That was the due date for my son, Caedmon, who is now 17 months old.
It was also the due date for what would’ve been his baby brother or sister – due 2 years apart, to the day.
It was strange – as I drove to the pregnancy center to have my ultrasound tonight – my second scan, at 8.5 weeks – I was overwhelmed with the urge to…just pray.
So I did.
And I found myself praying – instead of for the health of the baby – for peace. For trust. For me to cling to the fact that God’s goodness hasn’t ever changed and won’t ever change – despite what was about to happen in the ultrasound room.
I fully expected to walk in and see my little peanut baby healthy and thriving, with a heartbeat. I’d finally be able to finally start telling everyone our exciting news – Baby #4 is on the way!
But when the image came onto the screen, my stomach felt like it dropped about twenty stories, because there was a perfect little baby, but no flickering light. No thumpthumpthump….even though there was one two weeks ago. And – according to my friend Melissa, who did the ultrasound – probably even yesterday. But not today.
And never again.
Melissa was heartbroken and apologetic, and she asked to pray with me before I left. I was able to hold it together until she did that – but then I broke.
I cried while she prayed, I cried as I walked to my car, and then I sat and let the floodgates open and pour down my arms, onto the steering wheel as I collapsed against it.
I was unable to do anything but grieve at that moment.
For the brother or sister my kids would never meet.
For the baby I’ll never be able to hold, or nurse, or kiss.
But – despite my grief, I felt liberated.
Liberated to feel what I needed to feel, and to cry, and to mourn.
Here’s the thing: miscarriage is weird. It’s extremely confusing and difficult to navigate. You’re not sure what to feel, or how to feel, or even if you WANT to feel.
Is this normal?
Should I be feeling like this?
Is there something that I should be feeling that I’m not?
Is this my fault?
What could I have done better?
What did I do wrong?
Those are the thoughts that bombarded and overwhelmed the first time I miscarried, a little over two years ago. That time, I was in a much different, much harder place in my life in just about every aspect.
So the news I received at my ultrasound then? It was much more devastating: I was not only pregnant, I was pregnant with twins – but the babies had barely grown at all and didn’t have a heartbeat.
I didn’t know how to feel or what to do, so I just imploded. I kept everything in, I didn’t want to tell anyone, I didn’t want to admit what had happened or talk about it. I just went on living life as normal.
And, let me tell you – that? That is NOT a good idea.
Which is why I’m sitting here, right now, writing this.
Feelings don’t disappear; you’ve got to deal with them eventually. And I know now (after having to inevitably work through the plethora of issues that came from as a result of my emotional numbness) that grieving is a necessity.
This baby deserves to be grieved.
And I need – and deserve – the closure that comes from grieving for it.
When I didn’t grieve last time, it was like I was in a perpetual state of mourning….for months. Over a year, actually. I didn’t feel like I could give myself permission to “move on,” so I didn’t. That felt somehow disloyal, but I knew it was inevitable if I let myself acknowledge what had happened. …So I didn’t.
This time is different. Now, in my weeping there is joy.
Joy, because I know that every heartbeat is a gift – mine, my husband’s, my children’s. Every heartbeat that happens does so because a good and sovereign God is actively causing it. And, those beats will not stop until the exact time He deems it necessary.
For a lot of people, that’s offensive. It’s offensive because it’s terrifying – to not be in control of anything, to never know what could happen.
I used to feel that way. And, if I’m honest, there are moments that I still do. Moments when I’m overcome with anxiety over the fact that God does what He wants.
But then I’m reminded of the fact that God is my Heavenly Father – a Daddy. And he doesn’t orchestrate my life out of cruelty, but out of desire for His glory and for my good.
And then I think about the heartbeat thing again, and instead of being terrified, I’m comforted.
Because nothing can stop a heart from beating except God himself. Literally.
So I know if my baby’s heart stopped, it’s because HE stopped it.
And I’m okay with that.
I trust Him.
Now, as I continue to grieve, I will cling to His promises.
I will read about the sorrow of David, and of Job, and will weep – and be comforted.
I will read about the character and sovereignty of God in Romans and Ephesians, and be comforted.
I will read the overarching story of God’s grace through the lives of countless other people who were insecure, terrified, and grossly imperfect – and will be comforted.
And I will count the words of past believers, who – inspired by the very same stories – wrote hymns to proclaim their awe in light of a God who does so much for people who are so helpless without Him.
Like this one.
This hymn – “Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul” – is one of my favorites of all time, because to me, it honestly epitomizes what it means to be poor in spirit.
Unlike two years ago, I am now okay with being poor in spirit.
I am now okay with acknowledging and talking about what happened.
I am now okay because I am choosing to believe that, while this isn’t easy, it’s what’s supposed to happen. And it’s not my fault. It’s not anyone’s fault – it’s actually what’s best.
And, as I mourn our baby, I will – just like the song says – take refuge in God. A God who I can be unabashedly honest with and cling to, and who will give me peace that, I know from my past experience, I won’t find elsewhere.
Dear refuge of my weary soul,
On Thee, when sorrows rise
On Thee, when waves of trouble roll,
My fainting hope relies
To Thee, I tell each rising grief,
For Thou alone can heal
Thy Word can bring a sweet relief
For every pain I feel
But oh! When gloomy doubts prevail,
I fear to call Thee mine
The springs of comfort seem to fail,
And all my hopes decline
Yet gracious God, where shall I flee?
Thou art my only trust
And still, my soul would cleave to Thee
Though prostrate in the dust
Hast Thou not bid me seek Thy face,
And shall I seek in vain?
And can the ear of sovereign grace
Be deaf when I complain?
No – still the ear of sovereign grace
Attends the mourner’s prayer
Oh, may I ever find access,
To breathe my sorrows there
Thy mercy seat is open still,
Here, let my soul retreat
With humble hope attend Thy will
And wait beneath Thy feet,
Thy mercy seat is open still,
Here, let my soul retreat
With humble hope, attend Thy will
And wait beneath Thy feet