Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Greatest Joy, My Deepest Sorrow

I have thought a long time about whether or not I should write a more intimate post about my miscarriage. I don't know whether or not people are even interested to know how I feel, but writing this post is probably more for me than for anyone else. I would like to start out by saying, I believe that as a culture and a people we oftentimes don't understand the impact a miscarriage has on a family, specifically the mother. When we lose a baby, at any stage in the development, it is a great loss that brings with it immense suffering and sorrow. Losing my baby was the hardest thing I have ever gone through and it still causes me a lot of sorrow and pain. Now just 10 weeks later, though I can often carry out my responsibilities in the way I did before this experience, I am no longer the same person I was before. A deep impression has been made in my heart forever. I am writing this in memorial of my baby. I do not want to leave anyone with the impression that my little baby meant nothing to me or that the loss of my baby was miniscule to me. That little person, though just an inch and half long, changed my life forever. And though this experience has caused me a great deal of suffering, I would never wish to have not felt every emotion I have had through this journey, or to not have experienced carrying my baby for the 3 months I did. Here is my experience:

It was my 12 week appointment. I remember sitting in the chair, while the CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife) was pushing the probe in to my lower belly to try and find my uterus. When she found the picture of my baby, Squire immediately said, "Oh look babe! It's cute!" But, the midwife didn't respond. She just kept measuring the baby and looking at the picture. She then told us that the baby was only measuring at 8 weeks, and that the heart wasn't beating. She wanted us to have a second ultrasound to confirm that the "pregnancy wasn't viable" because she wasn't an ultrasound technician. I tried to hold back my tears but I couldn't. With tears streaming down my face as we saw our lifeless baby on the large screen a second time, we were told again that in fact the "pregnancy was not viable". I was told many things in the office that day:

1. You didn't cause this to happen with anything you did.

2. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry (though she really wasn't.)

3. This is a very common occurrence.

4. What you had is not termed a "miscarriage", it is actually called a "missed abortion"

because the "pregnancy was not viable for 4 weeks+".

5. This usually happens because something was wrong with the development.

6. Don't worry - you can start trying again as soon as you would like to!

I was told about my options were to take drugs (Cytotec) that would make me pass the baby at home, or to schedule a D&C. I was told that the medicine could cause me to hemorrhage, but a D&C can sometimes damage the uterine lining and make it difficult to conceive again. I opted for the Cytotec because I wanted the experience of seeing my baby, and delivering the baby at home with Squire, not in a hospital setting. So, I walked out of the room sobbing, with a few pieces of paper with prescriptions scribbled on them, and an ultrasound picture of the baby I would never get to hold. After hearing all the cold medical talk about what had happened inside my body, I was a little angry. I just wanted to yell, "My baby is dead!" That was what had really happened! Terms like "viability" and "missed abortion" could not capture the feelings I was feeling and in fact brought more pain. Why do we talk of our young developing babies as though they are merely topics in a textbook? Are they not, after all, little miracle growing inside us? On a short side note, I felt some contentment in eating the meal a friend prepared for me the day I found out about my baby. She made, "Potatoes Au Gratin", better known as "Funeral potatoes" in Mormon culture. At every funeral, there are funeral potatoes. I felt it was so appropriate that on the day of my baby's "funeral" that we would be eating such symbolic food. I was after all, suffering the loss of the life of my little baby.

I remember all the feelings I had surrounding Baby Hepworth before the miscarriage. I had chosen to give up graduate school (for the present) in order to be able to start our family sooner. (You can see that post at this link). This was a difficult decision in some ways, but I was mostly so excited about starting my family. Becoming a mother was after all a dream and a hope I had since I could walk and play house! I knew long before I got the two lines on the pregnancy test that my baby was there, growing and living inside me. There was just a special spirit there that I hadn't felt before. In fact I had been frustrated that it had taken me so long to get a positive pregnancy test because I just knew my baby was there. Denying the fact that I was pregnant, would have been like going outside mid-day, and saying the sun wasn't shining all while getting a sun burnt nose. I felt right from the beginning that I was aware of that baby, even when no one else was. And oh how I loved my little baby! I dreamt about my baby, talked to my baby, sang to my baby all while researching every crib, breast pump, wrap, car-seat and birthing method. I wondered about so many things! What would my baby look like? Would he/she have red hair like Dad? Would my baby be a boy or a girl? What would my baby's personality be like? Would my baby be a Momma's girl/boy? What would it be like to nurse my baby? Would my baby sleep through the night? What would my baby's cry sound like? Would my baby look up at me with that drunken look of contentedness after a feeding? Would I ever hear another sacrament talk again or would I be having too much "fun" playing with my little babe? I imagined most often though, just holding my little one close to me. What would that feel like to hold that little baby in my arms? I was so excited! I just couldn't wait! Even with being nervous about some financial matters, I was overwhelmingly excited for the opportunity to hold, and get to know my little one.

