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STORIES | miscarriage

Six times they felt the excitement and joy that came with the positive pregnancy tests. Two times they brought their precious children home.

When Jerred and Kerrie Unruh started expanding their family in 2009 with the birth of their firstborn, Titus, a future journey of miscarriage wasn’t what they expected. But just a year later, the couple was ushered into a road of pain, loss, grief and surrender that would span the next four years.

The Unruhs, with a 1-year-old, looked excitedly into the future as they planned for the arrival of their second child. Those dreams were cut short at the end of the first trimester, as Kerrie experienced her first loss.

The physical pain was excruciating, Kerrie said, revealing that it was the worst pain she had ever felt, in every way.

Following that loss, the Unruhs welcomed home their second-born, Elli.

“There was much fear and hope and joy during that pregnancy,” Jerred and Kerrie said. “We were so grateful.”
The Unruhs: Kerrie, Titus, Elli, Jerred (courtesy photo; 2012)

After Elli, the losses continued.

Both Jerred and Kerrie said they felt a mix of sadness, anger, frustration and fear as they mourned each loss.

“Life--your child--is gone no matter what stage of pregnancy you are in,” Kerrie said. “The physical pain varies, but the emotional pain is hard no matter when the loss occurs.”

Jerred said he felt a sense of helplessness as he walked with his wife through the experience.

“[I felt] helpless--to have words of comfort, to stop the pain, to sustain life,” he said.

Kerrie added: “Jerred was very supportive, even when he didn’t know what to do he was always with me. Praying for me, holding my hand, rubbing my back.”

And the couple remained close through every loss.

An Emergency

Added to the pain and grief of losing subsequent children, Kerrie’s life also hung in the balance after losing her third child.

With Jerred away at a youth conference for his job as a youth pastor, Kerrie was at church with her children when she knew something was wrong. She had thought her miscarriage was over, but the pain started again during the church service. 

Blessedly, a nurse from the congregation named Janie took Kerrie home and stayed with her as Jerred rushed home. Janie later took Kerrie to the emergency room where it was discovered that she had retained placenta from the earlier loss.

“Janie probably saved Kerrie’s life that day by being there to help,” Jerred said. “Kerrie was losing so much blood, and was so scared.” 

Closing the Door

The couple tried one more time to add another child to their family. 

“We were in Denver at a conference when I found out we were expecting for the sixth time,” Kerrie said. “There was a band--For All Seasons--that we were introduced to that weekend that had some songs (“High Above it All” and “Give Me Faith”) that were very meaningful to me during that last pregnancy and subsequent loss.”

They said: “After our fourth miscarriage, we made the decision to stop trying to have another child. Our hearts could not bear losing another baby. And the physical strain and risk to Kerrie’s body was too much.”

A Surrendered Faith

Even so--even within the heartache and grief of their four miscarriages and the decision to quit trying to conceive--Jerred and Kerrie kept reminding each other that nothing was meaningless--that it wasn’t a mistake, that it was doing something, as 2 Cor 4:17-18 reminded them:

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Kerrie found comfort in the Psalms, never doubting God’s sovereignty or goodness; Jerred found himself rehearsing Romans 8:28-31:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Though Kerrie said she found herself wondering why, the couple clung to their faith in a sovereign God. 

“He is good all the time, even when we don’t understand,” they said. “And it’s ok to ask Him why. Learning to say ‘even if you don’t’ is hard, but is key in submitting to His will.”

In the depths of miscarriage, they “learned anew that He is close to the brokenhearted. The truth that God gives and takes away became real.”

“I felt peace in the midst of heart-wrenching pain and loss,” Kerrie said. “Which perhaps seemed odd to others, but I felt His presence surrounding me. It feels hard to explain the peace I experienced in the midst of such pain. But at my lowest, the grace and love of Jesus, the comfort of the Spirit and knowing the goodness and sovereignty of the Father became so sweet.”

Jerred agreed: “In the years to follow, I began to realize that my faith is not based on circumstance in life, but in the finished work of Christ. I can now look back and see our miscarriages in the light of this truth.”

And as Jerred and Kerrie look back on this time in their lives, they can also see how God used that time to shape them for things that would come later and give them a biblical foundation for God’s sanctifying purposes in suffering.

“Over the past few years our lives have taken some twists and turns and we are still saying--and learning to say again--You are good, Your will be done,” they said. “We’ve seen throughout our marriage that God has never failed us, and we have purposed not to be like the Israelites who continually forgot what the Lord had done for them.”

And with that in mind, Jerred and Kerrie said they continue to learn God's purposes in suffering. 

“We are more aware that nothing is wasted,” they said. “No experience that God has allowed is without purpose. We trust Him more fully and are secure in Him.”

Even when the couple wrestled with guilt--wondering what they could have done differently to prevent the losses--they continued to come back to surrender to God’s sovereignty and the belief that He can bring beauty from their pain. 

“Something that the Lord has taught me throughout my life is to hope in him--through disappointments and ups and downs in relationships, jobs, finances--and this was renewed even through miscarriage,” Kerrie said. “My hope doesn’t lie in others, in having another child, though yes, it was always hope for this new life torn away. Ultimately, I trust that He is my hope, in life and death.”

October is miscarriage and infant loss awareness month. For 1 in 4 pregnancies, loss is a reality. If pregnancy and/or infant loss is part of your story, please know you aren’t alone.

Around the blog:
More reading on miscarriage 

Kerrie's song references:
High Above it All
Give Me Faith

Foreknown Ministries is a new online community (official launch date Oct. 15) formed by two moms who recently lost their children. "We are an online community of people who have experienced pregnancy loss. We strive to create a safe place that provides encouragement, strength and hope for those walking this journey," said Kelsi Cole, co-founder. The ministry will host a retreat in the fall of 2019. To join, follow these links: Facebook / Instgram 

The “Stories” series was largely influenced by Jerad C. Wilson’s book “Gospel Wakefulness.” In the book, Wilson defines his terms this way: "gospel wakefulness means treasuring Christ more greatly and savoring his power more sweetly [than before]" OR "an experience of such power--of such awakening--that it persists and endures, settling deep into the heart and the conscience of a believer that it carries through all emotional highs and lows." In keeping with those definitions, I have tried to write the articles in the “Stories” series to encourage the body to testify to the power Christ has in our daily lives by sharing our individual stories of Gospel wakefulness.

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