Monday March 15, 2010

(excerpted) ~~>
I yearn for the days that we ‘didn’t know.’  The days when pregnancy was blissful and normal, filled with joy and anticipation.  

I want my ignorance back!  I want to be able to believe, once again, that NOTHING could possibly go wrong ~ that I could NEVER be a statistic.  I want to be able to think of a newborn baby and not cry or feel such intense jealousy that I don’t even recognize myself.   I want to be able to wear my maternity clothes with pleasure again.  To feel like I am blossoming and not getting ready to implode. 

I want the light switch moments of my life back.  I want to be one of the others who do not understand what it is like to lose a child.   Instead, I don’t get to choose and just have to live with it.  It has become part of who I am.  I have to learn to survive ~ to find the elusive “new normal.”   

I just want a life jacket or a boat that will carry me in the current of death.  I want to believe that God is that for me…but He seems so very far away right now.  Sometimes, even with my best efforts, I get pulled under and tossed about, in the emotion that I don’t see coming.  One word, one look, one encounter, one smell, one song, one thing ~ is all it takes to blindside me. 

I don’t ever get to just turn it OFF!  I have to pray to get through.  I have to hope that each day, I will find it easier to anticipate.  

How very lucky the others are, to be able to offer support and then go on with their lives.   Feeling better for having reached out and stepping out of their comfort zone, knowing that when they turn back around, their normal life will be waiting.  Like a bit of mud on hiking shoes.  It is easy to dislodge once you get out of the muck, take off your shoes, and let it dry.  I don’t get to wear hiking boots, I have to walk through in my bare feet.  I have to feel rough terrain:  each rock, brier,  and thorn that threatens to cut my feet to shreds. 

In all of this, all I can do is wait and pray.  Pray that God will continue to help me feel His unconditional love.  Pray that even when I turn from Him, because I expect that I will (I am only human), He will embrace me. 

I know that many of you are reading and hoping to offer some kind of relief from the pain.  I don’t know that it is even possible.  Pain is something that only God can help me with.  But I do know that there is support (I can feel it) in the form of prayers.  And I think that it is safe to say that we don’t want to be forgotten or avoided. 

Right now, I don’t know that there will ever be a time when we will be ‘better’  just ‘better at hiding our pain.’

A woman I know online, a sweet bereaved mommy, wrote the above excerpt. Our experiences are not identical, but these are words I could have penned myself. I wanted to share them with you, so that you know I am not the only one feeling these things. Her heart, her courage, her writing, her faith are beautiful to me.

Recently one of you said that it is courageous of me to share some of what I do with you. Thank you for recognizing that. You know I don’t have to bare my soul to you. I don’t have to tell you of my grief or share my heart with you. I didn’t even have to tell you that five of my children ever even existed! You never would have known the difference. Right?
But actually… I don’t believe that. I believe I do have to share with you (although I share even more on my private family blog – aren’t you glad you aren’t privy that one?!), and that God has called me to proclaim His glories and faithfulness through my loss and grief and pain. And I can’t even imagine ignoring the existence of any of my children.
Life on earth only lasts for so long. Life in heaven is eternal.
That is where true life lies.
Although most of the time I tend to think of Covenant, Glory, Promise, Peace, and Mercy as having died – in truth, they are the ones who are truly living. Those of us left behind to walk the dust of this earth for our threescore and ten – we are dying. We are simply longing for the true life of heaven to which five of my children have already attained.
How beautiful that is.
(Beautiful, at least, when I am not in a moment of overwhelming grief, and am willing to see its beauties.)


Someone else also recently wanted to encourage me (thank you for that, too!) not to grow weary during this hard time. That is something I am praying for grace to do – to endure with faithfulness, not growing weary – although it is honestly tempting to simply throw it all away and wallow in tears. But that’s something you won’t see me do. By God’s all-sufficient grace. (Amen.)

Many people have told me that Gabriel will make a huge impact on the Kingdom. And I truly believe that. I believe that God has prepared great things (whether he sees it in his lifetime or not) for this little boy. He survived against odds I can’t even comprehend. He had about a 5-8% chance of being born. What a miraculous little life. Sustained by God’s very words.
And not that I expect my Gabriel to be a Samuel, Jacob, or Moses necessarily — but the Lord had him survive against great odds. I truly do believe that whether I have other biological children or not, the Lord has great things planned for my son. Gabriel belongs to the Lord, and I am eager to see the paths He has prepared for this little boy as he grows.
Yes, many “great men” were from small families. Many women were mothers of few children. The most common  examples people give me are (predictably) Sarah and Hannah, but there are many others. And no, of course I do not believe that having more children is more holy or more honorable. I am definitely not in the “Quiverfull Movement” (oooh, do I sense another blog post coming there?? hmmm…).
Of course that does not necessarily mean that we will give up pursuing more children for the Kingdom (either on earth or in heaven), as our Lord leads. At this point, we feel strongly the Lord calling us to endurance. So we must follow Him and His call. We seek His wisdom and guidance as we move forward. We know that He will continue to guide our footsteps, and we are praying for discernment as we follow Him.

