God is Faithful to HEAL

Every day did get better and suddenly I found myself laughing with my girls, enjoying the company of my preggo friends and overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s mercy.  I felt somewhat ashamed that I no longer felt grief over the loss of this baby but at the same time, I know this baby is exactly where God had planned and I know that I will see him/her one day.  Ahhh…Peace.  A gift no person can offer when it is needed most.

I write today with a heavy heart however.  I am struggling to know God’s will and trying to not lose hope in the dream of having another baby to hold.

I became pregnant again on January 12th.  This would have been our fourth baby.  It was too early to take a test but I know this body so well, that at this point a pregnancy test is just a formality. The day after I conceived (like all the others), I felt that familiar pressure and I knew.  A few days later I was running to the bathroom every hour, waking 4 times a night to ‘go’, and my breasts were swollen (to the point of not fitting my bras) and so sore that I could not walk down the stairs without extra support.  I felt those familiar, wonderful ‘twinges’ in my belly again and on Sunday the 20th, I nearly didn’t make it out the door to church as the waves of nausea were becoming unbearable.  I cautiously began mentally planning for another (less coffee in the morning, peaking back at the babycenter website and getting excited).  However, in the back of my mind I worried that this would end the same as the last…and it did.  Yesterday my breasts no longer hurt and the swelling had gone done…deflated…Ha, a cynical metaphor of my hopes.  I knew.  There was a tiny spot of blood in the morning and by evening I used the restroom and there was a penny sized amount of ‘tissue’ left behind.  Not blood this time.  By bed time I started my period (which should not have started till the 31st).  It was different this time.  Not as heart wrenching as the first, as I had only been excited for a few days this time and before it was a month of planning and excitement.  However, another sad end to hopes still raised is disappointing to say the very least.  I went to bed feeling displaced.  I didn’t want to cry and I didn’t feel the grief I had before (it happened so fast).  I was confused and fell asleep praying.

I dreamt last night that I was fighting with Satan.  In the dream I was shooting this huge ‘man’ in black over and over but nothing happened. I wondered if I had missed my shot but he laughed and said “Don’t you know who I am?!” and I realized I could do nothing myself to stop him.  I put the gun down and he turned away and fought with Ron.  Also in the dream I had a young son (probably 5 years old) who earlier had been hit in the head playing at a baseball game (he was still in his cute, little blue and white uniform).  He was rushed to the ER and though he seemed fine, talking and laughing he suddenly stopped talking, closed his eyes and died as the doctors were frantically working on him.  Ron was the main Doctor in the dream and he was trying to save him but the other doctors pulled him away and told him he was already gone…

I woke not wanting to leave the dream like that.  I tried to go back to sleep and ‘rewrite it’ but I couldn’t.  Instead I got out of bed and read my Bible like I do every morning.  However, in the middle of my reading I NEEDED to cry.  I put my bible down and sitting in my cozy bed, cried out to God aloud, ‘Why?! Why?! Why?!’.  I didn’t expect an answer and I know that I am in no place to demand one.  I just want to know what God wants but am receiving no feedback other than the loss of these two babies.  Are we wrong to want another?  Is God showing me that this is not the path we should be taking?  Is God saving me from a tragedy later on (is my body no longer healthy enough to carry a baby)?  Are we supposed to adopt instead???
I asked God all of these questions, not expecting an answer but wishing that He would ‘surprise’ me.  I begged God for a sign instead…direction.  Lord I want your will more than anything in life.  I KNOW your ways are greater than my own.  You know all my days…all the days of this earth.  I know your way is best and that you want for me to prosper.  With that knowledge I can faithfully say I want YOUR will and not my own.  Just show me what it is so that I can faithfully follow!

