October is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month. Up to 25% of women will experience miscarriage or infant loss at some point in their lives. 10% of women will experience infertility. All of these losses are devastating, and yet many never discuss it. How do we handle the grief? Where is God in all this?
We have had 1 miscarriage, 1 chemical pregnancy, and the grief associated with sterilization.
We used birth control and an IUD for most of my twenties. Then at 28 we had our first child. At 29, we had a chemical pregnancy, and shortly after, our second child. One year later we had a miscarriage, and shortly after, our third child and sterilization.
While the chemical pregnancy after our first child was of course disappointing, it was not devastating since the pregnancy was so brief. However the miscarriage was a different story and not something we would wish upon anyone!
In 2013 we got pregnant, and the initial Dr visit went well. At 10 weeks, I went in for the first ultrasound. The baby was the not size it should have been, and no heartbeat or blood flow was found. The baby had died. It had been a weird pregnancy because I usually get really sick with every pregnancy. With this pregnancy, I had no morning sickness.
Finding out alone at the Drs office was awful. The initial phone calls to my husband and mom were awful. What was worse, just a week prior, we had starting telling people that we were pregnant. Now we had to tell people and our 2 small children what had happened. The baby had died 2-3 weeks prior, and the Dr recommended a D&C to prevent infection. So the next day Sam and I went to the hospital to have the baby removed. It cost almost the same as having a live birth…except no baby. We were both so upset about it, including my husband. (Was it a boy?)
After our third child in 4 years was born (and 3 c-sections), my husband felt at the time that he was done and did not want anymore kids. Since our third pregnancy was also high risk for a uterine rupture, our obstetrician also highly recommended a tubal ligation. I never felt good about the decision, but agreed to the procedure. I remember my sadness when I was being wheeled into have my baby, because I knew I would be sterilized afterwards. And I grieved that everyday for years. Especially being in the homeschool community and christian circles, where large families are common.
However we also knew that God had called us to foster kids. We made the first phone call to foster in 2015 and have been licensed since 2017. We have been blessed with fostering and still hope to adopt one day.
While all that was going on, I started researching tubal reversals. And eventually the day came when we could afford the fee for the surgery, and Sam felt he was willing to take on more kids. So the summer of 2019 I went to a local fertility clinic and made inquiries about tubal reversal. I was 37 and in good health. However, all I got from the doctor was bad news. You are old. You will probably miscarry or have a down syndrome baby. We could only repair one Fallopian tube. They were also concerned about my number of c-sections and issues with blood clots. So I left that appointment sad and disappointed. But I moved on and just decided to focus on our bio and foster kids and eventually adoption.
However, several months later I started to feel the Holy Spirit speaking to me in many different forms – I would listen to pro-life podcasts and feel so convicted about needing to give my body to God. I did not have abortions, but I had never really given my body over to God for reproductive purposes. We had stayed in control of our reproduction through birth control, IUD’s, and sterilization. If I could do it all over, I would have made completely different choices. But I was not a Christian or even start growing in my faith till later in my twenties. And my obstetrician was not a Christian either. Both sets of our parents had been sterilized after kids number 3 and 2. Our actions seemed normal, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I had never put my body in control of God – I kept controlling it. And I would see the moms with large families and see what beauty lay in trusting God with their bodies and what a witness it was to all those around them in how they trusted God with not only their bodies, but in how their needs would be met, etc. It was just a great witness, and I knew we had missed that with all our control over reproduction.
Not only was I feeling convicted when I listened to pro-life messages, but God started speaking to me in through my children (“Mommy, what if you had another baby?), through other people, and through reading my Bible. I came across so many verses on my body belongs to God! Or, don’t be anxious about your body! Or, trust God! After months of this, I finally said to God, “Fine! I’ll do the tubal reversal!”
However I didn’t want to call the Dr’s office. In my mind, I’m thinking, “This is so crazy! A waste of time and money! I will look like an old foolish woman trying to do this at 38!” It’s going to be painful! I could die from blood clots afterwards! How could I do this to my family? However God kept speaking to me during my quiet times, so I finally scheduled the initial consult – with a different fertility clinic.
The day comes for the initial consult and I am so grumpy. I am again thinking, “This is crazy! I am probably foolish doing this! What a waste of time and money!” However I finally meet the team and they are ok to do the surgery. While yes, I am older, and there are risks associated with age, I am still healthy overall, and they don’t see any issues with going forward with the surgery. So one month later, I am scheduled for surgery.
However, I do have to get blood work done 3 weeks prior, and COVID testing 1 week prior. So I start praying earnestly to God that if this is truly not His will, that he would block the surgery! That I would be too anemic and fail the blood test, or fail the COVID test, or the COVID test would not get back in time. However, everything goes smoothly.
