A Reservoir of Glory: Miscarriage

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ComfortWe had been married for eight months. I knew that by most people’s standards, this was not long to wait for a child, and because of this, I never voiced my concerns. But it was a concern for multiple reasons that the Lord knows. We wanted a child, and we were afraid that we couldn’t have one.

One night in church however, the glory of the Lord filled the house from front to back as people worshiped Him in the most sincere fashion. My mind and heart were so enraptured in the glory of God that the things of this earth, even the most important things, seemed so small and insignificant in the light of Who He is and how He receives glory.

As my hands were raised and my lips declared the glory of God, this very topic of concern came into my mind, but immediately, the Spirit rose up within me with a verification that God was to receive glory for what He had “done”.

What “done” meant, I did not know at the time, but I was so sure that God had done a work that He WOULD receive glory and honor for. As I gave Him praise for what He had spoken, I felt a peace like I had never known, that whether this meant something good or bad for me, this was all about Him receiving glory, and I did not have to understand it.

I wasn’t really expecting to conceive a baby right away. I thought that a possibility was that God had fixed a foundational problem, but two weeks later, on Valentine’s Day we got our “BFP” (Big Fat Positive) as it is called in the “trying to conceive” community.

pregnancy_test_positiveThere was nothing like that moment! I was squealing with joy, and Mark and I kept hugging and crying over and over, blurting out things like: “You’re going to be a dad!” “You’re going to be a mom!” “We’re having a baby!” “We’re going to be parents!” We kept double checking the lines on the test to make sure we weren’t seeing things. I even asked Mark if he knew whether I was awake or dreaming. He assured me it was real, and we bought two more tests just to help ourselves believe the news.  My heart rejoiced because God HAD truly done it. God had done the work in that very service when His peace flooded my heart and His assurance spoke to me about the glory and purposes of God.

I knew now that it was my job to make sure He received glory for doing this.

From there, I began the exciting adventure of preparing to be a mother. I went to my computer and counted out the weeks to my due date, and was overjoyed to realize the child was due October 24th. That was cool because it was one of the only months that no one in my family had a birthday in.  It was going to be the first grandchild for Mark’s parents, and it would be the first baby on my family’s side in 10 years.  Even with 8 months to go, it seemed like so much needed to be done in such a small space of time.

I immediately began a serious endeavor to find the perfect name combinations, searching for two options for a boy, and two for a girl. Every girl has their “prized monikers” that they’ve had selected for years, but this was serious business now. The name had to be perfect, and it couldn’t just be something I “liked”. It had to have meaning and significance.

I wondered what the baby would look like. Would it be a girl with Mark’s features or a boy with my own? What color would its eyes be? Would it have blonde hair, or brown? Would the baby grow up to be tall or short? I hoped if it was a girl, it would have a full head of Mark’s dark hair that stood straight on end.

I set up my first doctor’s appointment and started filling out all of the paperwork involved. It was in the back of my mind to begin research on the various procedures to determine how I felt about epidurals, hospital births as opposed to midwife centers, how to handle pressure from doctors for procedures and immunizations you are opposed to.  There was so much to figure out.

We went down our list of people, keeping the news in a tight ring until we had to expedite the process because of big-mouths.  Eventually, it was spread far and wide, and every chance we got, we gave God all of the glory for this precious miracle and answer to prayer. I was very careful to tell people that GOD did this, because I did not want to fail to direct praise to Him.

 
While we shared our joyful news, I often felt a tremendous load of guilt, however illogical, for being pregnant. Even when I testified about it, and told of what GOD had done, I could not stop thinking about others around me that had waited and prayed much longer than I, that hadn’t had their prayers answered.  There were those that congratulated me with hurt in their eyes, and there were some that avoided me. There were some that I felt their genuine happiness for me, but I knew they must be wondering ‘why not me?’ I wished I had something to offer them by way of encouragement, but I now bore the label of “newly expectant mother,” and I knew that anything I could say would only sound hollow to those women. Still, God had done this, and I was so grateful for the undeserved blessing of carrying this child.

baby-development-7-weeks-pregnant I kept up with the daily progress reports on the size and development of our little baby.  I waited anxiously for “day 18” when my baby’s heart would begin beating. That day came and went just like the day I learned my child was getting little buds for limbs, and the day the eyes became visible. I was excited to learn that one week all of the attention went to the baby’s brain, and I took my DHA supplements and prenatal very purposefully on those days, knowing I was helping my baby develop a sharp mind. I looked forward to the day I could teach my little child great big words just for fun.

