Losses Made Wins

By Lori Peters © 2012

The fact that I am the mother of six beautiful children astounds me daily. For a long time I feared I wouldn't have any children. I have lost two, and those experiences brought me to the lowest points of my life, emotionally and spiritually. The power of prayer, loving neighbors, and a healthy, expressive outlet helped to ease my suffering and care for others.

My husband Kevin and I wanted children but never really discussed how many we’d have. We also figured we’d have no problems conceiving them, but our attempts to get pregnant failed miserably, even with the help of a fertility specialist. We decided to take a break from trying—we were moving and became engrossed in our new environment.

In June 1996, I was about four weeks along before I noticed I had become pregnant. I checked out every book on pregnancy from the library and bought every pregnancy magazine to be had. I was already poring over baby names, too. To say that I was obsessed is an understatement.

The next month, I started spotting. This scared me for I knew bleeding during pregnancy was never a good thing. An ultrasound confirmed my fears. The screen showed my uterus had an empty sac that once contained a baby with a beating heart. The words “non-viable pregnancy” echoed in my brain. I don’t remember how I got home that day. All I recall is the utter desolation I felt about being a failure. Crying wasn't enough to wash away my pain.

I kept thinking how I hated God and myself. First, I couldn't get pregnant and then when I finally did, I couldn't hold onto it. What sort of God does this?

I felt a spiritual emptiness for months. As journaling had proven helpful to overcome difficulties, I started writing, but the usual prayers and musings I normally jotted down were elusive. I did not feel God’s presence, but I prayed I would. Attending church tortured me, but because my husband was faithful to his Catholic upbringing and I felt guilty staying home, I went with him to mass.

Around Christmas, I learned I was pregnant again. I did not want to face another failure. Each trip to the bathroom was scary, fearing I’d find blood again. I did not fully entrust this pregnancy to God.

My faith began to rejuvenate once I felt the baby move. I started saying daily prayers of gratitude. I delivered a beautiful and healthy daughter.

As the years passed, I became engulfed with the enormous challenge of raising five children. I also began trusting God again. It wasn't a lightning-bolt moment, but a series of small signs that God was blessing and loving me through my kids. I started talking to Him as I went about my daily duties.

I also started journaling again. Through that, I felt God directing me to set a better example for my children. Kevin and I were of two religious denominations. I could see the danger of confusion, especially as my oldest daughter began asking questions I could not answer. Because I was never attached to my own Protestant background, I began investigating Kevin’s. My research dispelled misconceptions I had about the Catholic religion. Mass started to make sense to me and eventually, I converted to Catholicism in 2004. As a convert, I was on fire for anything pertaining to the religion, voraciously reading any related material, asking questions, attending classes, and becoming involved in various ministries. I believe all this prepared me for yet another test in 2007.

Again, around Christmas, I was pregnant. We were about to announce our news when one morning in early January 2007, I awoke not feeling quite right. I felt a dull ache followed by spotting. As my condition worsened, I drove to the hospital, praying fervently and crying the entire time. By the time I arrived at the ER, I was immediately admitted and an ultrasound was done. Again, like the first miscarriage, no baby was detected. I had outpatient surgery to remove the remaining pieces of my lost baby. After waking up, I prayed and cried silently, caressing my stomach. This time, I was not mad at God, just sad for what could have been.

Unlike my first miscarriage, I sought someone to talk to other than my husband. I found a gentle and loving support group at the local hospital for people who had suffered miscarriage, stillbirth and early infant loss.
I also kept God close. I realized whenever God closes a door, He opens a window, meaning He had other plans for me. Those plans revealed themselves just a few months later when I was hired to run a crisis pregnancy center. The position enabled me to use my miscarriages to help others cope with pregnancy loss by sharing my experiences and offering comfort.

Three tools helped me cope with my miscarriages. The most important, especially with my second miscarriage, was constant prayer. I favor quick and conversational prayer as opposed to formulaic ones, with something as simple as “God, give me strength.”

Secondly, keeping a prayer journal was very valuable. Sometimes, the entries wrote themselves, as if the Holy Spirit had grabbed my pen. I was able to process my feelings and devise a course of action, even if it was just to get up and get dressed.

Lastly, getting support from people experiencing similar pain was highly helpful because I knew I wasn't alone in my grief.

With God’s guidance, I've learned that something positive can come from something negative and the loss can be a win if I use it to move forward with my life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lori Peters, a former journalist, is a mother of 8 children, six of whom are living. In her spare time, she runs a crisis pregnancy center in Carlisle, PA, volunteers at her church, and hosts a radio show on life issues.

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