The fragility of dreams.

Recently my daughter became pregnant for the third time – and for the third time, the pregnancy stopped developing. Since it did not spontaneously abort, Abby had to go in for a D&C, her second.

When people have asked how I’m doing, I’ve replied with everything but the truth.

The truth is that I’m angry.

Angry that this happened again. Angry that she’s had more than her share of tough times. Angry because her life was supposed to have been easier than mine. (Hint: It hasn’t.)

Once I listened to a sermon on the subject of hard knocks. The minister concluded that he cannot dwell on grief and loss. Instead he focuses on a simple truth: “I am the beloved child of the Creator of all that is. But there are some things in this life that I will never know – and that has to be enough.”

Some days it is enough. Not lately, though. While I’m not losing my religion, I’m certainly interrogating the heck out of it. Why are things so hard for Abby? What if the grief destroys her? Are we supposed to learn something from this and if so, at what point will that become clear?

Each time I come back to the same immutable, immeasurably painful fact: that there is nothing to be done about this loss except to bear it.

There’s nothing I can do or say to erase the sadness for Abby and Tim. It’s not that I want to pretend that none of this happened – it’s that I want to blunt the sorrow. In the age-old way of mothers, I want to make things all right again.

During my daughter’s hospitalization for the disease that nearly killed her, I prayed silently – not for a miracle, but for an exchange. In my mind it was a friendly, conversational tone. You know, God, it really isn’t fair that she have to interrupt her studies to be on life support. How about you put me in that bed, and let her go back to school? Really. Please?

Similarly: I could get through three miscarriages because the grief and loss would be mine and I could handle it. Seeing Abby go through this is far more wrenching.

Sorrows and blessings

For days I resisted writing because I didn’t want to make this about me. Yet I also felt I had no choice, that the most effective way for me to work through my grief would be to write it down.

I did have the choice to hit “publish.” Ultimately I decided to do so because other couples have suffered in this way, too — and as inadequate as words feel right now, perhaps some will resonate.

Precious daughter, I am so sorry for your loss. Only time will ease the pain you and Tim feel. I say “ease” rather than “take away,” because to some extent the sadness will always be with you. This will be a mournful chapter of your lives, but it need not be the whole book.

How easy it would be to shut down emotionally, in order to protect yourselves against the possibility of future loss. Don’t. Please don’t. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about life, it’s that sorrows are just as likely as blessings – and that sometimes the two are intertwined.

The pain you feel might seem unbearable. Recognize, though, how the tenderness you felt for the baby-to-be increased your capacity for love.

Life is so damned tenuous. But don’t let the fragility of your dreams cause you to give up on dreaming them.

P.S. to the Creator of all that is: When it’s time, please send that child along. We’re so ready to cherish it.


43 Comments

  1. Becky F.

    First and foremost, Donna, Abby, and Mike, I am so sorry for your loss. Take time to grieve and to feel EVERY emotion and to seek out comfort in friends, family, AND strangers. Sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger than to rely on family members who are also grieving in their own way. Donna and Abby, y’all have my email address. I’m here if you need a caring shoulder to lean on.

    When bad stuff happens to good people, and it just doesn’t seem to make any sense at all, those of us who are believers can try to find some comfort in knowing that, for whatever reason, this is His plan for us.

    I miscarried at 11 weeks (also requiring a D&C for a pregnancy that “failed to progress” and with no explanation at the time). For months I just kept reliving every moment from when I thought there might be a problem all the way through the D&C. And I kept replaying events preceding it wondering if I did something to cause it. Testing revealed no problems and it was written off as being “a fluke.” Yet I had issues with my next pregnancy, too (which, with progesterone and baby aspirin and bed rest after an initial scare, resulted in the birth of a healthy baby girl).

    Fast-forward about 7 years. I had a hysterectomy because of severe issues with endometriosis. I insisted on immediately going on the estrogen patch — who wants to go through menopause at 40? But within weeks, I ended up hospitalized with blood clots in every lobe of my lungs. Genetic testing turned up a blood clotting disorder that I didn’t know I had. My parents were tested, and it turns out I got the gene from my mom. The hematologist said that this could explain my miscarriage and the problem pregnancy afterward. And a blood clot could have also been the culprit behind a previously unexplained week-long horrific headache after being on hormones via the BC pill (I thought I was dying but didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford to have tests run…went off the pill and I was fine).

    My mom had quite a few miscarriages, too, before my brother and I were born. It started making sense.

