In an attempt to describe the past week’s events, bittersweet is the only word that even comes close. Let’s start with last Wednesday and the birth of Henry, my nephew, the first baby on my side of the family. A super cute little boy who’s already brought a lot of joy to my family. We then move to Sunday and a powerful church service where my husband Dave preached. You could feel God’s presence. We prayed for and anointed church members; people were healed, we prayed for freedom from addictions and illness and for a renewed understanding of God’s love in people’s lives. What made this even more beautiful was that each adult praying was paired with a member of the youth group; these teenagers were amazing and so full of faith as they prayed. We then move to Monday, an early morning scan to see our developing baby at 10 weeks.
Sadly we never saw this.
Our baby had died at 8 weeks and 1 day.
The rapidly beating heartbeat and developing body we saw 2 weeks ago was just a memory and we were faced with a lifeless dark shape on the scan photo.
As we were ushered into a private room to grieve I couldn’t believe that this was actually my life. Surely life cannot be this painful? How is it possible to lose six babies? I’m not careless. I’m not reckless. I’ve not been taking drugs and bungee jumping. Quite the opposite; I’d stopped drinking caffeine and alcohol, was taking a variety of vitamins, as well as injecting myself each day to stop my blood clotting and taking extra progesterone (in the form of a pessary, a word that sounds far nicer than it actually is). How could we have seen and experienced so much life and hope in the past few days but then come face to face with death in such a shocking way? We prayed to the same God for the life of our baby, as for the people at church the day before. The only word that came to mind was ‘bittersweet’; I had to allow both to exist, now wasn’t the time to finding the answer as to why this had happened to us. The nurses explained our options, my fear of having to go through another six hours in A&E was at the forefront of my mind, but they promised they would care for us. I couldn’t read the information through the tears running down my face, but fortunately Dave was able to read out the details of how a medically managed miscarriage works and we agreed to return the next day to start the process.
What are you meant to do when you’re waiting to miscarry? How do you kill time? Well, we just filled our house with people. Amazing, beautiful people. We ate a lot of crisps, chips, and chocolate (basically food beginning with ‘c’ as long as it was unhealthy). That night our lounge was full of people who wept with us; an unforgettable moment of sweetness in the midst of such a sad time. We spent the next couple of days eating and sitting on the sofa with friends, waiting for the medication to work its way through my body. On the Thursday we arrived at the hospital where I would stay until I had miscarried. As I walked in I thought of my dear friend who had lost 3 children and was due to give birth any moment. I walked into the ward next to the birth centre once again acknowledging the presence of another bittersweet moment, knowing she was likely to be next door celebrating new life as I mourned the loss of life. That day was shared with two other women experiencing the same loss. That ward was a hidden place, where three lives that never saw this world were lost, a stark contrast to the joy of sharing and celebrating the birth of new life across the corridor.
Not wanting to push an illustration too far, but I do feel like I’ve got all the bitter, nasty bits of life at the moment, whilst those around me have got all the sweet bits. But I don’t want that to make me into a bitter person. In acknowledging the existence of both I hope this will keep me soft. I’ve learnt from experience not to pressure myself into having to be the first person in line to hold the new baby and change its nappy. If it’s too painful then it’s ok to step back. Acknowledging there are sweet moments in people’s lives doesn’t mean I have to be the life and soul of the party; I just need to let those moments happen. There are always those annoying people who say you need to count your blessings when things are difficult. In this time I do acknowledge the sweetness of the friends and family we have and their love and compassion as well as the amazing food they’ve brought us. But I will not deny the pain and sadness we feel right now. I love my husband, my family and my friends but that does not make this time any less painful. Instead it shows me once more that life can be bittersweet, and that’s ok. For now I will rest in that, there will be a time to wrestle with God and get angry and work out how to live beyond a day at a time. But right now I’m not in that place and I think God’s ok with that. Jesus was a man of great suffering as well as great joy and that’s enough for me right now.
Thankyou for sharing so honestly.My heart aches for you. I too know what it is to experience the bittersweetness of life. Different circumstances. The same Jesus. Will keep you in my prayers.
