Miscarriages / Stillbirths
Today’s guest post is from Kerstin Knaack. I was referred to this post about two weeks ago when it was posted on shelovesmagazine.com. It’s immensely powerful, so I asked Kerstin if she’d be willing to share her story here. Thankfully, she obliged.
I am ten weeks pregnant. It takes courage for me to tell you that.
Why? This is my fourth pregnancy–my first three babies are in heaven.
I am from Germany. There, we don’t usually tell people we are pregnant until the fourth month of pregnancy. But several weeks ago, I went to Brazil and found out the women there announce their pregnancies as soon as they have a positive test in their hands. I asked why they do this, considering most miscarriages occur within the first three months. They said that in their culture, they celebrate and mourn together. If something happens to the baby, they come to the mother’s side, offering everything from a big hug to cooking for her or massaging her feet. Whatever she needs, they journey with her.
My first miscarriage was in 2009 in the eighth week; the second was in 2011 in the 33rd week and the third was at the end of 2011 in the 12th week. All these losses were difficult, but to give birth to a dead baby in the ninth month of pregnancy was definitely the most painful.
After the third miscarriage, I wasn’t able to pray or worship. My heart ached, but I had good friends who carried me through. When I was far from God, they spoke life and truth over me. My church gathered around and carried me. When I couldn’t pray, they prayed for me; when I couldn’t worship, they worshiped for me.
I knew that death doesn’t come from God — He is love and nothing bad comes from him—but He did allow this to happen.
After several weeks, I reached a place where I was able to think about my situation in a different way. If God allowed this to happen, there must be something good within these situations. This was a turning point for me—I wanted to turn bad into good. It was a decision, not a feeling. I chose to no longer accept being bound by lies.
So many good things happened as a result of my miscarriages:
– my marriage to my husband Rainer became stronger and we decided to give 100 percent of our lives to God, stepping into His purpose for us
– the opportunity developed to do an internship at Relate Church, Canada, with Pastors John and Helen Burns
– my father returned to my life after 28 years of rejection
– friends put their lives into Jesus’ hands.
From now on, I will no longer hide. I have discovered that it is healthy for me to talk about how I feel and which thoughts and emotions have kept me away from God. If I don’t share my life and the difficult journey I have made, it will be harder for God to work through me. I want Him to use me to help other women and to fulfill His plan.
That’s why I am openly telling people that I am pregnant for the fourth time.
Is it easy for me to enjoy my pregnancy? Definitely not. Every day I am reminded of the past, the positive pregnancy tests; pictures of my big belly; the ultrasounds; the decorated nursery; the movements in my belly; memories of the day I was told our daughter had passed away; the pain of giving birth to a dead baby and the joy of having her in our arms; Rainer’s love letter to our new daughter; the invoice from the funeral parlor.
Stepping Forward in Faith
How do I deal with these images and the daily fear of possibly having the same pain again? There is no magic solution–it’s a journey every day. I think back to those Brazilian women, who understand what sisterhood means and I know that if I fall, my sisterhood will carry me. And I talk about it. If I am overwhelmed by fear, I ask my husband or a friend to help me.
The opposite of fear is faith. God holds my life in His hands. I trust Him.
Kerstin Knaack was born and raised in the city of Kirchheim, Germany. She and her husband Rainer are currently involved in an internship at Relate Church in Surrey, BC, where they are learning to be leaders and teachers in the area of marriage, family and sexuality. Their long-term vision is to teach on these topics and to raise a large family of their own.
I’m a funeral director. Have been for the past 10 years. And during those ten years, I’ve helped numerous families memorialize miscarriages and still born babies.
As a male who often finds himself in that “insensitive” category, I used to secretly wonder why there’s a desire to memorialize those not yet born.
After all, what’s to memorialize?
When I first became a funeral director, I struggled to understand how I could write an obituary for one who has no biography. After a year or so, I developed this three sentence template:
_____________ the stillborn son/daughter of ___________ and ____________ passed away on ____________________ at “so and so” hospital. Left to grieve this loss is the maternal and paternal grandparents, as well as the uncles and aunts. A memorial service will be held on ____________ at the __________ Funeral Home.
That’s it. No job occupations to write. No hobbies, memberships or significant others to be included in the obituary. In place of the age, the obituary will suffice to say, “infant”, or “stillborn”.
Being both insensitive and hardheaded, it took a pretty intense situation for me to see and feel the “what” and the “why” of memorializing those who weren’t afforded a chance to live.
I used to think that one of the most in house controversial topics for Christians related to the “eternal security” and/or “perseverance of the saints” discussions. I’ve seen artery popping, fist clenching, impassioned arguments over whether or not you can walk away from God and lose your entrance ticket for passage through the Pearly Gates.
I was wrong. There’s another topic that’s even more sacred.
I learned my lesson in a Degree Completion Class at Lancaster Bible College. There was a large cross-section of students in that class, with ages ranging from 25 to 62 and an even broader array of experience.
The professor breached a topic that he wished he hadn’t when he said, “There’s no absolute biblical evidence that fetuses and infants go to heaven.”
That was it. He had touched some major buttons that I don’t think he even realized existed.
Without even raising their hands, two outspoken women in the class – who, as we were soon to learn, had lost children – burst in with utter defiance. “How dare you speak to something so sensitive when you’ve never lost a child!” one said. Another burst into tears, asserting how God had spoken to her, reassuring her that her lost children were indeed with Him.
I’ve felt tension in classrooms, funerals and churches, but this was a tension that was raised to a level I didn’t know existed. Without knowing it, that Prof. had tread on one of the most sacred realms of Christian doctrine … the belief that ALL lives are loved and known by our Maker … that ALL are children of God.
Mother’s day is today.
This is the time of year that many mothers carry a silent grief. This is the time of the year when mothers remember, when they memorialize lost lives that the rest of us (their friends and family … especially us men) have unintentionally forgotten. And, specifically, it’s a time when men can be exceptionally insensitive to the grief that can reemerge during this holiday.
And there’s some women who will not only carry their silent grief this mother’s day, but who also NEVER had the chance to memorialize lives that God knows … because I know that for every one woman who has memorialized the death of the unborn or still born, there are many others who have not.
Today, God remembers you and your losses. There’s a scripture that says God bottles our tears, a word picture that says, “your tears are too precious to fall to the ground” … that when a person cries, it’s such a valuable experience to God that he stops what he’s doing, bends over and carefully watches every tear flowing down our broken faces. It’s as though he keeps those tears so he can remember what you have gone through … the same way we save items of sentimental value so those things can help us remember important experiences.
I invite you to remember that God not only remembers, but he also grieves with you.