My Miscarriage and How to Help Someone Through Their’s

IMG_2057  copy of pregnant C

I’d been ready for another kiddo for over a year and so I was thrilled in March 2015 when we were 9 weeks pregnant. My belly was already showing. I had been nauseous and tired, and oh so happy. A friend and I  traveled to South Africa  for my appointment. I laid down on the exam table ecstatic. Finally the day was here!

I quickly sensed something was wrong but couldn’t quite read the foreign doctors face. His next question confirmed my suspicion, and altered my life forever, “Are you absolutely sure of your dates?” I saw the empty screen. I saw Amanda’s face and I knew something was terribly wrong.  “I’m sorry but all I can see is an empty sac. If there is a baby there it’s no more than 5 weeks old.” I heard other things like, chromosomal abnormality, spontaneous abortion, 5.5 weeks, blighted ovum, dead, common, surgery, slight chance of a baby, abortion pills…Shock and Tears. I paid for my visit, flooded with tears and left. It was a long 2 hour journey home. I was eternally grateful for my friend to drive.

Day 2: Death inside of me: The waiting stage. I found myself walking down a path I didn’t want to take.  I didn’t dare ask WHY. I Just walked in faith. What else can we do, especially with young kids. I had no option but to carry on with the mundane tasks of life. One shaky foot in front of the other.

Day 7: Is there any HOPE? I tried calling around to get a second opinion. But the Dr.’s were booked for months. No one was willing to give me a second opinion. Eight days, walking around knowing there was something dead in me. I began to hate my body. If I could have reached in and tore it out, I would have. My son: “Mommy I’m so sad your baby stopped working. Mom. Your baby died?” Apparently the baby stopped developing around 5 weeks, but the placenta and sac continued to grow, producing hormones to trick my body into thinking it was still pregnant.

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

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Day 8: Spotting begins. I started spotting. Cramping and pain marked my 10 weeks pregnant. I had lost hope in life and honestly was relieved in seeing the blood. I could start the grieving process. Depression overwhelmed me. I was angry with my kids. I was confused. I felt alone. I felt betrayed by my body, by life.  I was Scared. Mad. Sad. So alone. Had it really only been a week since I found out? Somehow grief stops time.

Through Gods mercy and grace I was put in contact with two friend from home who were going through the exact same thing, at the exact same time. We communicated daily. Asking each other about blood, and each others’ hearts, and Dr.’s apts etc. It was comforting and scary to know what was coming. I am so grateful for these soul Sisters walking this path with me from afar. Unfortunately this is a very common thing.

Day 9: Sunday more spotting.  Heavy cramping. Pain. My body felt like it was preparing for labor. My bowls were emptying, my back hurt. I was nauseous. Through this whole process I had been praying that it would just happen quickly and I could move ON! Why wont this thing just leave my body? I felt sick.

I had some support. Friends brought me food when I was brave enough to ask for help. Prayers. There were a few in particular that checked up on me daily who I knew were there for me, even when I didn’t know what I needed. They listened when I shared. With a short text, “How are you today?” One was brave enough to sit with me in the pain.  Eternally bonded and grateful. I knew friends from home were praying for me. I would get some messages and emails. It was comforting and I knew they cared. But honestly it fueled my homesickness and loneliness here in Africa. But still I fought against the feeling of abandonment by those who knew, who didn’t utter a single word. When there was silence I was left to fill in the blank, and it wasn’t nice. But again, God was teaching me to be thankful for what I did have, instead of be bitter about what I didn’t have.  It was hard. I was so desperate and scared.

As I shifted in the hard wood seats at church, I felt more blood leaving me. How many others were carrying an impossible burden. I heard a message just for me that morning that honestly I didn’t really want to hear:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. “Philippians 4: 4-7

Was it possible to rejoice at a time like this? Was He asking me to be thankful for my miscarriage? I patiently listened. Today I realized instead of praying this pain away, I have something deep to learn in the midst of the pain. I learned that the key to rejoicing was not in my situation but because the God of the Heavens was walking with me in the pain. I felt more relaxed, as I heard God telling me, TRUST ME, I am here with you, I love you daughter.

