Brave, faith, miscarriage

losing our first child

July 13, 2012

Miscarriage by Magda Wolna

Artwork source: Magda Wolna on Flickr

This is a hard story to write. It is a hard story to live. And it is a recent story. Not one I can look back on and tell with the remembered ache of a healed scar. This wound is still open. I knew even in the midst of it that this was a story that needed to be told. I can’t really explain why. I just want to tell it now, tell it the way it is now, tell all the hurt and the grief and the beauty and the hope that all comes tumbling out together.

Rasmus is happy for me to share our story. He has read every word before it is posted, because this is his story too.

Sweet friend, if you are pregnant now or trying to be, maybe leave this post for another time. I know the way worries can sneak up on you, overwhelm you, when you are growing a little one. The most important thing is to protect your heart. This story can wait.

///

This pregnancy was a surprise. Not because we weren’t trying. But because two negative pregnancy tests and a period the week before had convinced us we couldn’t be, despite the permanent nausea I was feeling. When the doctor delivered the news then, I was not entirely ready for it. I got on the first bus to Rasmus’ office and cried in the stairway when I saw him. We were so happy.

We told our families and a few close friends. We talked about names, we planned out our coming months with a new scenario in mind, we tried to figure out the Luxembourg health system.

We had no idea how far along I was. We booked an appointment with a gynaecologist near our home for a few weeks later and waited and planned and got excited. I told Rasmus I didn’t know what the protocol here was but I wanted him with me: “If I’m further along than we think I am I want you there when we hear the heartbeat for the first time”…

The appointment arrived and we walked over to the doctor’s office on a beautifully sunny day, full of anticipation. A nurse took blood samples while I looked the other way and then we chatted together in Danish in the waiting room, making jokes to chase away the nerves.

The next few minutes are a blur to me now. I changed and lay down for the scan. Rasmus was standing behind our doctor watching his screen, there was one over my feet for me to watch on. I remember seeing our baby, seeing that blurring but certain shape appear on the screen and my heart beating a hundred times faster as I realised I was seeing our child for the first time. I remember our doctor telling us our baby was at least ten weeks old, much older than we’d thought.

And then I remember the doctor saying gently, “But I’m afraid there is no heartbeat”.

He explained some more, pointed out what he saw, but I couldn’t really focus. My hands clenched hard and I tried to keep my breathing steady but my body was working against me and the tears came easily. Rasmus was at the foot of the bed, his face reflecting the shock mine must have been showing. The doctor left us for a moment and I collapsed into his arms, heavy sobs engulfing me.

The baby we’d been so excited for had died.

The afternoon was drenched in tears. We lay together for hours, with few words to say, just clinging to each other and wishing it was not true. Prayers started turned into more tears. We sat through more appointments where the worst was confirmed and we cried some more.

I was booked in for surgery the next day, on the recommendation of all three doctors we spoke to. That day was so hard. We were surrounded all day by kindness: health staff who spoke their French slowly to us so we could understand, a doctor who shared our sadness and explained everything clearly, nurses who held my hand as I waited outside the operating room, and then wiped away my endless tears and murmured soft words to me when I woke up in the recovery room.

We came home to flowers on the doorstep from the only friend in Luxembourg we’d told and countless messages from our family who surrounded us in love even while they were far away. As we’ve chosen to let people know, we’ve been met with understanding and big hugs and eyes welling with their own tears. People have let us know that they too have known this pain and that shared experience has been a comfort to us. Within all the pain and heartache of these days, we are carried through on a wave of support and love, and we are so grateful for that.

My precious husband has been my rock and my strength. He has cried with me, stayed with me, hugged me, prayed over me, bought me chocolate, cooked me food, made me smile again. He’s reminded me it’s not my fault, reminded me that it feels wrong because death is always wrong, reminded me that we will get through this. He’s told me he loves me over and over.

///

Life goes on with little regard for the small tragedies that happen every day. It’s something that has been both a help and a struggle for me. We left on holiday five days after my surgery. Five days after that I coordinated a wedding between two friends of ours. Only one couple there had any idea what we were going through. It’s a hard topic of conversation to bring up. But I thought about our lost baby almost constantly.

There were tears too. I cried my way through communion at church. I cried as a sweet friend prayed over me behind the stage after church. I cried on the steps of the Helsinki cathedral in the evening sunshine. I cried in bed after the wedding was over and the last guests were still dancing inside. I cried on the streets of Tallinn’s old town the morning after I dreamt our child had been born well and healthy. I cried coming home when everything felt so near again.

And this is how life goes, the wrong alongside the right, the bad existing together with the good. Very early on I felt God saying to me through my struggle with these conflicting emotions, conflicting moments, to rest, to let go and let it happen as it happens. I can’t control my grief and I am not meant to. It will not look like I expect it to, or how someone else tells me it should. There will be times of happiness and enjoyment as life goes on with all its goodness, and there will times when I am again engulfed in sadness and the tears fall like rain. And it’s ok.

Brave is simply taking the next breath. Brave is facing the next moment, whatever it may bring, and knowing it will be ok. This is not right, but it will all be right one day. This is not good, but one day it will all be made good.

///

We have a picture of our child. A dark and blurred one, not even as good as the ones I’ve squinted at on facebook of other people’s children. But it’s our one physical reminder and it’s precious to me. He – and somehow I am sure it is a he – will always be our first.

///

Update: I wrote a little more about our miscarriage experience in August over at She Loves Magazine, “When God sits with you”, about how I found Rest in God in our grief.

