Friday, November 23, 2012

Faith Tested

The following is part of a series of posts that will take you on a (very personal) journey with me through the story of our family. If you are just now tuning in, take a minute to start back at the beginning and catch up: 

Post 1: A Journey
Post 2: Love Awakened
Post 3: Hope Deferred

After 3 weeks of feeling great physically and elated emotionally, everything changed.

Mid-morning on Tuesday, November 6 I started having back pain. At first I thought I must have pulled something in my back during my workout that morning, but it felt different than that. Most of the day I couldn't stand up straight or walk without limping. I also noticed some light spotting. That night I told Andy, "I think something is wrong." And then I laid down and sobbed while he took me in his arms and prayed over me.

The next morning the bleeding was more visible and I felt confident that I was having a miscarriage. I cried all morning as I got ready. We had our Mornings for Moms life group that I help lead that morning and I was so thankful that I was doing childcare that day instead of out with the moms. I didn't want to have to have a real conversation with anyone.

While driving to the Mom's Group it was very foggy outside. Sammy said, "Mommy, where's the sun?" I replied, "It's behind the clouds." Sammy said, "But I can't see it." With tears streaming down my face I said, "I know, Baby. I can't see it either. But even when we can't see the sun, it's still shining."

After our Mom's Group, I told a few of my friends who were there that morning what was going on. Two of them said, "We're taking your kids." One said, "Don't lose hope. Go see your midwife this afternoon." Another took me to her house to feed me lunch while I filled out all the medical form for my appointment.

I had an ultrasound that afternoon and much to my delight, I saw the baby's heartbeat. The heartbeat seemed a little slow, but my midwife assured me that sometimes they see that and the baby is totally fine. After scheduling a follow-up appointment in two days, I left feeling a mix of emotions. Hopeful yet uncertain.

The appointment on Friday left me much more hopeful. Once again we saw the baby's heartbeat and the ultrasound technician assured me that it was within normal range. The spotting had continued throughout the week, but my midwife told me that a lot of women have spotting during their first trimester and perhaps my progesterone levels were low. So they ordered some lab work and I began taking progesterone immediately.

In my mind I felt relieved, but I had been through hell emotionally that week so I still didn't have my feet under me. I assured myself that I'd feel better once all the spotting had stopped.

That night we had an overnight South Bay staff retreat in the Santa Cruz mountains. It was just what I needed. We played games and laughed our heads off with some of our dearest friends. After 4 days of grieving the thought of having a miscarriage, it was exactly what I needed to snap me out of my slump.

On Saturday and Sunday I turned my thoughts toward preparing for our big vacation. Our family had been planning a weeklong getaway to San Diego and were set to leave at the crack of dawn on Monday morning. Because of my current situation, I had to do one more round of labs on Monday before we left town, but we planned on being there as soon as they opened with the van already packed.

However, by late afternoon on Sunday I started feeling crampy. At first I thought it was just in my a nervous paranoia. But by bedtime that night, there was no denying it. I knew what was happening.

If you've ever lost a loved one, you understand the strong desire to be with them during the last moments of their life. As I laid in bed that night, that is how I felt. I knew in my heart that these were my last moments with our baby, so I put my hands on my tummy, pictured that little heartbeat on the ultrasound machine and I cried myself to sleep.

The next morning the cramping continued and the bleeding had picked up. Andy and I wandered around the house like zombies trying to figure out what to do. The van was already packed for vacation and there were two little boys who would be waking up at any moment bouncing off the walls with excitement. We decided we would wait to talk with my midwife before leaving town.

All four of us sat in the lobby awaiting the dreaded ultrasound. Our boys had no idea what was going on...we hadn't even told them that we were pregnant yet. I went alone into the exam room and saw on the screen what I had feared. There was our tiny baby snuggled into my womb, but there was no heartbeat.

After talking everything through with my midwife, I trudged back through the lobby and outside where Andy & the boys waited. Our eyes met, and Andy knew. We wrapped our arms around each other and I wept as he whispered in my ear, "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry."

Then we piled into the van for what was supposed to be one of the best weeks of our year.

We didn't talk a lot on the 8 hour drive down to San Diego. I was pretty uncomfortable physically and completely distraught emotionally. This took "hope deferred" to a whole new level.

So many questions for God began swirling around in my head.

  • Why allow us to suffer the pain of infertility for five and a half years, then fulfill the deep longing of our hearts, then cause us deeper pain than perhaps we've ever experienced? That just seems cruel and mean spirited.
  • Why even allow us to get pregnant only to take it away in 3 weeks (7.5 weeks pregnant)?
  • How does what just happened fit into the grid of what I've always believed to be true about God? How is this kind? And loving? And good?
Everything seemed suddenly very fuzzy. Why was it that I believed what I believed? What exactly is it that I believe? What do I do with all this pain that is wrecking my heart? 

