1 year ago today.
What was one minute at a time - in that moment - now is a week I will forever relive.
But like the winter is to the spring - I know now that a sweet, indescribable time of comfort was on the horizon.
October 6th, 2017
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:18-19a
This was the day I took my first pregnancy photo - 4 weeks. So early. So new.
I was excited on so many levels. To be pregnant again. To give my son a brother or sister as he had begged for the past year. To love another child. To hopefully complete our little family. (Maybe even to have a little one who looked a little like me this time)
This was also the day we told Gavin he was going to be a big brother. I can still remember his sweet squeal of approval. The questions he asked and all of his lively expressions.
This was also one of the very few days I would be able to celebrate this little life - as life.
Gavin, my son was 4 years old at this point. My husband traveled for work often the first 5 years of our marriage and my career took off at an exponential rate. To say we had been busy would be an understatement. My husband had often brought up the possibility of adding to our family, and Gavin had begged fanatically, having been sadly omitted from his big sister's life earlier that year.
I was the one to often table the discussion. Not because I did not want another child -- that could not have been more opposite. But my husband traveled for work, and I was typically working 60-70 work weeks, yet much of the parenting and home responsibilities fell on me too, my husband and I had had a very difficult first 5 years of marriage, and I had just come out of a very bleak season of recovering from an injury. I did not think we had the stamina to bring another life into the world. Nor - I, the energy.
But now, perspectives had changed, thanks to God. Our lives were still crazy, but we were stable and settled for the first time in our lives together, if I am really honest. We still had struggles, but we were now a team - life changes as a team. I had recovered quite a bit, I had given my resignation at work, although still working the 4 month notice I provided. Jimmy was in a new element all together around home life - he had to cover me for a number of months while I was unable to walk and drive. My perspective had created space and energy to be excited about this new change. And we all hopelessly gravitated to the positive news after the past 6 months, which encompassed an unbearable amount of pain.
Smiles and laughter - those were welcome changes in our home!
October 22, 2017
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3
I woke in the morning and was bleeding. No cramps. I remember sitting in the bathroom in disbelief. Trying to talk myself out of what could potentially be happening. I could not tell Jimmy. Somehow uttering the words aloud made it seem more true. So I took to google. Where many people take to google to find what is "wrong" I search desperately for articles that focused more on "this is normal." Which I found and went on timidly with my day.
A close friend had asked out of the blue a few weeks earlier (Oct 15th) if I was pregnant. She said in her quiet time she had an overwhelming sense that it was true. Not something to be gathered with the 500 mile distance between us, but because she asked, and my inability to lie (well) - she found out that day that we were expecting. The morning of October 22nd, as I sat in church tight-lipped and paralyzed in fear I received a sweet text from this very friend. "How are you feeling?"
I think in God's sovereignty and love, He provided friends through this situation to pray. Can I just say, hindsight, if you are bound to another in marriage, they are a gift - from God - to share in moments like these? To carry some of the weight of concern. To shoulder a portion of the angst and catch your tears. But God will not leave us to suffer in our own stubbornness. He aligns the body of Christ to lift one another up. This is what He did for me this day. With this simple text. And somehow telling her made it bearable to tell my husband. To face the possibility of what was happening. That small naive question allowed me to catch my breath enough to invite them into my pain so they could encourage me and pray.
October 23, 2017
Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. Psalm 22:11
Monday. I went to work. My son went to school. My husband flew to Dallas for work. I had spent the large sum of Sunday convincing myself of normalcy - if not denial. But now, Monday, I was left alone with my thoughts. I walked into my office and shut my door. I prayed and cried. If truth be known - I begged. Pleaded with God that this not be my story.
I went about my day in a fog. Thankfully when you have a pretty good routine and a great staff, you can have a day like this from time to time and fly somewhat under the radar. I had interviews and meetings, and was so grateful to see the end of the day approach. When you live very authentic with the people around you - it is a hard thing to do: to hide emotions.
That Monday - I survived. I can't claim any other success.
October 24, 2017
The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my mountain where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2
Tuesday, after a handful of meetings at the office, I gained enough courage to call the dr. They told me to come and they would fit me in. So, off I go with my heavy load of fear, pain, apprehension, and uncertainty.
