Disclaimer: This post is long. Really long. It’s about a very, very hard time in our lives in which Jeffrey and I suffered a miscarriage. You may wonder why someone would write about this – especially in a place where they couldn’t control who could read it. Here’s why I chose to write this and share it with you:
- It’s helpful for me to tell this part of our story. It’s helpful for me to have to think about not just the hurtful parts, but the wonderful parts where God showed His powerful love in ways that still humble me and lead me to sing praises to Him.
- I feel like, for the most part, no one talks about miscarriage, even though it affects so many people. Did you know that approximately 1 in every 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage? It’s seen as a private hurt and so people keep it to themselves. But not talking about something so prevalent and so hurtful attaches a stigma to it – almost like a shame. I felt so alone in my struggle until I was able to talk to other women who had been in my situation. For my part, I don’t want to hide in the shadows of miscarriage. I want people to know that this is part of my story so that when this hurt happens to others, I can be known as someone with whom they can cry,, talk, sit, and heal. No one should feel alone in a pain like miscarriage – no one. If you do, I’m here. I’m willing to listen. I’m willing to talk. I’m willing to be quiet. I’m willing (and would consider it an honor) to pray. I’m talking about my miscarriage so that you know that you can, too.
- This is part of our story. Even if what you’ll read here was the end of our parenting story, dayenu. It would have been sufficient. I hope you’ll see the exciting ways God worked through this chapter of our story and, if you make it to the end of this post (it is pretty long) you can join us in saying “Even if this was the end, dayenu.” Praise God for surpassing that which would have been sufficient time and time again.
So that’s why I’m writing this. I have to get it out there. Before we can share with you more about our parenting journey (and pictures and videos to come of our sweet, sweet girl – which is probably why you’re really at this blog), we have to tell you this part of our story. It’s long. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t want to read it. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t want to know details about this chapter of pain in our lives. But, I hope you will read it. I hope you will read it and praise God for His loving works at the end of it. And even if the end of this post were the end of our parenting story, dayenu.
For a long time, Jeffrey and I have felt like God has been preparing us for God-honoring parenthood. We’ve seen our friends’ kids grow and change from infants to toddlers to “big” kids. We’ve prayed. We’ve had talk after talk – not just about logistical things like discipline and cloth diapers and schools but about how we can minister and disciple each other and our children in our home. We’ve thought about how we can best not only teach our children about God but, more importantly, help them build a foundation for a lifelong, growing, personal relationship with Christ. It has just felt like God has been working on our hearts and leading us on a journey to parenthood.
That’s how it felt in our hearts.
But there was a problem in our heads.
Jeffrey has always been sure that he wanted to be the kind of father who is involved and engaged. He’s excited to teach our children by doing things with them. He wants to be open with them and honest – even about when he’s wrong. He wants to not only talk about God and faith with them, he wants to actively live God’s love and his faith in Him with them. He wants to see them grow, change, develop, learn, and move from stage to stage. I want all of that for him, for me, and for our children. That’s the type of parent that each of us wants to be.
So the problem in our heads.
Even though Jeffrey hasn’t been technically “over the road” as a truck driver since the fall of 2009, his job as a coal hauler is still unreasonably demanding. His “local” coal and rock hauling route takes him more than 14 hours a day and more than 400 miles. And that’s only half of it. There’s still a mountain of paperwork each month and a never-ending maintenance to-do list. Those parts either consumed his weekends or left him feeling guilty when he’d spend his weekends doing other things he needed to do (exciting things like… yard work) or even enjoyed doing like spending time relaxing with me.
We knew this owner/operator lifestyle was not conducive to the kind of marriage we strive to have or to us being the kind of parenting team we want to be. Jeffrey would miss out on being an active, involved, and engaged dad and I would essentially be a single mom.
But we also knew (or come to find out, we thought we knew) that we were stuck. Our financial obligations (and mounting truck-related debt) meant that for Jeffrey to change jobs, he’d have to be able to make more money than his experience and education levels gave us hope to expect.
