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I read the other day that statistically one in every six pregnancies ends in miscarriage, which is about 16%. Other statistics say more like 20%. Of course, these are just numbers based on women who know. Many women have miscarriages before they ever even know they are pregnant. But for the purpose of this post, we will just focus on those who know they have lost a baby.
Miscarriage is the loss of the baby prior to 20 weeks. Stillbirth is after the 20 week mark. Statistics on stillbirth range from about one in every 150 to one in every 200 pregnancies.
In April of 2006, we had a stillbirth. Our son, Braxston, died in utero. I was exactly 20 weeks along.
Braxston was a total surprise pregnancy. Brayden, my only child at the time, was only 6 months old when I got pregnant with Braxston. If you have read my blog, you know my idea is you can either laugh or cry at situations, and I prefer to laugh. I knew that children 14 months apart would be quite the challenge, but I wanted my reaction to our new baby to be happiness rather than sorrow. We were excited.
And I was exhausted. Brayden was a busy, busy little baby. I was a very tired mom. My husband was working and finishing up his degree and was gone from before we woke up in the morning until just before Brayden’s bedtime. I did nothing beyond normal things around the house and taking care of Brayden. Even so, we were excited.
I don’t think many people ever think they will lose a baby. I have a friend who is always ready for it because her mom lost a lot of babies, so a family history might have you thinking about it. But I never even imagined it would happen to me.
We went in for our 20 week ultrasound where we would find out the gender of our baby. The girl started looking around, then said she needed to go get my doctor because the baby was small. I was excited to see my doctor. He came in and asked how I was, then followed up with, “Probably not very good if you are seeing me, right?”
“Huh?” I replied. Then I noticed he was in his scrubs. They had pulled him out of surgery to come talk to me.
I started wondering what was wrong with my baby, but didn’t think it would be death.
My doctor broke the news, and my husband, doctor, and I all cried (he is the best doctor–and now in North Carolina if you are there and looking for an OBGYN).
We went home, numb. I was going to deliver Braxston that night, but I wanted to wait until Brayden had gone to bed first. So we went home and put him to bed, then left for the hospital. There, I delievered our baby boy. We were able to hold him and take photos. His little body looked absolutely perfect to us.
It has almost been four years since we lost him. The pain is still there. The loss is still there. I think about him throughout every single day. I don’t think an hour passes by without me thinking about him. And of course not. He is my child.
The sharp pain does lessen over time. I have had the most amazing, spiritual experiences of my life in connection with this loss. I miss my boy, but I continue to learn what the Lord wanted me to learn from this experience, and I think of my son with a fondness.
Everything is not perfect. I have troubles stemming from this loss. Nearly a year later, I delivered Kaitlyn. They unknowingly first put me in the room I had delivered Braxston in. I told them I could not be in there. They said it was the only room available, but just then another room opened up and I was moved. But I had a panic attack. I was so scared of losing another baby. Then they put Kaitlyn in the NICU, which of course was terrifying for me. She ended up having no problems at all. With McKenna, I had a small panic attack during her delivery, as well.
I have realized that there are a lot of women out there who have lost babies, and we don’t talk about it enough. Only a woman who has experienced it can truly know what you are going through (of course aside from Jesus Christ). I understand why we don’t talk about it; other people just don’t get it. Even my mom at the time commented on how it was a strange situation because she didn’t feel the loss like I did. No one did.
As I share this experience with people, I am always amazed that at least half of the women I tell have experienced a miscarriage or even a stillbirth. It is a wonderful thing to discover! We can talk about our babies together!
I share this with you to let you know you are not alone. I want you to know that it is a hard and painful experience. It is my opinion that the loss of a child is the most painful emotion you can ever have.
I also want you to know that it will get better. Give yourself time to grieve. I think a miscarriage or stillbirth is hard because most of the time, other people really have no idea what you are going through. It almost feels like you need to grieve on your own because you are the only one who feels a real loss. Take the time you need to grieve your loss.
People will say lots of insensitive comments. “At least you can have another child” is one of the worst. Try to take the comment in the spirit it was intended. People have no idea what to say and they want to say something. They are trying to be helpful. To anyone who knows someone experiencing this, the best thing you can say is essentially, “I am so sorry.” The mother doesn’t need to hear she can get pregnant again or anything like that. She just needs to feel support and feel love. That is the best thing you can do. Children aren’t like cars. You can’t just replace a child. Once the child is gone, he is gone.
I hope you will pray and turn to the Lord at this time. He can and will help you through this.
Be honest with yourself and others about how you are feeling. You will come to know some comfort and peace.
We have come a long way. I know a woman who lost a baby in the 70s. They put her to sleep to deliver. When she woke up she asked about her baby. The doctor responded, “what baby?” Oh that poor woman.
I think we can continue to progress in this area by talking about it as we need to. The pain is real. There is no reason to cover it up and keep it a secret. Perhaps we do that because it is so raw and so painful. But we can gain strength from each other. We can bear each other’s burdens.
I am so sorry you have had to experience something like this. I know it has made me a better person. I have gained and developed many qualities I wouldn’t have otherwise. I know Braxston is my son, and I love him dearly. Having him in my life is something that has taught me much. Through our greatest trials, we are refined the most. Hang in there as best you can. You can come out stronger, too.
“Faith makes the discords of the present the harmonies of the future.” -Robert Collier