Monday, April 4, 2011

Hello and Goodbye

We found out that I was pregnant on a Friday. It had been the most beautiful day of the year to date, and we'd celebrated by taking Nate to dinner at an outdoor cafe. I'd had a glass of wine, and was feeling sufficiently satisfied about it that I'd resolved to have another after I put Nate to bed.

As I rocked him in the fading light, though, I realized that it was theoretically possible that I could be pregnant. I say theoretically, because when you've been married for five-and-a-half years without ever doing anything to avoid pregnancy--have, in fact, actively pursued it for most of those years--and have only once seen two lines on a pregnancy test . . . well, you start to doubt that sex actually causes babies.

But I had two home pregnancy tests left from a three-pack I'd bought in a fit of wishful thinking last fall, and in the grand tradition of Better Safe than Sorry, I took one before indulging in glass number two. And I squinted in confusion at the second test window as a faint pink line appeared. I carried the test downstairs and presented it to an equally flabbergasted David, and we proceeded to examine the white plastic stick under every bright light in the house.

The digital test I took the next morning in the Target bathroom, too impatient to even leave the store, was far more definitive. Pregnant, it declared boldly. And somehow I began to feel equally bold. Ha!, I thought. Maybe all of those people were right, the ones who tell stories of women they know who try for years to get pregnant the first time, and then end up with two under two, or four under five, and hey, maybe we really would be able to have a big family after all.

I started looking at double strollers. We took measurements in our smallest bedroom to see whether we should use it as the nursery and retain our upstairs guest room. We laughingly lamented the difficulties of life with multiple children: How in the world will I grocery shop with two, honey? The cart only has one seat! Or, whispered during Mass while wrestling with an exceedingly active eighteen month old, How will we ever handle it when the next one gets here?

And it was all laughingly, of course, because this is exactly what we'd prayed for. To think that the Christmas novena had borne fruit in such short order, and not once, but twice.

And it did. I don't want to diminish that.

* * * * *
". . . the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21 RSV
* * * * *
When I started spotting a tiny bit last Wednesday, so lightly that I wondered whether it was in my imagination, I tried not to think anything of it. Common, I told myself, Completely normal. I called my doctor's office, only because we were flying to Georgia the next morning for my sister's wedding.

"The doctor says she can refer you for a sonogram this afternoon if you're really concerned," the nurse relayed, her emphasis clearly trying to nudge me away from accepting the offer. I told her I was afraid, at not even six weeks by my calculations, that we might not see a heartbeat on ultrasound because it was simply too early. Think of all the worrying that would cause, I said, and then everything would probably turn out to be perfectly fine. No, better to wait for the appointment I'd already had scheduled for today. The nurse actually sounded relieved, it seemed, at my thinking, and I congratulated myself for being so sensible.

But when the spotting started again Friday afternoon, I knew--I knew--that I would miscarry. I'd known I was pregnant for two weeks by then, but I hadn't started to have any of the symptoms that I'd had with Nate. No ravenous hunger, followed by frustrating food aversions. No nausea. No overwhelming fatigue. No breast tenderness. And even though I'd tried to tell myself it was just too early, I think somehow I'd known all along.

That didn't make it any easier, though, when the spotting turned to bleeding in the middle of my sister's rehearsal dinner. It didn't stop the sobs from wracking my body or the tears from staining David's shirt later that night or the next morning when the cramping began. It didn't assuage my guilt when I made my husband tell my parents that they'd lost a grandchild, on a day when their only thought should have been happiness at gaining a son. It didn't make it a simple thing to stand in front of the wedding guests atop a lakeside dock on a glorious spring day, beside the beautiful bride in flowing white, and read Saint Paul's words about love: how it always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. It didn't make me feel less ashamed to leave my own sister's wedding reception when I knew that the cramping wouldn't let me make polite conversation through dinner.