We truly felt very stuck. Stuck in the life we had and far away from the life we desired. What was so frustrating was we felt like the life/lifestyle we desired was God-honoring and – more than that – that our desire to have the kind of marriage we want to have and to be the kind of parents we want to be was a desire from God! Add salt to the wound – we felt like God was preparing us for parenthood. He was preparing us for something that we were sure we just couldn’t ever have!
The lowest point in this “stuckness” was on a Wednesday. Jeffrey’s truck was in the shop (we were afraid that we would have to replace the – gulp – engine…) so he came with me on a work trip to a small town in northern Indiana called Wakarusa (at the time, I was working for a nonprofit Foundation). I had to film a very elderly man (whom everyone calls “Doc”… you can’t make this stuff up) as he gave a message for the Foundation’s 50th anniversary. We loved meeting Doc. At the time, he was 89 and his priorities are pretty much spot on. He was intent on honoring God, leading and loving his family, and helping people. Those are the pillars he built his life around. After we interviewed him, we went toward Shipshewana to spend the afternoon at my great-grandma Slater’s favorite hang-out: Das Dutchman Essenhaus where we perused the crazy gift shops, played mini-golf, went antiquing, and had a huge supper.
It was so nice to finally have some fun time together. On the ride home, we started talking about Doc and his life model. This led us to, once again. talking about our desire to be parents and the kind of parents we want to be.
It didn’t take long for the hopefulness and excited-ness in the conversation to be replaced by the giant, oppressive feeling of being STUCK. How? We were plagued by that question. It was impossible, we concluded. If we couldn’t be the kind of parents we wanted to be – the kind of parents we felt God was preparing us to be – then we didn’t want to be parents at all. The tentative hopeless conclusion we came to – the lowest point – was that, despite our desire and our feeling of being molded into Christ-centered parents, maybe it just wasn’t in God’s plan for us to have children. It hurt, but we couldn’t see anything beyond it. It left us – especially me – with a desperate, giving-up feeling. It was sad, and that’s all I can say about that.
During this time, we were living with our best friends, Shaun and danae. We were living at their house because danae and I (and the boys) had a mentoring relationship with a young girl whose life has been so hard – so the opposite of mine. At that time, she was 19 and her own harmful and poor choices (and the consequences from them) were piling up on the effects of others’ victimizing choices against her in her past. Earlier in the year, in the course of meeting and studying with her, we were led to a painful realization that we had to step away.
You see, in the spring of 2010, danae and I had baptized her. We are both confident that she knew – at the very least – that putting on Christ in baptism was more than just receiving salvation. It’s a commitment and it requires change – radical change. She knew that and she knew that the change wouldn’t be easy. But, she also knew that change would be more than worth it. She had experienced the transformative love of Christ. She wanted it.
Fast-forward to January of 2011. The bad choices were mounding up. It wasn’t just poor, un-Christlike choices (that were quite literally killing her) – it was an attitude of justification, rationalization, and minimalization. She oozed an attitude of “I and I alone can determine what is right and good. God’s got nothing on me.”
Since she had put on Christ and become our sister, we had a very real and very hard call to hold her accountable to the identity in Christ that she had put on in baptism. After weeks of joint and individual study and prayer, danae and I agreed: it was time to walk away. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. We asked her to choose – Christ or the world. We made it clear that we were choosing to stand with Christ and that if she chose her own way over Him, she was leaving us behind, too.
It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done – did I mention that?
It was bitterly heartbreaking to see someone you love deny Christ… How do parents who’ve seen their children turn away from God go on living?! It hurt bad enough to lead me question if I’d ever be able to have children because the very real risk that they might not choose Christ seemed so heavy. I was sure that if it were my daughter who had walked out of the room that evening, I would have, at the very least, torn my clothes and my hair in anguish. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done – I can’t say that enough.