    Knowing about this gene, and that the trauma of surgery could cause these life-threatening clots, when my mom had to go into surgery a few years later, we were able to tell her doctors about it, and she was able to take post-op blood thinners that could have saved her life.

    Maybe that was His plan — to give my doctors clues to something previously undiagnosed, that would eventually help save my mom’s life, and, in knowing about it, my daughter and her future children can be tested and possibly saved from harm or death.

    I also think about the daughter I became pregnant with the month after my miscarriage, that I was able to successfully carry to term. Maybe He has something in mind for my daughter, who wouldn’t have been born had I not miscarried.

    In a roundabout way, I guess I’m trying to say that the loss and anger and doubt that you’re feeling may be because of a greater plan that you may understand later, or you may not ever understand… but having faith that there IS a master plan from a loving Creator helped me put one foot in front of the other until the grief became bearable. I still cry on Groundhog Day, the day I learned my baby was gone, over a decade ago. But I believe that I’ll meet him or her one day, waiting for me on the other side. And that thought makes me so happy.

    Sending love and prayers for comfort and hope. Here if you want to talk.

  2. Becky F.

    *sorry, Tim (not Mike)*

  3. I’m so sorry for her losses. That has to be so challenging.

  4. Stephanie

    Hi Donna,
    I was going to write something similar to Donna about the LORD having a plan in all that happens because he is sovereign, but she said it much better than I did. Some scripture that might be of some comfort to you. Romans 8:28, 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, and Psalm 139. (see Biblegateway.com)
    I also wanted to comment on your desire to take your daughters place in her suffering. That is the heart of our LORD as well. He saw our suffering and willingly gave up his own Son to be a substitute for us on the cross, so that we would not have to suffer the punishment of sin. I would love to tell you more about it if you would like.
    Praying for you in this time of trial and hardship.

  5. What makes me angry is that NOW, now that they have suffered THREE losses, now the doctors will start taking things seriously and try to figure out why.

    I am so sad to hear about those losses, and bless you for taking on some of that sorrow yourself.

    My religious upbringing tells me that since the New Testament and Jesus’s birth, God does not cause hardship, but He helps us cope with hardship that comes our way.

    I’ve been not wanting to bring this up with the previous losses, because I figured it was something a doctor would have checked already (since these are a simple blood test they often do before giving the green light to try to conceive), but has she been tested for PCOS or diabetes or insulin resistance? And has she been tested for thyroid problems? With the former a woman can lower miscarriage changes using 1500 mg of metformin and eating essentially a paleo diet (plus whole grains), the latter responds to medication.

  6. I’m am so, so sorry about what you and your family are going through, Donna. *Hugs*

  7. Sandra J

    So sorry to hear this. You wrote a beautiful post, thank you for sharing. I lost my first grandchild in stillbirth. The Lord and time have eased the pain, but it never goes away.

  8. Kelly McMillen

    What a moving, heart wrenching post. I really wish your daughter and Tim did not have to go through this. I love what you said about “sorrows being just as likely as blessings, and sometimes they are intertwined.” That is a strong truth. There is comfort in your words. Your daughter and son-in-law are blessed to have you in their corner. With your support I believe they will get through this. Much love, Donna, to you and you family.

    • Why write the same thing that Kelly has, especially when she said it so well? Thinking of you all during this tough, tough time.

  9. ImJuniperNow

    Having never had children, I’m left only to my imagination as to your pain.

    If it helps, I can share your anger. Anger at the women who pop out babies at the drop of a hat. Anger at the women who have baby after baby and don’t want them and can’t take care of them. Sadness over all the babies out there who you or I or any childless person would take in a heartbeat.

    Be as sad and angry as you want to.

  10. I have no beautiful and elegant words to bring you comfort. Just know I carry you all in my heart.

  11. punkinpye

    Donna, I am so sorry that you are having to watch Abby endure so much suffering through no fault of her own.

    I have never known the heartbreak of miscarriage, however, early in life, I experienced intense suffering due to a medical issue. The pain destroyed any semblance of a normal life. I spent two decades begging God to to let me die. God chose to see me through until the day medical science was able to give me relief from my condition. Today, despite being on dialysis, I am literally the most blessed and fortunate person I know. My life is full of joy and I am so glad to be alive.

    One of the good things that came out of my suffering is that I can now, with full confidence, testify to others who are suffering that God IS. He is sovereign, loving, and faithful. If we demand a reason for our suffering we will drive ourselves mad. It is hard, but if we cling to Him, surrender ourselves, and trust him, He will manifest His love in our lives.