But, the day I had my miscarriage I lost all those dreams. The day after the baby "passed", I was left alone and empty. There was no more baby inside. No special feeling. Just emptiness and the deepest sadness imaginable. I knew in my mind the fact I had gotten pregnant meant I could at least get pregnant. That was a blessing to know I guess. It has always been a fear of mine, not knowing if I would be able to bear my own children. But, I wasn't worried about the other babies I would have, I was still worried about that baby. That baby Hepworth. I personally believe my baby was a separate individual from any other children I will have. I have heard many different opinions on the subject of when the spirit enters the body and what happens to babies when they do not make it to full term and I believe the opinions of the mothers to be valid upon an individual basis. I feel though, that my baby was a unique spirit who had come and would not be returning. So, talking about the babies I would have in the future could fill a small void, but it did not fill the void of the loss of my first baby. A loss had been had, that could never be filled. My baby had died, and no one could give me my baby back. And no baby I would have in the future could ever replace that baby.

The most prominent feeling I have felt has been of missing my baby. I do not know how to describe it in any other way. Seeing all of the other young moms with little newborn babies each week at church, has only reminded me of all the experiences I won't get to have in August. I would have been about 21 weeks now. I probably would have been able to know the gender, and to think more carefully about a name. Maybe its unhealthy to think about how far along I would have been, but it's still something I do. I still wonder, what it would have been like. But where that wonder about the future had previously been filled with excitement and anticipation, that wonder is now experienced with deep pain.

A friend shared a poem with me that has influenced the way I think about my experience, and that I have found to be very profound and touching. It is from a collection of poems by Kahlil Gibran titled The Prophet. The poem is called, "On Joy and Sorrow". It goes like this:

Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.

And he answered:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.

And the selfsame well from which your

laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your


And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your

being, the more joy you can contain.

Is not the cup that holds your wine the very

cup that was burned in the potter's oven?

And is not the lute that soothes your

spirit, the very wood that was hollowed

with knives?

When you are joyous, look deep into

your heart and you shall find it is only that

which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful look again in

your heart, and you shall see that in truth

you are weeping for that which has been

your delight.

Some of you say, "Joy is greater than

sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is

the greater."

But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

Together they come, and when one sits

alone with you at your board, remember

that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales be-

tween your sorrow and your joy.

Only when you are empty are you at

standstill and balanced.

When the treasure-keeper lifts you to

weigh his gold and his silver, needs must

your joy or your sorrow rise or fall. (pg.29-30)

The sorrow of this experience, has carved into my being. That which was my greatest joy became my deepest sorrow. I'm sure that when I am pregnant again, I will feel mixed emotions. The longing for the experience I missed with my first baby, yet a feeling of joy for that new life as well. My soul has deepened and changed in a very powerful way. I feel my joys and my sorrows more fully, and I have come to better understand some of you who have suffered losses of your own. Though I would never have chosen this experience for myself, I feel it has been essential in making me more human somehow. I feel that I have come to a deeper understanding of the atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ through this experience as well. I have also felt, despite the pain, the overwhelming Love Heavenly Father has for me, for Squire, and for our little baby. We have seen many tender mercies along our journey that have comforted us immensely. Through Christ's atonement and with time, I know that all will be made right. But, I will still miss and think of my little one often, until the day when that day comes...


  1. Jami, thanks for sharing this. I've been worried about you, hoping you're ok. I doubt I can be any help, but let me know if you need anything.

  2. Just as beautiful as the first time I read it. Er, you read it to me. Maybe more so, somehow? Things like this deserve to be read through multiple times.

  3. Thanks for sharing Jami. I know it's hard to write things like this, but it helps me to better understand and (hopefully) be more empathetic in the future. But I'm with you on Baby Hepworth. She was a unique spirit that was in you and part of you, and one day she'll be in your arms again.

  4. Jami,

    I want to thank you for sharing your experience with us and the rest of the world. My mom has always been very open with me about the 2 miscarriages she had in her life and how she wished that in "her day" more people would have been open about the subject. She told me how she felt alone and was unaware that it was something that happened to many women because people simply didn't talk about these kind of things. Undoubtedly, sharing your experience will help to inform and educate more people about this once secretive occurrence. Thank you for shedding your light on this.

  5. I found your blog via Pinterest and I just realized that we lost our first little one at the same time you were losing yours... :( We lost two more babies that year and I have to say, 2010 was the darkest year in our lives and in our marriage... but in 2011 we turned things around in our marriage (that much grief can really tear a couple apart) and also found out we were expecting again! Our daughter was born in Sept 2011 and we are expecting again for a little one due next Spring... God works in mysterious ways, but all those babies lost we will meet in heaven again one day and without that dark year, the marriage my husband and I have would not be a 10th as strong as it is now... Maybe a bigger trial is coming and we needed those times to be prepared... Either way, I am a very happy wife & mother now and your post has touched my heart in a way that a stranger rarely can :) Thank you and blessings upon your family! :)



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