I don’t like surprises. I never really have.
I’m also not someone you would call “spontaneous.” I don’t do spur-of-the-moment plans, and I always prefer an agenda. So when I found out a few weeks ago that I was – very unexpectedly – pregnant with my third child, you can imagine the flood of emotions!
My first emotion: PURE. PANIC. I spent a solid 24 hours in shock and disbelief, and if I am honest, I was also freaked out. We already had two amazing daughters, ages 9 and 4. We were comfortable in our family of four. My husband and I had just discussed him getting a vasectomy! So, baby numero tres was a shock to our system.
Well, okay, maybe expanding our family was not a foreign concept. In 2020, we spent about ten months going through fertility treatments (in a pandemic!) to add a third child to our crew. We had turned to fertility treatments in the past; in fact, this was how God blessed us with our two oldest girls. It’s never been effortless for me to get pregnant, so in January 2021, we decided to wrap up our treatment plan and dismiss our goals for a new child when the fertility treatments didn’t seem to work this go-round.
I honestly felt pretty good about it. Disappointed? Sure. But, at this point, I was in my mid-to-late 30s, and my girls were getting older, so it felt like we should accept the plan it seemed God was laying out for us and give total thanks for the family we had.
Again, this was just another reason why my positive pregnancy test (okay, ten tests – yes, I took TEN tests) a few weeks ago came as a complete surprise.
Once the shock was over, the overwhelming joy began to take over. I’m sure a lot of moms and dads experience this – it’s almost euphoric. Your life has changed just as quickly as the extra line turned red on the pregnancy test. A new baby! A miracle we didn’t even realize we wanted or needed. Look at the favor God was giving the Reeds!
I did all the things newly pregnant moms do: I downloaded all the fun pregnancy apps on my phone, I ordered “Big Sister” shirts for my girls, and we shared the happy news with our closest friends and family. We confirmed our due date (May 2022) and started chatting about potential names. We had an outpouring of love during that time – everyone who knew our journey to parenthood covered us with prayer and joined us in giving thanks to God for what was happening. I woke up every day feeling productive and inspired. I listed “this new baby” as something to celebrate in my gratitude journal every morning. One afternoon, I found myself casually strolling through the baby aisle at Target and burst into happy tears (thank goodness I had a mask on because other shoppers would have thought I was crazy).
During the joy, I found myself complaining about early pregnancy symptoms to some of my girlfriends.
I joked about how weepy I was, how sore my body felt, and how desperate I was for a nap! Plus, nausea – oh, the nausea. But oh, a baby! We were going to have a baby. I said it out loud to my husband a few times, “babe, I am pregnant!” Then we’d both giggle in delight and confusion.
Last Friday evening, we went to dinner with some very dear friends of ours. We shared our happy news, and then the four of us spent the next two hours discussing the excitement of a new child to love on. Our friends went on and on about how they couldn’t wait to babysit for us. There were a lot of hugs and cheers and happiness in that corner booth at Aspen Creek. As we left the restaurant that evening, my husband and I talked about how thankful we were to have loved ones share in this joy with us.
Less than 12 hours later, that joy was replaced with the opposite: sadness, confusion, fear, anger, desperation.
I woke up Saturday morning and immediately knew something was wrong – I was bleeding and feeling a lot of pressure in my lower abdomen. My husband was at a men’s breakfast at our church, so I texted him and told him something wasn’t right. As soon as he saw the text, he came straight home, and we decided to go to the local women’s ER to find out what was happening. The next few days involved blood work, sonograms, a shot in my butt, and medical professionals who told me to be “hopeful.” However, their empathetic eyes were telling me something completely different. By Tuesday afternoon, we confirmed that we had lost our pregnancy – and with it, the joy we had been experiencing at the thought of growing our family.
Having been down the road of infertility, I thought I had a small clue about pregnancy loss.
Y’all, NO ONE has a clue until they have walked through it.
