This post contains sensitive content regarding pregnancy loss. If that is too triggering for you, please feel free to stop reading!
Miscarriage. It tends to be a hidden loss, an unspoken pain, a hush-hush topic. It’s something not shared too willingly (risky! vulnerable!), something brushed aside too easily. With pregnancy loss, especially early on, it’s difficult to have closure, which makes it harder to grieve well and for others to know how to grieve with you.
We had been living in Cambodia almost two years with our two young children when a $1.20 pregnancy test from CarePharma gave us an exquisite POSITIVE. God was blessing us with another child! We were amazed and delighted and just a smidge terrified, but relieved that the babe was due to be born during our upcoming furlough in the U.S.
The ensuing weeks were busy finishing up language school, saying goodbyes, and preparing to move to a different province before winging off for home. December 22nd was our big Moving Day. It was a strenuous ordeal – loading the moving truck, cleaning the apartment, and a long taxi ride to our sisters’ house. In the midst of all that I started spotting. Of course my mind went to the worst place, the scariest place, but I also knew that was fairly common early on, so I tried to rest as much as possible and not worry.
However, the bleeding didn’t stop, and on Christmas Eve we lost our Noel Baby. It was excruciating. All I wanted in the whole wide world was to protect our child, to care for him or her, to make our baby live. And I couldn’t. The emptiness and pain were more overwhelming than anything I’d ever experienced.
In the days following the miscarriage I desperately ached to go home. I wanted to be with family, and I wanted to be far, far away from Cambodia (in my agony I think I blamed Cambodia for taking our baby from us!). Part of me wanted to stay home and never come back – which seemed like a heathen thing for a Kingdom worker to an unreached people to admit. Everything felt too hard and too heavy. I was tired in a way I’d never felt before – tired on the inside.
Most surprising to me was that I found myself filled with an unprecedented anger, a boiling, clawing anger (at everyone and everything!) that would come out of nowhere. I felt broken beyond repair. My husband and I both felt dreadfully isolated, alone, and so, so far from home. I thought the sadness might swallow me whole! Excruciating. We have since moved back to the U.S., and knowing that we had to leave our little one behind was particularly distressing. We still miss our Noel Baby every day. And also, the grief has changed with time. It is less sharp, not so all-consuming.
I share this bit of our story to remind each other – we all carry hidden hurts. Maybe it’s a baby who died before we got to meet him or her. Especially for women on the field, these hurts can exacerbate feelings of isolation and lead to thoughts that might seem wrong or shameful. The best healing? Share them with safe people, people who may not completely understand, but will listen and empathize and sit with you in the pain.
For me, telling others eased the burden and helped me grieve. Journaling kept the anger at bay. Being completely honest with my husband about how I was feeling, even if it meant sharing some uncomfortable things, helped me process in a healthier way. Counseling, whether remotely or in person, can be so beneficial!
Keeping the pain and loss hidden is a weight our Father never meant for us to bear alone. Let’s travel these hard roads together. Let’s work hard to acknowledge one another’s losses, whatever they may be.
If you need to talk to someone about a hidden loss on the field, reach out. GRC offers secure online counseling, and their professional counselors also understand the toll that life on the field can take.