Posts Tagged ‘Miscarriage’

Dear Elealeh

Dearest Elealeh,

Today is the day we anticipated as the day you would enter the world and fill our arms and our hearts.   A special due date of 11/11/11 made even more special by the fact that it would have been your great-grandfather’s birthday. A due date close to your uncle and grandfather’s birthday, my own birthday, Thanksgiving, and your little cousin’s birthday.  A time of much celebration would have been made even more joyous by your eagerly awaited arrival.  Instead, I enter the month of November with a hollowness in my chest, an emptiness in my arms, and an unspeakable sense of loss.

I remember the morning I found out you were on your way.  I couldn’t sleep for anticipation of waking your Daddy to tell him we were going to have another baby.  As usual, we couldn’t contain our excitement that we were expecting you, and we joyfully spread the news as quickly as we could.  Knowing you were a little girl gave us such a thrill, too! We could hardly wait to see what your little girl face would look like and how you would resemble each of us and your brother.

Months before that joyful morning, I had felt the Lord whisper to my heart that our next little girl would be named Elealeh Grace, a Hebrew word which means “The LORD has ascended and reigns.”  When I saw the second line appear on that pregnancy test and we realized you were a girl, I knew that you were Elealeh, our little Elsie, that would grace our home with your beautiful presence.

But you were named Elealeh for a reason only God knew at the time.  The Lord knew your name before the foundations of the earth, and he gave you the name of His Sovereignty to comfort us in the days ahead.

When we thought we might be losing you, Elealeh pointed us to the One who was in control of all things, even this.

When we knew we were losing you, Elealeh reminded us that our reigning King is the giver of all good gifts, and no good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.

When we had lost you, Elealeh reminded us that no sorrow could overwhelm us that our hope in Christ could not overcome.

People told me it would get easier. It hasn’t.  People told me as soon as I was pregnant again I would be comforted and get over your loss. I am not.  Comforted, yes, by God’s goodness in giving us another good gift.  But how can the promise of another baby fill the void of a life that is lost?  I am expecting your brother or sister, yes, but I will still never hold you.  I will never see your face, I will never stroke your hair, I will never know what color your eyes were, or if you have your daddy’s nose.  I will never hear your name called in our home or read you the Elsie Dinsmore books from where you got your nickname.

It is tempting to dwell, especially today, on all of the things that “might have been.”  But the truth is, you lived out exactly the number of days the Lord ordained for you to have on this earth.  In reality, there is no “should have been” or “might have been.” There is only what is.  And we choose to accept your loss with the faith and hope that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.

We are so thankful for the gift that God gave us in you, my sweet Elsie, even for the brief time I held you close inside of me.  We wouldn’t trade the weeks we had with you to escape the lonely sorrow that envelops us now. We wouldn’t trade the dreams that were never realized to have never dreamt them in the first place.  We are so thankful for every minute we had you.  And we anxiously await the day when we will, Lord willing, see your darling face and finally hold you in our arms.

Love always and forever,

Mama and Daddy

Taking Refuge in the Gospel

Willcox Baby, Week 16

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.” Psalm 13: 5-6

“I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body will also rest secure…You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill my with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:9, 10, 11

Stephen and I have been reading the Psalms lately. It has been awhile since I poured over them, and I had forgotten what a balm to the soul they are! If anyone knew suffering and trials, it was David! I love how honestly he relays his struggles, “How long will you forget me, oh God?”, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, “O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger…be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint.”  He grapples with serious, painful situations, but in the end, he always comes back to preaching truth to himself. Even while David may feel abandoned by God, he knows that God has always been faithful in the past. The Psalms always end with truth and rejoicing in God’s unfailing love and faithfulness.

Two major things have weighed heavily on our hearts these past few months.  The intensity, difficulty, and increasing demands of Stephen’s job, and this pregnancy, which seems to be ever hanging in the balance.  While we are grateful for his job, because it brought us to the Quad Cities and First Baptist Church, it is taking its toll on our family. The ever-lengthening hours and physical requirements take everything Stephen has to give, and he has practically nothing left when he gets home.  While we have been crying out to the Lord to provide another job the whole time we have been here, in the last few months, our cries have reached a new intensity as we both have reached our breaking point. Some days it is tempting to wonder if God has indeed forgotten us.

And then there is this little life within me.  It seems every couple of weeks, we are shakily calling the doctor again (it always happens to be after hours, too!) asking what we should do in light of the current situation.  When I get into the ER or the office, the answer is always the same.  They simply do not know what is wrong, if anything is wrong, what to do about it, and if or how this pregnancy will continue.  On our last visit, the doctor’s main concerns were 1)possibility still may miscarry 2)risk of preterm labor.  While it is wonderful to hear a heartbeat every visit, and amazing to see that tiny little body on the ultrasound screen wriggling around inside me, I am always left with the reality that that doesn’t promise anything for the future.