I decided to EXPECT a sign and this is what came to me…
If Ron comes home tonight and brings up adoption or more specifically, finishing the (literal) last step needed to complete the fostering license process (we have until February 21st to finish it or we have to start the process over), then I will know God wants us to move forward with adoption.
Note that Ron doesn’t mention this kind of thing…Although he is open to God’s will, he would much rather just have more of our own children than ‘risk’ adoption.  So truly if he brings it up (not a single prompt from me)…that would be a miraculous sign!
I also asked that if this DOES happen, that God would change Ron’s heart to be (strongly) led to adopt.  He needs to be the leader, the strong one, the faithful one, should we take this route.  The whole process is a bit terrifying for both of us, especially when I want a baby…  With a baby, you don’t know what ‘problems’ (health issues, etc) that may exist…I fear that the baby could have great health issues, what if he/she has needs so great that we struggle to care for them?  I know this sounds selfish and plainly put, it is.  I’m being honest here…this is scary!  Can our marriage handle this?  What if deep down we resent this precious baby?!  (Yeah, I’m going ‘there’, this is truth and these are the thoughts that run through our minds…Thoughts that can overwhelm and detour us from taking that step.)  Fear has a way of causing doubt that we never knew existed…A sneaky way of showing us a weakness that we never had.
BUT, when fear creeps in I have to remind myself that fear does not come from God.  Fear is Satan’s way of keeping us from God’s will.  So I push the thoughts back, close that door and trust that God will provide regardless.  Scary, yet reassuring at the same time, if you can follow that one!

So today I awake to another disappointment, a weird dream (that may very well leave the best ‘shrink’ confused and the nearest priest prepping for an exorcism) and a ‘lost’ feeling that is more than unsettling.  I find myself questioning God’s plan for us and in the end am scared…um I mean “excited”, to see what will happen when Ron comes home…If Ron does mention adoption, is that an end to the dream of having another baby ourselves? and if he does NOT mention adoption what then?  Well I guess we will see what God has in store.  You see, whether we ‘get it’ or not, His plan will prevail.  I am asking for a road sign, for some kind of reassurance but I also know that this is not usually given.  However, we are still expected to blindly…faithfully follow (which I will).
I am not sure (I have no idea) why we are struggling to have another baby after the first 2 were so easy, but God knows and in the end I trust Him.

I believe...

My Healer…
Last Sunday we were singing “Your great name” and the part “Redeemer, My Healer, Lord Almighty…” left me weak at the knees…Yes! “My Healer”.  Oh I take that personally now.  I own the name of God, “My Healer” and I will be forever thankful.  I met this part of God when He healed my damaged kidneys 9 years ago.  I met him again when He removed the hemorrhaging from my eyes 7 years ago and I know Him now in a way I never knew…When we lost our baby on New Year’s day.  God healed my heart in a way no one else could.  Though He didn’t just heal the wound, He left me with something new…something greater inside that I cannot begin to put into words.  Grace.
And now just 2 weeks later, I am faithful that He will do it again.  My Healer.

January 4, 2013: A Baby Changes Everything

Last Sunday at 4:30PM, December 30th I began spotting.  By evening the spotting had increased into what I would describe like a period and my heart sank.  I knew it was the beginning of a sad end to a story that was supposed to ‘live happily ever after’.  The on call nurse offered some hope (could be normal, etc), and though I clung to her words, in my heart I knew.  We spent New Year’s Eve shooting off our biggest fireworks display ever but I could only think of one thing, ‘Are we losing this baby?’  I spent New Year’s Day working on the ‘Sanctity of Life’ prenatal development calendar I had promised a woman at church to help with.  I did my very best, though working through those images, especially the ones at 8 weeks (so close to our little one who was just 6 weeks along) was surreal to say the least.  It did however; give me something to do other than cry and wait, so I was thankful for the distraction from self and for something to pass the time that didn’t require me to talk.

