I originally posted this story three years ago. In fact, the ultrasound appointment I refer to was exactly three years ago today, October 4th, 2013. I remember, because I had so looked forward to that date!
Kraig and I had hidden this pregnancy from everyone because we wanted to tell our children first. I was so excited to go to that doctor appointment and hear a little heartbeat! I was almost 11 weeks pregnant. We had plans to go home and tell our kids, and then the rest of our family, that we’d be adding a fourth little one to our home.
Instead, there was silence.
No heartbeat was found.
Because of the impending surgery and recovery (and some rough unexpected physical issues) we decided to tell our children what had happened. We were all heartbroken. I struggled with sadness, but also with anger. I was angry with God. This blog essay tells the story of how I struggled through those emotions and how ultimately, God’s love is the very thing that comforted me.
I always feel so vulnerable when I share these types of stories (it’s a little scary!), but I know that maybe someone else will feel hope because I was brave enough to share. And so today, I’m sharing it once again. It’s fitting because October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.
And, even though it has been three years, and our family is now at peace with being a family of five, we remember this loss and grew from what it taught us. There is pain in remembering, but also momentum to continue forward.
And mostly, this story reminds me that I was angry with God- told Him so- and He waited patiently for me to accept His love and comfort in the midst of the pain.
And His love still awes and sustains me daily!
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
I knew it from the first moment I looked at the screen. The ultrasound technician was silent, but I didn’t need her to tell me what was so obvious in front of my own eyes. As she desperately tried to find signs of life on what should have been a wiggly, busy, tiny baby with a rapidly beating heart, my heart was breaking into a million little pieces.
And for the third time, my husband and I tasted the bitter loss of miscarriage.
The tears flowed heavy and often over the next several days. I was so very sad and my heart continued to break as I watched my three children grieve in their own little way. They had wanted this little baby to join our family too. We all missed this little person that we didn’t even have a chance to meet. It wasn’t fair.
Yes, of course I took great comfort in the hugs and kisses of my children. Their presence was a balm to my wounded soul. As they wiped my tears or cried along with me at the dinner table when my hormones were raging and my efforts to conceal my pain were useless, I felt extreme love and gratitude for them. But even surrounded by our three precious children, I knew I had lost another one. A life was gone and off-handed comments of, “Oh, maybe you’ll still have another one!” felt empty, as if this life was so easily replaced.
And I got angry. I was angry with almost everyone and everything, but most of all, I was mad at God.
How could He allow this? Was He trying to teach me something? Had I done something wrong? Was I to learn from this?
I wanted a baby, not a lesson.
The anger and frustration from this loss built in me, and my tears were hot on my cheeks. It didn’t seem fair that I had spent weeks dealing with morning sickness and had worked hard to hide the fact that I was always on the edge of queasiness. I had fought the super-fatigue of the first trimester and dealt with the guilt of needing to nap during the day while I allowed my preschool-aged daughters to watch too much TV. My body had already started physically changing and, as if I needed another reminder of what had been, it held on to the weight that I had gained.
Emotionally, I had allowed my anticipation and excitement to grow along with that little baby in my womb. I had been constantly daydreaming about its arrival and wondering if it would be a boy or a girl and what name we would give it.
And even though I was only 10 1/2 weeks along when I had that shocking and awful ultrasound, I was 100% in love with that child.
It hurt to the core and my anger toward God came to the forefront.
Intellectually, nothing had changed for me. I knew God was sovereign. I knew God was good. I knew God loved me. I knew all of those “right things.” But I didn’t feel them. Emotionally I felt empty and alone.
If God loved me, then I felt like this was a rotten way of showing it.
Through the long days of physical healing that followed I had a lot of time to think. And feel. It seemed that my emotions were winning every battle and though my rational thoughts of what I knew was true were trying to come to the forefront, my anger and bitterness were pushing them back down.
I realized after a day or two that I couldn’t trust my emotions. I was a wreck. I wasn’t in control of my feelings and though I was trying to rally them to help me feel what I desperately wanted to feel… God’s love… it wasn’t working. I was going to have to call upon what I knew was true instead.
It wasn’t easy. My feelings of loss and hurt and pain were so strong that my efforts to see glimpses of God’s love were strained and difficult. But little evidences were there. I decided to take mental note of them and store them in my mind as ammunition against my anger. Perhaps over time I’d have enough to once again feel God’s love, though for now I’d have to be content without the feelings, and take what I could get from the knowledge alone.
And God didn’t disappoint.
Don’t get me wrong, I certainly didn’t feel all warm and fuzzy or enveloped in His love. On the contrary, I felt like He was distant and even harsh. But I kept looking with my eyes since my heart wasn’t playing along.
And I saw.
At first my teeth were gritted and my arms were crossed. They stayed that way for several days. I took a lot of deep breaths and used a lot of tissues as the days ticked by and the list began to lengthen.
I still didn’t feel God’s love the way I wanted to feel it. But I was seeing it.
In fact, the evidence of God’s presence and His love was obvious to me in a way I’ve never known before. His love did not feel gentle, but oh it was there! It seemed undeniable. It wasn’t the easy, sing-songy “Jesus Loves Me” kind of love, but the love of an all-knowing, Almighty whom I knew with my mind that I could trust.
I felt as if He’d taken me through a dark place of brokenness, emptiness, anger and desperation so that His love and His truths… HE would stand out in stark contrast. And He did. He was so obvious in the darkness that at one point I actually wondered if He was enjoying showing off!
I had to make a choice. Would I surrender to what my eyes had seen, His love and His presence in the midst of the darkness, or would I continue to wait for my emotions to shape up and start feeling the way I wanted them to feel.
And so I leaned on what I knew to be true.
For days my emotions continued to lay in shambles. I was still angry and I said and thought things that I didn’t mean. But God was okay. He could handle it.
For days my heart was hard and stubborn. But as I saw God’s love so evident around me, eventually my heart started to warm and I began to desire a contrite heart. The softening of my heart wasn’t immediate, but I could tell that the thawing and molding was happening in God’s hands.
To this moment, my mind cannot figure out what the point of this loss was in my life and where it leaves my family’s plans for the future. But my biggest desire now is for peace and joy in the midst of the unknown. I want to be ok with simply trusting God completely for the future, though there is nothing that feels simple about the process.
And in my surrender I knew this truth from 1 John 3:1,
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
I’m a child of God. I am His precious little one that He loves and delights in as I love my own children. No, His love is even more powerful than that. His love has been lavished on me and He calls me His child.
This loss was difficult. It hurt. It still hurts. But when my heart is broken and my emotions are all over the map, I can rest in this truth.
No matter what I am feeling, I am His child, and His love is there.
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