    “I Pick Up Pennies” is the first thing I check out every day. I have been praying for Abby and will continue to do so.

  12. I hurt just reading your post about Abby’s pain. Your writing is a real gift from God, Donna. Thanks for sharing it with the rest of us.

    I, too, suffered a miscarriage later in a pregnancy many years ago. Little boy we named Matthew. While we went on to have another son a year or so later, we never forgot the one we’d lost. Time just eases the pain but never takes it away. The confusion, the profound sadness and sense of loss, the ever-present “why”s… You’re so right – the tenderness an expectant mom feels for her unborn baby just increases her capacity to love that much more.

    And as a mom of a daughter who also nearly died from ketoacidosis at the age of 6, I know you’d give your right arm (and perhaps more) to trade places with Abby. I would do the same for mine, as most any mom would for their kids.

    Thanks again for sharing with all the friends and strangers who read both your and Abby’s blog every day (or at least when there is a new post). I hope and pray she and Tim will be able to hold a baby in their arms and feel that absolute joy. They are both so deserving of it.

    Wishing all three of you nothing but blessings in this coming year.

  13. The grief wont’ destroy her becuase you raised her to be strong and carry on.

    I read something somewhere where a person was asking God why he made things so terrible for someone. And God said that he didn’t, he gave the person you. And that’s what God did for Abby. Gave her you to help through all the incredibly hard times.

    This might be a junky time to say this, but maybe God also had a different plan for Abby with children. Maybe there’s a little baby about to be born that needs a great mother, and Abby is the one. It’s not her biological child, but it is her child and needs here none-the-less.

    I do’nt know if any of that helps. Life is a mystery and life is hard. I”m sorry you and her are going through this stuff.

    • I am so sorry for your family’s losses.

      While I have never suffered a miscarriage, we did find out that we would never be able to have biological children. We turned to adoption, and now have a wonderful son.

      Which ever path they choose to pursue, the struggles that they are going through now will probably make them stronger as a couple, and they will not take parenthood for granted.

  14. hmbalison

    Donna,
    I am so very sorry for the suffering your daughter is experiencing. For Tim and Abby, I can only imagine how they are grieving the loss of their dreams–for now.

    When my husband I tried to have children, it turned out that I had birth defects that prevented me from ever getting pregnant. It was such a blow. I thought I would never recover. The grief took over my life.

    When I was so sad, it was important for me to connect to not only other people who had suffered similar losses and were still trying to have children, but also to make friends with people who had decided *not* to have children after pregnancy loss and infertility. I needed to know that it would be possible to have a good life with or without children. It was the way I could begin to make peace with grief and to create a life living with the loss.

    Eventually, my husband I adopted children. I would never tell someone “just adopt.” It is not a perfect solution–and now that my kids are older teens, I can honestly tell you that there are serious, serious drawbacks to adoption–along with rewards. It is not an easy choice to make.

    What I would tell Abby if I could is that she may never have any answers to *why* this is happening. I pray that she and Tim can support each other and hold onto each other and that they don’t lose each other because of the grief. It is what I feared most of all when I was in the depths of suffering–that I would lose my sweet husband. And when you can move toward each other and comfort one another–that is where the healing comes.

    All the best to you.

  15. Abby is lucky to have a Mom on her side, rooting for her and sharing (even if ever so slightly) in the pain. Lots of healing thoughts to all three of you.

  16. I’m so sorry for your loss, for all of you. A very dear friend of mine just went through a loss at 6 weeks and a D&C, and I just didn’t know what to do for her. So I sent her some beautiful flowers, because I wanted to at least share something pretty with her while she recovered from the procedure.

    But I don’t know what else to do. Because the whole situation is just shockingly unfair. So I hold you all – and her – in my prayers and hope for the best.

  17. lostAnnfound

    Donna, I’m so very sorry for your loss and for Abby & Tim’s loss.

  18. I am so sorry. Your post touched me so much. My young son suffers from debilitating depression and like you I want to take his pain for myself. Instead I pray for acceptance around the whole issue, do what I can to help and try to keep myself strong for his sake. None of this is easy though.

  19. Sending prayers your family’s way, Donna. I’m so sorry to hear of this most recent loss.

  20. PawPrint53

    What a sad yet beautiful post–thank you for sharing your thoughts, pain and grief. I’m so sorry to hear about this latest loss for your family. I hope that you can take the time to grieve, too, because it was a loss for you as well as your daughter and her husband.

