About four or five weeks ago I started to get suspicious. It was improbable that my suspicions were true, because we had been being more careful than probably any other time in our marriage, but as days went by those suspicions got stronger and stronger. We started pointing out little signs–exhaustion here, nausea there, tears coming easily all over the place, but at first neither one of us really put much stock in what we were saying. Many times in the past 11 years, my mind has played tricks on me, convincing me that I was feeling pregnant and getting our nerves heightened when in fact I wasn’t and it was all just coincidence. But six of those times, it wasn’t coincidence and there eventually came a day when I knew that all of my “it’s all in my mind” speeches were really not true and it wasn’t, in fact, all in my mind. Five times that resulted in a beautiful baby in my arms seven or eight or nine months later, and in the summer of 2004 it resulted in a tiny baby that bypassed my arms and went straight to Heaven to wait for me there. Friday, August 26, 2011 was another one of those times. Clay came home, found me almost passed out with exhaustion on the couch while the boys napped and the girls played around me, handed me a CVS bag and said, “Go upstairs and see if this is why you’re so exhausted.” That test showed up positive even before I laid it back down on the counter. My seventh pregnancy was no longer suspected, but confirmed.
I was numb. I had been, in the couple of weeks of playing our “maybe we are, what will we do?” game, already starting to freak out at the possibility. We weren’t trying to get pregnant. We were actually doing more to try not to get pregnant than we had at any other time since Abigail was born. We both knew that we didn’t want to be done, but it just seemed like wisdom was dictating a break. Our van is full, for one thing, and we want to get our credit cards paid off–or at least way down–before attempting to buy a bigger vehicle. Plus, after Silas was born I teetered very close to the edge for months and it just seemed like we shouldn’t rock that boat with another baby any time soon. But there was the plus sign, showing up bright and clear. It was almost humorous. How many couples do we know who had taken significant steps to not have a baby and then got surprised with one anyway, and now we were among that number.
That night I was supposed to go to a local women’s conference with several women from church. I did not want to go. I was exhausted. We had been busy all week and hadn’t had any family time. And now I would have to be social and polite and friendly while trying to wrap my brain around the fact that my world had turned upside down with one plus sign. But I went anyway and He met me there. The Scriptures and songs that evening were, I’m convinced, just for me. I went home and told my husband what he had never doubted–that God knew what He was doing and that He would provide for this baby just as He had all the others, and that I would put my worries to rest and embrace this pregnancy with joy. The only thing that remained was to tell our family, and we were due to head that way the following weekend so we decided to wait and tell them in person. We enjoyed two glorious days of catching each other’s eye with our secret knowledge, whispering boy names and girl names when the children weren’t around, and calculating due dates and mentally rearranging our schedule to accomodate this new little person’s arrival–following our pattern of the six previous times.
But Sunday night I started bleeding. And Monday afternoon began a four day process of trying to figure out if we would get to keep this baby that suddenly we wanted very very much. By Wednesday night there was no longer any question, and on Thursday it was confirmed. Our little baby had stopped growing and once again, we had a baby that we would not get to meet until eternity.
It had only been five days since I had seen that plus sign. Five short days that were in reality a lifetime. My baby lived about six weeks (we’re guessing) in my womb, but I only knew about it for those short five days. There wasn’t time for that joyous announcement, no time to figure out how to tell people creatively. No time to settle on a beautiful, meaningful name. But somehow, there was enough time for me to fiercely love this little person that I never saw, never felt, never held. I saw a blip on a screen when we went to the doctor but it was too early to see the fluttering heartbeat. I saw a shape on a screen and a plus sign on a stick, and that was all, but that was enough to forge a bond between me and my baby that broke my heart when it was severed.
So now I had to redefine the events of the past few weeks again. First, I was playing mind games with myself, making too much of small symptoms. Then I had to redefine myself as a pregnant mommy when we realized they weren’t mind games after all. That was easy to do–even though I had fears and worries about how it would all work, it took no trouble at all to define myself as an expectant mama once again. I was in my element, doing what I know without a doubt I was created to do. Now I had to redefine again. I had had a miscarriage. I had been pregnant, but I wasn’t any longer. I was just sad. We had to decide whether to even tell people or not–why add to the burdens that so many of our loved ones were already carrying? Why not spare them one more hurt? I didn’t want to tell, mostly because it hurt too much to think of talking about it. We could just let it be our secret pain, like it was our secret baby. But Clay and logic prevailed. It was our children’s sibling, our parents’ grandchild. It wasn’t just our pain and it shouldn’t be kept secret. So we shared. And we were loved and supported by those we love.
And then life went on. And there was no time to process it. When I got the call from the doctor confirming the miscarriage, I was packing suitcases. We were headed to Somerset that night. We had a family reunion in Tennessee that weekend, then my granddaddy’s surgery the next week. There were situations going on that were bigger than just me and my sadness. But the sadness and the questions remain. Every day, no matter what else has been going on, I have thought about those five days and that little baby. If I started dwelling on the “Why?” questions I would go crazy. It seems pointless–why let us get pregnant when we thought we didn’t want to be pregnant, only to take it away? At first I thought I had it figured out–God was testing my faith. Would I trust Him with our family even when another child seemed out of the question? Of course I would. Once I was pregnant the worries quickly faded into trust. But then our baby died, so except for our loss we’re right back where we started. So it makes no sense. But as my husband preached last week, who can know the mind of the Lord or who has been His counselor? I am not going to drive myself crazy trying to figure out what in the world God was doing two weeks ago. I know that God is Sovereign. I know that God is good. I know that there was a baby living inside me, and now it has died and is waiting with its sibling to meet me in Glory. I know that He has promised to work all things together for my good and to make me more like Christ. I will cling to that because I also know that I still feel so sad at what I lost. How is it possible to love and miss someone so much that I only knew for five short days, and that only through a plus sign on a stick? I didn’t think I wanted that baby until God gave it to me, then I wanted it more than anything. But He has a plan for our family that is bigger than that little baby being born, and we’re going to trust Him with that in the midst of the sadness. He has given and He has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. May He receive glory in my sadness.