Miscarriage and Miracle

The morning started innocuously enough. I’d stolen a few minutes away from the chaos of my children’s breakfast to look online at various gestational stages. Somewhere, I found links that women had posted showing their pregnancy bellies, and I remember feeling absurdly pleased that I wasn’t showing nearly as much as most of the women, although I was nearly 16 weeks along and this was my third child.

By evening, though, it was obvious that something was wrong, that against my will (and my prayers), my body was trying to deliver the baby I carried.  My neighbor helped my husband give me a blessing. And then we waited.

When the bleeding started, heavy and unrelenting, we went to the hospital. I think I knew, already, what we would find, but it wasn’t until I saw the ultrasound—that too-still  shape, the small curve of skull and spine, and the thin line of darkness that was all that remained of the amniotic fluid—that I finally relinquished the last little bit of hope.

After a D&C in the early hours of the morning, we came home. It was Valentine’s Day. When we told my five-year-old that the baby had died, he cried violently for perhaps ten minutes, then told me (with that sublimely uncomplicated air that only children can manage), that I couldn’t be sad because it was a holiday.

I don’t write this because I want to invite you to publicly share in my private grief. (I imagine most of you have had to do enough grieving in your lives without adding mine). Rather, I write this because I have been astounded, not by the miscarriage, but by its aftermath.

In the blessing I was given that night, my husband blessed me to know that I was loved. There were no miraculous promises (in fact, he told me later that he had felt strongly that he should not mention the baby), just that simple statement of fact. But that blessing, simple as it was, buoyed me up that evening and has buoyed me up in the weeks since. Despite what was happening to me and to my family, the fact remained that God loved us. That love was multiply manifest in the phone calls, meals, flowers and prayers from family and friends in the days that followed.

I’ve found myself thinking, more than once in these last three weeks, about the nature of miracles. In the two days that preceded my miscarriage, Segullah posted two stunning posts about miracles: one a miracle of life , one a miracle of death. That same morning, in Sunday school, the instructor shared that just before her daughter died, she’d prayed for a miracle. And she got one—just not the one she had hoped for. Her daughter died, but she found that she had the strength to do the necessary things in the weeks following that death.

What I am coming to realize is that having faith in this life means accepting that things do not always go according to plan, that the miracles we pray for may not be the miracles we get. In a moving talk given almost ten years ago, Elder Lance B. Wickman said that “I believe that mortality’s supreme test is to face the ‘why’ and then let it go, trusting humbly in the Lord’s promise that ‘all things must come to pass in their time.’”Miracles are neither a test of nor a reward for our faith—we are asked to have faith regardless. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego faced the fiery furnace, they also faced the very real possibility that they would not be saved. They responded, “but if not, we [still] will not serve thy gods” (Daniel 3:18). We, too, face the possibility that God will not save us, at least not in any physical sense.

I don’t think this recognition should lead us to despair, or a belief that God has abandoned us—on the contrary, faith by its nature is fundamentally hopeful. This past Sunday, I had the privilege to teach the gospel doctrine lesson on that beautiful passage from Matthew 11: 28:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

As I prepared for the lesson, I was reminded that the reason this yoke is easy is the atonement: that the atonement makes possible not only for us to relinquish the burden of sins, but the power of the atonement also sustains us in moments of suffering. (If you have time, check out James Faulconer’s fascinating reflections on the nature of human suffering in relation to the atonement).  Alma writes that the Savior “will take upon him [our] infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:12). For me, what this meant in a very personal way was that even in the midst of my grief, I felt the love and succor of my Savior: I knew that He knew what I was experiencing—not just in an abstract fit of compassion, but in a very real, embodied way. This, for me, has been the real miracle of my miscarriage—not that I lost my baby, but that in the midst of my loss I have not been alone.

What about you? What sustains you in difficult times in your life?