There were so many exciting things ahead! I looked forward to holding the sweet child in my arms, and seeing my husband as a daddy. I counted out on the calendar when I would likely see a “baby bump” and when we would find out whether it was a boy or a girl. We had plans for a creative gender reveal.

I was looking forward to the upcoming Saturday, when my baby would be the size of a blueberry. I was glad to be beyond the “poppyseed” stage, and the “sweet pea” stage. There was something about the size of a blueberry that made me feel a bit better about the baby’s well-being. Maybe it was because it was altogether more visible and real at that size.

On Tuesday though, I started thinking something was wrong. Intuition is an interesting concept. I’m not sure what brought on the concern, but throughout the day I could not shake the thought.

It kept coming to my mind that God was going to have this baby miscarry.

On one hand, I fully expected something like this to happen, not because of fear, but because God’s ways are not our own, and from the night He spoke to me, there was a deep understanding that I did not have to comprehend His ways for Him to receive glory. In His very promise was a clause that kept the sober realization that things do not have to have the happy successful ending we hoped for to be God’s perfect desire and plan.   While you are never “okay” with losing your child, I knew in my heart that God’s glory was the most important thing. No matter what happened, God must receive glory. Throughout that morning, I began singing the song “The Lord Gives” as I committed this child into the Lord’s hand.

On the other hand, I thought, it could be the devil trying to put fear and doubt in my mind. Throughout the day though, I began to notice the waning of symptoms. The fatigue… gone. The food aversions…. Gone. The slight nausea…. Gone.

I noticed heavy hair shedding. I always thought your hair grew rapidly in pregnancy. I looked it up. It was a miscarriage symptom, yes, but, it was also a fairly common first trimester symptom.

I didn’t feel well that day, but I did not want to be seen as one of those “wimpy pregnant women,” so I pushed through and went to class. Before I headed out from my office though, I felt an odd cramp- something like how your stomach feels when it is empty and “caving in on itself”.  I doubled over, and stood still for awhile, waiting for it to pass, and once it did, I simply went on with the day. I kept telling the Lord, “Help me have faith that everything is Ok.”

My one reassurance was, really, as long as there is no blood you have no need to worry about anything.

On Thursday though, I came home from the office and there it was.

A tiny speck of blood.

I knew, that since it was such a small amount I shouldn’t be overly concerned, but I crumbled at the very idea that my little baby’s life could be on the line. The hope I had been clinging to in the absence of blood was quickly unraveling, and in light of my former instincts, and the presence of that single dooming symptom, I lost it.  I curled up on the bathroom floor and sobbed uncontrollably, calling over and over for my husband to come, even though he was not home and could not hear me. I could not lose this precious baby. I could not lose this child who I already had so many hopes and dreams for. I could not bear the thought of every aspect I looked forward to simply being snatched away in one instant.

Some women do have spotting in pregnancy though, so I composed myself enough to dry the tears and do some research. After a bit of reading, I thought it may be something minor that I would talk to a doctor about the next day. By the time my husband came home though the flow of blood had progressed and mild cramping began. When he saw my puffy red face and asked what was wrong, I was struck by a massive wave of emotion and I began bawling all over again.

All I could get to come out of my mouth was, “I’m bleeding.”

Within the hour, we decided to go to the emergency room and get some answers. While I tried to keep a positive mindset and trust God for the best, in my heart, I knew what was happening and the emotion came like a tidal wave.

I wept all the way there.

I wept as I registered.

I wept while I waited.

I wept while I explained to the doctors what was happening.