There'd been too much blood--far, far too much blood--for me to hold out hope that I was wrong as we drove the many miles out for my appointment today, and as the kind doctor examined me, she told us what we already knew. This never-ending bleeding, yes, this is what an early miscarriage looks like. Early enough that it should resolve itself with no need for outside help, so there's that, at least.

* * * * *
I can say it certain now: All is grace.
I see through the woods of the world: God is always good and I am always loved.
God is always good and I am always loved.
Everything is eucharisteo.
Because
eucharisteo is how Jesus, at the Last Supper, showed us how to transfigure all things--take the pain that is given, give thanks for it, and transform it into a joy that fulfills all emptiness. I have glimpsed it: This, the hard eucharisteo. The hard discipline to lean into the ugly and whisper thanks to transfigure it into beauty. The hard discipline to give thanks for all things at all times because He is all good. The hard discipline to number the griefs as grace because as the surgeon would cut open my son's finger to heal him, so God chooses to cut into my ungrateful heart to make me whole.
All is grace only because all can transfigure.

Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, pages 100-01

* * * * *
A good friend sent me a message in reply to my news: "I know it can't feel like it today, but God is still in control and loves you very much." She was right, and she was wrong. God is in control, and He does love me, but, strangely, today isn't a day in which my heart doubts it. I know there are those who rail at God when tragedies strike, and were worse fortune to befall me, I can't swear that I wouldn't be among them. It is grace, all grace, that instead today I feel strangely lifted up, keenly aware that He has me in the palm of His hand. I feel swept along in some current headed I know not where, but I trust that I'll arrive safely wherever it is that He intends to take me.

We went to Mass last night at a different parish, having taken an early flight home and having missed the morning services. I've always found this other parish sort of ugly. It's spare, modern, with glaring white walls and pews set at odd angles surrounding the altar. But what it does have is a massive, larger-than-life crucifix set high, Christ's suffering so big and bold that one can't ignore it. All through Mass and sitting for many minutes afterward I lifted my eyes to look upon our Lord's agony and felt, somehow, grateful to share His suffering in some small, so small way.

"Things will get more . . . intense . . . until the baby's remains pass," the on-call doctor told me this weekend. The baby. I am grateful to have doctors who share my view that life, no matter how fleeting, is a precious gift. A baby came into my life and left too soon, and still I'm feeling such a peace through the sadness. Is that this tiny person's gift to me? I can't say for sure. For now, though, I will try to look for the gift in the sorrow.

It's not the Lenten journey I anticipated. But I know, I know, the joy of Easter will still come.

33 comments:

Miriel said...

You...just amaze me. This is so beautiful. Thank you for writing it.

Erica said...

I am so sorry to hear this. It's beautiful that you found grace in this too. Thinking of you.

perennial-mommy said...

We are lifted up together, friend. Beautiful post. I am praying for you and David.

Sarah in Ottawa said...

Your faith is such a beacon of light, Lauren, even at such an awful time. Bless you.

Mrs. 2nd Lieutenant said...

i saw arwen's tweet about your post and even tho you don't know me, i am praying for you. Your faith and hope in a time of great sorrow is beautiful.

May Mama Mary hold you and your family close and carry that precious babe straight to the arms of her Son.

Kelson Thomas said...

Lauren, you're one of the most incredible people I know. You're so full of love and faith, and it comes through in your writing. Thank you.

Diane said...

I am so sorry, Lauren. Your faith and grace are humbling.

Shelby said...

Oh Lauren, my heart just breaks. I'm so sorry. Praying for you guys.

Julia said...

Lauren, this is so beautiful. It is so very encouraging to me, as I've lately found myself in the midst of emotions that seem overwhelming (as I mentioned to you that night I stopped by your house to pick up my ipod). But you, your words and your faith remind me to rest. Your words also remind me to hope, which is somethnig I have seen so keenly written over your face, and in your words. Your words remind me that it is ok to hope, because even if we fall, God is always catching us. Thanks for everything you said. Praying for you all...

secretvaticanspy.com said...

I followed a link to your blog from Twitter. My heart aches for you, your family, and your precious baby. Please know that my prayers are with you.

secretvaticanspy.com said...

