As I have written some of my experiences dealing with the loss last year of our tiny son, I realized that there was a piece of back-story that might help in understanding where I am coming from as I have faced this loss. I decided I wanted to share it now. I may have shared at least some of this before, I may not have, but I needed to write about it either way.
Between TWO and THREE, I was pregnant 3 other times. In this post, I will only talk about the first of those pregnancies. I will address the others in a separate post.
I had been expecting the first of those pregnancies ever since I was in the hospital delivery room with TWO. Yes, I realize how bizarre that sounds! I just had this intense feeling in the hospital that day that there was another one that badly wanted to come to our family. I felt like there was a new baby that was excitedly awaiting the right moment to come, but it was a sort of an antsy feeling, like they didn’t want to have to wait any longer than necessary. It left me wondering if I would already have a new baby within a year of TWO’s birth or something like that. It likely would seem fully strange that I was disappointed to not become immediately pregnant, but it’s how I felt anyway. But it didn’t happen right away. We waited and I took a whole lot of pregnancy tests in the meantime. When I realized that I was finally pregnant, I was thrilled! I was testing so often though that we knew very early and decided not to tell anyone yet. We decided to actually wait until hitting that full 12-week mark before sharing our news. That ended up coming back to haunt us a bit. I was right almost to that 12-week mark and we were gearing up for the fun of telling our friends, family, and neighbors when we instead had to call a friend and neighbor to ask her to watch ONE and TWO while HUBBY took me to the hospital. That was a hard phone call. “Hi. So, um, I was pregnant, but I am afraid I might not be anymore.” Really there was no natural or comfortable way to explain the situation, but we dropped off the girls and went to the hospital anyway.
I was far enough along to be very excited about this newly coming baby and felt incredible anxiety as I started having some intense pain and some bleeding. I really hoped it was just my body being weird (not like that would be a new thing), but when we got to the hospital, the ultrasound technician in the ER simply told me that there was no longer a heartbeat. It was crushing and I knew that the technician had no idea that with new of the miniature stilled heart within me, my own heart broke. It was all handled very simply and with a sense of sterility that seemed almost to mock my longing heart. It was as if they thought there was no loss involved at all. It was like this was a normal, everyday experience. I knew better. I left the hospital with what remained of my heart stuck somewhere in my sobbing throat. I knew a piece of me was gone. (I am sharing this video again because I love it and because at about 37 seconds in, I felt just like this lack of real caring when I was in the hospital that night. My heart breaks for this mother every time I watch this, because I KNOW those feelings very personally.)
But as we drove home, I was given a blessing that I can still hardly believe and still can’t fully understand. It was a personally designed and incomprehensible miracle. I felt the peace of God fill every corner, crack, and crevice of my heart and mind. I knew without one ounce of doubt that this was exactly what God had planned for this baby of mine. I knew she was mine and that, thanks to the glorious gift of eternal families, I would have her again someday. I felt her peace over the situation – almost like she had known all along that this was her path. I felt connected to her. I felt God’s love for me and His love for my little girl as well. (I should also mention here that I didn’t ever get to see her tiny body except in it’s still form on the ultrasound machine, after she was already gone from her short life. She was already back in heaven (where she belongs) when I saw her on the monitor. I only ever felt whisperings of who she was to give me a sense of her gender and her heart.)
Now, even though I received miraculous peace that night, leaving the hospital, I still had a few sad moments after I lost her. It was especially odd and emotionally draining during the following few days each time I used the bathroom. I would wonder each time if my baby had just joined everything else my body was purging to flow down to such a disgraceful burial. That was honestly the hardest part of the entire experience for me – feeling like somehow I should have been able to do something to treat her tiny body with greater respect, but knowing that there was next to nothing I could do about it.
The lack of overwhelming sorrow, pain, or intense grief made me feel like perhaps I was broken or something. It sometimes made me feel guilty actually. Surely I should feel more grief, right? But each time I wondered about that, I would be re-filled with God’s love for me and for my baby and with the firm knowledge that this was exactly what God had planned all along. It was incredible to feel such overwhelming peace and love in such a time.
I wondered sometimes why this would be God’s plan, what He wanted to come of this experience. I felt like He intended something good to come from it in this mortal life – not just in eternity when I would get to hold and raise her. That’s when I saw God’s hand work through me to bring blessings to others. He turned my loss into a miracle for others. That turned it into a miracle for me too.
At that time we lived in the most incredible neighborhood ever – it was a little piece of heaven on earth for us. It really was. We lived in a university owned trailer court and I can’t imagine a more blessed place to live has ever existed since Adam and Eve left the Garden and the City of Enoch was lifted up. It really was that special for us. I loved the people we lived with – we were a family. Right as I looked within myself to find how God could use my lost baby girl for His purposes, I found the answer across the street. I found the answer around the corner and I found it again at the end of the block. Three of my sisters – and we truly were sisters, made even more so through our shared experience – also lost pregnancies. Because of my peace, given as what I consider a sacred blessing, I was able to try to help and support and love and empathize with my sisters. It was especially poignant because we all experienced that common challenge within such a short time period. Also, one of those other ladies and I were assigned as visiting teaching partners at that time. I felt strong enough for me and for her if she needed to lean on me for a time. Not only that, but we were teaching one of the others. But for that sister this was not just any pregnancy, this was her very first. Ill of our connections to each other and our ability to turn to each other made it fairly easy to see the Lord’s hand in arranging a support net for ALL of us. I was able to quickly see how He was using my loss as a way to build me and these other great women that I loved. I felt so blessed to be able to be there for them and love them and serve them and understand them and help them feel less alone. I felt blessed that they were so willing to offer me the same.
Bad things happen. Stuff that you would never choose if it was left entirely up to you. I would not have chosen to give up that little girl. But sometimes those are the things that God puts in your path to bring about His purposes – to bring about the immortality, eternal life, and joy of all His children. I think upon that most amazing moment in the history of the world, that moment in a lonely garden of olive trees when the Lord had to do something that no mortal man can ever fully fathom. He wanted there to be another way. He – the greatest of all – did not want to bear alone the load placed squarely upon His shoulders. But, He recognized how much more important God’s plan was – even though it was unimaginably hard to endure. He said what we must all be able to say to the Father, “Thy will be done.” The challenge is not in the words themselves, but in having the understanding and faith that God loves us enough to do what will eventually bring about our greatest possible joy, even when it doesn’t look like it at the moment. The challenge is in being able to find peace in those moments. On some days that can be easier said than done. It can be hard to convince a hurting heart that pain now may be the only path to becoming who He knows we have the potential to be. It presents an incredible dichotomy to attempt to remember that our greatest joy may only come through, not just in spite of, our current pains.