Rejoice With Those Who Rejoice

I’m sure we’ve all heard or just somehow “known” the unspoken rule- do not announce your pregnancy until you are at least 12 weeks. Well, I’m not sure what Bible verse they use to back it up, but I have looked through almost all of them regarding pregnancy and loss- and there isn’t one.

I remember my very first baby loss, of baby Noah. I was 11 weeks along, and I had just announced the happy news to the Facebook world three days prior. I had four living, perfect children, and I thought that it wasn’t even a threat at this point. I was devastated. While I sobbed, one person mentioned, “You shouldn’t have told everyone. . .

Obviously, they meant nothing harmful at this statement. But I still remember it, five and a half years later. They were so, so, wrong.

I could not have gotten through that period of grief without people. One lady, that I would never have even thought to call, showed up at my door with flowers and a hug. Another, brought chopped vegetables to “throw at the kids” (I thought that was so clever) and a precious tea cup. Others messaged me or texted. I didn’t feel embarrassed at all. There was a baby, a sweet, amazing baby inside me, and he or she died and we don’t know why. That is devastating, to anyone who actually believes in the value of life. The people who showered me with love and prayer were literally God’s hands in my days, whether they know that or not, and they were not my close family or friends. They were women who had walked this path and knew what it entailed. To this day, when I think of them, I’m so humbled.

The second loss, we had decided to wait until Christmas to surprise the kids. What a cute memory that will be. Until it wasn’t, and baby Jordan left us as fast as he or she came, at around seven weeks. No one knew we were expecting, so I juggled the physical and emotional pain, with seven children and various activities, while my hubby had his wisdom teeth extracted with tremendous complications. What a time that was. Eventually I told a few friends, but it was a very alone, cold, and broken time. We had to tell the kids at this point so they would know why things were hard at home. They were devastated, and bummed that we hadn’t told them in the first place.

The third one, I didn’t wait that long. I was so, so, so sick and believe me, looked pregnant at like 13 days. I feel like I’ve gotten a bit of confidence now. I was so excited for this precious baby. We told family and friends right away, and told everyone else around 10 weeks. I think my hubby announced it at church around 8 weeks? I’m so thankful for our church family, because they hooted, hollered and congratulated us and made this baby their own. I could have waited until the hallowed 12, but it didn’t really matter because our baby didn’t die until way after that. So I still had to un-tell everyone anyways.

The point is- it’s a life, or it’s not.

It’s a baby; a beautiful gift from the Father- or it’s not.

We wonder why the world doesn’t believe that babies are babies, but we act like they aren’t until a specific undisclosed time. But what if they die early on? Yeah, what if?! And now we expect mamas to go through this alone? What a horrible, awful message we send to young moms. So then, the underlying message is, maybe only tell only a few friends or specific family. That’s all well and fine, but what if they can’t give you the support you need? I love my friends dearly, but most of them are in the same, busy season that I am. The ones I really needed the most were the ones a life stage or two ahead of me. Unfortunately, they can also be the ones that dictate the unspoken rules.

The first twelve weeks can be the absolute hardest. Sickness, fatigue, fear, and the constant loom that this baby may not make it- but you are all on your own. I don’t think that this is what God intends for new life, and for family life within the church at large. I think all life is God-breathed and created for a purpose. Yes. Babies die before the end of the first trimester. They also can die during the second trimester. Sometimes- I’ve heard so many sad, quiet, stories- they die at birth. Death is here. And it will be, until He comes again. So, I think we should celebrate when we can.

If you are expecting- or when you are- and you want to keep it under wraps- absolutely! You go ahead and do that! This is your special time, and you get to decide. Everyone is different, and some people are private. You do you, always.

But I know too many ladies, and more every week, that tell me their stories, and how they suffered all alone. I can see it in their eyes- the pain, the unspoken grief, and the bitterness at being on their own at such a sad, awful time. My heart simply breaks for them. And these are ladies who attend churches that believe babies are formed at conception, and that they must be protected. Some of them were sooo excited and couldn’t wait to tell everyone! But they didn’t, because what if the baby dies? Then it would be so. . . What?

I ask you?

Embarrassing? Hard? Triggering?

Yes, it’s hard. It’s hard to value life. To laugh when it comes, and cry when it leaves. It is very hard. It is so, so hard. It’s literally against our very culture to celebrate life, because it isn’t considered to actually be of value. But like I tell my children, and often, the hard stuff is where the blessing lies. Don’t be afraid of the hard.

So, if you are expecting something precious, and want to shout from the rooftops what God has done for you, DO IT! Do NOT be afraid! And if you want me to celebrate with you, I will bring the wine herbal tea. There is nothing like new life. I will celebrate and pray for you and your baby. If you want to keep it secret, do that! You will remember this season for your whole life. Do whatever you wish. But do not let the fear of man (or woman) make your decision for you. God is so good. He is celebrating with you, too.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15

Love heals.

Well, it’s been two weeks and two days since we lost our baby. I can’t believe the outpouring of love and support that I’ve felt from friends, far and wide. I also can’t believe how many people have been touched by the loss of a miscarriage. One in four pregnancies end this way. I even know a bunch of women who have suffered multiple miscarriages, and by multiple, I mean more than three or four.