I have good days and bad days. I have days where I feel confident, hopeful, and peaceful, that everything is going to be fine, and I will deliver a healthy, full-term baby.  And I have days where I cannot climb out from under this weight of heaviness over my heart, gnawing at me that I will not get to raise this baby either.

That is why I am grateful for the Psalms! In God’s wisdom, he inspired men like King David and others to detail their heart’s wrestling over similar struggles, and in the end, to point them to God’s faithfulness, his goodness, his sovereignty.  In that is my hope found, and in nothing else.  God has placed us in such a way that we really have nothing to place our hope in, other than him. The doctors are baffled. They have no answers, only more questions. They have no promises that everything will be fine. They can quote statistics and say “You’ve carried the baby this far, hopefully that means something good!”  But that is a false foundation on which to build my hope. If I placed my hope in all of that, I would crumble and fall if that all fell through.

But if I hope in the Gospel, Jesus’ sacrifice on my behalf, in God’s love for me, in his faithfulness and control over all things, I can rest securely that his will will be done, and he will be with us through it all, whether painful or joyful.  And I can trust that he is working all things together not only for my good, but for his glory.

“I have set the Lord always before me…I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8

“He Blesses Your Children Within You”

Psalm 147:13-14 For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your children within you. He makes peace in your borders; he fills you with the finest of the wheat.”

I have been eagerly awaiting this day, to announce our big news–we are expecting again!  This time, unlike both other pregnancies, we wanted to wait until that “magical” twelve week marker.  Not because we placed our hope in that statistic, but because we thought we would toss things up a little this time and keep our little secret for as long as we could without bursting.  And because we still sense a bit of social disapproval announcing a pregnancy before the twelfth week.

But God, in his infinite wisdom, sovereignty, and yes, sense of humor, wanted to really bring home the truth that there is, indeed, no magical date where you are “out of the woods” and can breathe a sigh of relief that you will definitely carry this baby to term–just in case we really were placing our hope in that in the back of our minds!

This pregnancy has been rocked with ups and downs the whole way through.  From a subchorionic hemmhorage, to bleeding, to more bleeding and finally a trip to the hospital this last weekend, it has been an emotional roller coaster.  But in every blood test, sonogram, and that sweet whooshing of the baby’s heartbeat, everything continues to look healthy.  It’s just that troublesome bleeding that comes and goes that gives the doctors concern.

Before we conceived this little life, in fact, while I was still pregnant with the little one we lost, it was as if the Lord whispered to my heart the name of our next child.  The name that He has chosen for this soul means “The Lord has heard our prayers.”  And this little one’s life has been bathed in unbelievable amounts of prayer!

Throughout these last 12 weeks, the Lord has given us an overwhelming sense of peace and confidence in his goodness. While seeing our baby’s lifeblood pool on the floor, my heart knew deep fear.  When I heard the doctors say my pregnancy was threatened, a stab of panic made its way into my soul.  When my midwife labeled my pregnancy as “tentative,” a wave of grief washed over me. But nearly as quickly as these feelings came, they were replaced by a deep, enduring sense of peace.  Our hearts are at rest in his sovereignty, and we are so grateful for his grace to us as we take this pregnancy day by day.  No matter the outcome, we rejoice in every day, every moment, that we get to know this little life growing inside of me. We are so thankful for this gift, no matter how short or long the life may be.

And we really believe Psalm 147, that he is blessing this child within me.  We really believe that Lord has heard our prayers, and that he will answer them with yes, he will spare the life of this baby, and yes, we will hold him or her in our arms.

“My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken…My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is in Him.”  Psalm 62:1, 5

“In Christ alone, my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song.” (In Christ Alone, Stuart Townend, Keith Getty)

“On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.” (Charles Wesley)

God is Good. God is Good. God is Good.

I have been repeating that to my heart this last week. This whole pregnancy, really. I have been very aware of God’s sovereignty throughout and felt a strong assurance of His goodness no matter what happened.  What a gift of grace, what a great blessing as my trembling heart prepared itself for loss.

Thursday’s doctor appointment and my beta count only confirmed what I already knew had happened that morning.  The little life that God entrusted to me for a few short weeks was no longer mine to have and hold. In his sovereignty and, yes, his eternal goodness, he saw fit to take the tiny baby that he had given in the first place. Do I understand this? No. Do I like this? No.  But I choose to accept it and walk in the light of God’s goodness.

Music ministers to my heart in a way nothing else can. It is a balm to my soul. It is a comfort to my heart. It is a magnificent way to redirect my thoughts to truth and the gospel.  Strains of a few of my favorite songs keep running through my head these last few days. Take a moment and meditate on these sweet truths with me and may they minister grace to your soul as they have mine!

