Unraveling Pregnancy Loss

The day after losing my unborn child, I started knitting a scarf. It was for my three year old son and he had selected a pumpkin spice orange yarn–the kind of orange that warms you up when you look at it. He had picked this yarn out well over a year ago, but I had barely started knitting before the project got lost in the shuffle of holiday hubbub. But now, in my helplessness and grief after delivering a baby long before he was ready, I felt a sudden urge to make something–something I knew I could finish. I desperately needed to feel productive while spending most of my time in bed and on the couch so my body could heal. 

I had selected the number of stitches determining the width of the scarf long ago, and as I started to knit, I could see that the scarf would engulf my little guy’s neck and probably his face too. Not only that, but it was so wide that I might not have enough yarn to make it long enough to wrap around his neck securely. But I was stubborn. I kept going. There’d be enough yarn, I kept telling myself, as the soft orange creation got longer and longer. 

But not long enough. 

I had nearly used up my one and only skein of this cozy orange yarn when I tossed the knitting needles aside in frustration. I had indeed made the scarf too wide. I didn’t have enough yarn to finish. I would have to undo a day’s worth of knitting and start over. Tears of failure spilled out in bitter heaves. Why had I so foolishly convinced myself that this would work out? Of course my frustration wasn’t really about the scarf. 

Looking at my silly, simple knitting project, I cried for the baby I so dearly missed. Why couldn’t I hold onto him? Why did he get such a promising start, only to leave the safety of my body long before he could survive? Why didn’t he get to finish growing? What was I supposed to do with my pile of unrealized hopes and dreams for this tiny person? Unlike the scarf though, what happened to my beloved baby wasn’t the result of my stubbornness or negligence. Sure, the evil spirits desperately want me to think it’s my fault. That I somehow did something wrong and caused the miscarriage. But I know it’s not true. I will never understand why this happened, but it did. And, unlike my minor knitting mishap, there was nothing I could do about it. 

I guess that’s why I woke up the next morning with a new resolve to finish what I had started–even if it meant starting over. I wasn’t helpless this time. This time, I could fix things. My unfinished scarf looked so cozy and soft as it was, but I knew it could never serve the purpose it was meant for unless I started again. The thought of undoing my work had devastated me the day before, but now I was at peace with simply slipping the needle out and letting the stitches unravel as I carefully wound the yarn back into a ball. I held that ball in my hands and smiled. It wasn’t a scarf anymore, but it was still that warm orange and so delightfully soft. It was a cozy little ball of potential that was meant to become something new. And as I started knitting again, this time adjusting the width to truly suit my son, I felt hope and a renewed sense of purpose. I could finish this.

The love I have for the baby I lost isn’t gone. It will be with me forever. It just has to take a different shape now. And I trust that whatever good things the Lord helps me do with that love will make the world a little cozier and softer.

“For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139: 13-16

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree,
And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;
And it shall be to the Lord for a name,
For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
Isaiah 55: 10-13

About Justine Buss

Justine Buss and her family are currently based in Pittsburgh. She was born and raised in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania and studied theatre and English at Muhlenberg College. She spent her professional career working with young people in theatre and is now a full time stay at home mom and pastor’s wife. She stays in touch with her theatre roots by directing Christmas and New Church Day pageants, helping with school plays, and taking an improv class. She also enjoys singing, creative writing (including the occasional murder mystery party game), bargain hunting, and going on adventures with her family. She is grateful for the expressive outlet that New Christian Woman provides. It's so good to take the time to reflect on and write about the things that are on our minds and hearts.

21 thoughts on “Unraveling Pregnancy Loss

  1. Oh Justine. I knew this would be beautiful, and the tears are here with the ache for this loss so simply and powerfully articulated.

    I wasn’t expecting just how uplifting it would be. It’s healing to read. And I’m just left in awe of your beautiful, trusting, brave, brave heart. Thank you for finding the words.

    1. I’m so glad it’s as healing for others to read as it was for me to write it. I don’t think I found the words. They found me. I really needed to write this.

  2. A tender and honest story. Thank you for sharing with us. Its a beautiful image. I look forward to seeing that scarf! Xo

  3. BEAUTIFULLY written Justine!! And even more beautifully ‘formed’. It is so lovely to see how you opened your heart and mind to receive insight and healing and how that poured in THROUGH your gifts of creativity. Pretty neat how that works! What a great vessel you are 😊 Sending love and understanding to help carry your grief ❤❤

    1. It absolutely felt like a part of my grieving process that was a gift. These words really came pouring out and it felt really important to share them. Love to you. Your support has always meant so much. You do it so well.

  4. Justine,
    Crying too much to write and I love you. Yes we are all wonderfully wrought and knitted. I’m so glad you are pouring your urge to create into these good things.

  5. Wow, this is amazingly beautiful, heartbreaking, and uplifting at the same time. Thank you for letting us in on your process. I love the metaphor of the scarf, that seems like such a healthy way to acknowledge your loss but also hold your little baby close. I love you and I love him 💕

  6. Dearest Justine,
    Your beautiful words are guided by your trust in the LORD. You are an amazing woman. Thank you for sharing your deep and tender thought process as you grieve for baby boy. Love to you and Jared.

    1. Trusting in the Lord is what gets me through times like this. Thank you for your kind words.

  7. Justina, absolutely beautiful, my dear! I’m so sorry about your loss…I didn’t know. I love to know about New Christian Woman and really admire you finding time to write and publish with everything else going on. Brava!!! Xoxo

    1. It has been a really heartbreaking loss and I’m only two weeks out, but there has been a lot of growth already. Processing this through creative outlets has been so healing. xoxo

  8. Holding you extra tenderly in my thoughts and heart, Justine. I love this quotation from Psalm 139, and have always especially loved the term ‘knitted me together’ in it. What a lovely thing to tie it in with your careful making of something knitted… strong, warm, and protective.

    I think of Lord grieving with you, finding those ravelled ends in your heart, tying them back together…the joins will always be there, always slightly more hard or bumpy than the other knitting around that place, but strong and warm and as protective as the rest of the knitted piece…and as the knitting continues, those ragged ends can be woven back in.

    I was just struck, too, we use the word ‘knitted’ not only in regards to creating something new, but also in regards to broken thing healing. Where a bone was broken and healed, it may be hard and bumpier, and not as straight, but while it heals, or knits back together, for a time, it is immensely stronger than it ever was before…

    Your little one knew only a life of Love on this earth. The Love of you and Jared and family, and the Life of the Lord flowing through him. And it is plain, in this beautiful writing, and to anyone who gets to talk with you or hear your thoughts of love and grief, that there are so many special uses your baby has already performed for the Lord in this world.
    But, oh, how I wish you could have him here with you.

  9. Dear Justine, thank you for writing in the midst of your loss. I am so sorry to hear of your heartache. Your words….my goodness! Your insight is truly, truly helpful. I once wondered why the world didn’t stop in the midst of our losses – but I realised that the small, material things that we have to do to keep us and our family’s bodies alive on this wonderful chaotic planet, are what keep us going when we feel like we can’t. And they help us even when they feel intrusive.And also how we still have to have wisdom to do this…undoing your scarf and measuring it properly… I guess they are given as a help. I especially love your words about your love still being there and how you can use it for good…Wow, thank you. I think love is like energy: it can’t be destroyed, just changed and moved.

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