Because of the holiday I could not have an ultrasound done till Wednesday the 2nd and the waiting was the worst form of mental torture I’ve ever experienced.  The bleeding was heavy and the mild back aching cramps had turned into searing, stabbing pains that tore at my heart a hundred times worse than my body.  I no longer felt pregnant.  The ‘twinges’ I had been feeling on my left side were gone and my breasts were no longer swollen or tender.  By Wednesday morning I was begging God for peace, pleading with Him to get me through the appointments without sobbing and somewhere deep down, was quietly begging him to show me a miracle and let us keep this baby despite all the obvious signs that the baby was gone.  The names we had thought of (Samuel and Gianna ‘Gigi’) plagued my thoughts and I wished we knew whether or not the baby was a boy or a girl… wanted to call this little one by name.  But it was too early to know.

The girls couldn’t go to the appointments (obviously) so I was thankful that our sitter was able to come over last minute to watch the girls.  I left with a painted smile and kisses to the girls and ran out of the door with a box of Kleenex for the car and a wad of tissues in my purse (just in case…always the planner).  I tried to keep control of my emotions as I drove in and sang “I will praise you in this storm” over and over again as I drove the 20 miles to the Imaging Center.  When I got there I fought a huge wave of nausea and headed in for the ultrasound.  It didn’t take long for the tech to call me in.  She was nice enough but all business.  I watched the screen with her…searching for something, anything that reminded me of previous ultrasounds with the girls (where is the little peanut?) but there was nothing.
I asked her if she could see the sack but she turned the monitor away and said she needed to see it face on.  I waited for her to finish.

After the ultrasound I drove to the clinic where Vanessa was waiting to draw my blood to test the HCG levels and informed me that the results of the ultrasound would not be in for another hour.  I took that time to run an errand at Office Max (bought a Diet Coke since I figured I could probably indulge) and walk our tiny little mall, (I needed to get out of the hospital and pretend everything was normal) and pray.  I returned to the clinic at 1:30 and waited to be called in.  A young Mom was standing next to me with a huge smile and her tiny, little newborn (couldn’t have been more than a week old) in her arms.  He was perfect.  I glanced at him, at his car seat, at his Mom and all the smiles from the people around her and for the first time in my life, I couldn’t join in.  All I could think was ‘this is supposed to be what I am looking forward to’  But I knew it wasn’t.  I kept my eyes on the floor and was sorry that I couldn’t offer a smile too.  Just then Vanessa came out and took me in the back.  She said something about the icy roads and the weather but I wasn’t much for conversation…I just wanted to know.
She sat me down in the ‘talking room’ where I waited for Dr. Wiegand to arrive with the news.  While I waited I read the Bible on my phone (I actually searched for ‘joy through trials’).  Romans 8:18 came up “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Hope.

Not long after Dr. Wiegand arrived.  She smiled, said she was sorry for what I was going through and asked me to describe what had been happening.  I told her my quick story of the events from earlier in the week and studied her face (“what does she know?”).  She opened my file and said “Well the ultrasound showed no sign of pregnancy”.

Okay.

She went on further to explain that the baby must have stopped growing earlier on and that I was just now miscarrying.  I didn’t cry.  I had nothing to say.  She went on; describing how low my HCG levels were when I was first found to be pregnant (I knew I was pregnant 20 hours after conception so the test was done REALLY early as home tests kept coming back negative).  I guessed that her saying this meant that this was a sign of problems in the beginning, though I’m not sure and it didn’t matter.

Finally she closed my file and expressed how sorry she was.  She said that it was normal to grieve and proceeded to tell me about support groups with churches and how some women have a burial.  All I could think was that I would, but I don’t have a baby to bury.  I fought back the tears (I knew if I started I was not going to be able to pull myself together) and after a few questions, I left.

I needed to cry and I knew that once I got home (with the girls) I was not going to be able to.  So I pulled my car into an empty part of the parking lot and sobbed.  I did not want to fall into a pit.  I did not want to wallow in self-pity or open a box that I could not close but I did want closure and my heart ached with a loss I cannot describe.  I was scared of how I was going to feel tomorrow or the next day, or the next I did not want to drive home ‘alone’, without the hope of this life I had in me, but I had no choice.  I called Ron to tell him the news.  He said he was sorry but I could tell he was busy at work and I knew he was not going to be able to offer the help I wanted (no one could).  I called my Mom and though I appreciated her encouragement, it only made me cry more.

