4.14.2011

Reflecting: a post in honor of Micah Lloyd

My personality is the type that wants to move on from things quickly. You fall down, get up fast and if there's no sign of blood, brush it off and forget it happened.
The difficult thing about that, is when really hard trials and sorrows or just difficult life changes come my way, I push through them quickly {too quickly} and then pay for it months later.
So as I've been praying about this healing process from losing our baby - praying that God would comfort our family, give us strength and peace through such a difficult time and also help me to bless others going through the same situation. I decided it would be good for me, personally, to just jot down things I'm feeling, ways I'm learning, and what incredible joy God is giving me, even through this terrible time.

**It is a long post and I know it doesn't apply to some of you. 
It will most likely be my last post about Micah, so I felt it was important to write. 
Even though our family will still go through days of complete sadness, 
I will be moving on from this on my blog. So this post could be titled 
"closing a chapter" 
... even though some never feel like they close. 
I'm not going to go into graphic details 
{mostly because I'm not entirely sure about my blog audience}
but I do mention a few things that might be a bit much for those of you who've not gone
through labor. So if you don't want to read, you won't hurt my feelings. At all. 
This was more helpful for me to write out and process, before moving on. 

Death is never easy. I don't care what people have told you about miscarriage. It is a death and its never easy. Its hard to explain, its hard to even process. I imagine months after this I'll come up with new found emotions and things that suddenly make me very emotional, reliving it all.
I was talking to a friend the other day about her miscarriage and she said "I mean, I don't want to be all dramatic about it, but..." and when she was done basically telling me how truly dramatic it was for her, I told her "you can be dramatic about things that are devastating. There's nothing wrong with stopping your life for a bit to really, truly deal with the sorrow and pain you're feeling. Death is dramatic."
And after those words, she began to cry. Its like women need to be told its okay to feel it. Its okay to say it hurts. Its okay to talk about it. Its okay to say its a big deal that your baby died. There's no shame in it.

If it bothers people, its only because they've not experienced it yet and maybe they just don't know what to do or say. It can be awkward... I've been in those situations and I've learned, when I don't know what to say, just giving a hug and saying "I love you" goes a long way. But I love when people offer up their sympathies and condolences. Even if its not the words I'd chose, its the words God gave them to give to me. Its the things they are feeling they want to say to me. And I SO appreciate them.

When the Doctor told Jason and I that our "pregnancy" was over and when she finally brought herself to say "your baby has no heart beat anymore" I felt empty. I laid there holding Jason's hand, looking at this lady's face who I didn't even know, but wanting to hug her or ask if she was really sure - "can you check again?" I felt like saying. But deep down inside, I knew. Mother's intuition or something, but I knew. I had been kind of a nervous wreck every time I saw a little bit of blood at 8 weeks. Kind friends tried to reassure me that a bit of spotting in the 1st trimester is normal, but for my history, its not normal at all.
I found myself praying over this baby and this pregnancy more than any others in the past and I realize now, its because I had the gut feeling that something wasn't quite right. Something was off.
 Jason and I had the discussion of "we might have a baby with severe health complications" and we were okay with that. But I began praying quite a bit that God would prepare us for whatever lay ahead.
I actually didn't think it would be the death of our baby before the first trimester was even over.

But God knew. 

And that has been so comforting to me. Just as He knows when I will take my last breath, He knew all of this in advance. He knew Micah's first and last heartbeat and He's been preparing and building my strength and faith up during the difficult weeks we had in the beginning of the pregnancy. I just didn't know it. Aren't you glad He keeps these things from us?! Imagine how much you'd freak out and mess up His plans for you, if you knew it all ahead of time. I'm a worry wart by nature, so I hate thinking about the way I'd ruin things if I thought I was in control. Yikes. 
So we left the hospital that night {finally, after getting there at 9pm, we left at 3:30AM} to go back to our home, feeling empty, sad and hard to find the words to describe our emotions to each other. I think one of the first things out of my mouth was "Our parents are going to be so sad." 
It was so fun to see the thrilled emotions from all four of our parents and I get such a thrill out of giving them more Grand babies to love on. 
And then there's that feeling of "what now?" Starting over, but not wanting to. Not being able to go back and fix whatever was wrong. You know the feeling when you leave for vacation and you get on the plane, boat, whatever and realize you forgot to grab something very important for your trip? But you're committed now and can't go back? Yeah... I hate that feeling. 
In a much bigger, much more emotional way, that's the feeling I get after I'm told "your baby didn't make it." 
Ugh... Heart sinking, desperate feeling, can't go back, its over, must move forward even though you don't want to feeling.

