Part 2 of 4: Miscarriage


It seems like a lot of our readers are grappling with the ‘when is the best time to have children’ question, especially since this season of life seems to be the perfect time to start a family. But – what if life doesn’t work out that way?

Over the next couple of months, we’ll follow 4 different graduate wives through their journeys of infertility, miscarriage, and adoption. If you are facing any of the above, or know a graduate wife who is, we hope you will find their stories encouraging and supportive.  ~Mandy and MC

Grief is the price we pay for love. –Queen Elizabeth II

I opened the front door of our flat, stepping into a sunlit breezeway. Rays of sunshine danced across my face as I turned to lock the door.  From the stairs below, the laughter of my son and husband floated through the air like snowflakes on cold winter’s day.

It was the start of a perfect day, my 35th birthday. The outside air was crisp, so I tightened the scarf around my neck. I climbed onto my bike, knowing I would spend the next 15 minutes happily peddling, attempting to keep up with my two favorite men. “Mummy!” chided my 2 year-old son, “Keep up with us!”

I was 10 weeks pregnant with our second child. It was something I had waited for and dreamed of for a long time. My heart brimmed with joy at the thought of a new little life in our house. For me, it was another dream on my graduate wife ‘pause’ shelf that was finally being fulfilled.

When we arrived at our destination, I excused myself to the bathroom.  There was blood. I felt my stomach lurch.

I knew this day was going to end a lot differently than it had started.


I’ve thought a lot about that day over the past few months.  I remember the glorious morning joy. I remember the deep evening sadness. I remember relishing the warmth of the sun on my face, a rarity in February. I remember my husband and I eating in complete silence while celebrating my birthday dinner at my favorite restaurant. I remember walking home, our fingers intertwined, both of us hollowed eyed and emotionless. I remember feeling alive with life. I remember feeling the sting of death. I remember feeling everything. I remember feeling nothing.

I don’t want to remember anything about that day. Yet, I find myself wanting to remember everything about that day.


I’ve mentioned in the past that one of my biggest sacrifices on this graduate wife journey has been motherhood. My husband and I were a bit older when we started school, and made the decision together to postpone having children until we were further along in his program. I knew it then and now that it was the right decision for us. However, it did not diminish the desire I had to have a family. It just meant I had to become really great at waiting.

When we finally decided it was the right time for us, it happened quickly. It seemed like a blink of an eye before our little Jack-Jack made his entrance into this world on his own terms, 15 days past his due date.  I figured when we were ready to try for a second child, it would be as simple.

Instead, my carefully laid plans were thwarted at every turn by life circumstances. One month of waiting turned into three months; then three months of waiting turned into six months. Finally, my husband and I decided we needed to take a break.  Another pause. Another dream shattered.

Many months later, you can imagine our elation when we found out we were expecting our second child. You can also imagine our devastation when we found out that child was no longer alive. It was a heartbreaking moment.

As I walked through this, all around me dear friends of mine were announcing pregnancies, glowing with the anticipation of their new arrivals. I found it difficult to watch these dear friends of mine living my unattainable dream. I found it even more difficult sharing in their excitement.  It was an incredibly dark and lonely time.

Being the type of person who always takes time to reflect back on difficult seasons of life, selfishly to glean any type of wisdom for future seasons, I have spent hours wondering what pearls of wisdom I am supposed to learn from all of this, especially in relation to the graduate wife life. To be honest, I don’t have much of a clear answer to share with you, and I probably never will. I do know from others and my own experience that miscarriage is a very private, personal thing, and every woman deals with it differently.  However, I do want to share a few things that have helped me process my grief, and maybe they’ll help you also, whether you are the one going through the miscarriage, or mourning with a dear friend who is.

Cherish your friends. Going through something this traumatic away from family was hard. Really hard. Our friends, who are our family in our graduate life, loved on us in ways I never expected. Each one of them used their creativity, tears, laughter, love, and good food to nourish our family’s physical and emotional needs. They genuinely mourned with us. I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about the importance of community, and especially now, I have a deeper understanding of why it’s so important to have that in place where you live.  And, you can be sure when they go through a difficult time, I’ll be there to reciprocate.

Find a miscarriage buddy.  It sounds hokey, but it’s helped me immensely. My buddy is a dear friend in California who has had two miscarriages. Even with the eight-hour time difference, we find time to speak to each other regularly. She’s been my go-to person when I’ve found out another friend is pregnant, when I’ve fallen a-part on the inside after having to hold a friend’s newborn, when I express anger that life hasn’t turned out the way I thought I deserved, or when I fear trying to have another baby because I’m afraid I’ll miscarry again. She has provided for me a safe place of love and protection to process my grief, and she has also given me reason to hope. I am supremely thankful for her.