    I know exactly what you mean about wanting to trade places and the heart wrenching task of watching your child grieve. My son lost his only child when she was 8 years old. I wish I could have taken away his pain away. He did shut down emotionally and that, too, has been incredibly painful to watch. He was a tender, loving father, the kind you’d wish for every child, yet he’s afraid to have another child because he’s afraid of loss. I pray that your kids won’t let this loss stand in the way of the potential joy another child will bring.

  21. I am so so sorry for you. My sister in law just went through this as well. I saw on your daughter’s blog a few people in the comments section had some good advice, things to have checked by doctors or specialists, and such…please make sure she, or you read those, just in case she’s too upset to look at the condolances. There might be something there that will help for next time, because I am sure there will be, and one day she will get that baby, and you that grandbabby you all deserve.

  22. Holly Samlan

    Ouch!!!
    DD2 had a 3rd month mis last spring. No clue as to why. It is VERY hard on them and we/I too would gladly trade places.

    DD1 hard a VERY difficult time trying to get preggie the secon time after a really easy 1st conception.

    There is NOTHING we can do but be there for them – to talk, listen, commiserate………..

  23. I have enjoyed your blog Donna.My heart goes out to all of you. I had two miscarriages this year and WISH I had some family/motherly support. You sound like you are an amazing source of strength for your daughter…I cannot say how important this is… At least my hubby was supportive at times… A Helpful and supportive web organization to deal with this type of situation is resolve.org

    • Donna Freedman

      @Diana: So sorry that you aren’t getting the support and understanding you need. Be good to yourself.

  24. I’m so sorry to hear this, my condolences and thoughts are with you all.

  25. Been there, done that. My heart goes to all three of you.

    You’re right, it’s so much easier to bear our own pain than not be able to ease our children’s pain.

  26. Michelle

    Donna–I’m so sorry. My thoughts and prayers are with Abby and Tim.

  27. I’m so sorry Donna.

  28. Brett Daniels

    My heart goes out to you and your daughter, and my condolences to your family. My best friend and his wife lost a child due to miscarriage and I saw what it did to them. My wife and I did all that we could to be there for them and comfort them, but we still weren’t sure if what we were doing was helping. We heard about a book that we got for them as a gift called “There Was Supposed To Be a Baby” by Catherine Keating, you can check her and the book on the website http://therewassupposedtobe.com/. After they read it they said what a wonderful book and comfort it was to them. Wishing you the ability to find peace and I’m so sorry for the loss you and your daughter have endured.

  29. I am so very sorry. I don’t know what to say other than I am sending you hugs across the universe.

  30. jestjack

    You’re a good Mom Donna! What I will share is that as parents it seems we tend to underestimate our children’s ability to cope. The fact of the matter is they are resilent and tougher than we give them credit. Best Wishes…

  31. I was so sad to read this post, Donna. I can’t add anything to the loving comments that others have left for you, but I hope that Abby and Tim find a way to have the baby that lives in their hearts. Big hugs to you.

  32. Donna Freedman

    Thanks, everyone, for kind words and cyberhugs. <3

  33. I am so sorry for your loss, but very grateful that you wrote that post. My parents went through numerous miscarriages before they decided to adopt and it helps me understand a bit what a struggle it must have been to go through this before making the decision to have us.

  34. Liziwe Ndalana

    I pray for comfort for Amy’s aching heart.

    I could relate to this, lost baby (twins) at 3 months in 2010, but when I read this it was as if it was yeseterday. I put this as an addition cause I don’t want to appear to be undermining yours, Amy and Mike’s pain.

  35. Crying for all of you. I’m SO SORRY.

  36. Sorry for your loss.
    After my first child was born, we started a couple years later for our second child. I endured 4 first-trimester miscarriages. I was also angry. We went for genetic testing and it came back normal. The next pregnancy went great. It took so long to get our second child, we started straight away for #3. Twelve months later our third child was born. :)
    Keep trying, sometimes there is nothing wrong, and it really is just a run of bad luck.

  37. priskill

    Oh, I am so sorry for your daughter and for you. Nothing could hurt more. It is terrible to feel so helpless when someone you love is hurting. I just got back to reading blogs and focused on your later entries — did not see this til now. I just wish you all strength to deal with this. Sending my best wishes and hopes to you all.

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