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Miscarriage. Stillbirth. Please, Don’t Shy Away.

Women love to talk about and dissect almost any topic you throw at them.  I love that about my gender.  We are open and interested and willing to spread our collective knowledge around to help each other.

Yet, there are still a few topics that even we shy away from discussing: Miscarriage and, harder yet, stillbirth.

Lawsy.  My heart is pounding and my eyes are wet, but I suggest we tackle the beast and prove to ourselves that this painful vulnerability is worthy of our words.

Who among you knows of a woman who has suffered a miscarriage?  If I asked for a show of hands, many of you would offer yours.  Maybe you’re the woman you know.  I know I am.

My story is simple.  A year or so before I married I was told by a doc that it would be statistically impossible for me to conceive.  Most likely, I would never carry a baby.  The news was devastating.

Cut to a week post-honeymoon, sitting in my doctor’s office, positive I had picked up a tropical stomach bug, yet being told my pregnancy test came back positive! (I see you counting…)

I was angry and upset; in my jumble of confused emotions, I thought they were teasing me.

Um, yeah, no, you’re PREGNANT!

Simply writing the words causes the raw emotion of that pinpointed moment, the unbelievability, the SURPRISE!, the giddy Scoobey-Doo head fake, to come barreling back as a tsunami of gratitude.

I was pregnant!  We were having a baby!

We were scared and excited and truly dumbfounded for a few weeks.

Boy was born and we were blessed beyond measure.

Docs can be wrong.  For me, my faith told me that if God wanted me to have a child, there was no diagnosis that would stand in the way.

With Boy’s birth, we thought we were done.  We had our miracle.  We were OK with the idea that one was the magic number.

14 years later we were surprised with another pregnancy.  WHAT?!

This time, when I was told, I actually came close to passing out at the nurse’s station.  The pregnancy test that was standard when you’re a young woman seeing your gynecologist, the positive results of such a routine don’t-think-about-it-just-pee-in-the-cup test, surprised us all in that little room.

I remember blinking hard, my brain trying to process the impossible words spoken, then the room going dark.  The nurses sprang into action.  Once I could think again…could talk again…I cried and they laughed in joy (and probably in response to my response) .

I WAS PREGNANT… AGAIN!

I can’t begin to articulate what I felt.  TWO KIDS!  A mom of two kiddos.  Omgosh, that’s gonna be me!

Then, on Thanksgiving day, 14 weeks into the pregnancy, I started spotting.  I immediately stopped baking pies and called my doctor.  I was told to get off my feet and to keep an eye on things.  I had experienced some bleeding and cramping during my first pregnancy, so it wasn’t completely worrisome.

I sent my family off to the family feast, reminded them to bring me a plate and laid in bed praying for my sweet baby girl.  It was too early to know for sure, but in my heart I felt certain I was carrying a girl, just as I had felt certain Boy was a boy.

As the day progressed, my spotting became more pronounced to actual bleeding.  I checked back in with my doctor and from what I relayed, he believed I was miscarrying.  He advised me to continue to rest.

Rest?  My baby was in peril and I was supposed to rest?  For the first time since becoming a mother, there was nothing I could do, but wait.   It’s a twisted kind of agony to know that the life within you is passing from this world to the next and there is nothing you can do but wait.

I knew the moment my pregnancy ended, and even now, at this very moment, the deep emotion has the power to bend me to almost breaking.  My baby girl was gone.

Only days before, we had announced to our family and friends that we were expecting (much to everyone’s surprise!) and now we’d have to tell them that I had miscarried, except in language that was less blunt and less painful for them.

But not for me.

For months I grieved silently.  I wanted to talk about it, to talk about what I experienced, but I didn’t want to make those around me uncomfortable.  Life was moving on, but I wasn’t, until two amazing things happened.  One: a dear friend suggested we name the baby, acknowledging that she was a part of our lives and always would be.  Two: another friend suggested a ceremony of letting go, with drums and chants and tearing of cloth (if need be).  She suggested we could write down our pain, then burn it in a fire pit and watch as the healing smoke rise to Heaven.

We didn’t do either one of these things, but I was so grateful to both of those friends for taking the risk to talk to me about the miscarriage.  As I had found out after my miscarriage, everyone was loving and concerned, but no one dared mention it again.  I’m sure they didn’t want to hurt me by reminding me of my pain,or maybe they didn’t know what to say, but I never stopped thinking about it.

Miscarriage is devastating.  A death.  Who wants to talk about death over coffee and cake?  I’ll tell you who: every woman who has suffered through one.

As miracles go, we thought we were done with pregnancies.  Matter of fact, we had two more, and then two more miscarriages.

