OUR SWEET SURPRISE
A few weeks after our son Will's first birthday, we learned that we were pregnant. This came as a complete surprise. We had planned to give my body a break between breastfeeding and another pregnancy. To be honest, I was initially overwhelmed by the thought of two kids so close together. I was just getting to the point of feeling confident as a mother. And Will still seemed like such a baby to me. I wanted to be in better shape, among other goals, before being pregnant again. But the next few days provided a time of sweet communion with the Lord. He met each of my anxious thoughts with his perfect peace and beckoned me to trust him. Who were we to hold our plans for our family higher than his? Who were we to say we knew better. He moved us beyond that initial peace to joyful expectation. We were thrilled to be expecting our second child.
A little over a month later, we rejoiced to hear the tiny hoofbeat like sound of our 7 week old fetus' beating heart. We let our family and close friends in on the good news. We cried with our friends struggling with infertility as they rejoiced with us. I offered to host thanksgiving and thought how fun it would be to have a big belly for halloween (oh the possibilities). I was overjoyed to be pregnant with my sister and that our children would be three weeks apart. I told Will he was going to be a big brother and we planned our pregnancy announcement photo. I started paying special attention to moms of 2 under 2.
OUR SHOCKING LOSS
At our next appointment, the doctor wheeled an ultrasound machine into my room thinking 10 weeks may be a little early to find the heartbeat with just the hand held doppler. I clasped my hands with joy! What a treat to get an unexpected peek at our little one. But he couldn't see a heart beat on the screen. He sent me to the waiting room while they waited for someone to finish with the bigger ultrasound machine with doppler. I was sure that it was just a bad angle. I had been so sick. I was so tired. I could hardly stand to be within 3 feet of my son's dirty diaper or the smell of toothpaste. Nevertheless, the longer I sat in the waiting room, the more uncertain I became. I texted David, his sister, my sister, and my mom to ask for prayer. My sweet sister-in-law felt compelled to come and walked in the waiting room about 10 minutes later. God was so kind to provide a tangible expression of his presence through her. She waited with me for what felt like an eternity and walked back with me to ultrasound.
I joked with our sweet tech that we needed her to work her magic and find our heartbeat, but she wouldn't be able to find it either, because it simply wasn't there. I was oblivious until she walked out to get the Doctor. I turned to my sister-in-law. "Is there no heartbeat?" I asked, filled with all the hope in the world. She shook her head with tears in her eyes. She had seen what I was blind to. The Doctor came in and pointed out that our little baby was measuring a few weeks behind. Its sac was beginning to pull away from my uterine wall, and from what we could tell, that little beating heart had given out some time ago. He told me how very sorry he was as he placed his hand on my body now shaking with sobs. I was completely and utterly shocked. I kept repeating that I knew that God was good and that God was wise between uttering apologies for making such a display. Dr. T was so gracious and so kind, reassuring me that this reaction was completely appropriate, that loss is to be mourned, and that I could take all the time that I needed to get myself together.
They waited for David to get there to tell us our "options." I listened as well as I could... considered them... and then relayed that I didn't want to do any of them... I wanted to have my baby in November and for my children to be 21 months apart. But that wasn't a choice. As I slowly began to realize that the baby inside of me had died, my mind quickly shifted to wanting things to be over as quickly as possible. But Dr. T encouraged us to go home and take a day to think, pray, and grieve. I'm so thankful for his patience and counsel.
We went home that night and some friends brought take out and laughed, cried, and prayed with us. David took the next day off and we had the sweetest time together as a family. We went to the pool with some friends in the morning and in the afternoon his mom kept Will for a few hours while we sat by the water, read the Psalms, and prayed. God's word was such a comfort to us. Today, two days later, we are still processing. We have seen God's kindness, love, and intimate care for us in every step of this process. I am fervently praying that in his mercy he would allow my body to recognize what has happened and that I would miscarry naturally soon, but am trying to think of this time in between as the opportunity to hold the baby just a little longer.
