Last week, I shared the first half of my infertility journey. If you haven’t read that blog post yet, click here to read it now. That post focused on my first miscarriage, the cavalier way my doctor treated me and the lessons I learned from that loss.
When tragedy strikes, you have two choices. You can draw close to God and receive His comfort or pull away and process your grief alone. After my first miscarriage, I chose the latter. God was still faithful to walk alongside me and make His presence known when I needed Him the most, but He gave me the latitude to navigate my grief in my own way.
The Science of Having a Baby
My first miscarriage galvanized me. I became an expert at the science of having a baby. I learned about ovulation tests, temperature charts, special lubricants to maximize conception potential and other details too embarrassing to share in this post.
After talking it over with my psychiatrist, and with his full approval and support, I weaned myself off all my psychiatric medications. Within two weeks, I was manic and psychotic. I am gripped by anxiety just remembering how quickly I became unstable. I went back on my anti-psychotic medication immediately, but held off on resuming my mood stabilizer.
I realized I was unwilling to jeopardize my mental health to have a baby. I knew fertility treatments of any type were not for me. It was a price I was not willing to pay. If I couldn’t have a baby naturally, I would not be a mother.
Positive Pregnancy Test #2
On May 28, 2009, I had my second positive pregnancy test—a year to the day I had the first one. I would never trust two pink lines again. I invested in the tests that said “pregnant” or “not pregnant,” and I took multiple tests to confirm the result.
By then, I had changed gynecologists. My husband and I went to his office for an ultrasound and saw the most beautiful sight in the world—our baby’s heartbeat. I dubbed our baby Peanut because that is what he looked like.
I walked around on cloud nine for weeks with my secret. This time I played it safe. I wouldn’t make any grand announcements until I reached the second trimester.
A Mother’s Intuition
One night, I spotted a little and saw something in the toilet that could be a clot or tissue. Something was wrong. I was sure. I barely slept at all that night. I was 11 weeks pregnant.
I went to see Dr. Lovely (not his real name, but he is a lovely man) the next morning. I went alone because I convinced myself my intuition was wrong. My doctor reassured me it was only my imagination, and the baby was fine, but he couldn’t find the heartbeat with the doppler. He did an ultrasound, and there was no heartbeat. My baby had died.
A nurse ushered me into a more private room to wait for my husband. Waiting for Scott to arrive was the longest thirty minutes of my life. I could not process what I had seen and heard. How could this have happened again?
A Missed Miscarriage
My doctor explained I’d had a missed miscarriage. The baby had died at seven weeks. My body hadn’t received the message the baby was no longer viable, so I didn’t miscarry naturally. It horrified me when I realized I had walked around for a whole month carrying a dead baby.
I had two choices. I could wait and miscarry naturally, or I could have a D&C. It was hard to decide on the spot. I needed time for the news to sink in, but what my doctor did next made my choice easy, and I will never forget his kindness.
He put his hands on my shoulders and looked me in the eye. He told me with my mental health issues, miscarrying naturally would be a harrowing experience because it could take days or weeks for it to happen. He knew my history well enough to know that option would destroy me. I had the surgery the next morning.
A Different Approach
While I was sitting in the doctor’s office waiting for my husband, Scott, to arrive, I made a choice. I would not grieve alone this time. I would allow God to walk me through the process, and I would not allow my grief to compromise my mental health.
I called my psychiatrist from the gynecologist’s office to get a prescription for a mood stabilizer. I picked up the prescription at the pharmacy on the way home.
I sent out an email to everyone I knew to inform them about my loss and to ask for prayers for our family. Allowing God to comfort me was one of the best decisions I ever made. Losing another child broke my heart, but I learned you can grieve and have hope at the same time.
My husband and I decided not to try to conceive again for a while. Two months later, I had my third positive pregnancy test. My daughter, Ava, was born on June 6, 2010. And while my pregnancy was not without fear, I had a community of like-minded individuals covering my husband and me in prayer and support.
I learned two lessons from my second miscarriage:
1. You can believe in God and science.
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous–how well I know it” (Psalm 139:13-14 NLT).
I have heard people say they believe in science, not God. I get it. The rules of science are comforting when the world makes little sense. But who do they think created science? God made the rules of science, and He can choose the break them any time He wants.
Here’s what I know for sure: In the two months leading up to Ava’s conception, my husband and I broke every scientific rule attached to conceiving a child. God timed my pregnancy so there would be no doubt in my mind who made it happen.
2. It’s okay to not be okay as long as you don’t unpack and live there.
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven…A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4 NLT).
I had a difficult time giving myself permission to grieve after my first miscarriage because of how early it occurred and because of my doctor’s lack of bedside manner. I felt the pregnancy wasn’t real somehow. This caused a disconnect between God and me. That disconnect led to bitterness and resentment.
After my second miscarriage, I grieved, but I made the choice not to unpack and live there. I acknowledged my grief. I felt the hurt down to my bones, but it was only for a season. I allowed God’s love and peace to take root in my heart so I could move on to the next step of my journey: motherhood.