Nothing Changed But Everything Did- A Miscarriage Story

I didn’t know it would be so hard to get the day out of my head. I can go back and watch my steps again in silent slow motion. I see me walking into the office, breathing slowly in the waiting room chair. I hear the brittle paper on the bed beneath me, the NeedtoBreathe song from the speaker, the static as the doppler searches for any hint of a throbbing little heart.

I see the walk to the ultrasound room, the forced smile I offered the tech, the ceiling tiles I counted while she quietly clicked the computer, never swiveling the screen to show me the outline of a mini baby. I watch myself walk out the doors carrying a “countdown to baby” calendar the nurse had handed me upon initial congratulations. I see the way I avoid eye contact with the pregnant mothers in the waiting room and make my way to the car. See how I look down at the images of women gazing at their babies and feel the first hint of cramps across my abdomen.                                                                                                                            

I hear the noises dim, everything becoming slow. Methodical. Stoic.


Pregnancy hasn't taken up much space in my thoughts or dreams before this summer. Adoption was our first choice of family making. When we made the leap from 0 to 2 kids, it took us a while to find our footing again and when we did, we discovered our ideas about family size had changed. We weren't against growing, but quite content with just what we had.                                             

I like to think I am prepared. I scroll through all sorts of scenarios, attempting to wrangle the emotions of surprise pregnancy, infertility, disrupted adoption, special needs diagnoses, difficult birth, etc. so as not to be caught off guard by pain. Somehow miscarriage didn't make the list. I've never seen myself as one in the 1 in 4 statistics.

Awareness is good, I’m no advocate of naivety. But it turns out, the preparation I think I have against being blindsided by pain or fear is mostly a mirage. I couldn’t have premeditated the peculiarity of this miscarriage pain if I’d tried.                                                                                           

I ask for a clear-cut description: How long will it last? How bad will it hurt? How sad will I feel? No one can give it to me, the ones who try get it wrong.           

Walking out of the doctor’s office, l feel frozen in place while the rest of the world waltzes on around me. A week becomes endless when every moment, mind and body are in a state of confusion; becoming un-pregnant, un-imagining the future.   

I am afraid. Of my body not doing all it needs to do, of inducing pain, of more bad news and medical procedures, of risking ever having to experience this again.                                             

Two voices clamor within me; one cruel and bitter voice railing at my body for not keeping life alive, for not even being able to miscarry efficiently. (As if these intricate bodies follow text book time tables.) The other is fragile; wounded and undone at the harsh words self-inflicted, knowing my body is only doing the best it can.

I’m surrounded on every side by fervent love and support. Yet, lying on the bathroom floor searching for any position to gain relief, any place my mind can go to find comfort, I’m desperately lonely.

My own sorrow becomes a side note when I see my daughters’. I look into eyes who have known greatest loss and watch their faces fall with another blow and ache from head to toe for any way to spare them from more pain.  

I dread to see the doctor’s rooms again. The swishing of a rapid heartbeat reverberates from a room down the hall the day I return, a sound track to my cynical thoughts as I stare at ceiling tiles once more and wait for confirmation that my uterus is empty.

The relief that my body has finally completed its grim task is shadowed by the next reality: It is done. Now life goes back to normal. I no longer have obvious reason to ask for help, cry at random, skip social outings. My body can resume activities, but my mind is still in the thick of hormone commotion, disoriented thoughts, and often overtaken by sad reminders: the grief of my girls, the absence of Jazzy’s comfort, the haunt of the prenatal vitamins on the counter and a newborn onesie on the dresser. Sometimes sorrow rises like a storm surge. I feel it’s ache pressing my chest, and when it crashes, it knocks the breath out of me. Fatigue is a lead blanket around my shoulders.                                                                                                                                       

I’m disorientated about what I’m grieving. It feels fraudulent. Did I fake this whole thing? To reference a time “when I was pregnant” sounds like a child’s imaginary motherhood. Does it even count if the baby didn’t grow? 

 I didn’t have a connection to a life within me yet. I never saw movement on the black and white screen, never felt it flutter within, never even felt my body expanding with its weight.

I want a system restore back to spring. Why can’t I resume the contentment I had with my life just a few short months ago? I envisioned a future that now I have to un-think, and nothing changed but everything has.

