When Expectation Turns to Devastation

Out of nowhere a momma bird began building a nest on top of our outdoor lights. Our family tried to move the nest several times, but she came back and built the nest in the same spot.

We watched in amazement as the twigs became a solid round nest complete with mud for a solid exterior and a soft inner lining made of grass. Then it happened – the eggs started to appear. Quickly we noticed two eggs become three, then four. When the momma bird would leave, one of us would step outside the back door and hold our phone over the top of the nest to snap pictures. Our whole family was captivated by this little bird and her nest!

There’s something about the anticipation of new life that creates wonder. Like that momma bird, we were wondering what the new lives inside those eggs would be like when they emerged.

A few days later we  heard squawking outside our window. Of course, we quickly rushed over to check on the nest. Only this time the little nest was empty.  Our boys watched as momma bird came to the nest looking for her eggs, but they were gone.

As I held my phone above the nest to take one final picture, a flood of memories washed over me. Not so long ago, I too was preparing for our new arrival.

After three years of infertility with our first child, I was so excited to become a mother for the second time! In eight short weeks I had already begun to plan for our new little one to become part of our family. But when the ultrasound technician drew a deep breath and told my husband and me to “just wait here” I knew something had gone wrong.

In the weeks that followed I would struggle to understand my devastation. 

If you’ve ever experienced a miscarriage, you may  wonder if things will ever feel right again. Like me, you may also feel like you weren’t far enough along in your pregnancy to grieve. These emotions were flooding through me so strongly that I didn’t know what to do with them. So I tried to ignore them, and focus on the next step in building our family. I tried not to face the reality that I had experienced a loss. I wanted to just move on.

But this loss was so real, and trying to run from it was only making things worse. Until my dear loved ones stepped in and gently walked me through the pain.

Your Loss Is Real

When I miscarried, I was eight weeks pregnant. Somehow I thought that it was not real enough, or I was not far enough along to grieve. But the truth is, there was a life being created inside of me. I knew from my first pregnancy that at a mere five weeks, the baby has a heartbeat, and at eight weeks the hands and feet begin to form tiny fingers and toes. Arms are able to flex at the elbows. Eyes develop pigment, and genitals are forming too.

Your loss is very real. A new life was being formed inside of you, and it doesn’t matter how far along in your pregnancy you were.

A Time to Grieve

In my desperation to make things seem normal, I was not facing the fact that I really did lose a life. Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is an occasion for everything and a time for every activity under heaven. Chapter 3:4 says, “a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance (CSB)” There is definitely time for the good things in life, like laughing and dancing, but Solomon did not skip over dealing with the hard things. 

When I finally allowed myself to listen to my family, I realized it was okay to grieve that loss. My mother encouraged me to give the baby a name, so that I could remember them as a person. 

My husband made himself available to me and listed to me any time I needed to share how I was feeling. 

My mother-in-law openly shared with me comforting words that helped me to realize I had not been grieving. One day, I finally sat down with a devotional book titled, Grieving the Child I Never Knew (by Kathe Wunnenberg) https://amzn.to/2Vm9usM and decided it was time to go through this painful process.

As I opened up the book, I was opening up my heart to grieve. I realized as I read through the pages of another woman’s experience in miscarriage that I was not grieving alone. There are other women who have been through this and there is a God who was with me and was going to walk through every step with me. 

I pray that as you read these words you take comfort in knowing my heart is with yours as you grieve the loss of your child. I pray you know that it is okay to grieve this loss, no matter how far you were in your pregnancy. There is a God who loves you and will walk through this with you too.

Michelle Flaningan
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