A little over a month ago, my life was turned upside down, albeit even if for a brief moment. My cycle had finally regulated on its own without any kind of medication for the first time in years (more on that another time) and my period was a couple of days late. Thinking my cycle was likely going back to its old crazy ways, I didn’t think much of it, but figured, I might as well take a pregnancy test…just to be sure. As soon as I saw that second pink line starting to show up, I went into a slight panic. Although my husband and I had technically transitioned to trying to conceive, I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly! Then again, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised since we had a honeymoon baby. 😉 Anyways, I walked back into our bedroom and woke up my husband who was still sound asleep. Nothing like, “I’m pregnant!” to wake someone up! His response was so joyful and calm that it helped calm me down as well and I began thinking of all of the positives. I also immediately went into mega planning mode, because that’s just who I am. Before I even called my doctor to schedule an appointment (to give me some credit though, we found out on a Saturday and my doctor’s office isn’t open on the weekends), I had already begun researching double strollers and planning out our bedroom situation now that we would be a family of 4. My husband and I also decided to share the exciting news with my family since we were going to be visiting them in Illinois the following week. With our first pregnancy, we waited until close to the end of the first trimester to tell anyone, and it was SO tough!
Over the next two weeks, I began experiencing many of the same first trimester symptoms I had with my first pregnancy. Fortunately, I have yet to experience morning sickness, but I did have a wave of major exhaustion that required daily naps when my toddler napped…not that I’m complaining. I also had a great sense of peace and grace despite my initial shock. I figured (as always) that God’s plans for my life are WAY better than any plans I may concoct for myself in my mind.
After our two-week hiatus of traveling to see family, attend friends’ weddings, and accompany my husband on a work trip/birthday getaway for myself, I began having a little bit of spotting. Once again, I had experienced this with my first pregnancy, so I did not think too much about it. The next day, however, it got a little heavier. The day after that, we left bright and early to drive back home to Maryland. What should be a 12-13 hour drive (depending on the number of stops, length of stops, and how well behaved your toddler is), turned into one of the longest days of my life. As our day continued, my spotting turned into heavy bleeding, and eventually cramping. Before I even began googling signs of a miscarriage, I had a strong sense that that was what was happening. Our emotions were very high for all of us–my husband, my toddler, and myself. We ended up having to stop in Ohio at an emergency room because the bleeding had gotten so bad. Unfortunately, we left there with more questions than answers. I was given the diagnosis of “threatened miscarriage.” They told me I wasn’t far enough along yet to hear a heartbeat and encouraged me to see my doctor once we got home. After another long day of waiting and heavy bleeding, I was able to see my doctor the following day. She confirmed what we had already suspected. I had had a miscarriage.
Even though I have verbally shared this information with loved ones, writing it down creates a whole new wave of emotions, and in a way, makes it seem that much more real. Some days, it feels like it never happened. I was never pregnant and I did not have a miscarriage. Other days, it’s all I can think about. Most days, I’m okay, and getting better each day thanks to a lot of people praying for us. Sometimes though, I hit a stumbling block and feel like I am catapulted back to right after it happened, such as coming across the medical bracelet I had worn in the ER and had torn off and thrown in the side compartment of our car door.
