I need advice


I need some advice.

My five-year-old son is having nightmares.

It started last week after we found out that we’re having a boy. As you can imagine, he’s ecstatic to be having a brother. Absolutely thrilled.

But that excitement has lead to the nightmares. As I told y’all awhile back, I had a late miscarriage last July. My daughter didn’t really understand what was going on, but my son did. He had lots of questions. Why wasn’t the baby in mommy’s tummy anymore? Why did Jesus take a little baby to heaven? Would he ever meet his brother or sister? We worked through it. We talked to him about how Jesus is the only sure thing in life– and how by trusting in Jesus’s plan, we can have peace. Slowly, he started to forget. The questions went away. The tears stopped.

But now, with last week’s ultrasound as the catalyst, he’s started to have nightmares about Jesus taking this baby– the brother he’s so excited about. He’s woken up nearly every night for a week, in tears, scared that Jesus has taken his brother to heaven. He’s come down and asked me if we can go back to the doctor and check to make sure he’s still moving, that his little heart is still beating.

It’s heartbreaking.

And I’m not sure how to help him. We pray together, we talk about trusting Jesus, we talk about God’s promises, but he’s five years old and the reality is that he’s superexcited about his baby brother– and superscared that something is going to happen.

Any advice? How should I deal with this?

43 Comments

  1. Oh my…this breaks my heart. As I've had 2 miscarriages, my 4yo daughter doesn't completely understand what happened to those babies (it didn't phase her too much).

    As for your son, maybe he could make something for the baby. Like a special project he will give to his brother. It will give him something to look forward to, knowing he has a present for the baby and distract him from his fears for now.

    Other than reassurance and prayer, I'm not really sure.

  2. This is so sad. I had a miscarriage when my oldest was four and at eleven, he still asks occasionally about that sibling he almost had. The effect on him is much more profound than I would have imagined.

    I think you are doing everything right. It is just something you have to walk through together and how blessed he is to have you to hold him through it. Soon, the baby will be born, and ashes will be replaced with beauty.

  3. Oh that IS heartbreaking. It is so difficult when we want to reassure our kids by giving them definite answers and we can't. Perhaps sharing your own fears and feelings with him would help, so he knows those feelings are normal and shared. But I agree that the best thing is to keep doing what you are doing – honor his feelings and comfort him as best you can.

  4. I second Julie's advice. Our daughter is 20 now, but she was always a "Why?" kind of child. When things came up for which I had no answer, such as her questions at six years old following the death of my beloved mother-in-law ("Why did God take Grandmother Home?"), I shared some of my distilled thoughts and feelings. Knowing I felt some of the same things she did seemed to help.

    Another thing that might help is taking your bright little guy to the doctor's office and asking the doctor to take a minute to tell your son that this baby looks nice and healthy. If you have an understanding doctor who would do this, it might help ease some of your son's anxiety. Just a thought.

  5. I think you're doing exactly the right thing: Praying and talking with him – letting him hear where you're at with it, and that there's a consistent message of trust.

    We're raising little lives that will one day be big lives. If we're faithful and trusting and keep that message strong, our little ones will grow into big boys who do the same.

    I'm so sorry you have to face this (again). I've had a miscarriage and pregnancy afterwards is not the same.

    I pray for you and your little boy to feel the Lord's comfort with you all day – to be certain that His plan is for the best and you can trust it. And to be encouraged by lots of lovely friends who know that truth also.

    God bless!

    2 Corinthians 1:3-4
    "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us."

  6. I am so, so sorry, Erin. That is so tough. I had a miscarriage when my girls were 4 and almost 3. My younger daughter cried every night for a month, "I miss my baby sisssssssster!" It was heart-wrenching. But I got pregnant again 6 weeks later, and for whatever reason, she didn't show any fear of us losing this baby. (And she got her sister!)

    She's 8 now and one of the most loving, nurturing, baby-loving girls I know. God has given her a sensitive heart that I love (even if it's hard to handle sometimes).

    All that to say I will pray for your sweet little boy. Keep doing what you're doing. Ask God to speak comfort straight to his little heart.

    Hugs to you both!

  7. Erin, I was so focused on giving you advice earlier that I neglected to express my sorrow at your loss, and I apologize for that. Having suffered a miscarriage that ended my first pregnancy, I share in your sense of loss. I'm sorry for what you've been through and ask God to comfort you when thoughts of that child come to mind.

    I also understand the anxiety that can occur during subsequent pregnancies as a result of having experienced a miscarriage. May the Lord calm your heart as well as your son's, and may He guard over the precious child growing inside you.

  8. Maybe find a Scripture about fear or being afraid that he can memorize? The Word of God is the Word of God, and it will encourage him. When my oldest was 4 or 5 she was having nightmares (there wasn't a real life catalyst like you are dealing with, though.) But I would tell her to repeat after me, "God hasn't given me a Spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind." 2 Tim 1:7 We talked about how God didn't want us to be afraid and that no matter what God was with us.

    I'm not sure how much she actually *got* and how much of it was just the power of Scripture working on her little spirit, but it did seem to help.

    This is a very difficult situation! I will pray for God to give you wisdom as how to best comfort your son!

