It is always easier not to feel.
Some days, even weeks, I am entirely numb, knowing I lost you but unable to feel a thing—no love, no loss, no tears. Then comes a day when it all breaks over me. And afterwards I get up and clean my house again and cook supper for my family.
I am getting good at loving people I cannot keep. When someone says to me “How many children do you have?” I do not know what to say.
There is one I loved who never belonged to me, and another whose eyes fill my mind, though I only see him once a week. There are three precious ones who were born to me, loved and nurtured while days turned into years. There is another I’ve loved for five months and will never forget. There is one baby with Jesus, and another whom I prepared for and gave a name to but never met, and another we pray for every night, who has not yet been. There are nine nieces and eleven nephews whom I love more than I thought possible, and more on the way, and more in heaven. There are children of friends and colleagues passing through my home every week, children whom I love like mine while they are here. There are little strangers whose pictures hang on my refrigerator because I love their mothers.
These names I say in my mind, these faces I hold in my heart. I do not know how many children I have. What does “have” mean?
My heart is not whole anymore. But you are in it as long as I live. This is what is true, though you feel irretrievably gone, passed clean out of this world into another where I cannot follow. I will never hold you in this life. My own body betrayed me, dropped this precious thing I intended to carry, dropped it down down down
You were a gift in a circle, from God’s heart to my body to God’s heart. I learned to wail like David, a song I never hoped to sing. My son, oh my son, my son.
I have rarely found God when I screamed into the sky (though I have done this many times in my life), but when, after my grief and outrage are spent, I turn to see Him standing at my elbow. He is always quiet then, and His eyes are steady. There are tears on His face.
I lost my Son too. I love more children than I can keep.
He is not up there somewhere dealing out pain to humanity. He is here in flesh at the grave, weeping, ready to speak the resurrection words.
I am learning that belonging to God does not spare me deep sorrow, loss, and pain. I am human—not immune to suffering, not held in a bubble of calm in a world of injustice, but allowed like Christ to pass through anguish. Love is the only thing that redeems, and love cannot live in this world without being wrenched on a rack.
But you? You are forever safe, forever loved.
God does not have to explain Himself to me, nor I to you. You have passed into the realm where questions meet the Answer, and all explanations are behind you. You are my rich gift of God—this is the name we gave you. I hold to Him in hope, and to you, though it does nothing to dissolve the pain.
We are loved, little son of God.
Thank you for your kind words when I told you I lost a baby. It means something to me to know you care, though I dare not wallow in your sympathy. I would prefer this, especially if you have lost a pregnancy of your own—please tell me what comfort you found most precious then, what truth God planted in your heart, how someone loved you. Next time I will take my turn, and share what has been most healing for me.
My heart goes out to you, I well remember that pain.
I was loved by a friend who quietly came and spent a weekend with me. She listened, cared, and gently pushed that porch swing with her foot while crying with me. She took time out of her busy schedule to come and let me lean on her and weep my heart out. She was there.
After my second miscarriage, I bought Stephanie Leinbach’s book Light My Candle and found such healing in it as her words and prayers became mine and gave voice to my grief. I would say another thing that ministered to me both times was having others acknowledge—with words, cards, etc.—that my child existed and mattered to me. I talked a bit more about my personal experience in a post on my blog entitled Remembering (December 2014). God bless you, Shari, on this journey of giving back to God something (or in this case someone) that you very much wanted to keep.
