With hope.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

"May this be your experience; may you feel that the Hand which inflicts the wound supplies the balm, and that He who has emptied your heart has filled the void with Himself."                    - Hudson Taylor, missionary to China  
If I'd written my own life story a hundred different times in a hundred different ways, I never would have included this chapter: Our Second Miscarriage.
Back in January, Shawn and I were elated to read an instantly positive pregnancy test. Pregnancy symptoms set in quickly and we couldn't wait to hold our third sweet baby in September.

Fast forward a few weeks. Our first ultrasound would happen at 8 and a half weeks. I'd been anxious about the appointment for a few days, but couldn't put my finger on why. Looking back, my once-strong pregnancy symptoms had waned a bit: I had no nausea, my energy had returned, and other than my jeans feeling a little snug, I didn't feel pregnant. Still, I'd had such easy pregnancies with Liam and Lanie that I didn't think it was necessarily a bad sign.

Our doctor began the ultrasound and almost immediately, he said gently, "I'm feeling anxious about this." He could instantly see that something wasn't right. The baby that was supposed to have a heartbeat by this point didn't, and was measuring much tinier than it should have at 8 and a half weeks.

We left the ultrasound room with heavy hearts and sat down in his office with choices we had to face. Had I gotten the dates wrong? Maybe I wasn't as far into the pregnancy as I thought I was. I was pretty confident that I was, in fact, 8 and a half weeks pregnant, but couldn't be 100% sure. So instead of making any hasty decisions, we opted to wait 9 more days and have a followup ultrasound then. Still, we didn't leave the office with much hope. We were 99% sure of what the next ultrasound would show: a baby we would never get to hold on this side of eternity.

That afternoon, I headed to Shelley Lake alone. I walked and prayed and wept. As I grieved, all I could hear was, "I am your shield, your very great reward." The thought alone was so comforting. The Lord is my shield, protecting me in what felt like walking into inevitable devastation. When Lanie was born so fast and furious, I didn't have an option for any pain relief but had to face intense pain head-on, and I felt this same way. I looked ahead and the only option - losing my very wanted and very loved baby - seemed so painful and grim. But God would be there, even there. And secondly, God is my very great reward. A baby is not. Even if He never chooses to bless us with another baby, He is reward enough.

This verse kept playing in my head, breathing comfort and hope into my hurting heart. I initially thought it was a line out of a psalm. But when I looked it up, I found it in Genesis 15, promised by God to Abram just before Abram objects, "But Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?" God then makes a covenant with him to give him a son - his own flesh and blood. Whoa. Only God. That He chose to give me that specific verse was so powerful. While I didn't take it to mean that this child was necessarily going to live, I swelled with hope for the future.

When Thursday's ultrasound rolled around (two weeks ago today), an army of prayer warriors were on their knees for us. My mom was able to fly in to be with us no matter what happened. We prayed for a miracle: that we would see a flickering heartbeat across the screen. We also prayed for comfort in the midst of the grief that was even more likely. We even prayed that if I was to miscarry, my body would begin the process naturally so I could avoid any medical interventions. We felt peace walking into the ultrasound room and peace even as we heard the verdict: no growth, no heartbeat.

Initially, I had resisted a D&C surgery because of the risks involved. But with our doctor's advice, because of the amount of support tissue and the fact that my body showed no signs of miscarrying naturally, we chose the D&C and scheduled it for Friday morning. I had been walking around for over a week feeling like a ticking time bomb. I'd go to work for a 12-hour shift and think, "Am I going to lose the baby today?" It felt unsettling.
We should've spent Friday, March 4, celebrating 10 weeks of pregnancy. Instead, I spent it under anesthesia as our doctor skillfully removed every trace of our baby's shell. Ultimately, it felt like such a merciful option. I've been recovering surprisingly well, and it felt as if I was given a new start without days upon days of bleeding and cramping (as I experienced with my last miscarriage).

Two beautiful things - truly, beauty from ashes - have come from this that I can see so far.

First, the church has become so radiant to us. Our believing friends have willingly climbed into the trenches with us, dropping off flowers and cards or just sitting with us in our sadness. My friend Whit sent the most beautiful necklace with four links representing the four babies the Lord has blessed us with: two alive on earth, and two alive in Heaven. I have hardly taken it off. Another friend wrote out Scriptures on notecards that I read as I waited to be taken back into surgery, filling my mind with truth about the loving God that I serve even in the face of such sadness. Our amazing OB doctor, who goes to our church, has walked each step with us with genuine compassion. My mom rearranged her schedule to be a support to us and our kids so we didn't have to worry about their care. We had meals delivered for over a week. We feel so lavishly loved.

Second, the Lord has taken us deeper in our walks with him. This closeness is something I wouldn't even trade a baby for. At the recommendation of a friend, I listened to Audrey Assad's newest album, Inheritance just before the surgery. It's a mix of old and new hymns and was so powerful to prepare my heart for the loss of another baby. It has helped my heart stay open to Jesus' voice in the midst of pain.

I know that the topic of miscarriage can make people squirm. It even feels a little uncomfortable writing about it, not knowing who in the world will read this post today or in years to come. But I wanted to bring our story into the light with the hope that it may encourage even one person. There is no guilt or shame in losing a baby. I believe with every ounce of me that we will see our babies in Heaven one day, and until then, they'll be whole and safe at Jesus' feet. We grieve for them, yes. But we grieve with hope. I can't begin to understand why He would take this very precious, very loved child so soon. But we trust Him. We hope in Him. And we anticipate the ways He will heal and redeem.

17 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry for your loss. I know the pain. So thankful for the hope we have in Christ!

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  2. So sorry for your loss, Whitney! We lost our first baby to an ectopic pregnancy. We still think about our little Enoch (sorry if it was a girl!), and look forward to meeting him in heaven. What an extra sweet experience that will be. May the God of all comfort fill you with joy in believing.

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  3. I love your writing, your eternal perspective, your hope and your openness in sharing your grief, joy and everything in between. It is such an encouragement. Thank you, and I will be praying for you.

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  4. Thanks for sharing your story, Whitney. We too experienced two miscarriages (both of which resulted in D&Cs) and I wholeheartedly believe in sharing our experiences so that others don't ever feel as though they have to journey rough waters alone-- but also to show God's merciful and gracious hand IN our stories. Thank you for your honesty and for always pointing it all back to Him. I will keep you in my prayers.

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  5. Sent a prayer for you. So sorry for your loss.

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  6. I was in tears as I read your story. I have had friends who suffered miscarriages and told me it was very difficult, but you put real flesh on those stories for me. I love your tender heart and that you so willingly put it out there for the world to see. You may never know whose lives you have touched with your story, but that you ARE touching many lives with it, I am certain. Blessings on you, Shawn, Liam and Lanie. :)

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  7. I'm so, so sorry, Whitney. Praying for continued peace and strength. <3

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  8. You are so brave friend. My sister had a miscarriage in November. It was her first baby and she was going in to find out the gender when they realized the baby didn't have a heartbeat. It was so hard on all of us. But even when I looked into the face of darkness, loss, grief, and pain, I knew God was still good. I am so thankful that Jesus made a way so that our lives don't end when death grips us. That because he died, all the stories untold find their home with him where their stories ring for eternity. I know that God works all things into good for his children. I believe where there has been great loss, you will see great life. Praying for continued peace over your heart.

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  9. So very sorry for your loss. Sending prayers to you and your family.

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  10. Praying for you and your family and you continue this healing process. May you continue to look to the Lord for your strength.

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