainbow baby, and I was in love with her from conception.

Fast forward 4 years to this pregnancy–to the moment our sonogram technician swiped the wand across my 11-week pregnant belly, and I immediately said, “Did I just see what I thought I saw?”

And she said, “Goodness, girl. It’s twins again! Or at least it was.”

That last phrase filtered through my stunned thoughts as I squinted at the screen, straining to make out the second shape. But it was too faint, the mere shadow of a tiny babe.

Almost like that second rainbow I captured on my way home from the gym one day. (Did you see it?)

Again, I held my breath as the hunt for a heartbeat commenced. My prayers were a simple loop of: “Please, let him be okay.”

But, once again, there was silence. One baby we thought we knew who turned out to never have been at all. And one baby we knew nothing about who slipped away from us before we could ever wrap our hearts around his very possibility.

Honestly, the second time was less traumatic, both for my body and my heart (somehow, not knowing he existed in the first place made releasing him back to Jesus easier).

But it still hurt. It still tugged and pinched to think what his twin, who is kicking me as I type this, could have had (now that I’ve seen the bond that Evy and Nola share, I kind of think every singleton is missing out). What I could have had.

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So, why do I tell you all of this now? (I certainly never planned to before this pregnancy).

I tell you because I know that it is hard for many of you to read about a woman who is effortlessly pregnant for the sixth time when you would give anything to see those double pink lines just once.

I tell you because of this verse: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

I tell you so that, maybe, possibly, my story could comfort those in any trouble with comfort I myself received from God.  Those of you who extended such sweet words of congratulation in the midst of your own struggle to conceive. Those of you kept silent and fought the urge to throw your laptop across the room (I get that). Those of you who can relate to the horrible, nauseating stomach-drop when there’s blood on your underwear, and the Doppler does nothing but crackle.

My story is different than yours. But I still hear you. I see you. I’ve felt at least a tiny sliver of your pain. And I’m for you.

But, more importantly, Jesus is for you. Even on Thanksgiving Day when your bathtub water runs red or on a Monday morning when you’ve just tossed your 23rd negative pregnancy test in the trashcan, along with a fair bit of hopes and dreams.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither miscarriage nor barrenness nor unexpected pregnancies when we don’t feel “ready” nor rebellious children nor anxious nights in the NICU nor stillborn births nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39, added paraphrasing, mine).

We don’t always know why we hurt, but we can know this with certainty: “I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:13).

If you’re struggling with miscarriage or infertility or feeling overwhelmed by lots of little kids or…whatever…I would be honored if you emailed me at:

blogabbie{at}gmail{dot}com.

As I’ve said many times before, I don’t have all the answers. But I know a God who does. And I would be happy to lift you up before Him in prayer. And if that whole “love of God in Christ Jesus” thing sounds confusing or foreign or too-good-to-be-true, I’d love to talk to about that too.

You probably have some processing to do, but in the words of the inimitable Joe Fox: “Meanwhile, I’m still here. Talk to me.”

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37 thoughts on “A soul filled with rainbows (my journey with miscarriage)…

  1. Thank you for this beautiful, truthfilled post. We have lost three, one of which was on Mother’s Day of all days. Still stings, but I have grown to know Him so much deeper and respect life even more so. Thank you for your blog and your honesty.

  2. Hi Abby, I just discovered your blog and I love it! I too had a miscarriage over Thanksgiving. I thought I was 12 weeks along, but the ultrasound showed that the baby stopped growing at 9 weeks. It took my body that long to understand what had happened, and then miscarry. They way you describe the sinking feeling and the fact that it is labor was, to a T, my experience. Although it’s been a year and I am now 2 weeks away from delivering a bouncing baby boy, the memories came flooding back as I read your post. I think it was what I needed right now – as I wait impatiently for labor to being – I’m reminded to be grateful for what I do have!

