by Natalie Lesnefsky
Natalie is wife to Ben, a youth pastor. They live in Louisiana, where they are raising their four kids and expecting another. Natalie is a blogger and works with Usborne books. You can find her on her blog, Instagram, and Facebook.
The question “are you going to have more children?” always feels kind of nosy. I know that those random strangers most likely mean no harm and are just curious since our hands are full with four children. They probably wonder if we knew how it happened ... or if we had a TV ... or if we just really liked gathering up the neighborhood children to take grocery shopping (so fun). I’m sure they were just trying to be helpful in the end.
But previously, that question always felt like it had an easy answer. That the decision to have children was in our hands. You see, we had four easy, smooth-sailing pregnancies and healthy babies. I think I was rocked into this naive baby bliss that miscarriage and loss were things that wouldn’t happen to us. That if we wanted another child, we could say “yes” and another baby would be in our arms. I had a skewed sense of control over the whole situation of motherhood.
Last fall, we found out we were expecting. We found out very early and within days, we miscarried. It wasn’t a physical miscarriage experience because it was so early. But mentally, I was so confused. The guilt for feeling sadness over the loss of that child was equal to the actual sadness! I wasn’t sure how to grieve.
A few months later, we were pregnant again. I was hopeful. A part of me felt like it couldn’t happen again, right? That for sure this time, everything would be fine. It had been fine for so many of our pregnancies! But at five weeks I miscarried, and this time I physically experienced the loss. It was devastating and it felt even more real this time. I felt like I had someone there whom we celebrated and already loved so much, and suddenly ... I was empty. The guilt of grieving this child was so intense. I had four children around me to hug as I cried — how could I have this pity party? In my head I knew that didn’t make sense, that I had every right to be upset over losing this life, but I wrestled with that guilt nonetheless. I was angry. I was confused. I didn’t know how to move forward. But we did. I shared a lot more this time and spoke about the baby we lost. And I think that made me feel that it wasn’t just a blur of a dream. That it had happened.
A few months later, we were pregnant again. Fear immediately set in. I thought I was constantly throwing up from the anxiety I felt over possibly miscarrying. But it ended up that I had horrible morning/all day sickness from the start. Once I separated the two in my mind, I started to actively set aside fear and just take each day at a time.
We tried to celebrate this life in me and be hopeful! But wow, how differently we experienced this pregnancy compared to our first. I was almost scared to picture life with this baby ... afraid to think about genders or baby names ... afraid that I would be crushed with loss again. But with every day I grew stronger, trusting in God. In moments when I was fearful, I said out loud “Jesus, I trust in you.”
My Sophia, who is 8, loves saying that prayer. She says it every night! And it’s been my constant prayer through these first weeks. I’ve never been so thankful to be throwing up. Every moment I feel sick, which is almost constantly, I thank God for this little blessing of a sign that things are progressing. When we had our ultrasound, I sobbed when they showed me the steady, strong heartbeat.
As we move forward with this pregnancy, I know that any day we could lose this baby, too. But I am stronger than I was before ... and as each day passes I will find more peace, even in my sadness.
If you have miscarried, I encourage you to talk about it. Speak it. Share your heart and the sadness you feel, because you are not alone. Someone you know is most likely feeling the exact same emotions from their own miscarriage. Losing a child in pregnancy is so very common. More common than I even realized before I had my own. And it needs to be talked about more because so many women are suffering in silence and trying to “handle it” on their own when they don’t need to.
All of our stories might not be the same, but we all share something in common. We fell in love, and lost that someone. I felt such comfort in the words a friend shared with me: “You might not get to raise this baby here on earth, but you can have it in your arms one day in Heaven.”
Motherhood is not meant to be done alone. We need each other. In the moments we are joyful and celebrate ... and in the moments we grieve and comfort. I wanted to share our experience as we enter this pregnancy, after two miscarriages, because I have learned so much. I have grown in empathy for those who have miscarried and lost a baby. I have grown in understanding for what it means to choose joy and hope even when you are scared and hurt from the past. But most of all, I’ve learned what to say when people ask me if we will have another baby. I tell them, we would love to have another child.
We see the faces and hearts of our children in front of us, and know that, if possible, another little one of them would be a blessing to our family. Bring on the crazy. Bring on the joy. Bring on the sacrifices that come with parenthood. It’s amazing being a part of this. We’ve lost two babies. We will never get to hold them close and watch them grow. So to be able to have another would make us the lucky ones.