It isn't a tragic loss, I'm keenly aware of so many suffering so much worse. Nevertheless, hope deferred makes the heart sick and sad. Sad for the disappointment, sad for the way death casts a shadow no matter when or how it comes. 

I read and re-read every note, message, and text, amazed at how few words it takes to be lifted by kindness. No need to attempt making sense or better of the situation, the simple acknowledgment of pain and reminders of love carry me many moments and days. I have never savored every check in, every mention of a prayer offered, every hug and handpicked flower and grocery bag delivered so deeply.   

Amidst hopes and fears and thoughts of a possible next time, I look at my daughters lying next to me in bed and tell them with voice choked but adamant, “Having a baby is absolutely not something upon which our happiness hangs. Our family can stand complete and completely delightful to us as it is.” We have been gifted wildly beyond our deserving with two precious loves. To share in the wonder of a new baby together would be a delight, but there is goodness in store for us no matter what shape or size our family takes. We are not waiting on a delivery of joy. We have it already.

Life is brighter now. I’m surprised how hope springs up again from broken ground. How one can start to dream of better days and better news. Hope is often hard won in my heart, but it's shown up persistently of late.

My thoughts are less often “Why?”, and more often, “Why not?”. If suffering is world-wide, this whole universe groaning to be delivered from injustice, disease, and death, why not me? If it’s 1 in 4 women, why not me? If my place somehow leaves less space for my sisters, my friends, my daughters, in the statistic, I’ll take it willingly.   

I don’t know how I’ll feel next week or next month, what disappointments or sorrows may roll over me again. But today, I don’t wish this experience away.

Every woman who called or sat down beside me and quietly spoke her story, or willingly answered my questions and revisited her heartache for my sake left a lasting impression on my heart. Friends who’ve spent hours listening and reliving their own dark days in order bring a glimmer of light to mine have given me a new understanding of whole-hearted friendship.

Sisterhood shines bright if you look around the corners of this isolating loss.                     

Brittany, Becky, Kayla, Sandy, Alice, Megan, Melanie, Janna, Abbey, Amanda, Angie, Tina, Hanna, Kate, Alaina, Cielo, Erika, Allison, Sara, Michelle and others who prayed, thank you for being a light to me. 

If sharing a story can give companionship to another woman wrestling through the confusion of her loss or give insight to the sisters, spouses and friends trying to understand the peculiar grief of their loved one, I offer mine with open hands, cupped ever so carefully around the fragile edges of this sensitive topic.

Grief has many varying degrees. My recovery from deep disappointment is so different from another's recovery from acute grief, and even within the same loss, the process doesn't look the same.  Comparison and expectations of healing upon ourselves or others are unfair. Each storm moves on its own path and time.

For you maybe miscarriage was a blip on the screen, possibly even a relief, and you move right on. Maybe it was an emergency room and surgery and trauma upon trauma. Maybe it was confusion. Maybe it was a prayer answered and then revoked, and sorrow stings bitterly for months and years. There’s an open page for every version here.

Compassionate storytelling brings healing to the listener and teller alike.                                     

If you are living out your own pregnancy loss or any grief story, I hope for you what I’ve hoped for me: that you realize how much God and your people are for you. I hope you make peace with your body and deal tenderly with yourself. Look, see how she’s doing the best she can? I hope you don’t allow shame to taunt the emotions you do or do not have. There is no formula, no feelings rule book. Sit with whatever emotion arises and be honest with yourself and your people. I hope that hope surprises you, rising from your ashes. I hope in time you find it is well with your soul. And when it is not well, I hope you see a Jesus who weeps with you. 

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I hope beauty shows up boldly in the Autumn of your life. And I hope Spring, when it returns (and it will), is glorious.

Love, C. 

Honoring Sadness, In Honor of Jazzy

I can’t quite explain how a human comes to know and love a dog so much. I guess a relationship that isn’t based on words is hard to find words for. Maybe it was the sum of so many days and experiences. 151 months. 42% of my life spent with her. Maybe it’s how she could read my gestures even when her hearing was gone, how I could guess where she was or what she was feeling by the weather or the position of her ears or the length of her stride. Maybe it’s the way she’d search my eyes and sniff my face when I was crying, the way she’d press against me when she needed courage.

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Maybe it was the acceptance. No judgement. No disapproval or double takes at bedhead or oversized crocs or off-key whistling. Always thrilled to see me even if I woke her from a dead sleep.