Reading this brought back so many painful memories for me, built a chalky lump in my throat and made a few tears squeeze out again. There were numerous things that were healing and encouraging for me as we walked the dark journey of releasing two babies to be with Jesus and sit on His lap in Heaven. A week after my first miscarriage, my Dear Husband took me to a graveyard just down the road from our place and there we cried, prayed and talked together as we sat on a bench under the tree. It felt to me like it gave me a bit of closure to a very precious Dream. I remember clearly noticing others who lost very young children as we walked through, reading the tombstones. A reminder to my hurting heart that others have walked this road as well. Another instance was the painful first Mother’s Day after we lost our first baby and had no other children to hold. One of the Ministers had brought a bouquet of roses to church that morning. He had the children each give one to their Mother. Boy was that raw pain! In my heart I knew I was a Mother, but in that stage of life, many people have forgotten (or never knew). After church, one of my dear friends who knew what it was like was asking me about this painful day, and she so generously reached into her handful of roses and gave me one. I felt terrible taking one of her roses, but the love and care coming from her will always stay with me. Another thing that was healing for me and special was to name our two little Angel Babies, even though I was never far enough along to know the gender. Just felt like we were treating them as our own special children instead of just ‘Things’ as many in this world view them. May God hold your hurting heart in His Healing Hand. When the night is dark, the tears flow and you want to pray but there are simply no words, just know that God sees and hears…. “Tears are a language, God understands.”
Shari. This post. You write in such a gripping way.
One thing from my miscarriages that carries me is that Heaven feels closer… because pieces of me are there. I’m not glad I lost babies by any means, but sometimes I wonder what it would feel like to not have that extra little connection feeling… and for that I am glad.
After our dear baby girl died, (born at 34 weeks with major heart complications, living 8 days), so much of the Word of God was so precious to me. I understood Job like never before, and so many verses jumped out at me for strength. I was and still am so blessed by the privilege of living in a time where we can grieve and talk about our baby, and people don’t expect us to forget it and go on. (Like it was for my great aunt 60 years ago.)
Knowing Tatiana is in Heaven has given our family much more of a longing for Heaven, made it seem more real, we really want to go there and get to know her some day.
This Jan. 20, when I had a miscarriage, it helped to talk about it a lot with our very disappointed children, and talk about how when we open our arms for God’s blessings, we also open our hearts to disappointments. Our children were concerned also that this baby has a name, even though it was too young to tell. Friends were so caring with meals, cards, and other helpful things. I was especially thankful to the friends who did not expect me to jump right back into life, but told me to take it easy, and helped me be able to do that.
Beautiful, Shari! I’ve no more words… only love.
Though I have not walked this journey, your words touch my heart and bring tears to my eyes. I am reminded of the song my students and I sang yesterday in Bible class, “Children of the Heavenly Father safely in His bosom gather. . .” This is our hope.
I had 2, and most probably 3, early miscarriages back to back. I will never forget my dear sister in law coming over with a pie for us, and sitting on the couch with me. She and her husband have lost a number of babies as well. I don’t remember that we talked much, but it was a great comfort just to have her be there and care. Her husband and mine puttered around outside, talking as well.
It also comforts me greatly to think that these precious babies are with Jesus, safely HOME forever. I will see them someday and learn to know them in heaven. And I do hope they are still rather small and ready for some snuggles. 🙂
I liked how you said we are allowed to suffer pain like Jesus did, not living in an insulated bubble.
Tho I haven’t had this Pain there is another Pain in my life right now. Having others truly care is beautiful… a dear friend wiping away a tear when I just had to cry. No words, but simply there. Understanding the pain without fully understanding.
I grieve with you/for you, my friend. The words of a song come to me: “Heal the wound but leave the scar, as a reminder of how merciful You are.”
I wipe away tears from my face on your behalf. Your son is fully known and loved, in perfection, by the One that created him. And you… you He knows, weeps with, and loves.
My heart goes out to you, Shari. Even if other people know about it, miscarriage is mostly such a private loss. Especially if you don’t look pregnant yet, for other people, it can feel as though the baby never existed. Yet your heart knows someone important is missing from your life.
I had at least five miscarriages before I was able to carry a baby to term. It helped to ask God for the right name for each of them. His choices were sometimes surprising but deeply meaningful. A name is the only gift you can give that child.
It helped to plant something. I liked to plant bulbs especially, lots of yellow daffodils. A flowering tree would be a beautiful memorial, too.
If you’re creative and like to make things, it is very special to make something in memory of the baby, like a sign for your wall. Maybe your family could buy something together, something you will use often. A board game would be used by the whole family to make good memories, weaving the memory of the baby into the fabric of your family.
