Healing after miscarriage

Unlike all my other “how do you do it’s”, this one doesn’t fit into a nice, neat list filled with pretty photos.

No, healing from a miscarriage is messy. It’s sad. It’s hard. It’s life-changing.

I have the privilege of knowing some strong women who have not only suffered miscarriage, but stillbirth, infant death and child loss. While each of us has grieved differently and our losses were at different stages of the cycle of life, we have one thing in common: the child we loved, dreamed about, hoped for and made plans for, no longer resides on Earth.

That is a harsh reality.

This week is the eleventh anniversary of my miscarriage. Yes, I still remember hearing the news. Seeing no heartbeat on the ultrasound. I remember the kind and loving eyes of my OB/GYN as he shared what had happened. A blighted ovum, he said. In fact, just last year I wrote a note of gratitude to Dr. T during Lent. How honored and surprised I was to receive not only a response, but he shared his same honest, funny, forthright words of wisdom I came to love so much about him.

Like the NICU, there is a miscarriage club in which no one wants to be a member. It’s the sorority you never want to rush, but they initiate you anyway. I know, with that kind of crummy rushing, you’d think their numbers would be low.

Initially, I found healing in crying. A lot.

I also avoided going to Mass. Do you know how many pregnant women you see when you walk in those doors? Like, a bazillion. In fact, there were quite a few Masses where I started in the pew, only to find myself in the narthex nearly hyperventilating after spotting “the belly” I longed to have on another woman.

The first thing we did, after crying a river, was to call our two priests. One cried on the couch with us, God bless him. That was hard. And you know what our healing activity was with the other? We watched ER. Yes, in the midst of all that loss and pain and suffering, we turned to the one show that we all loved. And we laughed, a little. We drank a glass of wine and we shared some hugs. For me, that ordinary activity was incredibly healing. It began to set in my heart that life was not over, that normal would someday return (although in a different way) and that laughter after tragedy was okay. Because sometimes we think it isn’t. But it SO is.

The next day, we met that same priest in his office for a blessing. That too, was healing.

But I have to come clean. All that crying on the couch, ER watching and priestly blessing sound nice, but I was really angry. I just didn’t know it.

A week after my miscarriage, Scott headed off to a men’s retreat, Cursillo. I was super frustrated with him, but I put on my game face and sent him off. He came back happy and that made me even more pissed off. (sorry, honesty) Two weeks later it was my turn. I put on a good show. Smoke and mirrors. That is, until it came time for confession. I did everything I could to avoid it. I let everyone ahead of me go. “Oh, she’s so kind,” I heard one whisper. I almost snorted out my Dr Pepper. If she only knew.

After fessing up to the usual, I tried to blurt out the miscarriage and then pray that he moved on. But he didn’t. “How does that make you feel toward God?” Before I could even catch my reply, the words came out in a torrent. I’m fairly certain the priest wishes he had never asked, because holy smokes, did he get an ear full. “It makes me angry. Like really angry.”

Without a hint of hesitation, he replied, “It’s ok, I’m pretty sure God can take it. Feel free to get as angry as you want.”

And, that, my friends changed my relationship with God, my husband and my fellow mommas who suffered loss.

I had never given myself permission to be angry. I wrongly assumed that good, Christian girls just take the pain, carry the martyr cross and just move on. I mean, how dare we actually show God how we really feel.

After all these years, the most beautiful lesson my miscarriage taught me was to have a real, open, honest, ugly, beautiful relationship with God. Because in authenticity, we find understanding, healing and love. Like it or not, God gets all of me. I’m so grateful my sweet baby, Mary, left that as her parting lesson. She is never far from my thoughts and her lesson is a constant reminder to be authentic, to be loving and to be generous with those I love.

If you’ve suffered a loss, know that you have a prayer buddy in me. I also highly recommend the book, From Sorrow to Serenity by Susan Fletcher.

17 Comments

  1. Bea on September 23, 2013 at 8:13 am

    Oh, thank you. And dang you for making me cry at 8 AM. I was angry too last fall and just didn’t know what to do with that emotion. It’s just not me. It’s not who I wanted to be. I was so angry at the world though. I just had to let it storm and thunder and trust that God and those who loved me would still love me. They did. There’s a peace after the storm that is so beautiful. You have to let it go because it poisons you. It feels good to know that it wasn’t just me. Thank you for having the courage to share.

  2. Rozella on September 23, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Unfortunately, I too, am a member of both clubs you mentioned. I clearly remember telling God that even though I still loved him, I was so angry with him! I remember begging him to allow me to be a mommy…

  3. verdinalouisa on September 23, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Kathryn, I definitely remember your miscarriage. In a way, it was healing for me. I had a miscarriage in 1964. After having tried to get pregnant for 8 years, I had my ovaries resected and got pregnant right away; but I lost that baby at 22 weeks. We were in Colorado and our families were in Pennsylvania and Maryland. They didn’t seem to care. I didn’t have any close friends yet. I was a total mess! Don thought he would have to commit me. I was holding in all that anger, too. After all that praying that I could be a Mom!!! But, guess what? About a year later, we adopted our first child, a beautiful little girl 9 weeks old; 16 months later, we adopted our son. I WAS a Mom, just not the way I had thought it would happen.

    And, you know, about a year after Don died, I told your favorite priest that I couldn’t stop thinking about that baby. It was a Catholic hospital, but I didn’t know what they did with him. He asked if I had ever named him, which we hadn’t; he said, then I think you should name him and we should have a Mass for him. So, on the Wednesday of Holy Week, when my daughter was visiting from California (my son lives here with his wife & 7 kids), I invited a few close friends to my house and we had a home Mass for Donald, Jr. That was so healing for me.

