Our Story of Possible Miscarriage

I want to share our story with you. It’s not spectacular or dramatic. In all honestly, it’s very ordinary. But it changed us, and that makes it important and worth sharing.

While we were visiting Dallas in April, we thought I had started to miscarry. I thought I was about 7 weeks along, but we weren’t able to see a fetal pole in our first ultrasound. My hormone levels were high, we were told, so this wasn’t a good sign. Then we found out my hormone levels weren’t rising like they should, and in the week following our first ultrasound- which happened to be the week we were in Dallas- I started to bleed on and off.

Over and over, my doctor told us “This pregnancy doesn’t seem to be progressing as it should. If you start having any pain or heavy bleeding, please call us.”

FA3FF4CD-BA48-46BB-911E-40C87F5203E2Almost every day, ever hour of our time in Dallas, we swung between feelings of despair and hope, devastation and joy, disappointment and peace. I’ll never forget walking through the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens and receiving a call from my doctor that my second round of blood work had come back, and hearing for the fourth time, I would most likely miscarry. Walking through so much beauty in the gardens, the Lord gave us the perfect place to reflect on how life is precious and beautiful even when it’s tiny and surreal.

All week, we anticipated the worst. As we looked for a new apartment, explored our new city, and ate to our heart’s content, we spent a lot of time alone together. We cried, we prayed, and we mourned. We asked God to protect this life knowing the outcome wasn’t in our control.

We knew, either way, this baby had already changed us. “Whatever happens, you are the best gift we have ever been given. We will love you for however long we have you and more.”

IMG_2438I spent countless hours that week researching hormone levels, types of miscarriage, what it feels like to miscarry, and how to prepare for it. I can still picture us laying in our hotel bed, tears on our pillows, reading about others’ miscarriage experiences and trying to convince myself that it could still be okay. 

Finally, the day came to head home. I had scheduled another ultrasound as early as possible, so we woke up at 3:30am to catch an early flight home to Chicago. 

We rolled into the OB’s office rumpled, somber, and exhausted. As we prepared for the ultrasound, the ultrasonographer and ob-gyn, again, prepared us to expect a miscarriage. “Let’s see how much tissue is left, and then we can talk about your options.” We expected to see and hear that the baby was gone, or would be soon. We held our breath to hear confirmation. It was the longest 10 seconds of my life.

As soon as she started the ultrasound, we saw our baby and heard the heartbeat. We wept. Right there, with the ultrasonographer.

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What a beautiful gift.  We watched our little one wiggle around, and thanked the Lord. Relief and joy. (And a dash of anger at all the precaution, if I’m honest.) Despite the early warnings, we were told that everything looked healthy and normal, and that I should take it easy for a few weeks. After all of our anguish, it was hard to believe that everything could change in a matter of seconds. We are so thankful.

From the moment we found out I was pregnant, I thought about all the what-if situations.

I thought about all of the women I know who have miscarried. Some who continually miscarry without explanation. Others who have lost their little ones late into pregnancy, or hours after birth. Parents who have watched their children go through extensive medical treatment and care in their first years of life, and into their childhood and adulthood.

No age seems safe. There’s no time we can point to and say, “After this, you’ll never have to worry again.”

I don’t pretend to know the pain of miscarriage and loss. But knowing that we are stepping into something so unknown is scary. I know that, while everything continues to look healthy, something could still happen because we live in a broken world, full of sin.

Good or bad, part of me needs to remain rooted in that reality.  That I can’t control the outcome.  That my baby isn’t mine. Nathan isn’t mine. My own life isn’t mine. Nothing is mine. It all belongs to the Lord.

I can’t expect it to be perfect. We don’t wish for things to go wrong, and it’s devastating when they do.

While we celebrate this gift, I also grieve with people who endure those unplanned difficulties of miscarriage, loss, and complications. I’ve written, rewritten, deleted, and drafted this post at least five times because I struggle to balance joy in our blessing while others grieve their losses.

I ask myself, how do I handle the excitement of this new life, while also mourning with them?

Through our story, I’ve been more deeply learning about the hope of the resurrection. The hope of Jesus, that permeates even the most difficult of situations. That while we live in a broken world, full of sorrow, Jesus continually draws us into eternal realities of heavenly living. Always present, always loving, always full of grace and justice. Jesus is where we turn in hard times and in joyous times.

Loss feels so unfair, and it changes us forever. Grief can follow us for our lifetime, and flow like a current beneath our everyday life. There’s anger, fear, sadness, a deep longing for justice and peace. The forever question of why? Why does it have to be this way? 

And as we wrestle with the overwhelming, ambitious weight of grief and suffering, we ask Jesus to return quickly. That he would come and restore peace and take us home. That our lives would turn, exclusively, and entirely, to him in eternal worship. And while we are still here, on this earth, that we would mimic what will be: forgetting ourselves, forgetting this world, and gazing only on God. 

He is our hope. He is our comfort.

I need a greater faith to believe his truths. I can write, think, and say whatever I want, but actually living out these realities is much harder.

To love at all is to be vulnerable. I embrace all of these feelings of fear, love, joy, excitement, sadness, and pain, and turn to Jesus. While I celebrate this gift, I also mourn with others, and I mourn sin and brokenness.

God, may you be more real to us than ever. May we worship you more deeply. May we pray more fervently. May we be changed into your image more every day, and express your gospel in our words, actions, and perspectives. Thank you for the gift of your life and your love.

Dear My Pregnant Self, Remember This

Dear my pregnant self,

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In this time of change, I’m here to remind you of a few important things. These reminders are for today, and for every season that you feel like you’re falling apart. Claim these truths about your identity and your life.