“You give and take away, but my heart will choose to say Lord blessed be your name.” (Matt Redman, Blessed Be Your Name, Job 1:21)

“We are pressed–but not crushed, persecuted–not abandoned, struck down–but not destroyed. We are blessed beyond the curse, for his promise will endure that his joy’s going to be my strength. Though the sorrow may last for the night, his joy comes with the morning.” (Trading My Sorrows, 2 Cortinthians 4:8)

“O death where is your sting? O hell where is your victory? O church, come stand in the light, the glory of God has defeated the night, our God is not dead, he’s alive, he’s alive!” (Matt Maher, Christ Is Risen, 1 Corinthians 15:55)

And Steven Curtis Chapman’s wonderful “Much of You, Jesus.”  That one, well, you just have to listen to!

I want to make much of You, Jesus
I want to make much of Your love
I want to live today to give You the praise
That You alone are so worthy of
I want to make much of Your mercy
I want to make much of Your cross
I give You my life
Take it and let it be used
To make much of You.

This is Your love, oh God
Not to make much of me
But to send Your own son
So that we could make much of You

For all eternity.”

God is good. God is good. God is good.

Where Is My Hope?

“The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” Psalm 118:14

Pregnancy #2 has been very different from pregnancy #1 thus far.  One of the most prominent differences is my trembling heart.  With Jeshuah, as soon as I was pregnant, I knew I was going to hold him in my arms and floated through pregnancy with complete confidence that he would be born healthy.  Those first weeks of pregnancy were filled with anticipation and excitement (and major morning sickness!).  I never once thought we may not hear a heartbeat at our 10 week appointment.  I didn’t wonder what we might find out at the ultrasound–other than the gender! I wasn’t concerned about his birth or complications we may face after his birth.  I had an overwhelming sense of peace throughout the whole thing.

This time has been very different.   Maybe it is because of so much loss in my family so recently.  I am very aware of the negative possibilities this time–they seem very real to me.  Maybe it is because, now that I know what motherhood is like, I am preemptively worrying over the things I am now aware could be a concern.  Maybe it is because I have felt so great this pregnancy and was instantly so sick with Jeshuah.  And so many people say it’s a good “sign” to be sick these first weeks. Each day, I wake wondering if I might lose the baby today. So when I started experiencing some bleeding last week, my heart sunk and I thought, “This is it; I might be losing the baby.”

The doctor ordered some bloodwork to check my beta count yesterday and then again tomorrow.  She said if this is a “healthy pregnancy,” those numbers should double.  So the next couple of days we are waiting for a phone call—and that phone call will really give us a very good idea of whether I will carry this baby to term or not. I wasn’t expecting to have that knowledge for a few more weeks, and it is rather unsettling to know that we could soon have an idea of whether I may miscarry this baby or not.

It’s true. I do not have the same calm, peaceful, confident feeling that I will hold this baby in my arms.  I am battling a barrage of “what ifs” every day.  I feel an awareness of the reality that things could not progress the way we would hope, and yet that anxiety is accompanied by a quiet, supernatural calm at the same time. It is rather difficult to explain, I guess, but I think it is just an awareness that, no matter what happens, God is good.  I know grief could lie ahead of us in this, but life is full of grief, and I know we will experience the consequence of a fallen, sinful world for our whole lives here, however that may manifest itself.

But that doesn’t change God’s character.  No matter what circumstances he brings into our lives, he is good. He does all things well.  He does all for his glory, and that is my heart’s desire.  In the words of that wonderful ancient hymn, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”  Those beta results do not equal my hope or my despair.  I dare not look to Thursday’s phone call and hope in a positive answer.  If the answer is not good, does that change who God is and who I am in him? No! And if I put my hope in the ideal that this will be a “healthy pregnancy,” where does that leave me if something still goes wrong? If our baby is born and we encounter problems, where does that leave our hope? If Jeshuah doesn’t turn out to be “normal” and “healthy,” as we are encouraged to believe, do our lives fall apart? I pray not, because I pray that our hope is not in the outcome of these circumstances but in Christ alone.

Last night, as we were getting ready to pray before bed, Stephen said “God has created our little one, and he created her specifically for his glory.” As he said that, an amazement washed over me as I envisioned God shaping and molding, knitting together our little “lentil” (as she is currently sized!) and placing her inside of me to grow.  But even as he did these things, he has a purpose for her life—even if it ends this week, next month, or next year. God created her for his purposes for his glory.  What a beautiful, comforting, awe-inspiring truth!

Now that I can hope in! That I can rejoice in, no matter the circumstance. That God is good and his will will be done to accomplish his glory.  This is the prayer of my heart. May God’s grace bring it about.