The weekend before my birthday my mom made me miyeok guk (seaweed soup). In Korean tradition seaweed soup is eaten on birthdays. As a child I didn’t know why. I just knew it was a thing to do. I later learned that Koreans eat miyeok guk on birthdays to remember their mom and how their mom ate the soup to recover from labor. In Korean culture, new moms also eat it for several days or even a whole month after giving birth because seaweed is supposed to have lots of nutrients that will help the mother recover after labor. But my mom didn’t make me the soup because we were celebrating another year or new life. Instead, it was because I had just lost life.
I was recovering from a D&C, a procedure to remove tissue from my uterus since I had found out there was no heartbeat. The doctor called it tissue but that’s where a tiny, tiny heart had beaten. Where life had formed and had stopped. So that weekend, the weekend before my birthday, my mom came over to feed me a home cooked meal and help me recover from surgery.
My husband and I discovered that I was pregnant on Mother’s Day. We were excited and it seemed so fitting, so poetic, that I would discover that I would be a mother on the day when moms are celebrated. We sat in the doctor’s office surprised and overjoyed. Excited and thankful, we drove home and prayed. We sat on our couch together, thankful that the Lord had granted us life — that He had entrusted us with a gift. We had heard stories after stories of women who had tried to conceive but weren’t able to. And to make this even more of a reality for us, just a few months prior my doctor had told me that the road to pregnancy may not be so easy. I am in my mid-thirties and I have a hormonal imbalance. I remember hearing those words and feeling disappointed but taking it all in because well, it was reality and I knew that God would come through somehow. So when I heard that I was pregnant I thought that this was my “somehow” moment. God had some how made a way and now the adventures of pregnancy and motherhood would begin. We immediately told our parents but decided to wait to tell others until the first trimester was over because that’s what people do.
But how can you really hold back excitement? My husband and I looked up pregnancy websites and watched YouTube clips on the different stages of pregnancy. We looked forward to what was to come. The doctor wasn’t able to determine how many weeks I was so through an ultrasound we tried to determine how far along I was. After our first ultrasound, I taped the picture on our fridge. I was amazed at the tiny little life that had been formed. It looked like a tiny bean and it was ours.
The day after our first ultrasound the doctor called to let me know that the baby’s heartbeat was low and that it looked like the baby was not growing the way that it should be. It was half the size it was supposed to be. There was a possibility that this pregnancy would end in a miscarriage. I appreciated his honesty but I wished that what he was saying was a lie. I listened to his words but everything sounded so distant, like I couldn’t hear him properly. I hung up the phone and cried.
To be honest, I thought that if I said enough prayers and hoped and hoped that things would turn up. As a mother I felt that it was my duty to fight for the life that was inside me, but I was also confused as to how to accept God’s will.
The next week I went in for another ultrasound. This time there was no heartbeat. The doctor stepped outside the room and I cried in my husband’s arms. He was trying to be strong for me but I knew that it hurt for him too. During that same visit I scheduled a D&C. I wanted to walk out of the doctor’s office. I wanted to shut the world out but the nurse handed me a paper to fill out and sign, confirming that I would go through with the surgery to remove the tissue. I freaked out at all the legal terms and said a low “yes” when she asked me if I was free on Thursday for the procedure. It was Tuesday and I could barely take in all of that morning’s information. I couldn’t think about having surgery in the next 48 hours but with the doctor’s explanation and rationale, I signed my name.
The procedure went well, so the doctors say but I didn’t feel well. My heart was broken. It’s hard to move on or get passed the miscarriage some days, even though today is the three month mark. It’s difficult to move on from the loss when there are reminders — the bleeding that had continued weeks after having a D&C, the medical bills that keep coming in the mailbox, and the blood tests I had to take even almost two months after the D&C to check that my hormone levels were in the right range.
I wanted to plead with God and remind Him of all the prayers that I had said. All the hope and faith that I had mustered up for a week — the week between my first and second ultrasound. And then I thought maybe I had done something wrong. I didn’t pray enough or maybe I had eaten the wrong things. Had I gotten too ahead of myself? Was this all a big lie? But the change in my body would tell me otherwise.
The grieving process is long. The memories keep coming back. Most days I’m fine but some nights it’s still hard to fall asleep. It’s only after I’ve shed tears that I can go to bed. Other days it hits me in the middle of the day. No warning sign. Just a flood of tears.
I don’t understand why, I just know it’s hard. I can’t think about the lesson that’s to be learned. I guess there are many things God is always teaching me, but today I want to be quiet. Today I don’t want to think about why or what if’s or even about the future. Today I know this: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” (Psalm 34:18). He is here in my sorrow and pain. This is the truth I hold onto today.