Hey Clare, thank you so much for your response. I have been thinking about you a lot over the past few weeks and my heart goes out to you too. Grief is a difficult thing and lasts so much longer than anyone could imagine. Sending lots of love to you too and although I struggle to pray right now I can only ask God meet you in your grief and that you will know hope. Xxx
lovely lizzie, so raw and so brave. brought tears to my eyes. takes a lot of courage to lay yourself bare like this, i hope it helps you and any others who are going through similar situation. love and blessings x
Thank you so much Toni, it really means alot. Really miss seeing you and Keziah on Tuesday mornings. Sending lots of love to you and the kids. Really hope you’re all loving your new home. Xx
Lizzie, thank you for writing so openly, honestly and without holding back. It’s been such an honour to walk a little way of your journey with you and to see your tenacity and bravery. May you bring courage, hope and peace with others who share such sorrows. Honoured to know you
Thanks for sharing so openly and honestly about yet another loss. You have both been on my heart and I was praying so much that you would have a complete pregnancy. May you know the Lord’s peace and blessing at this time of grief and pain. Still continuing to pray for you both.
Thank you so much Ruth and thank you for your prayers. Your kind words and encouragement mean alot.xxxx
Love you Lizzie and Dave. Can’t write more – got soggy eyes x
Thanks Chris, you’re so lovely! Your encouragement and your tears are very precious to us xxxx
Well done for being so brave and sharing this. You are amazing. You and Dave continue to be in our thoughts and prayers. All our love xxxx
You really are the bravest person I know Lizzie, I feel blessed to have know you since the age of 3 and hope our chats, tears and laughter through these past toughest of years have been of some help, love you as always xx
Thank you honey, you’re amazing too! Thanks for always being there for me it means so much xxxxx
Lizzie, I’m so sorry to hear what immense suffering you are going through. Like Clare said bittersweet is a word I use often too.
Please know I am praying for you. I often get told I’m being prayed for, and some days I think what’s the fat use of that, nothing makes this grief any easier, but I think nothing can make grief easier, but the grace of God can give us strength to take life one day at a time, and help us to Live rather than simply exist.
My heart aches for you Lizzie. X
Thanks so much Cat, you’re amazing. Thank you for your honesty too. I think of you a lot as I know that even though the weeks have passed by the grief remains. Thank you for your prayers,at the moment I struggle to pray but I will continue to ask God to be near you. All my love to you. So sorry you have to go through this.
Oh, Lizzie. Stu pointed me in the direction of you here, and your words are powerful. I’ll be holding you and Dave in my prayers.
Thank you for such an honest account of a horrific time. Praying for God’s peace and comfort for you both. Hope you find more and more sweet moments in each day
Hey Naomi. Thanks so much for your lovely comments and encouragement.
God is more than ok with how you feel my wonderful Lizzie, all I can say is ‘I know how I felt’, my mother heart joins a tiny bit of yours. we all experience the world differently, we all walk through pain in different ways, some have courage to pioneer raw openness for those who will have to walk in that pain in the future and know they are not alone. God hold you both xxx
I just want to say thank you so much for the love and support you have all shown. It’s not a good idea to post your first blog and then have to manically pack to go away for a month the next day. I do want to reply to your messages and will do so soon when I have a bit more time so that I can do it properly.
Dear Lizzie & Dave – words fail, but God knows our every thought, may our God richly bless you with his peace xxx
Ive got soggy eyes too. Brave amazing Lizzie, your honesty and attitude is inspiring, your sad sad situation is heartbreaking. I dont know what to pray, but God knows what you need, so im asking Him for that. Much love for you both x
I don’t know you guys, but stumbled across your blog through my friend Sarah yetman. I am humbled by your honesty and willingness to share your painful experiences with the world. When I was growing up, I looked on as my cousin and his wife had many failed attempts at IVF and endured much pain and heartache thanks to a poor decision made my a medical professional. Eventually they had a girl who is almost 11. People losing babies is one of the few things that continues to break my heart. I hope that you find some peace and comfort at this time. I shall be praying for you
Hi Becky, thank you so much for your kind words of support.
