Your shirt says Brave Little Man. And that means more to me than just a common nickname preceded by a trendy adjective.
You are 19 weeks old today. Your sibling might have been 1 year.
Brave’s heart beat before yours. A strong flutter that was here then gone, that’s all we got to know of him or her. And yet from it we learned so much about God and love and the sanctity of human life.
When I wrote about our first baby’s due date last year, I had just recently found out I was pregnant with you. And I was terrified. Of more pain. More loss. Unknowns and inevitable hurdles. But I didn’t want to be consumed by fear. I wanted to honor Brave and show God gratitude for you. By having courage. Being brave.
I did my best and my best was wobbly…yet resolute. Because I felt them with me. They held me up and helped me through. And I pray you will always feel them too. That you will walk in calm assurance, knowing wherever you go, whatever you do, God and Brave go before you.
“You’ve never seen it miss this house and miss that house, then come after you.”
Awhile back I read a blog post that referenced this line from the movie Twister. The author related it to pregnancy and infant loss, and it stuck with me because that’s exactly how I felt last Summer. Surrounded by announcements, bumps, and infants. The storm missed all their babies, but came straight for ours. Stole it from us. Wrecked our hearts and their perfect plans.
I think that feeling accompanies any loss, illness, or tragedy though. You get hit with something awful and your first thought is Why? Why my house, spouse, child, parent, sibling, friend? Why anyone? Oh, God, WHY?
Unfortunately faith does not always provide the answers to hard questions. But it does give peace that transcends all understanding and overcomes fear.
If you let it.
Fear and anxiety have loomed ominous over me as we continue along our path to starting a family. For the most part I’ve been optimistic but the clouds are always there, lingering in the not-so-distant background.
Because once you’ve experienced a loss, the rose colored glasses are off. And if you put yourself out there enough to hear from numerous others who have had far more traumatic experiences than your own, you know: there is no “safe zone” in pregnancy. No weekly milestone you can pass that will ensure a healthy baby. Only when they are out of your belly and in your arms can you truly exhale.
If our first child’s heart had continued to beat, it would have been due today. It’s sweet face might have warmed our souls on this cold 18th of January. Or it might have decided to wait. I don’t know. I’ll never know.
But that’s not what gets me. I have accepted the fate of our angel babe and look forward to meeting him or her one day. What’s beyond difficult, is knowing there’s a possibility it may happen again and trying to remain calm and hopeful in the face of that fear.
It’s something I cannot do on my own. So yesterday Ron and I stood in line for miracle prayer at church. They offer it once a month and we’ve never gone, but decided to give it a try.
The bible says in Matthew 18:19: Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
That’s the whole purpose of miracle prayer. You tell someone what your need is and they say a prayer. Agree, with you.
When we told the man who prayed for us that we had lost a baby and we’re praying for the miracle of healthy new life, he told us he’d been there. He knew that pain. And the way he prayed + the advice he gave about overcoming fear…made me cry. Before we walked away he looked us straight in the eyes and said It’s done. We’ve agreed.
In other words it’s done. He heard. The miracle will be yours.
Luke 1:45. I’ve got to believe He will fulfill His promise to me. Really, truly, with every fiber…believe.
Therefore I’m done. Done with worry, and breath-holding and dark cloud gazing. I refuse to live in fear of more pain, in any area of life. If it wants to find me, it will, but Lord help me if it finds me cowering in a corner. No.
I’ve been fighting off a lot of bad vibes lately. Feeling like one of those little pac man guys. Constantly rerouting my thoughts to avoid hitting walls or being eaten. Or whatever it is that happens when the ghost gets you. I do a pretty good job, most days. A deep breathe and a prayer and I’m back to being genuinely happy and at peace with where I’m at in life.
But some weeks, irony and disappointments do more than sting. They gather together, hitting me one after another, rapid fire, until I lose my cool.
Why did I sign myself up for a weekly front row seat to watching women panic over the very blessing I pray for?
Why have all these daycare kids suddenly started asking me if I have children?
Why does Baby Dedication at church have to immediately follow another letdown?
Why am I not running more than 40 miles per week? That gut telling me to temporarily back down from my regimented running is now the biggest it’s ever been. I miss speed. And endurance. And clothes that fit.
Next thing I know I’m stomping my feet and thrashing my not-skinny-feeling-jeans on the bed like the super mature and composed 30-something lady I am.
Pissed that I don’t get to be in full control of my charmed life. Sulking, as I stand in a pretty house that I share with the love of my life, in an affluent city, within an affluent country, holding a phone full of texts from people I treasure.
Oh woe is me.
I’d like to say those moods fade out as fast as they come in, but that’s not the case. I usually whine and complain and stalk around with a terrible attitude, far longer than I should.
