The broken things

Fears lurk behind corners—the monsters under the bed that come to torment. I thought I was doing well. I may have even had an entire day without tears . . . or at least without many. And then yesterday, it all fell apart. I have no idea if there was a trigger. I know I’ve been binge-watching a TV show that features a woman who is a surrogate, pregnant with a baby boy. I did have a jolting moment when the show displayed an ultrasound with the swooshing sounds of a beating heart. But that was days ago. I imagine there is no real cause for this new wave of grief and guilt.

Last night I wondered if I was crossing through into post-partum depression—not sure if giving birth and having an empty uterus is a requirement. It is hard to tell where grief ends and where depression begins. As I think through what I learned in pastoral care, I still have time before I need to be worrying about depression. I sometimes have to remind myself that it has only been a week and a half since we learned of Avelyn’s death. In many ways it feels like a lifetime ago.

I feel broken. In mind, spirit, and body—perhaps most in body. The fear that lurks behind corners are about me. Fears that I will continue breaking the statistics. Women who have experienced one miscarriage have an 85 percent chance of a healthy pregnancy to follow. But we’ve already broken so many statistics. We got pregnant in our first month of trying (only a 20 percent chance of that). We lost our first baby (only a 15 percent chance of that). And then the Misoprostol did not work to bring about a miscarriage (I have no numbers, but only indications that it works for “most” women).

I fear being here again. I fear that if this happens again that I won’t have the strength to try again. I fear that my body is going to keep playing this silly game of chicken where I will have hope that this miscarriage will happen soon, only to have a day without much cramping and what feels like backwards steps. I fear that if I have a procedure done, that I’ll never feel real closure. I fear that I may not be able to handle a natural miscarriage. I fear that I will always view my body as a broken thing.

When I engage my brain, I get that these fears aren’t based on good arguments. But who has ever needed good arguments for fears? I get that a person does not simply stay on one side of the statistics board because they happened to be there a few times in a row. I also get that some women do continue to have miscarriages without identifiable reason. Why should I assume that I’m not one of them? I find it funny that when talking about birth, others want to make sure you are prepared for the possibility (also low statistically) that things will go wrong and require emergency intervention, but after miscarriage, everyone wants to quickly assure you that you will be pregnant with a healthy baby within the year.  The truth is that none of us knows.

In this dark pit, thoughts of other babies seem shallow. I don’t want other babies, I still just want my December girl.  Some suggest that there is no real healing from a miscarriage until you are pregnant with another child—but another child will never replace this one. It isn’t fair to either of them. It isn’t fair to me or to Allyn.

And besides, none of the promises in the world can make me feel less broken now. While I admit to having self-image issues, I’ve always at least felt that my body was my own. In pregnancy, I began to view its changing shape as beautiful, because it meant that my body was bringing about life. Those same changes make me cringe now. They seem only to signify death. Have I mentioned that the linea nigra has appeared over the last few days? The line that appears on the abdomens of 75 percent of pregnant women. One could say that this is an example of a statistic where I fall into the majority, except that I’m only technically pregnant. This line showed up three weeks after my baby died. I’m lucky in that it is currently fairly light, only a few shades darker than my skin tone. But there it is, all the same.

Author’s note: This is the eighth post in a series on pregnancy loss/miscarriage. Read the first post, “First ultrasound,” here.



Filed under miscarriage

69 responses to “The broken things

  1. Erin

    “But who has ever needed good arguments for fears?…. The truth is that none of us knows.”
    So true. Sometimes in the process of being encouraging, friends discount the legitimacy of fear in uncertainty. I can trust that God will take care of me, and still fear that my heart’s deepest (earthly) desires won’t be met. The narrator of a novel I like said (paraphrasing), “To know something good is going to happen is a Good Thing. To know something bad is going to happen is a Bad Thing. But to not know if something good or something bad is going to happen is The Worst Thing.” An oversimplification, to be sure, but I feel that way sometimes.
    Well-meaning encouragements of, “one day you’ll get this specific good thing you desire” are poor comfort because (a) it doesn’t change the current situation, and (b) like you said, none of us really knows if it’s true. So then I have to go back to knowing that, in the broadest sense, God will work all things to my good, and that is a Good Thing, even if sometimes it just feels like a Has-to-be-good-enough-for-now Thing. Lord help us.
    Still praying for you and your family.

