I’ve always loved babies. I took care of my baby dolls until I was old enough to help in the church nursery and babysit. I couldn’t wait to have a baby of my own. So, when my husband and I found out we were going to have a baby, I was over the moon.
We couldn’t contain our excitement, so we shared the news with our families and close friends. I had an early ultrasound and we saw the heartbeat. I knew the chances of miscarriage dropped significantly after seeing a heartbeat, and even more after the first trimester.
We made it to 13 weeks, the second trimester, when the bleeding started. The doctors kept telling me, “There’s a heartbeat, everything is fine. Bleeding can be normal.” But I knew everything was not fine, so I kept going in and asking for help.
After weeks of this, one of the doctors finally agreed that this wasn’t normal. He sent me to see a specialist at the hospital, and we learned that I had no amniotic fluid, which the baby needs for the lungs to develop. I was told there was no way my baby would survive. We chose to carry the baby as long as God would allow.
I went into labor at 20 weeks, but the trauma of labor was too much for her tiny body. Our baby girl did not survive the birth. She was born straight into the arms of her Savior. The hospital gave us time to hold and cherish her. I noticed that she had her daddy’s nose, and she had the same long second toe like her Auntie Jenna. We named her Faith because I knew that in the midst of the darkness, God was faithful—even if I didn’t feel it at the time.
She was beautiful, whole, and perfect. I, on the other hand, was not.
Returning to “Normal”
There is no preparing for the loss of your baby. We knew that the pregnancy was going to end with us leaving the hospital with empty arms; however, to really face that reality and prepare would have meant that I needed to give up hope, and I don’t know that I could have carried her without having hope.
The months following were very difficult. My innocence was lost. I now knew that bad things happened and death could touch my family. I had never experienced a grief so deep. I didn’t know how I would get up in the morning. I wept through the funeral. I wept at the number of baby-sized graves at the cemetery. I wept at the size of Faith’s tiny casket. I wept because I wanted to throw myself into the grave with her. I wept for what was lost. I wept for all that I would never get to experience with Faith: her first words, her first day of school, her wedding, her babies.
Life around me returned to normal, but for me, everything was different. It was the darkest time of my life. The grief would just come upon me when I wasn’t expecting it. I would be alone in my office at work and have to shut the door because I’d started to silently weep. I would cry in the shower. I would turn down invitations to things because I didn’t have it in me to be around normal happy people.
Strength for Today
It is true that misery loves company, and for the first time in my life, I read the book of Lamentations. I discovered that, unbeknownst to me, one of my favorite passages came from there:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:22–24, ESV)
Over time, I learned that his mercies were new every morning. He gave me the strength to get out of bed in the days, weeks, and months that followed.
No one understood the depth of my grief. After several weeks, it seemed like people just expected me to move on, so I felt pressured to act as though I was fine. I don’t believe you can understand the pain of losing a baby without going through it. People don’t know how to talk to someone who has had a stillbirth—and so often they avoid the conversation altogether. Most of my friends didn’t have children yet, so they couldn’t even imagine the depth of my loss, and those that did, I held at arm’s length because it was hard for me to be around their babies. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t have one too.
Looking back through my loneliness, I was never truly alone. I can see the truth in Psalm 34:18, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” The Lord surrounded me with loved ones amidst my grief. Even as I pushed people away, several good friends persevered. I was truly blessed to experience the body of Christ.
I kept every card and email I received during that time. I read them when I felt lost and alone. A friend gave me two bouquets of flowers on Faith’s due date (one bouquet for us to keep and one for us to leave at her grave that we were visiting that day). A coworker noticed there had been several new babies born to others at work, so she brought me flowers because she thought I might be struggling. I received a text from a dear friend saying that she and her daughters were talking about Faith and looking forward to meeting her someday in heaven. Another friend texted me to say that she hadn’t forgotten Faith’s birthday. These acts of love often came out of the blue, stopped me in my tracks, and made me feel overwhelmingly loved. Moments like these felt like a hug from my Savior.
Hope Amidst the Pain
I have faith that my baby girl is alive and fully worshiping my Father, the Giver of Life, and I have hope that one day when I see Jesus, I will ask him, “Where is she?” and he will bring me to her. That day I will be reunited with my daughter for all of eternity, and there will be no more tears for what was lost. I am forever grateful to Jesus, who gave his life so that one day I will worship him with her.
It’s been 11 years since I said goodbye to Faith, and not a day has gone by where I haven’t thought of her. I often meditate on Matthew 11:28, where Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Today, I still lay my burdens at his feet, sometimes every hour. Each time the grief washes over me, I lay it at his feet again. The grief is long, painful, and real.
But, if you are going through the pain of miscarriage, stillbirth, or infertility, you will make it to the other side, one day at a time. You will feel joy again, you will see beauty again, and life will be colorful again. The pain is a wound, and like all wounds, it heals eventually. But it will leave a scar. That scar will make you more compassionate, more appreciative of the fragility of life, and more hopeful for the Resurrection that will reunite you with the ones you have lost.
Jaime Patrick is a wife and mom of three amazing kids on earth and a baby girl in heaven. She is a self-proclaimed foodie, an insecure baker, and values quality time with family and friends over housekeeping (or at least that’s her excuse). She writes honestly about her beautiful messes at MoreThanIHopedFor.com.
Copyright © 2015 by Jaime Patrick and Christianity Today