Carving the Mother

by Gretchen

Please be aware the following post contains references to pregnancy loss, including graphic mention of medical instruments. 

The lowest moment of my life happened in a Wendy’s parking lot. That’s where I told God I hated his guts for allowing my baby to die and be removed from my body with a spoon.

I was obsessed with the image of a spoon from the moment the doctor explained the procedure to me. She told me about the instruments she’d use. “A curette is like a spoon…” My body didn’t believe it was no longer pregnant—I should have been around 12 weeks. I had carried around a dead baby for two weeks and that’s too long. I would report to the hospital and be put to sleep. She would officially end my pregnancy so my body could move on. The rest was up to me.

It was my first pregnancy loss after five healthy pregnancies and five healthy children. It’s been eight years, this month, and I still feel my throat buck when I remember those awful deep winter days and my matching despair. If God allowed my baby to slip away, why couldn’t he let my baby leave with a bit of dignity? Being birthed in pain and blood and tears, earlier than early, was better than being separated from me that way. The spoon way. In the sterile brittle of an OR, total strangers maneuvered me into position. I was utterly helpless because drugs took me out of me. These aren’t things a loving God allows, I told him.

A week later, I was still profoundly sad. Someone I love suggested to me it was time to move on and have some perspective. He didn’t understand. My response was to grab my bag, jump in the car, and speed away. I drove and drove and played The David Crowder Band’s “Deliver Me” over and over and over until I came to a smoking halt in that Wendy’s parking lot and said everything I’ve said here. And more. Things I can’t share, things only God and I know about babies and women’s bodies and spoons.

Things got better. Months later, I had another pregnancy loss and experienced many of the same feelings, but never found myself in a parking lot. Our sixth child was born a year and a half after my first pregnancy loss. Safe and sound, a daughter astounded my arms after holding four sons in a row. That little future woman would hopefully know motherhood the same way I know it—a surrender to the will of God and sometimes the tools of humankind. I never want her to feel that pain, of course.

beatrixandme

But without those losses I wouldn’t have her. She was the whispered promise I couldn’t hear above my own screaming and maybe, at that moment, I wouldn’t have wanted her. I’d want who was carved away by that spoon.

(edited to add a heads-up regarding the graphic nature of this post)

 

11 Responses to “Carving the Mother”

  1. Kelly Chripczuk February 15, 2013 at 4:54 am #

    I had a D&C after the birth of twins, I was sick for several weeks due to “products of conception” that remained. What a dificult and deeply vulnerable experience, though the nursing staff was a real comfort. What a blessing to have your little girl and God’s good promise to redeem all things. Thankyou for writing this piece.

  2. Sonja Lange February 15, 2013 at 7:15 am #

    God bless you and your words. I haven’t had to deal with his yet, but the numbers scared me. It can happen to anyone at anytime. Thank you for sharing your pain so others won’t feel so alone.

  3. Jen @ Martymom's Musings February 15, 2013 at 7:25 am #

    Gretchen, so beautifully raw and honest. I have experience this as well 3 times…at 7 weeks, 20 weeks I lost my 4yo’s twin and then a baby girl at nearly 16 weeks. I have had a d & c, had to reabsorb the twin and then was induced with one, delivering in the emergency room. All after 3 previously normal pregnancies.

    It is such a deeply emotional. I get how it rocked you and how without losses you would have her. My youngest the surviving twin feels like that in some ways…she was after my first loss, and losing her twin was devastating and it is also very real how she could have been taken too.

    We’ve decided not to have anymore…but I still feel God using this, redeeming this…when a long time friend tells me she has a friend who has lost 2 in the last year during the second tri…and will I connect with her and support her. I don’t presume to know exactly how God uses our trials for good, but if helping others is how I will obey.

    Bless you for sharing.

    Jen

  4. Amber's The Mile High Mama February 15, 2013 at 9:09 am #

    Simply stated: WOW. Such depth in eloquence.

  5. rachel s. February 15, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    this is a great article, but, moderators, this article needs a trigger warning. that description of the spoon might be too much for women who carry trauma from abortions, D&Cs, or a miscarriage.

    Gretchen, thank you for your vulnerability. I appreciate you sharing your story, sister.

  6. cynthia ferguson February 15, 2013 at 11:16 am #

    I feel your pain. Mine is not as recent as yours yet the dull throb remains. I had five daughters born with no problem, 22 years ago I was excitedly looking foreward to another beautiful child from God. I was six months along and kept thinking what a peaceful baby I was going to have. I went in for a checkup. They were having a hard time finding the heartbeat. They had a hard time themonth before that too. I asked for an Ultrasound. We saw him right away he was beautiful. The very next thing we niticed was the perfect stillness where the heart was. He was induced my first son. I held him in my arms and cried. We buried him. The following year I was again pregnant. I miscarried at home. The little one went out onto the septic field.The following year I gave birth to my beautiful son. He nearly died thankfully he didn’t. He is now 20 years old plays blues harmonica. I thank God for him. I look foreward to meeting the other two in heaven

  7. Addie Zierman February 16, 2013 at 7:54 am #

    Late reading this, but I was so moved by the honesty of your grief and the beauty of your story. Thank you

  8. edj February 16, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this. I love how God meets us in our despair, and how he is not offended by our anger and grief. I love how he brought you joy from ashes. And you have been shaped and deepened by these losses too.

  9. PLM February 16, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    I had a different but similar physical experience in a post-delivery emergency surgery (that ended my ability to carry more children.) It’s been a long time — almost 18 years — but when I think about the actual day (which happened to be Good Friday), I remember it very clearly and it brings back a lot of uncomfortable feelings. I wanted to share that a very helpful thing for me was reading about post-traumatic syndrome related to going through a medical emergency. I personally found it easier to separate out that piece of the trauma from the losses related to child-bearing which for me were more complex and more difficult for me to come to peace with God about.(As a postscript, my family today is everything I ever hoped it would be. But it was still hard to go through.)

  10. Abby T. March 1, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    Gretchen, thanks for sharing your story here. Towards the end of my college experience I chose to research pregnancy loss and how those of us in the church could support those experiencing it. Have to say, my eyes were really opened to a very emotional subject that, as someone who’s never even carried a baby, I feel unequipped to understand. yet I understand grief, and the loss of an unborn child is very real. Anyway, all that rambling to say thanks for sharing. Brave souls like you are needed.

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