** Trigger warning**
This story is a detailed account on the loss of our third child, Shiloh, at 12 weeks. Depending on where you find yourself in life, this post may not be for you. For some though, I hope sharing this speaks to you in some way. Miscarriage, like any other loss in life, can make you feel isolated and alone. It can make you wonder if there’s something wrong with you, did YOU do something to cause this?! But we are not alone, nor do we have to carry this burden alone. Our stories of loss may be as different as night and day, but that irreplaceable void marks a spot in our hearts just the same.
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken. Nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord who has compassion on you.
This pregnancy was going exactly the same as my 2 previous children’s pregnancies had. All day sickness, extreme exhaustion and that lovely hormonal acne. I woke up one morning in my 11th week and noticed some spotting. It wasn’t a large amount by any means. But blood when you’re pregnant, no matter the amount is always alarming and wasn’t anything I had experienced before. I was having mild cramping, but that wasn’t anything new for me. In each and every pregnancy I’ve had, I cramp, for at least 12 weeks. I nervously made a call to my midwife, updating her on my situation. As always, speaking to her put my mind at ease and gave me a plan. She recommended laying low for a few days, that I should put my feet up, rest and monitor my bleeding. She then reminded me of the other possible causes for such faint spotting. So there I had it, I told myself, rest, wait and see, my baby would be okay…
My cramping and spotting remained the same as the week went on, bright red and consistent, but it never escalated. The evening of day 6 I got dressed for bed and noticed my growing belly in the mirror. Upon seeing that I felt this peace, our baby was okay. I shared my observation and feelings with my husband and we went to bed.
I woke up in the middle of the night knowing something was wrong. I looked under the covers to discover myself, along with the bed were covered in blood. I screamed and ran to the bathroom to assess just how bad the situation was. I was covered in blood and the cramping had definitely increased. I chose to throw my pants away instead of dealing with the mess, I knew I wouldn’t want to see them again anyway. I got myself cleaned up and called my midwife, an ultrasound would be the best for determining just what was going on, she said. I could either go into the ER right then or get back into bed and try to get some rest before heading there in the morning. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep a wink so I drove in right away.
On the drive over I was thinking to myself, what would I do if the doctors offered me a D&C, would I do it or just let it happen naturally? If I did let it happen naturally what would it be like? I knew of several ladies that had gone through miscarriages before me but never shared their stories with me, so I was in the dark. I knew D&Cs were extremely necessary in some situations but I also knew the downsides to them if not truly medically necessary. If I did the D&C would the benefits outway the risks?
I’m not sure exactly how long my wait time was once I got to the ER, but I do remember it not taking terribly long to get a room and see the doctor. I just wanted to get the ultrasound done and know for sure, was my baby truly gone or was there still hope? The staff was super sweet to me; I don’t know their stories but I do know the doctor and nurse I was given had walked a similar road before me. They had a lot of compassion and direction for me. I was so thankful I chose to go into the ER that night, I needed to know what was coming.
They wheeled me into the ultrasound room and it was there the technician confirmed that my baby was indeed gone. I was wheeled back to my room, through the ER halls with bleary eyes, my tears could no longer be contained. The doctor walked in a few minutes later to express how sorry he was and prepared me for what was next. He never once offered a D&C to me, but told me what symptoms to look out for during this process and what would be cause for concern. He explained to me that I would see a lot of tissue over the next few days and also wrote me a prescription for pain meds. Saying that some women have very painful miscarriages and others do not, he wanted me to be prepared.
I went home to wait it out and snuggle my sweet babies who had just woken up. I waited for almost an entire week for things to progress further. The bleeding and cramping remained heavy, but not alarming. Then one evening things changed and my cramping and bleeding intensified. So I spent some time alone in the bathroom waiting for what was to come, lots of clots and tissue were passed. About ½ an hour of this and I finally passed something large and indiscernible. Then suddenly the bleeding and cramping stopped. Was that it, was I done? That’s what I assumed, because for the next 2 days I only had very minor spotting and no cramping whatsoever. I assumed that my body had completed the process.
A thousand words can not bring you back, I know because I tried. And neither can a million tears, I know because I have cried.