Maybe it was her gentle, sensitive spirit underneath the big bark and bull-headed stubbornness. Crazy how we turned out to be so much alike.

Maybe it was the loyalty, the way she was friendly to everyone but always kept her eyes on me.

Maybe it happened in the making of all the pill potions and pillow beds and checking her through days and nights as she overcame a shotgun hit, a leg gash, a serious surgery, and other traumatic events, enduring them with both strength and fragility. I never heard even a whimper, yet she seemed to need me to will her spirit back to life.

She ran miles upon miles with me over the years, scaring off angry dogs, curious coyotes, and a few suspicious ally lurkers. She’s stood steady against me while I gasped for air through a few panic attacks, while I sobbed through lonely nights, broken trust, dimmed dreams, dark depression, and scorching shame. She’s been the soft furry forehead gently nudging my hand, the thread of comfort across a decade that spanned from childhood to adulthood.

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She woke me up in the night last week. I forgot to close the basement door, so she took her post outside my bedroom window (how she knows my room, I have no idea) where she’s spent many a night, barking her bold warning if even so much as a blade of grass moved towards my side of the house. It’s the most irritating kindness I’ve ever been given.

I’ve known we were on borrowed time; the last two years were bonus years. A Pyrenees’ life expectancy isn’t much past 10, and we made it to 12 years and 9 months.

It’s made me pause and appreciate every morning she’d bound beside me back the path to the woods, every time she flopped down at my feet while I was writing, every perked ear when she was able to hear a little bit of my voice, every midnight bark.

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Last weekend the end came. We saw sickness over take her suddenly. The next morning, I found her laying in the creek, the place she visited every day to cool off and look over the farm. Seeking to ease her aching body, she'd laid down and could not get up. As we carefully lifted her on to a sheet and carried her up to the house, her face pressed against me one last time. Back on her bed, her eyes watched mine while I arranged her bedding and then they closed when I rubbed her head and ears in the same pattern I've done day after day all these years.

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When I came back later, she looked as peacefully asleep as she had every other time I’d caught her in a nap, but this time her rib cage was still.

She was a tangible evidence of God’s gentle care and grace to me in ways too deeply personal to verbalize. Even in her death, he offered us the mercy of allowing her to drift away as gently as she’d lived, and spared me the awful decision I knew the morning would hold.

I miss the great white furry buffalo like crazy. I find myself listening for her footsteps, looking for her out the window, wanting to go say, “good morning Puffywuffy! Let’s get your breakfast!” as I have every morning for years. The fun of exploring the farm is gone without her company.

I’ve felt shame creep in on me, criticizing me for not doing more, insisting I shouldn’t be a mess over a tiny drip of pain while the world aches over an ocean of suffering.

I tend to forget sensitivity is a gift of softness, not a curse to harden against.

I don’t want resistance, avoidance, or hardness, to any kind of pain. As my girls process this loss with me, I hope they see that we can honor sadness, in ourselves and others, with no need to stifle or qualify it. If we’re open to receiving both the wonders and the sorrows of life, big and small, hopefully we’ll grow braver and kinder and more whole-hearted from it.

Perhaps an entire blog post about the loss of an old dog seems excessive. Truthfully, loosing Jazz is one of several sorrows our family is holding in shaking hands this week. Her story is the most clear cut and easiest to share. We can look back through countless photos and sit by her grave. The other losses, disappointments, fears, and dreaded Dr. visits are far less easy to get ahold of, to put words and images and cleansing grief to. Bad news and bad days make me miss her quiet companionship even more. 

From my family to yours, from my sadness to yours, we'll all keep doing our best to show up to this brutal and beautiful life, yes? To hold the feelings and the tears, our own and one another's, honestly and gently, all the while keeping our eyes open for a glimpse of the wonder that is just as sure as the sorrow. 

In honor of Jazzy, the best fur friend a girl could ever have, here’s to softer, braver, kinder hearts.

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Dear Friends: Do Black Lives Matter?

There are a hundred paths through the world that are easier than loving. But, who wants easier?
— Mary Oliver

Dear friends,

It’s been a long one, the last week, yes? It’s been conversations with family and friends, responding to texts, reading countless articles and social media threads, asking questions and having questions asked of me.

I’ve cried on Dave’s shoulder as fear and queasiness threatened to churn my stomach again and again.