About Rosalyn

(Prose Board) currently lives in Southern Utah with her husband and three small children, where she teaches writing part-time at the local university. She has a BA in English from BYU, and an MA and PhD (also in English) from Penn State. She served a mission in the Hungary Budapest mission. In her spare time (what's that?) she likes to read, write, try new recipes (as long as she doesn't have to clean up), watch movies with her husband (British period drama is her favorite), go for walks, and generally avoid anything that resembles housework.

25 thoughts on “Miscarriage and Miracle

  1. Thank you for this post. I could not have said it better.

    I think that many people have a hard time of letting go of the why, not just in things that no one can control, like death, but even in the things that are a result of others’ agency, like divorce or things in Church function that aren’t just the way we’d have them.

    The point is to have faith anyways. And that’s not something that can be easily explained.

  2. Thank you for sharing this story. Personal revelation and feelings of peace that come from God are truly a miracle in this life.

  3. “I believe that mortality’s supreme test is to face the ‘why’ and then let it go, trusting humbly in the Lord’s promise that ‘all things must come to pass in their time.’

    Thank you for using that quote. It’s what I’ve been looking for.

    And jks – those truly are miracles.

    When I’m in a mess of confusing emotions and feelings and people, prayer and scripture study and serving others has been my best solace. (And the occasional pedicure.) My troubles stay with me until I can find a direction or decision that gives me peace, and I am so thankful that peace can come if I allow the Spirit in.

  4. I love this, Rosalyn. Even though I’m single and obviously don’t have kids and so have no idea what you have been feeling, I love this post.

    I remember when Elder Wickman gave that talk. Another sister in the ward in State College had just had a miscarriage (I don’t know if you were around for that, or if you remember it if you were…it might have been a stillbirth, but I think it was a miscarriage if memory serves), and I remember sitting there in the chapel, watching Conference and knowing that so many people in that room were thinking of that family during that talk. That experience made his words more memorable to me than 90% of the Conference talks I’ve heard since then.

    Thank you for reminding me of that, and of the other simple truths that exist to sustain us in times when it would be so easy for them to be buried beneath our grief, anger, etc.

  5. When I miscarried our first child at the age of 36, I was frustrated and angry with God. Why, after having to wait so long before becoming pregnant, would God allow me to lose this child? I have come to understand that asking that question doesn’t always produce answers or that maybe the answer is simply, “Because that’s the way it is.” Once I was able to step out of my own way and stop making myself a prisoner within the walls of self-pity and disappointment, I could move on, but I allowed myself time the time to do so. Then, once beyond the mourning of what was not to be and coming to terms with my new normal, I gave myself permission to anticipate the next chapter with more faith and excitement. A key in all of this was listening to other women’s stories of their heartache from their own losses which allowed me to put things in perspective. In effect, I was allowing others to help me–something I have learned is key in my recovery from life’s painful twists and bends.

  6. After being told my hubs and I could not have children I grieved. I searched for comfort, but I was mostly angry. Prior to receiving this news we had been asked to speak in sacrament meeting and I tried to forget my life in the preparation for my talk.

    I learned that the atonement is more than for providing an avenue for repentance. Without the atonement we would not have the ability to be comforted in our time of grief and sorrow. I realized that I have used the atonement in the past, but that if I didn’t allow the comforter to be there in my time of sorrow I was wasting the sacrifice made on that dreary night so long ago in Gethsemane.

    Somehow, all this sustained me through that difficult time.

  7. @Mo and Just Batty–thank you for sharing your experiences. One of the things I’m learning is that sharing our burdens is pivotal to healing–not only are we called to share those burdens in our baptismal covenants, but I think we are privileged in some ways to do so. And of course, this also means that we have to let others mourn with us, when we are the ones mourning (which has not been easy for me to do).

  8. In the past 2 years, I have found tremendous solace in writing in my journal. In my younger days, my journal was more of a “What I Did Today” accounting. As I have taken up journal writing again, it has become a place to sort things out, to recognize the hand of God in my life, to record Tender Mercies and spiritual experiences and impressions, to grieve, and to write how my dear friends are helping me through the hard times.

