This post was written on April 26, 2013, after I found out that there was no heartbeat in my first pregnancy, before I actually had the miscarriage. I wrote this blog because I felt like I had told so many people that I was pregnant, and I didn’t want to have to go back and tell them all that I wasn’t anymore.Continue reading
Tag Archives: hope
Annual Reflections: Hope
As we come to the end of 2020, as with any year, it’s important to look back, embrace the year for what it was, learn from it, and look ahead into the future. Usually, by this point in the year, I already have some idea of direction, plans, goals for the coming year. But this year, I got nothing. Which, if you know me, is really uncharacteristic of me. So, I want to use this time to delve into how this year has impacted me, what I’ve learned, and any glimmer into the year to come.
Merry Christmas, everyone! As this is the last of this series, I wanted to end in hope. No matter how we have grieved, how we have grown, or how lonely we have felt, there is always a hope for a redemptive tomorrow.
I think about the days leading up to the birth of Christ, the 400 years where God was silent to the Jewish people. So many people grieving loss, feeling lonely, growing as best they could under oppressive regimes. All hope seemed loss
And then, in a small manger, in a tiny town of Bethlehem, a little baby was born to a newly-wedded, poor teenage girl and her husband. A bright star paved the way out of the darkness into the light of God’s love.
However you are celebrating this year, I pray that you are surrounded by love and joy and a peace that surpasses all understanding. May God continue to walk with you through the end of this year and into the next one!
Why Is This Still Happening?
I did a series on my blog called Continuing the Conversation about Pregnancy and Infant Loss. As I would research articles online about recent conversations on this topic, I started noticing a trend. A lot of these posts online would start out with “We don’t talk about (miscarriage, infertility, etc) very much.”
Even though 1 in 4 women experience loss , I still seem to live in a world where that statistic is not realized (and that’s the American statistic. One of the most technologically advanced, medically advanced, innovative countries, and we still experience infertility and loss 25% of the time). I still get comments at the store from the cashier or some other stranger who suggests that I need to have another child like it is as easy as picking laundry detergent on aisle 12.
Being on this side of the road now, it’s easy to see the struggle, the tears, the waiting, the dashed hopes, and all of the pain that comes with simply trying to add another member to your family. There doesn’t really seem to be a simple way to do it, despite how much people have suggested all sorts of “easy answers” to our complicated struggle in the past. So, I thought I would take a step back, back in time, to when I was that newly wedded wife who was afraid her birth control wasn’t going to work, and she would get pregnant way before she was ready. The first few times I even heard about a friend struggling with infertility, all the responses that I would eventually hear in my own situation popped into my head, and sometimes even out of my mouth.
I just simply didn’t understand. I thought I did. I thought infertility or miscarriage were things that happened in extreme cases, that all this anxiety may just be an overreaction and that they needed to just relax (I know, I know, I was young and ignorant). It wasn’t until I had the term “unexplained” attached to my own stillbirths that I realized the medical research doesn’t actually have this all figured out. It’s is not a simple cause and effect. It’s a case by case situation. And each case has to be approached with compassion and patience.
But why, when we have all of this evidence, all these stories shared in books and online, do we still have to endure the conversations in the grocery store or at church or even in our own families? And I realized, speaking for myself most of all, that this world is not as stable as we would like it to be, that pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, working hard, being diligent, saying the right things, praying the right prayers, checking all the boxes just doesn’t guarantee anything.
Personally, I like structure. I like the routine. I like to know that if I do A and B, then C will always be the result. But life doesn’t happen that way. Kids die before their parents. Loving wives can still be cheated on. “Til Death Do You Part” can happen way before it should. People who love their jobs and are good at them still lose them. Houses, even in gated communities, can still be vandalized. Kids from loving, supportive homes can still make bad choices in their life.
I’m not saying this because I’m just throwing up my hands, “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry” about it all. But since we all know and experience instability in our lives, we have an amazing opportunity to extend patience and compassion to those who are experiencing it in their own life. To acknowledge that there is no easy answer that will fix things. To listen and be willing to sit in the silence of grief. To understand that I won’t understand every situation completely, and extend grace to those around me who could be having the worst day of their life. To approach every conversation without all the answers.
