It’s been a while since I have written. A big event occurred recently in our lives, and in these last few months I felt God calling me to stop talking and just listen and be with him.
I’ve hesitated sharing this, because it is so deeply personal, but as time goes on I’ve learned that it’s harder to move on and talk about other things when this is really on the forefront of my heart and mind.
A couple of months ago we unexpectedly found out that we were expecting another baby. Overtime the news was met with excitement, but to be honest, it wasn’t our first reaction. Before finding out, we had prayerfully discerned to wait a bit longer in between babies. Though we knew we were both open to life and also wanting more children, the second line on the HPT nonetheless caused me to burst into a puddle of self-pity and fear. I was afraid of many things, but looking back most of the fear came in feeling the loss of certain silly and selfish goods.
Lord, I’m finally sleeping through the night!
My body is looking like it used to again!
I was about to buy a new well-fitting bra!
I’m beginning to exercise,
am almost done nursing,
and my hair just stopped falling out!
I was immediately confronted with all of these emotions that conflicted with our very pro-life and God-knows-best way of living. I was frustrated when I found out I was pregnant. Frustrated and scared.
The question I kept asking God was, God, don’t you know my heart? Don’t you know that I am just not ready yet?? And our Lord answered me in a way I hadn’t expected.
He sent me an image of his mother.
When this image came to my mind all I could defiantly think at first was, “Lord. I am not Mary.”
Mary’s yes was so immediate—she was so ready to accomplish the Lord’s will. Even if it meant possible personal persecution, the loss of her marriage, and that her image might be compromised in the eyes of everyone around her. She said yes without reservation: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word.” And I felt so very far from being like her.
However, as I began to think of this image of Mary I slowly realized what God was really trying to tell me. God doesn’t ask us to rid ourselves of the feelings and frustrations we have when something hard occurs in our lives. He doesn’t want us to just get over it. He wants us to bring those fears and frustrations to his feet and seek out what he is trying to teach and give to us in and through these events. I think in giving me the image of his mother, Jesus wasn’t telling me to just get over my feelings. He was calling me to dialogue. This is precisely what it means to “ponder” things, and the very response Mary had whenever something good, challenging, and especially painful happened in her life. The Lord was telling me, “I am here. I see you, and I know your heart. Trust in me.”
So I began to trust. I began to look around at my life, and through him, began to shed my fears and realize all the beauty around me. Sure, things can be hard in raising children; there are lots of tears, fits, and obstacles to overcome. But through all of that, there is so much more beauty—the kind that comes from pouring yourself out completely in love for another. All the kisses, growth, smiles, laughs, warm embraces, milestones, celebrations, all of it—even the craziness—is worth so much more than all the things I initially feared losing. My kids fill my heart with joy that is overflowing, and more than that the love I have for them has transformed me into a much better version of myself. It is all so very good.
When I told my husband the news, his response was an enormous support for me. Part of me expected him to fall into that puddle I found myself in, but he was so quick to remind me how awesome our kids are and how a new baby means more to love. His fears were similar to mine, but we worked through them together and his overall support washed away so many of the fears I had.
What I also began to remember is that the biggest part of being open to life is realizing that the creation of our children is not in our hands alone. We are merely co-creators acting in participation with the God who is the very author of life. Joe and I signed up for this when we got married: we vowed to allow God into our marriage, and to be open to his will for our lives and the lives of our children.
From that point on whenever those fears began to creep in again, I tried to remind myself of this. God is with me, he knows my heart, he has a plan for me and for the life of this baby.
I didn’t know it at the time, but God was calling me to fall on this reminder of his love in a deeper way than I could even imagine, and to take a journey with Mary that I never prepared myself for.
As time went on in the pregnancy and as me and my husband began to both settle into the idea and excitement of it all, I tried to go about things as normal as possible. What was strange this time, though, was unlike with my previous pregnancies I wasn’t tired, sick, and I wasn’t a horrible grouchy monster. This is a good thing, right? No, I knew something was off because the one side-effect I did have was a whole lot of cramping. As the days went on I found myself in the awful habit of continually checking for blood or any sign of complications. Weeks went by and I began to think I was being crazy.
