But it doesn’t really feel like it.
I’m going to tell you a story. It’s kind of long, but I feel unapologetic about that. It starts almost exactly a year ago.
In the beginning of 2016 we decided to try for one more baby. We’d [eventually] come to the agreement that four babes would complete our family. I’d like to think we’d prayed a lot about it and sought wisdom and insight, but it was more of just a feeling. So when we received a positive pregnancy test just after celebrating our 10th anniversary we were elated! I’d never told my mom I was pregnant in person. The first time I’d told her had been more of a shocked, “what have we done!?”, kind of blurting. So, as terrible as I am at keeping secrets, we decided not to tell anyone until after I saw my parents at the end of July.
Everything was pretty normal. At 7 weeks we got a dating ultrasound and saw the baby and its sweet little heartbeat. At 10 weeks my clothes were getting a little snug so I went on a little maternity shopping spree. Everything. Was. Perfect. We celebrated a beautiful 4th of July with our families and basked in that summer glow that’s so easy to find. The next day we walked around Ikea and talked about where we would put a boy or a girl. That night I went to bed early. I wasn’t feeling great but I had an ultrasound scheduled for the next day so I was glad not to worry.
And then I woke up. I was having terrible stomach pains. I thought maybe my appendix had burst! I took a handful of tums hoping it would help but it still hurt. I woke Chuck up and told him I was going to drive myself to the hospital; something was wrong.
I got to the hospital and parked the van. I got out and started walking to the ER entrance; thinking of how quiet it looked in the pre-dawn light. And then something happened. Pain started shooting from my stomach down my legs and blood poured out of me and down my jeans. I walked into the ER covered in blood, losing my resolve.
As I checked myself in, my lower half hidden from the nurse admitting me. I told her I needed help. I needed faster help. Something was wrong. She looked at me with the sweetest eyes and said, “Oh honey, don’t you worry. I bled once when I was pregnant and I had twins!” I dared a glance towards my feet and the blood was creeping down towards my knees.
And that’s when someone finally saw me. They rushed behind me with a wheelchair and wheeled me towards a room. It was too late. Everybody knew that but nobody would say it. They got me into a room and I asked for something to change into. I couldn’t find the strength not to cry anymore; what was the point? She gave me a gown and left so I could change. As I undressed another gush of blood came. It splattered everywhere. It was so messy. I didn’t know it would be so messy. I chided myself for the thought that an ER co-pay was worth not having to clean up this mess. I wondered what I was looking at. Some fluid that could have been clear if it wasn’t tinged with little bits of blood and tissue. Some larger clots of blood. Clots too big. I must have made a noise when everything came out because the nurse came back in.
Her face was worried. And then she told me she had to keep samples of everything. And she scooped all my bits off the floor and lined them up along the counter in little jars. I hated that she did that.
By now it was 6 a.m. and I knew I needed to call Chuck. His mom came over and stayed with the kids so he could come to me. He held my hand while I had contractions that got closer and closer. And then it was done. At least some of it was. My body knew what it needed to do. Something had gone wrong. It was all wrong.
The doctor came in a little later and said, “So I guess you know you lost the pregnancy.”
But here lies the craziest part of the miscarriage experience to me. You have to tell people that you were pregnant and that you lost the baby. Or you just don’t tell people. It’s not even that you’re necessarily ashamed, you just don’t want to open it back up. It hurts.
It hurts all different kinds of hurt. Emotional, obviously. But I didn’t know about the physical hurt.
And people might say that you only think it hurts so much because you’ve only had c-sections. So you don’t know what “it’s” really like. And that will hurt too. And then your doctor will call you in some serious pain relievers and you’ll think she’s overreacting. But she’s not. Your body is on a mission to get everything out quickly. Violently. And, unfortunately for me, after a week of labor pains I still had to have a d&c to finish the process.
The literal worst thing. The worst thing I’d faced. But God was there. I looked back and saw so many ways he’d quietly been preparing me for that week. Like a huge grocery sale at the Target by our house where we completely stocked our deep freeze. Or the fact that Chuck had only just finished summer school the week before, giving me the whole summer to heal. He knew. He cared. He cares for us.
That baby was 11 weeks when we lost it. It would have been born on January 17th. We mourned it. But we trusted God. We weren’t sure if we would try again. Maybe our family was complete with three babies entrusted to us on Earth and one in Heaven above. I felt a renewed stirring in my heart for this mission of motherhood. Feeling so incredibly thankful for the three amazing kids I get to spend my days with. To see a pregnancy go so wrong made me so thankful for the miracle of the three I’d had.