Day 11: The Day I Gave Birth to Death.     The bleeding is increasing. Which I’m *thankful* for. I was hoping to do it naturally at home. Matt is home studying Sesotho.  I was in pain all morning as the bleeding steadily increased. My back and abdominal area was in so much pain. I spent the morning in bed while Matt took over with the kids. When Chloe went down for her nap around noon I started contracting. My body went into full on labor.

Labor. Contractions every few minutes. And heavy bleeding. So much blood. Dizzy. Every inch of me hurt. So much blood in such a short period. This is what I had prayed for, right? Oh God help me! The waves of labor hit me. I frantically texted two of my friends who said they were available to be “on call” to come and get my kids. I found myself vocalizing through the pain and contractions. I didn’t want to scare the kids and quite frankly I needed Matt’s undivided attention. I could feel the pain rising up in me, and the flood beginning to come out of me, so I’d jump up and run to the bathroom, barely able to make it to the toilet in time. I knew I just had to get through it. One friend came and took Caleb. And another got Chloe. As the second friend showed up, I will never forget this tragic feeling…

I felt the sac and the baby fall down out of my uterus and I ran to the bathroom holding myself and before I could sit down it all splashed into the toilet.

To this day, I still regret not looking. Not sure what I would have seen. But I replay this moment over and over again in my head. In a panic I flushed it. I was in shock. After this I just wanted it to be over with, little did I know this process was far from over. Laboring in pain for 4 hours with no hope. No snuggles. No kisses. No one who would come and visit afterwards. Slowly somehow my body started to slow down. I could finally rest between bathroom trips. The pain started to decrease.  

Day 12: How you can help…I guess many people don’t know what to say when someone is suffering, so we say and do nothing. And it stung. Deep. I felt so alone. I was feeling sorry for myself. Maybe we’re afraid to bring up the pain? But honestly, when someone is suffering, the worst thing you can do is ignore or not address their pain, because it’s probably all they are thinking about. Please reader, hear this: SAY SOMETHING!  But please, don’t tell them you know what they’re going through, unless you truly do. I’m certain there is someone in your life right now who is suffering. Someone who needs to know they are not alone. Reach out to them please. Let them know that you’re there if they want to talk.

If you’re the one suffering, ASK FOR HELP! Reach out to someone!

When you offer help, BE SPECIFIC. Don’t leave it at, “let me know if you need help.” Instead ask, “Can I come tomorrow morning and help you with your kids/ dishes/ pray with you?” Realize that person is living day to day, hour by hour. Stop and pray WITH that person instead of just telling them you will pray for them. Hold their hands and let them cry. Just be with them. Just sit. Sit in the ugly, uncomfortable place, and BE present. Check in each day. Find a way to help. Grocery shop for them, take their kids for a walk, anything. As brothers and sisters in Christ we are called to be part of eachother’s lives and to mourn with those who morn, or weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15.)

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Photo taken by my son.

Day 13: Spotting continues, Depression.    I am looking more forward now that he or she is out of me. I’m not so focused downward and inward. I named him. Committed his or her life to our Father. I hope one day I will be able to hold him/her in my arms. My dear neighbor gave me a candle to remember him by.  But I feel depressed and in a haze. At times the grief hits me like an overwhelming wave and cripples me as I am unable to do anything but sob, usually in the bathroom. There are times when I shoved my kids to the side in irritation, just wanting to sit and be left alone. Guilt.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43: 18-19. 

I fought to be thankful. Thankfulness is an active choice and it breeds healing.

  • ~For doing it naturally and safely at home.
  • ~For my husband to be there. (He was stranded in the mountains just two days before.)
  • ~For friends who were there when I needed them.
  • ~For the two beautiful kids I already have.

God is teaching me to be thankful for what I do have. As my body continued to flush itself out I prayed that God’s word would flood in and cleanse my body, heart, mind and soul.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior… Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.” Isaiah 43: 1-4

Day 17: Spotting continues Ugh. I Thought it was done. It’s so light- but still very annoying.  My husband said he is not sure if he will want more kids. Gulp. What?! Could I be happy with just my two?

Day 20: Joy?   Depression continues. Bleeding is slowing. How do I move on?   In bible study, of all things we were studying Joy-a steady strength from Him. The beautiful women in this group allowed a safe space for me to share my grief and experience and covered me in prayers. God obviously wanted me to hear him. Joy is not happiness. Stuffing grief kills joy and that I had to go through this process to get to the other side. Joy is knowing that God is constantly there with you in the midst of my deep sorrow.  I had to ask if I really believed that the Lords answer of “not now,” in this pregnancy was for my good?

I’ve had to really resist from asking “Why?” No good can come from that now. God never promises to keep up from harm. Look at his Son, who suffered and died. Until He comes again, death and tears are part of life. But I do know He is coming back and in that day tears and death will be no more! And so there is joy in that.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I lam making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” Revelation 21

Week 4: Still spotting and cramping. God is really working on my heart and asking me if He is enough for me?  It is so easy in times of pain to run to the comforts in the world and not to Him. I felt so alone. Emotionally exhausted. I spent many nights with a bag of chips and chocolate and a whole season of a show, with my bible no where to be found. But whenever I went looking for Him, He was there.

Easter: Done spotting.  So very thankful my body is finished with the process. I do feel my heart is starting to heal. We’ve had guests staying in our house from the mountains for a few days and it’s so good to be distracted.  It has been so painful to be away from family and friends in American during this. My whole support system is on the other side of the world and I just want home. I am so home sick. Tears.

Week 5: Bleeding back.  I had three days of rest and now it’s returned. Possibly my first period? My dreams, my hopes of the life that should have been, slowly leaving me. Deep pain. Scab ripped open.

Week 6: Still spotting.  We had an Women’s conference here in Lesotho with other missionary women called “IF.” Where we sat at the feet of our Lord and got our cups filled. I cried out in frustration that I was still spotting. I am so fed up. How do I heal? I am questioning why I want more kids? Is there a right way to have a family? Is there a wrong way? What is the point of all this?

Week 7: It seems to be done. Finally.   I feel back to my normal self. Whatever normal is. The Lord has heard my cries and the process has ended.  I feel a peace. A contentment and a joy that only Jesus can give.  Waiting on my husband’s leading for our future family is freeing.  Contentment is a choice.

4 months later:  I look at my youngest differently now. I have fallen more in love with her, knowing she could be my last. My heart has settled into submission to where my husband’s heart is.  I still won’t ask God WHY?  But rather, I continue to walk in faith, knowing he loves me and I can trust Him, even though I trully don’t understand why this happened. We have a God and Savior who can identify with our pain and our grief because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and the pain he bore for our sins. I do know that God is good, all the time. I know I can trust Him, and so I walk one foot in front of the other.

The World I See…

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So often here, I can’t make sense of the world I live in. I often find myself feeling sorry for my self and overwhelmed. I mean, yesterday I had to travel internationally to go to mine and Caleb’s dentist appointments, so he could fix the botched job the last dentist did. Because of new laws Matthew and I both had to travel to the police station get a special paper signed, track down a printer and copier, get copies of this and that all in preparation for me traveling with one of our kids without Matthew. Because of child trafficking the laws are strict now. Although, in the end, they didn’t even end up asking me for half the documents they now “require.” Oh the stress. But we made the most of it and spent four hours traveling and a few hours shopping.  Thank goodness the town we went to had McDonalds, or Uncle Donalds as Caleb calls it. We did shopping in South Africa that we can’t do here, like getting bibles in English, getting yummy crackers and tomato soup with out MSG, and buying playdough and a little Lego toy for Caleb, since he was so brave at the dentist and didn’t have any cavities! Oh, and coffee and chocolate filled croissants! I was so tempted to buy myself nice things to decorate my house with, or a new pair of pants or just something pretty. And don’t get me wrong, I do do that occasionally, but the way I see money and spend it has drastically changed since we moved here. No matter how hard things can be, or how uncomfortable I am, there are so so many that have it so much worse than me.