    Not only is it therapeutic to write it all down and how I am feeling, but it is doubly helpful when I go back and read through old entries. Often, I see that now that time has passed, some of those questions have answers, some of those feeling and problems that I never thought would be resolved are. I see how much God loves me. Continually. And knows me. Intimately. I see how I have become stronger. I see how constant my friends are. I am blessed *again* by the Spirit. I am reminded of answers I already received, but may have forgotten about.

    The other anchor I have is the priesthood and priesthood blessings. Four years ago, I was in a dark place, where, even though I desperately wanted and needed and was worthy of a priesthood blessing, I could not really get one. I looked forward to getting set apart for new callings, so that I could get those priesthood blessings. About 2 years ago, shortly after beginning journalling again, that world opened up again, and it has been such a relief and joy and help in my life. Knowing that I can turn to friends who love me and know my situation and ask them for a priesthood blessing has taken such a huge burden off of my shoulders. I feel protected. I feel loved. I feel supported. I feel stronger. I know I am not alone.

  9. My heart is touched by your story. It was 22 years ago this February that we had a fetal demise of a very much wanted little boy. When I went to a doctor’s visit and we couldn’t find a heartbeat and then couldn’t find one via ultrasound, my husband and I were heartsick. We went home to talk to our children, have a blessing, and pack bags to go back to the hospital for an induction and delivery. One of my sons wanted to know if his little brother had died because he had talked to my tummy too much. We had the chance to reassure the children of the plan of salvation and eternal families. My priesthood blessing was also one that provided great strength. And somehow we made it through a labor, delivery, and the days, weeks, and years that followed. I think about this little soul often, imagining him when he would have been a chubby cheeked smiling toddler, a toothless 2nd grader, a deacon passing the sacrament for the first time, a missionary departing for the field. I have been given priesthood counsel that we will hold him and be given the opportunity to raise him in the heavens. How do people cope without that faith and vision of the eternities? Bless you and your family. It is OK to grieve for your little one’s life and the loss it represents in your life. Give yourself over to the unpredictable tears which will come.

  10. I am always surprised by the strength of the flood of grief I feel when it comes. Last fall we experienced our third consecutive miscarriage. We have two healthy daughters without any trouble, and the reason for these miscarriages remain a mystery. At times the weight and pain of the grief has literally brought me to my knees. But many, mnany blessings have been mixed in as well. I have felt love from many sources, including my sisters in the church. I also have felt a great deal of comfort in the closeness and love I share with my husband. It has only increased as we have faced this togther. The joy and happiness I feel from my daughters has been a great blessing, too.

    In this and other difficult times, I often seek solace in the scriptures. Answers aren’t always forth coming, but the Spirit that comes is balming even if questions remain. As I write this I am suddenly realizing that for me anything that brings the Spirit can be an enormous comfort. Things like reflecting on evidences of God’s love, priesthood blessings, serving others, accepting service, music, even heart-felt grief, whatever it is that helps you feel close to God. I think that accessing the Spirit is how we access the atonement. That just came together for me as I wrote this. Thank you for sharing your story, and asking those questions.

  11. This is beautiful. I love the “but if not” reference from the Old Testament.

    I am so sorry for the miscarriage.

    Strollerblader, it is really amazing what journaling can do. I started one again last May and have continued writing a few times a week. It is a blessing in my life.

  12. I read somewhere that God never says “no” to prayers. Rather He answers: “yes”, “not yet” or
    “I have a better idea”.

    The stretch of faith is believing in the 3rd way He may be answering our prayers.

    Thank you for the insight into taking His yoke upon us in relation to the Atonement easing our sorrow. Another puzzle piece in place for me because of you.

  13. Mary, I have copied your comment to a place where I can see them often. Your statement “I think that accessing the Spirit is how we access the atonement” filled in the missing link for me.
    Thank you.

  14. Rosalyn, this was beautiful. I am so sorry about your miscarriage, and so glad that you have been strengthened and sustained right now.