  3. Abbie, I read this when you posted it and at that time we were desperately trying for our second child. On Oct. 16th we had a positive pregnancy test and now I am laying flat in my bed praying this baby is alright. I came here searching for this post hoping to find comfort and I did. Thank you for sharing. Your words are so elegantly written.

  4. Tengo 50 años y 3 hijos varones de 21, 20 y 14 años, cuando mi pequeño no había cumplido el año y medio, me volvi a quedar embarazada y fue una sorpresa, tenia ya casi 38 años y pense que iba a ser dificil un cuarto hijo con esa edad… Mi marido en ese momento se habia quedado sin trabajo y no sabia como comunicarselo… Tarde 2 semanas en decirle la noticia pero se puso muy feliz. A los 3 meses tuve un aborto espontaneo y fue una tristeza inmensa la que nos invadio a los dos, los medicos me dijeron que todo pasa por algo y que quizas fue mejor asi, pero siempre me quedo la pena de que hubiera sido nuestra vida con un hijo mas…
    Yo tambien me senti muy culpable, echandome la culpa de lo que habia pasado y con el tiempo me di cuenta de que Dios quiso que las cosas sucedieran asi, y que me habia bendecido con otros · hijos maravillosos y sanos que ahora ya practicamente son unos hombres y cuando los miro solo puedo pensar que soy afortunada…
    Muchas gracias por compartir esos momentos que muchas hemos pasado y que reconocemos los sentimientos que te embargaron
    Besos y mis mejores deseos para ti y tu famila
    Visi

  5. Thank you. I needed this today. Here I have happened across your blog on this very day that I shared my recent miscarriage with my friend. Thank you. Your family is beautiful.

  6. I have never experienced the loss of a child…God saw fit to give me two wonderful boys and I have been happy with that, even if I really did want more children…my body just couldn’t handle another pregnancy. Too many women find shame in their miscarriage to share with others – but your honesty, and compassion for others – along with your love for Jesus…it’s soothing and sweet and so Spirit-driven! I had a hysterectomy a few years ago and still wonder what could have been.

  7. Isn’t it amazing who is there with us in this journey!? Truly, we do not know the pain experienced by those around us! Thanks for sharing your story. It’s been a few years since my last miscarriage, but I’m watching a friend go through the loss of her first, and now probably her second children. I’ve lost my first at 10 weeks, one at full-term birth, one at 20 weeks, and 5-7 more by 8 weeks. It’s hard So hard I’ve tried NOT to remember how many I’ve lost! I look like a beyond-abundantly-blessed mom of 8 children, and I AM, but there is more here than meets the eye. Life is made of grief and joy. With Christ at the center of my life, the joy has, and will always win out.

  8. Thank you for posting this Abbie. I had 2 confirmed and one unconfirmed (by a doctor) miscarriages. They were all before 7 weeks. Any miscarriage at any time in a pregnancy planned or not is difficult. So sorry for you losses. Thanks for uplifiing others with your story.

  9. I rarely ever comment, but I read every post you make. I’ve never suffered a loss personally, but this post touched me. Keep on keeping on and thank you. :-)

  10. Thank you for sharing! Miscarriage is such a lonely grief process. I lost our 2nd baby at 9 weeks over Easter weekend. During a time of new life through Jesus… We were dealing with loss. It was so hard… But more women need to talk about it and be there for each other.

  11. Thank you so much for this post. I was checking my favourite blogs today and when I clicked on yours, I struggled for a bit – am I ready to read about a mother as happy as you are? (Sorry if this sounds harsh!) Then I clicked anyway, I like your voice and I decided long ago that I won’t be bitter, no matter what. But I’m filled with pain, because yesterday I was expecting to see my 8week baby on the sonogram — and we saw a dark blob instead. Miscarriage. Again, the second time this year. I have two beautiful and healthy daughters, and I do know that others would give everything to have what I have. Still. I really, really want a third child. So, thanks for this post and my prayers are with you.

