Miscarriage: What to Expect, Finding God’s Heart in the Process, and Comforting the Hurting

Warning: This is a fairly long post, and goes into some detail about what can occur with a miscarriage.  Mama’s, you won’t want your young children reading over your shoulder.  

Miscarriage feature image (1)

Miscarriage.  It happens a lot more often than we realize.  Many women tend to wait until they pass the first 12 weeks to announce their news, “just in case”.  Sadly, when no one knows and loss does occur, couples are left to traverse the grief alone.

And, unfortunately, when news of loss is shared, people do not always respond in a manner that is sensitive or wise.  I’ve been asked, “Were you really pregnant?”

And I’ve been told, “You had you hands full anyway… you really didn’t need that (another baby).  And, “You have a big family… it’s probably for the best.

Let me just say– when someone is in the throes of a loss, even if you can see a silver lining, this just isn’t a compassionate response.  It piles grief upon grief, and encourages young women to keep their status to themselves.

We don’t want women to close their hearts to the Christian community of women.  God wants us to share, so that:

  1. we learn how to comfort each other with the comfort we have received.  2 Corinthians 1:3,4
  2.  we can teach one another about life, what to expect, and how to deal with its eventualities in a spiritually and emotionally healthy manner.  Paul sets precedence for older women teaching the younger women like this in Titus 2.

This is a topic that is close to my heart right now.  I’ve had 3 miscarriages in the past three years, and I admit I have not been outspoken about it, but the times I have shared have yielded the privilege of being able to pray for others.

In the midst of writing this, I received word from a dear friend whose ultrasound sent her home with a bleak prognosis for her little one.  It is a heart breaking topic, but it is one that should be talked about more, and with sensitivity, so that women don’t feel alone–even if they choose to keep their pain private.

Not Every Miscarriage is the Same.

Depending on each woman’s body, and the age of the fetus, every loss can be different.  I am sharing from my own experience.

A miscarriage at 6 weeks or earlier will probably be a lot like a normal period, only much heavier.  It may contain many more clots and could last a couple extra days.  Some women may not realize they were pregnant.  Others, especially those who have been planning and praying for a baby, may be hit hard with disappointment and grieve deeply.

A miscarriage at 8 or 9 weeks will be significantly heavier.  Clots will be more plentiful, flow will be heavier, and will most likely last closer to 2 weeks.  The longer a woman carries a baby, the more emotionally attached she becomes.  She feels a responsible for its well being, and the inability to protect her baby can be extremely difficult to bear.

From 12 weeks on, the biological function of miscarriage is strikingly like the labor and delivery of a full term baby.  The miscarriage can be spontaneous, or signs may be visible for days or weeks beforehand: The lack of morning sickness {for those who normally experience it} and spotting that may grow heavier as the loss becomes imminent.  The uterus has to work harder.  Contractions can cause cramping every bit as intense as full term, and the labor can last for hours.

Sometimes the baby is all there, and the placenta too.  A nice, white fetus has only recently died.  A grayish color will indicate a baby has been dead longer, and it’s possible that everything will be lost in pieces among the clots, indistinguishable.

A woman’s body may pass the baby immediately, at the end of the hours of labor pains, or it may be that she thinks everything is done only to pass the actual fetus and placenta 12 or 24 hours later.

Some women opt to visit the hospital for a DNC procedure.  This can come with it’s own set of concerns.  I have always labored at home.

To be completely forthcoming, there are times that a twin dies, and a woman may go through all we have described, and later find out that she is still pregnant.  A friend of mine went through this.  Usually an ultrasound is required to know in early pregnancy.  There may be joy, but there is still also grief.

My midwives have always been cautious of hemorrhaging, as red heads tend to be more prone to it.  I keep lemon and honey at the ready.  Lemon juice is full of vitamin K –drinking it usually brings about immediate clotting to safely slow the blood flow.  The only time I’ve had uncontrollable bleeding was with a miscarriage.  Because of my training I was able to stop it with homeopathics, but if you or someone you know is light headed and passing clots the size of their fist–get help.  There is risk of losing too much blood.

When there is much blood loss, anemia may occur.  It can cause irregular periods, extreme fatigue, and pale demeanor, but with the right diet and supplementation your body will likely recover within 6 months.

I have not had to endure a late term miscarriage, but I have known women who have lost babies at 8 months and beyond.  I can’t imagine having a still birth, but there are women who need our love our support to recover from these things.

The Emotions

Emotions are part of the process, and they can be a virtual roller coaster:  Fear, denial, helplessness, loneliness, bargaining, doubt, hope, frustration, anger, guilt, numbness, and ultimately grief…

Emotions in Miscarriage

With my first miscarriage I felt angry with my husband because I didn’t see him show any grief.  I felt so alone, and sadly, my response was insensitive and hurt him even more…  He did feel grief.   He just dealt with it in his own way, and we were young and not as experienced at knowing how to comfort one another.  Now I know better, and I hope I can help others to avoid this same mistake.

What if’s are common.  I had influenza before I even knew I was pregnant.  “If I hadn’t been sick, would my baby have lived?”

I had held my 13 month old daughter’s arms up for a chest x-ray when the flu gave her pneumonia… “If I hadn’t been exposed to radiation?” 

And guilt.  Did I do something that caused this?

And every mama who discovers she’s having another baby when she’s already taking care of a baby… she might not be excited right away, and feel guilty in the ensuing loss.