This is challenging for me. I like being in control and knowing how things end. I don’t like being uncomfortable or have anyone around me that’s sad. I love laughing and having living room dance parties and late-night board game sessions. I love stories with hopeful and happy endings. I like sunshiny days in the garden. I like seeing other people experience joy and good surprises.
But life is both these good things and the bad stuff, too. And it’s healthy to acknowledge them both in our lives and the lives of others. As a Christian, I think it’s a big part of being a follower of Christ. He wept and laughed and got outraged. He felt all the feelings without fear or shame. In all the instability, he is a rock. A cornerstone to all the hope in the world. I want to use that hope in Christ to further my growth in how I interact with others, forgiving the hurtful, ignorant comments because I understand the need for control and distaste for the uncomfortable. And in the same way, I want to watch the words that come out of my own mouth, that they bring hope instead of hurt, silence when it is preferred, and enough compassion to acknowledge that I don’t understand, but I’m still gonna be here anyway.
The month after my daughter died, I focused on physically healing. I took the steps I knew I needed to take in order to get healthy or at least put myself on the path to becoming stronger and healthier. You all were there for me, with encouraging words and kindness, and it held me up in the dark spaces, more than you will ever know.
The next month, I started to look at my life, trying to figure out what my next move would be. Here were a few of the realities.
- Michael and I agreed that we wanted to try again, and we would after we took some time to heal physically and emotionally. Based on doctor recommendations, we decided 4-6 months would be a good time frame for that healing, which put us trying again at the beginning of next year, 2017.
- I am very blessed to have the opportunity to stay at home right now and through my next pregnancy. Since I will have an enormous amount of doctor visits and tests when I do get pregnant, getting another job anytime soon would not be ideal. Therefore, it is not the path I choose to take at this time.
- Since a lot of my support has come from the online community here, I wanted to find a way to connect more, go deeper, share my life with you so that if and when I do get pregnant again, I can have you walk with me on that journey, just as you have done these past few months.
I know that having a supportive community like you guys is not always a common thing on the internet. The internet is full of trolls and anonymous comments who spread hate. But I’ve been lucky and I know I’m lucky to have this community that spreads love and encouragement. For that I am grateful.
But the whole reason I continued blogging after my first miscarriage, the whole reason I shared the deaths of my first and second daughters were to encourage others who felt alone. Isolated. Living without the community that I so deeply cherish. I know how lucky I am to have you because I’ve read and heard story after story of people who don’t have this kind of support.
And I feel protective of these people. No one should have to feel alone and isolated. I know that I can’t fix the world’s problems. I don’t think that’s what I’m called to do on this earth. I’m called to love. Love God. Love Others. And the number one way I know I can love others is to encourage. Encourage others who are walking through the pain. And help others to be beacons of encouragement.
So, in an effort to connect deeper and to encourage others, I started a Facebook page. On the page, I share my YouTube videos and my blog posts. And I will admit I was afraid of how I would be received. Of what people would think about me. I should know by now that I would get loved in return. I’m blown away by all of the people who have already liked my page. Thank you so much for supporting me.
Right now, I’m doing something a little fun on my page. Every Friday until Christmas, I’m doing a giveaway to promote encouraging others. The winner of the giveaway receives two $5 Starbucks gift cards. One for them, and one for someone in their life who needs encouragement. All you have to do is comment on the post on my Facebook page in order to be eligible. So, if you want to participate, you are more than welcome to.
The reason I’m doing all of this is to bring you on the journey of adding to our family, but also to help you encourage others in your own life story. I don’t know where this journey will take us. But I know that no matter what, God will be walking with us, and I will do my darndest to try to point him out along the way.
A Little Update
I completed a milestone in my pregnancy. I am out of that blasted first trimester. The landing into the second one has been a bit rocky. My stomach is still unsure and I feel like I’m tightrope walking between nausea and dry heaving at night right before bed, but I got a new medication that really does help with all of that.
But now, at 13 weeks, I’m entering the land of maternity clothes and ultrasounds, baby registering and gender reveals. And this is also the stage in my pregnancy where my daughter passed away. Things are different this time, but there are still some things that remain the same.
I’m having more ultrasounds done this time around. I’m being watched carefully, having more tests done. I find myself holding my breath every time they begin a test for the heartbeat or an ultrasound. I think it will be better when I feel the sure kicks from the baby, but until then, I just keep taking each day as it comes.
