After one miscarriage in January, the idea of becoming pregnant again made me feel nervous. My first miscarriage was somewhat traumatic, both physically and emotionally. I cringed when friendly but oblivious people patted my stomach and asked, “so, when are you going to have kids?”. Sometimes people would check in with me – are you feeling better now? I wondered how to answer appropriately.. losing a child is not an illness that you recover from – it is a loss. Yet I also understand how hard it is to know the right words to share.
Enjoying pregnancy with the same innocent, cheerful anticipation is more difficult after suffering loss. Conversely, birth becomes more amazing when you appreciate its complexity and gift. It’s easy to forget how incredible it is to have children. God made that happen. It is impossible to orchestrate on our own. No amount of vitamins or workouts can ever guarantee that your body will be able to carry a baby to full-term. I now have an irrevocable sense of awe about the entire birth process.
Though our first pregnancy ended in miscarriage in January, my husband and I eventually decided to try for a new baby. Pregnancy didn’t happen right away- but soon, it did.
Two percent of women have two miscarriages in a row.
This is the statistic I read in books and online, as my husband and I prepared again to welcome life into our family. Yet so many “impossible” things have happened in my life, that it seems as if where I am now arose from a statistical anomaly (only I believe that numbers are not to blame, and everything has been God’s doing). Statistics are poor medicine for frayed nerves, but I recited them all the same.
Pregnancy works through your heart and body at the same time – the nausea and strange smells, and the strong will to love. If you have never been pregnant before, you might wonder how someone can grow so attached to a life that is unseen. Or, for someone who shares my faith, perhaps the idea is not such a strange one. Even if the love during my second pregnancy came tentatively at first, eventually it was as unequaled as before. And despite the need to push down anxiety, pregnancy is beautiful. Even when it goes wrong.. because I am the two percent.
Just two weeks short of when the baby from our first pregnancy would have been born, we experienced a second loss.. another miscarriage. I ran a fever. Again, I went to the hospital to get a Rhogam shot within the 72 hour window that provides protection for future pregnancies from Rh+ blood (my husband’s blood is Rh+, and I am Rh-, which is very rare in Japan). We drove to a hospital two hours away, because the one nearest our house didn’t carry the shot. My husband and I had to explain to a rural doctor, and take a test to prove my blood type (even though I never had to go to such lengths with my miscarriage in the city). In the countryside, my skin color as well as my blood type are still a rarity.
Staff are inexperienced with cases like mine, and the doctor poured over textbooks to research the guidelines on my “high risk” O- blood. There was another blood test, to make sure that it was not an ectopic pregnancy. And the lyrics from Bethany Dillon’s song Kingdom ran through my ears: “Why are some women barren, while the wicked’s house is full?“.
I spent hours skim-reading the Bible, from Genesis all the way through Job (which means I read for the most part, but my eyes glazed over lists of names and building specifications, etc.). I noted how several of the prominent men in the Bible had wives who were initially unable to bear children.. but when they did, their first-born was often a powerful leader. God did not overlook the suffering of women who struggled to bear children or were infertile (Sarah, Rachel, Rebekah, Manoah’s wife, Hannah, the Shunamite woman, and Elizabeth), and it was significant enough to record. Even for those who cannot bear children, I remember the Bible’s promises (Isaiah 54:1). The children of a woman who cannot give birth are many: orphans, the lonely, the distressed. It is not only infants who need motherly love.
The reaction to my first miscarriage was much different from the one now. It is hard to explain the different forms that grief can take, because sometimes, grief can also look like joy. Because I actually believe that God knows what He’s doing, and that His plans are better than any we could ever imagine. And the more suffering, the more I believe this to be true. Romans 5:3-5 tells us that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. The greater the suffering, as absolutely bizarre as this will sound- so the more my hope increases.
This is not just a hope for children, which I still pray for, but God is teaching me about His pattern for love, and loving even through pain.. and about refusing for my heart to become calloused. It would be easy to close off, to stop writing, to stop singing, and to stop allowing others to see me authentically. But this would accomplish exactly what every force of darkness wishes that a loss can do to a family.
What better way to discourage spiritually powerful families than to frustrate the creation of life? What greater way than loss to make someone stop loving, or an artist to cease creating?
I clearly understand what it means to rejoice in suffering, because suffering can look like grief, at times (and it should). But it can also- mysteriously- look like joy. It can look like shouting to heaven and refusing to be silenced, because God’s promises are unfailing, and His wisdom is unending. Even when things go wrong. And as I sat in a hospital lobby called “Cana”, the Japanese literation of “Canaan” from the Bible, I remembered the promised land of the Israelites. God led His people through the wilderness, longing for their obedience. I do not want to spend a longer time in a desert because of refusing to trust God.. so instead, I trust that His plans for me, and my family, are good. Even in the desert. Even in the darkness. He is unfailing- and I will rejoice.
“You said the weak would be lifted up
But maybe just not yet
So while I wait in this flesh and blood
I’ll learn to lean in
Help me see the light
I’m reaching through the fight
Yahweh, show me the Kingdom
Arms open wide
Death swallowed up by life
Yahweh, show me the Kingdom.”
– The Kingdom lyrics (excerpt) by Bethany Dillon
To read the story of our first miscarriage, read here.
Have you experienced a loss recently?
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