Grief is a strange land.
Before I miscarried, I thought grief was kind of like sadness: a feeling that overcomes a person but a feeling that can be analyzed and dismissed when one is ready to move on.
But grief is not like that. It is a destination that you are thrust into, a place that you can't leave no matter how much you want to leave until your grief slowly releases its grip on you.
When I first learned that I had miscarried, I felt numb. I remember laying on my bed and trying to pray but I had no words.
Psalm 23:4 came to my mind:
Even though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me…
In my mind's eye, I saw this Valley: razor sharp mountains, void of any vegetation, pierced the sky. The Valley was dusky, dark, grey. The path jutted sharply into shadows--I couldn't see beyond a few steps. But I knew the way was full of pain, deep physical and emotional pain.
I DON'T WANT THIS PATH! I DIDN'T CHOOSE THIS PATH! My mind screamed. I mentally dug in my heels…
I wouldn't go.
I would not walk.
But there wasn't another way. I couldn't make my HCG levels rise. I couldn't make the bleeding stop. I couldn't make the baby live. The baby was dead.
This was The. Only. Way.
...I will fear no evil, for You are with me.
Brittany, He whispered to my soul. I am already there, in the Valley.
But this did not comfort me. The Valley was an evil place; God's presence could not change that. All I could think was if God is already there, I didn't want to follow.
My lowest point was the day I filled a prescription to induce the miscarriage. A week had passed and though I was still bleeding lightly, my numbers were falling very slowly. My midwife recommended that I use misoprostol to "help the process along."
After we went to CVS to get the drugs (and a strong prescription pain killer), Aaron and I stopped by Kroger to get some Motrin. From what I had read online about other women's experience with misoprostol, I couldn't have enough pain killers.
I numbly bought the medicine and started walking back to the car, waiting for a bus to pass before I crossed the street.
This thought entered my mind, unbidden: If I got hit by a bus then I wouldn't have to go through this.
Then: Wow! I just had a suicidal thought. I am in a really, really bad place.
I really didn't want to get hit by a bus, or die. But I cannot express more clearly how much I did not want to go though this, to walk this path, to go through this valley.
Please be with me. Please be with me. Pleasebewithme….
The misoprostol didn't work.
The midwife called in a second dose.
I took it again the next day.
It didn't work.
By this time, I was so messed up with drugs and grief that my whole GI system rebelled against me for a few days. I felt terrible.
I went in for another blood test (number 3? or 4?).My HGC levels had dropped over 100 points. Finally, some good news (so ironic..)! It had been over two weeks since I first found out. From everything I read online, the miscarriage would be over soon.
The new semester started at Liberty and I started teaching again.
I went grocery shopping.
I took my boys to school.
I publicly shared about our miscarriage.
I wrote about suffering and thankfulness in the midst of grief.
I had days where I laid on the couch all day.
I had functional days.
I had bad days where I cried my eyes out when I saw ANOTHER freakin' "we're preggo!" announcement on Facebook.
I had good days when I smiled and laughed with friends and talked objectively about the miscarriage and my grief.
I was ready to move on. I wanted to move on. I wanted to leave the Valley.
But the bleeding went on and on and on. Two weeks slipped into three. Then four. Then five.
It was now February, over a month since the miscarriage began.
"I can't stand it!" I screamed to my husband. "You don't understand. This has to end! I can't move on until it ends! You don't know what it's like to bleed and bleed and bleed and see red every time you go to the bathroom! When will it END?!"
I felt utterly alone. My pain was bound up in my body, without any meaningful release. I couldn't give it away if I wanted to. No one could carry this burden with me. NO ONE understood.
Even though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death . . . You are with me…
The verse had become a mantra, playing over and over again in my mind. At times it comforted me. Other times, it frustrated me.
On the night of my outburst, I saw this verse in a new light. God wasn't just with me, beside me. He had promised that his Spirit was within me, inside my soul--inside my body, my body that was filled with so much pain, physical and emotional.
He was with me, inside my body--feeling, suffering, mourning, grieving, walking with me.
I used to think that when God walked with a person through hard times, the darkness of that person's path would somehow be filled with His light.
My path through the valley was not filled with light. It was very dark, and at times, I didn't feel God's presence at all. But in the darkness, along this journey of death, He was there.
Three days after I said "I can't stand it any more!" my bleeding stopped. Two weeks later and another blood test later (7? 8?), I found out that my numbers were at 0.
It was finally over.
I will fear no evil, for You are with me…
At the beginning of my miscarriage, I was filled with fear: fear of pain, fear of grief, fear of loss, fear of hemorrhage, fear of the disgusting horror that is miscarriage.
At the end, I realized that the evil I feared did not ever manifest itself. My bleeding was long, but never heavy. I had cramps but they were mild when compared to the worst menstural cramps I had experienced in my life. My emotional pain, though debilitating, was not devastating.
I would heal.
I am healing.
Today is March 1st. I am wishing myself a Happy New Year.
The Valley is a place that I had to travel through. Sometimes I think I have reached the other side; other days, I know I am still there. But there is light.