Saturday, December 20, 2008

Praise and Joy

All this week I've debated whether or not to write this post. I started it Monday evening the 15th, and have mulled it over and added, deleted, and rewritten it all week long. Some people will likely think that I shouldn't write about it, because it's such a personal subject. I know that no matter what I say my words won't come out right. They won't be as eloquent as I hope, and they won't say exactly the right things. I'm afraid that people will think I'm being dramatic, and maybe I am. But I want to put these thoughts down, because not talking about it is, to me, like pretending like it never happened, and I don't want that. And I want to talk, on paper (or screen as it may be) because that's how I work things out best. So be forewarned- my heart, and my thoughts, are a jumbled mess... and so are my words.

A few days after we returned home from our Thanksgiving trip to FL, I discovered I was pregnant. I had thought I might be, but a previous test came out negative, so I assumed it wasn't so that month. A few days later came the positive test, and Mike and I were obviously excited. I was so happy for Jack to be a big brother, dreaming of a crazy summer, and fulfilled to be creating a new life within me. But it wasn't to be. Saturday morning I began bleeding, and rather than getting better, it only got worse. By Sunday I knew that I had likely lost the baby, and by the time I got to the ultrasound Monday morning, I knew what I would see. 

I read many blogs, mostly written by people I don't know. Through Poppy Joy's blog, I have become a regular reader of a community of women who have lost their infant children, mostly due to the genetic disorder Trisomy 18. Becoming so emotionally involved in the stories of these mothers, I sometimes wondered if God was preparing my heart for the loss of a child. I won't pretend to know the will or acts of God, but perhaps He was. Though the loss of a fetus can't compare to the loss of a child a mother has carried for 9 months and been allowed to hold, these blogs have opened my eyes to the unthinkable and painful aspects of motherhood.

I was called to pray for this baby from even before I knew I was pregnant. I know I prayed for Jack while pregnant with him, but I don't actually specifically remember doing it. This time was different, and I'm so very glad that my baby was covered in prayer during the time that I got to spend with him. (I obviously didn't have the opportunity to know the sex of the baby, but calling it "him" instead of "it" somehow seems right to me.)

I wonder, and maybe I will always wonder, who this baby might have been... what this baby might have been. What I don't wonder is whose this baby was. And in that I take great comfort. He never belonged to me or Mike, but was created and formed by God, and belonged to Him. I am comforted by that, but confused still. Because I believe that life begins at conception, I'm confused as to what that means for a baby who is lost at such a young fetal age in the scheme of eternal life. Does a fetus have a soul? Will we one day be reunited in eternal glory? My heart longs to know these answers, yet I know I probably won't in this life.

I don't do well with grieving. I have real trouble with revealing my emotions, and I don't like to seem weak, even to those I love most. I was able to hold it together long enough for the ultrasound tech to leave the room and to call Mike to let him know the news before crying. And there haven't been many tears. But I'm hurting inside as I grieve for what could have been, what I hoped would be. I grieve for a part of me and Mike that is lost and for Jack becoming a brother, although it is our hope that some day that will happen. And I grieve for silly things, like the fact that this was the last month I could get pregnant to have a baby when I was 25. I know Mike grieves, too, and I hope that we can understand one another's grief.

I found out this evening that an acquaintance of mine's baby was born yesterday without a heartbeat. I don't understand the ways of God, and trust that His will is best, but oh how my heart aches for that family. I can't begin to imagine the magnitude of that loss, and I find myself with a heavy heart after beginning to feel healing this week. Again, I don't want to compare Mike's and my loss to this unthinkable loss, but it can't help but remind me of the intense grief of earlier this week.

So why then the title "Praise and Joy"? It was the title of an email sent to me by my uncle, reminding me of Jesus' birth into a world of sin and death, in atonement for our sins. And indeed praise and joy is an appropriate sentiment and prayer, even when I don't feel that way. A comfort to me this week has been excerpts from Martin Luther's treatise "Comfort For Women Who Have Had a Miscarriage." Although it doesn't answer all of my questions, the following passages especially brought comfort and let me in a direction of prayer.

...these mothers should calm themselves and have faith that God's will is always better than ours, though it may seem otherwise to us from our human point of view.

Because the mother is a believing Christian it is to be hoped that her heartfelt cry and deep longing to bring her child to be baptized will be accepted by God as an effective prayer.

See to it that above all else you are a true Christian and that you teach a heartfelt yearning and praying to God in true faith, be it in this or any other trouble. Then do not be dismayed or grieved about your child or yourself, and know that your prayer is pleasing to God and that God will do everything much better than you can comprehend or desire.

The words and music of an anthem I sang in my college a cappella choir for one Christmas concert has been running through my head. The words speak for themselves (although I'm not entirely sure I'm remembering them correctly).

Stay with us, Lord Jesus, stay with us.

Stay with us, it soon is evening.

Stay with us, Lord Jesus, stay with us

It soon is evening, and night is falling.

Jesus Christ the world's true light

Shine so the darkness cannot overcome it.

Stay with us, Lord Jesus, it soon is evening.

Stay with us, Lord Jesus, for night is falling.

Let you light fill the darkness

And fill your church with it's glory.

I guess maybe that's all I have to say at the moment. God bless you all this Christmas season.


amosclarkson said...

Oh Tori, that was a truly beautiful post. While I cannot completely understand your feelings & thoughts, as I have not experienced your loss, I found myself understanding your words. Your questions & thoughts are what I, too, would be asking & wondering. I often wonder about how I would feel, act, respond to the many complications that can occur when bringing a child into the world. I know someone who recently lost one of their twins a day after their delivery & I am in such awe & humility of the mother's ability to stay strong for the living twin. How would I be in such tragedy? Could I go on? I, too, have a hard time showing my feelings & with a loss of a child, of any age, I can understand how it would be particularly difficult. I do believe, though, that you will be a mommy again & that Jack will make a wonderful big brother someday. I'm glad you decided to post these words as they have been comforting to me, and I hope they have to you, too. Let's get together soon. Have a wonderful Christmas with little Jack!

Nancy said...


I too agree with what "amosclarkson said". My heart breaks for you, Mike and Jack. God's ways are not our ways but I do believe that one day you will meet your lost child in Heaven. I pray that you and Mike will conceive again and have a beautiful sibling for Jack.
Merry Christmas.

Anonymous said...

We are praying for you and Mike. We believe that God will provide you with another special child soon. You both are such wonderful people and parents. Just keep enjoying Jack until God is ready to provide you with another Child.
We love all of you.

Anonymous said...

The above comment came from the Marks Family in South Carolina. Sorry we forgot to sign our name.
Tenna and Wendell