Five days into the first national lockdown in March 2020, I found out I was expecting our first child.
We were overjoyed as we celebrated our six-month wedding anniversary the same day. We waited a few more weeks to share the news with family, doing so in lockdown style - talking through their windows while on our daily exercise outing. Everyone was happy to have this little light to look forward to during the months of separation.
I attended our 12-week scan in mid-May. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, my husband wasn't allowed to join me. I was sat on the examination table as the midwife rolled the ultrasound scanner over my stomach. She paused for a moment and asked if maybe I had got my dates wrong. I knew I hadn't. She found a tiny little shape and told me that there didn't seem to be a heartbeat. I stared in disbelief feeling like my heart had also stopped beating. I sat in tears, praying for a miracle.
The midwife made me an appointment at the Early Pregnancy Unit at the nearest hospital. I walked out of the building in a blur to where my husband was waiting for me and relayed the news to him. At the hospital, Jordan again had to wait outside as a midwife scanned me and confirmed what I already knew - our baby had died.
It was a lonely experience. I remember longing for a hand to hold as I was scanned multiple times. Once a doctor had confirmed the miscarriage the midwife explained my options - natural, medical or surgical management. Due to Covid-19, the surgical option was only there as a last resort. So, we went home to start natural management for one week.
In sharing my story I want to hold up God's faithfulness through my pain to a world that is in desperate need of hope
I waited to feel pain or bleed, but nothing happened. The most difficult thing was grieving while I continued to feel pregnant. It seemed like my body had now failed me twice. At our next hospital appointment, I was given medication to help my body begin the process. Attending the hospital during the peak of the pandemic was nerve-wracking but knowing I would deal with miscarrying at home brought even more anxiety. It took both doses of the medication for my body to begin to complete the miscarriage. It happened 16 days after my first scan. I was thankful that my husband was there with me through the pain and rawness of this loss. We will always cherish delivering our first tiny baby, just the three of us, in our home.
A couple of months later we attended the hospital-organised burial of all the babies lost in May. It was sobering to grieve alongside so many couples who'd gone through the same thing. We felt it was important to name our baby and in doing so to acknowledge her complete personhood from conception, and my instincts as her mother that she would have been a girl. We have a little yellow rose bush in our garden in memory of her. It symbolises both that she was with us, and the fact we said goodbye much too soon.
Over time, I have shared conversations with other women who have miscarried and have been ministered to by women when I had no words to explain the loss. I have received text messages, cards and letters reminding me of particularly comforting and hopeful passages from God's Word. At other times I have been met with words which only add to the wounds of a grieving mother's heart. At other times silence has been the only reply.
Miscarrying during lockdown has added to the taboos which already exist around this issue, which isn't talked about enough. It has been difficult to get out, to be distracted by the normality of life, but in lockdown I have also been given the time to reflect. I have reflected on how God will use this suffering for my good and his glory. It is important for me to move forward rather than move on. I can begin again while carrying my lost beginning with me and living in a more meaningful way because of it. I feel called to talk openly about miscarriage and to help other women because of my experience. In sharing my story I want to hold up God's faithfulness through my pain to a world that is in desperate need of hope.
God will use this suffering for my good and his glory
It has been almost eight months since I heard those words "no heartbeat". Most days it feels like just yesterday and I often wonder what our life would be like now with a three-month-old to care for.
If you have experienced miscarriage, please know there is no right or wrong way or length to grieve. There will be bad days and better days. As I continue to grieve, I can see more of how God has used this loss to teach me about him, his presence and his love.
Nancy Guthrie has written, "parenthood is, perhaps, the closest taste we're given of what it is like to love in a divine way." Losing my baby has reminded me that God understands how I feel because he is my heavenly father. It has also reminded me that only God knows the plans of our lives. He has ordained them (Psalm 139) and I need to trust in that. I have found comfort in the truth of Isaiah 49:16, "See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands." God not only has my life in his hands, but he also holds the life of my baby too. Losing my baby has made me to see first-hand that God's grace will meet me wherever I am and carry me through my weakness on his strength alone.
Megan Ross is a communications assistant who lives in Larne, Northern Ireland with her husband Jordan