So if it’s this common, we need to equip ourselves with tools we can use when a friend, co-worker or someone we know goes through it. Not only that, but in my previous post I touched on some of the stupid things people said, and I don’t want that to be what’s left in everyone’s mind. I can’t believe how loved we are, by our Father, and our friends.

So what can we do when someone loses their baby, before they see their face? I have asked a few of my close friends who have gone through this, and these are the most overwhelming parallels:

1. Acknowledge it.

It’s easy to celebrate and go through the happy times with family and friends. Equally important is being there in the hard times. Just say something. Don’t worry about saying the wrong thing. If you do, say sorry and get over it. It’s way better to say something, than nothing. I can’t believe how many facebook messages and texts I got. They literally sustained me. Knowing that there were people praying and thinking of me, and that knew I was sad and were sad for me made a huge difference. I even got a few phone calls, though I didn’t answer the phone. But I saw it, and it meant so much. I can’t say this enough: Acknowledge the loss. Text, phone, facebook, carrier pigeon: whatever the case may be, if there is someone in your family or circle that is going through a loss, you say something. One said, “Suffering people don’t need space, they need love. . . when we fail to acknowledge, we run the risk of pretending that the suffering did not happen, which is entirely false. Our sufferings are real, and if we are helped through our loss, we have a greater opportunity of turning the suffering into our ever needed desire for growth in holiness.” Always err on the side of love, not space.

2. Be there

To talk, hug, etc. Just let them know you are available, whether they take you up on it or not. Just knowing that you are a safe place to vent, cry or sit beside makes the difference between being alone in your darkest moments, or being loved unconditionally. One of my closest friends texted me on and off the next week, just to say hi and check in. I knew that I was being prayed for, and cared for. Our midwife was AMAZING. She sat with me at the hospital when I was going for final bloodwork. She responded to emails right away with questions I had. She even called me at 9:00 pm to let me know the results, so I wouldn’t have to wait till the next day. She let me cry without feeling stupid, and told me to call whenever I wanted to chat. Honestly, I know I go on about midwives, but you just can’t compare.

3. Shower with love

We were blessed by meals, flowers, gifts. I am still in shock. The meals gave me a huge break in the day, especially when I was in so much pain. Chopped and fresh veggies were also a huge blessing. I had the most annoying, brutal afterpains for almost a week. Having fresh stuff in the house to throw at the kids made life easier.  One of my friends made me a cheesecake with my name on it. A friend stopped by just to hug, and brought beautiful flowers. Cards, visits (if they are wanted), flowers on the table, all of this goes back to the first thing we should do: Acknowledge the loss.

IMG_4202

4. Let them grieve. Don’t offer platitudes.

When a friend dies, no one says, “Well, at least you have other friends!” Or, “You can always make a new one.” There is nothing wrong, and everything right, about grieving over your baby that died. Allow them that. Don’t try to make it better by pointing out blessings. Jesus grieved over the loss of his friend. Grief is a beautiful way of acknowledging life, and a life lost. If you accidentally say something along the lines of trying to help them get over it, or to see the “bright side,” realize what you’re doing and say sorry. Then be quiet and cry with them. “Grief is not lessened by minimizing the value of the life.” Aptly put.

5. Know that no grief is the same, and there’s no time limit.

It can strike at the weirdest times. Years later, seeing a child at the age your baby would be can bring it all back up to the surface. Obviously I’m not at that place, but hearing from other women tells me that most of all, our friends just want permission to be real. To feel pain and grief and hurt, and not pretend it’s not there because it’s been a few months or years since the loss. We are created to feel and love. God didn’t make a mistake there. If a joke that you heard or funny story you lived years ago still has the power to make you laugh ten years later, so too the memory of the baby you lost can still make you cry and feel the hurt just like yesterday.

season

6. Genuine help for the friend who’s miscarried:

Some books that have been recommended include Empty Arms, Mommy, Please Don’t Cry and Streams in the Desert. I haven’t read them all, but I’m interested because they have helped friends. Obviously the Bible is full of hope. I’m so thankful I know where our baby is. This song has been hugely helpful to me, and this one has been suggested by a friend who’s been there. Don’t watch that one with makeup on.

Also, a ceremony can also be a good way for closure. A lady whom I treasure has been through six miscarriages. She spoke of having her own ceremony, with a balloon for each baby. Eventually, she had to cut the string of each balloon and let them fly away. She said that it was like cutting steel; but it helped her in letting go.

Another lady spoke of sending white roses down the river; watching the water carry them further and further away. Being surrounded by nature in its rawest form can be such a meaningful way to say goodbye.

roses

And one last strong woman spoke of asking Jesus to show her the four babies she lost. “Healing truly came when I asked Jesus to show them to me and He showed me a picture of these 4 little boys sitting in His lap – all different ages – big brown eyes – blond curls!! It was beautiful!! They looked so happy! I know they are waiting for me….”

It is so easy to love each other in the happy times; to attend weddings, celebrate with showers, host a dinner because of a new home. Let’s not shy away in the dark times, but be friends and family through it all, not being afraid of the beauty of deep love, emotion and grief. This is where love is.

Thank you for everyone who’s prayed or loved on us. We’re okay. Super sad, but okay. Today the pretty one was sitting on the floor crying. Impatiently I asked, “What’s the matter?” 

She replied, “I just miss my baby.”

I get it, girl.

I know there’s a plan. I’m not mad. 

Darn, I just miss my baby.