One major component that has helped me immensely, as I mentioned previously, has been having people pray for me. The only drawback to this, at least what I initially thought would be a drawback, was working up the courage to tell others that I had a miscarriage. I cannot tell you, however, how many times my husband and I have opened up and told people and they have responded with, “So have we…” I have been blown away by not only how common miscarriages are, but also by the fact that it’s something that people don’t really talk about. It’s also been quite a realization that I might not have known this about many women whom I consider friends if I had not opened up to them first. It’s almost as if me opening up to them allowed them to then do the same. It’s been a comfort to know that I am not alone, but also a deep sadness to know that so many couples experience this. And with that, if there is anything within this post that I want to stick, it’s this: if you have experienced a miscarriage or someone close to you has, I am so sorry for the loss of that precious life, and most importantly, you are not alone. Not only is miscarriage very common (1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage), but there are also a ton of people praying for you and other couples who have experienced a miscarriage, myself being one of those people.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, I have been wanting to start a blog for awhile now. I even had the title of my blog, “I Choose Joy” picked out for months after hearing and being inspired by a homily series by one of my favorite priests, Fr. Mike Schmitz (you can listen to all of his weekly homilies on iTunes or on his website). I choose joy also corresponds with a motto of mine that I’ve had for the majority of my life. His homilies specifically about choosing joy can be found on the dates of 11/27/16, 12/04/16, and 12/11/16. When I felt a nudge to share my story and have the story of my miscarriage be the catalyst for my blog, I was having a hard time trying to merge the theme of my blog with the story of my miscarriage. After all, how can you choose joy during such a sad time as this? I went back and relistened to these homilies, though, and I discovered that my story and the title of my blog is actually the perfect combination.
In a nutshell (and in an attempt to not make this post any longer than it already is), Fr. Mike Schmitz quotes G.K. Chesterton who said, “Joy is the gigantic secret of the Christian.” He then goes on to say that Christianity literally introduced joy to the world, that joy is different than happiness because it doesn’t rely on our current mood, situation, or “happenstance,” and that joy is a virtue we must try to choose every day. How do we do this in reality though? Fr. Mike Schmitz says to say this simple prayer every day: “Father, Thy will be done.” That’s it. It’s that simple. Hearing him say this again was a very surreal and timely coincidence, or as my Dad likes to call them, a God-incidence. I had been listening to a lot of Christian songs to help me with my grief, and one of the songs that I kept coming back to was “Thy Will Be Done” by Hillary Scott. As I listened to this song over and over, I remember trying to pray those words and hold them deep within my heart. Then, I listened to Fr. Mike’s homily, where he said that in order to choose joy, to pray that same prayer. First of all, WHOA, okay God, I hear you trying to speak to me. THEN, my husband later told me that Hillary Scott wrote this song after going through a miscarriage herself. Talk about a God-incidence! Also just to add to it, Hillary Scott and Lady Antebellum are favorites of mine. 🙂
Essentially, choosing joy during times of great sadness, during the ordinary day to day, and during the extraordinary times is something I am striving to do. I hope to continue to pray that simple little prayer, “Thy will be done,” even in times of grief and challenges that may arise. I hope that by sharing the story of my miscarriage, you will find comfort in knowing that you are not alone, or that you will be able to share this with someone so that they know this as well. Lastly, I invite you to join me on this journey and I challenge you to choose joy in the ordinary and extraordinary as well.
I thought it would be helpful to include a list of items that have been helpful for me during this grieving process in the hopes that they will be helpful for you or someone you know. These are obviously not quick-fixes or an exhaustive list of how to manage your grief, but hopefully they will provide some comfort in your journey of healing, however long that may be. As I mentioned before, I am still healing and some days are better than others, and that’s okay. Everyone grieves differently.
- Having someone pray out loud with you. One of my sisters offered to do this, and it was really helpful because I had a hard time knowing what words to even say when I prayed by myself.
- Looking up the daily readings on the day you had a miscarriage.
- The daily readings were very encouraging on the day of our miscarriage:
2 Cor. 1:1-7 …Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God…
Ps. 34:2-9 …Look to him that you may be radiant with joy, When the poor one called out, the LORD heard, and from all his distress he saved him…
Mt. 5:1-12 The Beatitudes …Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted…
- Praying the serenity prayer (long version):
God, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change…
Courage to change the things I can,
And Wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it.
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His will.
That I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
- I encourage you to reach out and tell your family and friends. In my opinion, the more people who know, the more people you will have praying for you and your little one in Heaven.
- I’ve also had people tell me that they have planted a tree or a plant that will come back every year as a remembrance of their lost baby. My husband and I ordered a plaque with a prayer on it that has been helpful for us.
- Here’s another website that offers support and information from a Catholic perspective.
Hello! Welcome to my little spot of the internet. I am a Catholic wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and sister-in-law…to name a few…