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22 October 2015

Mercy's Story

Its January of 2015 and I have a babbling five-month-old baby girl on my hip. I spend my days staring into her eyes and taking a million pictures of her. She's not my Hope, but I am so thankful for her, for my Daphne. The pain of losing Hope hadn't been replaced by the joy of having Daphne, rather it had multiplied my constant vulnerability and given me determination never to miss a moment of my daughter's life. Motherhood was hard, but only fanned the desire in my heart for more children.

Motherhood had given me a purpose I had never known before.

Being slightly crazy and more than a little na├»ve, I’m one of those moms that imagines herself with a houseful of kids all walking and talking and playing together. After a few months of trying I found out we were pregnant again!

I remember pacing back and forth at home, occasionally running to check and make sure that I was indeed still pregnant. Waiting for my husband to get home felt like an eternity. I just couldn't hold the big news in one more second. I had to tell somebody! Who better to tell than Mom?! She knew right away and we both squealed with joy and also a little bit of "this is insane".

I felt almost no anxiety as we told close friends and family and asked them to pray with us for a healthy baby and uneventful pregnancy. In the back of my mind I kept thinking, It would be highly unlikely for me to miscarry twiceright?

I went ahead and booked an appointment to see my OBGYN early to make sure everything was okay. All of my tests came back stellar! My blood levels looked great and the doctor wasn't even a little bit concerned. I had even started shopping for a "Big Sister" shirt for my daughter and was planning how and when to announce that our little family was growing! Everything seemed so easy this time around.

The spotting started a few weeks later. I immediately texted my close girlfriends and asked them to pray. A friend reminded me that I had actually spotted early on with my daughter and everything turned out to be completely normal. I sat on the couch with my husband that night while the TV played in the background. I think both of us just knewit was too familiar.

That heavy helpless feeling returned and settled in my spirit. Every labored breath felt like a sharp pain in my side. My mind raced. My heart sank. There was nothing I could do. It was all completely out of my control.

As I laid on the sonogram table the next day, my body felt cold and my hands were trembling. The lump in my throat was a sign that all of my emotions were at the ready, poised for the knowledge that this was happening all over again. This room had become the backdrop for some of my deepest pain and my biggest excitement. My husband was quiet as we both looked up at the screen and saw what we knew meant that we would be losing a second child in an early miscarriage.

After the technician left, I fell apart in my husband's arms. Instead of being numb, I felt angryat the injustice, the grief, the sorrow and the depth of love I already had for this baby.

I saw her little profile in my mind. I pictured her birth, the first moment that I would hold her in my arms. I imagined my own daughter leading her through life. I cried out for the cries I would never get to hear. I grieved for the milestones I would never get to witness. Why, Lord?

My husband asked the nurse if we could wait in a private room instead of the waiting room for the doctor to come and speak with us. Boy am I glad he did that. I was in no shape to see blissful mothers-to-be who have the privilege of peeing on a stick and never thinking twice about whether they will get to meet that baby. In fact, they're probably more worried about how fat they feel than how insanely blessed they are to have effortless pregnancies. 

Obviously, I still have a chip on my shoulder about that one.

The doctor came in and told us that he wasn't sure why things weren't looking normal when my blood work had come back so positive just weeks before. He said it could be that this was going to be another unexplained miscarriage but we would just have to wait and see.

After he left I was really hoping that my husband wouldn't make me have hope that this would be a successful pregnancy with a healthy baby when I just knew in my gut that it wasn't.  He looked up at me and said, "It's okay to know what this is."

Those words unlocked the familiar place in my heart where I stored all of my comforts and sorrows from my miscarriage with Hope. I expected to feel angry. I expected to feel hurt. I expected to feel injustice. What I did not expect to feel so soon was peace.

But peace washed over my soul. Losing Mercy didn't hurt any less than losing Hope, but losing Hope had changed me. I knew the peace that passes all understanding, the Lord had sung it over me once before. And in a moment where peace makes no sense at all, peace was lavishly given, again.

I drove myself home from that appointment and turned on my favorite Bethany Dillon CD. That girl has sung me through some of the darkest times in my life, and she didn't let me down that day. I let "Hallelujah" play over and over until, through tears, I could sing this anthem along with her:

And only you can see the good in broken things
You took this heart of stone and you made it home
And set this prisoner free

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Whatever's in front of me
Help me to sing Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Whatever's in front of me
I'll choose to sing Hallelujah

In the next few days I would miscarry our second baby at home. Mercy was much smaller than Hope but the actual miscarriage was very similar, as I was about 6 weeks along. But this time I was determined to grieve her properlyto echo the truth that life begins at conception. Her life had begun and unfortunately ended before I ever truly knew her.

We placed Mercy under the soil in a planter on our back porch. Nothing was said. I just sat with her awhile. This short burial ceremony went a long way towards giving me closure. There were still questions and sorrow in my heart, but the wiles of a six month old were keeping me always distracted. Distracted but never abandoning my grief.

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