I have a lot of dreams for my life. And that’s fine. It’s okay to want things, to hope and pray and work hard for them. But it gets ugly in a hurry when you get so wrapped up in yourself you stop asking for guidance. Every time I find myself emotionally derailed it’s because my heart isn’t aligned with God’s.
Ann Voskamp posted a blog lastweek that couldn’t have come at a better time. In it she makes an amazing heart analogy, comparing a physically failing heart in need of a human transplant with an emotionally failing one in need of a faith transplant. She focuses on emotional heart failure as an inability forgive people who have hurt us, but I think it can apply to a variety of situations. Such as, oh I don’t know, an inability to surrender fear and frustration.
“I sure wish I knew how to fix this — I shake my head, turn the water hotter. “Because I’d do it in a heartbeat.”
In a heart beat.
I stop. Hands in hot water.
I can hear it in me.
Me with a tumor, me with heart blockage, me with a failing heart…
That’s the point:
Your heart can’t forgive the tactless not-so-great Aunt.
Your heart can’t forgive the words that should never have been said, your heart can’t forgive the remark that was more like a blade and left a mark how many years later. Your heart can’t forgive the step-mother, the side joke, the backhand, the over-the-top family that just gets under your skin.
Your heart can’t forgive. That’s why He gave you His.
When you don’t think you can forgive what she’s said about you —-
When you don’t think you can forget what he’s done to you —
When it’s His heart beating in you — you can forgive in a heart beat.
I look up from the sink.
The Christmas tree is there by the fireplace — and it’s right there, what all the hard relationships, gatherings, families need at Christmas:
The Tree is where God’s grace does heart transplants:
God takes broken hearts — and gives you His.
I should be huge, this Christmas. I should be wearing a bow above my belly, with a tag reading: Do not open until January 18th. Ron and I should be taking prom pose photos in front of the tree, our hands shaped like a heart on my stomach.
But I’m not. We aren’t. And man that makes me salty, some days. Not just because the Good Lord gave and took away, but because I don’t know when He’ll give this particular gift again. It could be next month, it could be never. And I know I should be okay with that. I should want what He wants, because His plan is always best.
But sometimes my heart struggles. It develops a frustration tumor, a faith blockage. I’m so focused on my child, I forget to acknowledge His.
God sent Jesus to save us all. To heal a broken world, and restore its hope. He’s the great redeemer, the giver of new life. The one gift we can never overuse or outgrow.
May we not forget that this week, and throughout 2016. He is with us, He knows what we need (didn’t say want). And He’ll willingly give it…all we have to do is be open to receive.
2 Corinthians 9:15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.
Feelin’ like I got a front row seat To watchin everybody be happy Can’t even paint a smile on my face It’s so hard to not complain Gotta try, not to say, O God, what about me ‘Cause I know That’s not the way That I’m supposed to be
Get me outta my mind and into Your heart It’s not about me, it’s not about me So I’m gonna start Playin’ my part in Your design Now is the time Get me outta my mind
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month.
Not something I ever thought I would acknowledge. When Community North told me about the ceremony the hospital holds on October 15th (official PILR day), for the families who have experienced such loss, I immediately dismissed it.
I mean, who needs another day (let alone month) dedicated to being sad? I’ve already got May 13th, the day we found out we were pregnant. And June 15th, the day we heard our baby’s heart beat. And June 23rd, the day we found out it was gone. And January 18th, the day Brave was due.
Plenty of days to kick me in the gut. Why add another?
Because it’s about more than just me, and my sadness. It’s about life, and honoring it.
Letting the world know how devastating it is to create and carry a child that cannot be saved. To hear its heartbeat, see it move, and dream a thousand dreams for it…then learn they will never come true.
How, in that moment, the fragility, sacredness, miracle of humanity, comes through. And the full weight of what is lost…nearly suffocates you.
It’s an opportunity, to spread the message that life matters. It matters so much, that those who lose an unborn child are forever affected. They don’t get over it. They never forget.
And they are justified, in that grief.
Since losing Brave I’ve noticed how our society often undermines the pain accompanying invisible mother (or father) hood. Leaving us to feel weak, or overly emotional. The majority of it stems from ignorance. They just don’t know.
Which is what these remembrance or awareness months are for. To create a sense of community within an isolating experience. To honor a life’s brief existence. And to inform those who don’t get it.
Kindly let them know that even though there’s usually no funeral for a miscarriage, and babies born sleeping are often not included in the family picture, that does not diminish the love their parents felt, and will always feel.
And that life, no matter how developed or how short, has worth.
So drop the qualifiers. There’s no at least or was only or be gladthat, that will make pregnancy or infant loss any better. Just send love.