Posted in Autism, Christianity, Encouragement, grief, miscarriage, Mom Confessions, Own your Story, Uncategorized

The other side of despair

You know that part in the Anne of Green Gables movie where Anne dyes her hair green and hides in her bed?
“Go away!” she sobs to Marilla. “I’m in the depths of despair!”

“I’m in the depths of despair” became a tongue-in-cheek catch-phrase for my sisters and me as we navigated our teenage years.

Like Anne, most of our woes were trite and worthy of eye-rolling, not sympathy. I really had no idea what despair was until I became an adult.

When I had my miscarriage, I was baptized in grief for the first time.
I learned what hopelessness feels like.

My motherhood journey has looked wildly different than I thought it would be.
On many occasions, especially in the last year, I have literally thrown up my hands, saying “I’ve got nothing. I have no idea what to do.”

And all I can do is ride the wave of that moment, or day, or month, and pray we all come out intact on the other side.

Sometimes I’ve stood on the edge of that deep, black pit, wondering if I am going to fall in. Other times, it’s only when I look back, far removed from the experience, that I realize how close I was to collapsing.

I probably overshare on my blog–I know it’s one of my faults when I teach in the classroom. When the semester ends, all my students know WAY more about me (and my husband, kids, and first crush) than I do about them.

But sometimes I think that if I didn‘t share–blogging or otherwise–I’d step over the edge, into all that blackness, and tumble down, down, down.

And it’s not just the act writing, though that’s cathartic.
It’s the sharing.
It’s a way of saying, ” I have a burden. Will you help me carry it?”
_mg_2860_1We all need a good friend to listen to us vent about our bad day. The sharing helps us carry the burden. In those really dark moments, it helps us back away from the edge.

But sharing is a two-way street. Every good friend knows that you can’t just vent about your own bad day–you have to make space to listen too.

And, for me, this act of “making space” has been key to me not succumbing to despair in some of my darkest moments.

I read an amazing blog post last week by Rachel at Hands Free Mama. In her article, “Your Role in a Loved One’s Struggle” she wrote,

On the other side of despair is connection—connection that comes from recognizing a familiar look of pain in someone else’s eyes and reaching out your hand.

The greatest gift I have been given as a result of sharing about my life on my blog is that on a weekly basis, I have friends (and even strangers!) send me private messages saying, “me too.” The other night I sat chatting with three women on facebook, in awe of the gift I have been given.

They share their stories with me, stories of their grief, their waiting, their adjustment of their expectations, and always their overwhelming love for their children.

I share.
They share.
We carry each others’ burdens.
We back away from the edge, hand in hand, walking towards light, in hope, together.
_mg_2809Everybody has something. But you aren’t alone in your pain.
Take the first step–share.

You never know how God will use your story to bring hope to another person.

 

What’s your story? If you shared it, what would happen?
What COULD happen?

I hope that this story can bring hope, healing, and happiness to you. TheBamBlog is trying to grow! Did this post encourage you or would it inspire someone you know?
If so, please share! Thank you! 🙂

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Posted in Encouragement, grief, Mom Confessions, Own your Story, Self Care, WAHM

I quit my job (because I can’t do it all)

I quit my job on Monday.

It was the right decision, but it didn’t make it an easy one.

I’ve been working from home, teaching University level English courses online, for the last three and a half years.
Since the day I started, I’ve had two babies, a grand total of four little men.

And I’ve kept plugging away at my work, at times teaching up to 4 classes in an 8 week term (usually 2). While some online professors have an easy (or easier) job, teaching English online is brutal. The University I worked for has a one-week turn around policy for grading papers. On the “off” weeks, I was giving copious notes on outlines and thesis statements. Add in answering hundreds of emails, grading discussion boards (on top of papers), and dealing with plagiarism on nearly every paper, let’s just say I didn’t have a lot of down time as a WAHM.
IMG_4619I felt like I was handling it all pretty well though…until last year, and especially last fall after Benji got his ASD diagnosis.

We added therapy to our weekly schedule and suddenly I was spending hours per week at the Autism Center, driving, scrambling to find babysitters, or on the phone with the insurance company.

The stress was overwhelming. It even started affecting my health, both physically and mentally.

I’d thought about quitting in December but still I wavered: I was so fortunate to be a mom who can work from home when there are so many women who are dying to be in my position. Didn’t I owe it to them to keep the “dream” alive, the dream that says, “Yes, 21st century modern woman: You may not be able to have the whole pie, but you can have a little slice of whatever you are determined to put on your plate!”
IMG_5028But here’s the conversation that put a knife in that “dream” and sealed my decision to quit.

I had just finished grading for B term and told my 8 year old twins, “Guess what, boys? No more papers! I’m all done!”
“Yea!” They cheered. “Now you can spend time with us!”

Ouch.

That was it. I knew I needed a change. I had been praying a lot, asking God to give me truth about the reality of my life, and here’s what He revealed:

I wasn’t being the mom or wife I wanted or needed to be.
I wasn’t even being a nice person.
I didn’t even like myself.

I was a mean person who was strung out, exhausted, and who yelled all the time. Plus if I graded just one more paper about “The Road Less Traveled,” I might just lose my mind (or what was left of it).

And as fortunate as I was to be working from home, it just wasn’t worth it anymore.

I can’t do it all. In fact, I didn’t want to do it all any more. I’m kind of over it.
IMG_4878
Yet, knowing myself, it feels weird to admit that.

I’ve eagerly been in school and/or working since my twins were 7 months old (they are 8.5 now).

I invested years of my life into my Masters degree and into teaching, both on campus and online. And I was a darn-good professor too.

But the truth is, I need to invest my life where my love is.

