They call it fetal demise

Photo by  Betsy Lackey

Photo by Betsy Lackey

Guest post by Melanie-Shane Woods


I have thought about writing this post for weeks, always ending up at “no way.” Mostly, I feel guilty for putting more sad into the world, and then I feel guilty because people are experiencing much worse suffering. Also, I'm too prideful to possibly appear like I'm looking for pity. As I'm writing this I'm thinking about a million other reasons why I should just stop. What I have decided, and what I will do, is to tell our story. We're not at a happy ending, I don't think we're even half-way through, but I know when I came home from the hospital all I wanted was to hear another woman's story. A story that would look me in the face and say, "This is absolutely awful, it hurts more than you could have ever imagined, but you're going to be okay."

I've seen in movies when time stands still. The world is consolidated to the room someone is in, and everything else loses all importance. What I never expected was to live a moment like that, and then live a life after. We had been at the hospital for four hours when they wheeled me into the ultrasound room. The ER visit was the result of some complications, but after 4 hours and no symptoms we were feeling optimistic. Our sonographer was sweet and informative but she stopped talking after a few failed attempts to find the heartbeat. An hour later we were back in our room and the doctor was confirming what we thought we saw, or didn't see, during the ultrasound. "They call it fetal demise." He was so kind and all I could think was how awful that must be to have to tell someone that their baby is dead. He told me that is wasn't anything I did, that it just happens, the heart just stops. I was almost 12 weeks. We were about to do more celebrating with more friends. Instead, it was over. They sent us home with some information, a lot of I'm sorry’s, and told me to follow up with my doctor. My sister and brother-in-law met us in the parking lot, where we called our parents and told our best friends. We cried. A lot.

My best friend Laura drove hours away from her husband to be with me. Some really close family friends brought dinner, and pj's, and a book that has healed so much of my broken heart. Our families filled in all the gaps. We saw the people who had days before rejoiced with us, mourn with us. I never knew the feeling that you get when someone shares in your devastation. I couldn't have fathomed how loved I would feel by hearing someone cry with me on the phone. I was okay, then I was sobbing. I didn't feel like I was in my own life. We were utterly heartbroken. In the midst of the haze we had a deep trust in the goodness of the Lord. Christ, our sympathetic Savior and great comforter was near, and we felt Him. The more we shared what had happened the more I heard about miscarriages. What I didn't hear were stories. Statistics weren't comforting. Especially because I was now one of them.

Two days after the ER visit I had surgery and woke up from anesthesia to a relatively concerned pair of nurses. I had lost too much blood during surgery, which I suppose is why they never really left me alone. One nurse in particular. As she got me ready to leave, she showed me pictures of her children, one which she adopted after she had lost their first child. “God is faithful,” she said, and she wanted me to see the proof in her children. Before we walked out she told me to trust in Him, trust His word, and not all the lies in my head. She hugged me and put me in the car. Her little story, those pictures of her children, tied me back into the world a bit. I felt less alone.

After the surgery I felt empty. I physically felt empty. Just days before I was carrying life. A tiny little heartbeat that we had heard and seen. A baby that already had two books, a couple onesies, and a mom and dad. It was over, but there was no closure. There was no goodbye, just moving on.

I spent my mornings rereading Psalm 139, finding comfort in every stitch. Most of my time was spent sitting on the words:


"If I say, 'Surely the darkness shall cover me,

and the light about me be night,'

even the darkness is not dark to you;

the night is bright as the day,

for darkness is as light with you."


I am blind. I'm disoriented with no idea what is forward, and I don't really want to move forward. My sight is so limited. All things familiar are gone and I feel raw and lost. Fear has been a steady companion lately. If I can be one of the women who loses a baby, I could also be one of the women who loses a spouse. Nothing that I love is guaranteed to stay. With the reality of death and loss swallowing me I have been drawn into a deep assurance that Christ is my only solid ground. His love is guaranteed to stay and one day I will see His face and be whole. I long for that day. Until then I am held tightly and led gently by a God who sees all. Darkness is as light to Him. He has clear eyes and He's calling me to Him. Knowing this has given me the grace to feel whatever I'm feeling. Lately that's been anger.

I am angry that the world is broken and that sin is real. That death is inevitable yet unfathomable. My stomach turns when I think that there are babies being thrown away, abused, neglected, and we didn't get to keep ours. I have worn out the phrase "it's not fair.” I'm angry because I'm short-sighted, because all I see is this messed up place I'm in and forget that there is coming a day when Jesus will return and make all things right. I am angry but I'm more grounded, more hopeful.

I realize now that God isn't trying to teach me a lesson through the loss of our baby. He isn't teaching me the hard way to not hold on too tightly to the things of this world. I don't think He takes things away from us so we can learn to depend on Him. Those things are taken away and we are left in a place of darkness and the only hope that's left is the hope that's always been there. Dependence is a response to finally seeing that He is the only one who remains. He is the only one who will deliver us. From temporary suffering and from the wreckage of this world.

Finally, when I think of what I so desperately wanted to hear when everything went dark is this:

There is hope. Not the hope that says, "Your chances of having a normal pregnancy are great." Or "You'll have a family one day." Those hopes are beautiful, but they aren't promised, nor will they bring you ultimate joy. There is hope because the Creator of the universe is good and brings life where there is death, and He loves you. There is hope because the bride of Christ is beautiful, and you should let her love you too. There is hope because there is beauty left to be seen, coffee left to be drank, and life left to be had. Ultimately there is hope because this is not our home. In Jesus we are sealed with eternal hope, the hope of heaven.

You will be happy again. You will slowly start to feel normal. Your pain is real and not disqualified because some women lose their babies after they've seen their faces. Though, now your heart breaks for those women in a whole new way. Your heart will never be the same. If you let him, God will soften you to see the pain of others more clearly. This hurts more, but what a beautiful gift. Everything is different now, and that's okay.

You're going to be okay.


Written by Melanie-Shane Woods, Austin, TX

Written by Melanie-Shane Woods, Austin, TX