PEQUOT LAKES – Samantha Evans has published a book, a book she is proud of, but it’s a book she wishes she didn’t have to write.
Evans, who lives in Pequot Lakes with her husband, Clint, and two daughters, Kaylynn, 18 months, and Kelly, 2-1/2 months, suffered two miscarriages before she gave birth to her two girls.
She started writing a book about her grief, “Love Letters to Miscarried Moms,” a week after she suffered her first miscarriage in the fall of 2009. The book was published in May by WestBow Press.
“I wanted to write a book for women who had gone through it,” Evans explained. “I felt they needed something to justify their experience.”
Evans felt at the time she needed such a book. She searched online for books that dealt with grief following a miscarriage, but so many of the authors wrote the book years, even decades, after they went through it. She wanted to read someone’s own raw, personal story, written while they were going through it. She couldn’t find it anywhere, so she wrote it herself, even though she never really aspired to be an author.
Evans is originally from Chicago and attended Northwestern College in Minneapolis where she majored in youth ministry and Bible. She met her husband at the Sonshine Christian music festival in Willmar. They married in 2003 and moved to Chicago for two years. They then moved to Lebanon, Ore., where Evans worked as a church youth minister for five years and her husband worked for Teen Challenge.
They learned she was pregnant in August 2009 and were thrilled. They were excited and told everyone the news. At 3 a.m. on Sept. 27, 2009, when she was eight weeks pregnant, Evans started spotting and cramping. She miscarried in her bathtub that night. It was devastating.
“We had parents’ hearts from the moment we found out, that’s what people didn’t understand,” Evans explained.
She described those first few weeks following her miscarriage as “dark.” She couldn’t bear to be around pregnant women or even children at the church daycare. It was too hard.
“I was so excited about being a mother and it was ripped out of me,” she said. “I went back and forth between being angry and wanting to cry.”
Two weeks after her miscarriage, Evans got pregnant again. Ten weeks later she miscarried again, but the baby had died two weeks earlier. It was another devastating blow to her and her husband.
By May 2010, Evans was cautiously optimistic about her third pregnancy with daughter Kaylynn when she won a first-place award for her book at the Orange County Christian Writers Conference. It gave her the encouragement to get her book published, but she had no idea on how to do that.
She made what she called a “dare prayer” to God. She told God it was up to him to get the book published because she couldn’t do it. That same day, she got a voicemail from a man from WestBow Press, asking if she had her book published and if not, his Christian publishing company would like to publish her book.
Evans was floored.
“To this day I don’t know how this guy got my cell phone number,” Evans said. “I don’t know.”
The book is candid, humorous and, at times, graphic, and meant to help a woman who has just suffered a miscarriage. Evans doesn’t write in the book about becoming pregnant and carrying two successful pregnancies because not everyone is going to get a happy ending in their own lives.
“I needed it to end that way for them,” Evans said, referring to other miscarried moms.
The Evans family moved to the Brainerd lakes area in June 2011 when Clint accepted a position as youth director at Grace United Methodist Church in Pequot Lakes. He is also in college studying to become a minister. Samantha is a stay-at-home mom now, after spending 10 years working in youth ministry.
Even though life is crazy with two under the age of two, Evans feels blessed. But often she tells people she has four children, two here on Earth and two in Heaven.
“It’s very important to acknowledge the babies as real babies because it helps to justify the grief,” Evans explained. “It really happened even if you don’t have a baby to show for it. I have four children, I say that without hesitation.”
Evans, who has experience leading retreats, would like to some day lead weekend retreats for miscarried moms like herself. It would be an opportunity for women to meet other women who have gone through the same thing.
Evans will be speaking Oct. 1 at Lakewood Health System in Staples at an annual memorial service for families that have experienced pregnancy loss.
Some families remember a miscarried or stillborn child by planting a tree; Evans didn’t do anything like that.
“I wrote a book,” she said simply, as she rocked a sleeping Kelly in her arms.
■ JODIE TWEED, a former Brainerd Dispatch reporter, is a freelance writer living in Pequot Lakes. She and her husband, Nels Norquist, have three daughters.