  2. Grief is unprecedented when it’s you, and there is no wrong way to grieve. I fear saying the wrong thing, but in the physical impossibility of “just being there,” this is me, being here with you in this place. I cannot help but think this processing, while painful, must surely help as you rescue thoughts from the murky painful place and organize them into paragraph, etc… I hope and pray it will.

    • Thanks, Ashley. This processing has been really helpful for me. Sometimes overcoming the fear to say things out loud (or in this case, typed to the world) makes the raging monsters under the bed quieter. I’m thankful that you are here with me from far away.

  3. You never know what to expect when dealing with grief. Sure, there are the stages of grief that we all learned in psychology, but they don’t always play out in that order (sometimes you can also revisit stages) and they don’t always manifest in the same way. There is no telling what “set you off,” and when it comes to grief it could be something really small, if there was even a “trigger” at all.

    Nothing will ever replace the daughter you lost. Yes, a future successful pregnancy will undoubtedly provide some healing, but each child is unique. You will not forget her, and I do not think you should. You can still celebrate the short time you did know her, even though you only saw her in ultrasound pictures. She did provide you warm feelings, happiness, and the joy of being a mother, the intangible things that motherhood is all about.

  4. Pingback: Taboo Topics: Losing a baby – meet Jennifer and Allyn Harris Dault | Irresistibly Fish

  5. Beautifully expressed and something we share. I lost one too. There is no consolation I can give, but my prayer is that you will find your joy one day, and soon.

  6. Am so sorry about this….like you said, nothing will ever replace Allyn and it shouldn’t but your other baby will help you with the love and care and make your pain lighter. My wishes and prayers are with you. God bless!

  7. I send you love from another who lost a much wanted baby. i hope you find peace and love as we did with the next one. x

  8. heartbroken for you. thoughts and prayers are with you.

  9. What an awesome blog and so honest. This had to be a hard thing to blog about. I am sorry for your loss.

  10. We have been through this experience twice, and it is heartbreaking! We know the hurt you are going through so intensely ourselves… May there be healing and grace in abundance for you!

  11. Editor-in-Chief: Carrie B

    Very brave and wonderfully written. There is no other grief like this. Thinking of you.

  12. Hello Jennifer. I chanced upon your blog while browsing through Freshly pressed. I’m really sorry to hear about your story. I’m nowhere near the stage of being a mother so I guess I cnt be certain to comment that “I know how you feel” or ” I understand exactly what you are going through”.
    Despite that, I can totally agree with you that nobody can ever replace your December girl because another one wont ever be the same one. Your writing is simple but I’m sure all those words will never be able to describe how you feel and what you have been through. I pray and wish for you to gain strength to overcome this. I pray for you that happiness will befall you and your future will be bright. Take care girl:)

  13. alexanderschimpf

    I wasn’t sure if “liking” this was an appropriate response, as I am sorry for your loss. But writing your way through this grief will be sure to help others as well, so it is good of you to do.

    As far as the future goes, you are right that no one knows. But we have some reason to hope, in those strange words at the end of the Book of Job: “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.”

  14. I’m so sorry for your loss. We have lost 4 and I feel your deep sadness and I will be praying for your family.

  15. Lara

    Hi Jennifer. I had 4 miscarriages in one year. I eventually went on to have two beautiful children and I never found out why they happened. Taking a half asprin a day may or many not have helped.
    In terms of grief, I found it very hard, almost as if society deemed it as illegitimate to grieve over unexplained miscarriage. A few people said to me “oh so you weren’t really pregnant” which still hurts me thinking about it, even with two gorgeous kids later!
    Well done for expressing your grief so powerfully and eloquently in your blog, Its an important part of getting people to understand x

  16. I’m very sorry for your loss and understand what it’s like to feel “broken.” I’ve shared my experience of recurrent miscarriage–followed by the birth of our son–here: Take good care of yourself.

