My Story

Mabbat is a Hebrew word that means hope or expectation.  I chose this word as the name of my blog as well as the name of the last baby we lost via miscarriage because I hope and expect that Mabbat could be my own working title.  I am foremost a child of God and follower of Christ, which means that I try to love God, who is Truth and Love, with all my being.  I hope that I demonstrate that truth and love through honoring God in my life and loving other people well.  Like every other human on earth, I am not perfect, and I struggle with my faith, with my life, and with the tragedies that have happened in my life.

In the last three years, my husband and I have lost four babies in very early miscarriages – so early, in fact, that we never heard any of their hearts beat.  I named each of them a Hebrew word that summed up my relationship with God at the time, but they are also telling in that each name shows my expectation of my faith.

Our first baby was so exciting; we had been married for six years, so the timing felt right, and we planned the perfect surprise party to tell our family and friends.  We made the announcement early at seven weeks because we knew we were horrible at keeping secrets, and we were going to have to tell our families since we were going on a trip out of the country with my husband’s family.  I had already read through the “What to Expect” book and their website twice, although I skipped the pregnancy loss section – that didn’t apply to me, and I could read it if it ever did.  I started an open letter journal to our baby, and I bought his first teddy bear on our trip.  And then I started spotting while we were still out of the country.  I rested more, and it stopped.  We got home, and I was bleeding lightly within a week of our return.  The doctor had us come to the office right away, and the ultrasound showed that we had a blighted ovum; our baby had stopped developing several weeks before, there was no heartbeat, and my body was only just beginning to recognize his death.  We were given the treatment options to weigh, and I chose to have a d&c to avoid waiting up to two more weeks for the miscarriage to be “complete.”  Checking into the hospital the next morning was so surreal: the doctors and nurses had me repeat to them the type of procedure I was having, so over and over again I had to pronounce the death of my baby in medical terms.  Those were horrible words, but I was sure that God loved me and that there was some purpose I couldn’t see yet.  I tried my hardest to cling to faith and pour my heart into “finding God” in this trial, so I named this baby Baruch, or “blessing” in Hebrew.

A  year later, almost to the day, we found out we were pregnant again.  This time we thought we should wait to announce anything until we saw the doctor, who decided to run a few extra blood tests since our first pregnancy had ended in loss at only 10 1/2 weeks.  For a week, I went to the lab every other day for them to check my blood HCG level.  This number should double every two days in early pregnancy; my level only increased slightly on the second check, and it had begun to drop by the third test.  By that point I was already spotting, but I knew if I prayed hard enough, God could save our baby.  After all, my prayer for the last year had been that we wouldn’t get pregnant again unless it could be a healthy, full-term pregnancy.  He wouldn’t let us lose another baby after we lost the joy and innocence of our first pregnancy, right?  We lost Channah at six weeks.  Since we had waited to tell anyone about the pregnancy until we knew more, we had to announce her existence and death in the same sentence.  Her name means “grace” in Hebrew; I was in desperate need of grace, so I begged for it with her name.

Three months later, and three weeks before Christmas we had another positive pregnancy test.  It was going to take us several days to see the doctor, but we decided to tell everyone right away so that if something happened, they would know why I was a little off (to so obviously understate the situation).  We found out on Wednesday, and by Saturday I was spotting and terrified.  By the time we saw the doctor on Monday, the hormone levels had dropped so much that their pregnancy test was negative.  The doctor said vague things like “there just was no baby” and “chemical pregnancy.”  He made me feel like this one didn’t really count; he wouldn’t even use the word miscarriage until almost a month later.  At this point, I tried to believe that there just hadn’t even been a baby, and that I was just having a late period, except that it felt just like the second miscarriage.  I even stage-managed the church Christmas musical while I miscarried because I was trying so hard to believe what the doctor had said.  I didn’t really grieve because I wasn’t allowed to believe it was actually a loss.  I was pushing Wise Men out onto stage while my baby was pouring out onto a sanitary napkin.  Gross and horribly blunt to be sure, but I worked through the physical pain with ibuprofen and Thermacare heat wraps since I was just having a heavy period.  I was present at Christmas, but my heart wasn’t there.  I love making or looking for gifts that suit the recipient’s personality, but that year I just bought things and wrapped them because I couldn’t not do Christmas.  By Christmas Day, I had been bleeding for almost three weeks, so I went back to the doctor who finally said, “Well, we don’t usually see this kind of bleeding after a miscarriage.”  Oh, is that what I had?  I hadn’t allowed myself to think of it as a baby, so I hadn’t named him or mourned his passing.  I hadn’t even bought him a teddy bear.  His name was Bohu, or “void,” “empty,” or “unformed” in Hebrew.  I couldn’t talk to God for months.  It was unspeakable, wordless even, that I had not only lost a baby, but I was allowed to believe that I was crazy or so completely hormonally unbalanced as to cause a false positive pregnancy test.  I was too devastated and embarrassed to go to church; these people had prayed for my pregnancy, then told there was no baby, so it was a false alarm.  How could I go back and say, “Well it WAS a baby, after all, and we lost it.”  How could I face people who believed that God was good and omnipotent when I hated him for allowing this to happen again?  Why couldn’t I have just had a “normal” miscarriage instead of thinking I was literally insane for weeks?