Certainly, yes, Gabriel is young – not yet two years old. And certainly, no, I am not too old to bear children.
But these things, I’m afraid, are not the point.
Gabriel’s age is irrelevant.
And I am not a “normal” bereaved mommy. The majority of women (85%, according to most statistics) who endure a pregnancy loss will go on to have perfectly normal, full term, healthy pregnancies following a miscarriage/stillbirth. While having one miscarriage is very common, it is less common to have recurrent miscarriages (some places say that chance of recurrent miscarriage is only 1%, while others say 1 in 200 couples). And with each miscarriage a woman has, her statistic chance of having a healthy baby in the future goes down significantly. After having five miscarriages (regardless of having a live birth in there – because Gabriel has already been established as a miracle), my statistical chance of having a healthy baby is 5%. Five.
For me, being young makes no difference.
And for me, trying again makes no difference.
Most of my babies have not died from some random chromosomal anomaly that will likely not reoccur in a future pregnancy. It is our belief, according to the knowledge that God has provided us, that only one of our babies has died from aneuploidy.
For most women, seeing a heartbeat on an ultrasound is a comfort – for me, it means nothing. While risk of miscarriage for most women drops to 5% or less after confirming a heartbeat in a baby over 6 weeks’ gestational age, it doesn’t for me.
Maybe some of you will remember that Peace miscarried in November just a few hours after we saw his gorgeous little heartbeat (it was the second time we’d seen it).

I’m not asking for pity here. That’s not why I am writing this.
I just wanted to make some clarifications. For myself, if not for you.

I am not most women.
I am not even most bereaved women.

While yes, there may be time and there may be hope – when you’re in my shoes, both of those things are limited.
My body now will rely largely on medical intervention to prepare for and protect pregnancy. Any time that I could possibly conceive, I need to be monitored closely and continue these medical interventions (unless we want to keep miscarrying 4 or 5 babies a year for the rest of my fertile years). If you know anything about lab work, medications, medical specialists, plasma, i.v.’s, etc – you will understand that these are not cheap. And while we pay for good insurance, our insurance does not have to cover these things (we pray that they will continue to cover a percentage though). If our insurance drops us, you’ll realize (ca-ching) that my childbearing days may be over.
And, please note, these medical interventions are still balancing on the skinny branches: while not exactly experimental anymore, they are far from common practice. There are no guarantees. None.
Yes, it is possible that I will be able to have more biological children with the aid of i.v.’s, shots, and medications.
And yes, it is possible that my body will be resistant and will simply continue to miscarry repeatedly.

This is where I stand.
This is where God has us.
This is what our kind Father ordained for us, prepared for us, and carries us through.

Yes, we want more children.
No, we are not unthankful for our one living son.
Yes, we acknowledge that a family of 3 is just as useable in God’s kingdom as a family of 8.
No, we do not feel God calling us to complacent contentment.
Yes, we are pursuing more biological children as God provides.
No, we will not stop pursuing where God leads.
Yes, He may change His direction of leading.
No, He will not leave or forsake us.
Yes, He may use miracles (like Gabriel) or medical science (which He has given us as a gift).
No, there are no guarantees.
Yes, we continue to grieve for our five children in heaven.
No, this is not wrong but right.

Answer this for me: if you have six children and five of them die, would you not grieve? Would you want someone telling you that you need to get over it, be happy, simply try again (there’s time and hope that you can replace those kids)? Obviously not.

And if you think for a second, “but your five children died before they were born” – stop it. Get over yourself.
Life begins at conception.
These are my sons and daughters.
They are heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven.

We do have hope.
But where is that hope?
I must cling to God alone for hope, especially in the midst of grief. Not to hope of a future healthy baby. I would be deluded if I thought that my hope and my joy will come from a healthy pregnancy… that will only bring me joy ultimately if my first joy is found in the Lord. So yes, I am praying for a deeper faith, a deeper relationship with my King, and a stronger bond with His people. I want to find my joy there, and my fulfillment. I want to.

But my hope in God and my hope for more children are not mutually exclusive.

Thanks for letting me be courageous, for reading this piece of my heart.
Thanks for trying to understand (even though you can’t).
Thanks for praying for us.

6 Replies to “Monday March 15, 2010”

  1. I have to say that I am glad that you choose to share with us because ultimately you are encouraging someone else, somewhere. (and often times, it’s me… it really does put my life into perspective in many different ways) You are Praising the Lord in the midst of the most difficult times in your life and that is a beautiful thing. (Though I know it’s never an easy thing and yes, I still think you’re courageous to do so!) 

    Praying for you, each and every day. Praying for a deeper faith, a deeper relationship and praying for the future. Praying that the insurance will keep covering and praying for miracles.*hugs*Love you lots!~Sam

    (P.S.It feels good to write it all out and share sometimes, doesn’t it?)

  2. I feel


    flattered that my comment got answered by a post! 

