The Uses of Miscarriage

Three years ago, about this time, I became pregnant. I miscarried the last week of March that year. I was astonished by the grief of it.

Astonished because pregnancy, even intentional pregnancy, fills me with dread. It’s venturing into the known territory of nausea and pain and fatigue. I know what it means to give birth, and after my first child I have always been scared. I expected to be relieved that I did not have to be pregnant, or deal with a newborn and the ensuing chaos. Maybe I might feel a little guilty over this relief, but mostly I would be relieved.

And maybe some miscarriages are like that for some women; I want to be clear that this is my experience, not yours, and if you felt relieved when you miscarried, for whatever reason, I’m not intending to guilt trip you. It’s okay. Miscarrying is a deeply personal experience, and however you went through it or processed it, it’s okay.

For me, though, I mourned. I wanted that baby at a deeper level than I had ever suspected. I felt cheated, robbed, bereft; I found comfort in the kindness of other women, many of whom had also miscarried and knew my pain.

In between that miscarriage and now, I had a baby. That helped me heal more than anything. And now I’m pregnant again, twenty-seven weeks along. I wrote a while ago about this being a surprise pregnancy, and how I’ve been working to get past my dread.

Deeper than the dread, though, when I discovered I was pregnant, was this certain knowledge: I did not want anything to happen to this baby.

Perhaps if I had not miscarried before I might have fantasized about losing this one, about how this baby might disappear, and I could get back the life I had planned for this year. But I knew, by my own experience, that I did not want to lose another baby. There are far worse things than being surprised by two blue lines on a plastic stick. It’s worse to stare at the ultrasound screen and see no flashing heart; it’s worse to know that your bleeding now used to be your baby’s home.

The memory of my miscarriage has been, in a strange way, a kind of comfort to me: I know that I do want this baby, that when I pray for him to arrive safely I mean it. Jennie wrote about what she’s learned from her trials a little while ago, and I thought immediately of this. From miscarrying I have learned not only empathy for other women, but also the truth that I am more of a mother at heart than I ever suspected, because the thought of losing my surprise baby, of his being hurt in any way, fills me with much more dread than all my fears about having him.

And maybe that is not the kind of enthusiasm I ought to have, but it sustained me through those early nausea-filled weeks. Now I can feel him kick, which is the best part of being pregnant. I am glad he’s all right. And though I would never wish a miscarriage on anyone, I am grateful for what it taught me.

About Emily M.

(Poetry Board) graduated from BYU in Comparative Literature, but it was long enough ago that most of what she learned has leaked out. She would like to mention other hobbies or interests, but to be honest she spends most of her free time reading (although she does enjoy attempting yoga). She used to blog at hearingvoices.wordpress.com. For now, though, Segullah is her only blogging home, and it's a good one.

11 thoughts on “The Uses of Miscarriage

  1. Thank you for your words. We have lost ten babies through miscarriage and I have learned different lessons each time. I am grateful for those exquisitely painful lessons for they have deepened my compassion, my reliance on the Savior, and my appreciation for my living children. I have written much about my experiences and am happy (not in a jump up and down way, but a I know I can listen and love sort of way) to be a sounding board for anyone who needs to talk through their losses.

  2. Thank you for this post. I’ve had two miscarriages, and it reminds me a lot of a post I wrote several months ago on my blog, when one of my sisters-in-law had her first miscarriage–I wrote for her of the most important things I had learned from my miscarriages (if you are interested, here is the link).

    They are dearly-paid lessons, and so precious because of the price. What is even more precious (because of what I went through to learn it) is my resultant knowledge that my own pain has been swallowed up in the infinite price paid by my Savior, and that I can access the grace to ease that suffering just by asking.

    Healing takes time, so be gentle with yourself. ((hugs))

  3. Such beautiful thoughts. I had a miscarriage at almost 13 weeks and it was hard, but like you said it changed me in such a powerful way. I feel like the spirit that I miscarried came back to me as my next baby (a little boy) and so I have offered wondered why God gave me that experience. I think sometimes what we loose and what we struggle through teaches us some of life’s most important lessons. And we can ONLY learn those lessons through grief and suffering.

    Thank you for this. Really, it touched my heart.

  4. I miscarried at 12 weeks and had similar feelings to what you describe. Each pregnancy since (there have been 3) I always breath a sign of relief when I make it past the 12 week mark.

    What surprised me was when my husband expressed his disappointment at being left out of the condolences. He was just as upset as I was and people didn’t feel like they needed to comfort him as they did me. I guess people generally don’t feel that the husband is that involved until the birth.

  5. Thank you for sharing this perspective. After 5 miscarriages I can’t say that I have learned my lesson from them her – other than being scared to death when I am pregnant that it will follow like the others. Ultrasounds are not a joyous occasion but fill me with dread. And I completely relate to the second reaction of the blood of that pregnancy. It is as if you lose it twice – at least for me it was that way. I am still looking for what I should be learning these past few years.

  6. I used to describe my miscarriage 16 years ago as the event that eventually saved my marriage. It was the first time I went through something that was physically and emotionally more than I could handle alone.