In the midst of that pain, the Spirit laid a truth on my heart. She had never had the benefit of living in a safe, God-glorifying home. She had no context for what living for Christ in a “normal” home would look like. She needed that kind of life modeled for her in a radical way. She needed someone to take her in – and really – more than just one someone.
I knew then, as I know now, that this truth came form the Spirit because I would never ever choose to give up my privacy and home life. But I knew in my heart it was right.
I shared it with danae and we agreed that if she were ever to come back – to choose God – we would ask her to move in to one of our homes and the five of us – Shaun and danae, Jeffrey and I, and her – would work together and live together in a way that strove to honor Christ. It took serious resolve and really the Spirit to keep us from running after her and offering this new solution. But we knew that if we did and she came back, she’d be choosing us and not God. She had to choose God.
Some more fast-forwarding – – like a couple of months. She came back. She chose God. Her own choices had led her perilously close to death, and she awoke to her need for God.
So, that weekend, Jeffrey and I moved into Shaun and danae’s. I mean, we really moved. We brought our pets, our king-sized bed, and our refrigerator. We didn’t know how long it would last – we’d agreed not to put a time-limit on it. We just wanted to let God work through us.
I have so much more to say about that time that we lived there – it ended up being about 10 weeks. But that’s not the part of our story I feel compelled to tell you right now. Just know that God worked in mighty ways.
It was hard.
But it was good.
There were times that were even great.
Maybe I’ll tell you more about it some day. Probably, even. It is a big part of our story.
Anyway – – all that to say, we were living with Shaun and danae. While our grass was growing high (high enough that once we even got an official warning citation from the city), we were five minutes away at their casa.
Why do I tell you that? It’s part of how God was working in our journey toward parenthood.
Most people who know danae and I think we are about the most ridiculously over-the-top best friends they’ve ever heard of. Our husbands even think so. But don’t let Jeffrey and Shaun fool you. They can be just as bad – sometimes worse. Jeffrey was, as I’ve said, doing his 14-hour-a-day, 400-mile “local” trucking gig during the time we were living with Shaun and danae and so he was getting home super late. What he needed to do when he got home was gulp down some supper, take a quick shower, and come to bed. Instead, he and Shaun would stand (why do men always stand?) in the kitchen and talk for. ev. er.
At first, it was kind of funny. Then, as I started to see that it wasn’t getting any better and Jeffrey was getting progressively less sleep, I had to start setting a timer for them on the stove each night. Ridiculous!
One result of all that male-bonding is that Shuan really began to understand Jeffrey’s job and the way it affects our lives in a way that none of our other friends have ever been able to. It’s one thing for us to explain that Jeffrey had to get up super early (before me) and get home super late (often after I’d gone to bed). We could tell you that he was running on barely 2 REM cycles of sleep a night and that his weekends were spent lying under a truck or under a mountain of paperwork. But until you see someone live that life day after day and night after impossibly-short night, you can’t really understand.
Shaun (and danae) did see it. Shaun came to understand our feeling of being stuck. Jeffrey shared with him our frustrations with how we wanted a family and a family-life centered on Christ – how we longed for it – but how we felt absolutely trapped by seemingly insurmountable circumstances. He came to understand and he – like any brother – started to look for a way to help untrap us.
Shaun is a “dirt doctor” – an agronomist at Purdue who specializes in studying soybeans. Part of the reason why he and Jeffrey hit it off so well as friends is that they have eerily similar backgrounds. Shaun grew up on his family’s farm in rural Illinois and has the same indefatigable work ethic and commitment to doing things the right way the first time that was ingrained in my sweet husband in his upbringing on his family’s farm in rural Indiana. They both love farming and growing things. Shaun translated his love into a career in crop research in which is absolutely shining. He and danae like to joke that he is “outstanding [out standing] in his field,” but he seriously is. He does great work and is already – at this early stage of his career – in high demand as a researcher and expert.
