By the last week of April, our plans for a November baby were in place, and the anticipation was settling in.
By the first week in May we knew a miscarriage was imminent.
It didn’t sneak up on us, but I’m not sure how you prepare for something like that. Katie knew something had been wrong for a few days, and was grappling with the possibility of a miscarriage long before I considered it. And even though she told me when her concern started, I dismissed it. I didn’t discount that something might be wrong, or insist that it wasn’t a miscarriage. But I held on to the thought, or maybe hope, that it was something else. Something less definite.
I don’t think I realized how much of that day for Katie was spent processing what was most likely happening or what could be happening or what she hoped wasn’t happening. As the husband, without the constant reminder that life is growing within me, I operated on the daily assumption that when Katie wasn’t telling me something, it meant that everything was fine; and when she did tell me something, I could take a moment to wish and hope it away.
I prayed often for Katie. More than morning and night. But I remember the palpable moment I realized that my prayers and supplications were subconsciously or maybe intuitively always for Katie, and not necessarily the baby. And I think that’s when I started to slowly, but not out loud, accept what was already impressing upon me in small waves.
This baby was not coming.
Over the next few days, we didn’t discuss it much. I didn’t understand what might be happening, so I didn’t know what to prepare for. I would often hug her and ask, “Are you okay?”
She would look away, distracted, dealing with her own feelings. “Yes,” she said simply, and moved on with her tasks.
It seemed so ineffectual, merely asking if she were ‘okay.’ I wished I could tell her what was really in my heart. I wanted to say, “I’m so sorry this is happening to you. I’m so sorry I can only stand here completely helpless and watch you emotionally dragged and quartered. I’m sorry I don’t know how to make this all go away and heal your body and strengthen your soul. Please tell me what I can do to show my concern. Please tell me that you’re not ‘okay,’ but that if I were to do this or that, you would be. And please, please don’t let me go through this by myself.”
Then, late one evening, Katie asked me for a priesthood blessing. I knew the request was time-sensitive, so I immediately called a close friend and asked him to come assist me in administering to my wife. As I placed my hands on Katie’s head, I could feel how loved she was by her Father in Heaven. How known she was. How important.
I waited for the clarity to come that all would be well with the baby, but it wasn’t happening. I waited longer. Never had I struggled more against the impulse to mix my emotions with the revelation I was receiving on somebody’s behalf. Everything in me wanted to tell Katie that she would be blessed to give birth to a beautiful baby and her body would heal. Life would be as wonderful as she hoped.
But those impressions never arrived. I found myself making all kinds of additional promises to Father, if only He would grant us this one blessing. But I knew what needed to be said. I felt impressed to promise Katie that this experience would draw her closer to Him, that whether a baby came or not, she would be at peace in her heart and mind, and in her soul. Somehow, that knowledge brought me a degree of hope that I had not anticipated.
The next morning Katie seemed remarkably calm. Not carefree, but peaceful. She said she knew this pregnancy would not develop into a child. And she felt calm and comforted by the blessing. I could see that she was blessed with understanding and insight. I felt reassured by her confidence. My feelings up to that morning had truly been focused on Katie’s well being. A miscarriage would affect her physically, as well as emotionally and mentally. My understanding and acceptance of what was happening were a direct response to hers; I was relieved at her confidence and was now determined that everything would be fine. If Katie was at peace, so was I.
I left for work that morning, hoping that the background noise of the radio would provide a needed distraction during my commute. I was ten minutes into my drive when the world suddenly slowed down and my mind became singularly focused.
I began to process my own reaction to the reality that a child I was anxious to know and love would not be arriving. I felt like I was going to miss the chance to meet somebody who would have affected my life in a beautiful way…and there was no way to retrieve that specific opportunity. Suddenly, I felt swallowed up in sadness. I wasn’t angry or resentful. I didn’t feel cheated or that life was unfair. I just felt sad. And that sadness enveloped me.
The radio became so hushed I just turned it off. I became unaware of other cars, other drivers. The air was still and stifling, and I felt energy draining off me like steam. When I arrived at the office, I pulled into the parking lot and sat in my car, no initiative to leave my seat.
