Leaf: We found out in May 2007 that I was pregnant. This pregnancy was a bit of a shock to us but a baby is always cause for celebration. We began setting up a baby registry and tracking development. At our 16 week visit, our midwife could not find a heartbeat and said I was only measuring at 12 weeks. She sent us for an ultrasound and we found out that our baby had died around 10-12 weeks gestation. We chose to wait for the miscarriage to happen naturally but had no idea how long it would be.
At 19 weeks, I started to induce with herbs but Amy stopped me. She sensed God wanted me to wait.
Waiting is hard–trying to carry on normal activities when you know there is a death in your womb. While we waited, Scott built a little box to bury the baby in. I was matron-of-honor in my sister’s wedding–she placed a white flower to honor our baby at the altar and I later placed it on the grave. My dad picked out a burial spot under a big holly tree. While we waited, I learned that people don’t send sympathy cards for miscarriages. Some people close to me did not even speak to me about it. That was the hardest. I guess they feel like they shouldn’t bring it up? Why? We lost a baby. It is not shameful or taboo. I would rather talk about it than pretend it didn’t happen. I needed to talk about it.
One night in September, I dreamed I was inside my womb. I saw my baby. I placed my hands on his face and said, “Little one, it is time to go.” He spun away from me and I woke with peace that God was in control. I remembered the verse, “God has made all things beautiful in his time.” Two days later, on September 7th (21 wks gestation–5 weeks waiting, knowing), I went into labor around 10am. I was in pain but mostly I was scared. I didn’t want to do this, didn’t know what to expect, didn’t want to see the baby. I called Scott to come home from work around 1pm. I got in the bathtub and drank a beer–trying to relax. Around 2pm, I noticed that the cramps were actually timeablecontractions. Just like Norah’s birth. I tried to eat dinner but couldn’t sit down long enough to get much. Contractions were less than 2 minutes apart. I was angry. I shouldn’t have to go through real labor. I should get a free pass. I sent Norah home withmy mom. I could no longer talk through contractions. I thought I was going to pass out and drank some orange juice. I was writhing in the floor withmy head in Scott’s lap. The sounds I was making were just like with Norah’s birth: low, long “oooooooohhhhhhh” sounds. I threw up. I even said, “Natural childbirthis stupid.” Scott knew that these signs meant I was in transition. It would not be long. Scott was amazing. I’ve actually used some of his coaching words with my own doulaclients. He reminded me that I knew this pain; that it wasn’t scary. He knew I needed to be upright and worked on convincing me to get off the floor. I didn’t want to. But he finally moved me to the bathroom and sat me on the toilet. My water broke almost as soon as I got on the toilet. When my water broke, everything stopped and I suddenly felt great. I was confused. No contractions. But after 5 minutes, they began again. I felt the baby coming. He came with the placenta which was about the size of an orange. He was hidden by membranes and placenta.
We called our midwife, Amy, and asked if we could bring the placenta to her. She said, “yes” so we drove to the birthcenter. She separated baby from placenta. She said she thought he was a boy. His little arms were crossed and we could count fingers and toes. He was between the length of my pinkyfinger and the next finger and absolutely perfect. I had been so afraid that because he had been in the womb so long, he wouldn’t look like a baby. I was feeling relief and peace and completion. Amy left us alone with our baby. We held his hands and memorized him. Then Amy prepared him for burial and placed him in a little box. We buried him under the holly tree the next day. My mom wrote a poem and read it. Scott prayed. I shared a verse, Ecc 3:11. Norah wandered around carrying a leaf she’d picked. Scott’s mom and my mom placed flowers on the box. Scott and I named our baby, Leaf.
The whole experience taught me that while God never desires death, he overcomes it with beauty. It is a profound mystery but it is Truth. The waiting was important. The timing was perfect. The journey was long and deep.
Oh, Julie! I never knew. I’m so sorry about Leaf. And I’m not going to try to say something really meaningful. I’m poud of your vulnerability to share this story. Bless you.
I am so sorry to hear of your loss to your family. I am glad you were able to see Leaf. and to have a service for him. WE missed that when I miscarried our little girl. Bill has seen her and spoken to her or her to him (however visions work) I know what you mean about people not saying things or making comments they think are helpful when they really are not. I am glad you had Gods peace in that difficult time and a beautiful closure.
Oh, Julie. I can barely see the screen for the tears. Tears for different things in this post, the first one being that I had hurt you by offering silence, not support. The feelings that you have shared here, the experience has quite shaken me to my core. Oh, Julie, you have felt God’s power and I am so thankful that you have that.
Sending you my love !!!
Sal, you had reasons for silence. God carried you through a different grief journey; one in which silence was necessary. You gave me support when I needed it. Love you, friend!