Weirdly enough, although not that weird at all, I find myself mourning my daughter more this month. With Mother’s Day, and entering into a new, yet familiar, phase of my pregnancy, my thoughts go back to my daughter all the time. Hope and anxiety blend and overlap every day.
I know a lot of you are praying for me, waiting in expectation for the arrival of this new little one. I’m so beyond grateful for all of you, walking this journey with me whether in person or from far away. I do feel your prayers. I appreciate the emails, texts, and comments. But I am even more grateful for the One who walks with me and goes before me. He knows what will happen and what I need and will need. While I am hesitant to fathom the end of the pregnancy with a healthy baby, I do believe that no matter what happens, God will never leave my side.
And I rest in that. I take courage in that. Even in the midst of my anxiety, that is a constant reminder. He loves me. He calls me worthy. And He will never forsake me.
Prayers for Paris
If you have been on Facebook, or the internet in general this weekend, you have probably read about the tragedy in Paris. Hundreds of people were attacked in restaurants and a concert, as well as outside a soccer game. I’ve seen the videos, heard the stories, and my heart breaks for that city.
In 2012, Michael and I had the opportunity to go to Paris for our fifth anniversary. When we were planning to go, a lot of people warned me that the people in Paris were rude. However, I never met a single rude person in Paris, or anywhere in France. In fact, the people I met were helpful, funny, kind, sarcastic, inspiring, and incredible.
We enjoyed the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, but it’s the humanity of Paris that attracted me to the city. The night that the terrorists attacked, Parisians opened their homes to those who couldn’t get back to their own. It exemplified the heart I met 3 years ago.
These kinds of attacks can happen anywhere, and they have happened. In cities, towns, and schools, unspeakable acts of anger and hatred that devoured someone to the point of taking the lives of the innocent. But I find that in each of those stories of sadness, there are sparks of hope. People come together to mourn with those who have lost loved ones. They come to heal together, remember together, and rebuild together.
Hope is not lost. Love continues to stand against the darkness of this world. I pray for Paris as it heals from this tragedy. May God give you comfort and peace in the moments you need it the most.
Another Step in the Journey of a Miscarriage
I haven’t really talked lately about what has been going on in my journey to become a parent. Waiting on God’s timing can be a very frustrating experience, as I’m sure all of you know. That biological clock is no joke.
Losing my daughter is always in the back of my head. I wonder in the quiet moments of my day what she would look like, what our life would be like, if she had been born alive, full term. Some days are worse than others. When my emotions are running high, it’s difficult to see past my pain. But most of the time, life runs pretty smoothly. Pretty awesomely, actually.
See, I have these incredible moments in my life that keep my head above the waves. Sunrises that stretch across the sky in beautiful pink and yellow hues. Laughter with my husband that makes my sides and cheeks hurt. Conversations with friends that remind me I’m not alone. Quiet moments with God that fill me with an unexplainable peace.
These moments help me get through the more painful ones. The negative pregnancy tests. When people ask if we have children. When the conversation ends awkwardly after our reply that we don’t. Moments of quiet grief, wondering if we will ever have a yes to that question.
But those are simply moments. Overall, I’m doing okay. I still wake up with hope and joy. My days are still filled with new adventures and experiences. My life is still filled with love and purpose.
And one day, I will shout from the rooftops that our family is growing. One day I will hold my child in my arms. One day, I will experience all the frustrations and pain and joy and excitement of watching my own child grow up.
And I will use my present experiences to extend compassion to those who are waiting for their one day. Remind them that no day is worthless. That hope is worth holding on to. And that God is walking with them through their journey, just as He has continued walking with me.
Today is my due date. Was my due date. Today was supposed to be met with excitement, nervousness and anticipation, but instead it’s met with reminders of my grief, loss and empty womb. Though I thought my world was going to stop today, the sun still came up, people are still on the roads going to work, time still moves on.
I have learned a lot of lessons in these last four months since I lost my daughter. I learned that I have an amazing protector and caretaker of my heart that is my husband. We have learned new facets of our marriage relationship when it comes to crisis. He has given me space and support when I need it.
