When health professionals describe women in obstetrics they use two numbers. The first number, on the left, tells how many live births a women has had, after this there is a plus sign and then comes the number of still births and miscarriages she has had. My numbers have always been in competition with each other, and unfortunately, so far my second number has won.When I was twenty four I found two pink lines on a pregnancy test. We were cautious. We had heard miscarriage was common, and for some reason, I thought it might be something that might happen to us. On this occasion my two pink lines sprouted arms and legs and I gave birth to a baby boy and we felt truly blessed.
Two years passed and we decided to try for a brother or sister for our son. One day I again found two pink lines on a pregnancy test. This time I wasn’t cautious, we told everyone, we didn’t anticipate any problems. As the weeks went by I congratulated myself that I could still fit into my normal jeans, and I felt fine, not sick or tired like I been this first time. At twelve weeks pregnant I started to bleed. I went to the hospital, were they gave me a tummy scan. I waited as the midwife looked at the screen. ‘I don’t see what I would expect to see at this stage’ she said. An internal scan followed and several vials of blood. “Come back in a week, we’ll know more then.” Within the week I had miscarried. The midwives were sympathetic. ‘Bad luck’ they said ‘Best just to try again’. We did, never expecting it to happen again. It did, six months later, the same hospital but not such a sympathetic midwife – a busy day in the unit – miscarriage is common after all. ‘Two miscarriages aren’t unheard of’ she said, but she would take blood to check for a few things. I knew nothing of the causes of miscarriage but I thought by the law of averages, I’d had my fair share. Before the results came back for these blood tests, I’d miscarried for the third time.
In ten months we had had three miscarriages, I was physically exhausted and we were both emotionally exhausted. I’d never heard of anybody who had had three and I became convinced it was something I’d done. Maybe it was because I had no time to rest in these pregnancies, I was working and running after a toddler. Was it because I was lifting him, or overdoing it? Was it that one glass of wine or the cheese I’d eaten? I have a photo of myself and my son, him looking up smiling at me, I look dreadful, deathly pale, having lost so much blood during miscarriage two, but at the time I was driven to have my second baby. I thought it would complete me, and that my son would suffer if he was an only child. We needed a break. Our doctor told us to take six months off. It was a bitter pill to take, (and I think we only managed four!) but during that time, we enjoyed life again. We enjoyed each other, our friends and family and it was around this time when I went to church where the sermon was on Paul and how he was content in all situations.
‘I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether living in plenty or in want’ (Philippians 4:12)
I decided then to be content with what God had given me and if he gave us more children so be it and if not that was his plan. I also remember the Bible passage “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:3-10), and in our sorrow, I remember we were truly blessed.
When I look back now, four years on, we learned so much about ourselves and God in that time. I am a stronger person and more empathetic to others. As a couple we have grown. If you asked me if I would change that time I wouldn’t because it was the most humbling experience of my life, but I have had the benefit of time and God’s healing. “Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning” Psalm 30:5b. There were better days to come! At Christmas I always light a candle in remembrance of my three children, who were never born. Last summer, as the children started school, I thought that my child should have been starting, in a blazer and knee high socks but it wasn’t God’s plan for me at that time.