Questioning the Promises…
I’m sitting here wondering how to start this post, as it is about a somewhat taboo subject. But I feel compelled to write. Those of us who carry the scars are a tightknit group, although we are often unaware of who is in the “club” with us. You see, the membership to this club may be exclusive, but it’s certainly not a choice. Being a member of this club can bring with it feelings of failure, feelings of overwhelming pain, feelings of embarrassment, guilt, and shame. And, it’s only a club you can truly understand after you’ve been initiated. You’re a member if you’ve ever lost a child to miscarriage.
Miscarriage in and of itself is not taboo. In fact, chances are each of you reading this know at least one person (if not yourself) who has experienced a miscarriage. But, the grief that comes after a miscarriage IS taboo. No one knows what to say to a woman who has just gone through it. A woman who has experienced a loss may or may not want to talk about it. If it’s an early miscarriage (during the 1st trimester or 1st 12 weeks of pregnancy), a woman can sometimes feel like she doesn’t deserve to grieve as much as a woman who carried her child longer and therefore, doesn’t talk about it. Often, well-intentioned people will try to comfort a woman by saying that “At least it was early…” or “You can try again in a few months…” “It was God’s way of taking care of a child who may have had problems…” Thanks, but really…no thanks.
So, here I am, a full-fledged member of the club…six times over. Yes, I said six times.
“Why does she keep trying to get pregnant? Doesn’t she realize that maybe God doesn’t want her to have more?”
“Isn’t she happy with the three children she already has?”
“Why does she set herself up for the pain over and over?”
“Is it a genetic problem? Have you guys been tested?”
“She should stop trying before something happens to her and she leaves her husband and children behind…”
“Why don’t they just adopt?”
These are questions that I’ve been asked or I’ve actually asked myself over and over. I’ve asked (screamed) them of God as well. If anyone finds the real answers, can we chat? We don’t “keep” trying to get pregnant….No, folks, we are overachievers in that area (9 pregnancies, remember?!). I am OVER.THE.MOON. in love with my three children and if anything, have realized that they truly are miracle children given the difficulties I have in staying pregnant. No, really. Each pregnancy is tumultuous at best and to have three wonderfully made children in our lives is truly something that I thank God for every chance I get. Even in the pain journey. Why DO I set myself up for the pain? I may try to protect myself by saying that I’m ok with whatever God decides to do. But I am human. I hurt. I doubt. But, I believe in God’s plan for me, my husband, and my family. We don’t know what is causing the losses to happen over and over. You see, that’s what I struggle with the most these days. This recent loss was the first pregnancy where I had extreme medical intervention…pills, injections, ultrasounds, repeated visits to the doctors over 2 hours away…and they didn’t work. Wait, didn’t “I.We.They” do everything possible? Yes, I.We.They, did. But, we’re not God. My three gloriously smart children (not to mention the scares for my life)…no medical intervention and here they stand in front of me…the result of God’s intervention. Not science, not healthy eating and prenatal vitamins. Divine. Adoption? Yes, please! Anyone who knows us knows that we would be first in line to adopt any child in need of a home, regardless of their race, gender, or abilities. But, we simply haven’t felt called to do it yet. We are always open to the call and will never refuse it but we must also be realistic in the financial responsibilities that come with adoption. Prayers are being sent up for that calling.
So, here we are…still reeling from the pain of our sixth loss which also brings the grief from the unforgotten five from our past. I do feel failure even though I logically know that I did everything “humanly” possible to save this baby. I made a promise to God a long time ago to heed His call and do my best to follow His plan, no matter what. I’ve stumbled along the away. Tripped up by my own ego, my judgments, my doubts. We all fall along our path. But it’s in the pain journey that we find our true selves. Or at least that’s what we hope. One of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, inspired me in her writings recently and is teaching me a deeper understanding of eucharisteo. Everyday thanksgiving in the joy, in the pain, in the everyday. These words pierce the heart and face hardened by so many losses. Is this why I am so much more free in shedding tears this time around? When we allow it, Jesus invites us into His pain, His Passion pain. During this Holy Week, am I being called into His pain through my own? Of course! Do I want to do a 180 and run the other way? Absolutely…real pain hurts. Hurts me, hurts my dear husband, hurts my innocent children confused and forever changed by this loss. But I feel a holy hand outstretched to me, only ME right now…a hand that will hold onto me tightly as I allow myself to feel this pain fully, as I heal, as I realize more eucharisteo. “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:17-19) Ann goes on to tell me, “It is suffering that has the realest possibility to bear down and deliver grace. And grace that chooses to bear the cross of suffering overcomes that suffering….The secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.” Oh how I’ve doubted and then apologized and gone on to doubt again. I’m a work in progress, be patient.
Pregnancy is a blessing. Nausea, indigestion pains, bloating, extra pounds, extra trips to the bathroom and all the unmentionably hilarious stuff that happens to our bodies in the process…always blessings. And you know something that I have been blessed with…JOY for pregnancy. Joy for my own, joy for others’ pregnancies. I will blissfully go on to swoon over and photograph beautiful bellies and newborns and nothing, NOTHING, will steal my joy for someone else. These days, it seems like everyone and their sister are pregnant. Yes, it hurts a little but then I remember the joy that each little kick brought to us and I feel thankful that another woman can experience pure bliss and I feel blessed to be able to capture those moments forever for them. It is one of our only times to assist God in a miracle so quit complaining and enjoy it! Embrace it!
So, here I sit…struggling with that button to publish this post because I know that there is the potential for many people to read this from work, school, church, etc…but I feel I must. Number 6, or Elijah as we lovingly named him has been the most painful as we’ve had to wait for the process. I look like I’m 9 weeks along and still feel like I’m 9 weeks along. This is my heavy cross to bear and find it fitting for Holy Week. What better time to reach for that hand outstretched to me? This experience DOES make us better, it DOES make us stronger even when we feel weak. I will make something of my experiences although I haven’t quite figured out how yet. Please know that I extend an open invitation to anyone to share their story or who would needs someone to listen.
I wish everyone a very blessed and peaceful Easter…whatever your struggle or joy, reach out for the hand outstretched to you.