  9. Have you prayed together about it? Or maybe could your pastor maybe give some comforting words?

  10. Dear Erin, You've received such words of encouragement and advice already, I can't really add anything new, except the perspective that you and your son still have that baby brother or sister aiting for them forever in heaven. I know this isn't news, but it comforts me to think of my two precious souls who, without a doubt, will be waiting to hug my neck the moment I step over the threshold into their heavenly world. I don't have to fret over their salvation…just over the four other little people on this earth with me now. I honestly don't know which job is harder: healing from loss in this life, or preparing life in this world for the next. Both require abundant Grace. May God bless you as you seek His face and wisdom.

  11. I wish I had some wisdom, but I don't. Thinking of you, Erin.

    Your son is an absolute doll. Prayers for him.

  12. I have one idea, it could be good or bad, but I'll throw it out there: Maybe this would be a good time to teach him about how a baby grows inside of your tummy? You know, show him the ultrasound picture? I know there are some neat in-utero (sp?) baby pictures you could find somewhere. Maybe see other pictures of his cousins' ultrasounds? Talk about what is happening now?

    I apologize if this is a really bad idea. I honestly don't have any experience with this. It sounds like you're doing the right thing.

  13. I would use the caterpillar, cocoon and butterfly as an example. When my girls were little, they found a cocoon. They were so eager to see the butterfly come out of it that they decided to open up the cocoon ahead of time. They were disappointed that a butterfly didn't fly out. It gave me a chance to talk to them about how living things need time to grow and to become healthy. It takes awhile but the time is good because the longer the time, the healthier it is.

    Maybe doing a baby advent calendar that you can help open each day would help him to celebrate the milestones.

    I'm praying that the nightmares disappear.

  14. Poor little guy. He sounds a lot like Bailey, although I guess she was too young with my 2 miscarriages because she doesn't ever talk about them. I think you're doing the right thing, and letting him feel your belly or looking at the ultrasound pictures are a good idea. There's also a home heart monitor thing that might help…so he can listen to the heartbeat. Hope he feels better soon! Hugs, Rachel

  15. Oh dear, I have never run into this but I really think you are doing what is best. I did like the idea of sharing more with him about the child's growth once you are far enough along. I never had a miscarriage and I can imagine it would be devastating and for a child too.

  16. Prayers to you. I've never experienced this before either; I think it's difficult enough for an adult to grasp, let alone a child. It may just take time (I know, that's hard when there are nightmares involved!). Maybe focusing on something totally different right before bedtime, like a storybook NOT related to babies or brothers and sisters? So that the last thing he goes to sleep with is a good, affirming thought and/or emotion. Most of all, pray. God bless!

  17. Erin, this post brought tears to my eyes. I'm sorry for that difficult aspect of pregnancy, both for you and for your son. I had two miscarriages when my daughter was 4. It was a blessing that they were both early, so I didn't have to tell her anything. (I had deliberately avoided informing her about each pregnancy in case that happened.) But when it's late, it's all so much harder. This too shall pass.

  18. I'm so sorry about your miscarriage last summer, Erin. And my mommy/grammy heart just hurts for your little guy. It sounds like fear has really gripped his heart. I highly recommend personalizing scripture verses by inserting his name into them and praying it together. I'd start with Psalm 91. (I did this when our oldest went into Baghdad at the beginning of Operation Iraqi freedom, and his baby sister [our youngest] just went nuts with fear.)

    I don't know why God has entrusted this pain to you and your son, but I have to believe He will use it for good one day. One thing I taught my kids at an early age was "Sometimes God says 'No'". They came to understand through heartache, disappointment and death that sometimes God chooses a way we just don't understand. It helped us talk it through and learn to trust God in spite of things not turning out the way we wanted or hoped.

    "Lord, I lift up Erin's little boy and pray that you will grant him the peace of God that passes all understanding. Grant him great grace to trust you and block every tormenting fear. In the name of Jesus, Amen."

  19. Erin,
    I am so sorry for your loss, but so excited for your newest blessing. I will be praying that the Lord gives you wisdom. I liked Julie's advice about Psalm 91. I have prayed this Psalm often and found comfort that comes straight from our Father in Heaven. May it comfort your precious crew as well!
    BTW, don't worry about names and completed nurseries. As my mom loves to say, "just let it unfold!" (I am a planner and tend to get really stressed when everything isn't DONE.) Things will fall together in their timing. I will pray that the Lord keeps you in perfect peace!
    Blessings

  20. I am so sorry that your son is going through this, but you are doing everything right, me thinks. You are helping him through this transition so well. I love the earlier commenter's idea of taking him along with you to a doctor's appointment where he can hear the heartbeat and hear from a white-coated expert's mouth that all is great with baby! Maybe that new experience and information will give him something new to fixate on to help break the bad dreams cycle.

    (BTW, we're having a girl. I hope our babies get married!)

  21. This is a tough one. You have some excellent suggestions from other readers. I don't know what to suggest. Most of the ideas I have are for older kids; I'd be afraid to suggest it for one so young. God's blessings upon you, the baby, and your whole family.wb

  22. Erin, I had a similar thing when I carried my third. We borrowed a stethoscope from a Dr friend, and my son listened to his sister every morning and every night. Gradually I managed to get it to every other night, until he could feel the baby kicking.

    I hope your little one gets on OK.

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