Shaun’s counterpart in the Botany and Plant Pathology Department is another bright, young PhD who is absolutely taking her field, crop diseases, by storm (I promise I’m almost out of agriculture puns). She had been looking, unsuccessfully, for a new research assistant for quite some time. But you see, at just the right time (don’t you love how God works?), Shaun came to understand that 1) Jeffrey needed a new career and we needed a way out of our stuckness and 2) Jeffrey would be the perfect fit for his counterpart’s research assistant position.
Shaun told Jeffrey about the job and that weekend Jeffrey and I sat down together to write a résumé. Now, on paper, Jeffrey was not qualified for this job because he didn’t have a piece of paper with his name and the words “Bachelor’s of Science in Agronomy (or a related field)” on it. But, Shaun had talked to his fellow researcher about Jeffrey and he assured us that Jeffrey would be more than qualified for the demands of the job and strongly encouraged him to throw his name in the hat. So, he did!
As we knew would be the case, Jeffrey did not meet the qualifications for the position. However, the researcher was so impressed with his application that she went to HR to re-write the job requirements so that “equivalent experience” could now stand in for the degree!
We re-wrote Jeffrey’s résumé to be more descriptive of his farm experience and re-submitted his application. Next, came his interview. Despite his nerves, he did beautifully. Then, on my birthday (June 3), Jeffrey logged his last day as a truck driver. We found out that he got the job and that he’d start on June 23rd, so he hauled his last load and parked the truck. We didn’t want to risk a major breakdown and tow/repair bill to go with it (that was a threat that always loomed dark and heavy above us), so Jeffrey settled in for a much deserved 3-week hiatus from work while he was between jobs.
Did you read that?! He got the job! He’d be paid essentially what he made as a truck driver after taxes and expenses, plus he’d get awesome Purdue benefits (we’d never had benefits before… self-employed = self-Insured = paying almost a mortgage payment each month to insure two healthy, non-smoking young adults), minus the tremendous overhead and risk of owning and operating a semi truck. WOW!
Have you ever just been overwhelmed to the point of disbelief at how God blesses you? We have. Seriously. I’ve often said that I couldn’t have scripted a better job hunt/job procurement/job for my sweet husband. And believe me, I’ve tried.
You see, I’ve always been proud of Jeffrey. You won’t find a harder or smarter worker anywhere. On top of that, I knew when I married him that I was marrying a truck driver and since we’d be dating for 4 years before we married, I knew the kind of life that entailed. Furthermore, I knew that Jeffrey not only excelled at his job, he enjoyed it. However, as our marriage progressed and that “stuck” feeling with regard to Jeffrey’s career really sunk in for both of us, I started to really long for something different for us, and Jeffrey did, too.
We felt like we were at the bottom and we were stuck there and at just the right time God completely blew us away.
Now, the job and the positive lifestyle changes that it would mean were blessings by themselves. But, put that in the context of our desire to be parents, and we were just absolutely over the moon. We felt like we finally could see God’s plan. He was growing this desire in us to be God-honoring, Christ-modeling parents, even in the midst of seemingly impossible circumstances. And then, once again, He proved that nothing is impossible for Him and He completely changed our circumstances. We were sure that it was God’s plan for us to be parents and to be parents soon.
Did I forget to mention another reason we thought that? On May 5, I found out that I was pregnant.
Tell me. What would you have thought? Would you not have been so aware of being overwhelmingly blessed? Would you not have thought that God’s plan was coming together before your eyes in a way that just absolutely floored you? We weren’t trying to get pregnant, but suddenly, in the midst of a promising job search process that led to an exciting new career for Jeffrey, we were. Jeffrey would start his new job on June 23rd and our baby was due January 8, 2012.
Everything was good (I mean like Garden of Eden good) and wonderful on June 3 (Happy 25th Birthday to me!).
And on June 4.
And on June 5.
And on June 6.
Then came June 7, 2011. Our third anniversary. I was just getting used to the fact that it was a Tuesday and Jeffrey was still there when I woke up (remember – the truck was parked for good!) when I realized what woke me up.