Look at these stats:

For women in their childbearing years, the chances of having a miscarriage can range from 10-25%, and in most healthy women the average is about a 15-20% chance.

That’s a lot of women.  A lot of suffering.  A lot of love waiting to be expressed.

My prayer, my hope, is simple: Let us not shy away from each other when the subject is miscarriage or stillbirth.  Let us embrace our love, our gift, of talking about and sharing our pain, even in the face of extreme discomfort.  Hell, especially in the face of that which scares the holy hell out of us and makes our heart ache.

Talking of stillbirth seems even harder to me.  I don’t know anyone who has experienced it, so I defer to those who have.

Please watch this video I found posted at Sugar and Dots discussing miscarriage and stillbirth.  It is heart-wrenching and beautiful.

Someone once said to me: Miracles come from death.  Watch, and you’ll bear witness.

She was right.  My miracles arrived as two friends who pushed past their fear and gave me more than they intended. Their lesson became my action; reach out to those who suffer this silent loss.

Are these tough topics to discuss?  A million times, yes.  But, we are women; we are warriors.  We bring life forward and shape the future.

Miscarriage. Stillbirth. Please Don't Shy Away

Whatever you do, please, don’t shy away.

 

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Rebecca Landis

Friday 26th of July 2019

Hello, I stumbled on to your post as I was looking for,....healing. Your post was encouraging, and helpful. I just recently (well Jan 18, so it's been 6months) but it feels recent, I lost our baby boy, through stillbirth, at 20 weeks. Everything was fine. I had no warning or signs. In fact I was just into the Dr that same week and everything was great. The day before I noticed a light discharge, but this is common so I thought nothing of it. The next day cramping in and off which I assumed Braxton hix until my husband came home from work and it was worse by then. I called the Dr who said I could be dehydrated and so I was told to drink a ridiculous amount of water which I did.....and then there it all up. I immediately told my husband we need to go to the Dr, I say down on the couch and felt better for a moment, and then that was it, my water broke, I started running to the bathroom and felt him fall out of me. I screamed...I was crying, there was blood every where, and as I made it to the bathroom we were still attached by the umbilical cord. I was hysterical, my husband was in shock and our 3year old daughter was still napping. We were on the phone with 911 and the ambulance was on it's way. Our 12 year old son was away at a basketball game. My husband got the grandparents to come pick up our daughter and the 911 dispatcher asked all the right questions, kept asking if the baby was alive. I was worse than terrified and uncontrollably crying and was so afraid to check, my brave husband said he could not see any movement and the dispatcher said he had to cut the umbilical cord. He then had to out pressure on my stomach to stop the bleeding. It felt like hours before the ambulance got here. We spent the next 2days in the hospital holding his lifeless body, we named him Francis James after my Pop Pop who had just passed away 10 months before. The hospital staff dressed him in a baby hat and booties with a blanket wrapped around him. We took turns holding him, not wanting to let him go, mentioning to each other how much he resembled our older son. The amazing staff even offered to take pictures of him for us so we could always remember. In all my life I've never experienced the pain of leaving my lifeless baby behind in the arms of a nurse as I was wheeled to my car. We later had a funeral for him, a shared burial. My due date was June 20, two days after my own birthday. We went to his grave and cried and left some blue balloons. I still ache, and am crying as I write this. It's like living in a fog, everyone and everything else around me is living life, and I do try, but there's always this fog over me. I'm told this is normal and things will get better. My faith is in Jesus and I know he is holding my baby..but I sure wish I was looking into his newborn face right now. .........I realize this blog post is a number of years old, and nobody may be reading this, but that's ok. It feels better to write about my experience and I think that was the idea of your post, don't be silent. Thank you!

Donna in CA

Saturday 27th of July 2019

Dearest Rebecca, How my heart breaks for you. Thank you for sharing your story of loss, heartbreak and grief. Your courage and vulnerability to do so seems a positive step in your grief journey. Who knows how God will use your words, in your own healing or another grieving mother’s? Jesus tells us to ‘bear one another’s burdens; sharing your pain allows us to do that very thing by praying for you. Prayer is a wonderful gift when offered on behalf of another - even if we don’t ‘know’ you, God does. And He hears all requests made on behalf of another. Your faith is your anchor is this storm. Thank you for sharing here...

