Our Miscarriage: A Time to Mourn
Hello, dear friends! It’s been months since I’ve written anything here on Victoria, Truthfully, or put out a new video, and I’m sorry if it’s all been a little more quiet than you'd like. This break has not been because of a lack of ideas or a creative rut, but if you follow me on Instagram, you know that it’s because presence in this season is what Reed and I have needed most. Life is always a mix of highs and lows, good and bad, and as Ecclesiastes says, “a time for mourning and a time for dancing.” Sometimes sequentially, and other times, all at once.
In early April, we were thrilled to find out baby Sowell was on the way, due on January 8th.
The news was everything we were praying for, trying for, and hoping for. Reed and I threw ourselves in completely, began reading parenting books, shared the news with our family and a few close friends, and I started to dream of life as a Momma. If you know me, you know I love deep, and I don’t do anything unless I do it with all of me. And the moment that pregnancy test read positive, this baby of ours had just that - my entire heart.
Looking back, I don’t regret rejoicing. It’s who I am and it’s what God calls us to do. We savored each moment, prayed over my belly every night, and at the end of the day, I know our baby heard the voices of loving, devoted parents. Six weeks after we heard the news, I miscarried. I won’t go into detail about this experience, as it’s deeply personal (& probably more information than you want or need), but I will say it was traumatic and tore our hearts into pieces. From the drive to the ER, unsure of what was going on, to the moment our doctor shook his head as he looked at a silent ultrasound...I will never forget the sorrow.
Disbelief washed over me as I thought, “I never imagined this would be our story.” I could not fathom parting with this little soul, for whom I already felt completely responsible. We were tied. The following days of passing the baby were the hardest of my life, unlivable without the love of our community and the abiding presence of Jesus.
This juxtaposition of all-consuming love for our child and the pain of our loss taught me innumerable lessons.
There are things I will never say to another couple, ways I will never attempt to rush someone’s grief, and a new depth to my walk with the Lord that I would never replace. Losing a baby is something I would obviously not wish for myself again, or for anyone else, but I can truly say I am better for it. It has taken me awhile to get there, but the person I was before feels like a stranger to me now.
I wrote on Instagram that before our baby, I lived in the shallow end.
My life was mostly protected, simple, and full of blessing. I don’t resent this or apologize for this, it was simply my journey. But when our baby went to Heaven, I felt God gently lead me to the deep. Grief and disappointment teach you how to swim there, and welcome other wounded warriors in. I am more tender, wholehearted, patient with others and myself, and present in the day-to-day of life. I have never been so angry, so filled with doubt, so ready to cave into my pain, but in the dark, people have carried me, and I’ve truly learned to “take refuge in His wings.” (Psalm 57:1)
On a particular day, when I couldn’t get out of bed, my sister in-law Jenna texted me saying that the only way past grief is through, and it is a worthy path to take. She said, “The degree to which you grieve is the degree to which you have loved, and Tori, you loved with your whole heart.” I needed to hear that. In the following days, the Lord reminded Reed and I that our baby never knew sorrow, pain, rejection, or sin. What a gift! Our baby is being raised by angels, awaiting us in Heaven, and there with Christ, our joy will be made complete.
So before I share any further, I want to stop and take a moment for gratitude.
Thank you to everyone who showed encouragement, love, support, and for the countless prayers. Those prayers carried us in our loneliest moments, and the companionship of so many of you helped us take one foot in front of the other. I am forever grateful to our families, for those who made me laugh, for the friends who brought us meals and dropped encouraging notes and gifts on our doorstep, expecting nothing in return. You were all the love of Jesus incarnate to us, and we will not forget how you walked with us or how you still walk with us.
I’d also like to step in as a friend and a pastor for a second to say this: let's consider changing how we approach the conversations around pregnancy, loss, and miscarriage altogether.
May we resist asking couples when they’re going to have children. You never know what is going on behind the scenes, how painful that question can be, if they want children at all, or the private conversations they are having together. Frankly, it is none of our business what other couples are up to (even if our motive is pure), and questions like that assume that a couple is not yet “where they’re supposed to be” which is a discouraging lie.
Any information about a desire or attempt to grow a family are all personal details that if not offered up by the couple, should not be prodded or pulled at. Now, a few thoughts on loss. Please don’t avoid those who are hurting because you don’t know what to say. Reed and I experienced the deep pain of silence from those who knew and those we love. It is better to say the wrong thing and say sorry, than to say nothing at all. Let’s not be so wrapped up in how someone’s grief is making us feel, or in saying the wrong thing, that we forget the power of “being with.” It goes further than you could ever know.
And friend, do not assume things about an experience you know nothing about.
Do not be so quick to say, “God just wanted your baby more than you did,” or “It might have been a birth defect so count your blessings.” (Yes, all real things said to us, and those aren’t even the worst ones!) Say sorry, say you’re praying for them (and actually do), ask what they need, how you can be there for them, and then follow through. Surprisingly, these matter of fact statements, that really aren’t fact at all, do more harm than good, and may only drive your grieving friend further into their pit of doubt.
Church leaders and communities: give those experiencing miscarriage the room to cry in your services, to take a break from their role, and the freedom to wrestle with their questions.
Do not poke them with Scripture, but let your love and the Word of God be used only as a balm, to bring relief and comfort to their wounds. Now is not the time for a pep talk, to teach them a lesson, or to tell them that God is going to use their story for His glory. That may be true, but it can make the grieving person feel like a pawn in a game, not like the treasured child of God they are. There is already so much shamed surrounding miscarriage (Why couldn’t my body do it? Why did I assume this wouldn’t happen to me?), so please be sensitive to how you may unknowingly be adding to that shame with your assumptions or your attempts to “fix” the problem.
And to those who have children, who are pregnant, or who have not experienced the pain of infertility or miscarriage: do not hold back your blessings, joy, or life from those without. My dear friend Adrianna let me love on her baby girl Reagan a little extra when my Momma heart was hurting, and she acknowledged me as a Mom, despite the loss of our child. She didn’t ostracize me from her season of life, or make me feel unworthy to be a part of mommy-talk. She said things like, "I can't imagine what you are going through, but I want you to know I'm not going anywhere." I was included, seen, and looking into her baby girl's eyes filled me with hope that one day, I would hold a child of my own.
After we miscarried, I began to relate in a deeper way to the stories of lepers and the bleeding woman in Matthew 9.
These people experienced pain to no fault of their own, and it was their predicament with which they were identified. People did not get close because they feared what they could not understand. For the bleeding woman specifically, she had prayed, she had faith, she was brave, but it was not these traits that preceded her, it was her ailment. Her condition, which was only a part of her, became her label. We can do better. Draw near to the hurting, don’t add to their shame. Do not pity those who have lost, or identify them with their pain. We are all children of God, co-heirs, his prized possessions, and his masterpieces - lacking nothing.
Reed and I are doing incredibly well, we are growing stronger by the minute, and still learning new lessons everyday. Our marriage feels impenetrable, not perfect - but stronger than before. He is my companion, my home, and the love of my life. Together, we can weather any storm.
Let me encourage you with this: no matter what you are going through, no matter how difficult things may seem, hope is within reach.
What you are experiencing and feeling is temporary, so do not lose heart - the sun will rise again. It welcomes us anew each day, offering us a clear, bright perspective of God’s mercy and faithfulness. You are going to be okay.
Thank you for reading about our journey, and for giving me the necessary space to process, recover, and now share with you. This platform is centered on the celebration of life - in all of its forms, and I would be remiss to invite you into the pretty and seemingly perfect, without including you in the difficult and the unexpected. I am at peace, for I know this is not how our story ends.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:22-24