Please join us in welcoming Jenna to Mama Might!
It was Friday, November 20th, 2009. I was sitting in an unfamiliar school gymnasium with my almost 2 year-old daughter and about 200 strangers. We were in line for her to receive the second part of the H1N1 vaccine. I had only brought one snack, raisins, and within 20 seconds of opening the container, they were spilled on the floor. I think the number we were given was something in the 90’s. We had hours of waiting ahead of us. The lovely lady beside me, a few decades my senior, graciously traded with me so that our turn would come sooner. She also gave my little girl a granola bar. God bless her. I remember getting up at one point to go to the water fountain and that’s when I knew something wasn’t right. There was no gush of blood. There was no pain. But I knew something was wrong. The rest of the wait was a blur, my little girl got her vaccine and we came home. I went to the bathroom and my worries were confirmed. I was bleeding at 12 weeks pregnant.
I talked myself out of worrying too much because I had friends who had experienced similar symptoms at the same point in their pregnancies and everything turned out fine. Unlike with my first pregnancy, I had chosen to be followed by a doctor instead of a midwife. As far as I knew, there was no one to call about my condition on a Friday night. I decided to wait until Monday and call my doctor.
That weekend at mass, I remember thinking “this could be my last time receiving communion with this baby in me.” I felt sad and worried, but tried to remind myself not to worry until I knew there was a real reason to be concerned.
The Monday morning, I went in to see my doctor. I don’t remember most of the details of this day. There was a lot of waiting in between moments pregnant with worry and grief. They gave me an appointment for an ultrasound. ”Are you sure of your dates?” she asked. “Hmm” she said. She didn’t smile. Neither did I. We were brought to a room in Emergency to wait. I cried the whole time. After what felt like hours, a doctor came in. Upon seeing me, she said “I guess you already know…[very. long. pause]…there’s no baby.” I felt pain. I felt angry that she would tell me in this way. There was no compassion, no empathy….just an assumption that I already knew. And then she said we could stay as long as we needed to and she left. And I cried. I cried out. Loud. I had never felt, nor have I since, such deep physical, emotional and spiritual pain. I already knew that I had lost the baby. I really didn’t need her to tell me, but hearing the words “there’s no baby”….it not only seemed like the worst way to tell me, but it ripped away any shred of hope I had left to hold onto that maybe everything was fine. I don’t know how long we stayed. Thinking back, it could have been minutes or hours that I sat there and cried. I have no memory of leaving or driving home. My only memory from when we arrived home was calling my best friend, and sobbing “she said there’s no baby” into the phone. My friend said the right thing, whatever it may have been. I kept crying.
Later that evening, I remember thinking “this was God’s plan for this baby…for our family. I truly believe this.” I don’t remember telling anyone else what had happened (but searching my email account today, I can see that I sent out a message letting my friends know what had happened). I don’t remember anything from the rest of that night or the following day. I do remember not saying a single prayer for
the rest of the week. And I also remember the immeasurable amount of grace and faith that was poured into me throughout the following days – thanks to the countless prayers of others, I presume.
I have always had an easy time with faith. From the moment (while listening to a Chris Rice song) I realized there were people in the world who knew God personally, I just knew I could trust in His plan. Suffering a miscarriage was the first time I guess you could say my faith was tested. It didn’t really feel like a test, though. It just felt like an opportunity to confirm what I already believed.
In the days that followed, I received many emails and phone calls from people expressing their condolences. One friend emailed a link to this prayer which played a huge role in our healing process. After reading it, I began to see our miscarriage less as a cross to bear and more as blessing for which to give thanks. We had – we have – a child in Heaven. She (we believe our baby is a girl) stands before our Heavenly Father. She prays for us, her family still on earth. We will be united one day and every day until then we can look forward with hope to meeting this little soul who has gone ahead to our forever home.
It was somewhat startling to move from the depths of grief and pain to the heights of healing and hope and gratitude in such a short span of time. I am forever grateful for the power of our praying family and friends – I have no doubt that they carried us through those hardest days. I am forever grateful for those who reached out in the weeks that followed and expressed their condolences. We had experienced a great loss, and I appreciated those who acknowledged it. But we soon learned that we were blessed with an even greater gain. I weep with gratitude at the memory of developing a clearer understanding of what it means to have an eternal perspective. To know that I am called to live my life on earth as a gift knowing that the greatest treasure will be found when I leave this world and move onto the next – and I have an extra special gift waiting for me, there.
Jenna Gernon is a wife and stay-at-home mom living in a [very] small town outside of Ottawa, Ontario. Her faith journey was jump-started the day she listened to Chris Rice’s Clumsy; she joined the Catholic Church in 2004. Jenna has a passion for photography and loves having her children as live-in subjects. She jumps at the chance to take photos for others and is always looking at the world around her as potential photo shoot locations. Aside from photography, she loves all things crafty, cooking good food, being with her family and friends and soaking in Canada’s four beautiful seasons.