I drove home from my ultrasound appointment today and this song (“Held”) came on not once but twice. Twice. The first time I heard the opening strains, I roughly twisted the knob of my stereo to “off.” The second time, as I tried another station for distraction, I gave in.Yes, God, I hear you. You’re speaking to me. I’ll listen. I don’t want to, but I’ll listen. I know Your arms are holding me. I know I am loved. But I also know that this day has, indeed, been one in which the sacred was torn from my life.
Nothing went right today, but I know that in God’s eyes, everything did. Two (three?) of my kids have strep throat, which meant that the planned family trip to “take pictures of the baby” were hastily rescheduled; All three were dropped off at dh’s office with books, crayons and a hearty supply of ibuprofen. I went to the u/s solo, which wasn’t how we wanted it. We wanted the big, happy family atmosphere where everyone giggles and tries to make out the fuzzy lines on the screen. We settled for a promise of pictures for everyone and Mommy going it alone. Thank you, Lord, for what seemed like a letdown at the time. Your ways are truly higher than ours. I don’t even know what you spared me today.
“To think that providence would/
Take a child from his mother while she prays/
Is appalling”I knew the minute I saw the image come up on the screen that something wasn’t right. I’ve done this before--I know that at seven weeks you’re supposed to see a little lima bean with a flash in it’s middle, that tiny flicker that says that life is growing. I saw a small sac with a small straight line in its center. No bean. No flicker.
The tech measured the sac and found that it had grown only slightly from the last ultrasound, performed 13 days ago. The baby had grown for approximately 5 and a half weeks, and then stopped.
My miracle baby. Prayed for? Oh, how this child was prayed for. Conceived after 18 months of pursuing adoption. Our blessing after the Lord led us to reverse dh’s vasectomy. Due on the one year anniversary of the reversal. Announced to family and friends with tears of joy and praise.
“We're asking why this happens/
To us who have died to live? ”
I held back my tears down the hospitals corridors, on the elevator when the nice gentleman asked how my day was going (I answered, “Not too good, I hope yours is better.”), and out to my van. The minute I was safely inside I began sobbing. I went to dh’s office, where I sobbed some more. Dh and I were able to pray together before the kids lost interest in the PBS show they were mesmerized by. “Lord,” my husband prayed, “I don’t understand this, but I put my trust in You. Carry us through this.”
Then to one of the hardest parts of all: telling our children. Our oldest, especially, has seen this pregnancy as an answer to her prayers, specifically. We sat them down all together, and not for the first time I thanked the Lord that dh has an office all to himself rather than among co-workers. We prayed together as a family, and then explained that God had chosen for our baby to not grow. That seemed like a good explanation, especially since they know that babies start out very tiny and take a long time to be big and healthy enough to live outside their mothers. There was a long pause; deafening silence really. My daughter, who was on my lap, started shaking and sobbing. And my five year-old (ever practical, that one) asked, “So the baby is dead?”
Those minutes were agony. Explaining over and over, trying to get the concept down to a three year-olds level, comforting children who have waited for so long for another sibling. And then, of course: “Why would God do that? It’s not fair.” I had wondered who would say it first, but in the end it was our preschooler, who is still mastering the art of “fair” himself. Later in the day, the other two would pull me aside and ask the same question in a different way dozens of times. “But we’re Christians. Why would He take our baby?” “How is He showing us love?”
There are no answers you can give a mourning child as to why the Lord withdrew His blessing. No answers that bring peace when they wonder about the workings of things that even we adults don’t understand.
"If hope is born of suffering/
If this is only the beginning/
Can we not wait for one hour watching for our Savior? "
So now we sit and wait. For what, I’m not really sure. But I’m waiting for it, dreading it but knowing that this is the way God wants it to be. The physical pain is something I won’t relish, but it’s the emotional pain I fear most of all. Like any overzealous family, we have trumpeted the news of this blessing from the rooftops, praising the God who has been so good to us. Our pastor, father of 8 children himself, announced in last week’s sermon the news of the fruit of our reversal. Our town is small, and a trip into the grocery store usually yields at least a handfull of acquaintances if not good friends. The homeschooling community here, while large, is tight-knit. This news of our sadness will travel just as fast as the news of our joy.
So I wait. I wait with raw nerves and a heavy heart. I wait with expectation. The phone calls will come, the hugs in the library between shelves, offers of help after church services. I’m praying that the Lord grants me just one thing in this process. Let them still see Your glory, Lord. Let no one turn their face and dismiss the miracle that You gave us, if even for a few short weeks. Let no one see Your hand as harsh or as one that has dealt suffering. Let them see the gift You so graciously gave us, if only for a little while.
"This is what it is to be loved/
And to know that the promise was/
When everything fell we'd be held. "Amen.