I was thinking about the talk we had about your labor with Leaf (when you guys came for a visit). I read your story. I know its been a little while, but know that I am always here if you need to talk about him and your experience more.
you have the openness to see the beauty… which is crucial in times of loss and suffering. kudos for sharing your hardship so that others might feel healing as well.
Dear Julie, You have written a beautiful testimony about the birth of your Son and how God is always there with us even in the midst of the hardest pain.
Your birth sounded so much like mine when I lost my son. I am so glad you waited!!! There ae so many that immediately rush into induction and there are so many regrets later. Although the waiting part for birth to come naturally is hard, it makes you draw closer to God and rely on him and in the end is so full of blessings.
Having that time to prepare for our babies birth and buriel gives us so much comfort in being able to have all the details taken care of that we want. I did the same thing with a special box for my son and was able to plan out details for a Memorial and our son is buried with us here at home. There is not a day that doesn’t go by that he is not here with us!!!
Thank you again for sharing!
Love and God Bless your Sister in Christ,
Melissa D. SC
I don’t read this about Leaf to often. It’s just too hard. There is not a morning that goes by on my way to work that I don’t think and wonder what Leaf is doing in Heaven. The thoughts of him come during my prayer time. What would he have looked like now at 3 months? Would he have been as much like his daddy as Norah is like her mother? I weep as I ache to hold him. Heaven is sweeter knowing I will get to see and hold him. Julie, you and Scott have experience something that I haven’t – the loss of your own child and your strength is amazing. Oh God, give him a hug for me today.
I really am proud and humbled to hear your words- you said that
“while God never desires death, he overcomes it with beauty. It is a profound mystery but it is Truth. ”
That is the truth and I am proud that you believe that. He never desires death-He died for LIFE- and when things like this are happening, we tend to think that He doesn’t desire life-more mysterious is this Truth and you are soooo right that he does overcome it with beauty. God bless you and your strength!
Wow, Julie. Thanks for sharing this – it’s a beautiful, heart-wrenching tribute to your little boy. Leaf is rejoicing and awaiting you in Heaven. 🙂
Reading this at 31 weeks after my similar experience…probably not the wisest, I’m blubbering at my kitchen table.
It’s a beautiful articulation of a very profound experience that so many people just don’t know how to deal with or respond to. I was very happy that I had you to talk to about my miscarriage. As you did, I called my midwife as I was navigating the labor that comes with miscarriage, where labor with Eli was manageable, invigorating, challenging and empowering. This one was frantic, scary and confusing…in the end there is profound knowledge you’re left with and a love for someone that very few will understand, because you are the only one that knew that little person.
I was re-reading this story today–one year since the experience. I think one of the reasons for some silence from friends/family was disapproval. I had incredible support from those close to me. But I sensed many people thought I should complete the miscarriage with a D&C. They were worried about waiting. Everyone’s journey is unique. I would never question a decision t have a D&C. But for me it was important that there was no question the ultrasound wasn’t wrong. As long as I had no signs of infection, I needed to wait. I think it was also important to Scott’s grieving process that he saw our baby.
i know it’s been a long time since you wrote this article, but i just read it and needed to reply.
i lost my first baby on december 6th, 2011, after a month of waiting/hoping/grieving for a baby still inside me. it was so long and hard. i had never given birth before, but your experience of labor was exactly what i went through. i was told that you just “have a bad period”… but that wasn’t my case at all. i went through the labor process, but didn’t know it until later when i was explaining it to my OB. i wouldn’t change a thing, though– i had to *know* that i gave this baby everything that i could. it is a privilege and gift to carry a life and protect it the best you can. i believed my body could give me the assurance that no doctor could that this baby was meant for heaven.
my husband and i are pregnant again… and our daughter is due in november (the same month we found out our first baby was gone). i’ve found this pregnancy to be a time of joy and grief– of rejoicing in each milestone, but mourning the milestones i missed with our “sparrow.”
i praise God that He sees each sparrow that falls… and that, for those with fallen sparrows, He comforts us in the shadow of His own wings.
Thank you for sharing this experience. Although I knew you then, I had no idea this was happening. I cry for your loss, but even more in tenderness for the experience of being able to hold and bond with your baby if not for a short time. Hugs!
Julie~just wanted to send you my sympathies. I really am too emotional to type all of the things I would like to say to you after reading about your little Leaf. ((HUGS))
Wow what a story! I had a very similar experience! I had a daughter I named her Maddelynne. I delivered her at home. My wait was much shorter she came the day after I found out she was gone. Thanks for writing your story it was wonderful to read. What a strong mama you are! Much love.
Just read this for the first time. Silent tears are streaming down my face.