    “Although most of the time I tend to think of Covenant, Glory, Promise, Peace, and Mercy as having died – in truth, they are the ones who are truly living.” — 
    AMEN! I loved that statement. What truth is in that. I think when anyone dies, its hard for those left behind to remember this, because we deal with the earthly emotions. We deal with missing them, needing to just see them one more time, wanting to say good bye again (or not at all) and often to us, their lives are over. But you’re so right! When God’s people leave this earth, their life has just begun!! 
    I want you to know, Melissa, that my comment was in no way telling you to “get over it.” I would never in a million years think you need to “get over” the deaths of your 5 babies. That is a cold and mean spirited thing to say and I am not cold or mean spirited. So please know that any time any of us “ignorant” Mommies post things to you, we are not trying to secretly imply we think the fact that you remember your children this way, is something you need to stop or get over. At least, its not my intentions, I know I can’t speak for all of your readers/commenters. 
    My intent was just to remind you that there is hope. And I know you understand and know this, because you put your faith and hope in God. But I know that sometimes in MY life, I’ve needed to hear those words and be reminded to put my chin up, focus on God’s goodness and “move on” in a sense from the grief that was holding me down. It doesn’t mean we “forget” or pretend it never happened. Quite the contrary! I just know that for me personally, I’ve always appreciated the people who come alongside and remind me of the goodness of God and the joy He’s placed in my life and the reminder that sorrow can drown a person, but sustained joy and peace in the Lord carries us through and brings us out on the other side, being able to use that to teach others what having Jesus be your life means, no matter what the trial or sorrow. The other day during my Bible reading I was struck with this thought “is Jesus really enough for me?” Sounds like a weird thing to ask myself, since I’m a Christian. But I had to ask myself, “if Jason and all 3 children suddenly died in a car accident tomorrow… is Jesus enough for me?!” Honestly… I say yes, but I have no idea what my life would look like under those circumstances. My tiny little unexperienced mind can’t even comprehend it. But I do hold fast to His promises and I do believe that He often uses those deep trials like that, to show the world what life IN Christ really looks like. I’m not asking him to give me a trial like that to go through  and I’m not telling you to “love God, remember He loves you and get over it.” 
    Try to remember that just because some women don’t blog about their trials (whether its in child bearing issues or not; deep trials are all deep trials), doesn’t mean others aren’t going through them. Be careful not to say people don’t understand you or are ignorant. Not everyone is as open as you are and neither one is a bad thing.I think its excellent that you proclaim the lives of your babies and celebrate them the way you do!  I would never think you should stop doing that and pretend they never existed. But even husbands and wives who chose to have their unborn babies be a more private, personal, intimate thing, just between them, their families and a few others – they’re not NOT celebrating the life or lives of their children. And, like I said earlier, none of us have identical lives. So where I have not experienced the depth of what you have, other women have experienced your depth, times ten. God has called us to be iron sharpening iron. Not because we’ve “been there” or “done that” but because we all serve, know and love the very same God and we all know His power, His might and His peace that surpasses all understanding. I don’t need to fully understand what you’re going through to encourage you or come alongside you, as iron sharpening iron… God understands you and that’s ALL that matters. 
    So that’s all my last comment was intending to remind you of. I didn’t have any hidden messages there or feelings of wishing your blog away I understand that all you want from us is prayer and so I won’t make anymore comments on here from now on. Please know that I am praying. I pray at least weekly for you and Steven and for Gabriel. I guess I could come on after every post and write something like “praying for you!!” but I just told you I pray for you weekly, so please consider that anytime you post from here on out, even if you don’t see me write it again and again. 
    The Lord is the only comfort and source of peace that will get us through these deep, deep, valleys in our journey here on earth. May HE continue to be your joy and may you continue to sing of His glory and goodness! -Stefanie 

  3. Okay, I had my last comment written out in such a nice format… but I guess Xanga doesn’t like those. Bummer. Sorry it looks like one LONG paragraph. 

  4. I know that I can never fully understand it all, everything you are going  through. And I probably will never have the right words, in fact I know there are no words that can take away the sting of death, of the pain and suffering that you endure each and every day. I can only pray and only beseech our Heavenly Father on your behalf and know that He cares and there is hope, our hope truly is in heaven.

    And yes, thank you for sharing with us. You are making a difference in many people’s lives through your transparency and honesty.*tight squeeze*Jaclynn

  5. Jac & Sam ~ thanks, girls. For weeping with me, praying with me, and walking through these valleys with me. I am praying and walking with you, too, although I know I’m in different shoes. Our Lord knows what you need, especially when I don’t. (((hugs)))

    Stef ~ haha, “flattered”. 🙂 While the post wasn’t supposed to be a response to you, I guess you could say you did inspire its posting today. 🙂 I definitely didn’t want you to think that it was all addressed *to you*, because (like I said), while you inspired some of it, much of it wouldn’t have been in a conversation between us if we had simply been talking privately. I posted a new little post explaining a few of my thought processes (but again only some of it would apply to you). I truly am sorry if you read something into my post that I didn’t intend – that’s one thing I desperately dislike about the written word. I knew you weren’t telling me to get over it (but other people have), and I know you were encouraging me (and you did). I’ll just send you an email – I’ve been meaning to do that anyway. 🙂

  6. No worries. I only thought that because you took my post and went through each of my specific comments and replied to it in your post 

    I wasn’t upset about it, so don’t worry. 

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