    • Thank you so much for sharing. Love the words in your post (and this is likely a paraphrase) “I didn’t have two miscarriages, I suffered them.” And the words about your second miscarriage — that is how I feel now . . . which may be obvious from my post. I am so sorry for your losses. And beautiful tales of your son. After experiencing the loss you did, I think birthing him was the most selfless and brave thing you could have done. If anyone even tries to call you selfish, send them my way!

      • Aw, thanks Jennifer. Though our son is now three and a half years old, and in many ways our miscarriages feel behind me, I also recognize/fear that I’ll never really get over them. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with honouring your grief. I think there’s greater danger in repressing and denying it. I like to think that time heals all, but I’m not sure if it does. Maybe, ideally, what we’re left with and remember is what we need to remember. Best of luck staying strong, doing the grieving work you need to do, and moving on to brighter and happier days. They ARE ahead.

      • Yeah, I tend to think emotional wounds are similar to physical wounds—time heals, but our deep hurts leave scars. If old physical injuries can ache during storms, why not other injuries? And thank you. I began writing this series because I absolutely had to write. There was no option. I shared it because I feared the secrecy that exists around pregnancy loss and miscarriage. There seem to be so few resources available.

  17. I’ve been pregnant 6 times. I’ve heard the heartbeats of babies I’d never bring to full term. But one of the pregnancies resulted in my daughter who is now 13. It is heart breaking and we never forget those other pregnancies. Society says we can’t talk about it. We can’t mourn it. We are supposed to forget. And there is rarely a reason why it happened. I get so tired of rude people asking me why I only have one child (my answer that I don’t answer them.) But we go on, like with any loss and any grief. Let yourself have that grief and don’t wonder why. Hugs to all who have gone through this – you’re not as alone as you think.

  18. Hi Jennifer. I’m so sorry for your loss. This is a very painful topic for me, even after twenty years. All I can say is that one day you will understand that there is a reason beyond today’s understanding why all this happened. No one can replace your December girl. Nor should they try. I eventually (after seven years of infertility treatment and numerous unexplained miscarriages) adopted a beautiful baby boy. My son has autism, and at times, I wondered why God would do this to me. Then I realized, He didn’t do it to me, this was the child who needed me. I have the patience, the lack of guilt (not being his biological mother), the resources (as an educator and many connections to education for special needs children), and joy in giving my all to a child, as I prayed for many, many years. Good luck and I wish you peace with whatever is in your future.

  19. After 2 miscarriages I know and feel the pain you are feeling. I can only hope and pray that you find a place of peace for yourself. The lose of a child is never easy and the grieving time is not defined but I know that with time the heartache does become an easier burden to bear. I will send up prayers for you.

  20. People can “say” they can feel your pain; truth IS none of us knows the depth of pain a person feels after loss..None of us knows the “correct” thing to say. Often times things said in “comfort” can offend..Which is why I’m also horrible(even though I’m a deeply compassionate person ) when offering comfort to those who have recently suffered loss. Your “write” I’m hopeful served and is serving as a release & a need to connect with others who have also (or may in the future) experience the same type of loss. None of us knows they such things happen; even when medical doctors try with all their might to explain it..They can’t ever honestly know. My wish(& prayer) for you /your husband is that God keeps you & holds you in his arms. Always . Stay encouraged & blessed

    • Thank you. And often, your friends who have suffered loss just need to know you are there, willing to be with them through the pain. Admitting that you don’t understand, but are willing to travel the road with them is a great place to start — and sounds like what you have described that you feel. Thanks for your wishes and prayers.

  21. There are never good enough words. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

  22. Your blog post brought tears to my eyes. There is no way that I can say that adoption is any where as painful as miscarriage, but there are similarities in the emotions.
    I’m am so sorry for your loss.
    Keep writing! I enjoyed your style of writing in this blog post!

    • Stephanie, I’ve watched as parents learn their adoption is falling through at the last minute, after they had fallen in love. I also know just the process, even when all goes right, can take painful years. And while I haven’t watched friends go through the pain of putting a child up for adoption, I know that leaves scars, even when there seems to be no other choice. It might not be the same pain, but I know it can run just as deep. I don’t know your story, but I am sorry for whatever led you to find solidarity in my words.