  12. Thanks so much for sharing! A lot of women keep this silent pain to themselves but I think it’s far more encouraging when we can weep together rather than alone.

  13. Thank you for sharing this! It has been exactly one month since I miscarried at 12 1/2 weeks. I was also diagnosed with a blighted ovum. I felt that feeling of “what was this for?” after going through the pains and exhaustion of labor without the sweet reward of a baby afterwards.
    You are speaking the truth of the Lord to many women on this blog, and I thank you!

  14. Abbi, thank you so much for this. I am so sorry to hear about your experiences with this type of pain. I had 2 miscarriages after a long time trying, and it was so difficult. I felt like they stole all the joy out of finding out I was pregnant in the future. Instead of joy, I felt ungodly fear, which I had to work through with the Lord. But I had a beautiful baby girl a few months ago and I think those miscarriages have made me appreciate her even more.
    And as a bit of comfort to you, we found signs of my baby having a twin when I gave birth. There was a second, underdeveloped placenta. It wasn’t as hard, having never known there was another one, but I still can’t help but think about what if….

  15. I love your honesty. I always have. It’s what drew me to your blog (that and those knockoff anthro candlesticks.) You are a blessing to me for sharing your journey in motherhood even though I’m almost 30 and still single with no children. I do fear one day I won’t be able to conceive because of a fibroid but you give me hope.

  16. Thank you for sharing. I’ve had two miscarriages and five full term babies. It’s such a hard walk….the only comfort is knowing my babies saw Jesus first and never knew the pain of this life. I certainly wouldn’t trade the experience if God were to have given me the choice to not ever have even gotten pregnant those two times I would still choose yes! I’m blessed to have known those tiny angels for the short time they were in my womb. I look forward to holding them in heaven. I’m so glad The Lord has blessed with your beautiful family and this new little baby boy!

  17. How easy it is for us to forget that everyone has their own unique struggles and pain. No one goes through life without heartache. Thank you for being vulnerable. It encourages my soul.

  18. My heart goes out to the infertile, the mamas who have miscarried and the ones aching for more even when they have an armful. God has a different journey for each of us and I am so thankful He is faithful. I just learned that an acquaintance in my homeschooling group is pregnant with a girl (after three boys)…but this pregnancy is so different! She had her tubes tied after the third boy and she became pregnant anyway (!), with twins! But, one twin died and had provided just enough progesterone for the surviving twin to keep going. She had previously lost babies due to low progesterone. So, she’s looking forward to this wee one in about 3 weeks. Praise God! Kathy – mom to 10

  19. We lost our first baby at 10 weeks a few years ago. I stopped reading most blogs after that because they seemed so full of women so blessed and so unaware of the fortune they had in being able to get and stay pregnant. Two things I struggled with.
    It proves we never really know the battles those around us are fighting.
    I think about our loss every day and will always remember the baby that wasn’t to be but the son that we were finally (FINALLY) blessed with 5 months ago has healed some of the hurt and made my resentment disappear. I wish all women who struggle with fertility issues and miscarriage could feel the love and strength of all the women around them who have also felt that pain. It’s like no other. Why is it something we don’t talk about? I only shared our loss with my immediate family and best friend. To this day it’s not something I share openly. Yet it seems miscarriage is so close to home for so many. If it hasn’t affected you directly, likely it has someone you’re close with – you just may not know it.

  20. Abbie, thank you so much for being real and for sharing not only your thoughts, but your heart. I am currently engaged to the most wonderful man and hope to have a large family one day. My fiance and I have so many hopes and dreams for our future children. I know that miscarriage happens all too frequently. I know several wonderful women who have gone through it, some at 20+ weeks. It makes no sense, and yet God is sovereign. My heart ached reading this post, and yet it is so filled with hope as well. Our God redeems, he heals us, and he has our good in mind. I love that he allows us to share stories with one another to build each other up and encourage, even in heartache. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing.

