The Heartbreak of Miscarriage: 4 months later

Four months ago, I sat in my doctor's office and learned I was having a miscarriage.

The months since then have been a whirlwind: I finished my master's degree, wrapped up another school year in ministry, vacationed, and led one of our summer mission trips.

There have been days during that time that have felt, well, wonderfully normal. There have also been days in which I've been overwhelmed by God's blessings and grace. To be honest, there have also been other days in which I feel like I've made absolutely no progress toward healing.

None.

Saturday was one of those days for me.

Midway through the day I found myself crying uncontrollably thanks to a series of subtle reminders of our loss: 

A friend referenced another friend, due in November, the month I, too, was supposed to have delivered our first child.

While on vacation, I saw a woman make a mad dash toward the bathroom, her just barely baby bump very evident to me, a reminder of what I, too, would have looked like had it not been for the miscarriage.

On our mission trip, I served with a pregnant adult leader from another church. She was due a month after I would have been. Throughout our week together, I was acutely aware of the fact that had our story ended differently, we would have been pregnant together on that trip.

We celebrated two baptisms in church. Since miscarrying, I've managed to avoid baptisms but this week, I was filling in for our organist. Stuck behind the piano, there was no escape. The compromise? I played most of that service from the balcony so my own tears wouldn't be evident to others. Everything was fine until after the service, when an unsuspecting elderly woman commented, “It was great to have you in front for the first two songs. It would have been even nicer had you played the whole service from down there.” I said something, (I'm not even sure what,) and then fled before I had to explain my tears and the real reason why I couldn't bear to play the whole service from the front.

Empty Blog During our summer Bible study with the high school youth, we've been wrestling with what it means for life to hurt, but God to heal. As part of this, we used mixed media to depict global and personal pain. I depicted my personal pain by drawing a house filled not with people, but with the word, empty.

In the last two weeks, I swear every person I know from high school has made their pregnancy “Facebook official.” (OK – it's really only 4 but still...) When I saw the last person's news, I thought, “If one more person I know announces they're pregnant, I'm going to scream.”

Another friend – one of our closest – also found out she's pregnant. Her road to pregnancy has been far from easy and I am thrilled for her – absolutely thrilled. Even so, her pregnancy serves as a tangible reminder of what I've lost.

Individually, none of these things are a big deal. Collectively, though, they still trigger my tears and questions:

Why us? Why me? Why now?

What if: What if we're unable to get pregnant again? What if we waited too long to start trying for a family? What if we get pregnant and miscarry again?

When will it stop hurting so badly to see pregnant women?

What if my friends move on without me? We already know how difficult it is to maintain friendships once kids enter the picture but now it feels even harder. It's hard to feel included when friends discuss their pregnancies together but the only pregnancy story you have to share is the nightmare scenario.

To make matters worse, what do you do when you start to feel as though everyone is tired of hearing your story? Oh, nobody's said as much. But every month, fewer people ask how I'm doing. When it does come up, most people change the subject. Rather than listening, they say things like, “Well, you'll get pregnant again.” And gosh, I hope so but what if I don't? What am I supposed to do when true or not, I feel like people's patience for my grief has run out before my grief has resolved? When people ask how I'm doing, am I just supposed to reply, “Fine”, which is certainly true on some days but not on others?

Amidst these unresolved questions, I've also struggled with feelings of guilt. While I am honestly thrilled for the aforementioned close friend who's now pregnant, initially I felt guilty. Her pregnancy triggered my own grief, which made me feel like a bad friend. I kept trying to figure out, “Why can't I just be happy for her?” 

What I've since realized is that I am happy for her. I'm just also sad for me. Now more than ever, I'm thankful that our shared faith in Christ allows for both. Her pregnancy and joy alongside my miscarriage and grief are stunning reminders of what it means to be people of both the crucifixion and the resurrection.

Amidst these unresolved questions and feelings of guilt, I've also been fortunate to experience moments of unbridled grace. Strangely, using empty to describe my pain has brought me comfort. After all, when we're emptied, God has room to move and work, to fill us in anyway he chooses.

Additionally, I was comforted both in our summer Bible study and in worship this weekend by the song, “Held”, made famous by Natalie Grant. I've loved this song ever since it first came out, several years ago. Now, though, it's words hold new meaning for me:

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive

This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held

If hope if born of suffering
If this is only the beginning
Can we not wait for one hour
Watching for our Savior

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive

In the days following my miscarriage, I wanted so badly to be brave. This is, after all, my word for the year. It's also part of why I initially chose to share my miscarriage story here on this blog.

While being brave is important, four months later, I've realized that what's even more important to me right now is being held.

I'm grateful our God does this, even during those seasons in our lives when we feel empty.

Comments

Jen

Nothing wrong with being held my dear friend. You ARE incredibly brave in sharing your personal journey with the rest of the world ...no doubt about it. I thank you on behalf of countless others.

Posted by Jen, about 6 years ago

Adriel Booker

Oh my dear. It's just so hard. I'm glad you can feel yourself held. Our hope us in him and he never fails. Xx

Posted by Adriel Booker, about 6 years ago

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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