“I can still remember seeing those two lines for the first time. My heart was racing, I could hear the blood pounding in my ears. I couldn’t breathe for a moment. I thought I was going to pass out. I was nineteen, had only been married for four months and was diligently on birth control. So, shocked was an understatement. But I was also so excited. I have wanted to be a mother since I was six. I often day dreamed about raising my own little kids someday.
We told our parents the same day. Thanksgiving was soon after and we told our extended family, as well. Miscarriage never even crossed my mind. I didn’t even consider it a possibility. That was something that happened to other people; it wouldn’t happen to me.
Shortly after Thanksgiving, I casually went to the bathroom at work. Sometimes I wish I could go back to that girl who was innocently walking to the bathroom. The one who didn’t know what the pain of losing her child felt like. I pulled down my pants to find bright red blood. A lot of it. There was no thought, just reaction. Just tears. Just wailing. I think in that moment I just knew it was over.
I walked into the doctor’s office the next day holding onto shreds of hope, as if they were shards of glass. Hoping hurt, but not hoping hurt too. I never thought the first ultrasound I’d ever have would greet me with the words ‘there’s no heartbeat.’ But there I was. The baby had stopped growing two weeks prior. The image on the ultrasound was still. No little blinking heartbeat. No wiggling.
I wish I could say the next days were a blur, because in that moment I wanted nothing more than to forget. I wanted a time machine. I wanted to go back. I didn’t want to move forward without my baby. I cried and wallowed in bed. None of my friends understood what I was going through. I had no one to talk to. There was no online community. There were no friends showing up at my door. There wasn’t a guidebook of how to move forward.
I decided the only thing that would fill this gaping hole in my heart was a baby. So we got pregnant again. I thought for sure the miscarriage was a one-off thing. I was anxious, but optimistic. But shortly after that positive I was met with blood. Another loss. And then another.
My husband didn’t understand what I felt. All of this loss was so much for our very new marriage to take. Grief transforms you. And he had to get to know this ‘new’ version of me when even I didn’t know who she was. I resented his ability to be okay and move on when I felt so stuck in my grief. We fought so much about having a baby. I wanted nothing more; I was convinced having a baby would heal all the pain I felt. But he wasn’t ready to try again. Sometimes I didn’t know if our marriage would make it.
My mother told me maybe I hadn’t ever even been pregnant. She suggested that if I hadn’t taken the test early, I wouldn’t have even known. And those words still hurt. Like my baby wasn’t real. Like my pain and grief were invalid. My dad said, ‘this, too, shall pass.’ And I knew that, but I didn’t want to hear it. It didn’t make me feel better, and I really wanted to feel better.
I’ve had lonely times before, but this time of life was isolating. Everything was a trigger for me. I was constantly in pieces and trying to figure out how to be okay on my own. My husband tried his best to support me, but he didn’t understand what I was going through.
Fast forward to Father’s Day, 2012. We were at church and they asked all of the Fathers to stand so they could hand out treats. My husband didn’t stand. No one knew about our losses. I sat there and cried. We left and I went home and cried some more. I didn’t know how to keep going on.
The next day, I took a pregnancy test on a whim: two lines. Suddenly, I’m that girl with her heart racing and blood pounding in my ears again. I can feel my red cheeks and I’m breathless with emotions. After loss, you don’t come up with cute ideas to tell your husband, because that just means more reminders and more triggers after it’s over. So I calmly handed my husband a pregnancy test and we hugged. We prayed. We thanked God for this miracle. I prayed harder than I’ve ever prayed before.
The pregnancy was filled with anxiety. Never-ending fear. Constant checking for symptoms, constantly checking for blood. Always aware that in the morning it could all be over. It’s like having a countdown taped to your back, you can’t see it but you know it’s there. You don’t know when time is going to run out.
But this time, I saw a wiggly baby on an ultrasound. I heard, ‘It’s a girl!’ and the fast race horse gallops of her heart. I cried happy tears. I bought things for her. I talked to her. I praised God for her. Then came the day: I got to hold her in my arms. She looked around the room calmly and held up her fingers to create a number one. It was like a sign from God that she was always meant to be our first.
A year later we decided to grow our family again. We were greeted with another loss. I thought my body had fixed itself with having our first, but no such luck. I got pregnant again the following cycle and had our next rainbow baby. She came into the world and healed me again.
Years later, we decided we were ready for one more. This time I was so confident. It had been years and I thought for sure I could stay pregnant. And if hope alone could have kept me pregnant, whoever that someone was would be here with us today. We got the call that my grandpa had died the same day I found the blood. The next day I woke up with laryngitis. Then a few weeks later I found out one of my best friends was pregnant and due the week I would have been. I felt like I had been beat down to my lowest.
I decided I was done. I said no more. My heart couldn’t take it. I was crying in bed. Sobbing. I was telling God how done I was. Then I heard the words, ‘You can try again, and she will be perfect.’
I trusted Him. I called my OBGYN and demanded testing, up until this point they had never tested me nor mentioned testing. I went in and got my blood tested, they also did a pregnancy blood test the same day because I thought I might already be pregnant.
They called me the next day to say my HCG was 5. Which is the lowest it can possibly be to be considered pregnant so they didn’t think I was- but I had gotten a positive test that morning so they rushed my progesterone blood test, and, guess what, I had low progesterone. They started me on progesterone that day. I carried that little baby until 36 weeks when my water broke. God fulfilled his promise: she was perfect.
Life distracted me from my trauma but I had never faced it. I just covered it up with distraction. After our third, I suffered from severe, life-threatening postpartum depression. So I found myself face to face with a therapist who encouraged me to write about my feelings.
But when I went to write, I drew. I drew angels. I drew God holding my babies. I drew my brother who died of SIDS when I was a child. I drew him into our family photos. I found myself healing. I found wholeness. I found peace. I started posting them online and eventually created my own little space for them on Instagram, not really expecting anything to come of it. I thought maybe, if they helped heal me, they might help others too.
I really wanted to help others. Because I didn’t forget the loneliness. I didn’t forget crying in my bed begging God that someone would show up for me. I didn’t forget wondering what was going on with me or what I was supposed to do. I didn’t forget not having someone to text ‘is this normal?’ or even talk about what I was feeling openly.
So, my page unintentionally became a place of filling all of these holes I had for others. Strangers told me their stories. Strangers told me I helped them heal. Strangers became friends. I pray for every family I illustrate. I send my love to these women who need it now more than ever. And you know what? I’d do it all again. The loss. The loneliness. The hopelessness. The what-ifs. The wondering. Just to be able to tell another mom, ‘I know how you feel.’ And mean it. Just to be able to tell another mom ‘you’re going to make it’ or ‘you’re not alone.’
That girl crying in bed wishing it all away couldn’t see His plan for me. But He did have a plan for me, and for all of those I’ve been able to help even in some small way.
You’re not forgotten. And if you’re on the fence about sharing your own loss, I always say, ‘Your story might just be what someone else is praying to hear right now.’ Don’t give up, friend. There is light. There are rainbows. You’re going to make it.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kierra Butcher. Follow her journey on Instagram and check out her healing art here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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