I followed a link to your blog from Twitter. My heart aches for you, your family, and your precious baby. Please know that my prayers are with you.

Jessica said...

Wow, Lauren, this is beautiful. I'll be thinking of and praying for you and your family.

Parsing Nonsense said...

I don't know you, but I know enough reading this that you are an incredible woman of faith. If you and your husband decide to try for a baby again, that baby will be lucky to have you for a mother.

Dr. Maureen said...

I'm so sorry, Lauren. That you could write this amazes me. I truly admire your faith and grace.

Kate Wicker @ Momopoly said...

This is a beautiful, heartfelt post. It's also a post that reveals how you're shouldering a terribly difficult cross with grace.

Praying...

Betty Beguiles said...

This--your heart poured out in words--is so beautiful it gives me chills. I am so deeply sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Your faith is such a source of inspiration to me. You all will be in my prayers!

Tracy said...

I am very sorry for your loss and grateful that God has given you this gift of grace, of peace in this time of sorrow. I will be praying for you and your family as you say goodbye too soon.

Margaret said...

So sorry for your loss- praying for your family.

entrusted said...

I'm so sorry. I used to follow your infertility blog, and I came here today through Arwen's tweet. God is so kind to give you so much grace amidst the sorrow.

barbetti said...

I am so very sorry, Lauren. My heart aches for you, for your family. I had a miscarriage before conceiving, so I understand how very heartbreaking this is. Sending you hugs and prayers.

Elsha said...

Delurking to say that I'm so sorry for your loss. This post is beautiful.

Kate P said...

Saw Arwen's tweet (you are such lovely friends to each other) and just wanted to say you will be in my prayers tonight.

Adrienne said...

Lauren,

My thoughts and prayers are with you. We lost our sweet baby boy last summer, and it was one of the most tragic things I've experienced.

I pray for peace for you. I pray that you feel Jesus wrapping His arms around you in the biggest most consoling hug, because He's already there. Pray for consolation and grace to fill you.

You will remain in my prayers.

Ashley said...

Oh, Lauren.

Words seem sort of trite in telling you just how much my heart aches, just how much you inspire me, and how I just wish you weren't going through this.

So much love to you three right now. xoxoxo

stmonicasbridge said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Our first two losses were similar. We barely had time to process the pregnancy. The last one before we had our daughter (our first) was this exact day six years ago. You are in prayer as is your family and angel baby.

Branwen said...

Lauren, I find it incredible that even though you are suffering such a loss, you still have so much to GIVE to everyone reading this. You and David remain in our prayers.

claire said...

I'm so sorry. I know how hard it is to lose a baby.

Lisa said...

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this, Lauren.

hopeforcambodia said...

I had tears reading this. Your baby is so precious to God and you have given him/her a voice and meaning in this world. Praying for you as you live this painful journey.

Having suffered the infinite pain of infertility, I can only imagine the impact of the waiting and the loss.

Valerie

Ada Bowler said...

Oh, Lauren! What a touching post. Thank you for sharing it. It is so beautiful to see how strengthening your faith is and your understanding of God's plan for you and your family. Love to all of you--we miss you! We'll keep you in our prayers. xo

Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

This. Broke. Me.

"God is in control, and He does love me, but, strangely, today isn't a day in which my heart doubts it. I know there are those who rail at God when tragedies strike, and were worse fortune to befall me, I can't swear that I wouldn't be among them. It is grace, all grace, that instead today I feel strangely lifted up, keenly aware that He has me in the palm of His hand."

God comfort you with the sureness of His love, presence, purpose, hope.

Your life radiates Him...

Humbly,
All's grace,
Ann Voskamp

Louise said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Louise said...

I am truly sorry for your loss, and I intend to give up some of my suffering for you... My husband Darin and I have been trying to conceive since our daughter was three months old. Well, now Rowena is 3 years old, and each menstrual cycle breaks my heart a little more than the last. Praying for you and your family!