We found out about baby number four about a week before the anniversaries of the first two positive tests.  It was a horrible day.  I was so angry and sad, and I felt even more angry and sad that I couldn’t be happy or excited.  I spoke in terms of “if” – if we get to keep this baby; if I stay pregnant for more than a week, if we don’t keep the baby…  Everything was if, and I was trying to find something positive to hold on to.  We went to the doctor the next day, and this time, it was a confirmed positive.  He ran blood work and did an ultrasound, and everything was okay but not good.  My hormone levels were trending lower than normal for six weeks, and the ultrasound didn’t show anything at all.  It could have been a simple miscalculation of the actual conception date, or it could have been symptomatic of trouble.  I prayed incessantly, and I finally felt peace that God could make this happen.  There was no reason to worry until one of the tests said we should.  I named this baby Mabbat because I had hope, finally, that we could really have a baby and that this pregnancy was viable.  At six weeks, we were already at the same point as the last two but without any actual problems.  And then I started spotting; and then the doctor called to tell me my progesterone level was low; and then I started having horrible pain; and then Mabbat was gone.

I have always believed that words have power: Genesis tells of God speaking the heavens and earth into existence, Jesus calmed a raging storm with words, and we have all experienced the power of words to wound or to heal.  I have also always been fascinated with names in the Bible.  Names in the Old Testament were words given to define a person’s role or to symbolize an object lesson from God (read Hosea, and tell me you don’t feel sorry for his children…).  The New Testament promises that God has given each of us a name that only he knows, and it will be revealed to us in heaven.  I have always wondered what my real name is, or what I may be doing that will determine that name.  Now I wonder what God’s names are for my children.  What does he call them when he speaks to them?  What do they look like?  Do they know how much I love them, or how much I hurt over their losses?

My whole life has been a struggle to accept and love myself; I’m still not completely clear on how that meshes with humility and the call to love others ahead of ourselves.  The miscarriages devastated my sense of self and my faith like nothing else, so that now I am struggling to rebuild both my beliefs and the foundation on which they stand.  I have never before had to fight so hard to find purpose or accept my limited knowledge.  I have never had to fight myself to trust God.  I have flayed my faith so that nothing stands but the skeleton of truth to which I can add layers of Christ only a little at a time.  I am fighting to look in the mirror without hating the woman who looks back at me.  I am fighting to find out exactly who the woman in the mirror is so that I can love her imperfect beauty, so that I can confidently say, “I am a beloved child of God, and I am exactly what he created me to be.”  So, Mabbat is my journey if you care to join me.

An Addendum to My Story:  Since I wrote the My Story page, my husband and I have had six more miscarriages.  The stories of our pregnancies and their losses are written in other posts, but no names.  We chose the name Shanin, which means “angel” and “repetition or multitude” in Hebrew.  Shanin is used in Psalms to describe a host of angels sent by God; we used it to describe our little host of angel babies.

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11 thoughts on “My Story

  1. Dear Anne – I had no idea of what you were going through these last few years. My heart goes out to you. Your words are beautiful and your faith inspiring.

  2. Anne, once again, I have chills running down my body and tears in my eyes as I read these words. I too remember a time (but different circumstances) when I thought perhaps all I had ever believed in had been myth. But God in his graciousness continued quietly beside me until I was able to feel the Presence who had never left me. We continued quietly beside one another for quite a while until little by little through both remarkable and ordinary happenings my faith began to grow. There have been a few times since then when I have had heart wrenching moments, some that allowed me to feel God’s presence almost palpably, some that left me wondering how God could ever love me again. The bottom line is NO MATTER WHAT, God has been here and always will be here, not only beside me, but also within me. I know from reading your thoughts here that you know that, but I just want to affirm that knowledge within you and pray God’s continued grace upon you. Also, as you know, your name means “grace” (as does mine). The way I’ve come to see that is that I may not necessarily exhibit grace as I should, but instead I will be given MULTIPLE humbling opportunities to have grace given to me. Praying for you at this moment –

    Nancy

  3. Anne,
    Such a moving post. I have no words of comfort…nothing I can think of seems like it would suffice. But even though we haven’t seen each other in years, know that you have a dedicated listener. I will be reading; please keep writing, and contact me if you want to talk more.