Those are some of the questions I've been processing through the past week and a half. It has not been pretty or neatly packaged. It has been raw and painful on so many levels. 

I'm sharing all of this with you because I know that every person processes through grief and painful circumstances at some point in our lives. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. Pain and suffering is an inescapable part of living in this fallen world, and it's really hard to know how to make sense of it. I don't feel like I've come up with a lot of profound answers, or any answers at all really. But I thought, somehow, if I shared my own grief journey with you, it may provide comfort for someone else. So in the coming posts I will give you a peek at the storm that's been raging in my heart. 

I never wanted this to be my story. I never imagined that my journey would include miscarriage and years of infertility. I never would have written the script this way. But for some reason there is an all-powerful God in heaven whose thoughts are higher than my own, and this is what He saw fit for my life. I've always believed that He is kind and loving and full of even on my darkest of days I will cling to what I knew to be true in the light. I will tether my heart the promise that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him. 

[I feel like I need to apologize to many of you who wished me "Congratulations" after reading my post yesterday. Please don't feel bad that you said that and please don't be angry with me for misleading you. I wanted you to experience all of the different emotions that I have been experiencing. Each post has represented a significant season of our journey. As we have lived this journey out, we've had no idea what was right around the bend for us. So we keep putting one foot in front of the other, experiencing each emotion as they come, and trying to filter it all through the grid of what we know to be true about God. Thank you for journeying with me. More to come tomorrow...]


Maureen Tanai said...

I'm very sorry for your loss. Grief is a very very burdensome experience. It's different for everyone. A while my brother died, I embraced a train of thought that gave me strength at some times. I'm not sure if it's healthy or not, good or bad, all I know is that it helped in the moment. It was this: "God doesn't let bad things happen unless something good was to come out of it.". If my brother hadn't died, those murders may have killed more innocent people and may not have been caught. I'm not sure, but based on my brother's character, if God has asked him beforehand if he would sacrifice his own life so that others could be saved, I'm pretty sure he would have said yes. We don't know what God's plan is until later on, if even at all (although I hope when I die He would explain some things to me.). It's a very difficult time, and God does have a reason. It's such a coincidence that my family was talking about miscarriages last night when I hadn't read this post yet. My mom and cousin were discussing how miscarriages happen when there is something wrong w the baby (I guess like a defect or something). Perhaps God saved your baby from a lifetime of pain and grief? Idk, only God knows. I pray that God brings u n Andy peace and comfort, and a healthy baby when the time is right.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I have never experienced a miscarriage, or been pregnant. And I know cannot fathom how you felt, but I felt as I was reading this that I experienced your loss with you. As you continue to rest your soul in our Jesus, I will pray for peace, comfort, and for you to continue to feel God's presence. From miles away, I send you lots of love and hugs and prayer.

Prairie said...

A sad and challenging experience to be sure, but thank you for sharing it so openly. I had a miscarraige this year as well and it is emotional and a challenge, but God is faithful. My sister-in-law just had a miscarriage today and I believe this post can be very helpful to her when she is ready. Thank you and God bless.

Chris and Karen said...

Stacie-Thank you for sharing, it is courageous of you to share your thoughts and struggles and be so transparent. It would have really helped and encouraged me in my lowest points of infertility. Infertility was one of the toughest struggles in my life and I just had to cling to the Lord and ultimately submit to Him with the same Scripture you mentioned. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. -Isaiah 55:8
Gina-Praying for you, I know that ache and I promise it will get better.

Chris and Karen said...

Stacie-I found Hannah's Prayer Ministries helpful to me during my struggle with infertility. Not sure if you know about it but maybe you can pass it on to Gina or post it under your blog. It was helpful to know other Christians, even online, struggling with the same issues.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I'm very sorry you are going through this. I also struggled with infertility issues in the past. My husband had a vasectomy reversal. The outcome was very low sperm count. To make matters worst my FSH level was at 9.8 (I was in shock and devastated considering I was only 30 at the time). Thank God we were able to get pregnant with some fertility treatment. I just want to say i understand the pain every month hoping you are pregnant only to learn you failed again. I remember when I was trying to get pregnant my body would play weird tricks on me. I often felt like I was pregnant when I really wasn't. Keep praying, believing, and doing your part. All you need is a YES from God and we know His mercies are new every day. With God all things are possible!! I have you in my prayers. Sending baby wishes to you.... and a (((((((((((Big Hug))))))))))