“Aw, she’s sleeping.” “Wait, is there a heartbeat?” “Noooo, not again!” I uttered all this within about five seconds on December 22 as I lay in the ultrasound room, anxious to see the healthy, growing baby we had seen on screen three weeks earlier. She should have been 13 weeks, but her lifeless measurements showed her a small 11 weeks.
I have discovered these last two weeks that a 13-week loss is no easier than a 25-week loss. In fact, this has been harder, whether because of the timing, gestational age, or the circumstances surrounding the loss. I am not grieving as gracefully as I felt I did when we lost Baby Faith. I am shaken. I am angry. I am lonely. I am broken.
It doesn’t help that we found out just three days before Christmas. It doesn’t help that our kids then got sick, and so I was sequestered, caring for my three living children, taking no visitors. It doesn’t help that I needed my community, and outside of Facebook Messenger, I was feeling very alone with my thoughts. It doesn’t help that the holidays and closures slowed the whole process down, from scheduling appointments to delayed test results to announcing the loss so as not to disrupt Christmas for others. It doesn’t help that although my mama instincts said ‘girl’ from the very beginning, our baby was a nameless ‘it’ until after she was removed from my body and our genetic screening results finally came through. It doesn’t help that I carried this baby inside of me, knowing that there was no life left, for twelve days before the D&C. It doesn’t help that while the world outside carried on, celebrating the birth of our Savior, I mourned the loss of another baby.
I was just so angry! How could God give me this extra blessing that I so desperately wanted, such an unexpected gift, and then take it away? Why? I don’t understand. It seemed like such an unlikely pregnancy. I thought for sure He had great plans for this baby – plans that involved life. I don’t understand how this can fit into His Plan for good for our lives. Right now it just feels all bad. The God of the universe could raise Lazarus from the dead, but He didn’t let me keep my baby. My last baby. My Aimee Noel. Why? Our God is the Great Comforter, and yet I have felt so alone. I was isolated from my community for a week after learning she had died. Why did He have to throw croup on top of everything else? I did things right. I followed the pregnancy rules. I tried to take care of my body. I took my prescribed medicine. She was perfectly healthy three weeks earlier. What happened? And why?? I prayed so much for this child. I wanted this baby. My last journal entry was filled with desperate prayer. Why was she taken away? I know that God is full of mysteries. I know He can perform miracles. Where was my God?? I have been rooted in my faith, and yet I am shaken. I know He’s there. I know He loves me. But I don’t like Him very much right now. We remained faithful and leaned on Him with the job loss. With the timing of this baby. We believed it was all a God thing. Signs of new beginnings. So why did it end so soon? My faith was tested with the loss of Baby Faith, and I thought I passed. I grew from her loss. I witnessed the many blessings through the shadow of death. So why do I feel tested again? So soon? Why do I feel so broken?
And then there was a lesser anger directed toward my husband. Just because he grieves differently. Because men always grieve differently than women. And it made me feel so alone. Even though he is the best husband ever and has stood by my side from the time I sent the text saying, “No heartbeat.” He rushed to the doctor’s office that day to be with me. He has held me even when I wanted to run. He has listened to my heart when I’ve been able to find the words. It has been easier for me to release the grip of anger against the Hubby. I’m not so mad at him anymore. I accept that we grieve differently. This was a very personal loss for me, but I’m the one that carried our child, not him.
Anger may be a normal part of the grieving process, but it’s very uncomfortable. For me, it literally creates heart ache. Kathe Wunnenberg writes in Grieving the Child I Never Knew, “Conflicts between men, women, and God have existed since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden. So why should you feel so uncomfortable about your anger? When restoration and peace occur in our walk with God, it is often after a floodgate release of anger.” I sure hope she’s right about that. You just witnessed my floodgate.
Just now, over two weeks after learning we wouldn’t be bringing our baby home, I am beginning to find glimpses of peace, if only a little bit at a time. Tuesday, the afternoon before surgery, as I busied myself with errands in town and chores around the house and farm, preparing for my mom’s visit and to be on prescribed rest for several days, a dear friend came to bring chicken and dumplings for our family (the best comfort food ever following surgery!). That short visit and a hug was the perfect pick-me-up. She also left a book for me to read, The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp. My mom arrived later that evening. With Wednesday came the finality of not carrying our child anymore. Hubby and I have had a chance to talk – to really talk. Somewhere between all this, I have lost the edge off of my anger. I have accepted that I’m broken. Maybe that’s not a horrible place to be for a while.
“‘The seed breaks to give us the wheat. The soil breaks to give us the crop, the sky breaks to give us the rain, the wheat breaks to give us the bread. And the bread breaks to give us the feast. There was once even an alabaster jar that broke to give Him all the glory.’ … ‘Never be afraid of being a broken thing.’ … Maybe this is the way to freedom? I’ve got to remember to just keep breathing – keep believing.” – The Broken Way
I don’t know where to go next. My mind knows the things that can help – a gratitude journal, visiting friends, giving of myself, etc. – but my heart isn’t ready. Maybe I need time to feel sorry for myself. Maybe I need more time to really grieve. Maybe I’ll never feel whole again. Should I let this define me? I felt defined by my loss of Baby Faith and how much I grew through her. Will I be defined by Baby Aimee’s loss and how it has shaken me to the core? How do I move on and teach my children the love of God when I feel so hurt by Him? How do I teach them about enduring faithfulness when I feel so betrayed? How can I get grounded again when everything that’s supposed to bring me hope just reminds me of my hurt?
All the hope-filling things – songs, devotions, Scripture – remind me of what was supposed to happen, what could have happened, how I should respond, how I should be feeling through the pain; not this broken reality that I’m living. I know that eventually I have to want to get better. But I’m just not there yet. I’m still not ready to listen to The JoyFM all the time. Songs that used to bring me hope just make me mad now. Although now that Hubby knows about my anger he is gently nudging me in that direction, bless him. I’m continuing with my grief devotional, although I’ve read the pages so many times before and some of those make me mad too. But I’m also reading the new book I received, which right now seems to be what I need. I need new encouragement right now, not the same old stuff as I walk through this new journey.
Time. Grace. Love. I need all these. Can I be kind enough to grant myself these three simple gifts?