Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Grieving, Fear, & Hope

I feel like these three things (grieving, fear, and hope) have had a hold on my heart like a three-man tug-of-war since Sept. 4, 2012, the day we found out we had lost our baby.  I've weighed whether or not I would share about this on the blog... and how much to share, or when to share it...

I've never really been one for hiding things or being guarded.  Probably because I've experienced so much grace and strength whenever I've been vulnerable.

It's probably just that I've had this expectation that I would be telling about this on the other side of things.  Kind of like a "bad-news-but-wait-here's-the-good-news" kind of thing.  So I've been waiting... and waiting... in anguish... and after waiting some more, I figure it's just time.

Okay here goes... When David and I got married in 2007, I remember wondering how our family would grow.  I had no reason to doubt, but I wondered if I'd be able to have a baby.  I mean, you never really know till you know, right?  I wondered if it'd take us a long time to get pregnant.  I feared that we'd miscarry our first--or even worse that we'd have several miscarriages.  I wondered if we'd have some kids of our own, and then maybe adopt a little one, too.

Then I got hit with baby fever after we'd been married about two years.  David didn't feel ready yet, so I (tried) to wait patiently for him to get on board.  And I still remember how excited I was when I found little baby socks at the bottom of my Christmas stocking in 2010--his way of telling me he was ready.  (I still have the notes and the necklace he tucked inside them.)  Precious, right?

Well it was seven looong months of trying before we became pregnant with our precious and spunky Elizabeth Joy.  Ellie is 2 1/2 years old now, and man was she worth waiting for.  I knew God had a little baby planned just for our family, and I tried to console myself during the days, weeks, and months of waiting with just that--that I wanted the baby HE had for us, even if that meant having to wait for His perfect timing.

See what I mean?? :)  Our joy...
Then, having grown up the youngest of three girls with about a two year age difference between each of us, I crossed my fingers for the two year age gap.

So we were beyond thrilled when, on July 22, 2012, we saw the positive lines on the test--after having just decided the month before to try!  We were on cloud nine, dancing around singing "two years apart, woot woot!!" We kept exclaiming to each other--that day and for days after--"Are we really doing this again?  Wow, here we go.  We're really doing this..."

Driving up to the hospital where we had Ellie was so surreal and exciting--to get to be going through something so special together again...  Then hearing that little heartbeat made it that much more real and wonderful.  We were even celebrating our five-year anniversary just a couple weeks later, so we got to enjoy a bit of a "baby moon" on our weekend cruise.

After seeing sweet baby #2 for the first time.
Ohhh, but how quickly things turned upside down at our ten-week ultrasound... I can't even describe the numbness and shock that took over when I heard our nurse-midwife say she wasn't seeing a heartbeat.  No matter how much I'd known it could happen--feared it would happen--or prayed against it happening during that first trimester--it had happened.

We lost our baby.  And for those who have gone through this, you know what I mean when I say that I lost a bit of my heart that day, too.  A part of me that just can't be filled till I see my son or daughter in heaven someday...

The grief overtook us, especially after the traumatic miscarriage itself (which took place a couple weeks later and is a whole other story).  The finality of it all burned... There had been some moments between the doctor's visit and the actual miscarriage where our hearts started to mess with us.  Still protecting the little one within me and having no physical signs of miscarriage, we hoped there had been a mistake.  That the radiology tech had been wrong.  That our little one still was in there healthy as can be...

But seeing and holding that little 9 week and 5 day old baby... whew... Counting his ten fingers that would never clasp my hands...  Looking into those eyes and wondering what color they would have been... Then together with David burying our little one with a note from his mommy and daddy in a special place, and having to walk away...  The meager hope had been indefinitely shattered.  There was a hollowness in its place.


But God gently gave us renewed hope.  I held on to a verse a good friend helped us see (2 Sam 12:23), believing we would get to see our Pistachio again someday.  [Ellie was our Peanut, so David had jokingly referred to our second baby as Pistachio.]  And I thought back to the time my mentor and close friend had lost her baby years before.  We'd always said, looking back, that if they hadn't gone through that miscarriage we wouldn't have our precious Isabella, whom she became pregnant with just a couple months after.

I clung to that hope--imagining that we would become pregnant with our third baby soon and that I'd be able to look back with somewhat of a mended heart knowing that we wouldn't have received the blessing to know our third child without suffering the loss of the other. (Does that make any sense?  I know it sounds kind of weird.  It certainly doesn't lighten the pain in any way, and of course this is only with the truth in mind that we would still know our heavenly baby someday.)