The grief comes in waves. It's brought on by little things like having to click "Report a Loss" on the "What to Expect" App, trying to remove the pregnant lady emoji from my "most used" keyboard, walking by the ultrasound photo on my fridge and wondering if we should take it down, being asked how I am in the grocery store, gagging and other lingering symptoms, remembering someone we forgot to tell, seeing pictures of siblings and newborn babies on social media, instinctively going to microwave my deli meat, and honestly just by forgetting and then suddenly remembering that the baby I'm carrying isn't alive anymore. Its strange to hope for cramping instead of fearing it. But I know that this is simply a season. The pregnancy will pass and so will the time until one day when the ache wont feel so intense all the time. But as hard as it is, I'm grateful for this season.
HIS GENTLE LEADING
You may think this is too much to share publicly... but I felt it important to share the context for what God is teaching us through our loss and our waiting... That's what this blog is for, to hold me accountable to viewing my life as a young mother in the context of God's much larger story of redemption and to be an encouragement to others. So I want to share with you what he is teaching us and the way he is leading us with raw transperency.
1. God Is Good.
The fact that the baby in my body is now lifeless does not mean that God is not good. It points to the reality that our world is fallen and in need of saving. This is the closest I have ever been to death (it is literally inside of me where life should be) and yet I have never seen God's goodness more clearly than I do now in his provision of Jesus to defeat it ultimately and forever.
We have experienced his comfort, delighted in the truth of his word, and rejoiced in his provision like never before in the past few days. He is not only good. He is so kind and those who hope in him lack no good thing. We are abundantly blessed beyond measure through the gift of his son. I am so thankful for God's character and his rich promises.
2. Our hope is not in earthly things.
Upon learning of our news, many people have tried to comfort us with the phrase "there will be more babies." While we appreciate that sentiment and acknowledge the gift it is to know that my body is in fact able to carry a baby to term, David and I want to be clear that this is not where our hope comes from. We recognize that we could possibly never be able to conceive again... or that we may conceive and lose many more children.
Our hope comes from our confidence in God's sovereignty, his character, and his promises. When we read that "all things work together for good," we don't consider that good to be the growth of our family or the age distance between our children... we read it and are comforted that God works all things for his own glory which is inexplicably tied to our good. We are confident that he will use this experience to make us more like Jesus, to teach us to trust him, and to give us the ability to comfort others. But our greatest concern is not for ourselves and our family but his kingdom. And we take great comfort in the fact that our future in him is fixed.
3. We are not immune to suffering.
Life can change in an instant. This is our first experience with true grief as a couple. Our married life has been relatively free of trouble apart from the relational consequences of our own selfishness and sin. But this experience reminds us that being followers of Jesus does not mean that everything is going to go well with us. In fact, the bible is clear that being a Christian means that we can expect suffering. We are grateful for the opportunity to be near to Christ by being acquainted with sorrow. May we always be so protected from the love of ease and finding security in our circumstances as we have been in the past few days.
4. It is not "all for nothing."
I am tempted to resent my lingering pregnancy symptoms and believe this was all some sort of cruel joke. "What's the point?" whispers the enemy, as he seeks to enter my mind through the doorway of cynicism. But in the kingdom of God, nothing is wasted. He works ALL things for good. Enduring this nausea and fatigue may not be rewarded with the birth of a baby in November, but I have an inheritance that is kept for me in heaven that cannot perish. And suffering makes us more like Christ.
5. "The secret things belong to God."
Deut 29:29, Romans 11:33-36
I have lots of questions. What caused the baby to die? Could we have prevented its death? Why surprise us, make us excited, and then shock us with loss? Did God receive our baby? Will its resurrected body be a fetus? Will we be able to conceive again when we want to? But those questions only lead to anxiety, dead ends, and frustrations. Instead I will cling to what I know, what he has revealed. We must receive the death of this baby in the same way we learned of its life... Who are we to say what is right or what is good. We trust our sovereign and good God and believe he is more on our side than we could ever be.
One day these things wont be remembered, but we will be glad and rejoice forever in what God will create. There wont be any more crying or distress, there wont be any more dying babies or people taken too young, but only flourishing (Isaiah 65, paraphrased). And for now we take comfort in his promise that he is with us, for us, and that he upholds us with his righteous right hand.
A FINAL NOTE
While we appreciate you expressing your sympathy and owning our sorrow, I want to be clear that my purpose in writing this blog post and sharing this story is simply to make known how God is at work in our lives. To Him alone be all glory and honor forever. Amen.