Four weeks ago we discovered I was pregnant.
I am diagnosed with a blood clotting condition which is linked to miscarriage. We have had three previous losses over the years. We are delighted however and are trusting God as we embark on a new journey.
This is my sixth pregnancy in six years and we have two young children with us.
With our first hospital appointment two weeks ago at the Early Pregnancy Assessment Service, as I lay being scanned to ascertain if there was a “viable” pregnancy, another midwife was asking me for my obstetric history and details of my three previous miscarriages. Part of me obviously felt like saying, “Will you please spare me this and please go and get my notes!”. Although another part of me was happy to play the engaging patient role.
We left that appointment with a scan picture of a small pregnancy sac and the hope that later that day if blood results were clear, I would commence blood-thinning injections to help prevent miscarriage.
Whilst waiting the thirty agonising minutes before we were seen in the waiting room, God assured me that if we did not to walk out of that appointment holding a much treasured scan photo that others with visible relief were clutching onto as they left, that I would leave with an invisible note of paper but with indelible words, eternal, living and active reading,
“I am a beloved child of God”.
We would not leave empty handed either way!
Today were at the hospital for our second appointment since a positive pregnancy test.
These appointments do not appear to get any less hard or emotionally charged with the passage of time. Today we thanked God for a positive fetal heart beat and headed off for a short break to relax and try and not worry about this pregnancy. Not feeling great, fatigued and having an increased appetite are hopefully all good signs that things are going as they should.
We both seem much more hopeful about this pregnancy having had our son two years ago whilst taking blood thinning medication for that entire pregnancy. We didn’t let ourselves get hopeful probably until he was almost born – the pregnancy in and of itself being a real spiritual journey of trust and reliance on God. Our hopes and confidence this time are different – we are more relaxed and I am less anxious.
Day 2 after finding out
Yesterday a scan confirmed there was now no fetal heart beat. A surprise we had the wee one to begin with and then a shock – to be honest – they were gone. Once again we have lost our baby.
Fearfully and wonderfully made, our baby just millimetres in size had stopped growing around two weeks ago. It is amazing in spite of the number of loses we experience that the utter wrench of the loss never gets any easier, alongside the sense of utter disbelief.
This pregnancy we were filled with hope – it felt right to have hope. Surely that is not wrong?
I still feel pregnant. There were no outward signs at all that things were not as they should be. Physically my body is pregnant – I still have elevated pregnancy hormones. Once again however I carry death within me.
We left the clinic with one leaflet titled:
“Evacuation of Products of Conception”.
The content of this medical leaflet is appropriate and sensitively worded but I need to gather strength from within to embrace the truth that this was a life despite the shortness of its days, and before time, this life was loved and purposed by God. I must remember the note that I also hold,
“ I am a beloved child of God”.
I must wait seven days before I can get day surgery. Although I was offered a newer procedure carried out under a local anaesthetic where your partner can be with you if you choose. The thought of this was unsettling to be honest despite being told you can wear ear phones to block out any noise!
Lord what am I do? How can I walk this path again?
Day 3 after finding out
This morning as I woke I was met with the crashing reality that we have lost another baby and within me is a dead fetus. I am so sad though I know that God is good and He is in total control of all of this. I just didn’t want me or us to be going through this again!
Day 4 after finding out
Whilst standing at the sink yesterday morning I was reminded of the words in Luke,
“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is risen”.
Thoughts of life subsequently began to filter through my mind – like rays of sunshine splitting through darkened clouds. The hope of the resurrection is real. Our baby is alive though not here.
Reading from “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn, I came across a refreshing and challenging excerpt on humour in heaven. The mention of this may seem unusual to some but for me it echoed a reminder that when catapulted into the unknowingness of grief one of the buoyancy aids that has so often kept me afloat is the ability to laugh and the gift it is:
“If you’re not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don’t want to go there“, It wasn’t Mark Twain who said that. It was Martin Luther. Where did humour originate? Not with people, angels, or Satan. God created all good things, including good humour…Just as Jesus promises satisfaction as a reward in Heaven, He also promises laughter as a reward. Anticipating the laughter to come, Jesus says we should “leap for joy” now. Can you imagine someone leaping for joy in utter silence, without laughter? Take any group of rejoicing people, and what do you hear? Laughter. There may be hugging, backslapping, playful wrestling, singing, and storytelling. But always there is laughter. It is God’s Gift to humanity, a gift that will be raised to new levels after our bodily resurrection.