  21. Thank you for sharing this. I suffered a miscarriage with my first pregnancy. I was almost 27 years old, just finishing up my last semester of college. My husband and I weren’t planning on getting pregnant for a while as we were so busy with school and other obligations. We found out at about 10 weeks that we had lost the baby at 7.5. I didn’t miscarry until two weeks later. That was my first experience with contractions and it was so breathtakingly disappointing to know that all of that pain would result in no baby. I never once blamed God or was angry at Him over what happened. Sure I cried for what I had lost, but I found peace in knowing that He has a plan for my life and will unfold it in due time. Six years later I have a smart and beautiful 4 year old daughter and a sweet little 2 year old son. Life is wonderful. :)

  22. Thank you for sharing. I’m so sorry for your losses. I lost our first child at 22 weeks due to Trisomy 13.

    Two years later after 7 IUI’s and one IVF we had our first baby.

    Two years later after 1 IUI and 1 IVF… We had our second.

    Every now and then I wonder “What if” but then realize that I wouldn’t have the girls I have now had it not been for my loss.

  23. I have an angel baby, named Lincoln. I have a tattoo symbolizing my kids and husband. He has a special place of honor in that. I never got the chance to know his personality. During one of the weeping moments God gave me a vision. A blonde haired boy running into the arms of my husbands grandma and she proceeded to swing him around. In the midst of sadness God is good.

  24. This post was wonderful. My husband and I have had two miscarriages. 13 weeks and 9 weeks. The feeling of helplessness and loss are awful. I am thankful my husband was there to remind me (when I was crying night after night in bed) that God has a plan for us. Thank you for sharing!

  25. Thanks for sharing!!! My middle child was a twin as well. I lost her twin at 7 weeks. Even though it was early, there are days I feel that I’m missing one in our family. It was on Valentine’s day, none the less. I’m excited to see them (I think it was a girl) in heaven someday.

  26. Abbie, thank you so much for sharing. I’ve personally never experienced miscarriage, but almost every other woman I know has. My heart ached reading your story. But, I also Praise The Lord for the hope we have in him….the hope that you will see them again! I pray this posts ministers to ladies that need this enouragement! Thank you for your honesty & your light!

  27. You have no idea how much this post meant to me today. I just lost my baby at 13+ weeks to a miscarriage just 2 weeks ago. It would have been my 4th child, 5th pregnancy. I’m so thankful you shared that today because while I’ve had a miscarriage before (a 6 week loss), I just haven’t heard of many people losing babies after 10 weeks. So, thank you for sharing your journey. It really encouraged me today.

  28. This is heartwrenching and beautiful!

    I had a tubal pregnancy between my two boys. It was devastating, and I was guilt ridden… I think most women wonder what they could have done differently. Thankfully mine also was “just a sac”. It certainly makes it a little easier, but still that sense of loss is there.

    I’m so sorry for both the losses you’ve shared and pray for blessings for you and your family!

  29. I had my first miscarriage at work the week before thanksgiving, 11 weeks along and we were going to announce it at the feast during the what are you thankful for segment. Sigh. That meal was rough. So, lots of similarities… This thanksgiving will be 9 years and of course I think of it every year. Now more that I can be thankful – it’s given me an opportunity to talk to SO many women who have experienced loss too, and I think of the 3 babies already with Jesus awaiting our arrival. :) Thanks for sharing!

  30. Yes! This! When I began my miscarriage journey, I was shocked to hear women whisper to me in secret that they had gone through it too. I kept thinking “Why didn’t anybody tell me this could happen?!” Four miscarriages (totaling 5 babies), one pregnancy where I contracted West Nile Virus, and two healthy boys later, I share your mission to let women know they’re not alone. I stand with you, and with God to share and comfort and pray. Thanks for this!

  31. This is beautiful, and I’m not crying only because I’m at work and wearing non-waterproof mascara. Thank you for sharing; you’ve been an encouragement to me this morning.

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