My emotions are very near the surface under even the most benign circumstances; so with the profound sadness I was experiencing, I found that I was crying, quietly. I wasn’t overwhelmed with emotions, nor did I feel that my exterior was cracking. But I knew that I didn’t feel like talking about what was going on.
I worked half the day and then left for an ultrasound appointment with our midwife. As Katie and I drove to the office, our conversation included speculations from one side of the spectrum to the other. From “Maybe I was never pregnant?” to “What if we’re completely off and everything is okay?” But when the ultrasound showed what we had already suspected, that a miscarriage was imminent, we weren’t startled. That sadness briefly stung my heart again, and I studied Katie’s face, searching for any detectable sorrow. I thought I could see it, but it was buried under a brave, accepting face, so I didn’t say a word to her. I felt like speaking would have pulled the foundational block out from under her pyramid of strength, and her calm exterior might have given way. And that just seemed unnecessary. So I simply squeezed her hand.
We drove home somewhat oddly comforted in knowing for certain where we were at, physically. We didn’t say anything to anybody else, as we hadn’t told anybody yet, not even our parents. The next couple of days were just watching and waiting, but brought us closer. I felt conscious of Katie and what was going on inside her.
At the end of that week, my parents were set to arrive at our house for the weekend, and literally, as I heard my kids squealing that Grandma and Grandpa were here, Katie found me and told me that it had just happened. She cried a light, heartfelt sigh of relief, finally feeling that she had turned a page and felt closure from a long, uncertain experience. I hugged her so close I wasn’t sure if my hug was sustaining her or vice versa.
I walked outside and met my parents at the car. I hugged them, helped grab their stuff, and then told them a little about what the last week had been like. I wanted to let them know so they could be sensitive to Katie.
My dad and I were taking my boys camping for the night, and Katie and my mom and the girls had planned to do a Girls’ Night at home. As Katie went into the kitchen to start their special dinner, my mom pulled Katie in to her and said, “Don’t you worry about dinner. We’re going out. Let’s take it easy tonight.”
I watched Katie melt into my mom’s embrace, crying. Of course it was more than the promise that she wouldn’t have to cook dinner. It was being understood, being cared for. It was the profound link between women, between mothers. It was an answer to prayer and the fulfillment of a blessing. My mom had had a miscarriage between my two youngest brothers and so understood much more deeply than I, though I wanted to. And Katie felt that. I will always be grateful that my mom was there; that she is exactly who she is, with the instincts that she has, and the love she’s had for Katie since day one.
As I thought about that moment I realized how many people I know and love who have had miscarriages. But for how common they are, rarely are they discussed. I imagine it’s because the event may be common, but the experience is personal. It was for us. It seems like a very private grieving; mourning the loss of possibilities, of plans.
We have since added a seventh child to our little family. Like her brothers and sisters, she has added a measure of joy to our lives that goes beyond expression. We’re grateful for her sweet spirit in our home.
I’ll always remember that touch of sadness that accompanied that unique experience of ‘what might have been.’ But through it all, I knew Heavenly Father was mindful of us, that he was aware of our anxiety, our sorrow. And I know He is aware of our unwavering gratitude for the blessing of family.
‘Children are an heritage of the Lord,’ the Psalmist writes. I couldn’t agree more.
Ken Craig is an account executive for SealSource International as well as a small business owner. He has a passion for writing, which he discovered when he began writing comedy sketches in college as a founding member of BYU’s first comedy troupe, The Garrens. This is also where he met and married his wife, Katie. Ken serves as a bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he resides with his wife and their seven children. Their family adventures are featured in Ken’s blog, “The Craig Report,” and he is also a contributing writer to www.parttimeauthors.com.
Today there is a “Blog Hop” about the Family Proclamation. Please share your own feelings or testimony or inspiring thoughts on your blog. Then go to any of these other hosting blogs and leave a link to your blog post at the bottom of the posts there. You will find a “Mr. Linky” tool, where you can enter in your information and direct us all to what you wrote. Go on now; I’m excited to read what you have to say.