Earlier this week, we celebrated our daughter’s 1st heavenly birthday.
On May 2, 2016, our 2nd baby went directly to heaven, a miscarriage that yanked the rug out from under me and sent me into a tailspin for the following year. You can read all about our loss of Seraphina here. (And, our first loss, Gale, here.)
The time following pregnancy loss, specifically when you had seen your baby on an ultrasound, who’s heartbeat you heard and cherished, and who’s presence you shared with loves ones aren’t easy. And, you don’t move on from the physical pain and emotional & spiritual suffering, as quickly many people think or assume you do or should.
Your entire world is now operating from this point of reference. You’re carrying this burden around with you that is unseen by the world at large. You think about it daily, especially during the time when your body is recovering from the trauma it has been through. It’s a daily reminder that your child is now gone.
I have a friend who’s baby was born about 10 days before my miscarriage. I was due to bring them a meal and meet the baby (and was planning to tell them about our pregnancy). That was the first big hurdle that was in front of me. The thought of seeing that newborn and having to tell them of my own loss was too much for me at that time.
And, that was just the beginning of a very dark year for me.
With every new baby announcement (I had 4 very close friends announce in the following 2 months), you feel like you’ve been punched in the gut. It’s not that you aren’t happy for your friends and thankful for the gifts of new life, it’s just that it’s a reminder to you of what you have lost.
I cried almost every day or when I would see the last ultrasound photo of our daughter. Or when I saw pictures of people’s new babies on social media. Or when I walked past pregnant women in a store. When my sister’s rainbow baby was born several months later, it was all I could do not to completely fall apart in the hospital when I held my beautiful niece who I love so much.
I honestly thought I would never stop feeling such deep grief and sorrow.
Couple those feelings with a desperation to conceive again after a miscarriage because you feel like a new baby will lessen the pain of losing the one before. You want your “rainbow baby” right away. Some people are lucky to conceive again quickly, like we did b/w our two miscarriages. But, sometimes, you’re not so lucky, as we were this time around. Month after month would pass (and have passed) and month after month, my hope that I would have another child began to dwindle.
I started questioning everything:
Why did God “take” my baby from me?
Did something happen to my body after the D&C, causing damage to my reproductive system?
Is Maisie (my 3rd child) the last baby I’ll ever carry to full term?
At my age (pushing 40), is my fertility just so low that conceiving might never happen again?
Does God think I can’t handle anymore children?
Am I crappy at mothering and thus, don’t deserve to have anymore?
Why aren’t you happy, Rebecca? Because you have 3 healthy, rambunctious children, you have more than so many others!!
Oh, yes, these are real questions/thoughts I (or should I say, the damn devil) pounded into my head and heart day in and day out. And, I started to believe that I was unworthy of this calling to motherhood, that God was punishing me, that “no, you aren’t a good mother, Rebecca.”
And, guess what? Thoughts like that steal your light and your joy. That push you away from God who IS LOVE, who GIVES LOVE, who LOVES US UNCONDITIONALLY.
I was slowly becoming angry, sullen, and sad. I was failing to see the beauty before me in my 3 kiddos who needed me to be Mom. I was pushing them away, pushing my husband away, trying to face the powers of the devil all by myself.
I realized as I started reading a book called “Desperate: Hope for Moms who Need to Breathe” that I was slipping into a depression (which was new to me because I have never dealt with that before). The book helped me recognize what was happening within me and to speak the words “I think I’m depressed” to close family members. And, literally, as I spoke these words out loud, I felt the power of the devil and the depression weakening.
This was right around the beginning of Advent and the words of joy, comfort, and peace promised through the birth of our Savior began to seep into my soul. I read these words in the book “Desperate”:
“I will not let the dark tell me who I am. I will give only God the authority to tell me who I am. I will choose to be a participant in my own life; I will not let this life or my dark days control me.”
I let God love me. I let myself hear and feel God’s love for me. I started seeing all the good in the life I have, now, not the life I thought I “should” have. I let the hope of the birth of Christ, the savior of the world, the hope for MY LIFE, become my anchor again. A few months later, during Lent, I read these words that further changed my perspective on suffering:
“‘God’s will’ is not a label that can be put on unhappy situations. God wants to bring joy not pain, peace not war, healing not suffering. Therefore, instead of declaring anything and everything to be the will of God, we must be willing to ask ourselves where, in the midst of our pains and sufferings, can we discern the loving presence of God?”
(Show Me the Way, Henri J.M. Nouwen)
It was a long year, but I have been able to find the loving presence of God all around me again, to be happy and engaged in what my life IS, right now, with my 3 crazies. Because, this IS my life as it’s supposed to be, today.
Instead of fixating on all that I lost, I have changed my view to see all that I’ve gained – another tiny saint in heaven, interceding for me and the family; new empathy and compassion for others who suffer similar losses; a renewed sense of how God loves me, uniquely and individually through the crosses I am called to bear; how those crosses are opportunities to further understand our Lord and to be sanctified.
I recently read these words from Joanna Gaines (yes, THAT Joanna Gaines which pretty much sum it up for me:
“I mean, that’s life. Life is never predictable. Life is never really manageable. If your mind-set it always, ‘I’m just surviving,’ it seems to me that would wind up being your mind-set for the rest of your life. You’d just get stuck in it.
So, I finally flipped the switch in my mind. I said, ‘I have to choose to thrive, even in the pain. Even when it’s tough.’ And it was tough.
I didn’t want to look at this experience and regret how I handled it. I wanted to say, win or lose, that we believed in love, that we had faith, and in essence we fought the good fight. I didn’t want to be found a quitter or a doubter.”
(The Magnolia Story, Chip & Joanna Gaines)
So, here’s to FIGHTING AGAINST THE DARK. You are not a quitter. This is not the end.
Sometimes when we come to the end of ourselves – our grief, our sorrow, our despair for any hope-filled tomorrow – we find God – the God Who Hung On The Cross. Our Suffering Christ. May His scarred hands encircle your hurting hearts with the healing balm of His love to help carry your pain into the Light! Look up. Get Up. Never give up!!