Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I'm moving forward from loss

I was in the kitchen. I moved to the side as my husband opened the oven to pull out a pan of chicken.

"You know, I'll just be glad when I'm out of the first trimester."

"Why's that?"

"Then I'll feel better with knowing that these are just the regular pregnancy aches and pains and the chances of a miscarriage will go down." We had found out just a few days before that baby number two was on the way, and according to my calculations, I was between 5 and 7 weeks into the first trimester.

He sat the pan on the oven and pulled me into his arms. "But you have to know that even if we do have a miscarriage and God allows for that to happen, we'll be okay."

"I know we will," I said. "I would just be devastated." I paused as my throat choked up a bit from the thought. "This is a little different from when we had Naomi. That time it was kinda surprising and we weren't really planning on it, and there were so many mixed emotions on my end. This time we talked about it and stuff, so I was, well I am so excited! So I would just hate for something to happen."

He hugged me a little tighter. "I know you would babe, and I would too, but we have to keep remembering that God is always in control. He works out everything for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away--"

"Blessed be the name of the Lord. I know, babe."

"We'll be okay, babe. We'll be okay."


This was the night before I miscarried our second child.

The morning started off normal enough. Jeremiah went off to work, and I rested a bit longer because I wasn't feeling too well. And by rested a bit longer, I mean that once Naomi woke up at 7-7:30am, I fed her, changed her, and brought her back to bed with me. I willed her to sleep (yes, willed) and finally got more rest myself.

I woke up cramped.

Naomi woke up too, so I fed her again, and we started our day. Down the stairs, into the living room, pulled out the books and the toys. She laughed and played and I used her distraction as a moment to finally go to the restroom. What I saw looked different, and even though I didn't really know, I already knew.

I had no time to think about it, because as I headed down the flight of stairs, I was shocked to find that my 7 month old daughter had climbed halfway up the steps! (When did she learn to do this!!?) Bathroom trip forgotten, I thought not of my unborn baby, but only of the child who had already exited my womb and stood before me on the staircase with wide, wondering eyes. I calmly went down and snatched her up, praising the Lord that my little girl hadn't fallen backwards onto the wood floor. Gate time!

With Naomi safely in my arms, my mind turned back to the bathroom trip, and I picked up the phone to call my husband. "I should probably go to the doctor," I said. "Or the ER, since they'll probably send me there anyway."

Fast-forward and the husband is home, and we're sitting on the couch, and I'm on the phone with a nurse who says, Well I may as well wait until my already-set doctor's appointment the next day, because if I was having a miscarriage, there was nothing I could do. Gee, thanks.

I hang up the phone, and burst into tears, and go to the bathroom, and saw my fears confirmed. Blood.

I head down the stairs, more tears and this time I can't stop. "We're going to be okay," the husband tells me. I think he's talking about our unborn child, and I shake my head no. No! Don't tell me that! Because everything may not be okay. Just tell me everything could be okay. It could.

But he tells me no, and tells me that it will be okay, we will be okay. And I shake my head because he has no idea what he's talking about. We pray--he prays, and I silently ask for His will to be done.
On the way to the hospital, I realize I made a trip just like this when I was pregnant with Naomi, and guess what? Everything was just fine. So I told Jeremiah, Everything could be okay, right? He responded by saying that yes, everything will be okay.

We're at the hospital, and right after me, someone checks in complaining of cramps. She was 9 weeks pregnant. This happens, I told myself. I could be okay.

And so I waited and I saw the doctor, and I peed in the cup, and I had my blood drawn, and I had the ultrasound, and I had the pelvic exam and during each and every test I told myself no news could be good news. I could be okay. Our baby could be okay. I still tried to brace myself for the worst though.

Then the worst came as the doctor got straight to the point--I had a complete miscarriage. At first I thought I wouldn't cry, but the tears came and kept coming. I listened as he told me that the pregnancy hormone left in my blood was basically negligent. Though I knew I was between 5-7 weeks, I'd never know exactly when I miscarried. I'd never hear my little one's heartbeat or see them on an ultrasound. He told me that he and his wife miscarried their first child and that it was okay to grieve. He said I was healthy and able to try again whenever I was ready and that the blessing in the midst of it was that I'd need no further medical attention. There was nothing else to be done.

