The Day Death Entered My Womb

July 18, 2020  - By Gretchen Saffles

Well-Watered Women Blog-The Day Death Entered My Womb

An Unusual Birthday

Today I turn 31, and today I should be delivering our third baby. It’s a strange feeling to celebrate life and mourn death on the same day.

I remember it like it was yesterday. We’d gone to church that morning, and as I sat in the back, I felt a bit “off” and my mind struggled to keep up with the sermon. After church, I ran to the store and grabbed a pregnancy test. When I saw it was positive, I was SHOCKED. I took another, which was still positive, and I was still just as shocked.

Like most expectant mothers, I calculated my due date and it landed on the strangest day: July 18th, my birthday. I’d potentially be giving birth on the day I was born. What are the odds? As the shock wore off, my husband and I began to adjust our expectations for the next year and make plans for what life would look like having a third child. Our fears turned to excitement and our worries turned to joy. 

We have two boys, and almost all of our family and friends were certain we were going to have a girl. I started dreaming up names for this child and planning how our two boys would share a room. After having initial blood work done, we scheduled our first ultrasound appointment for the 8-week mark, which would land right after our trip to visit family for Thanksgiving. I couldn’t wait for that day to come. 

The Day Death Entered My Womb

But then came the day the bleeding started. It was near the end of our Thanksgiving trip, just a few days prior to our scheduled ultrasound appointment. I’ll never forget seeing the bleeding begin and my heart sinking in despair. Could I be losing this baby? This baby I had carried for seven weeks? This baby I was going to hold in my arms on my birthday? For two days, I cramped and bled and anxiously awaited our ultrasound appointment. But deep down, I knew the worst was happening—I was having a miscarriage.

The day I was supposed to see our baby’s heartbeat and tiny body, I saw an empty womb on an ultrasound machine. Grief was in the air. The ultrasound tech gave me a tissue to wipe my tears as my soul mirrored my womb’s emptiness. With a deep understanding, she shared about her own miscarriage and how often she performed ultrasounds for other aching women. When I left the doctor's office holding my husband’s hand tightly, I thought to myself, “My birthday won’t be the same anymore.”

Celebrating Life and Mourning Death on the Same Day

I’ve dreaded this specific day, my birthday, ever since we lost our baby. Through our miscarriage, I’ve learned that grieving the loss of a baby isn’t just about that one day; it takes the entire pregnancy and beyond. I’ve kept quiet during the time I “should” have been pregnant, bringing my sadness to the Lord and asking him for healing and light. As I’ve thought about the loss of our child leading up to this day, I’ve been reminded that this side of eternity, we will not be able to truly grasp why some babies are born and why some aren’t. 

We won’t understand why some women have miscarriages and some never experience that pain. We will never fully grasp the reasoning behind every specific pain and suffering. Though we cannot grasp every “why,” we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt this truth:

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17–18). 

We can stand on the promise that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). We can find comfort in God’s sovereignty, sufficiency, and grace, trusting that absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. No suffering, no death, no trial, no loss, no hardship, no persecution, no person, no height, no depth, nor anything in all creation can thwart God’s plan or stop Jesus’ love (see Romans 8:35–40).

The Empty Womb and the Empty Tomb

During these months when I should have been growing a baby in my womb, I’ve thought about the Cross where Jesus’ blood was spilled. When a woman miscarries, blood is spilled, heartache is felt, and a longing for heaven and healing is birthed through the pain. Questions might even be stirred, doubts awakened, and grief ignited. But even when death visits the womb, we can remember the empty tomb.

Jesus endured pain for us because of the love of God. We live in a fallen world where things don’t go right, but Jesus came to redeem the broken. The hope of heaven and the healing of the gospel holds us together when grief descends on our hearts. When Jesus breathed his last breath on the cross, death took his life, but it didn’t hold him in the grave. He defeated death, and through him, we also can have new life and breath in our suffering. We can remember our Savior who died and rejoice because he still lives. 

This day, as I mourn the death of our baby and thank God for life, I remember Jesus' death that brought about true life in my soul. I don’t understand why this baby won’t ever be held in my arms on earth, but I do know that the arms of Jesus have never stopped holding me. When my womb is empty, I still hope in the empty tomb, knowing Jesus has defeated darkness and death, and he is still victorious today. 

A Note to Grieving Moms:

If you are a grieving mama, my heart aches with you. I wish there were adequate words to say when you're walking through the pain and heartache, but there aren’t. There are a lot of feelings and questions, deep and dark ones. But remember this: you never walk this journey alone. Though you may not understand why this has happened or is happening, you can trust in God’s power to redeem. Grieve with hope. You do not bleed alone—physically or spiritually. Jesus’ blood was spilled to give you hope and healing in these moments. Cling to the Cross. He is with you, he is for you, and he will bring you through.

Also, if you are looking for a gospel-centered resource during this time, I cannot recommend the devotional book Held by Abbey Wedgeworth enough. This devotional releases in September and is available to pre-order. I have already read through it and will read it again when I can hold a physical copy in my hands. In Held, Abbey walks through Psalm 139 as she shares her own story of miscarriage. There are also several contributors who share their own stories of heartache. You won’t end there, though; you will find hope and healing in the promises and presence of Christ. Pre-order Held here today. 

Additional Resources

“When Your Arms are Emptier Than You Expected” by Brittany Allen for Risen Motherhood

“The Gift of Lack” and “What To Do When Your Friend Loses a Baby” by Lore Ferguson Wilbert

“Loss in Motherhood: the Grief of Losing a Child” by Amelia Granberg of the WWW Team

“He is Near: Resources for Hope and Healing” compiled by the WWW Team

Your Friend, Gretchen

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  1. dondavies686 says:

    Such a beautiful and really truthful piece on loss. Sermons on grief that are true are really hard to come by and this one is truly great. Thanks to our Pastor Keion Henderson, sermons centered on dealing with loss and bearing pain are really available and have really enlightened and helped many people in our community I myself included.

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