I wasn’t sure I could work up the…strength, courage, whatever, to share this, but I have felt for a while like it was something worth sharing. If for no other reason than to help other women and men who have been or will be where Tom and I were a few month ago.
Tom and I decided towards the end of the year last year that we were ready to start trying for a baby. After my birth control ran out in November, I didn’t go back on. We were told to wait to really try for a few months to make sure everything was out of my system, reducing the risk of miscarriage.
So in March, we were given the green light to really attempt pregnancy. And, to our surprise, we got pregnant right away. The lines on my tests were really faint, but they were there. Test after test came up with a faint positive blue plus sign. But then I did a test with pink dye, one that was considered a bit less sensitive, and it was negative. That was confusing.
I was trying not to get overly excited, but we couldn’t help it. We couldn’t help but talk about when to tell our parents, when to tell our siblings, our friends, when to put it online to share with our friends who weren’t nearby.
But, I insisted that we keep it pretty much to ourselves until I went to the doctor. I called, set up an appointment, and went in to get my blood drawn. On the way home, I felt like something just wasn’t right. I was cramping up; I didn’t feel good at all. I told myself that I just needed to eat, but that didn’t keep me from begging God the entire way home to just let this baby be okay.
When I got home, I went upstairs to use the bathroom and found I had begun to spot. I burst into tears. “No, no, God, no. Please not my baby. Please, please, please. It has to be okay.”
And it wasn’t.
I took another test. It was negative. And then I began to bleed heavily.
I couldn’t even think of the words to tell Tom. I just walked downstairs, tears streaking my face. I’ve never been so grateful that he now works from home as I was that day. When he saw me, he jumped up and ran to me. “What’s wrong?! Meghan! WHAT’S WRONG!??”
And then he knew, and he just let me cry against him. For a long time, I cried. Then I went to the couch, and I laid down so he could get some work done, though he was having a hard time concentrating between his own sadness and worrying about me.
For days, I cried. In bed, on the couch, at work with Will. I just couldn’t stop it. This wasn’t some wondering if I was pregnant. This was knowing I was and that that person was gone. Gone forever, and I would never know them in this lifetime.
The day after that happened, the nurse called with the lab results. There was pregnancy hormone in my blood, but so low that the baby couldn’t make it. I told her I already knew, told her what happened.
She was so kind. Answered all my questions. Confirmed that it is called a chemical pregnancy when this happens (shows up on a chemical test but wouldn’t in a sonogram because the egg is fertilized but never implants). Said it happens to so many women, but most don’t ever know, just think they’re a few days late. Confirmed that I only knew because I was looking for that positive test. Denied that I could have done anything to help it. Said they don’t know why this happens, but it wasn’t my fault.
That didn’t stop me from blaming myself. From wondering. From wondering for the first time if I could ever go back to feeling like myself. To smiling, laughing, and really feeling good again, not just putting on a show so others wouldn’t guess I was falling apart inside.
How could I have lost a baby? A child? That wasn’t supposed to happen to me. I only knew about the baby for a few days before it was gone, and yet I felt changed forever. I am changed forever.
I couldn’t handle it. Tom was there for me in every way I needed him. But I wanted to talk to others too. I wanted to talk about it with everyone and no one at the same time. It was all I could think about and all I wanted to forget.
Our families didn’t know we were even trying, so I didn’t want to tell them with this horrible news. I wanted to tell them about a healthy pregnancy when I told them anything at all.
So I turned to a couple of women in my life who had been through what had to be much harder losses. Losing a baby at five months of pregnancy. Losing a baby at 3 days old. They didn’t make me feel ridiculous for the grief I felt over such an early loss. Because they had walked such a dark road, they could understand that pain in a way no one who hadn’t been though it could.
They didn’t try to make me feel better, and I am so glad. Nothing can make a person feel better about that, and trying to take away someone’s hurt with your words just makes it worse. They knew how to love me through that pain. I will forever be grateful to them.
A couple weeks later, I was in Transit with my middle school small group, and they were playing a song that they play a lot. It’s one I like, and I had to stop singing when we got to the chorus. It said: “We will not be silent. He won’t be defeated. Death is powerless; our God is for us.”
I stopped and really thought about those words. I looked around at my girls and thought…can I honestly sing this in front of them? Can I sing it and mean it? I don’t know if I can. Tears came to my eyes.