The whole year changes shape. Months we planned to be busy preparing for a baby, trips we avoided since I'd be so pregnant during that time, planning for the holidays this year with a brand new baby and working around all those every day things - it all stops. I keep reminding the kids that this doesn't mean God will never bless us with another baby again. Chances are, I might very well be pregnant again before this year is out... but its not the same. You think it will comfort you, but it doesn't really. 
You've bonded with this new child. You've began making plans and praying for this little life. 
You've discussed names, what the child will look like, how they'll fit in to the family, etc... and then its over

Arriving home from the hospital and seeing "baby" things all over the house was so hard. Harder than I would've thought. We had hugged and cried our eyes out at the hospital and in the car ride home, but we walked in the house and it started all over again. Seeing pregnancy books, prenatal vitamins, special pregnancy teas, my ginger breath mints, maternity clothes coming out of bins, the calendar marked with a new numbered week every Thursday :(, seeing the paper for my midwife appointment set for April 13th -- with the words "hearing baby's heart beat!!" on that day... there was so much excitement wrapped up in this little life. So much joy he brought to our family... before he was even born. Amazing. 

Our kids are processing all of this in their own ways. Ethan is very worried about me...

continually asking me if I'm going to be okay. 
Will you eventually die because of this too? 
will you never be able to have another baby? 
when I cry he wants to know, are you mad or sad? 
did God love Micah?
will Micah know we loved him? 
etc... 
He likes to ask those questions, but really just wants to hear me say "I'm gonna be fine, buddy and God will take care of our future." He really just wants to hug me and make sure I'm okay.

Rachel wants to talk about it. I think she forgets a lot what's happened, or she thinks when we say "our baby died and is with Jesus now" she translates that to "but he will come back in a bit and I'll get a big tummy." Every time I have to remind her about what happened, its like we're telling her for the first time, all over again. And so she likes to come sit on my bed and talk to me about it. She has a lot of questions too... "Why did you have a baby in your tummy that wasn't healthy to stay there?" and "I wish you could've told me our baby was never gonna come out. I feel like I never got to talk to him very much."
She came to me the night after we found out and said something about wanting to kiss my tummy good night {the kids did this every night and it was quite cute} when I reminded her what happened
she said "I wish I could've hugged your tummy and said goodnight, once more time before our baby died." - I fell apart when she said it and then she thought she made me mad. I held her tight and told her I felt the same way she did and that its exactly how death is. Typically comes with no warning. And even if you get to say goodbye, its never enough.
So we talked about how blessed we were to have Micah in our family, for even that short time, to be able to celebrate life that God gives - even life that hasn't left the womb yet, but still has a body, a beating heart, a brain... and leaves a footprint on your family forever.
And then it gave us the opportunity to talk about eternal life after death. To really get into the not knowing what tomorrow brings, the promises God gives to those who love and obey Him, etc...
After we prayed and she went to bed, I said to myself, "maybe this was the purpose God had for bringing you into our family." You just never know! You never know how God is going to use even what is devastating and sad for us. You never know what these things mean to your young kids and how they might ponder it and think deeper about things than they let on.

For that reason Jason and I aren't angry. I have to stop and say here, anger is not an emotion I've felt during this time. I've been sad and full of sorrow. I can say with total honesty, its the saddest I've been since I can remember. I wake up each morning with that "unknowing" feeling and then as I really wake up, it all hits me again, like a ton of bricks. "Oh that's right... our baby died." :(
At times its been very confusing and hard to grasp, but there's a lot in life that confuses me and those are times when I remember I am not God and I don't have the wisdom and understanding He does. I can't see the big picture the way He does.
I was certainly angry that it took the ER staff from 10pm until 3:30 in the morning to let us know we lost our baby, but I got over that pretty quickly... apparently ;-)

We want our kids especially to understand that we trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean on Him for understanding. What I found interesting was that the journal I bought for Micah, to write in through my pregnancy, has that verse right on the front of it. Every time I had days where I started spotting or I just felt like something wasn't right, there sat that journal, with the verse I needed to read on a daily basis. Again, thank you, God! He knows. He knew when I bought the journal and was trying to decide which one I should get... He had that one in mind specifically for me, because of this. He knew I needed to have that verse in plain sight every single day, during those 12 weeks.