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  • I am so, so sorry for your loss. Hugs to you both, you’re very brave to share this story for the rest of the world. I’m sure many other suffering through something similar will appreciate reading how people cope with this. Xox

  • butterflyspirit

    I am so very sorry for your loss. May God bless you and your husband with strength at this difficult time. I am so proud and in awe of you for writing this at such a raw time. But thankyou, it has been a great beacon of hope for those in a similar situation. xx

  • Claire

    Oh Fiona, I’m so sad and sorry to read this. Sending so many hugs…

    Brave is also speaking, sometimes…

  • Anneke

    xxx

  • Oh Fiona, I am so so sorry for both of you. It will all be better, it will. I was speaking of this with my mom the other day, and it is far more common than you’d think… (cause it’s not spoken of?). It happened to my mom twice, once before me, and another time between my brother and my sister, but she had us all three.
    I am sending you hugs to Rasmus and you and lighting a candle for you right now.

  • CC

    I’m so very sorry for your loss.

    And thank you for sharing this story, it happens to so many people in silence.

  • Our hearts are breaking for the both of you. Thank you for sharing (bravely and beautifully) and allowing us to grieve alongside you. Much love and continued prayers.

  • Sb

    Your post made me cry. I can so relate to it
    given that I had my D&C yesterday. I lost my
    Triplets none of them had a heartbeat by 7th week.
    My genae said we’d wait two more weeks that it might
    be possible for me to have ovulated later than
    what I think. I went back two weeks later only
    to know that babies weren’t growing and I needed
    A D&C to avoid any complications.
    But then like you my husband was there for me throughout
    ( not physically present thought as he lives abroad).
    But we are hopeful and have faith in God that he will
    grant us with healthy babies when the right time comes.
    I wish & pray for you to have a healthy baby soon 🙂

    • fionalynne

      Sb, I’m so so sorry. It’s heartbreaking to hear that news when you’re hoping and praying so hard for a different answer. Praying for you too, sweet lady. Praying for that hope and faith to remain strong in the midst of the grief. Big hugs to you xxx

  • I am so, so sorry this happened. I too, have lost a baby. The tears, the grief, the questions – I have been there. I wrote about my miscarriage on my blog:
    http://ttbowtique.blogspot.com/2011/10/pregnancy-and-infant-loss-my-story.html

    Please know that I am praying for you. (I also live in Luxembourg.)
    Email me is there is anything I can do to help you.

    • fionalynne

      Tina, thank you so much for sharing your story with me. It’s comforting to read a familiar experience and know someone understands the loss, even if nothing can quite take away the sting. I’m so sorry for your loss, I’m heartbroken that any parent has to lose a child in this way. I’m grateful for your comment here. x

  • Sarah

    I love you sweet friend.

  • Sarah Queen

    Fiona and Rasmus,
    Words can’t express how sorry I am. Please let me know If you need anything at all. I am always close.

    Sarah Queen

  • Amy Aultman

    I am so very sorry for your loss. Having been in these shoes twice myself, I know no words can wash away that sadness and grief. Wishing you strength and recovery.

    • fionalynne

      Amy, I cannot even comprehend the pain of this happening more than once. My heart goes out to you. Thank you for being here and for commenting. x

  • Juliana

    Oh Fiona, I my heart goes out to you. Please know that I am thinking of you and your husband during this difficult time. You are so brave to speak about this. I send you a warm hug.

  • Fiona, I am so sorry. You both will be in my heart, thoughts and prayers.

  • I am so, so sorry to read this post. There are no words to really ease the pain… I wish you and your lovely husband all the best and I send you my warmest thoughts.

  • Barbara Moyce

    Hello Fiona and Rasmus.
    I was so sad and shocked to read your sad news. I am so sorry for you both. I think about you both alot and follow your travels regularly. This may have been the worst journey you have yet travelled, but if anyone can take something positive from it, I know you two will. Stay strong. You and Rasmus will make amazing parents when the time is right!
    My thoughts and love are with you both (even if I am the worst Aunt ever for keeping in touch!)
    I love you both
    Barbara xxxxxxxxxx

  • Jill Schalesky

    Dear Fiona and Rasmus,

    You both are so dear to all of us. The kids bring you up from time to time with joyful remembrance. Your faith and love and kindness are always an encouragement. I pray that I can encourage you now sweet friend. What a beautiful post. I agree, that you are to remember and feel and honor this precious one… it is the harder road, but it is the healing road. I remember when we lost a baby between Caleb and Audrey, the pain and sadness, and yet, God spoke to me through it all as I turned to Him in prayer. I will pray Romans 8 for you both, that the Spirit will intercede (as surely He does) for you both in your heart prayers to God.

    I thought, and it may not be right, that maybe the dream you had was your child’s heavenly birth… born healthy and happy and completely and perfectly whole in the loving presence of God and our Savior. Even if that is not what God was giving to you in a dream, we do know it is true. This sweet one is with Jesus… and Jesus is with you both as you grieve the loss of the baby that was and is.

    I love you!
    Jill

  • Fancy

    Wow. What a heavy and yet hugely hopeful story.

    I can’t offer any words but: Thank you for sharing. I love you. You are two incredibly beautiful, brave, and strong people.

    All my best wishes, thoughts, and prayers.

    xoxo

  • Emma

    Thank you so much for writing your story; God Bless you for sharing your love and grief.
    If you’d like other people to read it then please leave the link as a comment on the blog post I wrote following my talk on how to help families mourn the death of their baby. http://llmcalling.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/a-baby-dies-how-do-we-mourn-talk.html

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