But somehow, I found that I could. Despite the worst, darkest days I was going through, despite questioning Him and being mad at Him, He was there, whispering to my heart. Because of Him, I will see this baby again. I will know this child. Tom will know this child. I am so grateful for that. No one can take that from us. And because of that, death loses its power. Amen, Amen, and Amen.
And the more I thought about what I went through, the more I realized it’s easy to feel ashamed for the grief you feel over losing a baby you only knew about for a short time. You feel like people will expect you to just try again and get over it. You feel like something is broken inside you but you and your spouse are the only ones who could understand the pain that losing a baby brings- even if you only knew about that precious baby for a few days before you lost them.
And I realized that I wish someone out there had been honest about how heartbreaking it is to have a chemical pregnancy. Because when I looked online, most people said things like, “Yeah, it sucks, but at least you know you can get pregnant now.” And, “That’s happened to me, and it really sucks, but then I got pregnant again and it worked! Good luck! :)” As if a stupid emoticon can make you feel better.
So I decided not to be silent. Not to keep my pain private. This post is my letter to others who have had a chemical pregnancy. I hope they know these things… It’s okay to be heartbroken. I’m crying as I type this, just reliving that pain.
It’s okay to cry for days. It’s okay to grieve. It’s normal. It’s necessary for some and maybe most people.
It’s okay to call in sick to work when it happens. It’s okay to wish you could block out all the happy people.
It’s okay to get angry and scream into your pillow. It’s okay to feel all of that and more because, even if you only knew for a day before you lost them, you lost a child. And no one can look down on you for that.
These days, I’m finally able to discuss it without crying. I usually have to say it very matter-of-factly, to remove myself from the reality of it a bit. I can tell the few people I’ve talked about it with think it’s weird for me to be that way, but if they read this, then they will understand that the reason I don’t get emotional is because I don’t want to carry sadness around all the time. And that would be so easy to do.
And yes, I am so grateful for this baby I’m carrying now. I love Jellybean so much. And I loved my first baby too. Always will.
But now you can understand why I was having those intense mood swings about the baby’s health. Those awful fears before every doctor’s visit. And nightmares. I would wake up crying sometimes, and just sob. I would dream about losing the baby, about the baby being born and taken away from me. I had one of those dreams a few days ago. I hope they go away.
But just know this- You are not alone. You will be okay at some point. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Don’t question that. And I pray, sincerely, that you are a follower of Christ. I can’t imagine not having the relief of knowing I will see and know my baby someday. And that is a hope you can have too.
And if you are on the other side, and you know someone who is going through this, all I can say is, telling them that they can try again soon, that at least they know they can get pregnant, that the baby is happier in heaven, that this was God’s will or any other thing to “lessen the pain” really doesn’t help at all.
Nothing you can say will make it hurt less, and you might just make that person angry, even at God. The best thing you can do is tell them how sorry you are. And tell them you love them and ask if there is anything you can do to help out while they go through it. Let them cry. Let them grieve. And don’t try to fix something that can’t be fixed.
The women that did that for me, and the guys that did that for Tom…they will always have my gratitude. They walked with us through some of the darkest days I’ve experienced. And that allowed me to leave those dark days and feel- really feel- like me again.
As for the baby I carry now? Well, Tom and I talked it over. A friend who knew about our first baby and my fears for this one told me a quote from Beth Moore that I have said over and over to myself. “God gives us grace for what we need, not for what we make up in fear.” So I am choosing to live without fear. To fight it off with prayer when it attacks my heart. Because it would be so easy to fear losing this baby, but I have no medical reason to think anything is wrong this time around. Until I do, I will live in the grace God gives me for this moment.
And we have also decided something about this baby’s name. If it’s a boy, it will be Thomas Hudson McFarlin V and go by Hudson. We had that decided for a long time.
But if it’s a girl, her name will be Josey, short for Jocelyn Selah McFarlin. Selah is from the Psalms, and it is placed after many passages of music as a break. It has many meanings, including, “Amen.” “Stop and meditate upon it.” and “Forever to the Lord.” After what we’ve been through, I can’t think of anything more fitting for a baby than a name like that. Even if this baby is a boy, that name will most likely be lined up for a little girl, someday.