Lastly, I want to talk about the miscarriage itself. 
Let me just say first off, people don't talk about miscarriages enough! I have always thought that, but now that I've been through 2 - one very early on and now one at 12 weeks, I do wish there was more of a place to really read up and understand what they entail.  
I don't mean sharing emotions {which is good too} but to really talk about what a miscarriage looks like. What to expect and how to prepare yourself and your family.
Doctors, nurses and medical websites don't describe it well at all. In fact, I think there should be a rule for Doctors and nurses. If you haven't gone through it yourself, then keep your comments to yourself. Imagine how many people would be out of work! ;-)
Seriously though, to send a woman home after telling her "Its gonna feel like a bad period" makes me want to go back while I'm in the throws of it all and make them watch. I mean, really.
If they know its gonna be bad {the way they know abortion feels much worse than they say it does} maybe they should just be honest and get it said.
Thankfully I have two close friends who have been through miscarriages right around the same gestation age I did and they were very open and honest with me.
I have to say for me, something that kept hitting me over and over again was, "I never knew I could cry this much." I never knew a body had so many tears to shed in so short a time. My miscarriage took a total of 3 days, start to finish... but the part spent in real pain and agony, losing the baby and everything else, that was close to 5 hours.
I also never knew I could lose so much blood. I never connected the part that I would personally have to be my own midwife. I would have to watch the whole thing and go through it all, just me and Jason.
Nobody else is there to clean up the after birth, to give you a clean blanket and to make everything fresh and nice for you.
I never grasped the realization of giving birth on the toilet. Every time it hit me, where I was sitting and what was happening, I just lost it. I had to cry out to God each time and ask Him to help me not be filled with depression, to not be overwhelmed with the realization of what was really going on, until it was over. Saying goodbye, outloud was very helpful to me. Just letting go and crying and reminding myself that the baby is already gone, its just my body doing what its supposed to do - that seemed to help me a lot.
I never realized how hard it would be to have my husband and I going through this, without the joy and anticipation we've faced upon the births of our 3 kids. Both of us searching for words to say, but finding the silence to be more comforting. He still told me how proud he was of me, how impressed he was that I was handling it all so well, telling me how sorry he was that I had to endure it all.
And I wonder if knew in the beginning of it all how much I was going to cry and lose it when it was all over... I wouldn't have believed it possible for that much emotion to be inside of me. But it is.
Because when its over and you begin lactating and your hormones go nuts... there are no words to describe it.
My experience was very much like real labor, except there's no pressure from the baby's weight to help the whole process work smoother. Its like your body is going at it all by itself. And so for me, it was way more painful and more difficult than any of my labors before. And remember I had Kara drug free and sunny-side-up after being in labor 10 hours.
My situation ended up being different than some... I delivered everything but the sac with our baby. I went to see my midwife Monday afternoon, because I could see what I thought was the sac, but realized it wasn't budging. The midwife was able to gently remove it and she was SO kind. I cannot say here enough how God has placed some of the sweetest medical people in our lives during this time. She asked if we named our baby, when I told her we had, she then referred to him the entire appointment as "baby Micah" in a very kind, sweet way. When she realized I had passed everything but the sac and baby, she smiled and said "baby just didn't want to leave Mama" and yes, I sobbed again :(
She was very comforting and reassured me that though terribly hard, miscarriage is a normal part of life.
She gave me some ideas of things to tell the kids if they ask questions - answers that will be on their level, etc... I'm just incredibly thankful for the midwife team at our hospital.

I never knew that a miscarriage would bring me so much closer to God. Birth is that way too, I think. Its one time in life where I am smacked with the realization that God is in complete control and He will give me everything I need as I need it. I've been amazed during each one of my labor and deliveries the way God shows Himself to be so faithful, my strong tower, my strength. Especially during Kara's labor, when I completely let my body do its thing and felt for the first time like I was 100% relying on God to help me through it. During the miscarriage, so many vereses kept coming to me, about God's goodness, His faithfulness and love. The amazing fact that He creates and sustains life and that he deals with the what comes after death. I found myself full of pain and sorrow, but also full of wonder and awe at how God has even orchestrated this for me. How he's given my body the ability to do even this for itself. To work its way through a miscarriage and to help me grieve through the process at the same time.
And I had no idea how much of an intimate time it would be for our family. I didn't realize how much it would impact my kids or how much it would draw Jason and I closer together as a couple. The way it would remind us that God is in control - He gives life and He knows the end of all our days.

I never knew how sad it would be to see my stomach flattening out. 
Not to see that round new bulge we complain about :) 
I never realized how sad it would make me to order regular coffee again. 