Grace is needed. You’re going through a lot. Let yourself come undone, knowing that it might look ugly and unattractive, but that it’s real life.

It’s okay to cry about it. Your emotions are all over the place, and that’s normal. Balance the crazy by recognizing what’s irrational, but don’t allow yourself to emotionally shut down because those feelings don’t make sense. Cry over that spilled milk, and then laugh about it later. It’s healthier that way.

Remember that it won’t last forever. This is just a season. Mostly, it’s preparation for what’s coming next. Don’t stop being honest with yourself and with others. Keep yourself in community and hold yourself accountable through good friends and family who will encourage you and push you in the right direction.

Let yourself be vulnerable even when you feel ugly inside and out. There is freedom in honesty. It ushers repentance and forgiveness, and reminds us that we are all broken sinners. Don’t pretend you’re perfect. Embrace those hips, the extra weight your gaining everywhere, and the fact that your baby bump just makes you look like a giant lump. Embrace the fact that cooking dinner is 100% more difficult, and don’t believe the lie that it’s pathetic. Enjoy taking those 2 extra naps a day and don’t feel guilty about it. Embrace the fact that your life is changing, and you’re walking in shaky, unknown territory. You might look like a fool sometimes, and it’s okay.

Remember that life is worth enjoying, and you are worth the effort to take care. When you’re nauseas, tired, and irritable, and don’t feel like yourself, remember that you are still loved and cared for. Remember that you’re not in this alone and you don’t have to apologize when you ask for help or when people offer to help. Know that you and your spouse have a lot of growing to do together, and that you are for each other and with each other. It’s perfectly okay to embrace those extra things that make pregnancy and motherhood easier for you, even though so many other women tell you they aren’t necessary.  Be comfortable, and enjoy. Continue to live life to the fullest, and do it for Jesus. Because of all the hormonal changes, low mood and/or depression in pregnancy is common. Take care of yourself. You’re worth it.

Remember that your story is unique and you can’t compare yourself to anyone else because it’s unfair to you both.  Everyone’s pregnancy is different, and everyone handles it differently. Just because your friend had a 30 minute labor and lost so much weight postpartum that she’s actually skinnier now than before she got pregnant, that doesn’t mean that will be your story. You’ll be sorely disappointed when it’s not. Be humble in your expectations. Don’t keep one eye open to how everyone else is doing. Focus on you, and don’t rope yourself into unfair games that leave you feeling less than and inadequate.

Remember that Jesus loves you and lives in you and is sustaining you. Right now and forever. Remember that he’s already died for your sins and covered you with grace upon grace. Remember that you are in the process of being sanctified, and you’ve come a long way, and have a long way to go. Remember that your faith looks different now than in any other time of your life, and it’s good.

Remember that there’s more to you and your life than just being pregnant. Don’t neglect your passions and skills. Keep doing the things that you love, and adjust as you need to as the baby grows and joins your family.

Remember that you’re not the only pregnant woman to walk this earth. For all your friends who aren’t pregnant, married, or dating, or even remotely in the same vein of life as you, remember to ask people how they’re doing and take genuine interest in their lives. Don’t let pregnancy dominate your relationships. It’s not all about you, and you still need another people.

Lastly, remember that you can’t control. Cherish this time. There’s no age that is safe from loss and tragedy, and this life inside you is an incredible gift.

Dear My Pregnant Self, Be Kind

Dear my pregnant self,

You’re coming apart a bit.

I’m here to remind you of a few things, and to break some news.

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Have you noticed that you’re irritable? Physically uncomfortable? And that your thoughts rapidly spill out of your mouth without being filtered? Your emotions swing side to side, and it’s hard to control them at times. Don’t worry, it’s normal. Any pregnant woman will tell you that.

But remember, you’re still responsible for your words and actions. 

You feel like you’re losing control over your body. You’re gaining weight like crazy, and in the most unflattering places. When people comment on your baby bump, you think “No, that’s just too many fries and fruity pebbles.”

You’ve been debilitatingly nauseous and unable to do much of anything. The only food that doesn’t make you feel sick is sugary and full of carbs, which make you gain weight faster and feel worse. You sleep, sleep, sleep, and avoid working out. You don’t know your body anymore, and it’s harder to take care of.

Oh, and not only are you pregnant, but everything else in your life is changing. You just moved across the country, and have worked through a to-do list that was longer than your college senior thesis. You’re still tying up loose ends so you don’t get slammed with fees, notices, and extra bills, and you’re bank account reaches a new level of low.

You had to say goodbye to some of your best friends, not knowing when you’ll see them next, hoping that you’re able to maintain healthy long-distance friendships. You miss them already. You’re starting over in a new community, finding a new church, and praying that you fit in at your new place. Your family is far, far away and finding a new, healthy rhythm in those relationships will take time.

You just graduated college, and you’re working through career moves and changes. You’re deciding whether or not to look for a job, and wondering what you’d even enjoy doing. It’s confusing.

Well, I’m here to remind you, friend, to be kind to yourself and to others. Despite the pressure, there are no rules that say you have to be perfect and together. And just as importantly, remember that your words and actions are still impactful.

You’re still called to love others, and to represent Jesus. How you handle all these changes matters.

Rely more on Jesus as your weaknesses become even more evident in difficult times. Trust that he’s with you still, and that you’re still loved and worthy. Continue to ask for forgiveness when you sin against others, and strive to be changeable, teachable, and humble in your pursuit of becoming more like Jesus.