The roses I received for Valentine’s Day sat withered on my countertop for weeks. My eyes stung every time I looked at them, but I couldn’t seem to throw them away. It was the only tangible evidence I had from my pregnancy that ended too soon. A life that I fell in love with and cherished—more than I ever knew was possible.
Those roses looked so different when they were presented to me. Peach, with hints of green. Subtle and lovely. The tightly bound buds were delivered to me by the cutest little hands, purchased by bigger, quieter hands. I’ll never forget the equally eager smiles. That bouquet held so much promise of beauty. The perfect representation of the new life growing inside of me—my Valentine’s Day surprise for my husband.
By divine self-control, I had been keeping the pregnancy from my husband, Stephen; I wanted to make the announcement special. We already had a date night on the calendar for Valentine’s Day. Childcare was set. How fun would it be if I could keep the secret until then? We’d have the whole night to talk and dream about the future. It was the perfect set up.
That night was a dream. We ate at Campiello’s, a fancy Italian restaurant where they make the pasta in-house and every bite tastes like heaven. Surrounded by the twinkle of candles and a giant banyan tree wrapped in lights, I couldn’t think of a more idyllic setting to share the news.
Earlier that day, Stephen and I had been making acrostics for our kids for Valentine’s Day. Do you remember those? A first name is written vertically down the page, with descriptive words running horizontally next to each letter. My husband laughed at the one I gave to him that morning because I used “Daddy” as a descriptor for the first “D” in Daddy. I guess that’s not allowed. Anyway, these acrostics had become a fun little family thing in our home that Tuesday morning.
So, when he came home from work to shower before our date, I stole away and scribbled another acrostic into the card I bought for him. It acted more like a riddle:
This baby would make him “Daddy” for the third time.
After keeping the excitement to myself, I was practically bursting as I handed him the card. My hands shook as I tried to subtly record his reaction with my iPhone.
At first, he read the card and gave me a sympathy laugh. He nodded and said he “got it.” But I knew he didn’t.
“Do you…?” I prodded.
“Yeah!” He exclaimed. “Because you wrote ‘Daddy’ in my acrostic this morning…” (Like, hello.)
“Yeah, but more than that! How many times?” I asked again.
He looked down. His face changed entirely. “No! You did not end up pregnant… You’re lying! Are you lying?!”
From there on, the night was the happiest blur. I caught him up on all the details. We toyed with names, middle names, and predictions. We talked about the due date and what might be going on in our lives during that time. October… it would be wonderful to have an October baby. We discussed all of the people we were excited to tell, and schemed about how we would do so. The two people we couldn’t wait to tell the most were our kids. At 5 and 4 years old, they’ve been begging us for another baby. “We need more people around our table,” they often tell us at dinnertime. We agree. More than they know.
I have to say, it’s by far the best job I have done at announcing the news of a new baby entering our lives. They say the third time’s a charm. And now, in hindsight, I think of how fitting it was for this child to have had such a magic moment in our lives.
Two days later, Stephen traveled to California. I took the kids strawberry picking and planned to make strawberry shortcake with them.
When we got home, I took another pregnancy test on a whim. I had extra. I set it aside for a minute, absentmindedly. When I came back to look at it, I froze. There was only one line. Perhaps there was the faintest of faint second line if I really squinted and held it just right in the natural light…
Were my eyes playing tricks on me? Was I reading it correctly? Maybe it was because I took the test in the afternoon and not the morning. Maybe I did something wrong. Maybe I didn’t wait long enough. I dug out the several positive tests I had taken earlier that week. They looked starkly different. I called my husband. No answer.
I sent him a text: “Call me as soon as you can.”
He stepped outside of the rental car building and called me. I told him what happened. He encouraged me not to jump to conclusions, to contact the doctor, and to trust the signs my body was giving me. All signs were supporting the positive tests.
He was right. I realized I had been taking really shallow breaths, took a few deep ones, and kept talking to him. I went outside to clear off our back patio while we forced a casual conversation. We were getting new concrete poured the next day and it felt good to do something distracting. I silently thanked God for my wonderful husband who makes me feel so cared for, even from afar.
He was telling me about his plans for his first night in California when I realized I started spotting.
“Oh no…” I said audibly and told him what I feared.
At first, I spiraled. I didn’t know what to do. Should I lie down? Should I go to the ER? How could I do this without Stephen home? Should I call my mom for help? I hadn’t even told her about the pregnancy yet…
I did end up calling my mom. She and my dad would pick up dinner and come over as soon as possible. My kids watched Bluey while I felt paralyzed by the situation. Someone knocked on the door. The last thing I wanted to do was talk to a neighbor or solicitor.
