I knew I was pregnant.
That familiar nausea and the aching tiredness meant I was pretty sure the test would be positive, and it was. We were expecting our third child and we were thrilled. We really wanted this baby, we had no idea how we’d manage the carnage of life as a unit of five, but we really wanted this baby.
Almost straight away we started excitedly speculating about names. The old favorites came out as well as a few curve balls that made us giggle. Again and again I thanked God for his kindness. I couldn’t get over how blessed we were, we had two healthy kids and now here we were anticipating the fifth member of our family. This was the one I hoped would complete our home. I’d always dreamt of three. He or she was already with us, we were already a family of five. God had placed a tiny life inside me and we thanked him for such a precious gift.
Then I started bleeding.
A little bit of spotting can be normal right? I told myself it would likely stop, and we prayed it would, we really prayed it would. Yet at the back of my mind I was afraid. For a couple of days the bleeding was intermittent. We were worried, but not without hope. Then, a mere few days after we’d had a positive pregnancy test, I knew I was having a miscarriage. Now there was no mistaking it, we’d lost our baby.
We cried together. For a few days it felt as though the house would surely flood with tears. We cried on one another and on close friends.
We’d had a miscarriage, we’d lost a baby, our third child. In sharing this I want to make clear that many who suffer a miscarriage have it a lot harder than we did. Ours happened very early. We only knew for sure I was pregnant for a few days before the bleeding began. Many go several weeks or even months into a pregnancy before a miscarriage occurs. As well as it happening early, we had the enormous comfort of two healthy kids, children we could hold and kiss, and they have never been more precious than they were then. But we were still sad, and we were grieving our child and the life we would have had with them.
We’re 9 months on from that week now, we would have been due to meet our child any day. Due to see them, hold them and feed them. We won’t get to drink in that incredible new born smell this month, to see our third child yawn for the first time, to hear them sneeze or feel their little fingers cling onto ours like only a newborn can. How are we to process this?
There were certain truths we clung to whilst processing the loss of our littlest one, and I share them now in hope that they may bring comfort to some. Miscarriage is so prevalent, one in four pregnancies end this way. But conversations in the aftermath of a miscarriage are often too hard or private to be shared with many, so there remains an unhelpful stigma attached to this very particular experience of loss. We can often feel unsure of how to speak about it. This is simply our small contribution to the conversation, a small step in raising awareness about what is so often an unspoken loss.
God sustained us by assuring our hearts that the following was true:
Our baby was real
As a Christian I believe life begins at conception, we believe that’s what the Bible teaches. I had never considered this truth as one which brought comfort before our miscarriage, conviction yes, but comfort? That was new to me. To know, however, that our baby had truly been alive made all the difference. However small they had been, they were real, a full member of our family, a brother or sister. Yes they were unknown to us in so many ways, but they had still been fully alive. When you consider the way that miscarriage is often spoken of in our society, and even by the best intentioned medical professionals, it can be easy to tell yourself that – they were so small – they weren’t really real.
Language such as ‘an unviable pregnancy’, however biologically true, does not do justice to the life that had existed within me. Perhaps some find comfort in reducing early life to mere medical terms. I can imagine how one might. To have told myself, ‘it’ wasn’t really alive, ‘it’ wasn’t fully real yet, may have made it easier. Perhaps it would have lessened the grief?
Believing that our child had been a fully alive, however, meant we had experienced a full loss.
I don’t mean to be glib. I’m not comparing our miscarriage to the pain of those who experience infant loss such as a still birth or sudden infant death syndrome. But believing our child, however small, had been real and fully alive, meant I was allowed to grieve him or her fully. It made it both harder, and easier. Our baby had been real.
Our baby’s days were lovingly numbered
Our miscarriage wasn’t a mistake. It wasn’t a blind stroke of fate or an oversight of the Almighty. So many words from Psalm 139 whispered comfort to us, but none more so than verse 16.
‘All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be’.
We believe that God ordains every single one of the days we live. Not a single one is unintentional, and they are numbered perfectly, even when they are very few. Each day of our baby’s life was ordained by our heavenly Father. Each moment of their existence was penned before time began, meticulously planned for God’s glory and our good. Not a single day that our child was meant to live had been robbed from them or us. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t heartbreaking to loose them, but the promise that our days have been wisely planned from eternity brought us great peace.
Our baby is safe with Christ
How can you grieve someone you’ve never known? What do you do with feelings of love for a child you’ve never held? To whom do you entrust one so precious that you would give your own life for their safety?
We had experienced the loss of our baby, but our baby was not lost. We knew where they were, and this is the promise that made all the difference. The Bible doesn’t speak in huge detail about what happens to unborn children who die. There are mysteries here. But we found ourselves echoing the hope of David in 2 Samuel 12 that one day we will join our child in heaven.
We know our God loves little children deeply. They are eternally precious to him, so much so that he entrusts his kingdom to such as them. Our firm hope is that one day we will meet, know and love our third child in heaven and we will get to spend the whole of eternity praising Jesus alongside them. But for now, for our days left on earth, I know that our child is eternally safe with Jesus. They are loved by him and secure with him. They are not lost. Above all things it was this hope of heaven which arched like a rainbow through the aftermath of a stormy sky.
Rainbows are a physical reminder of God’s faithfulness and sovereign rule over our world. They come in the wake of a downpour, speaking to us of the one whose voice still holds the power to speak peace, even through the fiercest of storms.
Our baby was real, our baby’s days were lovingly numbered and, just like us, our baby is eternally safe with Christ.