Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mourning a Miscarriage

This post is very raw, honest, and may even offend some people. So if you are not up for that, I would skip it. It is not written to garner sympathy or pity. Rather it is written in the hope that if there is someone who has experienced or may experience the loss of a child through miscarriage they can know that they are not alone in the crazy tumult of thoughts and emotions they may experience. No one’s grieving process is the same, but it does help to know that you are not alone.  

Today, April 15th, was when our baby was due. Today should have spent cuddling a newborn.

I have cried every day for the last seven months for the loss of that child. Sometimes multiple times a day. Most of the tears have been shed when I am alone. I don’t like to upset my children and they always worry if they have done something wrong if I cry. It has been more difficult to move past than even my father and grandmothers passing away. It has brought a sadness to my heart that feels like will always be a part of me. Like a part of my spirit has broken and cannot ever fully be mended.

It has been so isolating. Three of my sisters-in-law and a lot of my friends were pregnant at the same time. They have all gone on to have their babies. It has been difficult to constantly be surrounded by visual reminders of what I lost.

It has been painful in so many ways. People have said hurtful things, often without truly meaning to. I had one person tell me that since we weren’t trying to get pregnant that I must not really feel that bad about miscarrying the baby. Oh how little she understands. Others trying to console, told me that I should be happy with the children I have. But I’m not. I wanted that baby too. And I don’t even care if that makes me sound selfish.

Baby showers. Oh my goodness. One that I went to, I cried through pretty much the whole thing. It was horrible. I felt so bad for distracting from such a special time for someone else that it made me cry even more. The other two that I dared go to, only because they were family, I hid behind a camera. It is much easier to make yourself not cry when you can concentrate on framing, focus, aperture, and shutter speed.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Facebook. This made it even more so. I honestly couldn’t handle anyone who talked of their pregnancy or newborn with anything less than gratitude for being allowed to receive a miracle from God. Whining about pregnancy symptoms, flippant comments like “poor me I can’t fit into my cute clothes anymore”, complaining about lack of sleep with the new baby, and on and on. I’ll admit it. I hid those people in my newsfeed. Not my proudest moment, but necessary for my sanity at the time. Reading stuff like that just made me what to scream at the unfairness of life.

Ultrasound pictures were especially painful as my last experience with an ultrasound was seeing my sweet little baby unmoving with no heartbeat – it was traumatizing. So traumatizing that I actually considered changing doctors just so that I would never have to go in that office again.

Guilt. Oh so much guilt. Much of it completely irrational, but felt deeply nonetheless. Guilt that I was alive and that my baby was dead. Guilt that for the longest time I couldn’t be happy for other people’s happiness. Guilt that I was taking this so hard when so many others have much more difficult things to deal with. Guilt that I was mourning this child so deeply that at times I feared my sadness was taking me away from being the best mom I could be to my other children. Guilt that at one very low point I was jealous of a mother who lost her child shortly after birth because at least she got to hold them and see them and take pictures and have a grave to visit for I had no physical reminder that my child had ever existed. Guilt that I was angry with life when such a blessing was taken away from me when so many around me were given that miracle freely. Guilt that I have not “endured it well” as we have been counseled by so many prophets and apostles. Guilt that maybe if I had had greater faith, the prayers that I prayed from the moment I found out I was pregnant to have a healthy baby would have been answered. Guilt that maybe if I had never used birth control and tried to have more children when I was younger, maybe this never would have happened. Guilt that maybe if I had been healthier then I would still be pregnant. Guilt for every word I ever said that showed even the slightest bit of ingratitude for pregnancy or motherhood. I hate that I may have been the cause in the past of pain to others with my show of ingratitude for something that is so sacred.

I am very grateful for the people that reached out to me, especially those who thought to check in with me even long after it happened. Sincerity makes such a difference. One person checked with me several times in the months following and I always felt the sincerity of her question when she asked how I was doing for I knew that this wasn’t an idle question but one stemming from a sincere desire to show love and empathy. I knew I didn’t have to hide the tears when I answered her for her eyes were filled with tears along with me. Another friend who had experienced almost the same thing the year before, had me go out and eat lunch with her almost every week for months, just because she knew I needed to get out of the house and be with someone. She’ll probably never fully understand how much those lunches meant to me. I am grateful for another friend that reached out after the most recent baby shower that I attended to offer sympathy that she knew that being there must have been very hard for me. Sometimes having someone else validate your feelings is a very healing thing. I am grateful for others who sent me personal messages of their experience with miscarriage to tell their story and share that they still mourn the loss even years later. It helps to know that others have been where you are and have been able to move forward and find happiness in life.