I learned that I am truly blessed with the friends and family surrounding me. Sunday night, my small group surrounded us in prayer as we faced this day. I still receive cards in the mail from family members who are praying for us. I have friends who still check in, still want to know how I am doing and what they can do to help. I have the support of my online community who continually encourage me with every post that I write. I know not all women who go through things like this have such an amazing support system, which is why I continuously acknowledge them and show my gratitude.
But there are other lessons I have learned that have been a lot harder to swallow.
I learned to let go in my grief. One of my first reactions when I lost my daughter was to hold on to everything else around me very tightly. I was so scared of losing anything else. It’s because I was faced with the fact that everything on this earth is temporary, and we aren’t guaranteed any of it, even motherhood. But I realized that holding on tightly to temporal things was like trying to hold sand in my hands, eventually it will fall through my fingers. Instead of trying to hold on to everything in my life like a hoarder, I needed to be okay with letting it all go and being grateful for what is given to me in the moment.
I learned to become more grateful for the moments in my life. When I had my first miscarriage in 2013, I promised myself that if I got pregnant again, I would appreciate every moment of that pregnancy because I may wake up one day and not be pregnant anymore. Little did I know that it would come true. However, I appreciated every day that I was pregnant, every moment of morning sickness, every little kick, every feeling of uncomfortable growth. When I had to give her back to God, I still grieved my loss, but I appreciated all those moments, and so my grief is interwoven with hope and peace.
I also learned that though this pregnancy came to an end, my purpose did not. Though I desire motherhood, I desire to glorify God more. I believe my ultimate purpose on this earth is to glorify God in my high points and especially my low points. I may not understand all the whys that life will bring me, but what I do understand is that this world has been hurting long before I did, and understanding that pain on such a personal level has given me a compassion and a longing to reach out to those who don’t know this peace, so that one day they may feel the comfort for themselves. I have discovered that I don’t need to go across oceans or to locations of extreme poverty to carry out this purpose (although I know some are called to do so, and I support their calling as well). God has called me to speak his truth into the hearts of the people around me, in my own backyard. I believe God put me in this place, with these specific experiences, so that I may reach out with compassion, kindness, understanding and truth. Jesus lived in the moment, ever present in his relationship with God and others, and I hope to do the same in my own life.
Through all of this, God has never forsaken me. My life didn’t stop on November 26th, and it doesn’t stop today. It continues and grows stronger with new hope. Someday, I hope to become a mother. I long for the day I cradle my own child in my arms. But my life is not on hold until then. I still have work to do every day, a life purpose to carry out. No matter what happens in my life, that purpose will not change. One day, I will meet my sweet little girl in heaven, but until then, I am going to let go in my grief and hold on to my gratitude in the moment, sharing that truth of God’s comfort and peace to those around me every day.
When I was three, I was in a car accident. My dad, mom, baby brother and I were headed either to or from home during the holidays. My parents told me that a semi truck knocked our car off the road, and it slid down an embankment, turned upside down and spun to a stop. I still remember waking up to see the seat belts hanging from the ceiling, and a few moments between then and the hospital. I had been cut over my left eye and received stitches. I was the only one hurt in the accident, and they could only figure that it was caused by a plastic tape dispenser.
Over the years, people have asked me about that scar. I have never minded telling the story because it’s such a cool story. God protected us that night. I never really asked why I was the one with the scar because I’ve always felt lucky to have received it. This scar means I get to tell the story.
I think we all deal with the question why bad things happen, especially within the Christian faith. We think that if we live the right way, come from the right family, pray the right prayers, go to the right church, and be involved with the right things, that nothing bad will happen to us. It’s not something we think consciously, but when something difficult does come our way, we start to search for answers as to what we may have done that caused this awful thing to happen or what we may do to prevent it happening again in the future.
But perhaps one reason we are given our struggles is so that we can tell our story.
In both of my miscarriages, I prayed that God would produce a miracle, that the sonograms would be wrong and the baby might live. Surely, that kind of miracle could be used to glorify God. But if we don’t go through the grief, how can we understand those that do? After my first miscarriage, I understood a whole new world of women who have been silently grieving for decades. Being open about my grief and loss allowed others to do the same which strengthened me with hope. Why aren’t we sharing those stories more often? Why do we think that having it all together is going to reach those who are falling apart?
