Miscarraige: Two Weeks Later, An Update

10/30/2012

Tomorrow will be the 2 week mark since I held a baby much like this one in my hand

So tiny... our little Isaac. 

Yet, so intricately formed. 

Each time I've miscarried, Psalm 139:13-16 has flooded my mind. 

For you created my inmost being; 
 you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of theearth.Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be. 
 

And yet each time I've just wanted to scream, "God! You're not done knitting yet! You began a good work. Is it done!? The days ordained for this one are already done?"

I am thankful that with this miscarriage we had an ultrasound picture of our baby. That is more than we had with our previous miscarriages. This time we have at least one picture of our Isaac healthy, heart-beating, alive and well in the womb.   

I am also very thankful for a particular group of ladies that have encircled my family with love, prayers and support during this time. These gals have gone out of their way to care for me, for us, in practical ways. I am amazed at how God brought them into my life at just the right time. He knew what I would need before I did and He provided before I knew there was a need.  

I continue to struggle in two main ways. 

GUILT
With each miscarriage, I've carried around guilt. Always wondering if I did something wrong, if I should've taken it easier, if I caused my baby's death. I know it's irrational and everybody (including doctors) says that there's no reason to feel guilty. Yet, it remains. And now with my third miscarriage, the guilt is even worse. Now there is greater likelihood that there is something wrong with me, that my body is doing something to kill my babies.

GOD
My other big struggle is with God. He feels distant. I feel angry. My feelings say that God is not for me, but against me. I feel betrayed. I try to combat these lies in my head with Scripture and Truth. This is the battle I am fighting currently. 

I appreciate your prayers. I know that many are standing with me in prayer. I know that I will come through this, but that doesn't make the day-to-day steps through this valley any easier. Right now it's hard. Right now I'm hurting. Right now I miss my babies.

Book Review: Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman

10/29/2012 


After each of my miscarriages, I've find myself devouring books. This is due in part to needing to rest more, to relax and let my body heal... lending itself to more time for reading. But it's also partly due to my search for others who have been through loss, others who can relate to my pain and remind me that I'm not alone. 

After my most recent miscarriage, a friend who has been through miscarraige herself suggested two books to me. I immediately looked for them at my local library. They only had one, so I quickly checked it out and read it within 3 days. The book was Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman.

Mary Beth Chapman is the wife of Christmas musician Steven Curtis Chapman. They lost a young daughter in a tragic car accident a few years ago. To make the situation even harder, it was their own teenage son who was driving the car that struck and killed their young daughter

Reading this book challenged me, but also gave me permission to feel some of the emotions that are common (but not "respectable) to feel during times of loss. I found Mary Beth Chapman to be very transparent and vulnerable with her emotions, her own need for medicine to help manage her depression, and her struggles with God. On a totally separate note, this book reveals the Chapmans' heart for adoption and orphan care, which is near to my heart too.

This is a book I'd recommend to others going through the grief process, especially for Christians who are trying to reconcile God's will with tragic life circumstances. 

I'm reminded of 2 Corinthians 3-4: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." God can use others, like Mary Beth Chapman, to share their story and share the comfort they have received in order to comfort others, like me. I thank Him for the ways He can reach us, speak to us, comfort us.  
 
This book was the first support I felt, the first tool God used this time around to hold me up when I felt like collapsing. 

Family Photo Friday

10/26/2012

Friday is here again. It's the last Friday of October. 
2012 is winding down! 

Anyway, on this blog, Friday's arrival means the posting of photos.  

Here's my son with a bubble beard. He had so much fun putting this on and then using a tub toy as a razor to shave it back off. Fun in the tub.

My kids have been using couch cushions as horses this week. Never a dull moment, I say. Here's my son with his horse "Ready.


 And my daughter with her horse "Chelsey." My son rides bare back while my girl has a saddle, a blanket, reigns and at one point a nose bag for her horse as well. 


A friend had a birthday party at a roller skating rink recently. The kids enjoyed skating for the 2nd time ever.


My husband took my son out on the rink. Good memories for everyone.  

Happy Friday to you!  

