This isn't a blog I anticipated having to write, especially after the one the Lord prompted me to write about speaking life over my new son or daughter. But life doesn't often make sense, and here I am writing about the death of that child that never had a chance to live. As an introduction to what's been happening, I want to share part of the lyrics to a song by Plumb called "Need You Now (How Many Times)" that I keep hearing on the radio.
Well, everybody's got a story to tell
And everybody's got a wound to be healed
I want to believe there's beauty here
'Cause oh, I get so tired of holding on
I can't let go, I can't move on
I want to believe there's meaning here
How many times have you heard me cry out
"God please take this"?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.
I thought I would have to write a disclaimer about how I realize that what I'm going through is small business compared to other people's tragedies and problems. But a few weeks ago, a really wise woman told me that "everyone is on their own journey." So mine doesn't have to read as easier or harder or better or worse. It is simply my journey. And no matter our journeys, I'm sure that we've all related to those Plumb lyrics at one time or another, because we all have a story to tell.
Two weeks ago, some complications arose in my pregnancy that concerned me. Because it was a long weekend, I tried to find most of my answers on Google instead of from my doctor. I decided that I probably had partial placenta previa and that everything would be fine once I was diagnosed. However, when I finally went in for an ultrasound a few days later, I learned that although my baby was moving around like crazy and had a strong heartbeat, he (gut feeling that it was a boy) wasn't growing as fast as he should be. The next day, my doctor confirmed that I was at a high risk for a miscarriage.
At that point, I already felt like it was a sure thing. I texted this to a friend: "I know nothing bad has happened yet, and God is in control, but I feel a little like I'm just waiting for my baby to die. Helpless." Call it mother's intuition, but a part of me had already been feeling like I would never hold this child.
However, that night, I opened my Bible to Matthew chapter 8. It happened to be the next chapter for me to read, and verses 2 and 3 say: "A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, 'Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.' Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. 'I am willing,' he said. 'Be clean!' Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy" (NIV). I felt like God was telling me that He was willing to heal and that I shouldn't be waiting for death. I should be praying for healing and choosing life. And so, in faith, I began speaking life over the baby, much like God had told me to do earlier in the pregnancy, before any complications were even known.
That was Wednesday night. Saturday morning, I discovered a lot of blood, and I knew it was the end. I was running on shock (and a little anger that this was happening on a Saturday and would require an expensive emergency room visit). After an agonizing wait in the ER, I had my final ultrasound. As soon as I saw the screen, I knew there was nothing to see. My baby wasn't moving at all anymore. The tech quietly confirmed that there was no longer a heartbeat, and I went home to wait for the natural miscarriage.
So far, I had been fine emotionally. It wasn't a big surprise. Everything had happened quickly, so I hadn't had much processing time since everything had been confirmed. In fact, for the rest of Saturday and Sunday, I had to keep reminding myself that I was no longer pregnant.
All that changed Sunday night. If my night in labor with Jorie was one of the most physically demanding times of my life, this past Sunday night was the next. I essentially gave birth. Contractions, pushing, the whole nine yards. Keep in mind that I was twelve weeks along when I passed the baby. Around 2:00 in the morning, I fell into bed, sobbing. I woke poor Ronnie up and I cried, "It's not fair that I'm delivering a baby that I will never see or hold. The last time I had contractions like this, there was movement and excited anticipation. THIS. ISN'T. FAIR." And bless him, he agreed and stayed awake while I popped in and out of bed for the next two hours. That was the first time I'd cried. And it wasn't the last.
Monday, I wasn't sure if I could drag myself out of bed after Ronnie left for work. Tuesday, Jorie asked for lunch, and I looked in the refrigerator, almost too overwhelmed to scrounge something up for her. But each day, I made myself leave the house. Jorie and I spent time at the library, at the park, at the grocery store. And each day got a little bit easier. I was fully present with Jorie, fully functional. And though each day brought more physical issues as everything was running its course, I marveled that I felt, miraculously, okay.
No, it's not okay that I never met my baby (which I've decided, and Ronnie agrees, is a son named Carter James). It's not okay that I've talked to over thirty women in the past week that have experienced their own miscarriages (side note: ladies, why isn't this discussed more?). It's not okay that a friend of mine lost her son at the age of seventeen. It's not fair that other friends are struggling with loneliness, depression, and loss. Those things are not okay. God never tells us that they're okay. They're the opposite of okay. They are a result of a living in a fallen, sinful world. This world is broken. It has pain, loss, crying, rejections, abandonment, and fear.
But that's not the end of the story.
John 16:33 says, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." That's our promise. And that's how I can be okay. I'm okay because God redeems what the enemy intends for evil. I can already see facets of redemption in my story this past week. I'm not healed yet, but I'm growing closer to my Healer. If that's the only good that comes from this, it will be enough. But I already know that there is more. More that I've seen already, and more that I may never see. Every life has a purpose, and Carter's twelve short weeks in the womb will accomplish that destiny that God intended. And so, even now, I speak life over Carter and over the plan that God has. Like the song above says, I believe there is beauty and meaning here. And even while I wait to see it all, which may not happen until I'm on the other side of eternity, I can continue to cry out my need to the Lord. That's all we can really hold onto in this life, anyway. And it will always be enough.