I sat in that waiting room for what seemed to be hours, but in truth was probably 45 minutes. I watched the world around me. Pregnant. Full of life, joy. I saw couples who anticipated finding out the gender, others waiting for due dates and some complaining about having yet another appointment to work into their busy lives. All I could think was "I do not want to be here." How is it that this too is written into my story. Why can't I be blissfully naive as I was in my first pregnancy.
When the ultrasound tech called me back - my stomach was in my chest. After confirming the pregnancy and getting ready for the ultrasound, she stopped so gently and kind - she said to me, I want to prepare you. Bleeding does not necessarily mean the pregnancy failed. But also, positive blood work doesn't mean you are not facing a miscarriage. Hormone levels take a while to bottom out. Then she turned the volume off on the ultrasound machine. And turned the screen out of my view. She began.
I remember watching her face with precision. Looking for any clues. Desperate to prepare myself for her answer. And thats when it came, hope in the form of a small smile line in the corner of her mouth. I closed my eyes and cried. She turned the screen and asked me to look. The bleeding was on the opposite side as my little nugget. My 7-week old was fluttering in a silent heartbeat on the left side of the screen and was said to look perfect.
Relief. Absolute relief.
They made another appointment to see me in 2 weeks, took blood work, gave me a rhogram shot, and told me to go home and rest. My instructions were to call if the bleeding got worse.
October 25, 2017
I will never leave you or forsake you. - GOD
I do not remember this day. The emotions of the past 2 days had drained me. I do remember I worked from home. I do remember running a conference call that morning, but nothing more about work. But what I remember most is when my phone rang and Erica's name popped up on the screen.
Erica is a a dear friend - who is so much like a sister to me. She stays with us from time to time when in town for work. She called that day to tell me she had a last minute trip to Memphis and wanted to see if she could stay with us. I am going to quit using the word relief and call it what it really was. A blessing. God knew in this moment I did not need to be alone. That I would need to lean. Not only did he provide, but he provided the perfect friend: who was on Gavin's pick up list at school, who was in east Memphis to pick him up and bring him home, who knows how to love me well in my pain.
My husband would have been there in a heartbeat. We had stayed in constant communication, but the heartbeat was strong, the pregnancy was healthy. I was ok. We agreed he should stay in Dallas and finish his week. But God knew what was coming - and in God's sovereignty and love, He provided a shoulder that I would need in the hours to come.
October 26, 2017
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:1-2
October 26 began early, at 3am. I will save you the gory details, but I knew in this early morning hour that miscarriage was undeniable. I could not sleep. I could not think. I could not breath. All I could do was cry. It was 3am, the whole world was sleeping. The world around me felt like the world in me. Silent. Dark.
I was up all morning crying, reading the Bible, listening to worship and trying to fill that deafening silence. Erica woke up at 5am thirsty, and seeing the light in my office - walked in to check on me. I told her and knowing that I needed to be alone without being alone, she went into the adjacent room and just prayed. I will never forget that. How sweet and needed. To be present but allow me space to mourn.
I called work to say I had a doctors appointment and at 11am I found myself repeating the scenario from 2 days prior. In a room full of shining examples of what I was not going to experience. It is so hard to be the only one in the room trying not to cry. The ultrasound tech - same from a few days prior - came out to get me. She hugged my neck. And assured me she was going to help me get through it. As the screen came up she confirmed my greatest fear. The amniotic sac had in fact deflated and the fluid had leaked, suffocating my little one. Suffocated. I struggle still to hear that word. However, there was no bleeding. And what I experienced earlier that morning had nothing to do with this little one. Which to this day remains a mystery. I of course have my own opinions.
I remember hours of unconsolable crying. I remember them just giving me a room so I could regain composure to walk back out through the waiting room. I remember the doctor giving me my options. I remember calling Jimmy from the car. I remember texting Tricia and Erica. I remember having to pick up my son from school and be "ok" so I did not concern him. I remember thinking how am I going to tell him??? I remember the heartbreak of realizing he was "losing" a second sibling in the same year. I remember calling sweet friends in town to ask if they could keep Gavin overnight and take him to school Friday. I remember the moment Jimmy walked in the door after catching an early flight home. I remember getting up and driving to the hospital for a DNC. I remember the casual and carelessness of the intake nurse checking me in. I remember the incredible nurses and doctor who did everything to assure me that there was no life to save, nor pain that the baby would experience. I remember the nurse addressing my littlest love with dignity and honor. I remember it all. I remember the grief. I remember the heartbreak. To this day - I remember how much I already loved this little one I would never meet. How much I wanted to meet hold and care for them. I remember the helplessness. The guilt. The questions.
