by Amanda Conquers
I cringe when I go into the doctor and get asked how many pregnancies I’ve had. It’s hard to spit out the bare-naked medical facts of your life that have very complicated emotions behind them. I would much rather just talk about the easy stuff. Two healthy kids. One baby on the way, due July. But my raw medical history is that I have had 8 pregnancies total. Five failed pregnancies. Those numbers lead to those awkward silences or condolences or me feeling this overwhelming need to overexplain. Miscarriage is just hard to talk about.
My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. It was hard, and I was devastated. But I went on to have two healthy babies, so I guess in my mind my first miscarriage seemed very normal—a part of a statistic: as many as 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage (source).
In August of 2013, when my youngest was 2, I was longing for another baby. My husband had just made a major career change to law enforcement and was in the middle of his training. It was a big adjustment for our family—the hours, the lifestyle, and the sheer weight of law enforcement work. Seeing this, I took that desire for another baby and tucked it back in my heart—a subject to be broached at a later date.
And then I found out I was pregnant. In a few days’ time, I had wrestled with the shock of it and rejoiced to think that no matter what I saw going on in my life, God had His own set of plans. A surprise blessing!
And then I miscarried, just like that.
Two months later, the same thing happened. We hadn’t been trying to get pregnant, I discovered I was pregnant, and, shortly after my discovery, I miscarried.
I was angry. Frustrated. With each positive reading on the pee-stick, I had really thought God was sending our family a surprise blessing. God felt like some kind of mean genie pulling a cruel joke: “Poof! Now you’re pregnant. Poof! Now you’re not.” I struggled with feeling like I hadn’t quite earned the right to grieve because my miscarriages were so early on. I struggled to understand what I had lost: Did I lose babies? Did God form them and had He yet imparted them with a soul? Was I just reading very rare false positives and imagining pregnancy symptoms?
Eight months later, we had just moved into our first house. We were much more adjusted to my husband’s job. So, it seemed like it was finally time to have the baby conversation. We both agreed that we’d like a month or two to unpack our house before I was in the throes of morning sickness. A few days later, I found out I was actually already pregnant.
At ten weeks, I had a formal ultrasound. My doctor called later that day. I still remember that hot June afternoon, pacing my living room, hearing words of devastation coming through the phone: “I’m sorry, Amanda. It isn’t a viable pregnancy. You are pregnant, but life stopped forming for whatever reason. There was never a heartbeat. In fact, I could see it; it was no bigger than a period at the end of a sentence.”
She was very careful not to refer to the lost life as a baby. She corrected me when I did.
In that raw place, I was angry that I had been pregnant through to ten weeks, but was told it was only just next to nothing. “Not viable.” Not life. It felt like I was being told I was losing something but it wasn’t life enough to be able to mourn it. I felt broken. Like maybe at some point after the birth of my son, my womb just stopped working. I couldn’t carry life past five weeks. I had failed three times in a row. I felt out of control because I kept getting pregnant when I was preventing pregnancy but I couldn’t stay pregnant.
Word of my miscarriage accidentally ended up on my facebook page. I found myself utterly unprepared to process the well-meaning condolences. I heard so many words like: “Your baby is in heaven.” I choked on that word baby. Did I have babies in heaven? Maybe it’s just the way I am wired, but I longed to understand my losses. I wanted them defined. What I really needed was to have them validated.
It felt like my faith was quaking. I thought faith made sense of everything. I didn’t understand that faith is actually for the places that don’t make sense.
A few weeks later, I was crying on the phone with my mom. “I don’t ever want to be pregnant again, Mom. I want a baby. I wanted that baby. But, Mom, I don’t know how to try again, how to hope again, because I don’t ever ever want to lose again. I really don’t think I can lose again.”
My mom’s reply was simple but profound: “Amanda, if I had stopped trying, there would be no you.”
Her words hit me hard, because I knew my mom’s story, my birth story. My mom’s first child died at five months from the complications of congenital heart disease. Between Robby’s death in 1979 and my arrival in 1983, my mom had three miscarriages. She’s told me before how she really felt doomed to sorrow, like God loved all the other women but not her. Sorrow would be her lot in life. But somehow, she mustered just enough courage to keep trying for the baby she knew in her heart of hearts God had promised her. And God didn’t just give her me, He gave her my two brothers and sister too.