Explore your faith.  My faith has definitely played a huge part of my healing process. Don’t get me wrong, there were and still are days where I hate God for allowing this to happen to my husband and me.  And for once, I’m not ashamed to admit that.  As I’ve worked through my seething anger, disappointment, and loss, I’ve found it’s strengthened my faith and resolve, and through it all, I know and feel God still loves me and wants the best for me. During my absolute worst moments, I have an image stamped on my heart of our child sitting in God’s lap, in perfect peace. Somehow, that brings me enormous comfort. I realize not everyone shares the same religious beliefs I do, so if you have a different faith, I implore you to find a way for your faith to comfort you during this difficult season.

Seek a counselor.   I know I am a very strong person. I also know I am an internal processor. That can be a dangerous combination, especially when it comes to dealing with traumatic life events. I tend to think I am fine for months, then something (often small) will trigger a massive outburst of anger or I’ll handle a situation in an unfavourable way. It usually takes that to happen for me to realize I’m not doing as well as I think I am. With my miscarriage, it was unfortunately an angry outburst directed at someone who didn’t deserve it. I was frightened by my reaction, because I felt like I had been doing a fair bit of processing with friends. So I decided to see a counselor. She objectively helped me articulate a lot of ideas and thoughts running through my heart and head. It reduced my anxiety, cleared my head, and helped me feel a bit more grounded. So, take time to see a professional who can help you process your own grief and loss. Friends can often do this, but I think having an objective opinion from an outsider can sometimes make all the difference in the world.

Love your family. Every minute of every day. My husband and I have been together nearly ten years. I can honestly say I have never loved him more than I did the week of our miscarriage.  He didn’t leave my side. It has also made me appreciate the gift of love in our son. His crazy boy antics and boundless toddler energy have been a huge source of delight for me. He has, on more than one occasion, turned our sorrow into joy.  If it turns out that he is to be our only child, then I know we have been blessed beyond measure, and I am at peace with that.

The giant, gaping hole that February left in our lives has slowly started to heal. I still have hard days on occasion, but I am finding that there is more time between floods of tears, true happiness and joy for friends with new babies, and contentment for where life has currently placed us. I feel like I’ve been given a choice: I can let a difficult season of life, like miscarriage, define me, or I can let it be a defining moment in my life. I would much rather the loss of our child be part of who I am, instead of who I am, especially if it allows me to emphatically love and empathize with another person on this bittersweet journey of life.


If you or someone you love has experienced a miscarriage, what will or are you currently doing to see them through this time?

Beauty and the Budget

Beauty & the Budget: Easter DIY

Spring has sprung in Oxford!  My heart feels lighter and my spirits are up as I find myself surrounded by daffodils and tulips and warm sunny picnics in the meadow.  I think I can understand the urgency in Robert Browning’s poem “Home-Thoughts, From Abroad”, (penned while he was traveling) when he begins with, “Oh, to be in England, Now that April’s there”.  The spring landscape is indeed something to yearn for.

This season presents images for us that have a way of calling us to stop, to marvel and to reflect.  To reflect upon the beauty of new beginnings and to appreciate the simpleness of things such as robin’s eggs and budding flowers.  Spring has a way of reminding us to savor moments a little longer…by lingering in the sunshine or having a meal on a blanket outside.  For me, Easter is the highlight of this time of year…a time for me to reflect upon my faith and to celebrate the beautiful gift of hope that seems to bud forth in my heart anew.

To celebrate this season I found a few lovely DIY treats online and put in a few of my own as well. Don’t worry about going over budget and enjoy making your space feel fresh and decked out for Easter and spring!

a. fabric scrap cards

b. paint sample egg garland

c. tissue paper and parsley eggs

d. bunny napkin fold


e. Homemade chocolate eggs

f. easy chocolate bird nests

g. family doilie table runner

h. decoupage pots

Balanced Life? · Faith

What Does a Balanced Life Look Like? III (Faith)


The below question and responses were compiled by fellow graduate wife reader, Laura Lee.  She surveyed several women on the journey and is sharing with us their answers. You can see her original post here, where she outlines her journey towards discovering the answers of a ‘balanced’ life during this season of being a graduate wife and beyond. This is part III of the ‘What does a balanced life look like?’ series.  Enjoy!

2) If developing and deepening your faith is important to you, how do you find time to do that with jobs, families, and supporting your grad student spouse? When do you take time and what do you do during that time?

  • Devotional time – this one has suffered greatly since my son’s birth. I used to put enormous pressure on myself about spending time reading my Bible, praying, etc…to the point where I was getting no sleep trying to do it all, and feeling like a bad mother and horrible wife, and frankly, that was true. I spoke to a mentor of mine – who has 5 grown adult children – and she basically said, “God extends grace to mothers.” For whatever reason, that put a new spin on things for me, and I didn’t look at it as such a chore. So now, I look for pockets of time in the day to reflect and pray – I find my runs to be a good time for that – and I usually read my Bible at night before I go to bed. And, by serving my family, I am serving God. I’m finding that God is meeting me right where I am in this current season of life – he sends little nuggets of truth my way all the time. I also listen to sermons when I run as well.