Maybe you feel it too.

It has been the source of no small alarm in my heart to watch conversations unfold, specifically among Christians, that are filled with abrasive words, harsh criticism, refusal to listen, and a gaping hole where should be tenderness and humility.

Maybe you’re asking it too, where is the love and unity?

This is my most pressing why: Why the avoidance and even outrage over saying Black lives matter?  Is there something fearful about the phrase? Some aren’t into hashtags. Some aren’t keen to endorse the Black Lives Matter Movement based on thorough research. I respect that.

But when it comes to resisting the sentiment itself, I’m so confused.

Maybe you’re puzzled too.

I compare this scene to fighting disease. Specifically, Ebola. Ebola left agony and death by the thousands in its wake. Remember the hashtags and raised funds and desperate prayers for relief? As Ebola was destroying villages and families, folks were still dying of malaria, of yellow fever, of cancer. The desire for those diseases to be eradicated was no less. But for the moment, there was an outbreak before us, and we wanted to do all we could to cure, to prevent, to alleviate the rampant suffering.

When someone urged, “Ebola matters! Let’s raise awareness, let’s passionately search for a solution! We must, for the sake of the suffering and dying!” We didn’t toss back, “all diseases matter.” It’s true, but completely irrelevant.

My analogy is weak, my knowledge is limited, my encounters are sheltered. But others more eloquent and experienced than I have unpacked these subjects, especially the Christian discrepancies surrounding Black Lives Matter.

Maybe their words will be helpful to you too.


This is one of most well-written articles I’ve read explaining why All Lives Matter is not a fitting response to Black Lives Matter. The Problem With Saying ALL LIVES MATTER by Tyler Huckabee


Crystal Michelle shares an eye-opening analogy in this Facebook post: I have been told how dangerous being in the sun is by my white friends…


Stephen Mattson offers these words in his article Social Justice Is a Christian Tradition- Not a Liberal Agenda :

Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Gentile lives matter.”
Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Jewish lives matter.”
Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Women’s lives matter.”
Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Lepers’ lives matter.”
Even though Jesus loves everyone, even to the point of dying for their sins, he went out of his way to intentionally help specific groups of people — the alienated, mistreated, and those facing injustice.

Shannon Martin (aka Flower Patch Farmgirl) published this tender guest post yesterday by her friend Jess:

Dear Christian Women,
I know it's my privilege to serve a savior that is near to the broken hearted.  But I want to walk alongside a community of believers that are near to me as well.  Sadly...that's just not the case. For every #AltonSterling and #TamirRice, I notice an overwhelming silence from my white Christian sisters.  It’s deafening. ...Within the post is a link to 10 Reasons I Don’t Want to be Your White Ally. Read it too, if you feel paralyzed about what to say or do when it comes to standing with your Black sisters and brothers.

David Murray writes Weep, Love, and Pray: A Christian Response to Dallas, Castille, and Sterling.

My friend passed along this poem written in 1932 by Sterling Brown which, in her words, "made my blood run cold in how accurately it portrays society's typical progression of thinking."

If you’re looking for more honest and loving voices who are speaking from their lived experiences, I greatly admire and am learning so much from the words of Deidra Riggs and Latasha Morrison.


Here we are, friends, with precious lives around us being disrespected, mistreated, threatened, and stolen. To commit to the task of mending the gaping wound of power and honor and equality and trust we currently have between us? Is to commit to seeking justice, to loving mercy, to walking in humility with our Creator and our brothers and sisters.

BLACK LIVES MATTER TO ME. Do they matter to you too? Yeah, so let’s find ways to say it. We could ask someone how they’re holding up, and listen carefully. Send an email or a card. Pay for the coffee order behind us and remind someone that love will win. Speak up and say that justice for their lives matters to us, whether it be on social media, by thoughtfully pointing out prejudice in family conversations, or by taking action in social reform.

Can we make this our mission? While allies may not agree on all things, they esteem each other highly. They listen carefully. They are always aware that they’re working together, on the same team, for the same cause: justice, reconciliation, and love.

One friend, processing these tragic events over the phone and noting how her life has been so removed from such disparity said, “I don’t want to remain clueless and say they don’t affect me, because they do.” And I wrote it down on my desk so I would remember. Remember that conversations are happening, friends are listening, awareness is growing, love is moving. Remember that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” (MLKJ).