Mamas love to buy stuff in preparation for a new baby. It might feel good to set aside some money to buy little clothes, diapers, a beautiful blanket, little socks, and donate them to a crisis pregnancy center.
It was very healing whenever someone dared to bring up the fact that I had miscarried. Usually they had nothing profound to say or the exact perfect thing that washed my pain away, but they would say they heard I’d miscarried and were so sorry about my loss. I was amazed how many mamas, some middle-aged and older, told me about babies they had lost. It really was a blessing when they acknowledged my loss, and we were suddenly linked by our mutual loss. I learned then how much it means when people JUST TRY, just say SOMETHING to say they sorry are about your loss, whether it’s a miscarried baby or any other grief.
Three tangible things people did that meant so much to me—when I called my husband at work to say I was losing yet another baby, his coworker’s wife quickly put together a simple crock-pot meal and sent it home with my husband.
Another friend showed up at my door unexpectedly, with a little bouquet. She had just found out I had miscarried again. This friend had lost two babies, and she knew to simply come, be with me, just sit in my kitchen and cry with me.
One couple sent us a check, with an amount that reflected the number of babies we’d lost. She said to buy a memorial for the babies, a tree or a special picture for the wall. We used the money to buy a happy yellow trike, which my nieces and nephews and daycare children rode for several years. And now my son by adoption rides it, and my daughter by birth is just itching for her turn.
The important thing is for people to just do something to acknowledge another’s loss. Unless we tell people or show them, they’ll never know that their loss mattered at all to us.
I’ve never known the loss of a baby. But I read a story once that gripped my heart and made me cry, because it so reflects to heart of a loving Father God. The story goes that a woman, old and full of years is welcomed into heaven. She receives a new body, one like of her youth, and she is shown her rewards and riches. She meets people she has loved and known here on earth. And then Jesus comes, and puts a tiny baby in her arms. She asks in wonderment what this means. And she is told that the little one she lost here on earth is being given back to her, because God never takes something away that He doesn’t replace with even more goodness. And so, she was being given the privilege to have and “raise” and enjoy her baby in a place of perfection.
I don’t know that I can back up or prove the reality of this story (although it was written by a credible source who had visions of heaven), but it struck something within me as being just exactly how Jesus would do. What a sweet gift Hope is!
About a month after my fifth miscarriage, I went with my sister-in-law to a women’s seminar. I wanted so badly to get out of going, but since it was my idea, I felt obligated.
That first night, the speaker spoke many words of wisdom, but one thing that was spoken to my heart over and over was that it was okay, even necessary to feel the pain I had stuffed down.
After that many early term miscarriages, I was getting the idea that I should be used to it and it shouldn’t be such a big deal anymore.
God just kindly arranged things so that I would be where I need to be and hear what I need to hear (we purchased the tickets months before I had my miscarriage). Not only were the words comforting, but seeing so clearly how God orchestrated things made me feel so loved and cared for.
I lost my first child almost 9 years ago, and I still cry when I think of it. Yes, I have four beautiful, naughty children now, but I still miss that one!
The poem “When the Young Die” by Judy Unruh expresses so well how I feel about that loss.
One thing that surprised me in my experience was that it wasn’t just the people who had experienced miscarriage before who showed the most care. I learned that care comes from people who are softened by suffering, regardless of how that suffering happened.
Beautifully written. I do not know how to form into words what got me through my 2 babies I never got to meet, nor the one who I met but was O, too tiny to live, nor the empty feeling of the possibility of a tiny “twin” that we won’t know for sure till heaven. But this I do know it would have been ever so much easier if it had not all happened in a culture where tiny babies were just whispered secret “miscarriages” and no one acknowledged to me that I had lost a child. Count it a blessing that you can talk and write of it.
I, too, struggle to know how to answer the question of how many I “have” and there were additional ones we have loved who were not our own.
I have appreciated your honesty and how you have graciously put into words what many of us probably struggle to. A big comfort to me was naming our child, and having something to remember our child by. For me it was when a cousin gave us a tiny heart shaped frame…and inside she has stitched our child’s name on fabric. It meant so much to us that our child was loved by more than just us, and would be remembered. Remember and don’t be afraid to share.
