This post was written nearly a month ago… I couldn’t bring myself to post it for quite a long time, but I felt compelled to share because someone somewhere needed to read this.
7 weeks ago, I held a positive pregnancy test in my shaking hands. The night before, I had dreamt for the first time about having a child. I can still remember looking down at the sweet perfection of life God had given me. Excitement overtook me, and I prepared a gift to give to Ian. He had no idea what was going on, but as soon as he opened the box, tears swelled in his eyes and he picked me up and squeezed me tight. It had to be one of the sweetest memories of us together. We cried and laughed and started the plans for the next eight months of our life. Every day seemed like a celebration. Every prayer I prayed for this sweet child growing inside of me.
The weeks were long as I waited for that first appointment. But the week finally arrived, and with it came butterflies in my stomach every time I thought about seeing my sweet baby for the first time. On Monday, I was at work when I noticed some spotting. I knew that for some people this was very common, so I tried not to let myself get caught in the anxiety of “what ifs”. The next day Ian and I sat in the waiting room together. This time my hands were shaking in a different way. We went in for our ultrasound, and saw our sweet pea with a small flickering heartbeat. As much as I wanted to be excited, I knew something wasn’t right. The doctor told us that we had a threatened miscarriage. There was a 50% chance that our baby would live, but it was just a matter of waiting. We scheduled a follow up appointment for the next week, and went home with our hearts heavy.
I smile when I think about how beautiful Ian’s faith was those next few days. He was incredibly hopeful, but my mind kept walking me through the worst. I tried not to talk about it, but the bleeding proceeded to get worse. Within a few days, all of my pregnancy symptoms disappeared. I taped scriptures all over my office and any time I had doubts, I would read them to myself.
That Friday, I started cramping terribly at work. The bleeding was getting worse and my body was weak. I drove myself home, and the doctor told me that I needed to go to the ER immediately. Ian met me at home, but I couldn’t move. I remember screaming through my tears over and over, “I CAN’T GO!” In my heart I knew what was happening. We drove to the hospital, our hands unable to part from each other. Our parents met us there and they admitted us almost immediately. My body had started to shut down, but I tried to stay strong as they hooked me up. After the ultrasound, the nurse came in and told us that our sweet baby, who we had just seen four days ago, had no heartbeat. They proceeded to tell me about how my negative blood type has potential to react with the baby’s blood and can create antibodies which could harm the baby. Although that is not what caused my baby’s heart to stop beating, I would have to take shots to prevent this from happening in the future. We held our composure until she left, and then we both just lost ourselves in grief. As we held each other tighter than we ever have before, we thanked God out loud. I honestly didn’t know it was possible to be thankful in a moment like that. But I felt myself overwhelmed with peace and thankfulness. Thankfulness that I had seen my baby’s heartbeat. Thankfulness in the fact my baby would never know the pain of this world. Thankfulness that eternity would be that much sweeter because I would get to see my baby again. I prayed out loud and when we ran out of words, the Holy Spirit was interceding for us. But even in the thankfulness, there was unbearable pain. I felt as if my heart was physically breaking. Our parents came in later and we shared with them what happened.
After several hours we were released, but the miscarriage took 6 days to complete. Each day I would wake up saying “His mercies are new every morning,” but each day the physical and emotional pain seemed unbearable. I have heard that many times in situations like this that couples can pull apart from each other, but thankfully that was not the case for Ian and I. Those days made me feel closer to Ian than I ever had before. Every time I looked at him, I could see Jesus. Every time he touched me, I felt overwhelming peace. I am so grateful that Ian turned to Jesus in a moment that could have broken us even more.
“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…” Isaiah 53:4 says. We live in a fallen world with sin. I did not lose my baby because of anything I had done and Jesus has known my grief. It doesn’t matter that my baby was only 7 weeks old. It was my child, and no parent should ever have to lose a child.
In my grief I had to make a choice. Well… I had to make many. For starters, I had to choose joy. I know there will be days where sadness will hit me out of nowhere, but on those days I have to remember I Peter 4…
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”
This is not the end of my story. God’s goodness can be revealed in my suffering. He is sovereign and I know that He has a beautiful ending to this story, even if I can’t see it yet. This verse is part of the reason I am sharing this incredibly personal story on a very public place. In your life there are probably ashes. They may not be the same as mine, but I am certain God’s story never ends in ashes. Isaiah 61 says He will bind up the brokenhearted and He will give us beauty for our ashes. That is what he is continuing to do for Ian and I.
Secondly, I have chosen to love. In a world full of comparison, I can easily look at the happiness of new moms all around me and become bitter. Upset that they have happiness and can hold their little one when I cannot. But I have confidence that one day I WILL have another child, and I have full hope in that. Love is bigger than my grief. And yes, there may be days that I have to protect my heart and skip out on a baby shower or baby talk, but in those moments I choose to love regardless of my pain. And even more so, it is not up to me what God does in other people’s lives. Peter started to get caught up in others as well, and Jesus’ response is perfect – John 21:22 “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” What is it to me if others get the blessing of a child now and I do not? I follow Jesus and his specific will for my life.
***Please remember that sometimes questions can often carry more hurt than people know. I remember dating Ian and having people ask us when we were going to get married. Once we were married, questions came out immediately about when we would have our first child. I know that I am not alone in this, and that it happens in every stage of life. You NEVER know what someone is carrying. So remember that next time you inquire something incredibly personal about their life. Maybe even replace your question with a silent prayer for their heart, because I guarantee that they wish they had a good answer to your question. Or maybe, they don’t want to give you an answer.
Thirdly, I have chosen to trust. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you,” Isaiah 26:3. Like I said before, this is not the end of my story. I have hope and trust that God has a plan for our family. I have to trust God with my future pregnancies. I have to trust God that I will be able to get pregnant again. Most of all, I simply have to trust. I do not know what the future holds, but I do know that He holds it together.
This post is not a reflection of how together I am with dealing with all of this. There are many hours where my heart physically breaks over and over again for my unborn baby. But I have hope and confidence that these ashes will be turned to beauty, and in many ways they already have.
We decided to name our baby Shiloh, which means peace. I know that I will always have peace with me. I have had some people ask me why I would name my unborn baby. The reason is this: Our Christian culture seems to put a large focus on how much potential aborted babies have, which is absolutely true. Well guess what, my baby, which died as a result of a fallen world with sin, pain, and suffering has just as much potential and she deserved a life and she deserves a name.
It was our desire that this post could help encourage and give hope to someone that might be going through something similar. To shed some light on the impact of questions/comments and the type of pressures they can apply. We are still in the beginning of our journey through this and know there are a lot of others out there with similar and different stories.
We are so thankful for each person who has supported and loved us through this and are so encouraged with the family and friends God has surrounded us with.