The hurt can seem so visceral at times. So recent. And yet it has been years. Lives ago (2 if we are counting). And yet, the grief and the pain are just sitting barely below the surface, ready to be recalled at the slightest remembrance or the quickest glimpse of another’s similar pain.
I have been keeping something secret for the past few months. I take a few minutes when I need to work through the pain, have a quick cry, and call out to God. Then I convince myself to pull it together and push through the rest of the hour, the rest of the day, the next moment. But, still it lingers.
I considered writing a post about it around Christmas-time, but each time I even thought about putting words to paper, something inside of me (the broken part), flinched and receded further into the grief. And here we are months later and I am still struggling to share the pain. So…here goes:
I’ll tell a little story you might not know:
I married my husband, my best friend, almost 10 years ago. We were suddenly surprised by our romance and wanted to take the time in the early years of our marriage for just us…no thinking about kids, refusing to answer questions from family and friends regarding the expansion of our family. We were content where we were and trusted God for His plan regarding our life together. I had always been terrified of having children anyway – a fear of almost anything to do with pregnancy and childbirth, not to mention the life-altering moment when you “take them home.”
And in the six years, we had some friends and close family members who got pregnant and had babies. We also had some friends and close family members who got pregnant and never got to take their babies home with them. My heart grieved for them with a pain I cannot adequately describe. And God was showing me: Every baby born, every baby taken home is a thousand little miracles all wrapped in swaddling clothes.
About six years into our marriage, my heart toward us having babies began to change. Slowly, I began to pray this specific prayer: “Lord, if we can have babies, can we have a baby? And Lord if we cannot have babies, please make me OK with that.” I prayed that prayer for a year. I prayed it almost daily. I prayed it while I washed dishes. I prayed it while sitting in church, worshiping our God. It was earnest and it, I thought, left room for the will of God for our family.
And then we were surprised to find in February of our seventh year of marriage that we were pregnant with a little blessing from the Lord. I was thrilled. Our extended family was overjoyed (thinking, “Finally!”) I wept tears of joy as I told our church friends in church on a Sunday morning. I was bursting with the good news, absolutely bursting. The Lord had answered my prayer; we had a baby.
I was studying the book of Isaiah at the time. And though God had made a way for pregnancy even through all the fears I had once held too close, I still had a tendency to fret over the little things regarding baby-developing. A twinge in my tummy, a little nausea, almost any perceived change in my body, sent me back to God’s word for comfort. And my verse for the pregnancy, established within the first weeks was, “I will trust in You and I will not be afraid.”
Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the LORD God is my strength and song, He has become my salvation. Isaiah 12:2
Each time I was tempted to fear, I chose to trust, I chose to not be afraid.
And it came time to go confirm the pregnancy at my doctor’s office. I was surprised to find that she was going to do an ultrasound that very day. I got to see this beautiful (tiny) creation, with a beating heart I got to both see and hear. The excitement continued!
Then we (my husband and I) went to my OB for our first appointment at 8 weeks. We sat in the chair waiting for the doctor to come in and the examination was going to be another ultrasound. And when she came in the room and introduced herself, I began to get very nervous (“I will trust and not be afraid.”). She conducted an external ultrasound to “find” the baby and then quietly switched to an internal ultrasound, again to “find” the baby. And there was nothing there, nothing to find. My excitement at that moment switched from nervous anticipation to profound grief. She spoke for a moment (I am not sure about what), then gave us a few minutes for me to get my clothes back on. I clung to my husband with a broken heart.
She came back in and spoke about the “options” available to us. We just couldn’t even make a decision at that moment; we needed time to process. And we certainly didn’t want to make a drastic decision that got ahead of God’s plan for our family. I called my personal doctor on the way home to let her office know and to get her wisdom regarding the situation. She requested that I come in immediately. She wanted to “see” what had happened, if possible.
We got to see our little blessing, still so tiny, again that day, to say, “Goodbye.”
And still I hoped. I still prayed (and a few of my friends prayed) inspired by a sermon we had just recently heard. The story (a short one) in Luke about the only son of a mother, dead, on his way to be buried. Jesus saw the woman and had compassion on her, raised the son, and “And Jesus gave him back to his mother.” I didn’t pray thinking that if God chose not to return our child to us, I would love Him any less, or that my trust in Him would be diminished. I simply, prayed, knowing that He was ABLE, if He willed.
It was not His will to return our precious one to us. I miscarried the baby a number of days later. My immediate reaction to the loss of our gift was “He gives and takes away, blessed be His name.” There was no malice toward God, only grief. I still trusted He knew better than I did and that His ways are better than my ways. He had answered my prayer: “and if we cannot have a baby, make me OK with that.”
His way was made clear the week that I would have delivered our first baby, when I sat in my doctor’s office again and watched on the monitor and heard again the beating heart of another beautiful blessing. This blessing was to be ours to “take home” with us. And she was quickly followed home by another.
That is a small part of my story. And with the business of taking care of two young babies, I can often overlook the piece of us I feel is missing. I do know that if we had that first baby, we would not have our second. I do know that God’s plan was perfect. But, there are days when the searing pain of that loss bubbles up to the surface and finds itself in tears barely held in.
But this season of my life has me remembering, almost on a daily basis, that sweet baby we never got to hold. And grieving the emptiness of my arms, even as I hold two precious ones.
But mine is a mostly hidden grief. It is locked into the bathroom for a few minutes while I quietly weep after seeing something that reminds me of the pain. It is trapped inside the car on the way home from a hair appointment with the music loud to drown out the wailing. It is smothered in the embraces of those I love most dearly.
But it is there…