Pain and Purpose: My Journey to Motherhood

According to statistics, one out of every four women experiences a miscarriage during the course of her childbearing years. By this, we understand that miscarriage is a highly common phenomena and it is possible that there are women all around the world experiencing one as you read this blog post. Yes, that common and that frequent.  And yet, this topic remains rarely spoken of, but rather, easily buried in silence and stigma.

When I got pregnant for the first time, I never imagined I would walk down this tragic path. Honestly, I thought this only happened to ‘other’ women, and I naively led myself to think that it couldn’t happen to me. No, I simply wasn’t “one” of them but when I gained membership, much to my resistance, to this group of invisible motherhood, I realized that this can literally happen to anyone, and I lived first hand the agony of being a bereaved mother and yet never being able to grieve for my children openly. On the contrary, I had to pretend, a lot, like nothing ever happened, and like my child never existed. Why the pretense, you ask? One, because a woman who suffers a miscarriage isn’t usually looked upon kindly by the world. More often than not, she’s perceived as one punished for sin, or one with a weak womb, or, that she must have done something herself to bring about the tragedy. So, I understood early on, that it was better for me to just remain silent about it all, and save myself the judgement!

I also had to keep what I was going through to myself because most times, people just couldn’t relate to my loss. They also simply didn’t know how to support me, a mother who has lost her ‘unborn’ child, a child that was not seen, not held, not experienced is hard to grieve for, for many.

People sometimes have nothing to say to a grieving parent, or sometimes, say the most inappropriate of all things. While the silence is extremely painful, unkind remarks supposedly well-meant also sting deep. And so, we often choose to suffer in silence. Often times, all alone.

That said, in the eyes of God, every life matters, even the lives of unborn children. And to Him also matters, the heart of a grieving mother. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) He assuredly doesn’t leave us to suffer alone.

My husband and I had lost four naturally-conceived pregnancies, within the first five years of our marriage; all at different lengths during the first trimester. Some we had seen grow perfectly at one scan, to find that things were not the same at the next. Each pregnancy was hoped and prepared for. Despite fervent prayers, all the drugs and shots available to “sustain” the pregnancies, all the herbs and massages, all the attempts to keep fit,  and all the ‘positive thinking’… we were parents to four children – but in heaven. This certainly wasn’t how I had ever imagined ‘growing my family’ would be, and yet this is what it was for me! For us! And sadly, for many many others like us.

They say, experiencing a single pregnancy loss can be devastating, especially for the mother. To think that I lived through that ordeal multiple times, and still live to tell my tale is nothing but the saving grace and love of my Heavenly Father and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The losses that I suffered not only broke me, but they also threw my marriage in a spin. It was God alone who held us together like a cord of three strands (Ecclesiastes 4:12) through this and many other hard seasons of our lives. The losses were draining in every way, but most of all, they were emotionally and spiritually the hardest.

With each miscarriage, I found myself in a state of depression and PTSD*, but didn’t know how to get help! My doctors didn’t refer me to any mental health practitioners nor did they offer any counselling themselves. They left me to figure things out on my own. I truly believe this needs to change. Doctors and nurses need to be trained to not only show more sensitivity to women who’ve suffered a loss, but they should also be trained to offer some basic counselling to the couple/family, as they are the ones closest to them at this point and with the potential to help in the biggest way!

The walk was a hard and lonely one for me. Even my closest friends and family didn’t know how to reach out or support us through any of it. And sometimes, because men and women process loss and grieve differently, my husband and I also grieved alone. How thankful I am to my Lord Jesus who sustained me through this deep and dark valley walk (Psalm 55:22a) and the Holy Spirit who remained my constant ‘Comforter & Counsellor’ and pulled me out of the pits of darkness, and helped me see this day.

I often wondered how God was allowing us to experience loss after loss, despite all the praying and believing. I remember once asking God why He was withholding the blessing of a child from me, a woman who loved children and made a career working for children in various different capacities. With time, God revealed many a thing and yet some things remain a mystery. But what we do know is that God uses every experience of our lives to do a work in us, to refine and purify us, and He brings together all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. (Romans 8:28) We are hopeful of seeing all of our children in heaven and I’m expecting to be swamped over with a grand welcome!

