*This post contains discussion of miscarriage; if this is an issue you are sensitive to, you may not want to read on.*
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1:21
June 29th. Eleven weeks pregnant and bleeding on Jonas’ birthday. The doctor confirms by ultrasound: the baby is gone. This is not new for us – miscarriage number five, in fact. But the shock and the grief don’t seem to change, no matter the number. I really wasn’t expecting this, though it seems I should, and I don’t think it has really sunk in despite the red and the machine showing no heartbeat. Yet this is the reality God has planned for us, by no mistake.
June 30th. Too much bleeding and frequent clots, some the size of my palm. Eventually I am weak and dizzy. We end up back at the clinic by noon where I am dilated so the doctor can try to get the clots and tissue moving out. I pass the baby as he works. He needs to monitor the bleeding for a while, so I lay, knees up, covered with a white sheet in a sterile room. They give me Pitocin and Methergine to encourage my uterus to contract and the bleeding to slow. Time passes and there’s still a lot of blood. I may need a D&C, and I really don’t want that. I squeeze eyes shut. The doctor pushes hard on my stomach and we give it some more time. And I pray repeatedly that the bleeding would slow because I want nothing more right now than to avoid a D&C and go home with my family. I breathe a jagged breath and exhale, and the sadness swells, but I am okay. I am held. I feel safe, despite the circumstances, even here, staring up at ceiling tiles while resting on a hard table – and I am surprised by this calm. You see, I am the one who too often chooses fear and distrust, instead of just resting in the One who has never broken a promise. Now I sigh a thank you for His peace that truly is beyond our understanding. And I am thankful, even today – maybe especially today. Thankful in the midst of grief. I know that even my gratitude is not by my own strength, but a gift from the God who works all things for good. I feel a deep peace in the midst of sorrow. A strange joy even. Joy? It’s inexplicable, but as I lie there, I have a sense of joy as I recognize God’s working in my heart, there in that lonely room. Joy as I think about my two children sitting in the waiting room, and how this cycle of miscarriages could be my only fate were it not for God reaching down and protecting two of my little ones who grew in my womb. And I realize once again how very precious they are.
I am sorrowful over the baby that will not be in my arms come January. If I had my way, none of this would have happened. But I know it isn’t my way, but His, and though I don’t understand, somehow it is the better way. I would never let that baby go. I would hold on with all my strength. But it was not my child to keep, and God’s purposes are greater than my own, and his strength is greater too. And somehow, only by his grace, he has made this okay in my heart, and I can feel free to cry and grieve, free of fear and anger and confusion and guilt and all those things that rob a person. And I give thanks for pure grief. And I give thanks that it is often in the hard things that we feel most alive. That there is something worthwhile at the heart of pain. That we can see God more clearly, even when we can’t see the why. That we can feel His love for us and be reminded of its truth in a way that surpasses our everyday existence. And I give thanks to an answer of ‘yes’ to my prayer. Another hard push on the stomach, one more clot with some tissue, and my body’s work is done and the bleeding can slow.
I don’t know why this happened, and I don’t feel compelled to ask the question. And that is a very good feeling. I look back over my life, and I see God’s hand, and I know I can trust Him. And I tell myself to remember this truth when I’m back in the midst of the everyday where frustration and anxiety are too often my companions. I am still such a child, and despite God’s faithfulness, too often I choose not to rest in that. Too often I try to do it by my own strength. And today is a good reminder to me that God is all-sufficient and I don’t need to struggle, but can relax into his arms that do not fail. Today, by His mercy, I can say despite my circumstances, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”