Some feel guilty when they begin to feel joy again, in the recovery.

Physical Recovery

Following a miscarriage at 12 weeks, I’ve been instructed to give my body the same time to recover as I have from a healthy term labor and delivery.  6 weeks.  No heavy lifting, no intercourse, and no vigorous exercise {no downhill skiing 😉 } The physical recovery is a constant reminder of the loss.

But time to grieve is essential.  If one doesn’t take the time in the beginning, the effects of the grief can follow for years.  Take the time.  Be honest about your feelings.  Talk with God.  Talk with friends.  Cry.  Be alone.  It’s okay.

And if the grief just doesn’t pass? And talking about it doesn’t help?  An experienced homeopath or someone experienced in an emotional release therapy can help.

Finding God’s Heart

Perhaps you have survived a miscarriage, or maybe this information is all new to you.  Whatever your circumstances, a closer look at the labor and loss of miscarriage gives us a glimpse at God’s heart for the lost.

A thought that I’ve had as I’ve gone through the long pains of a later miscarriage was the fruitlessness of my labor. The Bible tells us,

A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.” John 16:21

baby with verse

It’s true.  All of the pain of a full term delivery pales immediately upon holding a living, crying, hungry little baby.  Suddenly the labor seems worth it.

Going through the labor of miscarriage, knowing that there will be no reward, I have to admit having the thought that it didn’t seem worth it.  It was not something I would have willingly chosen.

Christ knew that not everyone would come to the cross.  He dreaded the crucifixion just as all of us wish to avoid pain, yet he chose to suffer.  Like a mother in labor who longs to see and hold her new child, he died for us because he desired a relationship with every. single. one. of us.  “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

For the joy of you and for me, he endured the cross.

By giving us free will, God allows us to choose where we will spend eternity.  The Bible says God’s wrath will be upon those who do not choose life, but I have to believe that He also grieves for them as well.  He makes sure we have the opportunity, waiting…

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

A loving parent would do no less. 

Despite Christ’s suffering, which was so much greater than any of our own, some still enter into eternity lost, yet He considers His suffering worth it for every soul that IS born into the kingdom of heaven.

What You Can Do

If you have experienced a loss, I am so sorry.  I hope you have had loving and supportive family around you to carry you in challenging seasons.  I pray your heart heals.

Are you aware of someone who is going through a miscarriage right now?  Let them know you care.  Do they have young children?  Offer to take care of them.  We know mamas who are ready to deliver full term babies need child care arrangements.  So do mamas who suffer early loss.  

And afterward?  Offer to give them a break from small children then too.  Kids are sensitive to our emotions and may be prone to worry or ask questions.  But even if not, mama needs time to sleep or pray or clean or talk to her mom on the phone… whatever it is that helps her process.  I’ve been the mama, sitting on the floor of the locked bathroom, crying for the only 2 minutes of peace I could find before the children came banging on the door… because if I held it in until they were in bed, the tears would no longer come.

Be a comfort.  Don’t look for the silver lining.  Don’t ask if they’re sure about what they’ve been through.  Just be there.  

Are they a touchy-feely person?  Give them a hug.  Let them cry.

Have you been through a loss?  Perhaps you let them know that.  Offer to listen, but don’t ask questions and insist they talk about it. 

Take them a meal.  Even if they’re physically capable of cooking for themselves, they need a little time and rest.  It’s an act of kindness that will be appreciated.

Take them a gift basket.  Fill it with items that will make them feel pampered and help them take care of themselves.  A thinking of you card, bath bombs, chap-stick, chamomile tea, and a book… “Empty Arms: Hope and Support for Those Who Have Suffered a Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Tubal Pregnancy” by Pam Vredevelt is available on Amazon.
My midwife gifted me with this book during my first loss, and was a tremendous comfort.  I needed to know that others had been through what what I was experiencing, and that what I was feeling was normal.  I could read it as quickly or as slowly as I wanted, however I felt need.  Other good books are also available as resources.

Pray for them Just pray.

God knows their heartbreak, and he knows yours and mine.

He knows how to comfort us.

He knows how to use our pain to draw us closer,

to open our hearts,

to grow our compassion,

to strengthen our faith,

to heal us,

to use us,

and ultimately–to bless us.

If we trust Him, HE will do all this.

He will.  

 

8 thoughts on “Miscarriage: What to Expect, Finding God’s Heart in the Process, and Comforting the Hurting

  1. Becoming His Tapestry

    I absolutely love these suggestions. Our first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. My heart was broken, I wanted the world to stop and cry with me. But most believed that she wasn’t a ‘real’ baby, because she was not full term. Thanks for sharing this post. I must admit, it is close to my heart

    Like

    1. Linda

      Oh, Brenda! She was/is so real, and brought glory to God even in her short life. I’m so sorry you had to soldier through those kinds of attitudes. I truly believe that our babies are part of the heavenly family we have to look forward to reuniting with someday soon. Thank you for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Stephanie

    This was so well written, Linda. I experienced many of these feelings when we had a miscarriage a couple of years ago. I don’t think I’ve ever been in so much emotional pain. Even reading through this post made me tear up. But it is so good! And the suggestions are so helpful. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Linda

      I admit to a few tears in the writing process as well. It’s never easy, and I think sometimes other people don’t realize they can help ease the healing process. I’m so sorry for your loss, Stephanie. Thank you for being willing to share.

      Like

  3. Pingback: Changes: Following God’s Lead – Growing Grace-Full

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