Self Doubt: Recovery After a Miscarriage

Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
I hesitate to post this blog because I do not want anyone to think I am looking for pity or pep talks.  I post it because I want women who have had a miscarriage or are experiencing self doubt to know that they are not alone.  As you can imagine, I do not post this easily.  

It was a cold, hard winter.  The trees were frozen with ice and the pavement almost always had a fresh layer of snow on it.  The wind was bitter.  The sky was gray and dark.  The months of January and February seemed to be a never ending black hole, lacking any hope of spring.  And so was my heart.

I did have my good days, but I also had my very bad days.  The new year did not bring the joyfulness and enthusiasm for resolutions that it had in the past.  The new year brought sorrow and pain.  And something else I least expected, it brought self doubt.  Since childhood, I have been an insecure person, but this year the self doubt was different.  This year I was missing a part of myself.  As the days ticked on, and Ezraela's due date grew closer, I became more aware of that empty hole in my heart.  As the bellies of my friends, who were expecting, grew and mine continued to be barren, my insides cried that it was not fair.  It was a roller coaster of emotions.  One week, I would be at a high peak and the next, a low valley.  After two and a half months passed, I thought I should be "over" losing my child.

But I wasn't.


“...I want to feel better but I'm never going to 'get over' my miscarriages. I know that someday, I'll feel better and it won't hurt so much but I'm never going to forget those babies I lost and I don't want to.”


I also discovered my body was not over the miscarriage at that point either.  Every new cycle was a reminder that I was not with child anymore.  And the postpartum hormones and emotions left me in a place of hopelessness. 

There was also stress eating.  I have many vices, but overeating wasn't one of them.  I started to stress eat when I was pregnant.  I didn't feel well and was over anxious.  My then 2 year old daughter knew that.  When I got stressed with her, I would eat anything I could find in the house that was sweet or full of carbs.  I didn't gain a whole lot of weight while I was pregnant, but after I miscarried at 18 weeks (I had to deliver the baby in the hospital), I kept on eating, never losing any of my baby weight.  I know most people would ask what did I have to worry about?  I was already thin and probably could use to gain a few extra pounds anyway.  Those people do not understand what those extra pounds meant for me.  This wasn't extra weight that I had because I had been pregnant and didn't lose because I was nursing a healthy baby.  This was weight I had gained and hadn't lost because I had delivered a dead baby.

This was weight I had gained and hadn't lost because I had delivered a dead baby.

As a result I felt shame.  And doubted myself.

Every time I looked in the mirror I hated what I saw.  I felt like I had aged at least 10 years from the tears that had spilled down my cheeks.  A friend of mine recently told me about a recorder that we all play in our heads of all of the bad things that we think about ourselves or other people have said about us.  That recorder was on a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week loop.  I believe that hate did not actually come because of how I looked (even though in my eyes that is what I thought it was), it came because of what I lacked.  That I was somehow less than because I couldn't manage to carry my child to a healthy 40 weeks.  Even though I knew it wasn't my fault, subconsciously I believed it was.  

The self doubt wasn't limited to how I looked.  The self doubt seeped into every little part of my life. 

The summer before I was pregnant my then 2 year old decided she was going to start potty training herself.  Because of my chronic medical condition I was exhausted, so I didn't follow through with her desire.  When I got pregnant, I was even more exhausted, so it didn't happen then either.  While my parents were in for Christmas and then returned for New Years, when Ezraela died, my mom almost had Alexandria potty trained.  Then my parents left and neither my husband nor I had the energy or drive to continue the training.  However, our daughter would not take no for an answer.  Like most kids who are being potty trained, there were a lot of accidents.  One week in particular there were so many accidents (including peeing on a gym floor in at a consignment sale), that I found myself frantic and weeping each time it happened.  As a result, I started to self doubt my parenting abilities.  I thought there was something wrong with me because my child, who at this point is almost three, wasn't potty trained.  There were a few friends who counseled me during this time.  One day, at a play date, I found myself crying to my friend in her laundry room.  And the next, crying to another friend at that gym.  Both friends (who were both parents of two at the time) told me that potty training has it's ups and downs and not to beat myself up about it.  I needed to be easier on myself because I have had a pretty difficult year and Alexandria would be potty trained when she was ready (and not before).  It had nothing to do with my parenting skills.  And they were right.  We went on vacation two weeks ago and sure enough, on the ride there my little girl had her dada stopping every hour so that she could go to the bathroom, even though she had a diaper on.  She is far from being fully potty trained, but now I see the wisdom in my friends' words and a light at the end of that tunnel.


Jekkyl Island, Georgia
Another area where I doubted myself was in my training for a duathlon.  Last year I competed in a triathlon relay (I did the swimming and biking), but this year I wasn't supposed to be able to do one because I was supposed to be pregnant and then have a newborn to take care of.  However, after losing Ezraela, I decided that training for a duathlon was exactly what I needed to help me focus on something other than my loss.  I had been swimming throughout my pregnancy and the days that followed my miscarriage, so I knew I had the swimming portion down (1500 meters, 1640.42 yards, which equals about 33 laps in a 50 yard pool), but because of the weather I had not been able to begin my cycling training (which equals 24.9 miles race day).  We road a couple of times on vacation, but the place where we were at was not ideal for road bike training.  So, when we got back I hit the ground running (or cycling).  However, it was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be.  My butt felt like it had a huge bruise on it because it had not been on a bike seat in a long time (because of the pregnancy), my legs felt like they were going to fall off, my arms and back were sore.  Most people would doubt their capabilities of doing an Olympic duathlon, but mine went deeper than the normal, "Oh my gosh this is going to be so hard."  I told myself that I wouldn't be able to do it because I had lost a baby and I didn't have the stamina to finish the event as a result.  That somehow Ezraela's death was directly linked to my ability to complete the race.