    My husband was my sole support. Our family was several hundred miles away, our doctor was not available when I started to worry so I set up an appointment for the following Monday (this was late Friday). By Saturday I was convinced something was wrong and was given an appointment for Sunday morning for an ultrasound. When the cramping started late Saturday night, there were near blizzard conditions and I couldn’t bear the thought of going anywhere. I remember thinking as I sat on the toilet with him holding a bowl in case I threw up, that he was the only one in the world who would be there when I “hit bottom”. It was the most painful experience I had ever experienced and I felt totally safe in his care.

    Since then, he has delivered most of our babies at home. (Our first was a hospital birth that left me feeling emotionally and physically violated.) Even our preparation for midwife care always seemed to end with some circumstance where he was my primary or sole support person and we both felt it was supposed to be that way for some unknown reason.

    In many ways, my marriage has been the major challenge of my life. However, the gift of a miscarriage has taught me I’m not supposed to be alone and my husband is a gift from God.

  7. Luisa, it’s good to know I was not alone in my surprise.

    Tracy, ten. I can’t wrap my head or my heart around that, but oh my you have been through so much. A dear friend who had experienced many miscarriages sat and cried with me a few months after; I was so grateful that even though she had been through more than me, she honored what I was feeling right then. It sounds like you are doing that for others.

    Katie, I really liked your post. I loved the image of the fuschias being broken and then healing. It does take time, I agree.

    Heather, I have wondered about that spirit I miscarried, and for reasons I won’t go into, I have thought this might be him again. Grief does change us.

    Charity, thank you.

    Jennifer, yes to breathing a sigh of relief. In fact, it’s been hard for me to even get attached to the baby at all before then; it’s been hard to want to engage with that little spirit when I know something might happen. I agree that husbands get left out of this mourning process.

    Robin Marie, I’m so sorry. I don’t want this post to make anyone who is mourning feel like they have to find a lesson for themselves; that’s an added pressure you don’t need as you grieve. The fear of losing your next pregnancy is so real. Be gentle with yourself right now.

    RaNae, I loved your comment. How wonderful that you’ve been able to rely on your husband so fully both in losing a child and birthing them–I can’t think of a more bonding experience than that.

    Thanks, everyone, for your comments.

  8. Thank you for sharing!

    I miscarried at 15 weeks. I was induced and got to hold my baby boy.

    It was my third pregnancy and, frankly, I was ambivalent about it. I didn’t feel ready to be pregnant again, I hated the nausea, the roller coaster of emotions.

    So, I too was surprised at the depth of the grief. And the outpouring of love from other women — many of whom I had no idea had experienced a miscarriage until they shared my grief.

    It was hard – something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy – yet it was a spiritual, life-changing experience I wouldn’t give up, either. But I wouldn’t want to repeat it. And that has added a very real fear of getting pregnant again. Perhaps illogical because I have two healthy children and no reason to believe this would happen again.

    I really appreciated this article and the comments. Although I think I’m dealing with things pretty well (it’s been 6 months) as my sister is going to have a baby any day (we were due 1 week apart) and a friend’s getting ready to welcome her own little one (same exact due date as me), I find the emotions a little closer to the surface.

  9. Thank you for this article. I was a little surprised at how emotional it was for me to read and how it brought back the memories of my own miscarriage.

    I was 9 weeks along when I found out my husband was deeply engrossed in an addiction. That was a very difficult day. As I learned more and more truths finally coming out, I remembered falling to the ground and sobbing in a way I never had before. It felt as if my whole life had been shattered. I thought of my then 3 and 4 year old, and of the tiny little being growing within me. In my moment of despair, I remember saying to myself, “I wish I wasn’t pregnant. I don’t want this baby now.”

    3 weeks later–May 12th–I sat on the edge of the tub, again sobbing, as I realized that I had lost that little being. The memory of my thoughts just weeks earlier came back to my mind so clearly it hurt physically as much as emotionally. I simply got what I asked for…but not what I wanted. The guilt of that thought and the actual event unfolding weeks later (coupled with the real probability that my serious emotional breakdown weeks earlier could have caused the miscarriage) was devastatingly heavy. It took a long time to let go of that guilt and realize that God was with me, and that that baby *did* have a purpose–just not the purpose I had supposed it would; a life, a future…a chance to live. I chose to let the nature of miscarriage takes its course on its own, and it took nearly 2 weeks before it was done–the home of my little baby now just a mess in the toilet. I felt as if my heart had literally shattered into pieces twice in one month.

    1 year later to the exact day of sitting on the edge of the bath tub–May 12th–I delivered my beautiful baby–a compassionate, tender-hearted happy baby boy. As I rejoiced in the life of one baby, my heart still ached for the one I had lost just 1 year earlier. The day was much different than it was a year ago. There was far more hope, far more sunshine, and far more peace. My husband and I had fought a hard fight in addiction recovery, and while the fight still goes on, the days are not as dismal as they were then. Occasionally I come across the ultrasound of my 3rd baby at 8 weeks, showing a perfectly strong heartbeat and I grieve at the loss that followed. I personally feel that spirit–a baby girl in my mind–has its own body and spirit and is waiting for us in Heaven. I also feel that that baby did have a very important purpose, and for reasons I won’t get into now, gave me the strength to work at my marriage in a way I’m not sure I would have otherwise.

    The pain is still there with the loss, but the hindsight brings to light a sense of peace and some understanding.

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