As we enter November and approach Thanksgiving, I am encouraged to see so many people prepare their hearts for this season. Friends are re-focusing and daily listing what they are thankful for in their lives. It is a lovely practice.
In the last few weeks I have gained an entirely new understanding of true gratitude for my life. I would like to share my recent story and the insight that the Lord has given me for our family and my life.
At the end of September, Chris and I were surprised and overjoyed to discover that I was pregnant with our second child. We weren’t planning for a second baby quite yet, but it was perfect. I was especially happy to know that we would have an early June baby… which meant that my third trimester would be in the spring, not the summer. Hooray!
Our first appointment was on my birthday – the perfect present. Our first trimester ultrasound was scheduled the next week, the day our baby became eight weeks. It was amazing to see our child on the screen in its perfect, tiny form. The ultrasound tech told us the baby measured perfectly at eight weeks, however she then added, “But I do see one problem. There isn’t a heartbeat.” And our world changed. It seemed impossible to look at this darling baby being knit together in my stomach, measuring perfectly, and know that our child was no longer alive. It was a terrible, awful moment.
While talking with our midwife (who was simply wonderful) we decided to take some time to think about our “options.” After we got home we couldn’t get over the fact that our baby was just eight weeks and measured perfectly. It seemed that s/he must have died hours before we went in for the ultrasound. It seemed off, not right at all. So we asked for a second ultrasound because we have heard of circumstances where the heartbeat couldn’t be found one week and was discovered a week or two later. Because we serve a great God Who does miracles daily. Because we hoped.
The week of waiting was torturous. Chris and I were both brokenhearted and my emotions were everywhere. After discussing it, we decided that for our stage of life if we didn’t find a heartbeat again we would choose that I would get a D&C. The main reason for this was Noah. As my emotions went every which way he was being affected. He was sad, cranky, and struggling to obey. It was a direct reflection of my own sadness. We recognized that we needed to hold onto the Lord and move forward if this was His plan for our lives.
I have to be honest with you… we had told so many people we were pregnant that we were just sick thinking of telling them that we had lost our child. It is wonderful to share such happy news; but when you have lost one that you already love so much it reinforces the hurt. Initially when we were pregnant, we were going to wait the first trimester to tell friends, but after talking about it we decided there wasn’t a good reason not to. In our thoughts, we were both ready to burst anyhow, I had carried Noah to term with an extremely healthy pregnancy (so we assumed there wasn’t any reason to expect any different this time), and lastly… we both agreed that if we truly trust the Lord and wanted to live out our faith we would take the risk of telling our friends. That way, if something did happen we would have that much more support. It sounded great at the time. However, when “something” did happen we just wanted to hide under a rock. I didn’t want to be loved on or embraced by anyone. I wanted to cry alone at home.
The amazing thing is that we have an omniscient, compassionate, gracious God. I have no words to explain, but immediately after we found out about the baby the Lord brought to mind Psalm 139, where we are told that everyday of our life is counted out before it comes to be. Throughout my pregnancy with Noah, while rocking him to sleep in his life with us, and again during my second pregnancy, I have quoted this beautiful chapter to my babies (I credit this to my wonderful mom who had us memorize Scripture, including Psalm 139, during our time at home. It is no surprise, then, that this was the first verse she also told me when we gave her the news of the ultrasound. I hope to be like her in life and ministry to my children). In addition, God gave me so many verses and hymns to hold onto as I processed through our new reality. The Lord gave such peace in the midst of our brokenheartedness.
Chris and I decided that the best choice was to share our news with the church body on Sunday and ask them to pray with us. As much as we were praying for comfort, we were praying in faith that the Lord would allow us to hear a heartbeat on our following ultrasound. In that time I discovered what an absolute blessing it is to be part of the body of Christ. Sunday evening some of the families from our church prayed with and over us, laying hands and praying for God’s will to be fulfilled in the life of our family. I cannot express the comfort or peace I experienced following that time together. The next day not only did I not cry, but I was confident in whatever the Lord would bring to pass. Philippians 4:4-7 tells us, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” These verses have always been some of my favorite, however I have never had the honor of understanding their application as I do now.
Last Wednesday, one week exactly before today, we went in for our second ultrasound. It confirmed that we had lost our baby. I was quickly scheduled for my D&C last Friday, which brought with it the reality that I no longer was carrying our child.
If I am to be transparent with you, in the last two weeks I have spent hours sobbing. By the same token, I have learned so many new truths. I have discovered that there are more women who experience miscarriage than I ever really knew. My experience is in no way rare or unusual. This is partly why I think it is important for me to share our heartbreak and healing. In those moments when you think you are alone, you are not. This is why we are brought into faith as a family, to share one another’s burdens and to encourage each other in joys and sorrows. We have a faithful Father, Who loves us dearly as His children.
So now I would like to share with you why I am thankful.
I am thankful because I have such an amazing God. An omniscient God. A kind, gracious, compassionate God, Who is willing that we all would know Him as Savior so that we may be understood and comforted in all times of life.
I am thankful that God took our child because as much as I feel a personal loss, I cannot overcome the sense that my baby is so much more blessed to be in the presence of Christ. In reality, this is ultimately what I desire for each of my children. It may not be under the circumstance I would personally choose, however as I imagine our baby among the great saints and angels singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, Who was, and is, and is to come.” (Rev. 4:8) and “Worthy is the Lamb, Who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Rev. 5:12) I am simply humbled. I cannot wait to join my child, to hold him/her in my arms, and worship at the feet of Jesus. I would not know the longing of Heaven in the way I do now without the loss we have experienced.
I am thankful because through times of sorrow and struggle we are drawn closer to the Lord. This time of uncertainty and sadness propelled me to pursue God and His will for our lives in a deeper way. I am satisfied as I reflect on the goodness of God. For this reason, Chris and I named our baby Selah. In the Old Testament “Selah” was set between Psalms as a time of reflection between songs. In essence, this baby was truly our Selah.
I am thankful because I have a strong, wonderful husband who trusts God and loves me immensely. And he is an amazing Daddy. We are closer as a couple and a family because of our experiences and are more deeply committed and in love, which is beautiful.
I am thankful for the gift given us in Noah. He is such a little ball of energy and love, and his life has already brought us more joy than we ever imagined. He’ll make a great big brother someday.
I am thankful to have a more significant understanding of what grief is, how the presence of the Lord can bring such joy in the midst of turmoil, and to know the honor it is to be counted worthy to be entrusted with this experience. I am blessed know that as I have been comforted by the Spirit and the body, I, in turn, have the ability to comfort through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In sum, I can say with certainty that it is well with my soul. I praise God that as believers we are given the opportunity to encounter trials in life. Moreover, that as we do experience hardship, we are offered occasion to grow, mature, and rest in our Hope, Jesus Christ. Because Hope does not disappoint.
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus… May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One Who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; 23,24