I began contracting in a way that told me it was for sure happening, when Jason and the kids were out to dinner with Jasons' sister and her husband. Perfect timing, right? :)
I tried calling Jason, but his cell wasn't getting reception, so I finally called my Dad and asked him if he could keep trying to reach Jason for me, so I wouldn't have to deal with that and everything else. I ended up talking to my Mom while waiting for Jason to get here. Just having her voice on the other end of the phone was so comforting. I don't ever want to be alone during any kind of labor.
At one point I thought to myself "my Mom has been with us during every one of our kid's labor and deliveries and in a really weird way, she was with us during part of this one too."
My sister rushed over from her nearby apartment so she could make sure I wasn't alone and was okay. She completely knocked the socks off me with how kind and helpful she was. Keep in mind my sister is single and so this is all very new and foreign to her. I was amazed at how well she dealt with it all.
Jason's sister and her husband watched our kids down stairs during all of it, so we didn't have to worry about them being alone. That was a huge help. I can't even imagine what it would've been like to have them coming in and out of the room, wondering what was wrong.
And my good friend Gina, in California was a phone call away {several times} for Jason to call and ask question and get advice from. All in all, God took great care of us and provided us with everything we needed to get through such a hard time.

My feelings post miscarriage have been thankfulness
I'm thankful God took care of me through all of this. 
I'm thankful for life. 
I'm thankful for eternal life with Christ. 
I'm thankful when I see my friends with their new babies and hear about healthy births around us. 
Its such a reminder to me that life goes on and God's mercies are new each morning. 
Going through something like this can really bring a person down. Satan would love nothing more than
to flood my heart and mind with doubt and depression; making us feel like this is the end. 
I'm thankful to God for restoring joy in the morning and for reminding us that He IS good, all the time. 
He wants good for us and not evil. 
 He knows what we need much better than we do. 
He cares for our children perfectly. We aren't perfect parents. But He is.
Micah's life has allowed me to see Christ, my Savior in a whole new light.
His life has deepened my faith, its growing my love and seems to be giving
even a more firm foundation of my hope and joy in the Lord.
I can't be too sad about that :) 

I'm glad I wrote this post. I almost didn't. I went back and forth, worked on it a bit, deleted some stuff I decided I'd rather keep private, and finally posted it.

This post isn't to instruct anyone on how they should behave during or after a miscarriage. It isn't to teach you all how to write a post about your miscarriage. I didn't say anything online when I miscarried back in January of '10. Not because that baby didn't mean anything to us... it did. But it was a new experience for us and happened so early on, came at a time of life where my emotions were sky high after moving far away from our families, adjusting to life on our own, etc... For me at the time, it was more helpful to make it a very personal thing, between Jason and me. Our kids never knew we lost that baby.
Someday we'll tell them.
We all deal with greif differently. And I don't think its ever wrong. Some people cry easily, some not at all. One isn't right and one isn't bad. The only time I think its wrong, is when people feel like they can't be sad because the baby hadn't been born alive. And sadly, its the attitude a lot of people have because its the way our society in general deals with this issue. Especially when we live in a time when abortion is something that's being pushed on us as "normal" and acceptable.

I want to end by thanking all of you for your love, care, support, help and kindness to us during this time. Jason and I have been completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from our friends. Our church family has come with meals, baby sat our children, offered to help with cleaning the house, run errands for us, etc... the MOMS club I belong to brought meals to us for a full week, provided fun play dates away for Ethan and Rachel, offered to help with house cleaning and pretty much anything else that would make this time a bit easier for Jason and I to really be together and focus on getting through it in sanity. We received many, many sweet comments on our Facebook walls, cards in the mail, phone calls with comforting, helpful messages, emails, flowers, and more. We love you all and some of you we've never even met in person, but God has used you to bring so much comfort and joy to us during this time.
Thank you.

I'm not "over it" just because its over.
But I am glad I can smile and move on and live out the joy and peace God has given me.
When I have days where I stop and think about Micah, my heart will be filled with sadness, each time.
But I have been praying that God would keep that sadness from turning into depression and will
remind me of His promises and the hope He gives me.
I want to honor our son's life by reflecting Jesus through it.
And I have to say, Heaven has been made that much sweeter by knowing I have
two babies I get to meet there.
Some very good friends of ours {have known Jason since he was very little and met me when I was 14} shared a song they love, taken from the book of Micah. They told me that when we see
each other next, they will sing it for us :)
Micah
"Who is a God like our God? Who has mercy rich & free? 
He is a God who forgives our iniquities, and casts them in the depths of the sea. 
Passing by our sins and covering them like a garment, 
in the precious blood of Jesus, lamb of God. 
His anger, though, it ought to be, will not remain forever...Our God delights in love!!"
shared from: Chip & June Junghans 


"Your mercy, O Lord, is in the Heavens; 
your faithfulness reaches to the clouds."
Psalm 36:5


"Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, 
so great is his unfailing love."
Lamentations 3:32

18 {comments}:

The Abe Green Family said...