7 weeks into the pregnancy my fears were confirmed when the bleeding began. I was forced yet again into a wave of fear and worry. Since the bleeding was minimal and there wasn’t much a doctor could do, I decided to wait a couple of days to see if it would subside. I resolved to pray, hope, and try to cease worrying, but when the bleeding hadn’t stopped I went to the doctor’s, sure that they would tell me I had lost the baby. I lay on a cold recliner, halfheartedly making small chat with the nurse, waiting to hear the awful news. Then I saw it for myself: the baby’s heart beating strong! The nurse told me that the baby was almost 8 weeks old, and explained to me that bleeding can be very normal and not to worry too much because the baby’s vitals looked great. It was great news, but as the bleeding increased a little day by day, so did the worry. I wanted the bleeding to end…and when it did, it was in a way I wasn’t hoping for.
Every Thursday I lead a women’s bible study and the topic of the class this year is God’s divine Mercy. That Thursday morning, I had no idea what was coming my way or how much I would have to rely on his merciful love, but God primed by heart through the witness of the women in my group. They spoke so beautifully about how God has worked in their lives, and how they were called at times to say yes to him (even during hardships), and embrace him (even when life presented challenges and pain). As soon as class was over I knew I had to head to the ER, because as they talked of God, I began passing clots. I sobbed the whole way to the hospital, knowing this visit to the doctor would be different. On my way, though—as scared as I was—I felt both God and Mary present with me. I think from the very beginning of this pregnancy, God was calling me to trust in him. He was showing me what it means to whisper in my own heart the prayer Jesus prayed during his agony, “Lord, let your will be done,” and the similar inner prayer of Mary as she clutched her breast watching her son die before her eyes. He doesn’t cause suffering and pain—they are a part of our fallen human condition—but we have the freedom to extend these sufferings to his hands, so he can transform us through them and help us rise again. I felt in that moment, through all the pain, my call to trust him and fall at his feet. As I tried my hardest to summon Jesus’ words for my own, I felt him whisper back to me: “I am here. I see you and know your heart. Trust in me.”
We lost our third baby on October 6th. We named the baby Francis.
This is so very hard to talk about and let alone write about. I sit here with tears streaming down my face as my beautiful kids play in front of me, so unaware that they have a sibling now with the Lord. Some day when they are old enough we will share this news, and take them to where we buried the baby, and we can explain to them that despite our fears and anxiety, we chose life. And what’s more, we can explain to them that when we were confronted with death, we were met with God’s merciful love, and faith in what is to come.
It is so very hard to talk about my reservations with being pregnant, especially after losing the baby. How can I admit such an awful thing, and also explain how my soul aches at the thought of never being able to hold and kiss this baby? All of the things I was afraid of pale in comparison to the life I wish was physically here now.
I wrestled for weeks over whether or not I should share such personal details, but I decided to go ahead because, besides miscarriage being taboo itself to talk about, I think it’s necessary to share what trust in God sometimes looks like: it’s not always easy, especially when things don’t go according to plan. I am talking about this now because I want to share how God’s love was present throughout all of this, despite my hesitations with his plans for my life. I want to share how he was so very patient with me and showered me with compassion when I wanted to shout, yell, and pound my fists when things didn’t go according to my plan. Through learning to trust in him, I can find the joy in this loss despite the pain—which I don’t think I could do without his merciful love. I am very thankful for this particular journey he asked me to go on, because through it I think he called me to a deeper level of trust, and also because I believe with all my heart that this baby is with him—we now have a little saint and piece of our family in heaven watching over us and praying for our family.
I will leave you with a passage from Isaiah 42, which spoke to me not long after our loss occurred. I pray that this scripture remains carved on my heart in the future, and I hope that it brings you solace in your life when you need it, too: