Last October my friend invited me to participate in Infant Loss Awareness day on Facebook by telling my story. But my story was already 35 years old, and I really wasn’t sure anyone would want to hear it. Most people that had known about the loss of our first baby had long since forgotten, I’m sure, and we had, after all, gone on to have three beautiful, healthy boys. To be honest, when I decided to write a brief note about our little one in heaven, I thought only the people who’d been “invited” to the Infant Loss Awareness page would be able read it. But when friend after friend commented about what I’d said, I realized not only were others able to read it but also perhaps there was a reason they needed to know the story.
35 years ago losing a baby early in pregnancy was considered just one of the risks of getting pregnant. And, in all honesty, I suppose it still is. Depending on whom you believe 10 – 30 percent of all pregnancies will end in miscarriage. I remember a friend of mine who had struggled through the aftermath of two miscarriages, one right after another, before I had mine saying, “I’m not sure I even want to get pregnant again – this is too hard.” At the time I thought, “What’s the big deal?” Ah, the insensitivity of one who doesn’t have a clue. At least I was smart enough not to voice my thoughts. (I think . . . I HOPE!)
It was May of 1978 that the child that I’d tried for over a year to conceive was stillborn after just six to eight weeks’ gestation. They called it a spontaneous abortion. I hated that term. The baby “delivered” into a toilet, still whole and encompassed in the embryonic sac. Graciously, my husband was home and scooped the baby out for me, and even had the foresight to take a picture. It was a slide and I carried it in my wallet for many years (until it occurred to me that a wallet is a really bad spot to keep something so precious). People said stupid things like, “This is God’s way of making sure babies aren’t born with problems,” and “You’ll have other babies.” It was then that I realized what my friend was talking about. It is HARD to lose a baby, regardless of how long you’ve been pregnant. I remember thinking, “I don’t care if my baby was a monkey! It was MY baby and I already loved it!” (And, by the way, miscarriage is NOT God’s way of getting rid of babies with problems. If that were so, then babies with medical issues would never be born.)
God bless these well-meaning friends. I knew they were just trying to help ease my pain, but sometimes there is a pain you just have to walk through. It’s not meant to be eased, at least not immediately.
There was no such thing back then as Infant Loss Awareness Day. And yes, the pain does lessen over the years, but it never completely goes away. A couple of years ago at the Women of Faith conference, they asked everyone who had ever lost a baby to stand up. It felt weird because, like I said, so many years had passed. But not to stand up felt like a lie. When I stood, the tears, both of grief and of healing fell freely.
I wish there was a simple answer as to why babies leave this earth before they’ve even really entered it. I don’t know. But I do know that my experience has helped me to grieve better with other moms who lose their babies prematurely. I also know that God is so very faithful. Our pain is never wasted; it is always redeemed if we allow Him to use us by sharing our story. Have you been holding your pain in for way too long? Maybe it’s time to put it in God’s hands.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16
Nancy loves to laugh and considers laughter a critical part of human survival. If you were to ask, most days she would say her glass is half full but when it starts reaching the half-empty level, she reaches for a funny book or movie knowing that indeed “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Nancy has three married sons and five grandchildren. To read more from Nancy find her at www.nancyholte.com.