I’m sitting in an airport as I make my way back to NY for a perfect, white Christmas. Just a week ago, I was telling a co-worker how sincerely grateful I was to get to spend Christmas Day with our families. It was like a dream come true. In 7 years of marriage, the two of us have not been with our families together on Christmas morning even once. But now that the day is here, I don’t feel excitement, I feel numb. I feel incapable of being excited. I want that excitement back, but it’s been replaced with grief.
Four days ago, I woke up at a healthy 6 weeks pregnant. I excitedly got ready for church, took my first official pregnancy-belly picture, kissed my cold-ridden husband goodbye, and headed out the door. I remember standing in the back row during worship singing the song “Great Are You Lord”. I remember being so prompted by The Spirit and in the moment just kept singing “you give life and you take away, you create life and you know when it ends.” I just kept singing those words over my baby, feeling the Lord so near, and thinking I was singing those words to celebrate this life. But not even minutes later, I found myself in the bathroom stall starting to lose the baby. “Not again,” I thought. “This one was supposed to be it!” I rushed home to my husband, tears streaming down my face, hoping that if I just laid down for a few hours, everything would be OK. That I wouldn’t lose this baby too, two years after losing our first baby. For a little while, we both thought we were in the clear. The spotting had slowed, I didn’t feel intense cramps. But then, I lost it. Into the toilet that little baby fell, not even the size of a quarter, and yet so amazingly and perfectly formed already. I could see his little eyes starting to form, his head, his body, his limbs that didn’t quite look like limbs, but you could see where they were coming out. That amazing little life that lived for 6 weeks in my womb, had already flipped my world upside down. We were going to have a baby! And the timing was perfect, we were going to surprise both families at Christmas. But now, now I’m left with an empty heart, a confused mind, an empty womb that is still shedding it’s contents 4 days after, as if I needed the hourly reminder that my baby died. It just feels cruel.
My husband graciously sat with me on that bathroom floor and held me, a hot-mess of a grieving momma, staring at my lost baby, unable to do or say anything but ugly-cry. And now as the last few days have come and passed, I don’t know that I feel much different. I’m unpredictable. I’m hormonal. I’m grieving. In one moment I can simultaneously feel sad for the loss, angry that God didn’t protect my baby, empty with nothing to give to people, and yet not wanting to just dump this on a stranger who I feel is being ungracious to me in my hidden grief. They should just know, right? So I push through my day with a smile on my face and anger inside. All the feels. I’ll turn my back just for a moment so I can sneak in some tears, and then turn around and smile again. I feel cautious about spending the next 10 days in NY because I just don’t know what I will feel up to each day. I don’t know who I’m going to snap at next. I feel angry towards the people who haven’t been gracious with me in the last 48 hours, because they should just know better.
I sat with a sweet friend of mine over lunch the other day, and after listening to me cry and vent for a while, she reminded me that in every one of these awful grief situations I’ve experienced the last several years, God is giving me even more of a capacity to be gracious towards others. It’s not a bandaid to try to cover up the pain, it’s just the truth. Walking through grief and death and pain is something I will never choose. We don’t get the choice, right? But we get the choice on how to respond to it. How to respond IN it. I have to chose to see God’s goodness and mercy, even when it seems unreachable. I have to choose to speak God’s truth in my mind when all I want to do is scream at Him because I don’t understand why. And choosing that mindset isn’t because it makes us feel better. Believe me, I feel like crap. I just lost a baby, that’s going to take time to heal. But I know the importance of choosing to see God for who He is and to speak that truth over my heart. And when I don’t have the strength to do that, I have friends praying it over me. Praying that someday, God will give me understanding. That someday, when our home is filled with children, I will see His perfect timing in my story. But for now, it’s ok to let go of the expectations and just grieve. To be gracious with myself foremost, so that I can be gracious with others. It’s the only way to grow.
“For I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with the full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” ~Philippians 1:19-20
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