For all the mommas who have ever loved and lost life inside of them.
Scars tell stories.
I have one on my left leg - right under my knee. And every time I look at it, I remember the day that Travis Tilley scooped me up and threw me into Spring Lake. It was the second-to-last day of eighth grade, and we were on a class field trip. It was just a typical boy-likes-girl-so-boy-shows-off moment and wouldn’t have been quite as memorable had I not been fully dressed and emerged from the water soaking wet with blood gushing from my leg. I was infuriated, embarrassed, and wounded - as apparently I had cut myself on something sharp in the water. I got scooped up once more when my Math teacher, Mrs. VanGilder, carried me to her mini-van, buckled me in the front seat, and drove me the 10-miles to the nearest E.R. The wound called for five stitches and staples and caused me to miss weeks of Swim Team practices - in which I fell behind greatly. And if you’re reading this Travis…I forgive you.
Yes, scars tell stories.
But this blog post isn’t about a wound that left a deep, 1 1/2”-long scar on my leg. This is about a wound that went a little deeper, and left a scar on my heart.
I remember the first time - like it was yesterday. I remember the bright, red color of blood in my underwear - that wasn’t supposed to be there. I remember having my blood drawn at the clinic and awaiting the test results. I remember the look on the lady’s face when she read the HcG count (that was supposed to have doubled by then). I remember the “ugly cry” that overtook me when I realized what the plummeted numbers meant. I remember running out of the clinic that day with my face in my hands - attempting to muffle my screams.
Yes, I remember the day my heart broke.
The spotting had turned into a full-out bleeding, and the cramping and migraine headache that followed was just my body’s way of expelling a pregnancy that was no longer viable.
I was losing my baby and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.
Jeremiah and I had been trying for months and were elated when we found out we were pregnant. I fully expected (and anticipated) to hold a baby in my arms nine months later and we were enjoying every emotion that comes with the exciting news. Honestly, the thought of miscarrying had never crossed my mind. I naively thought that “pregnant” meant pregnant - like it was some sort of guarantee.
When it turned out to be a “never mind” moment for us, I was completely blind sighted. I felt crushed. Devastated. And my body shook with a sadness that I had never felt before.
My husband held me that day as I sobbed - curled up in a ball on our bed. He kissed my forehead and stroked my hair and assured me that it wasn’t my fault when I attempted to apologize to him.
He was hurting as well, and we cried and prayed together that day.
A surfer once told me that the height of a wave will become the depth it will drive you if you get tangled up in it. The power and force that keeps you up, will drive you down beneath the ocean waters.
And that’s exactly how I felt - the height of my elation had become the depth of my sadness. I felt like I was drowning in its sea, with Fear and Doubt swirling around me.
I remember feeling numb for days - weeks even. I still awoke to my alarm, showered, and showed up for work, but I felt like I was living in a world of muffled noises and hushed voices. Food tasted bland, colors seemed dull, and the sun had lost its warmth. Concerned faces with sad eyes seemed to stare at me - wondering what to say and how to say it - with many opting to say nothing at all.
And to make it even more difficult, we had announced our exciting news very early on; so weeks after we had lost the baby, people at church were still approaching us - congratulating us on our news. It made for an awkward encounter (for everyone) when we had to painfully set the record straight.
I left church early and crying on more than one occasion.
The word “miscarriage” is not a dirty word, just a very difficult one.
And unless you’ve experienced it firsthand, it leaves you feeling uncomfortable and helpless as you watch those suffer the depth of its confusion and pain.
But having gone through it with people that loved me (and hadn’t experienced it), I’ll attest that their willingness to feel uncomfortable and helpless was of great comfort and help.
Sending flowers. Showing up. Hugging and crying and praying. Saying something. Saying nothing (and just sitting together in the silence) - it all spoke volumes.
Time passed and a friend who had lost a baby was right - the pain lessened as my heart began to heal.
I’m no doctor, but I do know that the deeper the injury, the longer the healing time can be. And just because a wound has closed, doesn’t mean it isn’t sensitive and vulnerable for quite some time…
Like on Christmas Day - two weeks after we miscarried. My husband and I - along with my entire family - were watching Marley & Me in theaters. I sat between my brother-in-law and husband and was slightly embarrassed when silent tears started streaming down my face. Jenny Grogan had lost her baby too, and watching the scene seemed to rip open the scab that was beginning to form on my heart. My mom leaned forward and asked if I wanted to leave - to which I responded, “It’s ok. I’ll stay.”
I’m glad I did, because getting emotional over Jenny’s loss was a turning point in my own grief. My heart was (apparently) still broken. And in the depth of my confusion and pain - I sought answers. Answers that WebMD couldn’t provide. I turned to the very words of the Author of Life…
And if there was any scripture that was more fitting for that season, it was Psalm 34:17-18:
17The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
18The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
I knew that He heard my cry, was close to my broken heart, and would save my crushed spirit. And honestly, that was enough. (to be continued)