And just like that, I’m losing another baby.
Yes, a fourth. I don’t even know how I feel about it. I’m still in denial that I was ever pregnant, let alone that I’ve miscarried a fourth time. How can I be devastated when I didn’t have enough time to work myself up to excited? How can I not be devastated over the loss of another baby I loved and hoped for?
My ovulation symptoms came on strongly 4 weeks after my 11-week miscarriage on March 6th, 2019. They were impossible to ignore. Still, we weren’t quite ready to “try.” When we had conceived in January, we had been working to reclaim our sex life, long-ruined after years of infertility and miscarriages, and we wanted to get back to where we were before our miraculous conception and earth-shattering third miscarriage. I wanted desperately out of the headspace of obsessing over trying to conceive.
I knew the possibilities of unprotected sex, but I also knew my history. Despite our first-ever unassisted, natural pregnancy in January, we knew the odds were against us conceiving naturally again anytime soon, especially during the first cycle after a miscarriage. We took our chances, making no effort to prevent pregnancy but additional no effort to achieve or support it.
Five days after ovulation, the same amount of time that had passed when I first noticed pregnancy symptoms with my second son, all my usual early pregnancy symptoms appeared: round ligament pain, sensitivity to sound and touch, memory problems, vision changes, post-nasal drip, and a small, itchy, hormonal rash on my hand I only get when pregnant. My body temperature always remained high after ovulation until the day of my period, but it was regularly reaching 99.6-99.8 degrees, which is unusual for me until after my missed period and a confirmed pregnancy.
My symptoms were so strong and obvious, I tested way too early at just 6dpo. I swore I saw just a hint of something that only an experienced, hopeful infertility warrior with great eyesight would be able to see. The next day, other infertility warriors were able to detect the impossible line through a picture and a pregnancy test checker app. It was still there the next day. The day after that, the line seemed to darken, but by God’s grace, I was still unsure.
I let it go for the day, and Saturday, April 13th got to be Shiloh’s day.
My husband and I wanted to cremate the remains of our third baby gone too soon, but it had been a cold and rainy start to spring. I told Anthony I wanted to hold the cremation ceremony before April 18th because that’s when my period was due, and I didn’t want to be on my period or pregnant with a new baby while we were laying Shiloh’s body to rest.
April 13th was clear and 70 degrees, a welcome surprise after a snowstorm just three days before. We wanted a beautiful clear day for the cremation ceremony, which we had planned for the evening after our boys were in bed since the days were longer now, and it would allow us an uninterrupted ceremony. The day was so beautiful, Anthony decided to make it even more special by taking us all out hiking. It was a worshipful experience. I enjoyed the family God had given me to keep here on earth at the same time as wondering what it would have been like to be babywearing my 11-month-old while I was 16 weeks pregnant. (No, I had not yet lost count of how far along I would have been with baby Shiloh.) We had a fun day together as a family. We remembered Shiloh and thanked God for Shiloh, and in the evening, we laid Shiloh’s body to rest through a beautiful home-cremation ceremony made possible by Anthony.
The next day, the line was definitely there.
No special eyes needed. I was pregnant. Again. And I didn’t know how I felt about it. I still didn’t believe it. It was the first of my six pregnancies that I wasn’t overwhelmingly, blissfully ecstatic. I knew I would lose this baby. It wasn’t a fear. I wasn’t anxious about it possibly happening. I knew it would happen, and in some sad way, I had accepted my baby’s death before I had ever believed my baby’s life.
And then the bleeding. It was over before it started, before I ever missed my period. The reality that I was pregnant yet again hadn’t even sunk in before losing the baby, a reality that probably would never sink it. It couldn’t. It shouldn’t have to.
I got what I wanted. With all my babies, I had tested a little early. I wanted to know for sure whether or not I was pregnant before the line had a chance to disappear. I didn’t want to wonder whether or not I had ever been pregnant or miscarried. In this world of unknowns, I at least wanted to know whether I was grieving an actual baby or just the possibility of one. I wanted my babies to know they were known and loved by me, even as I know they are known and loved by our Father. I wanted to have the option to honor them and grieve them in whatever way felt right. I wanted something concrete, something I could see and show others, something to prove the existence of my baby who otherwise would never exist, even if that proof was only it was a faint pink line.
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
This time, I wasn’t sure the knowledge was helpful. Yet there it was. I had been pregnant, and then, as I was told with my first loss, I “wasn’t pregnant anymore.” A “chemical pregnancy,” as the medical field calls it. Never has an early miscarriage felt more like a chemical pregnancy than this one, partly because of the quickly vanishing line and partly because of the emotional detachment after 3 previous losses.
Still, it was more than chemical. That term makes it sound like the egg and sperm got close inside my womb and accidentally sent off pregnancy signals. It was a physical pregnancy. An emotional pregnancy. My husband’s sperm fertilized my egg, implanted, and began to form what would have, in a perfect world, become a baby. I loved my baby-to-be. I talked to my baby and hoped for my baby’s life to continue this side of heaven. Maybe devastation will hit when the bleeding stops, or maybe I’ll block it out for a while like I did for my first 4-week loss. Maybe I’m just that numb because it’s become just that normal.
How did this become my normal?
How did I go from being the girl curled up on the couch, unable to eat or sleep for weeks after a miscarriage to being the girl who went out to dinner with a friend as it was happening?
How did I go from being the girl who couldn’t conceive at all for almost three years to the girl who has had two miscarriages before her second baby’s first birthday? How did I go from the girl thinking, “Must be nice to get pregnant without trying,” to the girl who did exactly that twice within four months only to lose both babies? From the girl who had had two miscarriages at the beginning of the year to doubling that less than four months later? From two miscarriages spread over two years apart to two miscarriages within six weeks? No matter how many ways I word it, I just can’t comprehend it. No matter how I look at it, it doesn’t make sense. Each perspective presents a new level of shock and yet, it’s starting to feel normal. I’m sure if I could feel anything beyond that initial cry the first night of bleeding, I would be able to feel my heart breaking.
How are there women who NEVER experience this??? And for those who have, at what point do they lose count of how many miscarriages they’ve had? When do I stop celebrating each life just in time for it to go off onto the next? When do I stop bringing people alongside me in this and just let them live their lives without me handing them over more weight to carry before they can get a firm grip on the original load?
And I know that God is good, but right now I can’t help but ask, “Why, God? Why do you keep letting this happen to me?” Because he does let it happen. Yes, he brings good from the suffering, and I look forward to that. No, he did not cause it to happen. He didn’t even want it or need it to happen. But he did let it happen, and if I’m honest, I’m pretty mad about that right now. And then the lament, which I’m almost embarrassed to share but I know God can handle: “I trusted You. I trusted You. I did what You asked me to do, and my baby still died. Why? Why?”
It’s been raining here the past few days, but there is no sight of any rainbows as the sky begins to clear. Not from where I am, at least.