I opened the door and saw one of my dearest friends standing on the stoop. She was one of the two people I had told about the baby before Stephen. When I started to worry that I was miscarrying, I sent her a quick text asking her to pray. She must have left her house almost immediately. She hugged me, and the pent up fear burst out through tears. She held my hand, and just her presence alone changed my entire demeanor.
We’ve walked through a lot of life together over the last few years. She knew this type of loss much more intimately than I did. She was exactly who I needed for those 30 minutes. She gave me hope and courage.
The Unexpected Grief of Miscarriage
I lost my third baby. As much as I wished my husband had been there with me, I think that being alone gave me the space to truly grieve, unfiltered. I laid on my back in bed, hands on my belly, hardly moving all night—and I spoke to that precious child. I wanted to hold onto my baby as best as I could, if only for one more night.
“We had already written you into our lives… into our family,” I told him or her. “You were ours, if only for a moment. We love you so much already,” I said.
I pulled up the Bible app on my phone and read Psalm 18 aloud, alone in my dark bedroom.
“I love you, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge…”
Some lines I proclaimed boldly and confidently. Some left me so choked up I could hardly utter them. And then I wrote my baby a poem. I promised that child I would always remember him or her, even as our life carried on. I would honor their life and allow the void here and now to remind me of the hope of heaven.
About a month after my miscarriage, I was feeling down. Desperate for something to lift my spirits, I grabbed my Bible. I wasn’t sure what to read, so I opened to Psalm 34. I chose this because a friend once told me that she meditates on “her birthday psalm” throughout the year, every year. Meaning, if she’s 38, she reads Psalm 38 almost daily. I’ve read Psalm 34 before, but this time I started with some of the footnotes in my Bible that explained its context and background. This is what I read:
“As the ESV footnote explains, the psalm follows an acrostic pattern…”
My mouth fell open. An acrostic? What are the odds that my “birthday psalm”—the one I would ideally read and reread all year—would follow this pattern?
I looked it up and found that only 9 psalms out of 150 follow an acrostic style. Also, when I looked up the definition of an acrostic, I nearly laughed as I read “a poem, word puzzle, or other composition in which certain letters in each line form a word or words.” I texted a friend to tell her about this discovery and she replied, “…I love that he spoke your very specific language this morning…”
I love the way she said that… It’s so true. I love to write, and I love poems. God knows this about me. He was there with me when I stole away to write an acrostic in my husband’s card, and he was there with me in the dark as I wrote a poem to my baby while losing it.
The thought of his personal involvement in my life flooded my heart with hope and joy; it settled my soul. He knew what this year would hold for me. He knew that our baby would be announced through an acrostic. He knows about my love of poetry, and he used a literal poem to remind me of his care. I still can’t believe it.
Seven months after my miscarriage, we traveled to California as a family. One evening, my husband pulled off the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu Bluffs Park. Even though I had never been there before, I knew exactly where we were. Unexpected tears filled my eyes. I recognized the views from the panoramic photo he sent me after we got off the phone that night back in February. As I was writing a poem to our child, he sat in that park, praying.
I gulped down a concoction of emotions. If we hadn’t lost our child, he or she would have been with us that night inside of my big, round belly. Instead, I watched my two children run and play in an open field at golden hour, recognizing we were missing one. And yet, I felt such unrestrained gratitude for my little boy and precious girl.
I felt a strange, strong connection to this park while getting lost in its glory. Behind us, the Santa Monica Mountains boasted of the world’s bigness, reminding me of how small I really am. Before us, the Pacific Ocean displayed the world’s vastness, reminding me of how many joys and sorrows it holds. It is breathtaking. Yet, there was something more to it, nagging at my soul.
And then—the most unexpected surprise cut through the daze of my inner world. As my eyes scanned the mountain range, I noticed something that wasn’t included in the picture my husband had sent me. Across the street, in the background of the park, stands a 125-foot tall monument displaying an emblem of a cross. It’s called Phillips Theme Tower. Although a simple design, it is magnificent and stately. And though it’s nestled in the mountains, it seems to stand alone.
All the sudden, I knew the importance of this place. It became the perfect place of remembrance for our third child. I couldn’t think of a more majestic setting to honor that little life that has changed ours forever. How fitting for the baby who made such a magic moment in our lives.
I know that this world is full of awful, sad things. Things I can’t wrap my mind around. But, I find peace and rest in knowing that Jesus is always there, standing tall and strong over our lives, even when we can’t quite find him in the picture. He is the Good Shepherd—the best Shepherd. A very present, very personal help in times of trouble.
1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
Going through a hardship? Here’s how to find hope in your next steps forward: Your World Just Turned Upside Down—What Now? with Marlys Johnson Lawry – 197