I was entirely unprepared for the emotions one feels when one loses a pregnancy, aside from the desperation, sadness, heartbreak, and grief. I still find myself feeling guilty, embarrassed, angry, jealous, and just plain stupid. How could I have been so foolish to let myself get caught up in the joy of pregnancy not to realize that it always comes with risks? How could I have never considered this pregnancy might not end with a baby in my arms? Why would I be so arrogant to think I would be immune?
I’m mad at myself for complaining about any pregnancy symptoms. Nausea, tiredness, soreness? At least a week ago, when I had those symptoms, I had a baby to look forward to. At least it was because I was pregnant. Now, I still feel those symptoms, but there is no consolation. I’m not pregnant anymore, I’ve worn Depends for the last few days, and nausea still takes me out.
Maybe the sickness is a physical symptom, or perhaps it’s psychological because I have felt so sick over what has happened.
Before you start to worry about my mental health and whether I am handling the situation well – please know, I am aware that everything I just said sounds silly. I also know there was nothing I could have done to prevent the loss of our baby. Pregnancy loss is common – up to 20 percent of pregnancies end in a miscarriage. Most of them happen before the second trimester. I am not unique. Many of you reading this have been down this road before, some of you multiple times. My heart goes out to you. I don’t know if I could go through this again.
We’ve explained to our girls what has happened. We told them that sometimes babies don’t get to come home with us, which occurred in this situation. Our 4-year-old was super disappointed. “I wanted to be a big sister,” she pouted. Our 9-year-old was more matter-of-fact. “That’s okay; we have a pretty perfect family now.” Thank God for our girls – kids are so resilient.
And our precious friends and family who shared in our joy – they now share in our loss.
We are so thankful for our people. Our church small group has completely covered us up in love, prayers, and food! The friends we went to dinner with the night before we lost the baby – they check in on us daily and have brought us meals and silly humor that helps us look on the bright side. Other friends who know what has happened make sure to send me texts to tell me they love us. Our church sent us the sweetest plant with a note that read, “We are asking that God would give you an extra measure of joy in this hard season.”
It is a challenging season.
It’s so lonely and isolating. And on the other hand, it’s also bizarre and confusing. We’re grieving someone we never met. Heck, someone we didn’t even know existed until a few weeks ago. How can we be so sad over losing them? I’m never going to know the answer. But, as a believer, I have to understand that God will teach us something through this situation. I can’t swallow the thought that this would happen, and then – boom, that’s it. God only ends our situations on a good note – so I’m going to wait in this humbling place and wait for the good. The good is coming. It will come.
In the meantime, I want other parents who have been in this situation to know – I see you. We all see you when you get choked up over a diaper commercial when you get a formula coupon in the mail after registering for a pregnancy app, when you force yourself to delete those very same apps when you call and cancel your remaining prenatal appointments. When a friend texts and asks you a question about your pregnancy and you must respond with the sad news. When people tell you they’re so sorry, and you respond with “it’s okay,” even when it’s not. When it’s hard to look your partner in the eye because you don’t want to make each other cry. When you feel guilty for making jokes about it because you don’t know how to handle the tough stuff. I see you.
I’m still fresh in the fog of our loss, so I can’t tell you how things will look a week, a month, a year from now.
But, from the sweet parents I have spoken with who have been in similar situations, I have learned that I will always feel something. It will always be a notch on my heart. And on my husband’s.
Right now, I feel tremendous sadness, but I have to tell you – I also feel immense gratitude for the two babies I do have. And for my husband, who is also in the thick of sadness but is so concerned about my recovery and mindset. So, while I’m not sure what God plans to teach me through this season, I do know I look forward to the knowledge.
I’m also clinging to that euphoric joy we experienced before our loss – from the positive pregnancy test to the moment we learned we had lost the baby. The happy fog was the best, most joyous time for us, and even if it meant we would have this heartache, I wouldn’t trade that temporary joy for anything. And maybe that’s part of the good God promises us.
By: Abby Reed