"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 ChinaIf 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.
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.
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.