Panicked, I ran to the restroom.
Time stopped. I knew. This wasn’t good.
I told Jeffrey. I wasn’t crying, but I was trying desperately to control the doomed panic in my heart and voice. There really was no disguising my panic, though.
He was wonderful, but calm. He said to call the doctor.
The doctor’s office wasn’t open yet.
Instead, I shot an email to the director of the Foundation for which I worked and told her that I wasn’t feeling well and was waiting to hear from the doctor, so I wouldn’t be in today. I told her I’d work from home.
I sat on the couch and started to work.
And then I started to search, frantically, for if my symptoms could possibly be normal and OK. I knew in my bones that it wasn’t OK, though.
Eight o’clock came. I called the doctor. They could see me at 3 p.m.
3 p.m.?! Didn’t they know my world was spinning out of control?
In an attempt to distract myself, I worked frantically on work all day. I didn’t leave the couch. The lines of worry didn’t leave my face. My face was so tired of displaying my worry that I started to get a headache from my brow being scrunched for so long.
I tried praying while I worked, but I didn’t have words. I just finally said, “You know my heart. Hear it! Listen to my hurt! Don’t let the hurt be real! Take it away!” That’s all I could pray.
Meanwhile, Jeffrey was still being the picture of calm. He did his own searches and assured me that this could be normal. I was early in the pregnancy – about 10 weeks. This could just be some residual effect of implantation. It happens all the time.
Bless him. But my forehead was still furrowed.
Finally it was time to go to the doctor. We got in the pick up truck and Jeffrey drove me to the doctor’s office where, just a couple of weeks earlier, we had gone for our exciting first OB appointment where a nurse couldn’t get over just how healthy each of us was, and our healthy family histories. What a healthy baby we’d have!
This time, not so exciting.
The same nurse showed appropriate concern over my symptoms, but echoed what Jeffrey said that this could be totally normal. Then, the same CNP who had congratulated us days earlier came in to examine me. “I think everything here is good,” she’d assured us. “But, let’s get an ultrasound just to check.”
There was a glimmer of hope, then. We were to go straight over to the the other OB/GYN location to get an ultrasound. On the way over I even thought, “Maybe this is OK. In fact, maybe it’s great! Maybe all that worry will have been for naught and our anniversary gift will be that we get to see our sweet little baby for the first time!” I thought that, but deep down I still knew. Somehow, I just knew.
The ultrasound. I was 10 weeks. The baby measured about seven and a half weeks. There’s where the beating heart “should be.” It’s not there.
The ultrasound tech, who was wonderfully sweet, said with a broken heart that showed on her face that, legally, she couldn’t give me a diagnosis. I’d have to wait and talk to the CNP. Could we wait across the hall? Sure. We didn’t talk. I couldn’t, or I’d fall apart.
I felt bad for her, the ultrasound tech. Why should she have to be involved with our pain? After all, she was so nice.
We came back into the ultrasound room where the CNP was on the phone. “I’m sorry,” she said.
Sorry? Why did she have anything to be sorry for? I listened to her tell me what I already knew and then new information. I’d need to get a shot, since I’m RH Negative. The next few days would be like a period. If it gets worse than that, I should go to the hospital, but I should be fine.
I got a shot. I still couldn’t talk, but I couldn’t hold out much longer. I had started to silently cry and I could feel that more than silent tears were coming. Grief and anger. It had me by the throat. Soon it would be so tight that I couldn’t stop it.
I got my shot. We left. I made it to the truck. That was it.
The way home. The next several hours. There was nothing that poor Jeffrey could do. I couldn’t be helped.
I was so angry! People do drugs, have babies, and leave them in dumpsters! It’s not right! Teenagers climb into the backs of cars and get pregnant and they get to have their babies! It’s not fair!
I was so angry! What on earth? How had God let this happen? He had just taken us from such a dark, hopeless, stuck place when it came to the prospect of being parents to a brighter and more amazing place than we thought possible. How could He have let this happen to us? How could have let us fall further down in the pit than we were before?
