Saturday, January 5, 2013

Miscarriage: A Lonely Grief

I wrote this post a couple of months ago after we had our most recent miscarriage.  It was so deeply personal when I wrote it that I felt I couldn't share it, at least not yet.  Then I heard this week that a very dear friend of mine is miscarrying, and the heartbreaking email she sent me prompted me that now was the time to post.  

“It’s such a lonely grief, isn’t it?” Shawn said as I sat across from him at the kitchen table, wiping tears from my cheeks with shaking hands, salt bitter on my lips.

I nodded.  I felt so distant from him, from everyone, really.  I’d had this same feeling before.  Five and a half years ago, we’d gotten the same diagnosis from an apologetic ultrasound technician: no heartbeat. Back then I remember feeling angry at Shawn for not crying himself to sleep the way I did, for not walking around the house in a stupor of grief like me.  I wanted him to feel the pain I did.  But he didn’t; he couldn’t.

And this time around I understood that and didn’t hold it against him.  This was my grief.  Not solely, but definitely primarily. And the anger didn’t show up this time for one major reason: I wasn’t looking for validation.  With my first miscarriage, I wanted it to be okay for me to be sad.  Everyone said it was, but I didn’t believe it in my heart. I thought that because I didn’t have a flesh and blood baby to put in the grave, my tears were sensational, an emotional indulgence.

With this miscarriage, I felt that admonishment creeping up.  “Maile, it was a dream, a thought, not a baby.” But my soul couldn’t consent.  Inside it felt like such a loss that I knew out of respect for myself, I had to acknowledge this event as “major” even if no one else did. So I held tight to that conviction.  I talked openly about my sadness, gave myself permission to cry in front of others, to lose it, to sob uncontrollably in the shower, in bed, in the car, at the table. 

And to my surprise, I found the gracious support of so many surround me. The hugs of fellow women who suffered through miscarriages began to disperse the loneliness in my grief.  The texts, emails and voice messages of friends and family across the country gave such comfort. The whispered conversations I cried through with Shawn late at night as the children snored beside us reminded me why I married this man. And while I grieved hardest, I certainly didn’t grieve alone.  And that’s a gift.

Strangely enough, I think the greatest gift in this whole sad occasion was the actual miscarriage itself.  With my first miscarriage, my body wouldn’t release the baby on its own for some unknown reason so after 2 weeks of waiting to miscarry, I had to have a D & C. This time around I begged God for a different outcome, and He chose to answer my prayer.   

The day after we found out that the baby didn’t have a heartbeat, I miscarried that little life.  It began like a regular delivery: bleeding, contractions, my water breaking; everything occurring with Shawn beside me like the births of all our children. And then the remnants came. It’s strange how grief and healing come in the same gasp, the same groan.

A few days later we made a trip down to the property where we’ll be moving to shortly, a grand expanse of trees and hills and hidden clearings.  Under the almost barren limbs of a sturdy tree, we buried what I had birthed.  We named the baby Ruby, red for the way she entered this world and stained my fingers along with my heart. Shawn quietly dug a hole while the children, my mom and I looked on. In the emptiness we placed Ruby's box with the word HOPE etched on the top. Shawn spoke a solemn prayer over her.Then the children each took a turn helping him shovel dirt over the box.

Afterwards I lingered there beside her little pile of rocks (a monument solemnly built by her brothers and sisters), while Shawn ushered my mom and the kids back down the path. He sensed my need for solitude, and later my mom would tell me how he stood at the mouth of the path leading up to Ruby's grave, guarding my solitude like one of Eden's angels.   

Alone in the stillness, I cried, but not much.  Already peace and healing were blooming inside my heart. In time, I stood up, straightened Ruby's make-shift cross and walked down the path into the clearing.  With damp cheeks, I smiled as our four children laughed and chased each other among the fallen branches and mounded stones.  



  1. Thanks Maile. Similar thoughts have been swirling around in my mind these last few days. Thank you for sharing something so personal and so difficult to put into words. Much love. b

  2. My heart is in my throat, and tears in my eyes. So sorry, Maile. And I'm glad that you shared it - I know it will help many.

  3. Oh Maile! This is a beautiful post about a very special time. Difficult, but beautiful because you were mothering her in the way she needed, not the way you hoped- and isn't that a mother's love? I also felt that I sensationalized my own loss by naming her and mourning her as I would any baby -- but God met me and assured me my Catherine is in glory and He was close to me in my brokenheartedness-- which, if you think about it- is not how he wants to parent us, but is what we need in this sinful world. I look forward to meeting our angels in heaven someday. Thank you for sharing your heart and your Ruby. xo Coral

  4. Thank you for sharing even though it wasn't easy. I felt some of the same emotions with our miscarriage before Tyler but never knew how to put it into words. I'm so sorry for your loss. Praying for you all during this time.

  5. You and Shawn have often been in my heart and prayers since I learned about your miscarriage. I'm so sorry for your loss, Maile. I'm glad you've given yourself permission to grieve and have the awareness to see how others grieve differently. There's no one right way to walk through this. Much love to you and others who have miscarried.

  6. Oh Maile! I was so sad to read this post, but you chronicled it sooo beautifully! thank you for sharing your precious heart with all of us. Much love to you and Shawn and children!!

  7. So so true; we had a 13 month old for 8 days and had to give her back to the birth father. We wept what could have been, and the lonely grief is spot on. Glad you were prompted to share this.

  8. OH Mai, i haven't been on my blog in months and I just checked yours. I am so sorry I have been gone for a while and haven't been able to read your posts. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. Praying for you sweet friend. Thank you for sharing your post...there is a sentence that I could relate to in relation to Adelaide's time in the NICU: "Back then I remember feeling angry at Shawn for not crying himself to sleep the way I did, for not walking around the house in a stupor of grief like me. I wanted him to feel the pain I did. But he didn’t; he couldn’t." Those words are so true and so helpful. Love you, friend.

  9. Wow Maile! Laura forwarded this over to me. The post is such an awesome reminder of what God can carry us through. Also a reminder that while there is such pain in the midst of grieving openly, it's that openness that allows God to step in and do amazing things through those who know us.

  10. i love your heart! thanks for sharing! miss you guys!
    heather :)