He left the room and my husband held me and our sweet Naomi, and it hit me how blessed I really am. But it still hurt, really hurt, and I could not. stop. crying. I used up the tissue box, and asked for another and the nurse came in the room with a new one and comforting words.

We got on the road and just drove. And drove. Out of our city. Into DC. Jeremiah took me over to a place of joy, the place where he proposed, and my mind went back a few years. I remember that day like it was yesterday, and I remember that tree on the National Mall. It was huge and beautiful against the night sky, rivaled only by the pretty ring I kept looking at on my left hand. The verse popped into my head. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desired fulfilled is a tree of life."

Tears followed that verse coming to mind, but this time I wasn't dwelling on the tree of life, but the hope deferred. I wasn't mad. I wasn't bitter. I was just sad. Just...sad.

In hindsight the Lord was preparing me for this loss long before I knew I was pregnant. Different conversations I had with other women about miscarriages they had, coming across research about the amount of women who miscarry, sometimes without even knowing it. Even an episode of 19 Kids and Counting where the Duggars lost a child. All this before conceiving, before knowing I had conceived, before knowing I had lost the child I'd barely known about for a week.

I didn't know all that stuff was preparation, but it was. Because each and every time miscarriage came up, I would question whether I was willing to surrender the outcome of each and every pregnancy to the Lord. It scared me to even think about losing a pregnancy, let alone accepting that it could happen and that the Lord could have a plan for it. I just kept thinking, If I accept this, if I surrender future pregnancies to the Lord before they happen, I am basically guaranteeing that I'll have to go through that pain. It was a terrible way of thinking, but I went through that thought process and eventually got to the point that I believed what God said. ALL things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. He knows the plans that He has for me and they're plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future. I can rejoice in suffering knowing that it would produce perseverance, which would produce character, which would produce hope. I knew it in my head, but had to believe it in my heart:  There is no pointless pain the life of a believer.

So that conversation between my husband and I? It was like my final moment of acceptance. Of surrender. I hadn't talked to him about miscarriage before that point, and it happened just in time.

The day of the miscarriage/hospital visit and the next few days that followed really put this surrender and trust to the test. I found out that at the same time I was in the hospital finding out about my miscarriage, a friend was in the hospital finding out that she was pregnant. 5 weeks along. What I could have been. A few days after that, I had a baby shower to go to which was joyous and bittersweet all at once. Conversations about pregnancies, pictures on Facebook, people jokingly asking when the next one is coming... All innocuous in and of themselves, stuff that typically wouldn't bother me. Now it seems like anything could plant a seed of bitterness in my heart.
So far, thankfully, that seed has not taken root. It's not that I've hardened my heart to what's happened. It's just that I know being bitter would take glory away from the Lord. Though He didn't change the outcome of the pregnancy, He clearly prepared me in advance. That fact was so plain to me that I had to, I have to worship and thank Him for that. I know my grieving process, even my recovery process could have been much longer and much more painful. I have been spared that, and I don't take it for granted. It definitely still hurts at times, but I can honestly say that I am doing well. I've learned that having an open hand when the Lord's given me something makes it easier to let go if He chooses to take it back. My child was His before he was mine. His to give. His to take.

I can't say I can all of a sudden relate to everyone who's had a miscarriage. There are people who lose their child when they're much further along. There are those who try and try to get pregnant and finally do, then for whatever reason the pregnancy ends. There are so many different, painful circumstances that occur that it would be impossible for anyone to relate to EVERYONE. But something that I take comfort in as a believer is that when I am tempted to be bitter about how things turned out, I don't have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with my weaknesses. He was tempted, as I am, and He was yet without sin. I can confidently go before the throne of grace, and receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need!! What a blessing! What a promise!!

My husband kept telling me that everything would be okay, and I kept thinking that he had no idea what he was talking about. It wasn't until afterwards that I realized that he wasn't just talking about the baby. He was talking about, well, life I guess. We're okay. God has given us each other and sweet Naomi. We've only gotten closer as a family because of this experience. We have Christ, who works all things, including my miscarriage, together for the good. I've been able to know Christ as my Comforter in a whole new way.

He said everything would be okay. And we are. More than okay really. We're moving forward.

Verses. Quotes. Inspiration.

All photos courtesy of Google Images.

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