I tried to be brave. I knew that no matter what the outcome, God would receive glory. I knew God would give me strength. Whether audibly, or in my mind, I hummed two songs throughout the night: The Anchor Holds and The Lord Gives and He Takes Away.

 

The doctors and nurses came intermittently and as my evening in the ER progressed, so did the blood….

So. much. blood.

When I went into the bathroom to change, the blood came so heavily and so quickly that I trembled at the sight of it. My husband held me while I sobbed into his chest.

Every time I went into the bathroom, it was the same. As I frantically cleaned the unrelenting blood, my mind was gripped in what felt like a surge of insanity. It wasn’t normal. It was frightening. It chilled my veins.

This was death.

The onslaught of grief that came with the significance of that sight was more than my mind has ever had to grasp in twenty-five years of life. As I aggressively fought the surge of blood it was like my mind was fighting back the loss of this child… that somehow… by making the blood disappear, by getting it off of me, it erased whatever was taking place. The blood rushed on though, so heavily and quickly that it was impossible to keep up with. The futility of fighting it somehow connected my mind with my irrational battle and inability to control the child’s life or death. I gave up and doubled over and wept the most bitter, uncontrollable tears of my life.

My spirit was crushed by a pain so excruciating that I could not breathe. My body became sick. A migraine seized my entire skull and nausea overtook me.  I felt as though I could not live another moment; that death would be better than swallowing this ocean of anguish.  Oh that God would take me now! Why must I bear this pain? Why couldn’t I have my little baby?

While I laid in bed, and the doctors did their various tests and examinations, my husband stayed close, hugging me, holding my hand, and brushing the steady stream of tears from my eyes. The hardest moments were those when my husband’s grief broke through his strength, and I saw the raw pain that he too was experiencing. One of his tears landed on my cheek. My eyes were so swollen that it took inconceivable strength to crack one open to see my husband’s face. I saw his lip quivering and felt my heart shatter into a thousand tiny pieces. I knew it was illogical, but I told him I was sorry. We both knew it wasn’t my fault, but deep down I felt like I had failed him. My body was somehow insufficient to sustain this little one.

This was his baby. His first baby… and I was losing it.

In those moments of grief, when the doctors were absent between tests, Mark and I held each other and sobbed. While it was not a “welcome” grief, it was our grief, and I suddenly felt closer to this man than I had ever felt before. It wasn’t me comforting him in a grief I could not understand, or him comforting me in a grief he could not understand… it was each of us, comforting the other in a grief that we both understood and felt with equal magnitude. This was our child, and we were walking through this valley; this storm; this howling wilderness together. I was beyond grateful to have such a loving husband to lay and weep beside as our tears mixed together creating a bond that somehow strengthened a love that was already deep and sound.

 

They did an ultrasound.

week4_sacI saw the black spot on the screen that I could identify as the gestational sac. I had seen enough pictures and videos online to recognize the shape of it, and I watched closely for dark places around it, which I knew would be blood. I didn’t see any, but I did not see a baby in the sac either. They told us that it was no reason for alarm because I was measuring at 4 weeks, and my hcg levels were consistent with that of a 4 week pregnancy.

A baby would not be visible at 4 weeks.

 

My immediate assumption was that this baby had stopped developing at 4 weeks. I should have been 6 weeks. I knew precisely when I ovulated. I had a chart with elevated temperatures, and 3 positive pregnancy tests 13 days later. They said it was entirely possible that my timing was off, but I knew better. You cannot be 4 weeks along, 2 weeks after you have a positive test. Since the findings were inconclusive though, they gave me my discharge papers, said it was a threatened miscarriage and told me to have an ultra-sound and follow up in one week, to see if the baby was developing.

My husband dropped me off at the house so I could rest while he went to the store to pick up some of the things I needed. He was the ultimate trooper- he made mental notes on all of the specifications and agreed to buy me chocolate ice cream and gummy bears for the simple sake of comfort. He was ready to do whatever it took to see that I was well cared for. I could not ask for a better husband.