Are we parents today? You may be wondering. Well, yes! To two absolutely precious little boys. God always had a good plan for our family, (Jeremiah 29:11) and in time, He blessed us with the desires of our heart.

After the fourth loss we experienced, we found ourselves at the end of the line, exhausted and heartbroken, and that is when God revealed His plans for us. He had impressed adoption on our hearts and was calling us to love and raise a child, who by that time was already growing in his mother’s womb. Our hearts were so overfull with love to give to a child that we jumped right in and said yes to God. Nine-ish months later, we welcomed our son, Jordan, home and we were finally a family of three. Adoption was always something on my heart, I had just never imagined it to come about the way it did. But this is how God formed our family and we praise Him for it.

Three months after Jordan came home, I conceived again and this time miraculously, the pregnancy was a normal, healthy and uneventful one, unlike anything I had experienced before! The pregnancy went full term and I birthed my son at 36 weeks and 5 days. Where getting to 12 weeks was a challenge, God brought me to 36 weeks!!! This, despite having a challenging time in many other ways. I tell you, IT WAS ALL GOD!!!

We now have two little boys to love and raise, just 18 months apart like Irish twins?! Yes, God gave us double for the trouble and to Him be the glory! We do believe that we are mere custodians for our children, they ultimately belong to the Lord.

I write to you this post with a heartfelt request. If there’s a couple you know, who carries the burden of losing a child through miscarriage, stillbirth or SIDS**, can I ask you to please reach out to them? Especially if the loss was very recent. They’re hurting. They’re heartbroken. They’re struggling. And they may not say it. And may not even know how to get help. Can I ask that you hold space for them to grieve, a little more openly than they may be used to? To be able to most importantly hold space for them to talk about their journey, and whatever they make of it? To be able to hold their hand and say, ‘we care for you…your child matters?’ You could go over with a meal, spend time with them, and most importantly, pray for them. Sending a care package with a little note is also a great idea. A little kindness goes a long long way, my friend! And that is how we can bear one other’s burdens and fulfil the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).

While losing a child is painful, it is often times the lack of emotional support after the loss that is harder to bear. A definition of ‘miscarriage’ I read was…‘The spontaneous loss of a woman’s pregnancy before the 20th week that can be both physically and emotionally painful’. You see, the mother does eventually heal from the physical pain, but the emotional pain…that doesn’t go away so easily.

In speaking to many women who had lost a child or children through miscarriage or stillbirth, I found in every story the need to be heard, seen, understood…and supported. And in most, I was told that it was exactly that which was missing.

If you have experienced the loss of a child yourself and are hurting, I pray with all my heart that you find healing and hope in Jesus, and that God may restore to you all the enemy has taken away. I also pray that God surrounds you with people who love and support you, and help you to heal.

Dear reader, October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. This is the month we spread awareness about children lost through miscarriage, stillbirth and SIDS. Please remember, bereaved mothers are also mothers, and even while their arms may appear bare or their family pictures missing a face or two (or sometimes, more) their hearts haven’t stopped loving their children gone too soon.

Thank you for reading. God bless!

*Posttraumatic stress disorder
**Sudden infant death syndrome 
Ulrica Pinto-Fernandes
Ulrica Pinto-Fernandes

Ulrica Pinto-Fernandes lives in Thane, India with her husband, Romanus, and two sons, Jordan & Jeremiah. As a SAHM, boy-mama her days are packed and action-filled! Having chosen to educate their boys at home, Ulrica and her husband spend their days having adventures in and outside of the home, and doing life together. They also run a home-based startup handcrafting home decor items. Ulrica also advocates for child adoption and runs a community for adoptive families. She also extends one-to-one emotional and prayer support to bereaved mothers and new mothers struggling with PPD. A good read, the company of people, exploring new cultures and places, and most recently, gardening are few of her favorite things.

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you Ulrica for sharing your journey so honestly. The journey was so tough yet the Lord faithfully walked with you.

  2. Beautifully written Ulrica. Thank you for sharing so openly, I was blessed!
    “With time, God revealed many a thing and yet some things remain a mystery. But what we do know is that God uses every experience of our lives to do a work in us, to refine and purify us, and He brings together all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.”

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