That morning I woke up and took a pregnancy test. Positive. I could feel my heart pounding in my brain. Anger. Fear. How could this have happened during such a horrible time in life? Why God?! We were not doing well financially and because of that, along with already having four young children to parent, there was a terrible strain on our marriage. Why NOW, God? Something else I noticed was blood. Was that normal? I should already know since I have four kids, but I Google it anyway. It can be normal but I also search signs of miscarriage. Chances increase with age of 35 years and older, too much caffeine intake, obesity… and all the other signs, everything checked off for me. Well, no time to dwell on it, it was time to give the STAAR test to my fifth graders. Can’t call in, just go to work, there will be plenty to take my mind off everything. Refill my coffee cup and get into my car.
The bleeding, though. Hmmm. I consult with a school nurse and tell her everything. She says if I start cramping and bleeding more heavily, we’ll know it’s a miscarriage. I proctor test, walk around the classroom all morning long. The cramps come and by lunch time, I’m miserable and bleeding heavily.
I go home to have a miscarriage. It feels surreal. My head is pounding, my heart is aching, I’m anxious and physically ill, but my body knows what to do. I call my midwife, Robin, and she lets me know what to expect and all I can do is wait. Finally, I pass a life, a very little life. And in that instant my entire life changes.
No one who knows me would describe me as a quiet person, but in those next few days, a new Melody emerged. She didn’t know how to express what just happened. She cried a lot at home, but performed at work. Then she stopped crying because there was only numbness. When someone asked me how I was, it was jarring. I couldn’t just tell them, “I just had a miscarriage, I’m super lost, and I didn’t even want to be pregnant, but I had no idea it would hurt this badly in my heart or body.” You don’t tell people that. So I didn’t.
Like many others who have gone through miscarriage, and it is quite common, it triggered depression. So much guilt. Anger and alienation. No matter that my family tried to explain to me that it wasn’t my fault, there was nothing they could say to convince me otherwise.
For the first time in my life, I thought about Heaven quite differently. Did I really have a baby? Would he or she be up there waiting for me one day like I had told so many others who had suffered through this painful journey before me? I reflected on this for a long time. There was a point where the guilty part of me demanded to snap out of this, how could I be sad when I didn’t even want that baby? Honestly, there was no relief in losing this life. Did God still think it was precious? Did He think I was? How could I feel so far removed from Him when I needed Him the most? When I think of that year, I think of a black hole and feeling swallowed by the enormity of it. The enormity of life going on around me and feeling unable to engage fully.
But that’s not how my story ends. There came a time of forgiveness. There came a time of allowing myself all the tears that felt bottled over the passage of time. One of the first times I shared my story, someone rudely asked how I could even allow myself to be pregnant again when I already had four children. That was the comment I was most afraid of and when it finally arrived, it stung, but by then, I was craving the light and decided to let it go.
Life definitely looked differently to me. During the weekend of the year anniversary of my miscarriage, I found out I was pregnant again. So much amazement. So much love. So much fear. Life felt too fragile. Would it happen again? We thought it might. That pregnancy would be one filled with prayerful requests of faith to help me fight the fear that was constantly threatening to steal the joy.
There came a point at the very end of my pregnancy with my last child, when we could not detect any movement or a heartbeat. I felt paralyzed in fear, but the prayers from my heart poured out, “Please, God, I do not want to lose him. But God if I have to lose him, I know You will be with me every moment through this.” I also knew in those moments that our lives were precious to Him. Robin, my midwife, was scared too but she didn’t tell me that until after we found a heartbeat an hour later (after I downed juice and was hooked up to a special monitor). Since I had my baby not too many days later, he could have just been getting into position ready to come. In fact, Robin was so kind and thoughtful throughout my entire pregnancy. She would let me see him every at every check up. I had shared with her my fears the entire pregnancy that I was afraid I would lose this baby, too. She understood. Her strength and wisdom really made a difference.
While I would never wish this kind of pain on anyone, there came a time when I realized I was a better human for going through it all. Allowing the darkness to swallow me for a time actually gave me a new perspective on the light. When life reveals that rare moment of utter beauty, my heart begs me to soak it all in and live in that moment. When we took our first family vacation to the shores of Alabama last year, I breathed it all in. Fear tried to steal those precious moments of joy, reminding me that the shoe could drop on the other side, but I knew that no matter what came next in life, we had this moment. Those memories are cherished more, now.
Something else I learned was to listen more. We don’t experience loss the same, but one thing is to listen to those mourning. We don’t need to have all the answers or even the right words. Sometimes words are just wasted breath anyway. Thoughtful gestures by friends who cared were important. They let me know I was supported even if I didn’t have the words. With them, words weren’t necessary.
My faith is stronger now that I’ve experienced a bit of hell. We always hear that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. That is not true for everyone. There are some who choose bitterness. I am definitely a stronger person for going through tragedy, but I’ve also learned it’s not strength I’d have ever been able reach on my own. Leaning on grace, mercy, and forgiveness is supernatural and beyond anything I could do for myself. I had to choose to lean into it and not avoid the pain anymore.
Time has passed and the pain doesn’t choke me up every time I think about my miscarriage. But I will never forget my baby. Every time I think of the gap between Lizzie and Whit, I think of my Baby. Every time someone asks me how many kids I have, in my heart, I answer six. I can imagine my Baby meeting my Dad when he left this earth for Heaven, too. While this isn’t a club I would have chosen to belong to, I belong to it anyway. I cherish the ways it has changed me into the woman, mother, wife, and educator I am today.