Homeschool Co-op: US Geography / States and Capitals

10/25/2012 

I've mentioned before that we joined a homeschool co-op this fall. I am teaching US Geography / States and Capitals to elementary age students (2nd-5th grades). I wanted to share my basic plan for this class.

Our class meets for 50 minutes, once a week for 12 weeks.  As the lead teacher for the class, I could choose curriculum and organize the class however I wanted. I opted for the first week to be introduction and the last week to be review and wrap-up. That left 10 weeks to cover all 50 states in some way. 

We are covering 5 regions of the US in this order: northeast, southeast, midwest, southwest, northwest. Each week we're covering 4-6 states, sharing a brief overview of each one's landmarks, capital, major products, etc. For each state, I check out a book (like this one) from our library. I gather some basic facts from the book and share them with the class, showing pictures from the book when appropriate.

 The students chose 1 state each that they would report on (making slightly less work for me). It's been interesting to see the uniqueness of each student's report. Some brought in food to share that was significant to their state. Some have shared powerpoint presentations on their parents' laptop while others used coloring pages or a posterboard or just read from a handwritten page.

I put together binders for each students, with one page per state. I used coloring pages like the ones found here for each state.  The students can color the page as we talk about the state or they can write down notes about the importance of that state.

I regularly bring two United States puzzles to class for the students to work on. One puzzle is bigger and slightly easier. The other is smaller and more challenging. The puzzles give the kids hands-on time to review the locations of the states. 

Here are some girls working together on one puzzle.

Here are two boys working on the other puzzle.

Lastly, we are memorizing the song from this video, in order to learn our States and Capitals. It adds some fun to our class!




Some people are just wired to love geography, navigation and such while others aren't. I love it and it's fun to have the opportunity to teach it to young people. 

Miscarriage, Scripture and Encouragement

 That's my son with some flowers my mom sent this week. Thanks, Mom!

10/23/2012

I feel like a miner searching for gold, as I pull out my Bible these days. I am hungry for a Word from the Lord to speak to my dry heart. Here are a few of the verses that God has spoken to me, to encourage me the last few days. 

He led me to Isaiah

Isaiah 44:3-5 - The Lord says: Do not be afraid. I will water dry ground. I will pour My Spirit on your offspring and bless your descendents. 

Thank You, God, for water on dry ground, for Your blessing, for Your Spirit!

Isaiah 49:14-25 - I think: the Lord has forgotten me! He responds NO...  Look around, your sons gather and come to you. You will wear them as an ornament... Those who hope in Me will not be disappointed... Your children will I save.

Thank You, God, for remembering me. Thank You for saving my children!

Isaiah 54:13 - All your sons will be taught by the Lord and great will be your children's peace.

Thank You, God, that my miscarried children will be students of Yours and live in great peace. Incredible!

Isaiah 57:18-19 - "I will guide him and restore comfort to him, creating praise on the lips of mourners. Peace, peace to those far and near. I will heal them," says the Lord.

Thank You, God, for the day when praise will be on the lips of this mourner. Thank You for healing.

Isaiah 8:22-9:1-2 - Some see only distress, darkness and fearful gloom. There will be no more gloom for those in distress. Those walking in darkness have seen a great light. On those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.

Thank You, God, for being Light in darkness. Thank You that I can have hope that a light will dawn, even if right now I'm living in the land of the shadow of death. 

A friend shared these verses from Psalm 6 (The Message paraphrase): Please God, no more yelling, no more trips to the woodshed. Treat me nice for a change; I'm so starved for affection. Can't you see I'm black-and-blue, beat up badly in bones and soul? God, how long will it take for you to let up? Break in, God... I'm tired of all this - so tired. My bed has been floating for days and nights on the flood of my tears. My mattress is soaked, soggy with tears.

Thank You, God, for being big enough to hear me out when I'm angry, sad, complaining, and just plain tired. Then You for collecting my tears and not letting one of them go unnoticed or wasted.  

Another friend shared these verses from Lamentations, which have been a comfort to me after each of my miscarriages. Lamentations 3:21-24, 31-33: This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord's mercies, we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!" ...  For the Lord will not cast off forever. Though He causes grief, yet He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. For He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. 