When we came here I was so shocked at the reality of how rich I am. I am constantly aware of how blessed I am. What I wouldn’t give foe a taste of home. My heart aches daily for family, friends, comfort and home. But God is daily working in my heart to heal, grow, mold and teach me that I need to be grateful and thankful for what I do have! And not sad about what I don’t. Contentment.  A house, warm clothes, lots of food, a phone, a car. I can afford to take my kids to the doctors and afford medication for them. When I see others, how can I ever complain again. Matt and I have no debt. We live on a budget and we are blessed to have a savings account. I cannot tell you all who help to support us, how eternally humbled and grateful we are to you! THANK YOU.

I was having a conversation with one of the dear Mosotho women in my life recently. She was so so sooo happy to tell me she had finally found a small piece of land to build a house on. The last plot of land she bought was actually sold to numerous different people so she in the end got screwed out of her life savings. This is a huge problem here. People pay with out receiving the proper paper work, because it takes money to get the paper work, and in the end they have nothing. She did end up getting some of the money back, and is now only $350 short for the new piece she found. She was asking me if we could help here. In total her small plot of land is about $1,500.

I asked her how she would afford to build a house on the land she buys. She explained that she can’t. But she will look for some of the metal sheeting used for roofs here to build a small shack, so then at least she can live there and not pay rent anymore. Then slowly she can start to build with bricks as she gets the money. Living here has totally revolutionized how I view and spend money.

You see. She, like so many other “lucky ones” with jobs here live on, around, $100 a month. She is a widow. She takes care of her daughter who graduated school but cannot find work, and also her granddaughter who is an orphan. She told me $50 is for rent a month. Then $20 for her granddaughters school a month. Then that leaves $30 for EVERYTHING else. Food, electricity, water, etc. My heart broke. “Mme, what do you eat?” She along with the rest of the country live off of Papa, which is maize meal. Corn porridge and spinach, or cabbage cooked and seasoned with MSG. And maquenia, like a fat cake, and more corn. Sigh. It is so cold here now, and paraffin, gas for the heaters is expensive. My heart was so broken. Can you imagine having $30 to eat with and heat your house in winter, and travel with for a whole month, every month, for 3 people? In America it was so easy to ignore poverty, and honestly often I wasn’t sure how to really make a difference. I didn’t really know any poor people. But now…

But we can’t just become paralyzed by the scope of the suffering. All we can do is make a small ripple. But with the Holy Spirits leading he will show where he wants us to make that impact. I am learning on a whole new level what it means to love my neighbor like myself. What good is it if a man clains to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?  In scripture it says, “Suppose a brother and sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you sayd to them, “Go in peace and keep warm and be well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? (James 2:5-6, 8, 14-16).  We cannot give to every need because we feel guilty. But we cannot restrain from giving because we’re afraid we’re going to “do it wrong.” It’s all about being so in-tune with His Spirit that we know when to act and when to pray.

Please pray for us as we navigate the extreme poverty we see daily, and the intense wealth God has for some reason granted us with. Pray for wisdom and discernment and peace and Joy as we share His love and the Good News with the lost and hungry here. As we work to make this home. Let me know if you too want to make a ripple and support in some way with the many I know here either spiritually or financially. We are currently collecting socks and gloves and leggings for the Local Church outreach next month into one of our most isolated and poorest airstrip communities we serve in.

God Bless you. Love, Carolyn

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Driving home from visiting friends at the orphanage. Typical housing you see in 85% of Lesotho.

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The kids playing with local kiddos while we were setting up The Jesus Film

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Heading home from visiting Daddy at work, keeping warm for the 35 min drive.