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When I learned I was pregnant last January, I went through many of the same powerful emotions that most parents do. I felt honored and excited to welcome a child into our family. I felt blessed and nervous about the new lifestyle to come. I felt wonder at who the child might be in the future, and humbled with the opportunity to be the mother of a precious soul. I felt a wonderful, expansive sense of joy.
But within weeks, I lost the baby in a miscarriage. It seemed surreal and devastating to have to say goodbye to our baby, who was already so loved, so cherished, so wanted.
Although I knew that miscarriage was common, even among my own friends, I had no idea just how much grief and pain the process of dealing with this heart-breaking life experience would bring me. I was completely naïve about how all-encompassing my emotions would become.
Because the miscarriage came early, I hadn’t started to show. I had not even announced the pregnancy, so few people knew. My doctors didn’t seem concerned and told us nothing needed to be done before we “try again.” I had never even heard the baby’s heartbeat or seen an ultrasound picture. On the surface it was “no big deal,” but inside I felt devastated.
However I knew in my heart that my baby was a whole, complete soul. Baha’is believe that the spirit of the individual comes into being at conception, which meant that it didn’t matter whether my baby had physically formed yet, or might have had fetal abnormalities which made continued growth impossible. No matter what, I grieved the real loss of a child I would never know in this world. I quickly learned that the physical reality of losing a baby in miscarriage, no matter what a woman’s particular circumstances, does not equate to the emotional and spiritual turmoil brought on by such an experience. I found miscarrying to be a true test in endurance and in trust. Why was this happening? What did I do wrong? Why did I, and my tiny baby, deserve this?
I felt powerless. My body was expelling the new life and detaching from the beautiful soul I had already come to love with all my heart, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. During those few days, the only thing that soothed my soul was prayer, especially this one:
O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life. O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord. – Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i Prayers, p. 150.
When the miscarriage was “over” and the bleeding had stopped, the shock began to wear off and even more questions began to surface. Will I ever come to know my baby? Do I have a legitimate reason to grieve? I found the words of Abdu’l-Baha very comforting:
O thou beloved maidservant of God, although the loss of a son is indeed heart-breaking and beyond the limits of human endurance, yet one who knoweth and understandeth is assured that the son hath not been lost but, rather, hath stepped from this world into another, and she will find him in the divine realm. That reunion shall be for eternity, while in this world separation is inevitable and bringeth with it a burning grief. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 201.
I was thankful and comforted to know that I would someday be reunited with my child in the next realm. But I still struggled with sadness, the feelings of loss and, the overwhelming sense of confusion. Why was this pure soul created, and then not given a chance to live? What did I miss by not knowing my baby in this earthly existence? Could babies truly meet their potential, being taken from this physical life so early?
Then this symbolic story from Abdu’l-Baha helped me understand and visualize my child moving on to a better place:
…there is a Garden of God. Human beings are trees growing therein. The Gardener is Our Father. When He sees a little tree in a place too small for her development, He prepares a suitable and more beautiful place, where she may grow and bear fruit. Then He transplants that little tree. The other trees marvel, saying: ‘This is a lovely little tree. For what reason does the Gardener uproot it?’ The Divine Gardener, alone, knows the reason. – Abdu’l-Baha, from Lady Blomfield’s The Chosen Highway, p. 216.
In Part 2 of this series I will share more about my experience: how I moved from sadness, grief and confusion to acceptance, positive action, and gratitude.
Visit Chelsea’s wonderful blog for parenting called Enable Me To Grow.