This experience has tested my testimony more than I can even explain. It has broken my heart that there is no – not even a little – church doctrine related to miscarriage. Stillborn children – yes. They can be named and listed as yours on your family group record to be a part of your family for eternity. But not miscarriages. There have been general authorities that have given their personal opinion unofficially that the spirits of miscarried children will have another opportunity to come to earth in a different body, but there is no actual doctrine to support that. Besides that isn’t completely comforting is it? What if you have a miscarriage and then are never able to get pregnant again or carry a child for longer than just a few weeks?  What happens to that spirit? Does it go to someone else's family?  That doesn't seem fair. It is the first time that I have not found comfort in the teachings of the gospel.

For months I couldn’t even say a prayer without crying. Family prayer. Blessing the food. At a baby shower. In church. It was embarrassing.

Even my callings were tinged with bitterness and resentment. Teaching children to sing happy songs when you just feel like crying isn’t an easy thing. Nor is teaching them to sing of God’s love, when you weren’t feeling very loved at the moment. I love Girl’s Camp. But for quite a while I resented that calling. I shouldn’t even have been going to Girl’s Camp this year because I should have been home taking care of a 4 month old baby.

Looking back, I can see how much those callings were a blessing. For the longest time I cried through every sacrament meeting. I still do sometimes. Every mention of family, motherhood, children, blessings, prayer, just about anything, set the tears streaming. I can’t imagine how much more difficult church would have been if I had to sit through Sunday school and Relief Society and cried though those meetings too. Instead, after sacrament meeting, I put on a smile and sing songs with children. Definitely a better thing for me to do. And when not at church, having girls camp to plan and focus on creating a positive spiritual experience for the young women is unquestionably a blessed distraction.

I have found some comfort in the scriptures. In my darkest moments I have found myself repeating over and over like a little chant “Trust in Lord with all thine heart, lean not unto thine own understanding, in all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy path.” It pulls me out of my most guilty and painful thoughts.

Elders Wirthlin’s promise of the principle of compensation has helped too. He said, “The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude.”

So now I worry everyday about whether I am being faithful enough to receive that promise. I hope so. Oh how I hope so.

I don’t know that my sorrow will every completely go away, but I do know that my Father in Heaven and my brother Jesus Christ love me and that somehow all these things will work together for the good of our family. One thing that I have learned for sure is that even when my testimony is tested and I question my faith, Heavenly Father is ever there waiting for me to call out to Him to listen to the deepest heartache of a broken spirit, no matter how crazy and irrational I may be.

The creation of a child is so precious and miraculous. It is sacred. My heart weeps with those who have experienced the loss of a child at whatever stage it may have been. My heart weeps with those who want so much to be a mother and have not been able to. My heart weeps with those who have a child or children and want with all your heart to have more.

I cannot pretend to understand why things happen the way they do. I do not understand it. For I know without question that my Heavenly Father has the power to save any child and any pregnancy. For reasons I cannot comprehend He sometimes chooses not to intervene. But while I do not understand, I can still trust in Him. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, lean not unto thine own understanding, in all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct they paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)


Sherri Gilmer said...

I so understand your feelings about this and it's one of those things that you keep bottled up inside. I think about the baby I miscarried so much, and that was twelve years ago. Even Danny still mentions that child and we both are convinced it was a girl and we named her Hannah. She gets mentioned often in our home. What you are feeling is natural and I believe that if there were honest conversations between mothers who have miscarried, we would see that. But so many people don't understand so it's one of those things we tend to keep private so I really appreciate you expressing so many of the feelings I experienced and many I still do over the loss of "hannah" and it is good to know that my feelings are somehow validated. Every time I see someone having a girl I feel it sharply because our little girl (I do believe it was a girl) never came....and the chance to have another is over. So this is just to let you know that I appreciate you putting a voice to the feelings that those of us who have experienced this kind of loss are feeling and my thoughts and prayers are with you as you learn to live with the grief. God Bless you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Your words have echoed much of what I feel and still experience having walked this road over 7 years ago....my brother/sister in law had triplets 2 weeks after I lost my triplet boys. So while time does heal....you never forget....the what if's, and thinking about what they would be like at this age or playing ball and so on. There will always be an emptiness in my heart for my angel boys....but I have a hope that I will see them again in heaven!! Thank you for sharing your journey and for daring to be so honest/open for all to see. God is using your testimony to help others who are struggling on the same journey. Praying each day you will be stronger and peace will fill you! Love and prayers....Katy.

Mandi said...

That was so honest. I have been blessed to never have to experience such a loss. It reminds me as I hold my sweet Mallory to be thankful for her and my other children. I have always thought u could handle anything with grace even if u feel otherwise. I love you and I am truly sorry for the hurt and sorrow you have gone threw. Sometimes no matter how u look at there are days thay just really stink and it is really ok that u feel that way. You and your family are in my prayers. Love ya!

The Sauls Family said...

Miscarriages are just plain awful, period. I miscarried my first baby, and the hurt has never gone away. Doctrine isn't comforting because there simply is no doctrine. People try to minimize the pain with all sorts of awful platitudes, and I just want to punch them in mouth, bless their hearts.