We need to fall apart. We need to have lives that aren’t all together. We have been editing our lives for so long, and it’s pretty scary to live life unedited. But see, when we edit our life, we are editing God as well. God isn’t some pretty cross hanging on the wall of an immaculate home. He’s a lot bigger and more unpredictable than that. Sometimes I think we forget that our job here on earth is to point to God. Not in some put together, simple wave in His direction, but in a desperate clinging to His side.
And you will be judged. By other Christians, by people of the world. Remember that Christ was judged with how he handled the Sabbath or who he hung out with. But if we tell our story, share our struggle, really live in the communities God has given us, then I truly believe that God will take care of the rest. God is going to use your words to reach that person who forgot that they still have value and worth, no matter what they have done or what they are going through. Because no matter what society says about how we look or what we accomplish, that doesn’t dictate our worth. Only God does, and He has given us great value.
That’s why I share my story. This life is hard. There are so many things on this earth that can wound us, physically and spiritually. But God’s love can heal those wounds. And the scars that remain are a reminder that we lived through it and overcame it. It’s a reminder to share that story with others whose wounds are open, others searching for the healing balm to their pain. Share the beautiful mess, the imperfect path, and the healing strength of a God that walks with us.
The Grieving Process
One of the common responses I received from people in our life who have supported and loved us in this experience was “Grieve how you need to grieve.” I’m a pretty blunt person, so I didn’t think this would be a problem. However, it wasn’t the temptation to hide how I was feeling, it was a fear that I wasn’t grieving in the right way. After seeing people in similar situations on forums and talking to well meaning friends and family members, I questioned whether or not I was grieving in a way that was healthy. I wasn’t thinking the same things other women were saying, or doing the same things they were doing. I truly felt I was in some kind of denial.
However, I still miss being pregnant and feeling her move. I think about the might-have-beens especially through these months when I should still be pregnant and what I might have been doing at this point if I still was. But when I look at the whole picture, I see that what has happened has happened. Instead of focusing on my loss, I want to focus more on doing the things I need to do to heal physically and emotionally so that one day I can get pregnant again, and hopefully be able to hold that baby in my arms and watch them grow.
Even though this is how I felt on the inside, I struggled those first two weeks, trying to grieve the way others around me were grieving because I thought that was how to do it the right way. It wasn’t helping, but I was so afraid that the way I wanted to grieve wasn’t going to help me either. So, I talked to my doctor during an emotional check up (which they do at my clinic, and it’s awesome). I sat in the room and just opened up to her about the struggle I had with my grief. Turns out, I wasn’t that abnormal at all. In fact, half of the couples she had encountered dealt with their miscarriages in the same way. It was a completely healthy way to deal with it and move on from it.
The only way you can be unhealthy in your grief is if you aren’t honest about it. If you are angry at God and want to scream and yell, go for it. If you don’t feel angry at God at all, don’t try to force yourself to be. If you need to have a memorial or funeral to say goodbye, do it, but don’t put yourself through that if it doesn’t help you to move on. Just by embracing the way I grieve and being honest about what I need (or don’t need) when I need it (or don’t need it) has truly helped me move through this process, more than trying to grieve in a way that wasn’t natural or helpful to me.
There are different needs for different people, even at different times. That’s part of why grief is so uncomfortable, especially when you are walking through it with someone else. There isn’t really the right word or phrase that makes things better or makes the process faster or slower, and the same thing doesn’t always work all the time. Hugs helped a lot for me, but sometimes it can feel claustrophobic. Having someone to talk to about what has happened helps me process things, but I have also craved a lot of alone time, organizing my thoughts and my home. The best words spoken to me were “This sucks. This road is hard. But we will be with you if you need us,” but sometimes I would much rather just sit in silence with someone.
On a side note, when you sit in silence with someone, it allows God to fill the space between. Ultimately, he is working through them and you in that very moment. Perhaps talking through moments of silence really only drowns out what the Holy Spirit wants you to hear. I have found through this past experience how much comfort and strength I receive from the silence, from the moments when nothing is said at all. And I appreciate the people who are willing to be there with me in that silence.
I know I’m not alone. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support we have received. Those who have walked this path before have been willing to walk with us and have given us hope. You are all arms of strength to me and blessings from God. I am continually reminded that though this is a storm in our life, it is also just a moment in our eternity. I know that this story isn’t over yet, and I can’t wait to read the next chapter.