There are like a million weeds in my front yard right now.  The dishes are piled high, my stove is a greasy mess, and there is dog hair all over the floor.  Emmy takes my hand, walks me to the couch, and carefully lines me up with it.  Then, with all her might, she pushes my thighs with her tiny hands and I fall onto the couch.  Victory spreads across her face in the form of a huge smile and squinty eyes, then she climbs up on my lap.  She leans back on me, head on my shoulder, cheek on my cheek.  And then she weaves her tiny hand through my mess of curls, making a matted tangle strong enough to hold the weight of her arm.  She likes to do this these days- arm up, just letting it hang as my head bears the brunt of her tiny arm’s weight.  I don’t mind.  I lean in, breathe deep, take her all in.

I linger more in their cuddles these days.  I notice their hair wafting, their heads thrown back in laughter- almost as if I’m watching them in slow motion.  They giggle and play and fight and scream and giggle some more.  My girls- so full of life.  Life that I took for granted before my sweet boy died.  It’s been two weeks since we buried his memory under our sunflowers.  We never got to hold our son, and how my heart aches over this.  “That wasn’t him anymore, babe.” Nathan says to me.  “It sucks and I hate it but he wasn’t in that body anyway.”

My body took a few strange turns while trying to heal from my miscarriage.  Migraines, extreme cramping pain, all after it should have stopped.  How exhausting- the constant up and down of hoping to be through the nightmare, only to sink back in days later.  We went in for another ultrasound, to make sure everything had been released.  They escorted us into the same room we saw him in- the memories of his still, small frame still vivid in our minds.  It was a strange thing, hoping to see an empty womb on the screen.  We walked out, got in the car, and wondered what to do next.  A young woman hopped into the truck next to us, ultrasound print outs in her hand.  I sobbed at the sight of them- how I wished to be leaving with a baby in my belly and print outs in hand.  Instead, we left empty handed.  Empty wombed.  

My midwife called with the ultrasound’s results that night- clear.  Nothing left.  I sighed a heavy but needed relief- it was done.  We made a baby, that baby lived inside of me, then that baby went into Jesus’s arms before he could ever be in ours.  Oh Jesus, what does the top of my sweet boy’s head smell like?  Does his hair waft in the breeze like my girls’?  Is he all smiles up there with You, running around in his forever home?  

“You’re just gonna love this guy,” I hear the Lord whisper to me, “when you meet him and hold him- it will be worth the wait.”

Two weeks ago, Nathan and I laid in our bed, hand in hand.  “What do we do now?” I asked under my breath.  “I don’t know, baby.” he said to me. “I feel bad, like how do we just leave him behind?  How do we move on?” he whispered.  “He’s not behind,” I replied, “only ahead. Onward.” I said, surprised at my own words.

Onward.

I stuffed my giant pregnancy pillow in a trash bag last week but I don’t know where to put it.  It’s just sat on the floor of our room, cutting this thought into my mind over and over: “You’re not pregnant anymore.” I threw it in my craft room and slammed the door.  “I KNOW.” I screamed back at that thought and walked away.

My tribe has brought us meals since we lost him.  My mom came to help as I healed.  We’ve been surrounded and I’ve needed that.  Not at the beginning, in the beginning I needed to close myself off to the world and pretend to process through it all.  Our last meal came last night from such a dear friend.  We laughed at the sass of our girls and talked about preschool.  Then I thanked her so much for feeding our family and she burst into tears.  “I’m so, so sorry” she sobbed as she held me tight.  She knows, she’s lost babies too.  We stood by my door and ugly cried together, holding each other up with a tight embrace.  “I wasn’t sure what you needed,” she said, “I didn’t want to see anyone for a long time after mine, I just wanted to give you space.” “I needed it for a while,” I responded.  “But now I need my joy and my people back.” So we made plans for coffee and play dates.