Nothing made sense. I hurt so badly. I was already hurting because I could see that Jeffrey was hurting differently than I was. He was hurt. He was sad. I was crushed. I was broken.
The next morning, it was different. The world, I mean. The world was different. The hope that had been there on my birthday was gone. It had been chased away by the hurt that found us on our anniversary.
We told our families. I don’t remember how. I think an email. I think in the email we put something like, “We don’t want to talk about it, we just needed to tell you.”
Then, we told six of our closest friends. We told them because we couldn’t carry it and we needed them to carry it for us. We told them because we needed them to pray for us when we couldn’t pray, not with words anyway. I think the Spirit led us to tell these three couples. They were the right people to be going before the throne on our behalf, which we came to see very quickly.
I don’t remember much about that day, Wednesday. I remember I called in sick to work. I couldn’t deal with work yet. I remember that I sat on the porch and watched Jeffrey work in the front flower bed. I remember that we decided that we needed to get away from our house and just leave. I remember that we booked a campsite in Wisconsin for the weekend. That’s it. I mean, I remember that the world was different.
Thursday, I went to work for the first half of the day. There was a conference being held on campus and I was to staff a booth in the exhibit room for my Foundation, so I went to do that. I put on my good face. I interacted with passersby – all women, all elderly, all matronly – with charm and grace. I remember thinking, “I’m miscarrying. Right now. While I’m talking to these people. They have no idea.”
That was the first moment since the no-heartbeat that I wasn’t selfish. That moment when I realized that the people around me had no idea that I was going through one of the hardest things in my life right at that very moment. That was the moment that I realized that the same could be true of anyone around me. I never know what’s going on with people around me. Not really.
That was the first moment that I realized that on Tuesday afternoon, I had entered the ranks of countless other women in my acquaintance and women I’ll never meet. I had a (then) silent pain. What is it about miscarriage that leads people to keep it to themselves? Why was it my natural reaction? Why did I even tell my family, “We don’t want to talk about it. We’re just letting you know?” I guess I knew a few people who had miscarried. But, for the most part, I realized that it’s something that people don’t talk about.
It’s isolating. I don’t know what “it” is though. Is it miscarriage itself that’s isolating? Is it the fact that people aren’t open about miscarriage that’s isolating? Is it the fact that it’s called a “miscarriage” like I made a mistake and did something wrong? Standing there in that tiny ballroom with old women all around me collecting stickers, ink pens, and other tchotchkes from every booth they passed, that was the first moment I realized that something was wrong with the way we, as a church, cared for each other or maybe the way we don’t trust each other to care for us. That’s what’s isolating. We’re supposed to be in community. Not just when things are good, but all the time.
I came home from my half day of work in a bit of better place. I think it’s because I stopped just focusing on my own pain when it hit me that people all around me could be in pain and I wouldn’t ever know. I’d just go on collecting my tchotchkes and smiling with them.
I also came home to BBQ from South Street Smokehouse that one of our friends – one of our prayer team friends – had brought for Jeffrey and I for lunch. Food really does help sometimes – especially brisket.
The next day started out differently, better. We packed up our camping supplies, dropped our dog, Lucy, off at Shaun and danae’s, got groceries for the weekend, and got ready to go north to Wisconsin. We decided that we’d avoid Chicago traffic by going west through rural Illinois and up I-39 through Rockford. We stopped for gas and ice on our way out of West Lafayette. While Jeffrey started packing ice into the coolers, I started to have some really bad cramping. I thought it was just part of the whole medical situation and that it would pass. I was focused on getting to the campground – I was ready to be there.
As we kept heading west towards Illinois, the cramping didn’t get better – it got worse. In fact, cramping doesn’t even sound like the right term. I felt like I was being stabbed and sliced. Still, I was determined to not let this spoil our weekend. It couldn’t go on forever, right?