After a 2 day respite from my symptoms my cramping and bleeding escalated and became unbearable, I felt like I was in active labor. But it never occurred to me that I actually WAS in labor, I thought something was seriously wrong. My bleeding then became very intense and alarming. So I called my midwife to let her know what was going on. I ran off to the bathroom for some privacy and at that point needed the toilet because a pad could no longer contain the amount of blood loss I was experiencing. I was talking her through what I was feeling and seeing, my pains were coming in waves, just like labor. Then just as suddenly as they started, the contractions along with the bleeding, had stopped. I felt like I had passed something but was unsure of what it was. She told me it would be helpful to know what it was so we knew what we were dealing with. I searched around to find out what it was, only then to discover my son. He was fully formed and complete, his little body fit into the palm of my hand.
At that point I was in shock and screamed to my midwife that I was holding my baby. She told me to go get someone, I shouldn’t be alone anymore. So I went out and got my husband, trying to tell him what had happened but probably not making much sense at all. I was standing there talking to him when I felt what seemed like an explosion out of my body, I screamed again. I was in such a state of shock I didn’t even realize then that it was my placenta. It was HUGE, very close to that of my full term babies. My husband and sister in law who was there at the time, got me all cleaned up and tucked into bed. My midwife told me to expect a normal postpartum healing process and it was just that, with one exception. I had weeks of bleeding that tapered off with time, a fresh milk supply, but I had empty aching arms.
The shock and finality of actually seeing my baby was what threw me over the edge to the point where I could no longer function. Even though the ultrasound a week prior had confirmed that his heart had stopped beating, THIS was it. My baby was gone. I was no longer pregnant and I felt like a failure. I felt as if I had failed my son by not being able to carry him to term.
“What did I do to cause this? What could I have done to prevent it? Would this happen again? Would I even be able to conceive again?! How would I be able to endure the unknown of another pregnancy IF I was given another?” Those questions plagued me in the days, weeks and months following, rearing their ugly head even years later. Grief is a process that ebbs and flows, the waves come crashing down at times taking you completely unaware.
My feeling the night before my ER trip, that my baby was doing well, was not wrong at all. It is not what I had pictured or planned. But it was true nonetheless, my baby WAS okay, he was safe in Heaven already. Sometimes I wonder if that was the moment he went home to be with the Lord. I’ve added that to my list of questions for God when He calls me home too. My sweet Shiloh was never meant for my arms, but for the Lord’s. That is God’s sovereignty right there; it erases the whys, what ifs and guilt. Shiloh’s brief life was exactly how God intended it to be, his passing brought Him no shock and questions of why.
…… and to think , the first thing he saw when his little eyes opened was the face of Jesus. -- Author unknown
All of my children still speak of their brother fondly and never forget to include him in family drawings and talks of birth order. Even the children we were given after the loss of Shiloh, speak of him, know his name and story. It’s hard at times when they so casually say his name and ask questions. But it is truly a blessing to remember his life, however brief it was, with them. I believe Heaven is a more tangible place for them knowing their brother is home. They know he has no wants or needs, that he doesn’t ache for his mother’s arms. Why would he ache or want for anything when he’s with the only One who can love him more than his mother and father combined?
Do not judge the bereaved mother. She comes in many forms. She is breathing, but she is dying. She may look young, but inside she has become ancient. She smiles, but her heart sobs. She walks, she talks, she cooks, she cleans, she works, she is, but she is not, all at once. She is here but part of her is elsewhere for eternity. -- Author unknown
We chose to bury Shiloh on my parents’ property early that spring, planting a Virginia Redbud tree next to his grave. Every spring since then my Mom will send me a picture of his tree covered in its beautiful buds, silently remembering Shiloh together. It's a bittersweet time I look forward to every year.
I share my story in hopes of helping someone else with a similar loss and pain. My biggest earthly comfort in walking this road were those who shared their stories and cried with me.
You are not alone. You do not need to remember your baby’s life alone (however brief). We can do that together, so reach out and call on a friend for support. Dear mothers, we will see our little ones again soon. Until then, remember this...
My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
-- 11 Corinthians 12:9