But along this journey of grief, that hope has had to change.  March 30, 2013 came and went--the day our Pistachio was due--and there was no new life.  No consolation to the timing of our lost little one.  And the pain just seared...  I had really thought I would be pregnant by then.  I had hoped for it all throughout those tragic 40 weeks that would've been Pistachio's full term..  But I was kept in a season of waiting.

Baking is good for the soul... I made these Pistachio cupcakes to commemorate what would've been our baby's birth-day.
Backing up a bit, if you asked me the month after our miscarriage how we were doing, you'd probably be surprised to hear that though we were utterly heartbroken, we weren't devastated.  And I think that was because of the strong sense of hope we felt amidst the grief, as well as the the firm trust we had in God's sovereignty and His ability to redeem, and definitely the gratitude that we held for our Ellie.  The fact that we were still parents, and that at least that wasn't lost, kept me afloat.  (I almost felt like I wasn't allowed to be as devastated as couples who miscarried their first.  I felt for their pain more than ever before.)

But now?  Having lost our baby 16 months ago...  And still not being pregnant.  Oh man is it devastating.  Seeing that temperature drop again yesterday morning, confirming that my cycle is again on its way rather than the longed-for positive pregnancy test...  It crushes me more than I can say.  WAY more.  More than I even try to let it--because I have that HOPE coursing through me and that ultimate belief that GOD KNOWS.  He knows how ginormous this desire of my heart is, and He loves me SO dearly.  He is sovereign and GOOD and faithful in His promises.  He is so deserving of my trust as He carries me through this painful time.  He is ready and willing to take every single worry and fear from me and let me rest in His peace.  He has a plan for our family, and it is good.  I know this with all my heart.

Then how can I still fear that we won't be able to have our own baby again?  How can I still lose heart, no matter HOW many months go by where I find out I'm not pregnant again and am hit with yet another blow as though I'm miscarrying another baby?  I have seen Him bring children to couples who were told they most likely wouldn't ever be able to conceive.  I have known four beautiful friends who have lost little ones around the same time as me who have gone on to become pregnant, and two of these have even given birth to their precious girls already.

I know that hope in Him is stronger than my heaviest fear.  That He can comfort me in my grief and will one day reunite me with my little baby, where we'll be Home--where there is no death or tears or pain.

But man, that tug of war lives on.  This time of waiting is excruciating.  I miss our little baby like nothing else...

So with each month, each week, each day... I find myself surrendering my grief that I'm not yet pregnant, releasing my fears, and asking Him to replace those things with HOPE and TRUST... in His good and perfect will.  But oh man is it a daily battle...

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your heart Bethany and your grief. I'm so sorry you have to feel this grief so intensely and there is nothing we can do to help you. Thanks for being vulnerable. I'm hoping that the process of sharing your story will bring some measure of comfort and grace to you.

    Hugs,
    Becky

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  2. I stumbled across your Instagram account...and then your blog. Your story is close to my heart because it is so much like my own. It took us six "long" months to concieve our first daughter (who is now 3). My husband and I started trying for our second child when she was 1 1/2...hoping for that wonderful two year spread between siblings. It took 15 "long" months to concieve our second child. During the highs and lows of trying, one thing remained. I was SO very grateful for my little girl. I soaked up that special time with her and cherished every moment. I ended up miscarrying our second child at 8 weeks. We're quickly approaching our babies due date and I'm still not pregnant. Part of me wonders if I ever will be. I struggle along with you in the daily battle. Thanks for sharing your heart and for being an encouragement to me!

    Andrea

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    Replies
    1. Andrea, it helps so much to not feel alone; I'm so glad you shared. I'm so very sorry you lost your baby. :( And after you had tried for your little one for so long... I've been thinking of sharing ways we can honor and remember our babies (whether right after miscarrying, or on the due date each year or just in general). Is there something that has been meaningful for you?

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    2. Bethany, sorry it's taken me so long to respond. We have just spent the last month moving "home" to Michigan after living a beautiful life in Georgia for the past 8 years. It's been a whirlwind, but it's great to be close to family again. My due date for my sweet baby number two is quickly approaching...April 14th. My husband and I have yet to come up with a special way to remember and commemorate our baby. I would love any ideas you have or that others have shared with you! Xo

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