Please allow me to begin this story with a small disclaimer. I have not suffered the most. I am not perfected in my faith. And in no way do I think that I have arrived. My issue with feeling any of these things is that I love a loving God, who always gently reminds me when I think that I have suffered the most, am perfected in my faith, or that I have somehow arrived in the completeness of my faith that I have not, I am not, and no, I'm not home yet. But praise be to God, He's not through with me yet.
I work in labor and delivery as a nurse for a busy-ish hospital in Milwaukee. I take care of women and families going through some of their most triumphant and jubilant days, and also through some of their worst days. I, like anyone who works in labor and delivery, have the hair bristle on the back of my neck when I get the all-too-common comment of "oh, you must have the best job in the world. People must be so happy", because as us "insiders" know all-too-well, that while there is a great deal of joy in my department, there is also, always looming, inexpressible sadness and grief.
I come from a family who has known their "share" of perinatal grief. My eldest sister lost her eldest child at 26 weeks, due to congenital anomalies that weren't compatible with life. It was a "random" thing, and should not happen again. I have a middle sister who has lost two boys to premature rupture of membranes and spontaneous delivery shortly thereafter. Both caused by a strange bacteria in her bloodstream that "never should have been there". And while she was told that it should never happen again, there are two boys that she has to wait and meet again when she gets to Heaven, instead of just the one. I lost my daughter at 21 weeks, shortly after she was diagnosed with a hypo-plastic left heart. And while it wasn't a genetic problem, Ryan and I know that we're not spared from more grief with our pregnancies or children.
Two weeks ago we found out that we were pregnant. Truly, it was a jubilant day for us. A day of rejoicing, and a day of disbelief. We could not believe that after only 6 months of trying we were going to be blessed with another kiddo. Number 3, well 4, or however you're supposed to number your kids on those trendy "pregnancy announcement" pictures. We told our eldest daughter that we were pregnant, and gave her a teddy bear named Barnabas to hang onto until her sibling arrived. The teddy bear was to be a reminder for her to pray for her sibling, and then when they came safely, she'd get to give the prayer bear to them and they'd get to keep it. Melodie was excited. She squeezed that bear tight, and for three days, Barnabas took prime location in Melodie's bed, sleeping next to her and getting squeezed at night as she slept. I, also, had decided to be "different" during this pregnancy. The last three had been full of stress, bleeding, bed rest, worry, but also trust that God was in control. This time, I decided to be joyful. I prayed that the Lord would give me the strength to remain joyful throughout the pregnancy, and to again surrender to His will. "This pregnancy is a gift." I'd thought, "and I'm just going to enjoy it".
So color me confused and dismayed when three days after we'd found out about our youngest little one, I started bleeding at work. Sitting at work, seeing the blood I was shocked. "Lord, really? Really, is this how it's going to be? I'm so confused, because I thought that you'd wanted me to be joyful and unstressed...but how can I now? What is going on?" And honestly, I was ticked. I was angry that after having surrendered myself to rejoice, finally, in pregnancy, things were going like this from the start. A few days later, blood work showed what Ryan and I had feared. There'd be no little sibling for Melodie and Cy coming home before Christmas. We'd miscarried over the weekend, and somewhere between our house and work, I'd delivered our little one in a toilet, only to be flushed down with the blood and refuse. How often do people feel like that, I wonder? Is everyone as bothered by the not knowing when and where their baby delivers if it happens so early on? I mean, a human life is gone, and there's no ceremony, no recognition. Just a check mark under the "A" column of a woman's G-FPAL numbers (G-Gravida/How many pregnancies, F-full-term, P-pre-term, A-abortions/miscarriages, L-Living children). It bothers me, and I'm so sorry Little One. You're worth more than a toilet burial. You're life is more significant than a blip on the radar. You're still my precious little one, even though I never got to meet you. I love you Baby. And I can't wait to meet you.
I said before that I have not suffered the most. I have not. I see people's prenatals all the time. I know their G's and P's. I know that many have lost more, had harder losses than ours, and many that have none. I'm not lost on that fact, not ignorant of it. I've taken care of a friend who a few days shy of her due date went in for a routine visit at her OB-GYN and no heartbeat was found. I was there as her son delivered. I've taken care of a women who'd had to be induced at pre-viability and held her daughter as she passed away quietly in her arms, and was there again giving chest compressions to her son a year later in hopes of saving his life, only to watch him open his eyes once, as if to say goodbye to his mother. I watched hours later as he died in her arms. I've watched beautiful children born, so tangled in their umbilical cords that it choked off the life within them, and then watched others born, even more tangled in theirs and cry brilliantly and loudly moments after delivery. I've been in the room when a mother hears that there is no heartbeat left in that little soul nestled within their womb, and I've been there to find a heartbeat on a baby that hasn't moved in what has seemed like an eternity for a family. I've seen miracles, and I've seen horror, and no I don't get it, but I have certainly not suffered the most.
After receiving the news that we officially were no longer pregnant, we told Melodie what had happened. The next day, as I was tucking her in, she was able to verbalize the elephant in our house.
Melodie: "Mom, I need to talk to you about something. I'm upset about what happened with the baby."
Me: "So are we kiddo"
Melodie: "And frankly, I don't think that it's very fair that it had to happen to us again."
Me: "I know honey"
Melodie: (crossing her arms across her chest) "And honestly, I really don't get the point of it. What was the point? It doesn't make any cense to me." (then looking at me to have some brilliant response that would make sense of it)
Me: "Me either Melodie. But you know, this is a really good time to talk to God about how you're feeling, because he really wants to hear how you feel."
Melodie: "I don't really want to talk to God about it, because I'm mad"
Me: You know kiddo, lot's of people feel like that. But that's when it's most important to talk to God, because he already knows that you're mad. And it's okay to be mad. It's okay to be upset, and it's even okay to be mad at God if you are. But talk to Him about it, because he just wants to come close, to be with you, and bring you comfort. That's His job, and he likes doing it."
Melodie: "Well, maybe I'll talk to him about it tomorrow, but right now I'm too mad."
You know, I'm so thankful for my five year old. I'm so thankful for her honesty, because how many of us feel exactly the same way, but can't verbalize it because we're afraid of offending God, or afraid that we'll be seen as having some "lesser faith", or we're actually afraid of what God's response, or non-response will be. I'm so thankful for being able to have this conversation with her now, with REAL issues, instead of 20 years from now and her having to go through her young years not knowing that we have a God who is close to the broken-hearted, and anxious to spend time with us. It took me 20+ years to come to the realization that we can "have it out" with God, and that he won't change his character. It doesn't change his love for us, and that he will always back himself up. Real relationship with the creator of the universe I think is deepened by trial. I'm thankful that my five year old knows that. I'm thankful that God desires relationship with her, and is close to the brokenhearted. I'm thankful that God knows when we're mad, and that it doesn't bother him. He still draws close, hears our hearts and heals us. Thank you Lord, that you're not done with me yet. Thank you Lord for these moments of tenderness with my kids, and thank you Lord, that you have a plan for our lives. I don't get it. It doesn't make sense now to me, but I know that you get it, so thank you Lord.