A good friend of mine made my day recently when she told me some very happy news. "I'm pregnant!" Then came the second part, "But don't tell anyone..."
How many times I've heard those words, and each time the apprehension and pain are conveyed. If it's happened to you, you know what I mean. The last time that same friend had that same happy news, she had to make the rounds of calls a few weeks later to say, "I lost the baby." She's afraid to share this blessing because she's afraid she'll have to share another loss.
It hurts to lose a baby. Sometimes physically, always emotionally. So much hope is built up in a pregnancy, so much expectation and excitement. I myself have had to make the rounds of "I lost the baby" calls four heart-wrenching times. The loss became too much for my husband and me, and the risk to my health was becoming too high, so we decided to stop. We have two amazing children, though, many couples have none.
Another woman I know well tried for seventeen years to have a baby, and when I got the call, "I'm pregnant!", I was overjoyed. Her baby died 2 weeks before the due date. She went into labor the way we all do, the baby boy was born perfectly formed and beautiful, and we had a memorial service for him several days later.
Another beautiful friend has stopped telling anyone, except her husband, when she has a positive pregnancy test. She's lost several, and she's almost lost hope.
One mother I know was pregnant with twins, and miscarried one. Another was pregnant with twins, and lost them both.
A new friend of mine has spent thousands on fertility treatments and became, joyfully and finally, pregnant. This past Sunday was her due date. But instead of being in the hospital giving birth to her baby girl, she and her husband were doing a balloon release in memory of the precious daughter they lost.
Another friend blamed herself for working too hard the day before she lost her baby. One had a little wine before she knew she was pregnant and blamed that for her loss. Still another tripped on the stairs in her home and blamed that. Self-blame and desperate searches for 'the reason' are as rampant as they are futile.
I know many, many women with stories of loss. I know them because I told them my own story. Because when we share the loss with one another, the burden becomes easier to bear.
I've used the word 'lost'. It's the word most of us use. We use it to describe the loss of the person who was within us for a time, the loss of the hope of that child's future in our arms. But my four children are not actually lost...I know exactly where they are.
Psalm 139:13: For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb.
An unborn baby is not just a piece of tissue or a non-human, she is a child of God, she's beautiful, He knit her together, she is His. He loves her. He loves our babies as much as He loves us...and He does love us. We can't understand all His ways, but we do know that He has prepared a place for us, and the babies we've lost are already found there. I will meet my beautiful girls and boys there.
In the meantime, we can lean on Him because He grieves with us. We can also lean on one another and share our pain with other women. If you've been through it, the best thing you can say to a woman who has lost her baby is this: "I'm sorry. I love you. God loves you. I'm here for you." Then hold on, because the two of you are about to become more beautiful. Pain and loss define us, just as much as happiness and victory define us. Devastating loss of something precious can work in us to make us breathtakingly beautiful.