I dried my eyes and drove home.  I love the song I will praise you in this storm by Casting Crowns…  Always have but that day I needed to praise God, amidst this storm.  I prayed and sang the whole way home and by the time I got there, I felt a glimmer of hope, like a thin layer of peace had covered the hole in my heart long enough to smile for my girls and thank the sitter.  As she was leaving (in front of the girls) Caitie asked if the appointment was just a normal appointment and if things were okay (she’s a teenager, she doesn’t know not to ask these things).  I wasn’t sure what to say, so I said “Not really Caitie.  But you’ll see on the prayer chain” (I didn’t want to say anything in front of the girls and the prayer chain was already praying for me, so I knew I needed to let them know).  When Caitie left Madison looked at me questioningly and Olivia started saying “I’m going to have a baby sister!” (She had been saying this over and over all week).  So before I had taken off my coat or even made it up the stairs, I told the girls.

“The baby is not okay.  Remember how I said sometimes, really early on in the pregnancy, women can lose the baby?” Madison’s eyes got big and Olivia just stared at me…”Well I was feeling sick this week because we were losing the baby.  So I’m not pregnant any more”.  That was the only way I could think to explain it at the time.  Madison didn’t seem too upset, she didn’t even question, but Olivia said “I’m not going to have a baby sister!” and immediately began to sob, crawling into my lap.  “I wanted a baby sister!” she said over and over as I cradled her.  I told them both that I wanted one too but that sometimes God has bigger plans for the baby and that even when we don’t understand that I trust that His plans are way better than my own.   I told them that He might give us another baby one day, but that I didn’t know for sure.  I also said that the baby is in Heaven with Jesus and that we will meet the baby when we get there.  Then Madison seemed to ‘wake up’ and said “The baby is DEAD!?!”  I didn’t want to say it and hearing those words left me somewhat speechless.  I told her that the baby stopped growing and that it was okay now and in Heaven.  Olivia cried for a while (not what I had expected from her) so I did my best to console her. Madison was quickly distracted with a friends invite for a play date (which I was extremely thankful for…much easier to answer the questions of a 3 year old), so she went off to play while Olivia and I made creamy potato leek soup with ham and actually enjoyed our time alone (anything to get my mind off of what had just happened).

I don’t remember much else.  A pair of maternity pants I had won on ebay arrived that evening.  I tucked them away and wondered when I should put back all the maternity clothes I had pulled out last week.  I hid my baby name book and baby development book on my shelf so that I wouldn’t have to look at them and I considered putting the diaper bag I had bought a few weeks back, under the house…but didn’t.  Somehow it felt worse putting away all the things that only a week ago had brought such joy.  So I left it in my closet and hope that it will get used one day.

I announced the miscarriage on Facebook, made a couple of calls (I really don’t want to “talk” about it), sent texts and ensured that everyone who had been excited with us about the pregnancy knew that things had changed.  I searched for hope on the Web (not sure what exactly for, just searching for something to make things ‘better’ or to provide answers) but found nothing.  The support groups are heart wrenching and the photos posted by grieving parents haunt me.  I am ever thankful that God spared me from seeing my baby.  I do not think I could get over that.

By evening Ron and the girls were lying in bed watching TV while I was staring at a blank screen on my computer.  He came over and asked if I were okay, or if I was ‘dying over here’.  I couldn’t hold it in.  He hugged me and let me cry.  For a long time, he just held me and I cried.  I had no strength in my arms to even hold him back and the tears just poured.  I didn’t want Maddie to see, so I turned my head away from her and thanked Ron for letting me cry.  He told me that he is torn up over it also and that he loved seeing the excitement and the ‘glow’ on my face.  He asked if I wanted to try again but all I could think was ‘I don’t want to go through this again’.  I just want a baby, ‘this baby’…now.

