On New Year's Day I became a member of a group I prayed I would never have to join. The happiness I imagined sharing with the world as 2017 began was ripped from my hands in a moment, and tears swept in to fill those spots previously brimming with joy and anticipation.
I had been having some mild symptoms over the previous 24 hours but never imagined it would end this way. Sitting on the table in the ER I waited as the doctor looked at the ultrasound. The seconds seem to crawl by as she kept looking and searching, moving the ultrasound wand back and forth, not saying a word. I knew these weren't positive signs.
I managed to get out the words, "Do you see anything?"
She looked at me, eyes laden with the weight of bad news and said, "I can't find the heartbeat."
My baby. My sweet, precious second child who should've been measuring around 12 weeks was instead only the size of a six-week-old baby, with no heartbeat to be found.
I laid there on the table, speechless, hearing the sound of my own heartbeat so audibly I could feel it. The doctor checked again through an abdominal ultrasound and confirmed my greatest fear–our baby had died.
The next week was a fog, a blur of tears, heavy emotions and time alone. I wasn't ready to talk to anyone, in person or otherwise. I left the house only to see my doctor. When friends dropped off meals I went to our bedroom and hid until they left. I couldn't bare the thought of being around anyone other than my husband and our daughter. Honestly, this has been true for many of the last few weeks.
While the moment of learning our baby would never enter this world to be held in my arms was heartbreaking, the physical pain of a miscarriage was an aspect I had never considered previously, when learning of someone else who went through it. The intensity of what my body went through was, to be honest, traumatic.
I have never experienced such a deeply personal loss. Death happened inside of me. My body was at one moment supporting and nourishing the body of my baby, giving life, and the next moment was going through pains equivalent to labor to remove my breathless child from inside of me.
The depth of emotion and heavy thought during that first week was intense, and has only mildly subsided in these weeks that followed.
As a believer in Jesus Christ, there has been much I have processed theologically during this time, and I hope to study and share more with you in coming posts.
But I will say that, by the grace of God, my suffering has only led to a deepening of my faith. While I know there will be seasons and waves of grief, that it's not just a neat and tidy process of progression, I can say that thus far I haven't been plagued with questions of "why" – why has this happened? Why would God allow this? Why is there suffering?
Walking through suffering causes you to really "put your money where your mouth is" in regards to what you say you believe.
It's easy to sail on the calm waters of the ocean, soaking up the sun and say how wonderful and beautiful it is, admiring the sturdiness and reliability of your sailboat. It's a whole other story to be in the middle of the ocean in a raging storm and trust your boat to not only survive the storm, but to bring you back to shore safely.
I've never had more trust, faith and hope in my "boat," in Jesus Christ, than in this past month. In this time of walking through the valley of the shadow of death, where else can I turn? He alone has the words of eternal life. I could throw myself into any number of habits to numb the pain, to pretend I don't feel the sadness and sorrow, to just try and hurry my way through this grief.
But there's only one scenario where this sorrow actually strengthens me and doesn't utterly destroy me–that's walking hand in hand with my Savior, moment by moment, trusting that he is with me every step of the way and ultimately working this for my good.
Whenever I write about matters pertaining to faith, I hesitate to share because I don't want to say something heretical, something that would in any way, shape or form make the Lord appear as someone he is not. I've never wrestled so much with whether or not to publish a post, but I sense God encouraging me to step out in faith, praying that this might be a venue for him to use this tragedy for his glory and my good.
As I walk through this sesaon of grief I also hesitate to share because I don't want to give the illusion that I have it all together, that my heart isn't broken by the loss of our baby. But I've realized I don't have to have this all figured out and resolved to share it with others and allow God it to begin using this for his glory.
It's been helpful for me to hear from other people who have walked through the pain of a miscarriage or other suffering, to see how they clung to Jesus and processed all their emotions and questions with God. Because the reality is that we will all suffer, in some capacity, at some point (or many) in our lives. And denying that or trying to live as though that weren't true only sets us up for failure and greater sorrow when trials come.