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. 

Orange flower.jpg

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. 

Learning to Savor-From the Hospital Room

Last night I got to hug my oldest friend. Not old in age, but old in friendship. She’s in my first memories, my earliest recollections of her being when I was around 3 years old. She taught me how to dress up kitties, and play church with them as our deviant, sulking children, she taught me the game Dead Possum (which I now suspect may have been an original with her), how to suck the pimento out of a green olive, and how to ride double on a banana seat bike. We went on vacations together, spent many summer nights camping with our sleeping bags side by side in a tiny tent, shared (and fell out of) a twin-sized top bunk bed, loved animals together, answered each other's phone calls of “Houston, we have a problem” so many times Houston became a nickname, went on double dates, sobbed on each other’s shoulders through break ups, were bridesmaids in each other's weddings, got ourselves into countless conundrums and embarrassing moments, laughed ourselves into paralysis, and scared each other stiff in the dark nights of many a sleep over.  

  Time rolled on as it has a habit of doing, and we started families and our lives took different paths and we saw less of each other. She is so often the one I think of when I get myself into an absurd situation, or the laughter I hear ringing in my ears when I reminisce about days gone by. But I don’t do a very good job of letting her know how often she is present in my thoughts and her absence is felt in my heart. The past few years have held some dark days for both of us. We’ve sat at each other’s kitchen tables a few times while the kids played, and spoke quietly of fear and depression and longing and loss. She has endured throbbing pain in her body and heart that I can’t imagine, shouldered heavy responsibilities that it still seems like we should be too young to be presented with, and seen too many hospital rooms in the last 2 years.


  Last night she was in one again. This time she sat in a chair beside the bed of her man, smiling softly while he slept the heavy, distant sleep of a body trying to recover from a brain injury. She told me of her last few longer-than- life days, of going from the needs of her tiny infant, to the needs of her Kindergartner sick with a stomach bug, to the bedside of her husband suffering in the ICU. I tried to keep my eyes from spilling over when she said it was as if all the hardest things were happening at once, and we both acknowledged having had words with God because it was all too much. And yet there she was; her baby softly sleeping on a waiting room sofa, oblivious to his family’s crisis, her smile ready and her words clear as she spoke of good reports and better days. Though I saw anxiety in her eyes for the future with all the unknowns a recovery like his holds, she was present, showing up each day for her scariest season yet.



I wish that prayers and a hug felt like enough. I wish that faith in God’s goodness overpowered the fear of suffering and loss and life as we know it being upended in a flash. I wish the cliché “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle” was actually true, that we could be spared from seasons that are too much. I wish it wouldn’t take seeing one of our goofiest, favorite friends silent and still on a hospital bed to make me stop and take notice of the callouses on Dave’s thumb resting against mine, or the strength in his steps when he chases the girls up to bed.


  In reality, friendship is a lot easier when the struggle is over who should sit in front and steer the banana seat bike. Friendship in motion is so much more natural than friendship in stillness. Banter feels more friendly than silence. Comfortable friendship is more a vase of fresh flowers, low maintenance and easy, lovely to look at, but unable to endure seasons. Friendships that endure the seasons are more like a deep, rooted perennial. A tulip blooming and vibrant in the spring seasons, but in other seasons simply present and green, nothing flashy or fancy, and in the winters, silent and still in the dark and the cold. Believing together that the sun will warm the earth again, bringing forth laughter and hope and brighter days.


  I don’t know much about being a good friend in the winter seasons. I want to string up an artificial light and avoid the dark days. I feel frustrated that I can’t fix the broken things. I can’t prevent the pain. I can’t pretend my faith is unfaltering.


  I do know this. I saw my friend smile by her husband’s hospital bed, and it looked like courage. I saw her there, in her hardest days yet, and it looked like faith. Not because she wasn’t scared, but because she was given the strength to show up. I saw her parents there, sitting with her through the difficult days and nights, and it looked like tender love. I saw a life spared, a breath of relief and a light of hope. It all looked like grace, and I a thankful witness. I saw the way Dave’s eyes lingered on the girls and I last night, the way we held each other’s hand a little longer when the lights were turned out, and it looked like savoring.




  If you have an oldest friend, one who’s stories and fears you know by heart even if time has altered the landscape of your friendship, make a call or meet for dinner. Savor the smiles and the sound of her voice.