Stef, thank you for sharing this. My heart hurts for you and I didn't make it very far without the tears flowing. So thankful that God is using this difficult and traumatic experience to draw you closer to Him. Love you, friend!

nwjanet said...

Your posts about this make me cry but I definitely find them edifying. Thank you for sharing both about your pain and grief and your source of strength. My brother's family lost their middle child who was born but never came home from the hospital, so I know the grief you feel from close family members. Janet E

Shane Eckert said...

Stef - when time has passed, you might submit a formatted copy to a Christian Magazine like Christianity Today or the like. Your unsually open about the whole thing, which is good. I think a lot of people suffer this one alone. Your style lends itself to article writing. Just a thought. Lots of other people would benefit from your perspective.

jillyco said...

Aw Stef, what a beautiful post. I have to agree with Shane (and I know this will make you smile...I've always said you should write a book!) that you should submit this as an article. It's beautiful, and real, honest and raw. But your faith shines through like a beacon, and it might just give encouragement to another woman out there who is suffering through a miscarriage. Still praying for you, sister. Love you!!

Steph said...

Stef, that was so beautifully said. Tears of course, but some are from remembering the goodness of God and the depth of His love. Writing that bears fruit of bolstering someone's faith and drawing them closer to the Lord is a good thing indeed.
All our love to you guys, and prayer as well,
Steph and fam

Suzanne said...

Thanks for sharing this. Love and prayers to all of you right now.

Erin said...

This is a beautiful tribute, Stef. What love!
Thank you for writing about what miscarriage labor is like. It is awful how there is a whole left there, with no aid given to women & their husbands during such a hard time. Such a labor story does need to be published.
I love you!

Erin said...

Stef, I know you already know this verse, but here's "our verse" for Gabby.
Psalm 139:16
"And in Your book they were all written, The days that were ordained for me, When there was not yet one of them."

Melissa Joy said...

Oh Stef... it took me so long to read this... with an enormous lump in my throat... everyone processes loss differently... I can't remember how I processed my second miscarriage... but this was both horrible & beautiful to read... thanks for sharing your heart...
And if you wanted, I do have a link to a wonderful Christian resource that shares total nitty-gritties about miscarriages; I could email you the link.
We're still praying for you...

Gina said...

I'm so glad you decided to post. It's not ony a beautiful post (an I agree, it could be published!) but a wonderful testimony. I can relate to so much of what you wrote--only you voiced it so well. You are an inspiration of faith Stefanie and I love you! Your experience will help you to reach out to so many others, and if it helps them in any way, it will help validate some of the "why" that you can't help but wonder. Funny that others have said you should write a book--John always tells me to keep copies of my stuff for my future book--maybe we can co-write one for moms! :-) Don't feel like you have to leave your blog void of Micah after this--you should always feel free to post about him as you need--and you may need it down the line. Love you!

Stef said...

Thank you everyone. Your comments brought tears to MY eyes. I've been so overwhelmed by the kind love and support we've received. We can't imagine going through this without you all. Seriously.

Charlotte said...

This was beautiful, Stef. Thank you for allowing me to share a small part in your grief. Praying for you today and also in the days ahead.

Sarah Moulton said...

thanks for sharing Stef. My heart broke for you as a mommy! I really can't imagine going through this but I know God gives strength in time of weakness. Thank you for being a great example of resting in Christ even in pain there is no sweeter place to be and I can see that in your post. Love you and praying for you!

Jessica said...

Thank you (once again) for your honesty and for sharing with all of us a very intimate moment in your family's history.
I know it will give comfort to us one day as we each go through losses and trials in our own families.
Love you so much. I have been praying for you every time I get up in the night. Good bye Micah - see you soon.

Stef said...

Thank you! <3

Nicola S. said...

Thank you Stef for sharing how God is holding and comforting you in His everlasting arms. And for sharing your heart with us.
By God's grace I don't know how it feels to lose a baby myself, but my mom lost 3, Holly lost two babies and Jess has lost 3, so I've seen the grief that they all have known and so just know, I'm praying for you and love you.

Trish Thomas said...

After you mentioned Micah tonight, I came here to read this again. I love him. I love you and your beautiful mommy heart. God is so good. Our babies are in His arms.

Stef said...

thanks Trish. I love you.

 

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