So summer turned to fall and we wondered still if we should try again. We prayed and prayed. And there was no answer. In the past I would have pressed Him for an answer. I would have wondered why He was forsaking me when I called out to Him. But I couldn’t ignore the peace I had. And then one day, I felt like my answer came. I realized that I had to give it up. All of me wanted an assurance from Him. For Him to tell me that wasn’t going to happen again! That He wanted me to have what I wanted! But we can’t pray that way. We can’t put conditions on God. We can’t ask for His will our way. So I humbly prayed for forgiveness. That I still have so much to learn about grieving well. So much to learn about trusting and following. About not interjecting myself in what He has for me. I stepped back, held up my hands, and said, “I don’t care! I don’t care what happens to me, I only want what you have for me. Good or bad. Easy or hard. Just You and Yours.” And I felt the stirring that said it was okay to try again.
And we did. And we got to experience the same elation and joy to think we would add another member to our family. I looked at the dates and realized I would be exactly 11 weeks to the day on the date that our first baby would have been born. There are no coincidences with God, I thought. This is a sign that everything would be okay.
But it wasn’t okay. This time we only made it as far as the dating ultrasound. There wasn’t a heartbeat where there should have been. I decided to wait and let things happen naturally. It took a long time. A long time of still feeling pregnant. Blood work numbers still rising, knowing that the chances of a viable pregnancy were slim. And, eventually, my body was ready. On January 17th, the day our first miscarriage would have been born, we lost for a second time.
I knew what to expect this time. And had less of everything to pass. But it still hurt. And it was still hard. And my heart still ached in the confusion of it all. Why did it have to be that day, I wondered.
But I felt fresh hope through this loss, too. I looked back to the previous summer and saw how many other ways we’d been protected. We went eight months without a single illness in our family. Not so much as a cold while it seemed like our friends were fighting off plagues. There are no coincidences with God. He’s faithful. He’s just. He gives. He takes away. There’s beauty in all of that. There’s peace and comfort in his protecting hand. There’s hope that He knows all, knows what’s best, knew that would happen and knew what you would need.
I told you this was a long story. I’m really not even sure why I decided it was time to tell it. I’m just letting my heart speak.
And that brings us to this week. It should be the worst week. We met with the doctor after the second loss and she said there was no reason or explanation. That it was unusual to have three “normal” pregnancies and then experience this. So we tried again.
And we lost again.
This week seemed to be the culmination of our hopes, dashed. I know that sounds dramatic. We put our house on the market two weeks ago and the realtor said to expect multiple offers the first weekend. And they didn’t come. If you look at the stats on our listing, they look great! There are realtors sharing it with their clients on the MLS. There are three times as many people looking at our listing over any listing within a mile of our house. But no one’s biting. And that should worry me. But it’s not a coincidence.
My doctor said she’s never had someone like me. Someone with three healthy pregnancies to go on to have three different types of miscarriages in a row. That’s right, they’ve all been different. There can’t be one reason because they’ve all had different causes. But it’s not a coincidence.
And then we came to today. Sorry, my youngest love, but what made you so angry today was the easiest disappointment I faced all week. A failed food challenge for the one that was supposed to be a sure bet. His little heart crushed, his hopes deflated. But it’s not a coincidence.
Instead, it feels like opportunity. Opportunity for God to show all that He is. He is so good. He cares about everything that happened to me this week. This year! He knows it all. He knew it all when the world began. How else can we survive living in this world without the faith that He has plans. That he’s in control. How else could we face weeks where it feels like everything is lining up to try to get me to throw my hands up and scream at the Heavens. To give up and break down.
But instead I opened my Bible. Not seeking out a specific verse, but to make sure I get the reading in for the day. One of those read the Bible in a year plans. And Ecclesiastes 8 came up.
Who is like the wise?
Who knows the explanation of things?
A person’s wisdom brightens their face
and changes its hard appearance.
Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm,
and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.
6 For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter,
though a person may be weighed down by misery.
7 Since no one knows the future,
who can tell someone else what is to come?
8 As no one has power over the wind to contain it,
so[a] no one has power over the time of their death.
As no one is discharged in time of war,
so wickedness will not release those who practice it.
So what are we left with? The hope that there’s a season for everything. That He is working and I can grow through this season. If I let it wash over me, He will be there to make sure I don’t go under. I’m sad. And my heart hurts. But I can invite him into those places. New places. More space for Him. More letting go of everything I thought I needed and trusting in what He has for me. That’s hard. But it’s a good kind of hard.