Weeping my last for a night... Psalm 30:5a
For any who read this blog who are facing this fear, I want to prepare you for many other days these emotions drained me and I was so unprepared:
The day I had to tell my family.
The day I had to return to work and pretend life was normal.
The day we told my son. (I will post another blog about that conversation.)
The day we had planned our pregnancy announcement.
The follow up dr appointment when I was told my loss was stress induced.
The day my mensural cycle returned, and every time for 8 months after.
The due date.
Every pregnancy announcement.
Every time someone asked "are you ok."
The anniversary of the miscarriage.
I don't tell you all this story to grieve you, to receive pity or to add to the fear others may experience. I say all of this for 2 reasons:
First, to write it down. It is part of our story. A painful part, no doubt, but it has shaped me, us. Without acknowledging the darkest moments in our lives - the light will never appear as bright as it is intended. Nor will we be able to see where it brings us.
Second, last night I encouraged a friend to journal. When faith is bleakest, and hope is hard to grasp - I have my journals to read back and see where I came from and all the blessings along the way I missed in my pain. God is sovereign and loving, He provides. The problem is we don't always reflect to see it.
... but JOY comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5b
To go back through the story, let me share with you the evidence of God's presence and provision:
The blessing of life. A child I will forever love, and long for the day I get to meet, hold and tell how loved they were every day of my life.
The blessing of experiencing Gavin's joy of getting to be a big brother. Which he still wholeheartedly believes he is - to his sibling in heaven.
The blessing of sharing the joy of being pregnant with Tricia before we faced loss.
The blessing of having two good and faith-filled friends to walk through that dark and difficult week with me. The prompted texts and unexpected visits.
The provision of a light and shiftable work week.
The blessing of the best and most nurturing ultrasound tech. Who saw my grief and knew precisely how to respond at each step - but also acted on it with hugs, comfort, tears, and patience.
The blessing of having a Christian doctor to take care of me during that week while my regular doctor was on vacation.
The Blessing of Erica being listed for pick up to help with Gavin. And already knowing the routine.
The way God allowed my scariest moment of the week to happen in the early morning - when I sense His presence the most.
The blessing of having Erica there that morning.
The provision of time to grieve.
The blessing of friends who are more like family. That on the spur of the moment took Gavin for the night and took him to school the next morning. Which was an absolute thrill for Gavin, distracting him from noticing the pain him mommy was in.
The provision of the a direct flight home when Jimmy went to the airport. And for his safety as he traveled.
The blessing of family who not only understood as I withdrew but prayed for us in the time it took us to be able to talk about it.
The provision of the precise words to tell Gavin what happened. And the truth God put on Gavin's heart with which to respond. Words that comforted all of us.
The blessing of a nurse who believed 7weeks was a loved child!
The blessing of a bond and understanding between myself and my sister who had been through this and knew my grief.
And the absolute blessing of going through this with my husband. Being able to lean on him and be taken care of so well.
The days that followed were bleak. There are no journals, no blogs, nothing but memory. It was full of tears and a sweet time of being empty. Most moments the next 3-4 days were spent laying on my closet floor, worship music playing and tears flooding my face as I allowed God to just lavish me in a comfort I have never experienced before. Comfort no one of the face of this Earth could give me.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 reminds us, For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
The pain of my miscarriage and hopefully the grief will fade in time. But that which is unseen will forever be engrained in my heart and mind -- our littlest loved one and the comfort and insight God gave me through the days that followed.
I woke up this morning with one specific person on my mind: Mary (mother of Jesus). In varying measures, Mary also experienced an incomprehensible pain - the pain of watching her son, the Son of God, be tortured, defamed, and eventually die on the cross. Helpless to change His fate. I thought this morning of how it must have been for her each year following - to recall that gruesome pain, but never wanting to forget - knowing also the beautiful blessings that followed. Likewise, in a smaller scale of course, I would not trade the pain - because a beautiful, sweet relationship of faith followed.
This story would not be complete with out the joy that followed ... Tomorrow, I look forward to sharing with each of you the incredible comfort and intimate faith that came from such a dark moment in my life.