I knew the bright red blood shouldn't be there. The day before, I'd discovered for certain I was six weeks pregnant. Now, as I stared at the widening stain of blood that soaked my pajamas, my stomach tightened and my neck burned.
No, God! I want to be a mother!
In a matter of seconds, I sprang from the bathroom, woke my husband, James, and dialed my physician. The diagnosis: spontaneous miscarriage.
"Is there anything we can do?" I squeaked.
"Unfortunately, no," my ob/gyn replied. "I'm sorry."
The date was March 9, 2003. I'd awoken, pregnant, at 6 A.M. I'd thanked God for answering my prayers, wondered whether the baby was a boy or a girl, and dreamed about what my child would look like at his or her birth in October.
When I hung up the phone, the clock read 7:30 A.M.
And my baby was dead.
When God Says "No"
My body recovered almost immediately. However, my spirit writhed during the months that followed. I'd always pictured God as the religious equivalent of a fairy godfather, a granter of wishes who gives us the important things for which we pray. For six hopeful months, I'd begged him to let us have a baby. Now I brooded over the fact he'd responded with a "no." It was more than God taking his time with our baby's conception; our baby actually had died. How much more obvious could a "no" be?
While I never thought God caused my miscarriage, I despaired over realizing the same God who said, "Seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7) had allowed it to happen. I wondered if perhaps I'd prayed wrongly when I asked him for a baby, or if I hadn't prayed enough. Did God even care that I'd prayed? With the world so full of trouble, perhaps my prayers were too insignificant for God's attention.
Or maybe, I thought as tears flowed day after day, God didn't want me to have a baby at all.
I found little solace in the world around me. Though relatively common, miscarriage is a topic whispered around obstetricians' offices and rarely discussed in a society that regards the unborn—especially at the earliest stages of pregnancy—as disposable nonentities. Many people undermined my feelings with platitudes such as "You can always get pregnant again" or "These things just happen." But I believe life begins at conception; my unborn child was a person with a soul. The loss of that unique person left an enormous void in my life, leaving me physically and emotionally empty, lonelier than I'd ever been before. All I could do about it was cry.
Since childhood I'd been taught to turn to God at such times, but I figured I already knew his opinion on the matter. I couldn't ask him for help—after all, I knew he wouldn't return my baby to me. What I wanted from him now was an answer: I wanted to know why he'd allowed my baby to die. The question plagued me. I read book after book about miscarriage. I half expected a clue to turn up every time I answered the phone or checked the mail, but none ever did.
Glimpses of Grace
By summer, an invitation to a friend's baby shower and the knowledge that I would have been halfway through my pregnancy accentuated my loss. One day at work, I noticed a thank-you note posted beside a colleague's desk. The card included Isaiah 55:8, "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord."
I read the words several times and marveled at their timeliness. Had I seen them by chance or was God speaking to me? Hoping for the latter, I decided to give God another chance. Maybe I didn't understand him as much as I'd thought I did.
In the next several months I prayed for greater faith and deeper understanding. I wasn't sure what to expect. In the meantime, my grief continued. Every time I looked in the mirror, I wondered how large my pregnant belly would have been. When I walked past our empty spare bedroom—I couldn't bear to go in—I wondered how we would have decorated it as our baby's nursery. What names would we have considered? Would we have learned our baby's gender? Would our baby have looked more like my husband, or me? Oh how I wished March 9, 2003 had never happened.
At the same time, through a support group and a network of friends, I met other women who'd lost their babies as well. Their stories showed me no matter how hard you pray, tragedies happen—even to good, God-fearing people. In other words, I wasn't the only Christian woman to whom God had said "no." In these women I found compassion and validation of my continued grief. And in their desire to hold onto the remnants of their faith, I found the courage to gather mine and—with God's help—to rebuild it.
I stopped looking for answers and started looking for God himself. To my amazement, I found him. I suddenly recognized him in my husband, James, who never gave up trying to cheer me. I also recognized God in some family members and friends who, though they admittedly didn't understand my feelings, always listened when I cried. God spoke from the pages of the books I read about grief and healing. And as I closed my eyes and imagined him with my baby in his arms, he showed me a peace beyond any I'd ever known.
The void in my life still exists; it always will. Nothing will ever replace my child who died on March 9, 2003, who should have been born that October. And nothing will ever cause me to cease wondering about my child's gender, looks, personality, and future. As the months roll by, I wonder what my baby, my "Little Soul," would be doing now. I continue to wonder why God allowed him or her to die in light of my prayers.
But despite my lingering questions, I've learned important lessons, too. God isn't a fairy godfather but a teacher. And he's with me as I grieve my loss. As I continue to look for him in the people and the world around me, I find the grace of his touch. God says it himself in Isaiah 49:15, "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you."
My faith tells me that, in the midst of what I perceive as the upheaval of my life, God has everything under control. It tells me that he, more than anyone, feels my pain, understands the void my miscarriage left, and counts my tears. It reassures me I'm never alone. And it tells me that as long as I remain open to God, he'll continue rebuilding my heart—still, and ever-more, the heart of a mother—one piece at a time.
Laura L. Mills is a writer who lives in Illinois.
Copyright © 2007 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian Woman magazine.
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