What if I hadn’t told anyone that I was pregnant?  What if I had kept his life to myself and had no one to mourn with me?  The thought is haunting and too much to bear.  Some women need that, and I get it- everyone’s different.  But I’ve needed the validation of others mourning with me- acknowledging that I carried a baby and that baby died.  It’s too heavy for me to bear alone.

My logic was simple when choosing who to tell about our pregnancy: “If I would tell them I miscarried, I will tell them that I am expecting.”  I mean, I didn’t know just what that’d mean- I’d never miscarried before.  But I’m glad that I told my family and my tribe.  They’ve brought me meals and flowers and gifts and smiles.  They’ve cried deep sobs with me and watched my girls so Nathan and I could just cry together.  They’ve taken the girls to church so that they could stay in their normal routine, and covered my nursery shift so I could heal.  They’ve stood in my kitchen or sat on my couch, and just listened as I told them what Jesus whispered to me.  The healing that’s come from sharing this journey with them helps me know we can keep going.

Onward.

People don’t really know what to say when they know you’ve had a miscarriage.  It’s awkward, I’ve been there.  1 out of 4 women have suffered from pregnancy loss, and that’s a lot.  But that makes 3 out of 4 women who just have no idea what going through a miscarriage is actually like.  It’s hard to know what you’d feel like if it happens to you, and like who really thinks about that?  Feels too dark.  So speculation sets in, their mind starts racing and they say the first thing that comes to their mind when they hear that you lived it.  Most of the time, those things are just painful to hear.

“When can you get pregnant again?”

“I’m sorry you lost your baby.  My friend just had her baby.”

“Emmy’s getting so big!  Time for another one!”

The list goes on.  I’m sad to think of what I said to women who’d miscarried before I went through it myself.  When people say hard things, the first thing that comes to my mind is a load of profanities as I try not to sob.  And then my heart is filled with thankfulness for the fact that they have never had to suffer in this way.  I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Instead of resting as much as I should be, I’ve decided to redecorate my entire house and teach myself to paint with watercolor.  Art and design are just how I process major life changes- I don’t know any other way. So my house looks great.  I mean it’s a mess but there are new, pretty things hanging up.  Every once in a while I feel an inkling to write.  “Maybe I’ll get back to blogging tomorrow.” I think.  But then tomorrow is always used up by something else.

So here we are, trying to find the balance of our new normal.  Our suddenly different present and future.  Each day it gets a little easier and our loss feels a little farther away.  And each day we are steps closer to holding our boy.  

Onward, onward, onward.  

This word repeats over and over in my mind.  Not behind, only ahead.  Keep going, self.  Keep going.

My dad’s booming voice echoes in my mind, “The only way to get through it is to get through it.” One step at a time, one day at a time, one tear at a time, one smile at a time.

Not behind.  Only ahead.  

This post is like my thoughts lately- scattered and happy and sad.  Thanks for reading this.  It helps me to know that I can help others understand the deep loss and ache after miscarriage.  The void that is long and wide.  And the strings of beauty somehow woven throughout.

——

It’s been four weeks since we lost our babe.  People ask me awkwardly, “Are you ok?”, seemingly terrified of my answer.  It stings.  I shrug.

“It’s strange,” I reply, “sometimes it feels like nothing’s happened to me. And other times I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, my baby died.’” People really don’t know what to say when I say that.  

I cried for the first time in days today.  I was almost surprised- a worship song caught me off guard and I just started ugly crying in the car.  We’ve been listening to Do It Again by Elevation Worship on repeat lately.  Ella sings it under her breath as she roams the house.  I sing the words, out loud if I can, to remind myself of how He’s never let us down before.

I’ve seen You move, You’ve moved the mountains,

And I believe, I’ll see You do it again.

You made a way, where there was no way,

And I believe, I’ll see You do it again.

