By: Vanessa Wishom
I married the most amazing man two years ago. While engaged we had the conversation that so many couples before us have with high hopes and excited anticipation. You know, the one that talks about how long we will wait before growing our family.
We knew the statistics of waiting. I was in my mid-thirties and we understood that with each year the ease of conceiving decreases and the rate of miscarriage and birth defects increases. We also knew that God was greater and bigger than statistics. We never really considered those things as obstacles we would have to endure. The Bible says that God wants to give us the desires of our hearts, so we believed He would when the time was right.
We chose to wait a year to have children. We wanted to spend a full year together as a couple, so we did and it was wonderful. The predetermined year passed and we went on a “bucket list” vacation to celebrate–one that we knew we would look back on later when we were sleep-deprived and covered in spit-up.
Announcing Our Pregnancy
Our vacation was great and we returned excited to start our new journey of trying to conceive. The next month when it hadn’t happened yet we thought, "No big deal. We'll see what next month brings." We kept trying. That summer the doctor called and said that the results of my annual exam raised a concern and she wanted me to come in to discuss it.
The discussion led to planning a surgery. The surgery plan led to strict instructions to wait six months to let my body heal before we tried again. Then we waited and in January of the following year we got pregnant! We were pregnant and ecstatic! We had our family over and told them. Then we told our close friends and they all celebrated and shared in our happiness.
Whispering Our Loss
It felt as though we could not contain our joy. Unfortunately, two weeks after our positive test I started to feel like something was off. I prayed and prayed that I was wrong and I blocked out all the signs that could lead to my greatest fear.
I called the doctor, who then gave us a sonogram along with the gut-wrenching words "I can't say with full confidence that this pregnancy will go full term and you will bring home a baby."
I hated those words and I hated her. We came home and prayed with fervency. I prayed harder than I ever had before, but our prayers were not answered in the way we had asked. By the end of the week, we started the long and painful process of losing our baby.
That same doctor who I said I had hated sat on the phone and cried with me as she told me how to take care of my body in the midst of its betrayal. We reluctantly shared the news with the friends and family who had been able to share in our joy and asked them to pray for us as we embarked on this journey we had not asked for and did not want. We spent that weekend in our house, stuck in the fog of grief.
I thought staying busy would somehow help stifle the pain and so I used the weekend to do a few painting projects I had on my to-do list. Monday rolled around and I felt awkward about telling my coworkers that I had been pregnant and that I lost the baby in one fell swoop.
Instead, I resumed life as normal, or at least I tried. I could not shake the feeling that I had lost part of myself. The world had now become a little darker and most of the people around us had no idea.
Speaking from the Valley
When someone we love dies there are cultural rituals that are part of the grieving process. There is traditionally an obituary. There is typically a viewing, a funeral, or a life celebration. Essentially there is some kind of invitation to come to acknowledge the existence of love and loss.
When unborn children die we don’t do these things. In fact, there is an underlying current that says we should not even talk about them. Talking about the loss of an unborn child requires vulnerability. Often the people in our circles do not know what to say or do, so we often just stuff it down and try to work through it on our own.
Here is the thing though–the less we talk about it, the less it becomes acceptable to talk about, and the less we support the women and families who are going through it. When I look back, I can’t believe I didn't even take time off work to grieve. In acknowledging the importance of a required shift, my husband and I started talking more. We started sharing with people we loved who we knew would safeguard our hearts. We asked them to pray for us. They must have because the feeling of peace started returning to our lives. In fact, it is still returning.
No One Talks about Miscarriage
I had a friend who was in the midst of a miscarriage recently share "No one talks about this." At first, I was saddened because she was right, but then I realized the opportunity I was given. I could be someone who does talk about it. Early on, I thought that I would share our misfortunes later after we had a baby in our arms. I would wait for a time when it meant I did not have to be vulnerable. I envisioned sharing when we were standing on a mountain top telling about the valley we had journeyed through. But lately, God has been impressing upon me the importance of knowing others are in the valley too, not just that they have been there, but maybe that they are still there.
It has been three months since our loss and there are still some days that are hard. I am sure there will be hard days for a long time, but that is not what we focus on. We still believe that God has great plans for our family, that He promises us children in some way, and that His promises do not return void. Luke 1:37 says “For with God nothing shall be impossible”. That is what we are focusing on.
In the meantime, as a society, we need to talk about miscarriage and child loss. We need to speak from the valley.
Vanessa lives in GA where she and her husband, Rodney, have the joy of raising their two biological former preemies and one bonus child, while missing their daughter who lives in heaven. She lives an ordinary life while serving an extraordinary God; one of the ways she does that is by serving on Praying Through ministries NICU Prayer Team.