I searched the NWAE (foster children in waiting) lists…hoping to see a newborn ‘meant for us’ and wishing that an answer to my hearts ache would reveal itself therein, but it didn’t.

The only peace I found was when I prayed.  And the peace felt during those times is absolutely priceless.  A welcome rain in the middle of a drought…I cannot imagine going through this alone.   In the shower yesterday my mind began playing back all the events of the day passed.  (The images of other baby’s lost plagued my thoughts and I quickly turned my thoughts elsewhere.) Tired of hearing my own voice in my head, offering nothing in return, I asked God to speak to me instead.  Immediately I recalled an ‘inspirational verse’ I had pinned on pinterest some time ago…Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  That was it.

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I cried but this time I cried because I knew God heard me.  I knew His plan was greater than my own…this I had not doubted.  And I knew He was going to reveal it to me, one day.

This morning is better than yesterday morning and I’m faithful that tomorrow will be better than today.  I am not super human however and although I am completely blessed to have been given a sense of peace during this tragedy, I find myself begging God for healing ‘now’.

Here’s the thing…God is amazing.  He shows himself to me in ways only another Christian can understand.  The peace I feel is a blessing I cannot describe BUT I have to intentionally seek it out, every second of every minute of every day.  God delivers but I have to remind myself that my joy is not found on this earth, it is in Christ alone.  I do not belong here and I should not feel slighted by the pain, the trials, the sorrow I will face here on earth…they are all to be expected, regardless of your faith or lack thereof.  Being a Christian does not mean that I do not hurt.  It does not mean that God heals my heart instantaneously…as though I’ve never felt sorrow.  Trust me; I am not the most patient person in the world and on top of that I’m a ‘fixer‘…I am still asking God to ‘heal me now’.  But although God is healing me (in HIS own time) what God has given me NOW is a promise…A promise that tomorrow will be better than today and the day after better than that…A promise that He WILL heal my heart but in the mean time I will grow from the pain.  I will grow closer to Him and I will be stronger, knowing that my feet can be put to ‘the flame’ and that I will not get burned.  Right now, there is nothing greater than this.

My greatest fear in life is to lose one of my children.  I fear this in a way that is sinful and I’ve openly discussed it with Ron and my Mom in the past.  I know there are those that will say ‘sinful?! How is fearing for your children sinful?!’  All I can say is that you need to read the story of Abraham and Isaac and know that to not trust God fully with my life and the lives of those I love most, is to put them above Him.  (Check out the first commandment.)  Sinful.  So to lose this baby and to know God is with me, that He has never left me, and that I am healing only makes my faith stronger in Him and takes away that fear that threatens to hold me captive.  It’s ALL in God’s hands…Whether you give your life to Him, or not.  It’s all in His hands.

So I woke today and read my Bible like I do everyday only today I prayed first.  I asked God to continue to heal my heart and to fill the hole that is left with joy for Him.  I asked that I would feel ‘normal’ again…that I could smile and laugh easily with the girls today and that I would not feel so tired (apparently extreme fatigue is common to experience for weeks after a miscarriage…not something I had expected).  And I thanked Him for all I do have…Two beautiful, healthy girls, a loving and supportive Husband and a warm home to live in.

I do not want to be fooled into believing that all I was so thankful for in November is no longer good enough.  I am thankful for all God has given me and all He has taken away.  I will continue to beg for His will over my own (Lord knows I don’t know what is best for me); even if I don’t understand it and even if the world sees it as a curse or replies with “You didn’t deserve this”.  If I received what I “deserved” in this life, I would not have the hope of Heaven.  I am ever thankful that God has mercy on me and that no matter what trials I face on this earth it is better than what I truly “deserve”.

I know better and I thank Him for His mercy.  The time on this earth is short and now I have all the more reason to look forward to going home.

Today is better than yesterday and tomorrow will be better than today.  Thank you Jesus.