We crossed into Illinois and as we entered the first town – Watseka – I told Jeffrey that we better stop somewhere. We stopped at a dinky little gas station. I went inside and I was not prepared. I don’t want to get too graphic here, but now instead of just feeling like I was being stabbed, I was bleeding like I had been stabbed. I went back out to the truck and told Jeffrey that we should call the OB on call from the practice I went to and ask what to do. I was starting to get worried. We tried calling the OB, but he or she didn’t pick up. The switchboard operator paged the OB with our phone number to call us. We waited. And waited. We never got called. Meanwhile, nothing was improving. I told Jeffrey that I needed to get to a hospital. He asked if I wanted to go back to Lafayette. We were only about an hour or so away. I told him that I needed the nearest hospital… now. Jeffrey went inside to ask the cashier if there was a hospital nearby. Thankfully, there was one there in Watseka, just a few blocks away via a route that was highlighted on a big map behind the counter.
At this point, I was nervous. I didn’t really know what was happening. We were going to a tiny hospital in a tiny town. Stress level was going up.
We got to the ER and all I’m going to say is that God’s ways are bigger than ours. There are top-notch, state-of-the-art hospitals in Lafayette and I trust the doctors, nurses, and technologies available here. However, when it was all said and done, I’m glad I wasn’t in Lafayette. We were at the right hospital with the right nurses to care for me.
Things didn’t all go smoothly (at all!) as soon as we got to the hospital, but the ER nurse was wonderful. I can’t say enough about her. Well into the night, I was teetering on the edge of needing a blood transfusion, emergency surgery, or both. But, she was exactly the right person to be the primary caregiver for me (and Jeffrey) during that time. She joked around with us a LOT which calmed us when we first got there and kept me in good spirits the rest of the night. When she needed to be, she was gentle, reassuring, and nurturing. I ended up having to stay the night so that they could monitor my blood count and so that I could be seen by the OB in the morning. Because of her (and I’m an awful person for not being able to remember her name anymore), I was OK with it. Even though her shift was over, she personally moved me from the ER to a patient room. Before she moved me, she called around to other nurses in the hospital to see where the emptiest and quietest hall was that night. She pulled some strings for me to get a room on a quiet hall with the nurses that she knew and trusted best. She also broke protocol and had an extra bed brought into my room so that Jeffrey could stay with me. Even though it was almost midnight, she let Jeffrey leave the hospital to go to McDonalds (the hospital cafeteria was closed) to bring us back supper since we hadn’t eaten for almost 12 hours. She made sure Jeffrey was able to get back in and get back to my room.
We’ve had a couple of experiences with Jeffrey being in the hospital or having surgery here in Lafayette and the nurses here were wonderful. However, they never treated Jeffrey like he was their only patient, because he wasn’t. We were in the right place. There were others who came into the ER in Watseka that night, but our nurse stayed with us and had other people care for the other patients. We were in the right place. God put us in the right place. You see, at just the right time…
As if that wonderful nurse wasn’t enough, we were also blessed with a great OB. Around 11 a.m. the next day, she finally came in to see me. She went over all my test results (I woke several times during the night to find someone with a needle in my arm getting more blood) from the night, but then, she talked to us. I mean she really talked to us. I hadn’t had a chance to see my OB since that awful ultrasound on Tuesday, and so no one had really talked to us yet about what happened. This doctor did. But not just that, without us having to ask, she anticipated the unspoken questions and longings. Why? How? What if? She covered them all. She was a mother, but her first pregnancy had ended in a miscarriage. She said that even though she was a doctor and “understood” it, she still didn’t understand it as a patient. That perspective helped her help others – helped her help us.
When the doctor left the room and we were left to wait for the discharge nurse, it really hit us how blessed we were to be in this tiny, outdated hospital in Watseka, Illinois that looked like hospitals you’d see in a movie from 20 years ago. God carried us there.
You probably think we left the hospital and went home. You may not know us as well as you think you do.
