As the fog of grief slowly begins to lift after the loss of our unborn child, I’ve finally had a chance to think through the thoughts that have circulated in my mind for months. The more clearly I see, the more urgency I feel for women to truly understand what happens in the throes of miscarriage.
Prior to experiencing this loss, I had believed many lies regarding it. And as I speak with women around me I see evidence that I’m not the only one.
With 1 in 4 pregnancies ending in miscarriage, it’s imperative that Christian women become educated regarding this heartbreaking topic.
Women need to be equipped to help those suffering miscarriage. Sooner or later, there will be a woman in your life affected by the death of their baby in the womb, and as the Body of Christ, we must know how to bear their burden with them.
1. Women who suffer miscarriage are mourning a real loss.
Before the loss of our baby, I believed miscarriage was sad. What I didn’t know, was that women who have an early pregnancy loss are mourning more than a dream of motherhood or having more children. Sure, we were hopeful for those things, and for a time it feels as if our hope is crushed, but we are mourning the loss of a real life–an image bearer of God.
There are few words to explain how it feels to miss someone you’ve never met and to love so deeply a child you’ve never held. For mommas, the attachment to our children grows more with each day and change in our body. There is formed an automatic bond from the moment we see that first positive, positively reminding us life is blooming within our womb.
The life of a child, known and loved by God. Our child.
The child we lost.
This is why the common response, “You’ll have another baby.” is not helpful and at times hurtful. When a person has a stillborn child or loses an infant, you don’t hear these words offered up. So, why do we jump to this conclusion with women who have miscarried?
All life is precious, and another baby will be a blessing, but will not replace the one who was lost, nor will it take away the pain of that loss. Babies don’t heal our hearts–Jesus does.
Furthermore, while many women go on to have healthy pregnancies, many do not. Some women wrestle with more miscarriages, infertility or a mix of both. We don’t know what the Lord has planned for each woman and we lack the authority to declare they will have more children.
Because mommas who have miscarried are experiencing real loss, we should also refrain from comparing their pain to that of women who struggle with infertility. These two trials are very different. One is a loss, the other is never receiving. And both are extremely painful. Because of the striking differences, there is no use in comparing the two.
Statements like, “At least you could get pregnant. Think of so and so.” strike the hearts of women who’ve lost children in the womb and make them feel as if they should be glad for the death of their baby. It also hushes them from speaking up about the deep grief they are walking through.
2. Not all miscarriages are the same.
There are so many misconceptions about what happens in a woman’s body physically during a miscarriage. This is because not all miscarriages are the same, and they all have a different set of hard circumstances which come along with them.
Many women experience what is called a “missed miscarriage.” This is when the baby has died but the woman’s body has not recognized it. Many times, the woman goes into her normal appointment, only to leave with her life changed. It is shocking as there was no sign. In this case, the woman has a few options. She can either wait a few more days to allow her body to recognize the loss, take medicine to cause her body to move the process along or have a D&C.
A D&C is typically the route women will take, and while they bypass the physical pain of a natural miscarriage, they are still left with the emotional stress of having their baby suctioned from their womb in the very same way many babies are aborted. As you can imagine, this would be a very hard thing to face and would bring up many emotions.
On the other hand, there are women who miscarry naturally or with the help of medicine. If the pregnancy is very early (3-5 weeks), the woman will most likely experience the symptoms of a heavy period.
But for those who miscarry in the weeks following, the physical pain increases tremendously. This is the case I can speak most clearly to, as this was my experience. Most people are clueless regarding the horrific physical symptoms for women who miscarry naturally, as was I.
If a woman miscarries between weeks 6-later, the pain is likened to labor. The contractions are almost unbearable, the scene is nauseating and the emotional pain is traumatizing. If I explained to you all I witnessed in the days I suffered the loss of our baby, you would be horrified. Many of us labor our tiny, lifeless babies and hold them in the palm of our hand.
This only scratches the surface of what happens to many women who experience death in their womb. I speak of these things because, in order to help our dear friends who may go through this, we need to know what is happening to them. Only then can we begin to empathize with their pain and think of ways to practically bear their burden.
3. The physical and emotional turmoil knows no timeline.
Many believe the physical side of a miscarriage vanishes within a week. But this isn’t always the case. I labored our unborn baby for four days. Four days of intense pain. Some women have less physical pain, some have it worse, ending up in the ER due to blood loss.
During this time of great physical and emotional turmoil, your friend needs you. She needs your prayer, your encouragement and even your physical presence. I am so thankful for the women close to me who truly bore my burden with me. But I know many women go it alone.
Furthermore, there are many things which occur following this loss and they take their toll on a grieving mom. More doctor appointments, ultrasounds and blood tests. More phone calls, baby bellies, pregnancy announcements and that loathed first period. All of these, being reminders of what was lost. Some women go on to have a D&C on top of miscarrying naturally, due to residing tissue with infectious potential.
Even the baby clothes at Target, or a nursery picture on Pinterest can deepen the pain.
We must learn that the grief is real and often long-lasting. Knowing this truth will give us cause not to make claims regarding when someone should be “over it.” They will have good days and really really hard days. Sometimes the pain will fall afresh after many weeks of somewhat normalcy.
Someone who has miscarried a child and knows a valuable little life existed in their womb, will never stop missing that baby; they will never be completely “over it.”
We would do well, as Christ-following women, to remember this, and remember the loss many women near us are bearing.
Burden Bearing Women
Ya’ll, God has called us to bear all burdens of the ladies near us–even the ones we don’t quite understand, and even the ones we feel most uncomfortable with.
Jesus entered our pain and we can all agree it wasn’t comfortable for him in the least. Even so, he stepped in and took our burden upon himself. (1 Peter 2:24).
Here we have a chance to follow in his footsteps by picking up the burden women who miscarry are carrying.
Let’s be Christ-following women; let’s be burden bearing women.