Miscarriage Stories: A Peaceful Birth
Note from the Creator of LoveNaturalBirth on Miscarriage Stories: Toni's natural miscarriage story came with a prelude, "It's not my intention to force my faith down anyone's throat; however, I found I could not write up my miscarriage story without mentioning God, because my faith was such a big part of my experience. " Faith is such a great thing, whether in God, Source or Nature...whatever you want to call the creator...I celebrate when someone tells me their faith got them through! May we all be full of faith, for without we are rather hopeless small creatures.
Toni's Miscarriage Story Shared:
My first child, Ella, was born naturally at home. It was a wonderful experience, and truly what we thought was best for our baby. We planned the same when we found out we were pregnant again. This second pregnancy started out normal enough, but at 9 weeks, the spotting began. I knew right away that something wasn't right, and feared for the worst. I went to our back-up doctor and found out my progesterone levels were low, so went on shots and suppositories. I desperately wanted an appointment with our midwife, but we had some trouble scheduling one (babies come in their own time, and all that).
At 11 weeks, we were struggling to close on the sale of our house and I was incredibly stressed out. I was ready to breakdown and head in to the doctor to schedule an ultrasound. It just felt like something wasn't right. And I wanted an ultrasound to prove me wrong. But I'm glad I waited. Eventually, we had our first visit with the midwife, and everything seemed ok. They had trouble hearing the heartbeat, but I wasn't terribly concerned, because I have a bicornate uterus and we hadn't been able to hear Ella's heartbeat until she was 18 weeks along.
But at 16 weeks, the on-again-off-again spotting I'd had suddenly became more persistent, and I started experiencing cramping. After an ultrasound, we discovered our little baby did not have a heartbeat and had stopped growing around 11-12 weeks. The baby, who we found out later was a boy, looked perfect and beautiful, though hauntingly still.
I was devastated, frustrated, felt guilty... a little bit of everything. I got most of my emotions out in the car on the trip home. I wasn't sure what to do. When I'd thought about the possibility of miscarriage, I'd told myself I wanted to have the baby natural, if possible. The idea of going in for a procedure horrified me, and I'd heard enough negative things about Cytotec that I didn't want to do that either.
But the idea of waiting for the baby to come was intimidating. The reality of the situation was that I worked full-time and everyone knew I was pregnant (not to mention, I looked pregnant), so I wouldn't be able to deal with the anticipation in the relative comfort of my own home. I would either need to tell everyone and face that sadness every day, or keep everyone in the dark and deal with their smiles and well-wishes for my pregnancy. The doctor was very supportive of all options, and said he would give us a couple of weeks to wait it out if we wanted. But that seemed like more than we could bear. We decided to wait until Monday to schedule anything. I prayed God would allow the baby to be born naturally before then.
As that day wore on, the cramping became more and more like labor contractions, rising and falling in intensity in rather regular intervals. It became obvious that my body was doing something, and I rejoiced in the opportunity to labor with my baby.
Our pastor visited and prayed with us. It was intense to share such deep emotions with someone outside our family. And he brought our requests to God, and there was a feeling of peace.
Later that afternoon, the contractions were becoming more intense. I decided to go upstairs and take a shower. I remembered how wonderful warm water had felt when I was pregnant with Ella, and I also wanted an opportunity to be alone with my baby one last time, and process through some of the crazy emotions that were swirling around in my brain.
It was wonderful. I told my baby that I loved him, that I was sorry if anything I had done or not done had caused this. It was hard not to feel guilty with how stressed I'd been with the sale of our house and moving. Asking my baby for forgiveness was very meaningful to me, and allowed me to let go of that guilt I was feeling. I told him how much we all loved him. How much we wished we could have met him. How amazing his daddy and sisters were. How I wanted so badly to hold him, nurse him, show my love to him. I told him everything that was swirling around in my heart. And I told him good-bye, held him in my belly one last time. And then I was ready to let go of him. I went downstairs, full of peace and ready to embrace whatever happened.
My husband and I were torn between wanting to do everything naturally, and wanting medical back-up in case something went wrong. Also, my husband was more than a little freaked at the idea of having to handle it all at home. We'd had a natural birth previously, but there had been the midwife, her assistant, and a doula there to deal with those "icky" parts like the placenta, that made my husband queasy. I think my husband expected things to get intense enough that we would go to the hospital and our baby would be born there. But the bleeding stayed light, not much more than spotting, up to the birth. For me, it was a relief to avoid the hospital entirely.
One of our close friends from the church brought over supper. She had gotten pregnant at the same time as me. Her visit was so meaningful, her hug full of emotion. She already had six kids and hadn't wanted another baby. As she struggled to accept her pregnancy as a blessing, here I was, losing a child I desired very much. It struck me that both of us were in a position of needing to resign ourselves to God's will for our family. And somehow it never struck me to be angry at God for the apparent unfairness of the situation. I couldn't be, because I felt so blessed in the midst of everything. If I'd gone in for the ultrasound at 11 weeks like I had wanted, we would have had to face the miscarriage while were closing on the sale of our house, a time when we were already stressed to our limits and completely unprepared for the blow. Also, I wouldn't have been able to wait the 5 weeks it took for our baby to come in his own time. I would have given in to a hospital procedure, and that would have left more than just physical scars. It was an immeasurable blessing and honor to labor with my son.
My husband, Ella, and I ate and I reclined on the couch as we watched a movie. The contractions became stronger. I found myself falling back on the techniques I'd used to cope with my labor with Ella. Relaxing, closing my eyes, feeling my body open, rejoicing in the power. Eventually, I felt the familiar pressure in my lower abdomen. Pressure that meant the time was near. The movie was over, and so my husband pulled out his guitar to jam on some songs he was working on. Ella played around in the living, dancing along to his music. I went to the bathroom... and pushed.
I remembered how it felt with Ella. In the birthing pool, surrounded by my midwife, her assistant, my doula, and my husband. This was different, but the same. I remembered how it felt to push then, and I concentrated on pushing. Then, anticipated and yet a surprise, I felt him pass, and then a release. And I knew he was born. There was an intense wave of relief and joy that swept over me, along with a bit of sadness.
It was the most dignified birth I could have imagined for him, given the circumstances. He was born to the sound of his daddy's guitar and his sister playing in the other room. There's an unconventional sort of beauty to it. And it was just what I had prayed for. What a blessing! He was born whole, and I got to see him. He was tiny and perfect. And I swear he had a smile on his face! It brought me so much joy to see my little boy.
I was so relieved to labor with him, to have born him naturally at home, to get to meet him. And I was rejoicing in the miracle of his birth. Later, I was reclining on the couch, my parents playing with Ella on the floor in front of me, and it struck me that I felt as joyful in that moment as the hours following Ella's birth. I may not have a baby to snuggle with afterwards, but he was still every bit a miracle, and that was the prevailing emotion for the next several days. I was smiling at least as much as I was crying. It was the peace of God that was completely beyond me.
We named him Melvin Merle, in honor of our maternal grandfathers. He has been a blessing in my life. We had a memorial service for him and a night of worship. I only cried at the cemetery when I had to say good-bye. Otherwise, I couldn't be sad for my tiny little darling, because I know he's in a better place than me. I look forward to meeting him someday, after I too pass on from this world.
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you..." (Jeremiah 1:5)
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