Friday, February 22, 2013

In My Distress and Wherever I've Gone

This is the anniversary of the day we found out that our Baby #5 wouldn't be joining our family here on Earth.

It was hard, friends.

It is still hard, sometimes.

Here's a story I haven't told you yet:We had to wait over a long weekend, through a birthday party for our Sweet Pea, through a day at church, through a Monday, until the D&C the doctor scheduled for Tuesday night. Do you know how awful it is to go through days and nights knowing that your body has become a casket for your child? Do you realize the awful irony that womb and tomb actually rhyme? What kind of sick joke is that?

Dark, beloved.

My body knows how to be pregnant. It was not ready to give up the baby, even though he was already dead.

So we had to have the D&C.

Did you know that you have to go to the same floor of the hospital where babies are born? The nurses are thoughtful: they put us in a back waiting room, used primarily by med students, so that we didn't have to sit in the main waiting room with all those excited people waiting for their new grandbabies and baby sisters or brothers.

Then we followed a nurse down the hallways and corridors, back through what looked like a storage closet to a hospital room. There was another woman in there, behind the curtains. Everything was said in hushed voices, to not disturb this other patient or anyone else. Everyone was gentle and kind. No one made a scene, not even me.

So, I'm in a hospital bed, in a hospital gown. I'm cold and they're covering me with blankets that are just like the blankets they put over me after I've had a baby - which is the only other time I've been in a hospital bed: to give birth to a baby.

The nurses go away for a bit. We  had to wait even longer because the doctor was held up in another procedure.

My husband takes my hand.

"Maybe we should pray," he says.

"Can you stop trying to pastor me and just be my husband, just be here with me?" Oh, yes, I snapped the words. They were harsh. I didn't want to pray together. Pray for what?

He looked startled, of course. "I'll just pray for you later, on my own," he said. I turned away but I was still holding his hand as tightly as I could.

I don't remember a lot after that. Answering questions from the anesthesiologist, medicine kicking in, down the hallway, kiss from Philip and then he had to go wait on his own.

And I woke up and he was right beside me. So strange, that one of the most significant experiences of my life is completely gone from my memory. Not that I want to remember what happened in that delivery room, of course. It's just so odd to only remember that shabby little hospital room: pregnant, then not pregnant in what seemed to be a matter of minutes (in actuality: much longer), with remarkably little physical side effect for me. No blood. No visible scars.

I didn't want to pray out loud because it would be ugly. It would be messy.

Things were ugly and messy enough without that. And I didn't want to hear his prayer because what if it wasn't ugly and messy? What if he was calm and composed and could string coherent sentences together? As if our baby hadn't just died, as if none of this really mattered very much anyway?

I didn't want to hear that.

I didn't want out loud prayers.

But I was praying. I had never stopped.

I didn't hear this song until later, several months after the miscarriage. And I cried. Because this is how I had prayed:

It was the only prayer that made sense when things didn't make sense and I didn't know why things were happening a certain way: God, I need you now. I need your strength just to breathe. I need you now.

And He was there.

So later, I could hear this song:

And yes, it choked me up. But in a good way.

Because yes, there are sleepless nights. There are tears. There are prayers that are too ugly to share out loud. And then there are the real blessings of God, the mercies we did not want and would never have asked for, and yet cannot do without.

The ugly prayers? He didn't mind. The sleepless nights? He was there. He was near. He is.

I am a different person this February 22. Some things in my life that have changed for the better: I read the Bible differently. I pray differently. I parent my children differently. The way I think about Heaven is different. Our marriage is stronger than it has ever been - we've needed each other more than before. This current pregnancy is different: I've cherished each moment God gives me with our youngest Baby Boy - I certainly haven't taken anything about this pregnancy for granted. I haven't complained about the aches and pains like I did in previous pregnancies. (OK, I've grumbled a bit, but not as much.)

Some other things have changed in negative ways. I've felt so afraid with this new pregnancy - almost paralyzing fear, a kind I've never faced before. (Bad things can happen to us. Would it happen again? Could I survive if it did?) Relationships have been damaged. I'm afraid to trust people. Even though I've always struggled with that, it's worse than before. People have hurt me with insensitive words and actions and those don't just roll off. I feel even more intensely protective of our privacy and the atmosphere in our home (sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes not). The part of me that wants to stay home and just not deal with anything else, well, that part wins a lot.

For those of you who have stood by us, I thank you for praying for us, then and now. I thank those of you who remember our baby, who call him by name and make memorial gifts to your churches or ministries in his honor. I thank those of you who have shared your own stories of loss with me. I pray for those of you who are going through similar situations. I hope you know that I am praying for you, far better than I could have back in early February 2012.

But ultimately, no matter what my earthly circumstances, day by day, I must choose to honor the God who is there. The God who answers. Just like Jacob told his family:
"Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” Genesis 35:3
I now testify to the same: He is the God who answers me in my distress and He has been with me wherever I have gone.


Elisabeth said...

Cyber hugs to you today!! I'm so glad I am not the only one who has been in a place where I just didn't want to be preached at anymore. But isn't it odd?? The very words we do not want to hear in that moment are the only ones that get us through.

Ranch Community Kids said...

I cannot tell you how much I love this. It is a beautiful piece of writing. But more than that, It is honest and authentic. I am thankful that you were finally able to put it into words. I hate that you had to live this. Really, I do, but I am grateful that you have been here to be the "I know what you're going through" for my situation.

Ranch Community Kids said...

And this is Julie. I am logged in under my church email.

Deb said...

I am so, so, very sorry for your loss.

ginellebaskin said...

Thank you for sharing that. I am so sorry you experienced that. So heartbreaking to read, much less to live through.

MacKenzie said...

Thank you for your willingness to share that with us. I don't think these thoughts, both about losses similar to yours and about sorrow and grief in general, get expressed enough, and I certainly understand why because it is hard to do, but when they are shared, it's powerful. And it should be because He is a powerful God. I'm still praying for you my friend.

Lisa said...

What a beautiful post. I'm sorry you had to experience such grief. I wish I could have been closer.

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