While he was gone though, I passed the tissue. I knew that it wasn’t good, and I knew what it was supposed to mean. The doctor told us that this occasionally happens to some women and they go on to have a successful pregnancy, but I was pretty sure that this was the end.  Though tests were needed to confirm this, there was a type of closure in that event, that brought me to terms with reality.

Throughout the week, while I waited for the test, I began a grieving process.

I will be very honest. I am human. The emotions are raw. They come in waves and in different forms. Sometimes we lose ourselves in distractions, sometimes we try to process it, sometimes we simply hold each other and let the tears roll down our cheeks.  If we don’t think we can handle people, a place, an activity, we don’t.  Sometimes the updates on my friends’ newborns and pregnancies is a welcome comfort, and sometimes… it makes me weep. Sometimes, I still like to browse through the baby boards on Pinterest, and sometimes… I want to throw rocks through the windows of stores like Toys ‘R’ Us, Once Upon a Child, and Gymboree. Human brain and colorful question mark

While it makes little or no rational sense, my brain meanders through its reservoirs of comfort and I find myself resting in bizarre imaginations, like being hugged by a giant teddy bear, and sitting at the bottom of a chocolate waterfall…  which makes me feel like I may be becoming a lunatic. But the brain is an earthly object, handling data and information in an earthly fashion. It tries to find connections to comfort on your behalf and assist in the process of healing.

As the hours pass into days, my brain is slowly laying the child to rest. The due date, the gender, the little onesies and names… the urgency to research, the paperwork, the development…  one by one they are relegated to a place in my mind labeled “currently insignificant.”

My heart is a different story, however. Through all of this pain and heartache… while my body is doing one thing to recover from this mess, and my brain is doing another….

My heart, though shattered in a million tiny pieces, with a deep sense of loss and brokenness… my heart still knows precisely where to go. beauty-for-ashes-picIt has found a well of glory that it has dipped way down into; where God’s purposes illuminate suffering to a place of divine nearness to Him. Where the ashes of every broken dream for my little baby go into the ground and I know will one day bring forth a beauty that glorifies God better than the happy ending ever could have. There is a well of glory, God’s glory, where He receives my highest praise, and as my heart dips in that well, my bough reaches over the wall, (Gen. 49:22) to show someone else…. There’s a well of glory…. Where God receives their highest praise. In His reservoir of glory, I find a peace that has sustained me. I find a strength that has undergirded me. I have dug deep and found a source that causes my hands to raise high, to stretch beyond the barriers and reach over the walls. It has caused my lips to utter the most sincere worship of a God that is so near, so very close, and so faithful.

He has not failed me.

His promises are perfect.

Yes…. His promises… the one’s that brought me anguish… they are PERFECT.

His ways are straight.

His plans are completely without fault.

From that reservoir, my heart cries out in unwavering praise to a God that does what He does to receive glory. From that reservoir there is a peace that does not require comprehension or understanding. From that reservoir there is triumph, for God is still on the throne. From that reservoir is a heart that still magnifies the Lord.

Yes… my heart hurts, my soul is splintered, my mind is often numb, but my spirit rejoices in the well of God’s glory! In an unexplainable fashion, in spite of a pain greater than I have ever known, I have not once desired anything different than God’s highest purposes. God’s ways, so much higher than our own, do not have to be the happy successful endings to be “perfect”. Sometimes, God’s highest praise, the truest, purest glory He receives is from the voice that cracks as it sings through tears and the broken, spontaneous song that breaks forth in triumphant sorrow. Sometimes the most spectacular worship God receives is when your heart is fixed upon Him with a love so great, even when your highest hopes and dreams have been shattered into a thousand tiny little pieces. Sometimes… God’s highest glory is our greatest pain, our darkest hour, and our deepest grief.

I do not have to understand why He chose me to lose my baby. I do not have to know why He wouldn’t let this child become our firstborn, and live out all of the dreams we had for her. I do not need an explanation… not even when I get to Heaven.  I can’t explain the peace I’ve found, but it comes from a reservoir… a well of glory where God gets all the praise.

May God receive all of the glory, all of the honor, for all He has done, because I do not doubt that what He has done,  is surely worthy of praise.

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