I was blessed with a card that one of my nieces gave me for mothers day. It had a poem about a tiny baby going to heaven. When I was going through my second miscarrige one of my friends came to visit and washed my clothes for me.
Thank you for this beautiful tear filled writing! I never know how many children I have either. One thing that gets me through the pain of being separated from my Wee One and my Wildflower Child Kierra is the thought that they we are all created for Heaven. I like to think they have a place to fill in Heaven that could not have been filled in any better way then to have them go at the time they did in the way they did. (My daughter had a severe genetic disorder) God does not waste pain. He has a plan for our lives that will only be revealed in Heaven…..but the waiting is so hard on some days! God bless you for sharing!!
It”s heartbreaking. We lost a set of twins, and since we’ve lost several more babies. I was 13 weeks with the twins. We had recently moved to a new state, a new community but the love and care that was poured out will never be forgotten. One dear friend sent supper – in the middle of a major snowstorm that dumped us 3-4 ft of snow But her husband rose to the challenge and delivered to us the most lovely meal of soup and all the things that go with it in her finest dishes, complete with a 3 lovely pink roses and two smaller white roses in a gorgeous vase. I will never forget it!
At the time I was quiet and said little to others about my feelings. Later a friend who had lost 3 full term babies who had lived 3 weeks, 6 weeks and 3 months but who had also lost babies at different times of her pregancies told me- GRIEVE! They are real, babies, and even tho you never even see the baby it was part of you. She said for her no matter what age/stage the baby was it was death. You hurt an dto heal you have to grieve. I wish I would have been more open with my feelings and allowed myself to grieve.
One thing I did do was make a cloth book in memory of our babies in heaven. That book has more tears on it than my pillow.
Two years later God blessed us with a healthy baby boy! It was healing and my heart grieved for those who never have the priviledge to heal in this way. Since we’ve lost more babies. I often wonder what our home would be like with twins running around here or what kind of chaos and joy a 2nd son, 11 months younger would be like.????
Over time I healed but I’ve longed for another little one to feel my womb, my arms. One thing my husband has often said and I think it is finally starting to sink in and I’m doing my best to do these days — “Enjoy the 4 beautiful children you have. Make memories with what you have rather than think about what you could have. Take the time to babysit, hold other babys, give a weary mom a break whether in church, at home, anywhere. Rejoice with those who have babies.”
Bless you Shari – I will keep you in my prayers.
The question “How many children do you have?” always bothers me. I never know quite how to honestly answer it. When you say “5 living” that always lets people know their were some who died, and I may not always want to have a conversation with almost strangers, (because they always ask) that we had an 18 month old who was killed, 3 tubal pregnancies and one “normal” miscarriage. If I just say “five” then I kind of feel dishonest or even some guilt for not including the five in heaven, in our child count. If you say “ten” that could also bring on a possible unwanted conversation, and a bit of a feeling of dishonesty. I would love to know how others answer this question. 🙂
Yes, I hear what you’re saying! 🙁
I don’t think it’s dishonest to name the number of children I have with me now, which is probably what the acquaintance is asking… (For me, that has involved adding a foster son to the count, without having to “explain” him!) I think there is something good–though painful–in my acceptance of the changing number of the children I have right now, remembering those who are gone, anticipating those who will come. I feel in my Mommy-heart the silent lack of the ones who are missing, but when I offer that to God in the moment, I know HE knows them, numbers them, does not let them go.
I’ve never suffered this kind of pain, but your post is beautiful.
Thanks for sharing from the depth of your heart.
When I lost our first child in a miscarriage, a friend asked if they could come and bring a meal and share it with us. I was feeling well enough physically to cook and I felt odd accepting the offer, especially since she was a busy mom with a young child and I had no children. But my friend said that she felt it was important to recognize that this was a real baby. If the child had been born, we would have been brought many baby meals, so this was a tangible way she wanted to show recognize that we had a child. I have never forgotten her kindness.