los angeles documentary photography street photography captured grace by erin

The Pain Of Early Miscarriage | No Less A Mom

Quick Update: this post tells the story of our first loss in 2016. We welcomed our rainbow baby girl almost a year to the date late in 2017. We then lost another baby at 6 weeks in 2019 and welcomed our precious son in June of 2020. 

Oh dear friends, how I wish this was a much different story, one full of joy and anticipation. Sadly, it is not. It is my story though. One full of heartbreak and shattered dreams presented to you as an offering of hope. These words are my small way of dragging the darkness, the pain, and the guilt of miscarriage into the light. I offer our story humbly as one still grieving, praying it falls as comfort on other hurting hearts.

My heart has always bent towards motherhood; it is woven into my DNA. I played mom with my dolls and little brothers as a child, volunteered with preschool kids at church, became a teacher and a birth/child/family photographer. I even prayed that I would be part of the .01% of women whose birth control didn’t work during the first years of our marriage. So needless to say I’ve been looking forward to being pregnant.

So much so that when that faint pink line showed itself I hesitated to believe it. Yet, I knew my body was changing. I felt it with every fiber of my being. So I took another test that night and again the next morning. They all said the same thing and my heart began embracing the fact that I was a mom. I had this wonderful, beautiful secret growing inside of me. My heart burst with the knowledge. For three surreal days my dreams of creating life with the man I loved and raising a family with him were true.

This all changed so quickly. I woke up a few days latter and knew something was wrong. My body felt drastically different and I was bleeding. My plan for a special date night to tell my husband he was a dad drastically changed as I woke him up in tears. My heart broke as I told his sleepy face I was both pregnant and most likely loosing the baby all at the same time. After holding me for a few minutes we got on the phone with an OB/GYN nurse who told us that it was probably just normal bleeding associated with week 6 of pregnancy, advised me to rest with my feet up for the day and scheduled an appointment with my physician for the next morning. My mind knew better but a seed of hope planted in my heart that we might still have our baby. I spent the day in bed, whispering my love to the little life I hoped was still growing inside me and pleading with God to let me keep this baby.

Those prayers were not to be answered in the way I wanted when my doctor confirmed my worst fear, that we had indeed lost the baby to miscarriage. I was heartbroken. I never wanted to get out of a place as quickly as I did that cold, sterile exam room. As soon as we hit the car the tears broke loose and the sobs heaved in a grief I never knew existed before. A sadness that would become a heavy companion over the next few weeks settled into my heart and chest. I couldn’t breath. I was drowning.

The next few days were a blur of tears and pain. Sorrow griped my soul and walked hand in hand with me. I remember walking into a bathroom at Starbucks on our first attempt to leave the house and catching a glimpse of my own face in the mirror. I barely recognized the woman starring back at me. It was my face and my features but the spark was gone from my eyes. It made me wonder how those surrounding me saw me. Could they read the pain on my face as clearly as it was written on my heart? Did they feel the emptiness of my spirit as vividly as I felt the emptiness of my body?

The truth is that while I felt the pain of miscarriage with every ounce of my being it was not evident to others. There had been no big announcement to friends and family, no beautiful baby bump showing, no plans made for maternity leave, no gifts received or nurseries decorated. I never got to meet the tiny life that lived inside of me for 6 weeks. As quickly as my little one was there, they were gone again. In a matter of days I went from being a mom anticipating her child’s life on earth to a mom morning her child’s loss to heaven.

While I expected grief and pain, I did not expect guilt and insecurity over my deep sense of loss. I felt guilty for mourning and felt insecure about labeling myself a mom. It was so early into the pregnancy and everything happened so fast I felt I did not deserve to feel as bad as I did. I compared my loss to women who lost children further in their pregnancy or through stillbirth or after years of mothering. I somehow thought because my loss looked different I was not allowed to grieve. Well meaning people added to this thinking with thoughts such as “as least you didn’t get far enough to have an ultrasound”, or “it was so early you must not have really felt pregnant yet”, or “so many other women have miscarriages early in their pregnancies”, or “if you hadn’t taken a test you probably wouldn’t have even known you were pregnant”. I fought my desire to call myself a mom and mourn the loss of a child out of comparison and guilt.

In all this God did not leave me alone. He brought some precious friends, my dear family and my beloved husband alongside me to speak wisdom and truth to my heart. The truth is that my husband and I had conceived life. This life began to grow inside of me. I was a mom and this was my child. Our baby’s life was lost and we now have a child in heaven. While these truths hurt deeply they also fell like a healing balm on my wounded heart. I began mourning as one who had hope once I let go of comparison and guilt.

There is so much more that could be said about our story. So many terrible and beautiful moments. So many powerful lessons. So many times spent crying in the kitchen or broken in my husband’s arms. Almost a month later I am just beginning to see clearly again and am learning to sew stitches of sadness to heal my wounded soul. Writing became my therapy and my outlet as I struggle to identify the storm of emotions within. I am sure there is more to be shared and I hope to write more about this road soon. For now I will leave you with the letter I wrote to my little one a week after our miscarriage.

“My darling little one –

A week ago today was the last day you would spend inside your momma. Losing you is the hardest thing I have ever been through. I long to have you back with every fiber of my being. That my heart still beats amazes me because it is broken and shattered. I miss you every moment. You made me a mom and I am so grateful for the 6 weeks I called you mine. I wish we could have years. I had so many hopes and dreams for you. Instead you will dance at the feet of my Jesus and play on the streets of heaven. Your soul will only ever know joy and peace. For that I am so grateful. I have started calling you little Sparrow. It reminds me that God’s eye was on you from the moment you were formed. So fly my little bird, fly to Jesus. Momma will be looking forward to meeting you there.”

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I debated sharing it with you on a business focused blog since it is so personal however, as a photographer my business is personal, it is me. This experience changed me strengthening the beauty of childhood, family and especially motherhood, driving those values even deeper into my heart and my work.

If the loss of a child by miscarriage or any other means touched you and your family I would love for us to walk this hard road together. Please feel free to join me on this through the comments, social media or email at erin@capturedgracebyerin.com. Know my heart and prayers go out to you and your loved ones.

-xo, Erin

P.S. As I mourn, music and writing are my companions. A few beautiful, yet heart wrenching songs are giving me hope in the heartache.  “I Will Carry You” by Selah and “Almost”, a Love What Matters original, are on replay at my home. Both cause tears and give hope. I am forever grateful to these artists for using their talents to help heal hearts.