**The best news of the day is, no hospital room tonight. he's coming home!

Safe Friends

Safety meetings are held frequently in this house. Some would say that is the case for all parents. Others would say that is the case for an over-protective, teensy tinsy bit control-freakish parent. Specifically, we’ve been discussing safety in the context of relationships as they start playing more independently in friend groups, on playgrounds, and soon go off to school. We want them to recognize unsafe behaviors and be courageous to stand up for themselves and talk to us if someone behaves poorly towards them. We want them to choose safe friends. While we aren’t aspiring to raise kids who live in a bubble lined with cashmere, I think all parents could agree that in relationships, safety is vital, no matter how daring and adventurous ones antics may be.   When talking about safe families, friends, and people around us, we usually hit on these points: • safe people speak the truth and avoid lying or gossip. • Safe people respect and care about our hearts and bodies and don’t want us to get hurt, on the outside or on the inside. • Safe people make us laugh and feel happy, but don’t laugh at us or make us feel embarrassed. • When someone makes us feel unsafe, we can respectfully step back from the relationship, but we do not have the right to be unsafe back. • We should carefully choose people who make us feel safe to be our closest friends. (We have more things we discuss in the context of safety from perpetrators, but I’m sticking to everyday encounters here.) And this is maybe the most crucial element of the conversation: • We are all the unsafe one sometimes. We’ve lied, laughed rudely, said words that hurt, or talked when we should be listening. There is no one getting it all right. No, not one. And the person who says something that makes you feel unsafe, but comes later and says, “I shouldn’t have said it, I didn’t mean to hurt you. I care about your feelings. I want to use better words.” And then you see them caring, trying their best at making more respectful choices? Those people? Those people are brave. And they just might end up to be the safest friends of all.

  As is often the case, I find myself wrapping up these sermons and stepping down from my parental pulpit deeply stirred by my own message. (Certainly more moved than my audience.) These child-level conversations start replaying in my head, in adult contexts. I need safety; I want it in my marriage, my friendships, my society. And I am painfully aware that I have been the unsafe person so many times; reactive, quick to judge, angry, defensive, and gossiping. I need the courage to step up and apologize, to listen and learn and use better words.

  What if we made it our global mission to be a safe person? Beyond our close circles, what if we intently set our hearts towards being brave, being kind, being safe, to every human brother and sister we met? To assume that everyone, whatever color or language or class or issue or attitude they presented, was carrying a heavy burden? To assume that everyone could benefit from love? What if we stopped with the judgments and the labels, the assumptions and the indifferences? What if, as white people, and even more so as Christians, we owned our abysmal track record, and said it’s time to turn the tides? We’ve been indifferent and inattentive to our brothers and sisters for too long, but no more.

  What if we committed to the safe friend rules? I think these can apply to every relationship we have. I know I need to put more of them to use in my marriage, towards my girls, in some of my friendships, and to certain individuals in society that I am frankly not too keen on. It all sounds good until we think of that one person, huh? The one Wal-Mart clerk. The one rush hour driver. The one classmate with a unique lifestyle choice. The one west-side apartment complex. But here’s what I know I want people to do for me, and in turn, I owe to others: 1. Discuss someone else’s life with that individual, not to others. It doesn’t feel good to discover you’re the topic of conversation, even if the content wasn’t mean. Gossip doesn’t have to be nasty to be unsafe. 2. Refuse to laugh, respond, or repost jokes and comments that target someone or some group. That someone is some mother’s precious child. That group is someone’s identity they are living every day. I don’t care if they are doing their best or doing their worst at life; criticism, judgment, and mockery are nowhere in our human job description (unless there’s a revised version I haven’t received). 3. Less talking, more listening. If someone has been hurt by a system, a slur, a societal bias, or whatever their source of pain, our job isn’t to explain, correct, or point out their flaws. A safe friend is simply present in the pain. 4. Less talking is good. Silence is not. Speaking from my own, simple story, I have been hurt by gossip and words, but I have been hurt by silence more. On a bigger scale, consider how our silence translates to a populous of people aching under days upon years of complex disadvantages, discriminations, and living on the under belly of white privilege. Our voice may be stuck on silent simply because we’re unsure or removed from a situation. I know mine has been. But inactive silence translates to the wounded as passivity, indifference, and even compliance. It does not rescue the abused, bind up wounds, light up the darkness, or bring good news. As Martin Luther King Jr. says, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” We don’t have to come up with answers or solutions. Start with “Tell me your story. I want to understand. I care about your pain. How can I be a better friend?”

5. If you have small people under your watch, teach them that differences in humans exist, equip them with respectful terms for our differences, and impress on their minds that differences are beautiful, identities are tender, and jokes and rude terms make insides bleed. Labels, stereotypes, an “us and them” mentality, are all taught. “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Nelson Mandela


You guys, can you imagine what could happen if we started living like this? If we shut up on gossip and spoke up on behalf of love? If we turned off the assumptions and theories and instead put our ear to the ground, even amidst riots and media outbursts and attitudes that went against our grain, to listen for the pain pounding in every human heart, and simply said, “your story is safe here”? I can imagine it. I think it could change the world.


What do you think? Tell me about your experiences in having or being a safe friend, or share what you've learned from an unsafe relationship.