A friend of mine sent me this message one year after my second miscarriage (click here). Reading it, I cried till I thought my heart would burst, and for the first time, I felt like things started to make sense and I could start to heal. She graciously gave her permission to post this on my blog. I hope it will help other grieving mothers to heal, too.
I’ve been thinking about you a lot and want to say soooo many things, but I need to weed through it a bit.
But after I got your message, I was at church and we knelt and prayed one of the prayers for confession from the prayer book. And there was a line in it that seemed like it wanted you to hear it.
“Not only in outward transgressions, but also in secret thoughts and desires that we are not able to understand.”
I’m not bringing this up to beat you over the head with repentance, I’m bringing it up in order to say that this is true. And I want you to bathe in that truth. God can forgive your secret thoughts and desires that you don’t even understand.
I also am going to venture to say that your babies, being in Abraham’s bosom, are pretty well-equipped to forgive you as well. And on top of all of that, I don’t believe that feeling overwhelmed and scared and even “what-the-fuck?” about finding yourself pregnant when you’re drowning in baby poop is a grave sin.
You are but the human being that God made you.
Now that I’ve said all of that, let me establish my credibility on the subject.
3 and 1/2 years ago, I was nursing jumbo baby Huck (he was 25 lbs at 6 months), spending on average 4 hours every night awake with him, cleaning up spit-up, and trying to navigate the deep waters of a 4-year old Flannery.
I was eating in the night when I was up with Huck and it suddenly dawned on me that being hungry at 4 am is not normal. I took a test. It was positive and I was stunned.
It had taken 3 years to conceive Huck, I wasn’t prepared to get pregnant that easily. All I could think about was morning sickness. Of course I wanted another baby. This had nothing to do with the baby. But I was not ready to be pregnant and continue my sleep deprivation for 4 more years.
We didn’t tell people for a week because I needed to be able to be happy when they congratulated me. And I wasn’t ready for that.
As morning sickness hit me (like a freight train) I remember wondering why we have children at all. I’m not defending myself. It was what it was. I was depressed.
At some point, Noel gleefully suggested twins. I remember throwing up in the back yard and praying that it wasn’t twins because I didn’t feel like I could hack that. Very clear memory.
A week later, my water broke. I was 10 weeks. I freaked out, cried, contracted for a half an hour. Told God I really did want this baby, please don’t take it away from me. Noel came and tried to find a heartbeat. Now, I wasn’t bleeding, which was weird.
As Noel was talking with us about our options, she still had the Doppler on my belly and the goo made it slide. For a split second we all heard a fast heartbeat.
Eventually, we went in for an ultrasound. I’d never had one and didn’t see a heartbeat, but I saw my baby. I started to cry and the nurse said, “Yup, there it is!” And pointed to one flashing pixel on the screen. Atticus’ heartbeat.
There was an empty deflated sack next to his. I had lost a twin. God had heard my prayer and the load of guilt I had for praying it was awful.
I finally said something about it to Noel. Her response was simple and true:
“God didn’t take your baby to punish you. Every mom who miscarries struggles with that. But it’s not true.”
Jesus died for your sins. They.are.gone. Even if you had sinned grievously God has forgiven you.
But maybe there’s another story here and you can’t see it yet? A story where God is kinder than you think, where you are His Beloved (remember He used that language to speak to His bride when she was worshipping idols, not when she was faithful), that what He does is for your good and your children’s good.
James Jordan once suggested that when we eat and drink in communion that we bear each others burdens. We offer ourselves as sacrifices for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Maybe your babies are safe with Jesus because God knew that there was someone else who couldn’t bear that burden, someone else whom it would break. So He let you be a sacrifice for an unknown sister. It needs a lot of explaining. Jordan’s skinny branches freak me out, but he seems to usually end up being right.
There’s one more thing. Your babies are neither unwanted nor poor. Their flesh is dust now and they are dead in that sense. But they have voices and eye-color and the value of all eternal souls and they are safe. Their mortal remains will be resurrected from wherever they are and it will not matter where from. That is the real, physical power of the gospel. Cling to it.
Because of this, I do think it help you heal if you named your babies. It doesn’t have to special or deep, just a name you like. We named Finch ‘Finch’ because he was our little bird who had flown away. We named Amicus ‘Amicus’ because he had been a friend to Atticus in utero.
But acknowledging the realness of their lives makes them less phantom and more resurrectable. Even if Ben won’t talk to you about it, you can name them. You don’t have to tell him if he doesn’t want to know. But you can tell me, and I’ll know. It’s hard, naming. Horrible in fact. But those were the first tears that felt like cleansing to me. My babies were written in the Book of Life with a name I knew. I needed that, as hard as it was.
There is no way out but through.
I hope I’m not being too blunt. I find people think I’m unsympathetic when I’m just really trying to communicate. But I pray for you and I’m praying that you’ll finally be able to lay your babies to rest in peace. Peace for you.