Peachy

Friday 26th of July 2019

Rebecca, my heart aches for your loss. Although I have never experienced that loss myself, many friends and family have. I've cried with them and prayed with and for them. One of my best friends lost her daughter at 36 weeks on the day my son was born. She was delivered the next day by our shared physician in the same hospital. My friend has been able to help many others by sharing freely the stages of her grief, despair and even anger and by sitting with them in silence and in prayer. Of course you will always grieve the loss of Francis James. He is your son. Love him. Remember him. Sharing, writing, talking and knowing others have been in your position may help you as it has my friend. I'm glad you found Patti's post. With love, hope and prayer. Peachy

Patti Tucker

Friday 26th of July 2019

Rebecca, I, the collective WE, are here.

I cried ready your account and have prayed and will continue to pray for peace.

Miscarriage is a silent pain, and it doesn't need to be. I pray you find a friend willing to talk and talk and talk about your sweet Francis James, until you are at peace.

Even though my miscarriages happened so many years ago, I still think of my babies, my children who went on to Jesus before I could know them fully. I look forward to the day that I may meet them again.

Grieve how you grieve, and never let anyone tell you otherwise. Moving through this awfulness, instead of avoiding the hurt, is the healthiest way to the other side.

God bless you and yours, Rebecca.

aimee fauci

Tuesday 13th of January 2015

My daughter had a miscarriage at the very early stages of pregnancy.. i've actually known a few women BUT my daughter's was different. She had not 'bonded' with the baby (sounds horrible.. but it's true) so that aspect was not painful for her. What was painful for her was that she knew she was miscarrying and did not have time to get a DNC, so she actually had to live through the process. I've never known the process. I mean I have 'known' it but I have not felt it through the words of someone that has gone through it.

Patti Tucker

Tuesday 13th of January 2015

That's not horrible, quite the opposite. I'm sure she felt her loss in her way, and that's part of what I tried to convey: we have these experiences and not one is the same, but when we talk about tough subjects it get a little easier. Maybe not in the sense of our heart, but in the sense of our connections to others. Thanks for joining the conversation, Aimee.

Gale

Tuesday 13th of January 2015

I lost my first on Christmas Eve many years ago, so I know how that is to miscarry on a holiday. We had not told most of our extended family, which was mixed. Only a few knew at the holiday gathering the next day we went to knew. At work however EVERYONE knew...the few I had told had spread it far and wide and people I didn't even knew knew were coming up and asking me me months later about "how the baby was" and I hated having to explain again and again. Same thing at church--the only people I had told there were a couple friends and two women in the nursery who I had asked advice for a obstetrician (went with one they suggested and was so glad--he handled everything well, though unfortunately the night I miscarried the doctor on call was not him but someone who frankly was quite a jerk....rushing to get off the phone to get on with his Christmas).

But there was blessings in so many knowing as well...because when I came in after break and told people at work, so many women opened up about their own experience, and that really helped. And when I was sad and teary I didn't have to worry that people wouldn't understand. (I was working at a yearbook publisher, and there were these Senior Dedications where parents sent in all their baby pictures that just did me in a few times...I started avoiding those boxes to process).

Patti Tucker

Tuesday 13th of January 2015

Thank you for sharing your story, Gale. It's still tough all these years later. Just when you think you're good, something pushes the pain and memory out in the open and you have to look at it, grieve, again. But, for me, that's okay, especially if it means someone gains from my experience. I'm sorry you had the jerky doc, but really, thank you for sharing.

Jennifer@ Beauty under 10

Wednesday 26th of March 2014

2 years ago I miscarried twice in less than a year. It was the hardest thing to go through, as you said you know your baby is dying and there is nothing you can do but wait. I went through a pretty bad depression during that time. It's been 2 years but feels like yesterday... It was nice to read the same words I was feeling, I know that I am not alone in the hurt and pain that having a miscarriage can cause. Thank you for sharing your story.

Mrs. Tucker

Wednesday 26th of March 2014

Jennifer, I'm so sorry for your loss. It's a difficult subject for many and the best we can do is to share our stories, so that we can heal. Thank you for sharing yours with us.

Bianca @ Track Pants and a Tot

Wednesday 27th of November 2013

Thank you for sharing. I am glad to see a lot of bloggers over these past few months call attention to topics that are still "taboo" to talk about in this day & age: depression, miscarriage, stillbirth. I like that you shared your story& offered advice on what to do if anyone has a friend going through it. I just remember being annoyed at one of my friends when I told her I miscarried & she said "so, false alarm?" and I said "No I was pregnant, I just lost the baby" and she just couldn't comprehend any of that.

Mrs. Tucker

Wednesday 27th of November 2013

Omgosh...I know that folks mean well, so I have to believe that when their words pierce us, it is not intentional. This also makes a point about those who do not believe it is a baby until birth (not that she believed that, just pointing out why some my be more blase about miscarriage). I'm so sorry for your loss.

Thank you for coming and commenting. Each one is a new light on the subject.