    Yes, God can “take” our anger (and don’t we all get angry with those we love from time to time?).

    God bless!
    V

    • Kathryn on September 28, 2013 at 8:55 am

      Verda, I loved reading your story. You are so wise and faithful. I look forward to meeting Don someday 😉

  4. Karen Wanjura on September 23, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Thank you for this. I am sitting here crying now instead of studying for a looming midterm tomorrow. My husband John and I have been through four very painful miscarriages. One was actually a blighted ovum as well. It took us years to get our son Jack, and I fear that he could be our only child. It isn’t what I wanted for our lives, but it is what God has given us and we are blessed. We have learned and gained so much through each painful experience. If any of you haven’t read “My Sisters the Saints” by Colleen Carroll Campbell, order it today! (She also has a show on EWTN.) I have to remind myself that God doesn’t give us what we can handle, he helps us handle what we are given, and for that I am very thankful. I thought I would share a recent blog post that I have read at least a hundred times ;). It might help someone else in a similar situation.

    http://renidemus.com/?p=2202

  5. anonymous on September 23, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Kathryn,
    Such a beautiful post–thank you for sharing your story! I might have to look into that book.
    I will pray for you this week, anniversaries are hard. Will you pray for me, too? I had a miscarriage more than 2 years ago, and after two painful years of infertility, we found out last week that we are expecting again. I am struggling to find peace, over the fear of losing this baby.
    God bless!

    • Kathryn on September 28, 2013 at 8:54 am

      Absolutely. And, congratulations on your news! How fabulous.

  6. Lindsay on September 23, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    I wasn’t angry, but oh so sad. And then confused. If my baby was “sinful from the time my mother conceived me,” then what happened to my baby’s soul? I prayed my heart out that my salvation would cover that little one while in my body. I don’t know if it’s theologically sound, but I know God is graceful.

    • Kathryn on September 28, 2013 at 8:53 am

      Indeed He is. I have no doubt that all babies go to heaven.

  7. Laura on September 27, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Found your blog via Conversion Diary this morning….so grateful for these honest and healing words on miscarriage. We lost a baby in August and I, too, have struggled with how to grieve and how to keep going for my family at the same time. Thank you for the gift of your own story.

    • Kathryn on September 28, 2013 at 8:51 am

      Thank YOU for your kind words. Oh, girl, I’ll add you to my prayer list. So many women have shared their stories of loss with me over the years and with each, I am humbled and honored. Here’s praying you find your own peace, in your own time.

  8. TheReluctantWidow on September 27, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    I, too, belong to a club. Not a miscarriage club, but a sorority of sorrow just the same. My husband died almost 15 months ago. We have four children, 12-8. I never knew I could experience such anger and scorn toward God. Like you, I have learned that God can take it. It took me nearly a year to even really give myself permission to grieve any time I needed to, and not just when I was shut up in my room at night. Thank you for sharing your words. My hope is that if something beautiful can come of my relationship to God, then maybe there might be some meaning in this loss.

    • Kathryn on September 28, 2013 at 8:48 am

      I’m so honored you shared your story with me. I hope, too, that something beautiful comes from your suffering. God bless you as you heal and find your own peace.

  9. Dianna on September 29, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    I think this is probably the most beautiful piece you’ve ever written.

    So many, many members of that club ….. It’s been (19!) years since I miscarried in the hugest snowstorm to hit Louisville. It’s a big reason why I can’t ever ‘rest easy’ in a pregnancy until that baby is safe and sound in my arms.

    You can name your lost little ones, and have their names inscribed in the Book of Life at the Shrine in NY.

    http://www.innocents.com/shrine.asp

    Thank you for being brave enough to write this post.

    • Kathryn on September 29, 2013 at 7:16 pm

      Thank you, Dianna. So kind. The rest of the story is that we did name our baby, put her name in the book of life and then we visited the shrine when I was pregnant with Anna-Laura. It was an incredibly moving morning. Maybe I’ll have to blog about that sometime. It is still a precious memory.

  10. Sandy on June 28, 2018 at 10:17 am

    I know I am reading this really long after you have posted but it really hit me. I too had a miscarriage about 8 years ago. My second husband & I didn’t really think that we were going to have a child. He had 3 children already & I had two. We were in our early 30’s and the kids were pretty self-sufficient. When we found out that we were expecting, our entire family was so excited. I was just in to my 4th month when we lost our angel baby. I still remember that day & don’t think I will ever forget it. We sat in an ER waiting room for hours with no one seeming to care what we were going through. Then the almost careless way they told us that there was no more pregnancy. After reading your blog, I realize that I too had a blighted ovum. You’d be amazed at the careless way people can talk about that & make it sound like your child didn’t really matter at all.

    We too cried & I was really angry. I know that my husband was even angrier. He couldn’t handle how much it tore me up & never thought that I would get better about it. Well, almost 4 years later we became pregnant again with our rainbow baby, Isabella Michelle. We were shocked because we had decided that we weren’t meant to have any babies. God had a different plan for us. Michael, my husband, was so worried the whole pregnancy especially when we had a scare at the very beginning. The OB kept reminding me that I was of advanced maternal age (like 39 is REALLY old). We made sure to have every test & precaution because God was giving us another gift and boy, has she been a gift to all of our family.

    We started a whole new chapter of life at 40 & it’s SO different than the first time around. Bella is now going to be 5 and is the last child at home. We are shipping off our last 2 younger ones to college this August.

    I love reading your blog & finding comfort in your family adventures along with ours.

    • Kathryn on June 29, 2018 at 4:10 pm

      What a beautiful story and I’m so honored you shared it here!

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