Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Severe Mercy

On June 3rd, we found out we lost our 3rd baby. The baby was a surprise but we were so excited and already picturing life with a newborn, 1 year old, and 2 year old. We had known about him/her for about a month. I was picturing welcoming our baby right after Christmas. We were talking about names. I was sorting through maternity clothes. I was envisioning the nursery, planning for how Kate and Charlie would share a room. We had already had our first ultrasound and everything looked normal and healthy.

When we went in for our 2nd ultrasound at 10 weeks, the baby had no heartbeat. We were heartbroken. We were immediately flooded with intense grief while simultaneously having to decide how we wanted to proceed with the miscarriage. I felt like I was floating above my body, watching myself weep while trying to make such a difficult decision. I ended up having to have 2 surgeries (D&Cs) in 4 days. The first one was unsuccessful and we got a call 2 days later to go in for an ultrasound followed by an emergency surgery at the hospital we had just left 2 days before. More emotional trauma than I could have imagined, and much more physical pain than I had hoped for.

I can honestly say this has been the hardest time in my life. I have never known grief like this. I have never felt such a cloud of sadness hanging over me all the time. I miss our baby every day. I have never loved Rob and our children more - never felt so bonded and close to our little family. I have never clung to Scripture more, feeling it truly feed my soul. I have never felt more near to the Lord while still feeling so incredibly weighed down with grief. 

The "why" questions creep in (why did I have to be pregnant only to lose the baby? why did the baby have to die?) but my heart has been quickly silencing them. Because I know that God is good, no matter what. And I know that He weeps with me. And I know that His ways are higher than mine and His plan is perfect. And ultimately, deep deep inside, my heart rejoices because our baby has everything we would've dreamed for them already - he/she has it all in Jesus.

While we are still grieving and processing and recovering, life moves on...which is really beautiful and also can be really hard. Our children still need to be cared for - and just taking care of them is really healing and soothing. We are so thankful for two beautiful, healthy, awesome, hilarious kids. But it also feels so strange - everything from a practical, logistical standpoint is the same. It's as if the pregnancy never happened - everything has been erased. But I'm not the same at all. I feel totally different and changed forever. And I don't have a lot of physical evidence of this huge thing that has happened. I don't have a baby to hold - no pictures, memories, nothing...just one ultrasound picture of when we saw our baby's little heart beating and their body growing. So I'm learning how to balance honoring the baby's life with the process of letting go of our child and trusting them in the arms of Jesus. 

I share all of this for a couple reasons. First, I have had brave women before me share about their miscarriages and their stories have helped me tremendously in processing mine. Some family, some dear friends, some from a distance. I had resources to ask questions, ask for prayer, etc because women before me had shared. 

I also share because our baby's life matters. Because God created it. Because life is beautiful and precious and worth honoring. While I only have 2 children with me here, I am a mother of 3 forever. I was still our baby's mother, even for just a short time. I am forever changed. And one day I will get to meet this sweet baby. Praise Jesus.

A few things that I wanted to share that have comforted me:

-Our community of family and friends. We shared with our family and our closest friends as soon as we found out. We shared with our small group soon after. They have all been so caring and supportive and loving through this time. They have brought us meals, prayed for us, sent us Scripture, cried with us, sent us beautiful flowers (in picture above) and have consistently checked in with us. We are so thankful for the community the Lord has blessed us with.

-Psalm 16 - pretty much all of it. But particularly these verses...
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”....
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

-This quote from Tim Keller (Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering)
The grief and sorrow drive you more into God. It is just as when it gets colder outside, the temperature kicks the furnace higher though the thermostat. Similarly, the sorrow and the grief drive you into God and show you the resources you never had. Yes, feel the grief. There is a tendency for us to say, “I am afraid of the grief, I am afraid of the sorrow. I don’t want to feel that way. I want to rejoice in the Lord.” But look at Jesus. He was perfect, right? And yet he goes around crying all the time. He is always weeping, a man of sorrows. Do you know why? Because he is perfect. Because when you are not all absorbed in yourself, you can feel the sadness of the world. And therefore, what you actually have is that the joy of the Lord happens inside the sorrow. It doesn’t come after the sorrow. It doesn’t come after the uncontrollable weeping. The weeping drives you into the joy, it enhances the joy, and then the joy enables you to actually feel your grief without its sinking you. In other words, you are finally emotionally healthy.
-And this beautiful quote from Elisabeth Elliot, who continues to minister to my heart:
God never withholds from His child that which His love and wisdom call good. God's refusals are always merciful -- "severe mercies" at times but mercies all the same. God never denies us our hearts desire except to give us something better.

I am thankful to God for our baby's life and for how good and gracious the Lord has been to us during this time. Thanks for taking the time to read a little bit of our story.