Recently I spoke with a woman who, with tear-filled eyes, shared about her recent miscarriage. She also expressed how shocked she’d been to find out that miscarriage is so common—that many women have miscarriages but few talk about them. Her account reminded me of my own experience with miscarriage and battle with fear and faith that followed.
Most miscarriages have few to no symptoms, but my first one was a different story. Early in the pregnancy, things felt off, and I became easily winded and dizzy. A few days after a worried call to my nurse, the bleeding began. I was home, by myself, and in excruciating pain.
When we first found out we were pregnant, we’d assumed that a baby would come nine months later. Miscarriage had never crossed our minds. So many of my friends were having babies, and it all looked so easy. So that miscarriage was a lonely loss.
Well meaning people said all types of things to try to encourage me: “You’ll get pregnant again.” “You’ll get to hold your baby in heaven.” “At least it was early on in the pregnancy.” I even had people ask about the baby months after the miscarriage. It felt like a never-ending reminder of our loss.
And then it happened again.
A few months later, thinking the chances of a second miscarriage were slim, we began trying for another. We were thrilled when I became pregnant again, seeing this baby as an answer to our prayers. And the pregnancy seemed to be going well. Then we had a routine ultrasound—no heartbeat. After the second miscarriage, I was given routine anti-biotics.. My body didn’t respond well to the medicine they gave me, which left me with a chronic stomach condition.
Fear and confusion took reign then in my mind and heart. How could I make sense of a sovereign and good God in the midst of this? Why could my friend who didn’t want children have them so easily when I couldn’t? How could I get past the bitterness and emptiness I felt. I asked my husband if we could take a break from any attempt at getting pregnant so that my heart, mind, and body could heal.
During that break I read Spiritual Depression by D. Martyn Lloyd Jones. I reread Future Grace by John Piper. I searched my Bible in search for answers and peace. And what the Lord revealed to me in that time was that my fear and despondency wasn’t an anomaly. Jesus felt it too in the painful hours leading up to the cross. He was denied and abandoned by his friends. He pleaded in the garden for the Lord to take the cup away and then proceeded down the awful, lonely road toward the cross. And how could we forget the cry of our Savior as he died on the cross: “‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Matt. 27:46 ).
God provided comfort in that time by reminding me that I wasn’t alone in my pain. He wasn’t leaving me to my own. He began to reveal to me that he understood and he loved me dearly. I didn’t have anywhere else to go but to him, and he answered my cry in the wilderness. It was comforting for me to realize that it was okay to be in a wilderness. Jesus didn’t go to the cross cheering and clapping his hands. He was sorrowful—sorrowful for this world and for the pain and separation from his Father he knew he’d have to endure. It was okay to weep. Through my tears I had great hope because I knew that I wasn’t praying to a dead Savior. He rose and was indeed interceding on my behalf.
My husband and I eventually resumed trying for children, but I was terrified to find out I was pregnant again. Every strange feeling in my abdomen set off a series of imaginary scenarios, each ending with me in the hospital, then coming home without a child. But this time I was helped by what I had learned in my time of seeking the Lord
Miscarriages are heartbreaking and painful for mothers, especially those who understand that life begins at conception. In the midst of my fear and trembling at the unknown, God gently reminded me of his words in Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (esv). That reminder was a great comfort to me. God was (and is) my God—my personal, intimate, fatherly God. He was with me. I was not alone in my fear. And because he was with me, I didn’t need to be dismayed. He would strengthen me, help me, uphold me. I could rest in that promise.
We waited a little longer to tell friends this time. But we eventually told them because we wanted everyone we knew to pray for us. We knew we couldn’t handle the pain and suffering of another miscarriage alone. And I found I didn’t have to. I began to hear from other women who had experienced miscarriages but never spoken of them. They comforted me with the comfort they had received from the Lord.
Despite the comfort I received from God and others, I was fearful throughout that third pregnancy until the moment in 2006 when I held my baby boy—our firstborn son. And at that point I began to trust God’s wisdom a little more.
Would I ever want to go through the loss of two babies again? No. But would I trade this sweet boy that we held in our arms? Never. In his mysterious wisdom and grace, God gave us the gift of our son, and we were overjoyed.
My husband and I knew we wanted to have more than one child, so after a year we began to try again. And we did eventually get pregnant again, only to miscarry within six weeks. We were told there was a chromosomal defect. We tried again and miscarried again—my fourth miscarriage in six years.
My response during those days was quite different from my response to the first two. I knew I didn’t have control—I couldn’t make a baby be born—and surrendered to that reality, trusting God with what was happening.
I had spent the last few years preparing for another trial, and God’s promise stood true:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4: 6-7 esv).
Surrendering to the Lord, crying out for help, and thanking him for what I did have brought me great peace. God tells us that the mind set on him will be given peace, because that person trusts the Lord (Isa. 26:3). The Lord was faithful to fulfill these promises. I was at peace because he had given me peace. I was at peace because Jesus was enough for me.
I settled in my mind that we would only have one child. He was a joy and a gift, and it was okay if we didn’t have another. And then—surprise!—we had a girl.
I don’t remember experiencing any fear while pregnant with our daughter. And since she was born in 2009, we have believed our family to be complete—unless, of course, the Lord has another surprise for us. If he does, I pray that I will be able to say with Job, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21 esv).
You may be struggling today with the fear and pain and questions that fertility issues can bring. My prayer for you is that my words will bring comfort.
You are not less of a woman because you have lost a baby or have had difficulty conceiving. And you are not alone. You are surrounded by women who know your pain. But more important, God the Father is with you.
If you have had a miscarriage and ever wondered if you should share your story, may I encourage you to share if you feel you can. God gives us the wonderful opportunity to comfort with the comfort we’ve received from Christ (2 Cor. 1:4). Perhaps today, this week, or this month God will put someone across your path who needs to know she is not alone.