Purpose in the Pain: A True Story of Miscarriage
By Janelle Shelly
“There’s no heartbeat.” The sonographer’s voice, void of emotion, confirmed my worst fears. I closed my eyes and swallowed hard, choking back tears. The days, weeks, and months following my miscarriage are among the darkest I’ve ever experienced. Why did this happen? Was it my fault? Am I capable of having a normal pregnancy? These questions haunted me. It seemed everywhere I looked I saw or heard another pregnancy announcement. I was frequently forced to paste a smile on my face to congratulate another friend or co-worker who was expecting a baby. It wasn’t a question that I was a happy for them. Instead, I questioned—“Why am I not allowed to meet my child? What is God trying to reveal to me through this loss? Why must I experience this?” Ultimately, I wondered, “How is this really part of God’s plan and purpose for my life?”
The pregnancy started off the way you might expect. First, came the positive pregnancy test with two little blue lines, announcing that I was going to be a mother. I even made a special announcement for my husband, eager to share the exciting news. Then came weeks of nausea and fatigue. I recognized this for what it was—a necessary part of pregnancy for most women. However, when the nausea suddenly disappeared around my eighth week of pregnancy, and the fatigue lessened, I became suspicious. I was a novice in the world of pregnancy and motherhood, but I was fairly certain this was supposed be the height of these pregnancy symptoms, not the end of them. I dismissed the idea in my head. I had no bleeding or spotting or cramping-nothing to suggest a miscarriage or problem of any kind. Still, no matter how hard I tried to ignore my worries, there was a nagging feeling that something was wrong. Truthfully, though, nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelming tragedy of losing a child I’d never even met face to face.
“Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14, NIV). Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, spoke these words to her before she set out on her endeavor to save her people with the Lord’s help. Esther sought the Lord, and the Lord used her in her position for his glory and as a part of his plan. She was terrified, and rightly so. But, she trusted there was a reason she had been called to this challenge. In the same way that God used Esther, he can use you, too. If you’re seeking the Lord, you’ve been called to your current position for such a time as this. Perhaps you’ve suffered a miscarriage, but you now have empathy for those dealing with pregnancy loss, and this allows you to comfort a friend walking through the journey of losing a child. Perhaps you’ve come to this difficult spot in your marriage, but God will ultimately refine you and your spouse and draw you closer together. Perhaps you’re in the midst of financial peril, but God will use this tough patch to teach you a lesson that will help you to create healthy spending habits. Perhaps you’re walking through some very dark days with one of your children, but ultimately, God will bring your child into His loving grace and mercy. Perhaps you’re being called to any number of especially challenging situations for such a time as this.
When I experienced my miscarriage, a trip to the operating room for a D&E/D&C, and a period of infertility, I can honestly say, I had no idea how exactly this fit into God’s plan. Since then, however I’ve received a call from a friend saying, “I think I may know what you’ve been going through these past months. I just lost a baby.” For such a times as this. From another friend, “This is crazy and awful. You’re the first person I’ve contacted, I think I’m miscarrying a child.” For such a time as this. Still another, “I’m waiting to be induced. They just told me it’s a still birth at 20 weeks.” For such a time as this. As the years go by, I can see it. I can see how my experience, though heartbreaking, painful, and agonizing, is part of God’s plan; how I can touch the lives of others experiencing similar grief.
You see, when Esther set out to save her people, Israel, she didn’t know the ending to the story. She couldn’t see all the pieces. She didn’t know if God would save her people. She didn’t even know if God would save her life. She knew only that the Lord was calling her to her current situation and position, and it was her duty to follow him, to trust him, and to lean on him. Her story has a happy ending. Because of her obedience and faith in the Lord, he did spare the Israelite people. But when Esther set out to talk to the king, she didn’t know what would happen, or how God would write the story of her life. While walking through my miscarriage, I couldn’t see all the pieces either. I couldn’t see the many friends with whom I would share and cry, and the countless phone conversations and text messages I would exchange with other hurting mothers and friends. I didn’t know there would be others to walk through similar situations who would need some advice, some encouragement, or just someone to cry with them. And, maybe I still can’t see the final picture that God is painting from that time of sadness and grief. But, I can say I know God has called me to my past experiences as well as my current position for such a time as this. And, if you’re seeking the Lord and His will, the same is true for you.