    Your post reminds me of a scripture that sustained me last spring after I miscarried:

    In all their afflictions
    he was afflicted
    and the angel of his presence
    saved them
    And in his love,
    and in his pity,
    he bore them,
    and redeemed them,
    and carried them all the days of old. (D&C 133:53)

    I am so glad you are on a healing path.

  15. A self-help book I read a long time ago said, referring to the five stages of grief, “the only way out is through.”

    Those words have made such an impact on me that I think about them every time I a have a reason to grieve. If I let myself feel what I am feeling, and I let it hurt the way it has to, them I will come out on the other side better for the experience. But if I try to talk myself out of my feelings, or let others try to talk me out of it, then I will “stall” in one of the stages of grief.

    I have mentioned on here before that right now I am trying to come to terms with miscarrying a baby and then finding out there is little chance I could have another. And, no, I’m not “over it” but I have faith the Lord designed a way for us to be able to handle hard things. I also believe that He did all the hard things in the world and understands perfectly what I’m feeling and provides comfort just when I need it most.

    On Sunday we sang the hymn “Be Still My Soul.” Oh, how I meant those words as I sang them!

  16. This is so beautifully written. I can’t imagine what that loss feels like, but thank you for sharing what you’ve learned from it. I hope you continue to find strength and evidence of God’s love as you move through it.

  17. Rosalyn – this was so very beautiful. A transcendence out of your private grief (which of course I mourn for you, hurt for you). But you explained true faith perfectly. “faith in this life means accepting that things do not always go according to plan, that the miracles we pray for may not be the miracles we get.” I couldn’t agree more. Getting what we prayed for is not an indication of our faith. Staying true amid loss and disappointment, when things do not work out – that is faith. During our many years of struggling with infertility, that talk by Lance Wickman kept my fire of faith glowing. “But if not… But if not…” Powerful. Thank you so much for this.

  18. I know I’m coming to it late, but I just wanted to say this was a beautiful post, Rosalyn. I’m glad you’ve felt comforted and supported during this sorrowful experience. I just wanted to echo what a lot of others have said here: Journaling, praying, reading the scriptures, and doing those things that help me feel the Spirit help me most during difficult times. But lately I’ve realized once again the importance of letting myself grieve, giving myself time and space to mourn and work through my feelings. I’m finding healing though this process.

    And I loved what Catherine said: “Getting what we prayed for is not an indication of our faith. Staying true amid loss and disappointment, when things do not work out—that is faith.” I couldn’t agree more.

  19. Rosalyn, This was a beautifully written post that really transcends miscarriage and spoke to me of the mortal difficulty of accepting God’s will is not our will (especially when his will is something we didn’t want). It is hard. I am not always very good at it. But I know that my choices are either to accept his will and then have access to his peace and love, or not accept his will and feel miserable. I don’t like feeling miserable :), so I try to accept his will. It is much easier said than done.

    Miscarriage is so hard–I never thought it would be a super big deal until I experienced it. Like you, I didn’t ever figure out the “why” but the experience greatly strengthened my knowledge that my Heavenly Father loves me.

    Take care of yourself over the coming weeks and months as you grieve. It is a loss, and it takes time to heal completely.

  20. Thank you for this beautifully written post, Rosalyn.

    I recently got a diagnosis from my doctor- one in which it will mean that I might not be able to have children. Even though I’m not married, I’ve taken the news pretty hard and I’ve been really struggling with it.

    I received a blessing shortly after the diagnosis and though I was not blessed with healing, I was blessed with comfort.

    Even though I’m still struggling and grieving for the loss of something that has yet to be, I know God is in charge and will consecrate this affliction for my gain. I know He can (and will) do that through all trials in all of our lives as we remain faithful- even though it’s not easy. I have this knowledge but it doesn’t necessarily make life any easier honestly. The pain is still there, but I’m working on it.

    I find comfort in attending the temple and serving others. I have also found that writing in my journal has helped me to sort out my feelings. It’s a way for me to be angry without taking that anger out on anyone personally.

    Thank you again.

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