When we learned that I was pregnant, I cried. My husband Paul held me in his arms and we prayed and thanked God, amidst overwhelming feelings of inadequacy, joy, anxiety, love...
After years of chronic pain and tick-borne illnesses, I had also been diagnosed with a Functional Neurological Disorder that involved non-epileptic seizures and periodic weakness and paralysis. I also faced debilitating panic and anxiety attacks--something that made me feel like everything was "in my head," even though I knew it wasn't.
Paul and I had questioned whether it was safe or wise for me to get pregnant, but after a year of marriage and many doctor visits, we realized that we trusted the Lord with the risks. We wanted to begin a family.
So when we found out I was pregnant, it felt like the Lord telling me that I could think about more than just health management: I could still be a mom despite my challenges.
Ten days after the positive pregnancy test, I began to bleed. When I went for an ultrasound, we saw...nothing. Just an empty pregnancy sack. The doctor told me that "it did not look good." That night, my husband and I held each other and cried together.
The next day, we got the news that my hormone tests had come back with excellent levels. I could not tell if this was my body's cruel extension of an inevitable sorrow or a cause for hope. We waited another week for a follow-up ultrasound and I admit, despite all my desire to be faithful and fruitful in the waiting, I felt so hollow inside. I did not dare to hope. It was a miserable, difficult week.
At the follow-up ultrasound, I saw it. The larger pregnancy sack--and a little twinkling dot inside it! "Well, your pregnancy was probably just a lot earlier than expected. This looks to me like it could be a normal early pregnancy. We'll follow up in three weeks."
That night my husband and I prayed exuberant and grateful prayers. My body was already changing rapidly. The bouts of sudden intense nausea, the hot flashes, the severe fatigue, the inability to wear many of my old clothes--all of it reminded me daily that I was a mom.
I read the Bible aloud to our baby. I prayed over our baby. I ate right for our baby. Paul and I talked about names. We talked about financial preparation. We talked about whether or not we wanted to know the gender before the baby's arrival. We told family and friends.
By the time I went in for my third ultrasound, I already looked four months pregnant, even though I was still early in the pregnancy. I could not wait to see our baby's heartbeat and to share that moment with Paul.
Within the first few moments of the ultrasound, I knew it would not be good news. There was no pregnancy sac anymore--only a dark scar across the raster-like images on the screen. A few hours later, the results of the hormone tests arrived in my patient portal. The number was a seventh of what it had been three weeks earlier.
It was confirmed. Our baby was gone.
For the first half-hour, I operated on autopilot, emotionally numb and almost coldly pragmatic. There were errands to do. I could do that. Paul patiently drove me from store to store. But somehow every store I entered had baby shower cards, pictures of babies, cute little sayings about motherhood, patterns with prints of little feet...
Tears stung my eyes. I couldn't do this anymore. I needed to go home. Paul drove me home and if he asked questions or spoke, I didn't hear him. I was miles away in my thoughts.
Once home, Paul beckoned to me. I curled up on his lap on the couch and cried and cried while he rocked me and prayed aloud. He grieved with me. He brought me warm chai tea, one of my favorite comfort drinks. He rubbed my back and spoke softly.
When Paul put his hand on my belly, as he had when he prayed over our baby during its life, part of me felt angry. There was nothing there. It was ten extra pounds of destroyed dreams. But after a moment, I realized what he was doing. He was accepting me--my forever-changed body, my grief, my motherhood. He was reminding me that he was going through all of it with me, as the father of our little one in heaven. I reached back to him and let him just love me.
Somewhere in the middle of our crying and praying, I fell asleep, utterly exhausted by my emotions, deeply comforted by my husband's closeness, learning how to give our little one back to God.
After I woke, I began the process of informing family and friends of our loss. I also spoke on the phone with women who were close to me who had grieved their own miscarriages. I'm a verbal processor. I have to voice my fears, struggles, and assurances out loud and hear them validated by another person's voice.
Some people choose not to share about pregnancy in the first trimester, because sharing later about pregnancy loss would be a struggle for them. I understand that.
For Paul and I, we told people about the pregnancy early because we knew we would need their prayers no matter what happened in the pregnancy.
So when we told friends and family that we had lost our precious baby, we had a community of loving people surrounding us, praying for our comfort and upholding us with their simple friendship.
The physical process of miscarriage was incredibly painful. Kneeling on the floor next to my bed with a heating pad on my abdomen, I felt strangely calm. There was release in the pain and it felt very much like a metaphor for all that my heart went through in releasing our child back to his heavenly Father.
Paul stayed up with me all night, refusing sleep despite his heavy eyelids. "Do you think I'm going to just let you go through this on your own?"
Experiencing this suffering with my husband--the grieving, the loss, the pain, the sleepless night--made me love and treasure him more. Just his hand on my back or shoulder made me feel braver and calmer. It wasn't my miscarriage of my child. It was ours. We are more one than ever before.
Paul and I know that our child was a living soul from the moment of conception, when the gender, physical features, blood type, and genetic blueprint of an entirely new, never-before-seen person came into being. We know that God formed our child personally and lovingly, from the day of conception to the day He called the soul home to His side.
"Our baby was a real person, and people need names," I said. "Do you have a sense of whether or not our baby was a boy or a girl?"
I already had a sense, but I wanted to know if Paul had the same feeling. It would feel like a confirmation.
"His name is Jeremiah," Paul answered. "Because of Jeremiah 1:5. 'Before you were in the womb, I knew you.'"
"Then I have a middle name. Abel. Because it means 'breath of God,' and our son came and went like a breath from the Lord."
Your daddy and mommy love you. You were loved and prayed for every moment of your short and precious life. We look forward to meeting you when Jesus calls our souls Home. Until then, know that we are so, so grateful that you are in the hands of the One who created your soul, who loves you more than we ever could, and who keeps many children in His care.
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.