Let's keep choosing love, who wants easy anyway?




Dear Gorilla-Fiasco Mommy

I’m not one to jump into debates. Usually I feel there are plenty of voices already, and I’d prefer to spend my energy on something fun. I figured this whole deal would blow over soon, but yesterday it turned savage with petitions and racial slurs and breaches in privacy, and I decided to share this as a way to relieve my aching heart. Here is my letter to you:

I woke up Sunday to news articles and videos and vile comments en mass about the Cincinnati zoo. It was strange to see the place we’ve visited so often being discussed everywhere from the New Yorker to LA Times to BBC News.

I’m a hopeless animal freak. The way I see it, when you’re a hard-core fan of an artist, you’re pretty thrilled with all their work, not just the most famous masterpiece, the NYT best seller, the song that tops charts. Humans are the masterpiece of the Artist I’m most in to, and they maintain the title eternally. But animals are a spectacular piece to behold; fascinating, funny, colorful, intuitive, loyal and fierce.

There was no small dismay when a few minutes into the reading, I realized the headlines the night before were erroneous, and Harambe the handsome gorilla had been shot and killed, not tranquilized.

As I read on, I encountered a greater horror; the tarnishing of the human masterpiece right before my eyes by corrosive judgment, criticism, and hatred.

In full honesty, I admit my own initial judgement-based irritation. Parents who are passive to their child’s whereabouts, who aren’t sensitive to safety concerns and ensuring their child is respectful of property and people around them, are one of my top pet peeves. Kids who are reckless and disregard rules and manners are up there too.

I wondered how on earth a child the age of my youngest could accomplish such a feat. And I shook my head yet again at the terrifying mystery of these small humans with so many physical capabilities but zero reasoning capabilities. I have questions for God about this. A child learns to walk at 1 yr. old, and yet is unable to rationalize until 15 (or 25) years? This feels fatefully backwards.

My thoughts soon turned to my little cousin, and others like him, whose brain sends impulses beyond what he can control, accompanied by a fierce supply of speed and tenacity. I thought about his mom’s tired eyes, the way a leash or stroller or hand-holding would be a never ending battle for his sensory sensitive body.

I thought about the things that have happened already in 3 short years of parenting that I said I’d never do, scorned other parents for. I’ve operated on autopilot and realized later what disasters could’ve occurred, looked at my phone at stupid times, had anger issues…the list goes on.

If my flaws caused a public scene, I’d be next in line for a social media execution.

Last night I dreamed my mom and I went to an event and forgot we left Sami in the car, a scenario I’ve declared I could never do. In my dream I was stunned at my frail humanity. And not only mine, my mom’s too, who happens to be the best mother I know.

Parenting has taught me with wicked clarity that I am just as human, just as likely to screw up on the major, as anyone else. We’re all the same, we just haven’t all had a face-down fall that wakes us up to it yet.

What our hearts really need is grace and peace, and we find it when we live in kinship. I think kinship starts with the kindness of believing others are doing the best they can in the moment.

I know of nothing so hard as this- especially for us who’ve been marinated in religion and garnished with a hearty side of perfectionism.

To give grace doesn’t mean there aren’t boundaries, consequences, and room for growth and change. It just means we lay down the judgement and the criticism, towards others and ourselves, and leave the growing up to God. We see what we all really are: created masterpieces in God’s image, battered and flawed, desperate for grace, and desperately loved. (For excellent reading on this, check out Brené Brown’s book, Rising Strong.)

Grace is radical, in part, because others’ flaws look more obvious and easy to fix than our own. But we keep practicing, because kinship is our doorway to peace; personal, racial, global, spiritual.

So to you, heart-wrung Mommy of a boy recovering from the wildest day- I choose blessing over cursing, mercy over judgment, kindness over criticism.

I believe you are doing the best you can.

If it were me, calling out what must have felt like one last “I love you, baby”, as you watched your child in the hands of 400 lb. Harambe; regardless of my animal love, if the desperation of the moment offered no other safe solution, I would have begged officials to do whatever it took to get my child out alive. It’s what mothers do. We fall down 7 times and getting up 8, all the while hoping desperately for our child to grow up loved and safe. Your son’s worth, his gift to the world, his unique creation and resemblance of God himself, is invaluable.

And by the way, yours is too.

From a mommy just as human as you,