The sting of secondary infertility from years past feels raw and new again.  The devastation from losing our babe is so heavy.  The memory that Jesus answered our cries for a baby before- they bring me comfort.  He really has moved the mountains for us.  And I know He’ll do it again.  The very words, “Where there is no way You make a way” were like the anthem over my previous season of infertility.  And now somehow there is this worship song that encapsulates our exact painful experience.  How we need you, Jesus.  

I’ve been thinking lately, about the life events that I had no understanding of until they happened to me.  Marriage, Parenting, Infertility, Miscarriage.  Nothing prepares you for these things, and somehow you have this idea that they won’t be hard and somehow you’ll soar above them with no problems or something.  And then bam- your whole world comes crashing down when the reality of each sets in.  “No more expectations for me- ever.” I think to myself.

I’m not sure what else there is to say.  We want more babies, but it’s not that simple for us.  

I’m so aware that this is a very raw post, and I want to leave it that way.  Not because I want attention or to manipulate your emotions, but because I’m afraid that you’re me.  That maybe you’ve never experienced a miscarriage before and you just had no idea.  I hope I could shed some light on this for you through these words.  If anything, just for the women who will inevitably miscarry after me, so you can know what to say and what not to say.

Speaking of, here’s what you’re welcome to say to me: “I’m so sorry.” and if you’ve never experienced this before, that’s about all you get to say.  If I choose to open up to you, just listen.  Cry with me.  And don’t make it weird, just mourn with me.  Rarely do your Jesus pep talks help.  I know, friend.  He’s spoken so many things to me.  I’m laughing remembering a conversation with BFF, where she screamed “Jesus did not come to be The Way, The Truth, The Life and The Pep Talk.  Jesus came to SERVE.  So if you want to bring Jesus to me BRING ME A DANG MEAL AND WATCH MY KIDS!”  I love her.  She gets me.

And it’s true.  Maybe you’re wondering what you can do to help.  For me, at this point, the most helpful thing is to not ask me about my future plans.  We don’t know, it’s none of your dang business, and it’s painful to talk about.  What you can talk to me about is: 1) Your miscarriage, if you’ve had one.  There’s a strange camaraderie that comes from this experience.  And if you haven’t healed and need to talk friend, I will listen and cry with you as long as you need. 2) If you are walking through miscarriage as you read this and you somehow found this post, will you email me, please?  I would so love to pray for you and will be an open book to talk about the things people never talk about.  bosslady@ericapelzel.com Even if we’ve never met before, please- email me. 3) Just be nice.  Understand if I feel sad sometimes, my baby died.  Understand if I just start crying randomly- our family has really been through a shit storm lately.  And I’m just a crier, so be cool about it.

How thankful I am for our friends and family who walked through this season with us.  As an Acts of Service and Gift Giving love language girl, nothing could mean more to me than you cooking for my family and watching my girls.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to express the depth of my gratitude.

And Jesus, how we need You.  We need Your hope, Your courage, Your humble spirit to come invade our homes and our hearts.  We need Your healing touch over the sorrows and devastations of this life and somehow, somehow the glimmer of hope to peek through the dark clouds. 

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——

It’s been two months since we lost our sweet Judah.  I read through all my writing today for the first time in a month.  Somehow, it wasn’t as hard as it was before.  Instead of heaving sobs, I only have quiet tears. Progress, I guess.  I was telling Nathan today about how nervous I was to share our story- I’ve been nauseous all day just thinking about it.  “This is going to make you ugly cry, babe,” he said, “but writing about our story is going to give our baby life. His life is going to heal the women who read it, and your bravery is going to set them free.”

And on we march, hand in hand.  Treasuring our boy, onward still.  The pain seems farther and Judah seems nearer. Our eyes have been set on heaven more than ever before, and we are determined to cling to Jesus as we walk into whatever He has next. This life- what a vapor.

How we love you, sweet boy.  We’ll miss you every day til we see your face and kiss the top of your head.  Oh the freedom you are walking in right now- I can’t wait to join you. I’ll see you at the gates, my love.

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To read my initial post on our miscarriage story, click here.

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