When I found myself unexpectedly pregnant in January — and not wanting to be — it helped me warm up to the idea of another baby by thinking about the rather serendipitous circumstances of Zuzu’s conception. I was comforted in my “you’ve got to be kidding me” distress by a deep sense that this child was surely meant to be. After all, I ovulated early, the sperm “camped out” for five days, and if both of those things hadn’t simultaneously happened, she would not have been catapulted into existence. But she was. And then she died. And I was left feeling bewildered. What was “the point?” Why had I conceived her, in a somewhat unlikely fashion, if she was seemingly purposeless? Was she an accident? Did her soul have no reason to briefly habitate my body? Did her short life have no meaning?
I told a friend recently that “Beautiful Things” by Gungor is my post-miscarriage jam. One of the many women “in the club” recently introduced the song to me, linked at the end of this post. She told me she listened to it for three months straight following her own miscarriage. One line in particular has been resounding in my head over the past few weeks, as I have grieved my baby and her fruitless death, and wondered if my body will ever again produce life: Could a garden come up from this ground at all?
You know, I am not a real blogger. I don’t blog frequently (though I’m trying to do it more). Generally I manage to publish one post a month or less. A handful of people read it; typically close friends and family members. Sometimes my posts get one or two comments. The last three posts I published prior to February received around 100 views each over the course of months. But “Losing Susannah,” the raw story of my miscarriage, has been viewed a whopping 2,723 times in less than three weeks.
Eighteen people — many who I have not talked to in years — Facebook messaged me after reading my story. 15 people commented on my blog site. Five people texted me in response to reading my words; three called; three emailed. And 127 people commented on the Facebook post where I shared the story. My story has been shared on Facebook 25 times that I have counted.
Oh. My. Goodness. Women everywhere started telling me their own stories. I was shocked and amazed by the volume of the stories, the variety in the stories, and perhaps most of all, how the stories are the same. The ache that is so hard to qualify for those who have never felt its sting is unanimously understood by everyone in the sisterhood of loss…
- Women who have suffered FIVE baby losses. Five. I cannot type that number enough to emphasize how awful it is.
- Fetal demise in the 3rd trimester, so close to the end of the race.
- Ectopic pregnancies.
- Stillbirth. Giving birth to death.
- A mom who lost her newborn AND 3-year-old recently in a horrific car accident.
- The deaths of twins halfway through a pregnancy.
- A 2-month-old baby who died in her sleep.
- Infertility for years and years only to conceive and miscarry.
- Very early miscarriages before pregnancies were announced which were never shared, never validated, and became haunting.
Heavens. Come, Lord Jesus, come! So much pain. So much death. So much agony. And also…for those of us who have had baby loss inscribed on our stories, so much strange yet potent comfort in the knowledge that we are not alone. That our grief is well-founded. That our scars are legitimate. That others have come back from despair, crawled out of the pit.
The feedback that I received on my story left an indelible impression on me:
I just had my second miscarriage…I am so thankful to have read your blog…I couldn’t more closely relate to your writing. I cannot tell you how much comfort your words have offered…
Thanks for writing your brave blog post…I didn’t find comfort until I was able to talk about it [my miscarriage]…It blows my mind how many people have gone through this traumatic life event, and how almost taboo it is to talk about it. Even though it hurts to talk about, I still do because I know that it might help break the silence for other women. It helps me feel empowered.
I don’t know if you remember me…but I just read your blog and felt like I needed to message you even if I couldn’t make the pain stop. I was in complete tears reading your post. I was once in your situation…
Thank you for pouring out your heart and all the rawness that this terrible loss is! I lost a baby the first year we were married…we made the choice to “not mention it” and it haunted me for years! …So, to have had the ability, courage, and wherewithal that you have by blogging this would’ve not made it less horrible, I just would’ve MAYBE felt less alone in it all!
I know this is so random, but I had to write you… Having never been pregnant I have never been able to relate well to friends who have had to go through the loss of their baby. I never understood the emotional toll…you have really helped me to feel what it is and means to these women and I am forever grateful to you for that.
