Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Remembering Someone I Never Met

This month (October) is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  In 1988, President Ronald Reagan designated this special month proclaiming, "When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them."

In December of 2002, I found out for the very first time that I was pregnant.  I made this discovery on a whim while shopping with some girlfriends, who coaxed me into taking the pregnancy test right there in the store’s bathroom.  When I saw that it was positive, I was so excited.  But I didn’t know how to share the news with my husband.  I think I knew deep down that he would have wanted to be the first to know, rather than my friends.  They helped me come up with what we thought was a fun way to tell him . . . but unfortunately it didn’t soften the sting that he had missed out on being the first to know.  He was so disappointed that I found out without him.

I regret that, to this day.

Just a few weeks later, I began to experience some cramping and spotting.  Fear engulfed me.  Within 24 hours my husband and I found ourselves at a clinic (not my doctor’s office), having an ultrasound.  The sonographer didn’t say a word to us, but I could clearly see a tiny blob on the screen, surrounded by my womb.  That blob was my baby.  When the doctor called me later that day, he said it was too early to tell if I was going to miscarry.  It was pretty early in the pregnancy, and maybe that’s why they couldn’t find a heartbeat.

So we waited.  For several weeks I spotted, but there was no more cramping.  I tried to hold out hope that everything might be all right.  I had friends encouraging me to have faith, to “name it and claim it.”  So I tried.  And I prayed – hard.  I poured over the scriptures.  But the fear still engulfed me.  In a bit of irony, I had even put together a Christmas drama for our church, and I played the role of Mary.  It honestly felt like torture to have that balloon under my costume pretending to be pregnant, and to carry that little baby doll as if it were my child.

For Christmas my husband and I traveled to visit my family in Georgia.  Despite the instability of the pregnancy, we shared the news that we were expecting with the rest of the family by wrapping a note up as a present and letting my younger brother open it.  Everyone was excited right along with us.  But I remember that night explaining to my sister and my sister-in-law how things weren’t looking good.  And I remember crying in the shower the next morning, singing that song “You Are My Hiding Place.”  And weeping.

When we returned to our home in Colorado, I visited my doctor and had another ultrasound in his office.  My husband couldn’t come with me because of his job, so one of my best friends went with me.  I’ll never forget that day, and the doctor’s voice when he said, “Well, I’m sorry to give you this news around the holidays, but there’s nothing there.”  I felt like the world was literally crashing around me.  I walked around in a daze for the rest of the evening until my husband got home from work and I fell into his arms sobbing.

After that I didn’t really want to talk about it with anyone.  A wonderful woman from our church even came to visit me at our condo one day, but I hid in the bedroom while my husband told her that I didn’t feel like visiting.  I wish I could go back and change that day.  I think it would have helped me to open up to her.  Especially when my body actually completed the miscarriage at home two weeks after the doctor told me that nothing was there.

It was several years later before I truly began to heal.  I got pregnant again fairly quickly, and every day I was completely consumed with fear.  Terror.  I went back and forth between being angry at God and being angry at myself, thinking that either God was honestly cruel, or that it was my own fault I had miscarried.  I knew I was depressed and that I needed help.  But no one had the answers I craved.  So I began to ask God for help.  In between my bouts of hating myself and feeling rejected by God, I asked Him to show me someone who could help me. 

Eventually He brought a friend to mind.  She referred me to a wonderful couple who were lay counselors, and who ended up spending an entire day with me in 2005 (months after I had delivered two healthy children, my full-term daughter and my premature son). 

As we talked and prayed through my entire life, I dreaded the part where I would have to tell them about my miscarriage.  But they were very sensitive and let me take my time.  They led me through a time of conversing with God about those dark days.  They encouraged me to go back to that worst moment in my mind – that moment in the doctor’s office when I knew for sure that the baby was gone.  They told me to picture Jesus there with me.  Because HE WAS THERE.  When I did, what I saw was my wonderful Savior standing beside me, holding my baby.  I feel like this was the Lord’s way of telling me, “Yes, this baby was real.  But he’s with me now.  I’m taking care of him.”

If I am honest, there have been moments where I have doubted that vision.  I have doubted that my miscarriage was real, that there was truly a baby there.  But every time I do, the Lord quickly brings to mind the feeling I had when I first envisioned Him holding my sweet little one.  I cannot deny that experience, and I cannot deny that He spoke to me on that day about many, many things. 

It is painful for me to go back and relive these experiences as I tell this story.  But I feel compelled to share the Hope that God has given me in Christ.  And now I can say truthfully that I look forward to meeting that precious child in Heaven one day.  I like to think that he (or she) will meet me right at the gate.

You are my hiding place.
You always fill my heart
With songs of deliverance.
Whenever I am afraid,
I will trust in You.

I will trust in You.
Let the weak say
I am strong,
In the strength of the Lord.
I will trust in You.