    1. Sarah, you took time to read, and that’s all the comfort anyone can offer. And I promise I will take you up on those listening ears when I need to!

  4. Anne,
    You should know Gail and I will always be there for you and Steven. We love you and all you have to do is call.

    Sheila and Gail

  5. Anne,

    I have wanted for weeks now to say something to you, but haven’t found the words. So much of what you say, I recall saying myself, years ago when Tara was a baby and I knew she wasn’t normal, but no diagnosis had been determined. I, too, doubted God &/or His goodness. I have felt I can relate in some ways to what you are experiencing, and yet shamed even saying that when I have 3 kids! So, this has been my struggle and why I have delayed my response all this time. I have, however, prayed for you often.

    Reading your blog has caused me to re-live my own rants at the feet of Jesus all those years ago. And I will leave you with this picture that He showed me one lonely night as I was crying, ranting, praying and whining at his feet. He let me see myself with my head in His lap. He was stroking my hair as a loving father would His dear, hurting daughter, and He said quietly, “Just let it all out.”

    I can’t begin to tell you how much healing that brought to me. That was the turning point in my life when I began to see some light instead of just darkness. Life certainly didn’t become a “bed of roses” after that, but just knowing that He wasn’t offended by my feelings made all the difference in how I viewed Him.

    Know that I pray for you often, and I do indeed see the very, very beautiful woman in your mirror!

    Love,
    Jeanine (cousin)

    1. Jeanine,
      Now it’s my turn to delay so I can find the words I want to share. Thank you for sharing part of your journey and that beautiful picture of God’s comfort. I can’t imagine what you must have gone through when Tara was a baby or what you still must deal with on a daily basis. I always love spending time with your family because of the grace and apparent love of Christ that you all demonstrate. Don’t feel shamed that you can relate to my struggles even though you have 3 kids – a struggle is a struggle. Ours are different, but there is much to relate to in the fight. Thanks for your encouragement and your prayers!

      Love,
      Anne

  6. Anne,
    Thank you for your blog and for making it available. It’s a comfort to read the truth and honesty and passion. I lost my first baby last week at 8 weeks. My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for about 2 years- gone through surgery for endometriosis, lots of infertility meds and then an IUI that miraculously worked on the first try! We’re stunned and miss our baby so badly. We thought going through 2 years of infertility treatments had been bad enough, now we know that this sense of heartbreak, sorrow and loss doesn’t compare. We love Jesus deeply, and we know he has a plan, but right now I feel so numb I can barely pray and don’t sense his presence at all. Reading someone else’s’ story helps for some reason, at least it helps me know I’m not crazy and all these feelings are normal.
    This is too long for a comment- but I just wanted to say I’m really glad I stumbled on this tonight.

    1. Carrie,
      No comment is too long if you found something here that helps you. Aside from the therapeutic nature of writing for me, the reason I started this blog was because I had such a hard time finding the same honesty from other sources. It’s surely not intentional, but Christians as a group (and in Bible study series) tend to gloss over the really tough feelings. The two best things I have read that helped me not feel so alone or crazy are a Donald Miller book, Blue Like Jazz (Searching for God Knows What is pretty great, too), and reading through the Psalms with the idea that David was human, too. I hope that offers you some comfort, too.
      One last thing – Carrie, you and your husband have been through so much, and I can’t imagine your sorrow at having tried so hard for so long. We have had different paths to walk, but it is impossible to compare them. A broken heart is a broken heart, no matter what the circumstances or the number of losses; one is too many to deal with in my opinion, and I grieve your loss with you. Reading your story has helped me, too, know that I’m not alone, so thank you for taking the time and having the courage to share. And I hope you don’t mind the long comment in reply.

  7. I don’t know what to say but feel compelled to write. I simply can’t imagine that loss. We went through IVF and ended up with 4 embryos (babies to me). By the time it was transfer day, we lost two and had two remaining. One of those two survived, and now I have my Noah. But, I remember the feeling I had when, with every call to update, we had lost another one. I was so heartbroken. They kept calling them embryos, but they were my babies and there was nothing I could do to help them. Lots of tears. Knowing how I felt, I can’t fathom your loss or your strength. I will be praying for you, your husband, and the babies God is cradling in his arms.

    Nicole

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