By God’s grace, we can laugh on earth now, even under death’s shadow. Jesus doesn’t say, “if you weep, soon things on earth will take a better turn, and you’ll laugh”. Things won’t always take a better turn on earth. Sickness, loss, grief, and death will find us. Just as our reward will come in Heaven, laughter (itself one of our rewards) will come in Heaven, compensating for our present sorrow. God won’t only wipe away all our tears, He’ll fill our hearts with joy and our mouths with laughter…
Even those who are poor, diseased, or grieving may experience therapeutic laughter…And if we can laugh hard now – in a world full of poverty, disease, and disasters – then surely we will laugh more in Heaven”.
Day 5 – Pre-op today
Before we left a friend turned up with two home cooked meals for us as a sign of his and his wife’s love and support. What a thoughtful blessing to us – and a reminder that loving each other reflects great selflessness. People in our society (including myself at times) cannot readily stop what they are doing to serve someone they love without sending their world into utter disarray.
Another friend emailed me a link to this song.
“God I love you. I won’t we overwhelmed. Give me vision to see things as you do. God I love you. You’re where my help comes from. Give me wisdom – you know just what to do. And I will love you Lord my strength. I will love you Lord my shield. I will love you Lord my rock -forever I will love you God. Hallelujah our God reigns forever. All my days I will worship you”.
Trying to find the clinic a receptionist told me it was “N for Noah”.
I wondered as I walked to the lift if she would have appreciated the significance of that name. God reminded me of one man’s faithfulness and the act of love from God in an oath binding promise to always protect us.
Alongside the truth, that I was, and remain under the rainbow.
Was it also a coincidence that Noah was a name we had already discussed if the baby was a boy? Only God knows, but I know that one day I will meet our baby – he or she will be recognisable to me and there will be an eternal relationship which was divinely intended forever.
Slightly anxious before it that a hospital unfamiliar to me may be an unhelpful dynamic in the grief equation, this couldn’t have been further from the truth. With no emotional baggage attached with these bricks, I found the building a pleasant environment and almost forgot I was only there because of something so sad. As you walk about looking physically well, to everyone else you are just a young woman walking about a hospital. Yet you carry inside you a life that was precious and now your heart grieves and is heavy laden.
I read this today from C.S Lewis:
“Stop regarding all unpleasant things as interruptions in one’s own or real life. The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one’s life”.
My belief just now is that this loss is one big interruption. I don’t have the time or energy to begin a new journey of grieving– don’t you know that God? The thought of navigating the dynamics once again of due dates, friends announcing pregnancies, feelings of emptiness, feelings at times of unworthiness and much more is far from a life ambition and goal.
Waiting the few hours before surgery sitting on my hospital bed all I could do to keep me sane was focus on God:
“God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” Psalm 73:26
Being in hospital reinforced my sadness. Being in hospital to be honest also frightened me as I was reminded of past losses and the trauma associated with them.
As I lifted my eyes to the small window above the bed I mouthed the familiar words of Psalm 121 into myself, knowing them in my head to be true and so desperately wanting for this short time in hospital to know it deep in my heart:
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
As I was taken for surgery the last thing I remember, as in the past, is just crying as I am placed under anaesthetic. “Are you in pain?” I am asked. “Not at all” I say. “I am just so sad”. As I hear someone say “Oh that is sad”. I declare God is good.
As I woke from the anaesthetic I felt complete relief that the physical side of things was largely over. I was just so thankful of that. It has been one of the most trying weeks of my life I think.
Leaving the hospital I knew that now was the beginning of a new path of pain and grieving for my husband and I. Similar paths we had walked but like everyone who grieves afresh, this was the beginning of something new and unknown.
In Cowan’s devotional book, Streams in the Desert she writes:
“Abraham “did not know where he was going” – it simply was enough for him to know he went with God. He did not look at the difficulties of his circumstances but looked to his king – the eternal, limitless, invisible, wise, and only God – who had reached down from his throne to direct his path and who would certainly prove Himself”.
I do not know once again where we are going. I do not know why God has once again brought us into this shadow which I know He is in. I once again do not know if we will ever have another baby biologically but with my heart I declare He is good. The Christian walk is one which is often difficult and challenging; the path we have to traverse seems at times dangerous and frightening. In C.S Lewis’, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Mr Beaver declares of Aslan, “Safe of course he is not safe! but he is good”. God will take us to places we may never have chosen for ourselves but we can rest assured that there is one who has been before us on this path – King Jesus.
Lord help my unbelieving heart to claim your truths.