Thank You, God, for your mercy and compassion. You alone are our hope for this life and the next. 


Next stop: looking up some more verses about heaven. Found Isaiah 11:6-9 where it pictures the wolf laying with the lamb, an infant playing with a cobra and being unharmed. 

My 4-year-old son often asks me to tell him about heaven. He enjoys hearing about the no tears, no hurting, streets of gold, glassy crystal sea, and especially about Jesus building a place for us (he's a boy and thus loves all things related to building, from tools to layout and everything in between). It does my heart good to talk about heaven with him too, to be reminded of what awaits us and how heaven will last infinitely longer than our time on earth. 

Yes, even in the midst of grief, I am finding gracelets (those little drops of grace that remind me that God is there, that He cares). Even in despair, He is bringing His Word to mind to speak care and compassion to my soul.  

Thank You, God! 

Miscarriage and Despair

10/22/2012


I have to get something off my chest, so here goes:

I HATE OCTOBER! 

There. I said it. I feel better. And I do apologize to those of you who have a birthday this month or who just love this month. I'm not saying everyone should hate October, I just find myself with more than one compelling reason to dread this month. 

When I was a child, our family experienced a serious tornado in the month of October. Half of my family was home and half were outside, doing farm chores. I was home. The quick run to the basement, the power going out, the sound of glass breaking, the emotions of knowing that my dad and two brothers were outside in this mess somewhere... obviously that is enough to scare a person. Thus, I began to hate October. 

I've always found the Halloween spookiness to be ugly, not funny. I didn't understand as a child (nor do I now as an adult) why people would choose to put spooky monster things or ghosts or corpses around their house or yard at this time of year. The shortened days, the rainy nights, the once-beautiful leaves that have turned blah. It all looks dreary, dismal, and dark. I hate it. I hate October.

A few years ago, my parents divorced. Although I was an adult and not living at home any longer, I was devastated. I needed counseling to help work through issues and grieve my parents' failed marriage. Their divorce was finalized in October. Yet another reason for my feelings.

Enter my current season of life. In the last week I've experienced more bad things that make me again wish this month could just be over with already. One of my miscarried children - Hope - was due in October. During the same week that she was due to be born, I miscarried another baby - Isaac. Double whammy against the month of October. 

When I found out I was pregnant back in February and due in October, I thought I knew what God was up to. He knew how much I hated October. He knew about the previous experiences. I thought for sure that He was going to give us a baby in October to "redeem" the month for me, to bring beauty and goodness back to a month that is the antithesis of good things for me. Instead of October 2012 turning out that way, though, it has led to more reasons to bury my head in the sand for the 31 days of October. I still hate, hate October maybe more now than ever.

I know that my emotions are out of whack. Feel free to use this post as an example of a grieving mother making no sense or exaggerating unnecessarily or just ranting against the world. 

How I wish God would redeem October. 
How I wish I could see beauty this month and every month. How I wish to see Him move
How I wish October didn't hold memories of death, destruction and despair.

Obviously, I need healing in more ways than one. Maybe I just need eyes to see what God is doing. Would you pray with me, for me? For eyes to see. For healing of my heart to feel goodness again. For physical healing, for emotional healing. 

God, be God even in October. Be Lord over the darkness, dreariness and despair. Redeem October for good. Amen. 

Miscarriage: How You Can Help

10/19/2012


I'm now on this side of 3 miscarriages. This doesn't make me an expert but it does give me some experience to draw on. Many people wonder "What can I do when my friend experiences a miscarriage?" It's a great question and I wanted to share a few thoughts.

Pray
This is a simple idea but is powerful. Let your friend know you are praying. If you can, commit to pray daily. Ask your friend for specific needs. For example, right now I am hearing lots of lies in my head related to my relationship with God or my guilt (or non-guilt) in causing the miscarriages. I am asking friends to pray for me, to combat the lies, to pray for protection over my mind right now during my grief. Pray for each family member, since each one experiences the grief in different ways. My 4-year-old is dealing with the loss of a baby brother in a different way than I am, than my husband is, or than my 9-year-old daughter is. Pray for each one. If you can, commit to pray for at least a week or two or three. Grief is long-lasting.  Share scripture verses with your friend to encourage them. Contact them often (email, phone, mail, or a combination) to just let them know that you are praying. Above all, just do it. Don't just say you will, but truly spend time in prayer for your friend!