  23. I am very sorry for the deep grief and pain you are experiencing. I can personally relate. I wanted to let you know of a condition that studies suggest may raise the risk of miscarriage. It is a genetic clotting disorder called Factor V Leiden, and is diagnosed with a blood test. It’s something that might be worth looking into.

    Here’s a link to a poem called “In the Sea of Grief” that you might find comforting. Peace be to you and yours, and take care. Beth

  24. I am there with you. I lost a much wanted baby in April. I share your every emotion, and am still suffering from the physical consequences of my miscarriage. Whilst I agree that nothing will ever replace my baby Hope, or remove the wish I had to meet her (I always just felt it was a girl), the tears do gradually become less frequent as the weeks pass. I just wish you all the very best, and hope that in time, you will achieve the happiness you deserve.

    • I am so sorry for your loss. Hope is a lovely name. We, too, felt all along that we were having a girl. The day after we found out she had no heartbeat, we named her Avelyn Grace. Avelyn means life or little bird. Grace because we needed — and still need — it.

  25. sad for your loss, inspired by your strength.

  26. I just stumbled across your blog as I was browsing Freshly Pressed. Thank you for bravely sharing your story. There are so many people that believe miscarriage is not to be talked about but I believe your story is a form of helping you grieve right now and that it will provide encouragement to someone else later who needs it. I have a 7 month old son and I have postpartum depression. That too has a stigma to it and people don’t talk about it. I’ve tried speaking out about it because I don’t believe we should all suffer silently and alone.

    It is to be expected that you would feel depressed right now but if you find that all of your days are in that dark abyss and there isn’t a glimmer or light in any of them, please go see your doctor. There is help available for you, whether it’s talking to a counselor or taking anti-depressants. There’s nothing wrong with either. My heart aches for you. I am so terribly sorry for your loss. I sincerely hope that there will be brighter days ahead for you and that you will soon have a baby that you can take home and hold in your arms. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  27. I want to reach through the computer and hug you tight! I’ve been where you are…twice. It doesn’t get easier. The next pregnancy can go the same or not. I am now a mom and those fears don’t change the further along you get they just change and even once that little person enters this world you will still fear. Fear that they are born still even though you reach 40 weeks, fear that SIDS will take him, fear that he will be in a deadly accident…unfortunately the fear doesn’t end. But the love and joy of having that child in your life covers the fear. You don’t think about it as much as when it is your all consuming thought as it is for you right now. Take time to grieve, give your body time to heal, lean on your significant other, and console your pain because it is shared between you two even though he is probably trying to be strong for you. Know that you are not alone and know that people will say inconsiderate things, let them roll off people do not understand where we have been until they too have been there.
    When you are ready to broach the subject of babies again take the time to talk it over, but right now it is too fresh.
    Sorry this was so long. But HUGS HUGS HUGS and more HUGS

  28. While misacarriage is clearly a big trauma, the worst thing you can do is to dwell on it. It does take more faith to go into another pregnancy, but it is doable with the Awesome God.

    • With all due respect, this is a loss like any other. Grieving is important AND is biblical. At this point I’m still in the midst of miscarriage (my baby is still in my uterus). Telling someone not to dwell on a loss or a trauma can be dangerous — it can make them bottle up their emotions, which can lead to depression that requires professional help . . . and if you believes what s/he is feeling is bad or anti-faith, s/he may be too ashamed to seek that help. The best way to “move on” is to deal with the feelings, fears, greif — to feel them and process them. The best thing for those who love a grieving person is to make room for that grief.

  29. I can only say how terribly sorry I am to hear of your loss. I suffered a miscarriage with my first baby as well. No matter how often you hear it will be okay, nothing makes it easier to bear and nothing makes a woman feel more defective than to miscarry.

    For me, I had five miscarriages before I found a doctor who could tell me what was really happening. I didn’t produce enough progesterone. I lost every baby by 11 weeks. My six pregnancy resulted in my now 13 year old daughter.

