When I found out I was pregnant, I remember excitedly texting a friend who was much further along, asking her a boatload of questions about what was normal for the first trimester. We swapped plans and even shared the same expectant mother’s Facebook group. By the time her due date neared, I was texting her every day to ask how she was faring. She went into labor two weeks after my miscarriage.
She texted me days before: “It’s okay if you would rather me just stop texting you baby news. I understand if that’s too much for you right now, and I won’t be offended.”
I knew that, whatever my response, she would try to be understanding and patient with me. In the days following my bleak announcements, friends like her became invaluable to me, and in the months since, I’ve grown to appreciate her sensitivity all the more.
There is no magic bullet that can make the pain of having a miscarriage disappear. However, in my quest to love women who have experienced this loss (Romans 12:15), and as a woman who has been touched by it herself, there are a few things that have been comforting reminders of how the Lord uses his people to care for one another.
1. Share the Joy
I have always loved children, but it wasn’t until I took a class on ethics and unborn life that my interest in the intricacies of pregnancy and birth took flight, so much so that I did a research paper on the history of midwifery. A whole new world was opened to me. I had always known that the Lord was the author of life (Psalm 139:13), but to see just how beautifully crafted that life was in the womb blew my mind.
Pregnancy is a beautiful thing, and children are a heritage from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). The reality of miscarriage should not squelch our thanksgiving for the gift of that new life, whether it lasts nine weeks or ninety years. If you’re pregnant, no matter how early, your news is cause for rejoicing, even if it reminds us of a painful loss.
2. Carry Humbly
However, in that joy, be careful not to flaunt your assurance but carry your child humbly before the Lord. Growing up, miscarriage wasn’t a topic shrouded in mystery. Pregnancies were usually announced early and losses were shared. Although each individual couple must choose the timing and the openness that is best for them, I was immensely blessed by the openness of the mothers in my community. The Lord used them to teach me long before my own pregnancy that the gift of life was in the hands of the Lord (Job 1:21).
I do not recommend that expectant mothers fill their minds with looming statistics, endlessly Google inane symptoms, or prepare for the worst. This sort of pessimism can be a cry for help from a woman prone to fear (ask me how I know). But I also caution, especially young first time moms, to view each day they have with their little one as a blessing to be received with gratitude, not entitlement.
3. Love by Listening
It can be easy to check on someone when the pain of a miscarriage is recent, but don’t forget to ask how they’re doing six, twelve, or eighteen months later. Miscarriage, especially in the first pregnancy, carries a host of baggage. Mother’s Day can be hard. Pregnancy announcements can be bittersweet. The idea of a new pregnancy can be frightening.
God has placed us in the body of Christ and called us to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). Miscarriage is becoming less of a taboo subject, and it’s a helpful trend for pain that has been silenced for far loo long. Love your sisters by listening.
4. Remain Present
What I loved most about my friend’s message was that she didn’t just fall off the face of the earth when she thought her pregnancy might be painful to me. She asked. Not all of my friends felt as bold, but whether or not they came out and posed the question, I still appreciated the fact that so many of them reached out to me.
Miscarriage is scary, especially for moms-to-be. It tests the limits of our submission to God’s sovereignty like little else. It forces us to put our money where our mouth is after claims of trusting that he knows what is best for us and our loved ones. Don’t run from that challenge as it sprouts up in the lives of the women around you; embrace them and embrace the call to trust the Lord.
5. Ask Questions
Not all women are the same. Some of the things I’ve recommended in this article truly blessed me, but may be an annoyance to others. As with any other sort of loss, miscarriage affects different women in so many ways. However, as others asked me how best to care for me during that dark season, I was so grateful that the question was on the forefront of their minds.
My friend gets to hold her baby, and I love to see pictures of him, not because it diminishes the pain of my own loss, but because, by her care, my friend reminded me that it is more than motherhood that binds us — she is a sister in Christ whose heart was sensitive to the groaning of my own. The value of that love is immeasurable.
This article originally appeared at Desiring God.