Couples struggling with infertility are well-acquainted with the roller coaster of emotions from abject hopelessness to giddy elation when a pregnancy is confirmed. Those who have experienced the loss of a child through miscarriage understand well the grief that can be paralyzing and the pain that can overwhelm.
Missy Johnson, 32, has experienced it all and shares her story in hopes of encouraging others who are struggling with infertility or miscarriage.
Missy and her husband of eight years, Jed, knew they wanted children before they married but had no idea that dream would lead them on the difficult journey they have experienced.
"I had no idea 1 in 4 pregnancies ended in miscarriage...until we had our first. In July 2014, after two years of trying to get pregnant, and 6 months of medical intervention, we final heard the words 'You're pregnant!'
It was one of the greatest moments of my life. A few weeks later I went in for our first doctor's visit at 7 weeks to hear our Peanut's heartbeat. It never crossed my mind that the heartbeat wouldn't be there ... but it wasn't. Our baby had died at 6 weeks."
As her friends began their families with ease, Missy felt betrayed by the God she had trusted to fulfill her desire to be a mother. She descended into depression and felt “everything was over.” Through her husband's encouragement to look toward the future and through Christian counseling, Missy began to see things in a new light:
“I saw that if all I ever got out of my marriage was my wonderful husband I knew I was blessed, I learned to focus on what I had instead of being angry about what I didn't have.”
In October 2015, their first round of in vitro fertilization and frozen embryo transfer resulted in a happy, easy pregnancy, and Missy and Jed welcomed Lucy Rose in June 2016.
The Johnsons again sought medical intervention to increase their family. Missy shared her story:
"In February 2017, we had another embryo transfer and it worked! Ecstatic to have another little one on the way, I felt very positive and ready to move past the fear of miscarriage. As the 14 weeks mark was approaching and everything was going great, we were trying to decide how to announce.
Then on April 26th, I woke up to moderate bleeding. Panicked, we went straight to the hospital. After some tests and an ultrasound (and finding out we were expecting a perfectly healthy and growing little boy), it was determined I had a small bleed between my uterus and placenta.
I was told by my doctor that it would almost certainly heal itself and I didn't need to worry. So excited about our little boy and at ease for his health, we enjoyed the next few days trying to figure out nursery situations."
Then two days later, everything changed:
"Around 10 pm I started cramping. By 11 I was in labor with 30 second contractions every 2 minutes. We knew we were going to have our 14 week, 2 day old baby boy, so we were getting ready to go to the hospital. Instead, he was born at home at 12:05 am on April 29th.
He was born alive and perfect...we wrapped him in a blanket, prayed over him, and named him after our grandfathers, Goodhue Orville Johnson. We call him Huey. We had 5 minutes with him before he had to go.
The weeks following were not easy. Honestly, it's still not easy. I look at the one picture we have of him daily; he was so beautiful. As our due date approached (he was due October 26th) we missed him more than ever."
Missy has some suggestions for those who know someone who has gone through the pain of miscarriage:
"By sharing this, we are not looking for pity or for people to be on eggshells around us. We hurt, but our Heavenly Father is our strength and our hope.
There are some things you can do to help grieving parents on our journey to healing.
Let us tell you about our child. Parents deserve to be able to tell people about their beloved children, no matter how long we were able to hold them!
Please, remember them in your prayers, in your conversations, and in questions like, 'So, when are you going to have children?' You may not mean harm, but you would be surprised who is suffering from the pain of loss.
If you have suffered a miscarriage, please don't bury your pain and grief. Do not say, 'It was so early, people will think I'm being dramatic.' Or 'I don't want to burden people with my sad story.' You have suffered loss. Take the time to grieve."
Missy and Jed now are expecting identical twin boys in March — twins who were conceived naturally. Psalm 113:9 sums up Missy's journey to motherhood, “God makes the barren woman to keep house and to be the joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord.”