A few months later, I mustered my courage and my husband and I tried for a baby. I found out I was pregnant and miscarried four days later.
This time, I let myself get really sad. I didn’t question what I had lost. I decided that no matter what the doctors said, I had in fact lost life. God gave me a picture—a seed, all the hopes and dreams and potential that goes along with life placed in one tiny container. And even though not all seeds get to send up stalks into the sunshine, even the tiniest seed leaves an impression on the soil. I have lost seeds. Five precious seeds that have left forever-impressions on my heart.
While grieving, I decided to plant spring bulbs in my garden. It was my tangible way to bury my losses, to surrender my hopes and dreams to the dark soil and cover them up, to trust that through the winter season of my own life God would be faithful to work a miracle and bring about spring.
A couple weeks after burying those bulbs in the dirt, I found out I was pregnant again. That final miscarriage marks the beginning of this pregnancy.
During that year and a half, there were moments when I felt so angry at God. There were moments where I felt completely abandoned, and I wondered if He really loved me. There were also moments of profound and abundant grace—miracles—moments where it was so obvious that God did see me and hurt with me and would walk with me.
I learned what it means to grieve, to lose. I wanted some kind of permission, some kind of proof of my losses… but all along it had been I that needed to give permission to myself to stop and mourn. Grief is a season and a process, and it’s not very fun to walk through. But God cares about our hearts and longs to heal them.
Somewhere in the process of grief, I handed over all my dead, shattered, broken dreams… the babies I had longed for, that I missed. I placed it all in His Hands. And it wasn’t easy, because it meant that I had to let go of that part that just really really wanted to understand why. It meant that I had to trust Him, and trust Him beyond what I could understand. I learned what a scary, crazy, bold thing hope can be. I learned to hope in the face of pain and impossible.
I think of Jesus. How He lived, suffered, died. How from the cross, He confessed His deep anguish, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I get those words. I know that feeling. It’s that icy cold endless winter where you feel abandoned, cast off, like maybe God doesn’t really love you or see you after all.
Those words Jesus spoke were followed not long after by his death. He was wrapped in grave clothes, laid in a tomb, a giant heavy stone covered the entrance. It must have looked hopeless to his disciples.
And then came Sunday. And nothing could keep Jesus from resurrecting. Jesus rose from the dead.
Winter doesn’t last forever. Spring always comes.
Pain and sadness and suffering are a part of this life. But glory be to God, we have the hope of Resurrection.
Perhaps it seems premature to share this testimony while a baby is still developing inside me. But I just know it; this is my miracle. It’s life, and my womb is carrying it. There is currently a little elbow pushing out against the side of my tummy; uncomfortable, but the beautiful, abundant evidence of new life. It hasn’t been an easy pregnancy and I can tell you that a pregnancy after loss is emotionally hard… but still I need to share what God has done—is doing.
You guys, I feel like I hold the best news ever. God is exceedingly and abundantly able to raise the dead broken in us to new life. He resurrects. He restores. His Grace abounds so abundantly towards us.
Maybe you need to know that He really sees you. That He has never abandoned you. That even in the unforeseen storms you might face, He won’t let you go. He sees your dreams, the ones that might seem dead, the ones that sit in the pit of your stomach and make your heart ache. And maybe you will face winter, but spring will come. Death precedes resurrection. I don’t know what God will make of the brokenness you hand over and surrender to Him, how He will raise it back to life, but I do know He will.
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. (John 11:25)
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory. (Isaiah 63:3)
Bio :: Amanda is the wife to one smoking hot law officer and the momma to two littles, with one more on the way in July. She is an imperfect girl, a passionate encourager, a huge fan of Grace, and a follower of Jesus (and she’d love to be your friend.) She thinks the best moments are the ones where she is silly dancing in the kitchen with her kids. Also, she likes her lattes strong, with chocolate, and over ice… you know, just in case you should meet her in real life. 😉 She writes her heart at AmandaConquers.com