A while back a blog post was circulating on Facebook. It's an incredibly personal story that challenges pro-life people to reevaluate the way they handle women (and men) who experience loss through miscarriage differently than they do the loss of life from an abortion. It's worth the read. In fact, go read it now, then come back and read the rest of this post.
I didn't click the link the first couple of times I saw this because I didn't think it would apply to me. I am pro-life and I've had a miscarriage but I didn't know the direction the author was going to take with this post. I just thought...I don't know what I thought, really, but I didn't feel compelled to read it. And then today, I did. And whoa. I should have better prepared myself for the mental onslaught that ensued.
After reading this blog from Mrs. Lewis, I sat in front of my computer just bawling my eyes out, filled with the pain of my own experience with miscarriage.
Just a few days after Christmas 2008, we lost a baby, or at least the hope of a baby. The doctor told me that I probably wasn't really pregnant, but body thought I was...there's some medical term for that happening that I don't remember. I've never known how to deal with that part of my experience. I was 12 weeks along.
Because of some incredibly serious complications, I ended up in the ICU and nearly died. The single scariest moment of my life was when my heart rate dropped down into the 30-50 range for the fourth time in an hour and I knew I was going to have another seizure. I remember looking at my husband and telling him to make sure the kids (we had three under age six at the time) knew that their mom had loved them. I meant it and I really didn't think that I would get the chance to tell them myself. By the grace of God and the skills of the correct doctor that was finally called in, within a few very long days, I was able to come home and hold my babies in my own arms, to whisper my love to them in my own voice.
My parents were there. My in-laws and my sister rushed to see me. People from my church came. In the days and weeks that followed, they brought us more food than we could even eat. They loved on us and did all that they knew to do to make life easier for me as I recovered from a horrific ordeal. They were amazing and wonderful and a blessing that I still treasure today. So very many people prayed for me during that time and so many worked to meet our physical needs that I’m sure I don’t even know them all. I have rarely felt so much love as I did during the weeks after my hospital stay.
People were taking care of and praying for ME, my 30 something self, but really most people barely acknowledged that we had lost a baby, a life, a person. There was one nurse in Topeka that I remember. I was in over the New Year and the hospital was packed. I'd been moved from the ICU to the PCU and she hadn't yet had time to read my chart. When she asked me why I was there, I told her. She immediately stopped what she was doing and said, "I am so sorry. Do you need anything? Do you want me to get someone for you to talk to?" She was the first and the last of the medical staff to do so. That was my second day there. No one else there spoke of the baby or my loss again. The emotional aspects of the miscarriage didn't matter at all. The only thing that mattered was my current physical condition. And I understand why. It was bad. It was "I almost died" bad. As horrible as that was, someone else did die. Not just almost, but totally, even before drawing a first breath. My baby died that day.
I had a dear friend who came to the hospital and brought with her a small statuette of an angel holding a baby. On the bottom she wrote, “Baby Crutchfield 2008.”
There were others who acknowledged the loss, I'm sure, but I just don't remember. I was exhausted, not just physically but emotionally. Overall, the extreme nature of my own medical problems allowed us to practically bypass the loss of our baby.
Even my husband and I grieved separately; alone. It was too hard to talk about and it was so busy, with three kids who were so little and me just trying to recover, that even I blocked out the thing that had landed me in the hospital to begin with. No one else talked about it, so I didn't either. If they tried, I just told them that I was fine and let myself believe that it was true. I simply didn’t think about the baby we had lost.
But every once in a while, when I read something like the story on The Lewis Note blog or hear someone's story of loss, it brings all of those suppressed feelings to the surface. And I sit and mourn the loss of a child I never held in my arms; a child whose face I never saw, a child to whom I never gave a name because that would have been too weird.
I never know how to count my children. Is my baby boy my fourth or fifth child? When I talk about being pregnant, I know I was pregnant 5 times, but is it worth explaining to complete stranger or a new acquaintance why I only have four kids with me at the park? Is it horrible for me not to acknowledge that precious life that once dwelled in my womb simply because it is easier than explaining my loss?
Adding another layer to those feelings is the fact that I honestly don't even know if my baby actually existed. The doctor told me that my body lied to itself and tricked me into thinking I was pregnant when I wasn’t. This has always been a struggle for me to accept. I don’t know if it is true. I know that I lost a lot of blood and tissue before I went to the hospital and that I was too afraid to look at it for fear of the worst. I know that I felt sorry for the sonogram tech working the ER that cold December morning. She didn’t want to tell me there was no baby but we both knew what we weren’t seeing on the screen. I do know that the HOPE of that child was once very much ALIVE. And I know that the pain of losing that child, even if it was only the hope of a life, is real and long lasting.
Tonight as I watch my living children, I am reminded that if our miscarried baby had survived, our youngest child would not have been born. He was conceived three months after our loss, over three months before our other baby would have been born. There is no way that they could both exist. But here he is, giggling with his big brothers, dancing with his big sister, snuggling with me in my chair and wrestling with his daddy. He is here and he is loved. No, he doesn’t make up for the child we lost and I don’t think of him as a replacement child. He is an extra special blessing all his own.
As I write this, I know that there are hundreds, thousands of women who have felt the loss that I have. Some of them once, some twice and some more times than I could probably handle. To those women, I say this. I am so sorry, Sister. I am sorry that you are going through this. It is hard and it is painful and it is not, no matter what people tell you, God’s will. He does not hate you nor is He punishing you. The wages of sin is death. Because of the sins of humans, death became a part of our world. We can’t change that. But we can know that there is hope in Jesus. I know that I will one day rest in His arms and if there was a life growing inside me, he will introduce us. On that day, I will hold my unborn child close and whisper to him or her, “Momma loves you. Momma has always loved you.”