We left home to go camping, and we weren’t going to go home until we went camping. Jeffrey left it up to me, but I was bound and determined to spend time camping and spend time away from home. We called the campground and explained our situation and they promised to hold our spot. We had about a six-hour trip ahead of us.
We got to the campsite and it was late – like 11 p.m. or so. There was a light rain falling and, since I was still incredibly weak, sweet Jeffrey had to set up camp by himself. He got us set up and we went to sleep. Better than that – we went to rest. The whole weekend was rest. The sweet kind of rest that God promises. The rest that comes with the peace that passes understanding.
That camping trip was the first time Jeffrey and I had “gotten away” since our honeymoon. It was an unexpected trip under awful circumstances and it was a gift. At one point in the weekend, I started to feel guilty. What did it say about me that I was so relaxed and having such a wonderful weekend when I had just found out that we had lost a baby? Was I a terrible person for enjoying myself when I should be miserable? Then I realized – well God reminded me – that we had asked people that we loved and trusted to pray for us. To pray for healing. We had asked them to call upon God’s promises of rest and peace. And I know they were doing that for us. While we were in the hospital. While Jeffrey was setting up camp in the rain in the dark. While we were resting away from phones and our house and everything. They were praying for us. Beyond that, God was caring for us as He always had. He was hurting with our hurts and healing as only he knew how.
I wasn’t a terrible person for not being miserable when I was “supposed” to be miserable because I wasn’t supposed to be miserable. I was supposed to be grateful to the One who was there with us. And I was.
If you have had experience with miscarriage, you may be thinking that I got off easy. I did have to go through a period of grief. It came several months later and it was hard. It was hard for me. It was hard for Jeffrey. I had to deal with things that God allowed me to skip initially. I knew I’d eventually have to work through them, and I did. And it stunk. And, to some degree, some of that hurt is still with me and I think it will always be with me. This world has hurts – hurts that don’t make sense.
Now that we’re so close to holding our first child, we have a new perspective on the miscarriage. We can see how there are good things, not really silver linings, but good things. We can see how the job I had last year would have been a terrible job to have with a new baby (I mean, it was already pretty terrible on its own). We can see how we would have struggled with medical bills since my pregnancy had started before Jeffrey started at Purdue and therefore would not have been covered by his insurance. We can even see how God grew our faiths and our marriage through the experience and pain. We can see how, since I got pregnant this time near the end of November and the due date for my first pregnancy was in January, if that first baby had been viable, we wouldn’t ever get to meet this sweet little baby who wiggles when I eat chocolate, gets frustrated and tries to break her way out when she gets the hiccups (which is frequently), and who likes to stick her little baby booty out near my ribs when I’m relaxed.
We can see the good. We can see how God carried us – from those first days when the world was so different so quickly, through the wrestling matches with pain months later, and through a healthy and relatively easy pregnancy. We can see the good. But that still doesn’t mean that we’re glad it happened. It still doesn’t mean that we understand. There’s still the hurt of never getting to meet our first baby. Never knowing if that baby was a boy or a girl. Never knowing who he or she would have looked like or grown up to be and do. There’s still that hurt.
But that hurt has helped shape us. I said at the beginning of this post (dear longsuffering reader of this ridiculously long post, can you remember that far back?) that “For a long time, Jeffrey and I have felt like God has been preparing us for God-honoring parenthood.” Our miscarriage has become part of that preparation. We know that as parents, we’re not going to be perfect. We’re going to mess up. But we also know that God will be there to carry us and our sweet little girl through our mess-ups. We know that God has a purpose for our sweet baby. We know that He will work through us – mess-ups and all – to help her grow into the woman that He knows she can be. We’re so excited for that journey – and a little intimidated. But, if God can give us peace in a storm of pain that my heart screams that no one should ever have to endure, He can and will certainly continue to prepare and shape us for a journey of parenthood and family-hood that honors Him. That is our prayer. Please pray it with us and for us.
Grace and peace,