So I have the surgery and everything goes well. The Dr. was able to repair BOTH Fallopian tubes; to be viable, there needs to be 5 cm; I still had 7 cm on both sides! I found out that the first Dr I spoke to only performs a couple tubal reversals a month, while the second clinic performs 3 everyday. I had planned to go back to the first doctor, but he had retired. In addition, I have not had any issues with blood clots – whereas I dealt with that problem with all of my previous c-sections. God is Good!
We don’t know if we will ever get pregnant again, but I am no longer blocking God! I have peace in this and great hope – hope that I haven’t had in 6 years! So thankful for second chances. I would highly recommend people think really carefully before either the man or woman gets sterilized. I have learned that up to 30% of women who are sterilized will express regret. You don’t know how you will feel about your family situation in a few years. Consider leaving your options open!
Hope in the Bible
Because God loves us, he has filled the Bible with hope and several biblical accounts of infertile women who have gone on to have children. Even though God does not always give every couple children, He can still provide peace, comfort, and joy!
Comfort during Loss
Losing a baby at any point of the pregnancy, or during the first year of life can so devastating. But thankfully God never leaves us or forsakes us. We can cling to His word and speak to Him at any time, day or night. He is always listening and available. The book of Psalms is a great place to find comfort.
- “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” ~Revelation 21:4
- “You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?” ~Psalm 56:8
- “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” ~Psalm 147:3
- “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” ~Psalm 73:26
- “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.” ~Psalm 34:18
Remembering that our deceased children are in heaven can be so comforting! What a reunion that will be! Couples remember their unborn children in many special ways – ultrasound pictures or pictures after the birth; planting trees or plants in their memory; putting out memorial plaques in their yards or hanging up wind chimes. Honestly after I found out the baby had passed, I didn’t want the ultrasound picture. However now I really regret it and wish I had something to remember him/her by. We eventually told our children about the miscarriage and they were so upset by it. We discussed different ways to remember their missing sibling.
Comfort for Infertility
The Bible is also filled with infertile couples and related verses of comfort and hope. He may not have said “no;” just “wait.” Here are 7 women who all had given up hope of biological children. Yet in God’s perfect timing, He performed miracles in their wombs and gave them children.
- SARAH, Abraham’s wife and eventual mother of Isaac | Genesis 18:1-15, 21:1-7
- REBEKAH, Isaac’s wife and eventual mother of the twins, Jacob & Esau| Genesis 25:21-24
- RACHEL, Jacob’s wife and eventual mother of Joseph | Genesis 30
- SAMSON’S MOTHER, unnamed | Judges 13
- HANNAH, eventual mother of Samuel | 1 Samuel 1
- THE SHUNAMMITE WOMAN, eventual mother of a son | 2 Kings 4:8-37
- ELIZABETH, eventual mother of John The Baptist| Luke 1
Whatever the outcome may be for your family, remember that God loves YOU and has a plan for YOU! Seek Him and His will for your life!
Psalm 113:9 (NIV)
9 He settles the childless woman in her home
as a happy mother of children.
Praise the Lord.
Hebrews 11:11-12 (NIV)
11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she[a] considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
Psalm 37:5 (NIV)
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)
18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Genesis 25:21 (NIV)
21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.
Luke 1:36-37 (NIV)
36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
I love how God used “impossible” cases – like Elizabeth and Sarah who were both senior citizens, to give children. He reminds us again and again and again that NOTHING is impossible for Him! All life is from Him, and He can put life into any woman He wants to – no matter their fertility situation. Endometriosis, low sperm count, age, whatever – it doesn’t impede God in the slightest. We can’t understand why God doesn’t give children to everyone who desires them, but we can remember God and His character. He is good. He loves us. We can trust Him. Even when things don’t make sense, never stop clinging to Him and His Word, the Bible. He gives peace beyond understanding. And He does take the desire of your heart into consideration!
Psalm 37:4 (NIV)
4 Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
A few helpful resources to check out are:
- Perfectly Human: Nine Months with Cerian by Sarah C. Williams (Also featured in a podcast by Focus on the Family)
- Infant Loss & Miscarriage episode by MomtoMom podcast
- Infertility, Infant and Pregnancy Loss devotionals on the Bible App
Trying to get pregnant and stay pregnant are challenging and stressful. And any resulting losses are difficult to bare. But God in His great love is with us at every step of our journey. He reminds us in John 3:16 that “God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” Whatever the outcome, God never stops being good, loving, or trustworthy. Run to Jesus with your heart and desires. Nothing is too big for Him to comfort or overcome!