Last Saturday I had a conversation with my dad via text after biking the previous day.  I was explaining to him my fear of being ready for the event, because at that point I only had 6 weeks to prepare.  After hemming and hawing, I eventually told him:

"I've just had a lot of self doubt since I lost Ezraela."  

My dad's wise reply?

"I can only imagine.  If you know what the monster is, it makes it easier to fight...That and the Lord said he would never leave you or forsake you." 

The same day a friend told me, "No matter what, you are a mother of two."  With all of the new pregnancies and babies born, this is exactly what I needed to hear.  I shouldn't doubt myself because Ezraela was gone.  Regardless of how soon she left, I was still a mother of two.

The next day was Sunday and at church one of my other friends gave her testimony on her miscarriage  (It was not a surprise to me because I asked her to give it).  She explained her grief process in about one minute and everything she said was exactly what I was going through.  The awkward comments people would make, knowing that regardless of how many other kids you had after your miscarriage, you still wanted the baby you lost and learning about how God was with her through her suffering.

And in the same service our worship team played the song "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)."  


Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

 
So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

 
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Being friends with the guy that led the song, I knew it was coming, but I didn't know it would be that weekend.  It was one of the hardest weekends I have had since the initial fog after Ezraela died.  This song was special to me because I heard it in the car outside of the doctor's office, just a mere 30 minutes before I would find out that she was gone.  It was almost as if God was foreshadowing what was ahead.   Even later, as I felt like I was sinking, he would be right beside me.  And that is what he reminded me of on Sunday.

For my birthday a dear friend gave me a seemingly odd gift:  her January monthly "Magnificat" magazine, which is a Catholic publication with daily scriptures, prayers, hymns and reflections.  It was not odd to me because I knew it was exactly what I needed (I actually got a little too excited and asked her, "You mean I can keep it?!").  She said that the month focused on saints with chronic medical conditions and she could not help but think of me as she read it.  Because of the place that I had been in, I didn't even know how to begin reading the Bible, so her gift was one of the most precious things I had ever received.  

A moving quote I read on the January 6 mass was: 

"There is one in us who is greater than the one who is in the world.  In short, we belong to God and that makes all of the difference."  


On the day (March 15) I read that I wrote in my journal:

"When we experience hardships or crisis we are not alone.  The Holy God dwells in us and shines through us." 


Because we are God's, we are different.  We were made in God's image (Genesis 1:26).  God knew us before we were born.  

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:13-14

This was true for me.  And this was true for Ezraela.

And God loves us.  

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness

Jeremiah 31:3


The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17


My self doubt still remains, but right now it is not as great as it has been over the past several weeks.  I rest in knowing that God is with me and will hold me as I cry.  He is rejoicing over me, little me, with singing to soothe me.  

And even though I only carried Ezraela for 18 weeks and did not hear her cry her first cry, God knew her while she was in my womb and still knows her now.  And even she was fearfully and wonderfully made.  She did not have the life span that any of us were expecting, but she was perfect the way that she was.  

St. Simons Island, Georgia
I begrudgingly went swimming the other day.  I did my 20 minutes of regular laps, then swam my 10 faster laps and after did my 100 yard sprint.  During the last several laps I began to have a hard time keeping up.  The biking had left me sore and I was not sure I had the stamina to finish.  Suddenly I pictured Ezraela, standing at the edge of the pool, saying, "Go mama!!"  And then Alexandria was standing right beside her.  They were both cheering me on with the vigor that any young child gives when they are super excited.  Great smiles spread across their faces.  It was as if they were saying, "We love you mama, you are precious to us.  Please do not doubt yourself.  We know you can do it, because God is with you and we are with you too.  We will always be with you."  

St. Simons Island, Georgia
Fort Fredericka, St. Simons Island, Georgia
And for my girls, I will strive not to doubt myself again because I know that a loving God is right there with me and I have the two of them to cheer me on. 

Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me You've never failed and You won't start now 


If you have had a miscarriage, a helpful site that a friend gave me to help me know the difficulties and doubts I am facing are normal is here.  There is also a helpful link of things to say/do and not to say/do to someone who has experienced a miscarriage.  That may also be another blog for another day for me.  Thank you for reading. 

Comments

  1. It breaks my heart that you've had to go through this, Dorothy, but I know that God is good...and faithful...and He is with you every step. I love you and I'm so proud of you for sharing your heart. <3 <3 <3

    ReplyDelete
  2. I know the feelings all too well! I'm glad you decided on writing this, I believe a lot of what's helped my postpartum depression from the miscarriage was reading others stories. It helped to let me know I'm not alone, in my pain, my fears, my loss and in validating my love for God and my baby. Oddly enough I've had those moments where God was preparing me too for what was ahead and still is. Thank You!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Senaida. I believe it is my mission in life to talk about my struggles, so that I can help comfort others going through the same thing. I have also had to rely on the strength of my mom friends and family to help me through this, but having someone reach out to me who has experienced a similar loss makes all of the difference. I'm glad you found this blog and pray that you will continue to find peace.

      Delete
  3. Hugs and prayers, my dear sister. One day all our pain and sadness will be healed.
    Debbie McClerren

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

I Can't Keep Silent: Fighting Against a Rape Culture

Who Doesn't Love a Pancake?

The Day My Earth Stood Still