  • I am far better at making time to run than to spend time with the Lord (I am willing myself not to delete that comment). That being said, I have found that my most ‘centered’ times are when I am running, so I will often listen to readings or sermons while running. Here are two sites I frequent for sermons:Tim Keller’s free sermons and Lyle Dorsett’s sermons (an old prof). Also, I enjoy using a study or commentary to guide my reading, like Tom Wright’s ‘for everyone’ series. I’m a school girl at heart, so I love filling in blanks and completing lists. It’s always been easier for me to read during the evening sometime, even though I’ve always wished it was the morning.


  • I try to spend time with the Lord throughout my day.  I am the queen of “breath-prayers” which are just a sentence or two speaking to God.  It has been a challenge for me to have a set “quiet time” with the Lord where I’m not praying and doing something else…but it looks like I’m not alone.  I tend to pray in the shower and when I’m on walks with my son, or on the treadmill.  I also like to listen to sermons from our church back home when my son is napping.  My husband and I recently decided that we are going to spend an hour in the evenings, after our son goes to bed, reading the bible and praying together.  We used to do it before our son was born and started it up again.  I love the Psalms and Proverbs and enjoy reading those before I go to bed.
  • I think I’ve mentioned this before but I am NOT a morning personal by nature.  Morning is not the best, freshest time for me to give a chunk of my time and attention to God.  So I often do this before bed (assuming I’m not passing out on my pillow exhausted from the day!)  Occasionally, and this is my favorite way to do this, I make myself a cup of tea and spend my daughter’s nap time reading/in prayer.  But mostly I just pray about 800 times a day… trying to include God in each small choice I make (and attitude I assume) all throughout each day.  My husband and I always pray together before we drift off to sleep.  I’m not big into ‘devotional’ style books but I do enjoy reading and there are lots of good books out there which challenge me to read the Bible in fresh, deeper ways and cause me to hear God’s voice in new ways too.
  • Someone talked to me about ‘seasons’ when my first son was little bitty baby and I have to say that was the single best piece of knowledge I got about having kids and being on a graduate student schedule/lifestyle. Life comes at you in seasons and having little kids in your home is a season like none other! I can remember amazing times with the Lord sitting on my steps in our little flat in Cambridge while I was breastpumping in the middle of the night. BREASTPUMPING!!! As my friends in East Texas might say, ‘Who’da thunk it?’!   Regarding seasons, I do have to say about a year ago, when my last one was 2’ish, I realized that I was out of the ‘baby season’ but that my time with the Lord hadn’t progressed past that season. So I kind of had to kick start myself since I realized I was beginning to have more time to invest in spiritual disciplines again.   I’m a one book at a time kind of girl. I love to be absorbed in a good book and I read, read, read until I finish it. I find this is how I like to do my Bible study. Whatever we’re studying in church or my Monday Mums group, I like to just bury myself in it. So for example right now, I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into Isaiah as we go through the book in church. My husband is a biblical scholar so he will give me a good book to go along with whatever I happen to be into at the time and it helps me through the hard bits or historical stuff.  Also, I’m not really a ‘doer’ but more of a ‘be-er’, so I find passages like John 15 where Jesus tells us to ‘abide in Him’ really encouraging. I just want to be connected to Jesus. I want to interact with him, complain to him, talk in my head to him and rest with/in him. But I also want to be stretched by him. I’ve been learning over the last couple of years to allow the Holy Spirit to use my spiritual gifts in ways that I know are not my own ideas. Often times I find it really easy to operate while using my natural gifts. I even find it energizes me. But I’ve been praying that God would use my gifts (hospitality, mercy and giving) in supernatural ways to benefit his people and his kingdom. Last year I felt urged to call a friend and tell her I was bringing them dinner one night. I knew she was pregnant (and due soon) but I had no idea all 3 of her children had had the stomach bug and that she hadn’t slept in 3 nights! That meal was like a love letter to her from God. Then there was a time I felt God lead me to buy one of my best friends back in the states some make-up. I obeyed (with trepidation wondering how I was going to explain to my husband why I spent $80 on make-up for my friend miles and miles away), but then was astounded that she (who’s hubby is doing a PhD and they are on an extremely tight budget) had been praying specifically that God would send her some new make-up! My husband couldn’t argue with that! In fact, he rejoiced with me that his hard-earned money was used by God to love on our friend.  Sorry, that was kind of a tangent, but I’m very relational and to see my relationship with the Lord benefiting others is a real motivating factor for me.