What I'm trying to say is that your feelings and experiences are valid and real and I understand. *hugs*

Erin said...

I am so sorry that I never saw how much you were hurting, I should have been a better friend - especially since I know the pain of a miscarriage. Seeing that image on the ultrasound is something that I will never forget.
I also understand the guilt, and I know for me to say "it isn't your fault" will give you no comfort. It is only something that you can overcome, and I know you will.
You have always been an example for me. So many times I say to myself, "I wish I could be more like Katheryn"...and now knowing of your quiet courage make me respect you even more.
It only take someone of great faith such as yours to question that faith when a miscarriage occurs; because you believe so strongly in His love and HIS plan, but yet something like this just doesn't make sense, just doesn't seem to fit. But the fact that you keep returning to the scriptures, you didn't stop going to church, you continue to pray deeply and often - that alone speaks volumes of your faith.
You are one of the strongest people I know. I won't say that the pain and the guilt will pass with time, because it won't. I will tell you that it does fade. Its been almost seven years since Jason and I lost our baby, but I still think of her often, and still wonder if there was anything that could have been done differently (Like Sherri, I always think of her as a girl)
Katheryn, please call me or come by when you are feeling so down. You never have to hide your tears or anger from me. You can vent or mourn, or even just talk about nothing. Bring the kids if its a time when they are home - we'll just throw 'em outside so they won't see us cry together.
I love you, Katheryn, and I really wish that I had been there for you. So many times I wanted to say something, but I thought either you were handling it so well, and I didn't want to remind you of the pain, or that if I did say something it would cause you even more grief. How foolish of me. I should have known how you were feeling, and I should have known that you might need to talk, that really there was nothing I could have done to make you feel any more sorrow, only been there to help you share it.
As you move forward and continue to heal little by little, please reach out when you need to - and be ready, because there will be no more quick hellos from me.
Until then, I will keep you (and your family) in my prayers, and even though you are probably there already, I will ask my friend who calls several temples every two weeks to add Jason's name and others to the prayer rolls to include yours as well.

Pam said...

I have tears in my eyes after reading your post because it brought back all of the emotions, feelings, thoughts, pain, etc., of what I went through with my miscarriage almost four years ago. Like others have said, I also felt guilty and such a complete failure and often cried myself to sleep at night. I went through the worst of the pain (similar to labor pains) and cramping all alone on my sofa and cried my heart out. I remember feeling that I knew something was terribly wrong when the doctor took so long to do the first ultrasound. I'm so thankful that my sister-in-law was with me at that appointment for support when the doctor said he couldn't find the baby. It was an ectopic pregnancy. After getting help to get pregnant one more time, after all the prayers and priesthood blessings, after all the money that was spent to help me get pregnant I would lose my baby. I believe that this was my girl and I knew it was my last chance to have a baby in this life. I've talked to my dad several times due to the lack of doctrine, and I believe that we will be able to raise these spirits in the next life according to our righteousness. This is my own personal belief but it gives me the hope and faith I need to focus on the future instead of my sadness and feelings of loss. Only my immediate family and a few that I worked with directly in a presidency at church knew about my miscarriage. It was too painful to even talk about and I certainly didn't want the whole ward knowing about it. It's a little easier to talk about it now. I've seen you crying during sacrament meeting and at a baby shower we both attended where you even had to give the prayer. I wanted to hug you or let you cry on my shoulder or say something that would help and let you know that I understood your pain, but I thought it might make you cry more or you might not be receptive among so many people. When you get teary-eyed in primary teaching the children a new song I get tears in my eyes along with you, and that doesn't make it easy to see the music when you have to play the piano! : ) But I know that's it's your testimony, your faith and your sweet spirit that's coming through and I enjoy those teaching moments. You have such a strong testimony and faith, and even when you are doubting yourself that you're not being the best mom for your kids - you are! Your kids are so blessed to have you as their mom. I've often thought that I wish I could be more creative and do some of the neat things you've done with your kids. On your worst mom day you're still a better mom than a lot of us out there. You've been in my thoughts a lot over these last months wondering how you were doing, and I so appreciate you sharing your journey. Please know that if you want to talk or just need a new shoulder to cry on that I'm here. We're all a big family and after we've had time to work through things ourselves then our family (and friends) will help carry us through. All my love, Pam Bryan

Becky Shuler said...

I, who am barren, still continue to feel the guilt of my past behavior and believe I caused Heavenly Father to choose to give me no children. There is a hollow loneliness and ache followed by shame and remorse almost daily. I have found some peace in loving you and Kylia as my own and know that I do not even deserve to have that love. All I can do is repent and do the best I can to help others. Your expression of the guilt you feel came directly from my heart. Thank you!

Becky Shuler said...

Thank you for being so honest and sincere in sharing your feelings. I'm sorry you've gone through this and continue to feel sorrow for the loss of your baby. You are an amazing person and have always been an example for me. I love you and pray your heart may find peace.