    As human beings, we have wells of strength that we can’t really understand until we need them. I hope you’ll be kind to yourself and understand that right now,, you’re dealing with grief and fear and it’s natural. As long as you keep your mind flexible, you’ll heal and when that time is right, another baby will come along.

    I still think of my very first pregnancy and wonder. Perhaps I always will, I really wouldn’t want it any other way.

    All the best to you …

    • Thank you. I am trying to be kind to myself. I do believe my thoughts to be natural, which is one of the reasons I’m sharing them here — because I believe so many women are left to believe they are the only ones. I’ve had trouble finding really good resources that really address what this feels like. I am so sorry for your losses — even though I know they were many years ago.

      • Thank you, and you”re right. It’s next to impossible to find resources to help in this situation. It’s treated as some kind of taboo. Though I’m not religious, I did take comfort in the knowledge that all things are part of a greater plan and that though, I might not understand, there was a reason for its occurrence.

        I wish you the best.

  30. I don’t say “I’m sorry” because to me “I’m sorry” never did anything but remind me that I’m in a sorry situation. I will say that my heart aches for you, and the situation that you’re experiencing truly sucks.

    I hope you continue to find strength to get through it.

  31. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve been there. I had two failed pregnancies and I have one perfect, healthy child. You’re not broken. I just assumed Mother Nature knew best when I lost my two pregnancies. It hurts. You will heal. It’s scary to try again, but the reward is so worth it. I wish you well. It seems rather hollow to say “Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed”, but your post was beautifully written.

  32. nuttyblurt

    I can relate a little to your pain and grief. What the reader above has written is true- you’re not broken. Just allow yourself to grieve without judgement. You will heal soon. It is a cliche, but time will heal you, even if you don’t overcome the scars. Your writing touched my heart. Without sounding patronising, I commend you for bravely expressing all your feelings.
    May you find peace soon 🙂

  33. Pingback: I have monsters under my bed | surprisemama

  34. mrmportland

    I just joined WordPress and ran across your blog. I guess I was suppose to see it. I am so sorry for your loss. I’d like to recommend a great book, a memoir by a woman who had a miscarriage and her grieving process and healing. As she states, you never “get over this”…that’s not the point. You learn to go forward and live and remember your little darlin’. “Life Touches Life: A Mother’s Story of Stillbirth and Healing” by Lorraine Ash. You are not alone, keep reaching out with your words.

  35. I’m sorry for your loss and understand how why certain things come into focus now. May God heal your pain and receive December girl.

  36. Dear Jennifer, Thank you for sharing your story and I am so sorry for your pain of your loss. I am planning to write a little on my own experiences of miscarriage and childbirth in due course. No, you will never forget your December girl but the pain will ease with time, no one will or should replace her. Everyone’s experience of miscarriage is different…no one can tell you how you should or will feel. Praying for you. Amanda

  37. In such a painful time there is no right or wrong way to grieve – only your way. The fortunate thing about grief is that while you are in this darkness it makes even the smallest spark of light seem tremendous in helping you see again. So flicker by flicker you begin to return to yourself until once again you are completely surrounded by light. My condolences to you and your husband but also, my best wishes to you through your grieving process.

  38. I don’t know if this will be of comfort to you. I lost my first one when I was 4 1/2 months along. You were supposed to feel the baby move, I didn’t. I was already growing and wearing maternity clothes. Gifts had been given to start my husband’s and my baby’s life out well. We decided to find a special angel ornament after the first time, we had our 2 next children put it on the tree. When my last pre-term baby died, I found a snow baby that was so cute to remember that baby too. I was at a concert in the 90’s a Christian country group called the Greens’ and I had 3 healthy middle children, (1st and last gone) when they sang an eerie and comforting song, “There’s a Rocking Chair in Heaven.” That made me cry and yet, finally a little glimmer of hope, I may see them again. My children because of the special ornaments say, I will see my sister and brother in Heaven. All may sound too much to you, but maybe it will bring you a sense of light in the darkness.

  39. Hugs, anything else I can think to say sounds hollow even the hugs part however if I could I would hug you so I will just leave it at that.

  40. Just believe that life and death can not be controlled by human wishes, desires or dreams.

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