The week after we found out I was expecting our fourth little blessing, we packed our bags and drove out to the Carolina Coast for a little family getaway. My husband had some business to do there, so the girls and I thought we’d tag along.
We spent hours walking along the beach, picnicking, reading books and watching movies. And all the while my thoughts were full of hope and joyful anticipation, knowing there was another little soul with us, tucked away deep inside of me.
That has always been one of my favorite parts of pregnancy – feeling so intimately connected to my children in a way that no one else ever will be.
Every moment feels like a special little secret that baby and I share.
During our trip I contacted my midwife to share the news and ask her to assist us through the pregnancy and birth. A few days later, on a Friday evening, we returned home and my heart was so, so full, of all the good things.
I had the unfailing love of a mighty and good Savior, an unendingly supportive and loving husband, three beautiful little daughters, another little love on the way, and I life that I completely adored.
The next morning I awoke, dazed and groggy after a long week of traveling, to the sound of my husband getting ready for a business meeting he had that morning.
I dragged myself out of bed to go nurse my youngest babe who was hollering for me from her crib. But before I made my way to her room, this newly-pregnant mama had answer the call of mother nature!
Never in a million years could I have ever anticipated such a mindless, mundane act changing the course of my life forever.
But as I sat there staring at the blood on the toilet paper, I froze and all the air was sucked out from within me.
For many women, spotting is a normal occurrence during pregnancy – nothing to worry about. A small part of me knew that could be the case.
But a much larger part of me was panicking, because after three previous, healthy pregnancies and absolutely no spotting or bleeding of any kind, I knew this wasn’t normal for me.
I sat paralyzed for several minutes, trying in vain to process what to do next, before slowly rising and going to retrieve my crying baby from her bed. My husband, in a rush to get out the door, came to give me a kiss and say goodbye. So much of me wanted to fall apart right then and there and grab hold of him, not letting him leave me by myself.
But I couldn’t. I couldn’t find the words, couldn’t make sense of what to do.
I said goodbye, told him I loved him and that I hoped he had a good meeting. If he thought I looked strange, he probably assumed I was just tired.
The moment he was out the door and all was quiet, I looked down at my nursing babe and felt the tears well up and quietly begin to spill over.
What was happening? Was there something wrong with my baby? What was I supposed to do?
My mind went back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. I kept telling myself that it was probably nothing. Just some part of the process that was different this time from what I’d experienced before. If I could just calm down, be patient and stay hopeful everything would be just fine.
I kept telling myself I was probably overreacting. But deep down I knew that I wasn’t.
I knew my precious little light was leaving me; that it was being snuffed out far too early, far too fast. I felt it dimming. Felt the loss. But did I really know? How could I really know? Maybe I should still hope. Maybe I was just jumping to conclusions.
As I finished nursing, I pulled out my phone and made my fingers type the gut-wrenching message to my husband and my midwife.
“I think I might be losing the baby.”
I went to get my older daughters up for the day and make our breakfast as I waited. I sat down to feed my baby her eggs. And then I completely fell apart.
Cold, raw, burning grief coursed through me like toxic venom. My throat began to close, choking on my desperate and stifled sobs. This couldn’t really be happening to me. How could this be happening?
The loss of a child was the one thing I’d always thought I could never survive. How does one survive that?
But perhaps worse than definitively knowing you’ve lost a baby? Not knowing for sure if you’ve lost your baby or not. You are suspended in an agonizing moment of time where everything around you seems to speed by, but for you the agony seems to linger on for an eternity.
I was completely crippled by fear and uncertainty. If I held onto hope, only to find out that the baby was indeed lost, I feared the crushing agony that I knew would plunder me all over again.
But what if I didn’t hope and my baby was still in there, needing its mama to hope for it, believe for it and fight for it? That seemed like the worst kind of betrayal I could imagine.
And so, I was stuck. Waiting. Hoping and not hoping. Completely and utterly vulnerable and alone.
The day passed and we all waited. We reached out to close family and friends to ask them to cover us all in prayer. At some point I decided that I would fight for my baby. I would root my hope in the goodness of our Creator, the giver of life and fulfiller of hope. I would praise Him and trust Him through my anguish while I endured this torturous limbo.
The spotting turned to bleeding by the next morning and I was having increasingly uncomfortable cramping. Finally, because I was sick and tired of waiting, of feeling like I was doing nothing, I asked my husband to drive me to the hospital.
I desperately wanted to let nature take whatever course it would take, but I couldn’t handle the waiting anymore. I was going insane with the waiting. I’d been avoiding using the bathroom all weekend because I was terrified of what I might see.
After arriving at the hospital, there was more waiting. And questions. And harsh, bright fluorescent lights.
Lying on that hospital bed, in a nothing but a thin cotton gown, bleeding and tears streaming down my face, I felt more exposed and violated than I’d ever felt in my entire life. I allowed myself to be poked and prodded and examined and interrogated, all in the name of learning a fate I already felt and knew in my heart.
After all of our torturous waiting, our nurse came to tell us that we had indeed lost our baby.
Strangely, in the moments that followed, I felt something almost like relief. I’d spent the last two days torn between hope and grief, and I was over it. I just wanted to be done. And now I could be done.
I looked into my husband’s eyes and saw an emotion I couldn’t quite name. I don’t remember what he said, or what I said, I just remember being so ready to be done.
I got dressed, sent a text to update everyone who had been praying and we left hand in hand to return home to our girls. That night I kissed them and squeezed them and loved on them, not wanting to let their warmth and love leave me.
When they were put to bed, we climbed into our bed and my husband held me as I quietly cried myself to sleep.