I remember the phone call like it was yesterday. My doctor’s office called late on one Friday afternoon.
“Mrs. Paddock, can you talk for a minute?” “Sure, what’s up?” “Well, we got the results from your pregnancy test, and it was positive.” “So, I’m pregnant?!?” I exclaimed with excitement. “Yes,” the nurse happily replied.
Oh, what joy there is in discovering there is a tiny little life growing inside you and being formed by God! We had just celebrated our son’s first birthday the week before, and although my husband and I were surprised, it was a joyful discovery.
It was a tough first trimester physically, spiritually, emotionally, and in my relationship with my husband. We argued more often, and we both worried about what life would be like once our second child arrived. Being the Mommy, though, it was different. I was able to feel and experience all the changes in my body as it prepared for and started growing a little human inside. This wasn’t just any little human. This was our child. God began to ease my worries.
At about ten weeks into the pregnancy, my “bump” began to show, and it really hit me. “Wow, I’m really pregnant. We’re really going to have another baby!” I told our baby how much I loved him or her and how excited I was to be face-to-face. I knew God really gave me special love for that sweet baby growing inside my body.
One morning, about 13 weeks into the pregnancy, I began to have some light spotting, so I put in a call to my doctor’s office as precaution. I remember thinking that everything was probably fine. But, I thought maybe they’ll do an ultra-sound to check, and we can see the baby! Sure enough, they did an ultra-sound just to check. They assured me the spotting was probably normal, but they just wanted to check and make sure.
Immediately after the ultra-sound, my doctor called me on the phone. “Rachel, the ultra-sound tech said she sees the pregnancy and the baby, but unfortunately there’s no longer any cardiac activity. I’m sorry, but you’ve had a miscarriage.” It felt as if, in that moment, my own heart had stopped.
“It can’t be true, this can’t be real,” I thought. “I’m nearly 13 weeks pregnant! How could there be no heart beat? We saw the heartbeat! We heard the heart beat just a few weeks ago! Surely there must be some mistake. This just can’t be real!”
It turns out it was true. The doctor told us our baby’s heart had stopped beating between 9-11 weeks and my body simply hadn’t had the miscarriage yet. My doctor offered to do a procedure right then to “remove” our baby, or said we could go home to think about it and wait a week to see if the miscarriage happens naturally. Out of shock and hope, I decided to go home and pray about it. I thought “maybe they’re wrong” or “maybe God will perform a miracle.”
I spent the next couple of days wrestling with sorrow, shock, confusion, guilt, and helplessness. Finally, I fell down on my knees and asked God to please let me lose this baby on my own at home if the baby was already with Him in heaven. I wanted to see our child; I wanted to feel the pain of having this baby. I longed for the beginning of closure. I didn’t want to just go to the hospital and get cleaned out as if it had never happened. I told God on my knees in the shower “It’s okay if it’s time. I’m okay, I’ll trust you”.
Within hours I awoke with severe cramps and bleeding. I knew it was time, and I made my way to the bathroom. I felt something strange and then looked down. There was our baby. I quickly knelt down and scooped the tiny body up. I held our baby in my hands and through sobs I studied the intricacy of the beautiful tiny face, arms, legs, and those itty bitty fingers. The fingers that would never get to wrap around mine. This precious little life was not much bigger than a couple inches long, and yet here it was in my hand—perfectly formed and absolutely beautiful. We got to see our sweet baby and pray over him with the aching pain of such deep loss.
Shortly after, I started to have severe pain and began to bleed very heavily. I called my doctor around 5am and was advised to go to the ER right away and take the baby with me. By the time I got to the hospital, I was bleeding uncontrollably, so they transported me to another hospital and performed emergency surgery.
I stood somewhere between immense grief for the loss of our child, and total fear for my own life. One thing I’m certain of is that God was with me every moment sustaining me with His love and flooding me with His peace. I know His hand of protection was on me in those very scary and painful moments. I cannot articulate into words the stillness of my heart and the calmness of my soul during a time of such physical and emotional trauma. So strongly did I feel God’s presence, that I knew He had allowed me to go through this experience in such a way as to recognize His grace and power.
We named our sweet baby Micah Rae Paddock. I often think about whether Micah was another boy or our first girl. I imagine how those little feet would feel kicking inside my tummy. I think about holding Micah close and hearing that first sweet cry. I think about Micah running around in diapers and throwing food and toys all over the house. I think about how I’ll never get to watch Micah grow, and how on this earth I’ll never get to hear the sound of that sweet voice. But, I’m so grateful God allowed me to carry my sweet Micah for those precious 13 weeks.
It has been an incredibly painful, yet life-giving experience. I look at our beautiful 17 month old son with such a greater appreciation for his life, and how God gave him especially to us. All too often, we take for granted one of the most incredible miracles of all: life. We forget how we were all formed by God so delicately and perfectly in our mother’s womb. I’m so grateful for the time God allowed me to carry my sweet Micah. King David words it beautifully:
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were
written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139: 13-16
Rachel Paddock is a first-time contributor to the Soul Care Collective!