 Practical Helps
Miscarriage is a physical event. There is physical healing that needs to take place. Providing practical help so that your friend can rest is a great show of support. Offer to watch her other children for a few hours so she can rest. Offer to spend some time cleaning her house or just being a "mother's helper" and doing whatever she needs done (laundry, especially if it requires up-and-down stairs; meal prep; cleaning the bathroom - all are difficult to do at this time). Delivering a meal or two is a wonderful way to help your friend get some extra rest too. 

Listening Ear 
If your friend wants to talk, be there to listen. She may NOT want to talk and that's ok. Or she may have lots to share about the experience, how she's processing it, all of her emotions at this time. Either way, let her share whatever she needs to without lots of commentary, suggestions or rebuking. She needs a friend right now. She needs you to listen, to give a hug, but mostly to just be there for her. She doesn't need to hear lots from you. She simply wants to know you're there for her. 

Memorials
One of the most meaningful gifts we were given after one of our miscarriages was a beautiful flowering plant.
Giving a plant or other living memorial to your friend can be a wonderful way to show your support and help your friend remember beauty during sorrow.

Encourage Marriage
The divorce rate is higher than average for parents who lose children. Do whatever you can to encourage your friend's marriage. Give a gift card to a local restaurant for a date night. Ask your friend specifically how the grief process is going for both spouses. Is the grief separating them or are they sharing it, going through the sorrow together? Pray for their marriage and ask if there is anything more specific you can do to help in this area.


Remember
Mark your calendar and remember important days with your friend. The day of the miscarriage will forever be etched in your friend's mind. The baby's due date will also be an important day. Make a note on your calendar and be sensitive to your friend during those times. One of the ways we show we cared about loved ones is to remember them on those special days. To not talk about them or to think that everybody else forgot tells your friend that the miscarried child was not important enough for others to remember. It hurts.  

Give Grace
Losing a child is a life-changing experience. Give some grace to your friend. She may want to back off her involvement in some activities. She may be weepy often. She may seem distant to you. She may simply need time to process through her grief, to gain perspective on life. It's been my experience that God uses grief experiences to teach us realities about heaven and how short this life is, to give us an eternal perspective, to show us what is really important on this earth. Give your friend grace as she goes through her own process of grief. 

Don't Be Afraid to Ask
Most people will say very little to your friend about her grief, especially after the initial "I'm so sorry." Yet most people who are grieving WANT people to ask how they are doing, WANT to talk, WANT someone to show they care. Ask your friend often how she is doing. Ask what she is finding most difficult at this point. Ask if there is one or two practical things that she is finding it hard to keep up with - and then offer to help her! Even if there are tears as she shares, don't let that stop you from asking, showing you care, and supporting your friend. 

Do More
The honest truth is that most "friends" will do very little to help your friend during this time. I challenge you to do more than just say "I'm sorry." Find some other practical way to show your friend that you care. Words are cheap when your friend is hurting. She needs something more - a hug, a card with something hand-written in it, a friend who truly wants to hear how she's doing, a meal, a flower to remember her baby, someone to remember after 1 month (6 months, 1 year) has passed and acknowledge it

I've experienced miscarriage three times now. Once I felt very little support and couldn't believe how few real "friends" I had. It was discouraging and probably was part of the reason the grief lasted much longer. I felt alone and isolated. Another time, there was more support shown - more meals delivered, more follow-up. It helped to not feel so alone in my grief. 

Eventually, everybody experiences grief. We all love and we all will experience the loss associated with love. Do what you can to show you care. Live out "do to others what you would have them do to you" and show you are a true friend. The time will come when you need a friend and are in a time of need. You would want people around you to be close, to show they care, to help carry you through. 
Be that kind of friend now!