Thank you for writing this. Thank you for choosing to keep it unedited and raw. *These* words, *these* feelings, are true and real and forever ingrained in your body, heart, soul.
Thank you for your honesty and sharing, it has helped me in my journey to know others suffered what I have, that I am not alone in how I feel…
Everything you have written, from seeing another woman pregnant to seeing an infant, down to the NEED to become pregnant again is all true and real. I’m glad SOMEONE finally has been able to put this into words…
I was due October 2, 2014….. I lost my baby as well…Everything you wrote… Every word, it’s like I wrote it….
My heart still aches and I wonder what if anything I did wrong, your thoughts and feelings helped to put the words with my experience that I couldn’t…
Your blog puts into words what so many of us who have suffered a miscarriage are unable to say. Thank you!!!
This matters. That’s all I could think, over and over again. This matters so much. So many women told me thank you; the biggest theme by far was simply and deeply “thank you.” So many also said I had provided them with the words they lacked to embody their own experiences. So many spoke of finding comfort, of being understood, of the relief in not being alone.
It bears saying again. This matters. All people everywhere need to know they are not alone. Women and families deserve to be comforted in the midst of this unique yet prevalent tragedy. The human soul needs precise outlets for the expression of its pain, and creative avenues — whether words, song, or brushstroke — are especially helpful for many. Our hearts crave connection and understanding; we long for someone to NAME what we cannot and to VALIDATE that which the world taunts isn’t worthy of our tears…
I am currently reading Jennie Allen’s fantastic book, Restless. She references the well-known miracle of Jesus feeding 5,000 people with only two fish and five loaves of bread. In discussing this, she points out that Jesus accomplished his miracle by multiplying the meager lunch of a young boy. This child held something of seemingly little value in his hands…fish and bread…and Jesus used it to satisfy the masses.
In my hands I held a story. A personal story and not a nice one. It was raw, bleeding, messy. I wrote it because writing helps me process my feelings. I shared it because I figured it was as good a way as any of notifying folks I was no longer pregnant. I also anticipated that it might help ward off pesky or painful questions (“It says in the blog…”). I wasn’t looking for glory, my own or God’s. It was a nice thought that perhaps I might help a handful of people but it wasn’t my motivation. I was just writing.
Never in a my words million years did I anticipate that my words would be read by THOUSANDS of people. I could have never foreseen that my loaves and fishes, to me humble scraps, could provide nourishment for innumerous broken hearts all around me.
Jennie Allen goes on to say the following:
“That little boy had something of value in his hands: it was a starting place. It was the something that great things could be birthed from. We all hold things. We don’t think much about it, but there are hungry people all around us, and God is looking to take the seemingly insignificant little pieces tucked away in our lives to multiply them and feed his people” (p. 67, emphasis mine).
I keep thinking about this. I held sorrow. I held grief. I held death. Not exactly the kinds of things one considers sharing with others in the hopes of blessing them. My loaves and fishes had blood on them. But God made them beautiful. There is an enormous community of hurting people all around me, people whose bloody bread I had not previously seen, and I didn’t do anything except reveal that I too hold pain. Honestly I feel like I’d be giving myself too much credit to say I offered something. I didn’t. I just revealed it. And that’s only because I’m no actress, I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I need words to process what the heck my heart is trying to tell me.
It seems my baby actually did have a purpose. A grand one. A healing one. Susanna of the Bible provided for Jesus out of her own resources. My Susannah provided for thousands out of the most precious resource imaginable — her very life. I was just writing. I just opened my hands to reveal a few loaves and fishes. Susannah and God did the rest.
Could a garden come up from this ground at all?
Yes. My Zuzu says yes.
If you want to get technical, Mom — she says playfully from Heaven — it’s really TWO gardens. There’s the garden that will grow *inside* you — where my future brothers and sisters will live until they are ready to be born. Sweet Mama, I promise you this will be. And then there’s the garden that’s already growing *outside* of you — the garden of community healing, where other mommies are finding hope.
God makes beautiful things. My baby girl makes beautiful things. And I too, even from ashes, can make beautiful things.
“…but God turned it into good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people.” ~ Genesis 50:20, paraphrased