Dear Lizzie and Dave,
I don’t have your faith, at least would not express it in the same words as you, but your story had so many features I recognise. I loved what you said about not wanting to be bitter, but to stay soft. That’s a hard road and a spiritual discipline. I remember crying to a friend that I was terrified of being bitter and self-pitying – and he said ‘the fact you don’t want to be means that you won’t be.’ That helped. But it is, as you say, a day at a time job. I have found the greatest source of comfort from women and men who have been willing to share the experience, and I think this blog is wonderful. The courage it takes to put the feelings ‘out there’ is enormous, but I don’t think I would have even a crack at relative, insecure, contentedness with my devastating and now certain childlessness, had people not done things like this. I’ve found a great deal of help in the work of Jody Day and the Gateway Women http://gateway-women.com/. And I’ll add this saltwater and honey blog to my armoury. I found drawing on the salt and sweet tastes of Pesach incredibly powerful as way of describing the experience. The kind of grief we experience often goes unexpressed and unrecognised – and finding the words, images, metaphors to witness it is very important work. To quote Day – ‘Time does not heal. Grieving heals.’ Thanks for grieving with me Lizzie! I will think of your six, and my 13, including Caitlin and Rowan who were old enough to be named, playing together somewhere. Miss you Lizzie, and just so sorry that this has happened. It is deeply unfair, but it simply is. Someone said to me ‘you have to accept the unacceptable.’ The impossibility of that is built into the statement.
Heartfelt thanks to all those who are somehow working on the impossible in this blog. Love, Wendy
Hey Wendy thank you so much for your comments and support. Feel blown awayby how people have been able to identify with the bittersweet moments of life and the positive reaction to honesty. It felt so scary being so honest but I have found it so tiring to keep pretending. Thank you for your love and your generous words. Please know I also grieve with you in the sadness of your losses. We have so many plans of what we want to do with the blog and there are so many more stories to share. Thanks for your support for the blog and I will definitely check out the site you suggested. I do miss being part of the TRS department and it feels like ages since I’ve seen everyone. I will try to pop in for a visit when we’re next in town. Sending lots of love Xxx
Lizzie, I’m so sad to read your news. Thank you for your honesty.We cry with you and pray for you and Dave.
love Bekki & Martin
Becky & Martin thank you so much for your love, support and tears it really does mean a lot xxx
Dear Lizzie, you are incredible. I don’t know what to say but this is the most inspiring blog. You are a wonderful woman and your honesty is so humbling. lots and lots of love and hugs…
Katharine Sowden (Latin Link – Bolivia 1998)
Hey Katherine thanks so much for your comments. It feels very humbling to have had such an amazing response to the blog and our posts. Thanks for your lovely words of encouragement. Really hoping that by being honest it will help those who struggle in silence. Lots of love to you xxxx
Thank you Lizzie for sharing so deeply and honestly and letting in those of us who feel that we can’t keep asking how things are, because it might add to the pain, God’s OK with whatever you feel, wherever your are. His shoulders are the broadest shoulders in the universe – and they can accommodate all that we feel. With tears, love and prayers, Jill
Thank you Jill, it feels very releasing to just acknowledge that life can just be bittersweet rather than forcing yourself to ignore the pain and pretend that everything is ok. Thanks for your lovely words of support xxx
Brave, wonderful woman. I pray that this sharing is helpful for you both and that there is more sweet just around the corner. Love to you both. Tamsin
Hi Tamsin, thanks so much for your message and your prayers. Sending lots of love to you all in your home xxxxxx
All my love to you and Dave, and I am so sorry.
We miss you too,
Hi Dawn, thanks so much for being so lovely. I do miss you guys and all the 11 am coffee breaks! Hope you’re keeping everyone in out of trouble. Sending lots of love to you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Fellow TTC friend here, my friend sent me to your blog and this post made me cry for you. I’m just starting my fertility treatment journey and I hope so dearly that things will come good for you Lizzie. Thank you so much for sharing, you’re truly wonderful xx
Hi Lasairiona, thanks so much much for your lovely words. I really hope that as you embark on this new stage in your journey that it is one of hope that has a really happy ending, that you and your partner are drawn closer and closer to each other and that you are both surrounded by loving friends to support you through this. Sending lots of love and hope and prayers to you. xxxxxxxx