I love English, and I love helping students become better writers, but it’s hard to  keep loving something that doesn’t love you back. And honestly, as much as I tried to be a personable, relateable, likeable, genuine, caring online professor,  the thousands of students I’ve taught aren’t going to remember my name next week, much less 20 years from now.
I am a blip on their life-radar, and let’s be real: I will easily be replaced at the University I worked for.

But my kids only get one mom. I am not a blip to them; I am their whole world. And I need to move them back into the center of my world. I know this the right decision.

But not all good decisions are easy. Can I be really honest? I got a lot of warm fuzzies telling people that I taught at a University. I felt validated by raised eyebrows and the impressed tone of voice. It made me feel like I was more than “just a mom,” like I was an intelligent human being who was making a difference in the world.

So, as much as I am saying “Good riddance” to the horrific stress of being a WAHM, it comes with a bit of mourning too, a saying “goodbye” to that prideful little corner of my heart (not to mention the lost income. God will provide, right?).

But I’m ready to say “hello” to lots of Good Things too:
more “come in” and less “go away”
more “now” and less “later”
more self-care instead of self-denial
more energy and less exhaustion
more kindness and less irritation
more patience and less yelling

And more love, much more Love. 11539035_10102113386324218_888264570455143371_oBeing “just a mom” may wound my pride, but making the choice to be the mom that I want and need to be is the best decision I’ve made in a long time.

Did you quit your job to be more available to your kids (special needs or not)?
Was it a hard decision? Why or why not? (or both)
Share your story below!

I hope that our story can bring hope, healing, and happiness to you.
TheBamBlog is trying to grow! Did this post encourage you or would it inspire someone you know?
If so, please share! Thank you! 

You might also like: STOP saying “I don’t know how you do it!” and say this instead

Posted in Christianity, Encouragement, grief, Kelly Clarkson, miscarriage, Mom Confessions, Motherhood, Own your Story, Piece by Piece, Self Care, Uncategorized

Ladies, let’s stop aplogizing for our tears

I loved watching Kelly Clarkson sing “Piece by Piece” on American Idol earlier this month. It was a moving, emotional ballad; Kelly struggled with tears through the whole song, at times even losing her voice to tears as she pushed through to the end.

The audience—and America—wept with her, as she sang about how her father abandoned her as a child, but now that she is a mother, she knows that her children’s father will never leave their children…or her. Piece by piece, her husband’s love slowly put her heart and hope back together.

When Ryan came up to conclude the show with her, she apologized for crying over and over. “I’m really pregnant!” she laughed.

There was something profoundly familiar about her tears and her response. So often, our knee-jerk reaction as women to our own sudden tears is to say, “I’m sorry! I don’t know why I am so emotional!”
Our second response is to look for a scapegoat, usually a hormonal one:
“Stupid PMS!”
“Pregnancy hormones! They get you every time!”
We even use the hormonal excuse when there is no hormonal excuse:
“I don’t know why I am so emotional. It isn’t even that time of the month!”

We believe that our tears, sudden and uncomfortable, always need to be explained away. And if they can’t be easily excused, we make jokes about the emotional weakness of being a woman.

100_4647
I am smiling in this picture I vividly remember this day. I was going through a miscarriage and tears came unexpectedly and often.

The thing is, emotions or tears aren’t right or wrong. They simply are. It’s how we act in response to our feelings that is right or wrong.*

We shouldn’t have to apologize for feeling.
But so often, as women, we do.
I have a friend who is a passionate and vibrant person. She also cries very easily—about seeing her daughter learn and grow, about her passion to help women in our community, about the beauty in the world. Her tears and apologies flow freely.
Though I know she often is embarrassed by her strong emotions, I find her tears refreshing and honest.
Crying often expresses emotions in a way that words cannot.
It can reveal truth about our deeply felt experiences.
So instead of apologizing for our emotions,** what if we looked a little deeper and asked “Why am I crying?”

Hormones may be an easy answer but, the thing is, hormones don’t give us emotions; they simply highlight or emphasize emotions that are already there.  

Kelly’s song was deeply emotional on its own. It would have been difficult to sing even if she had not been pregnant and it had not been the final season of American Idol. Adding all that together made her performance even more impressive.  The reality is, her tears were what made the song even more beautiful, raw and relateable to listeners.

I wish she didn’t feel like she had to apologize for crying.

But if I were in her shoes, I would have done the same thing. Somehow it’s the socially acceptable thing to do as women.

It is a lot harder to simply let our tears be, without explaining them away (
It really is easier to blame our hormones, isn’t it?).

But owning our emotions is a part of embracing what it means to be a woman, a women who was created with God-given emotions, God-given hormones, and yes, even God-honored tears (Psalm 56:8).

When we stop apologizing and dismissing our tears, and start asking “Why?” about our emotional experiences, it helps us to build self-awareness. Owning our tears helps us to realize that our stories are real, valuable, and worth telling.

And when we can own our stories, we can more readily empathize with the emotional experiences of others.
We are able to “ Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep”  (Romans 12:15).
Tears
Our tears don’t need an apology or a hormonal explanation. Embracing our emotions and our tears is actually an act of love and respect. When we embrace our emotions as part of being a woman, we can more freely respect our own tears as healthy and normal.

And in loving and respecting ourselves, we can also more freely respond to the emotional needs of others with love and respect as well.

*Sadly, I often respond to my emotions with negative actions. When I choose to hurt others because I am angry or upset (or whatever), an apology is needed in order restore my relationships.

** I’ll admit, saying “I’m sorry!” is my first response when I cry unexpectedly! Instead of apologizing, here are a few suggestions for an alternative way to respond to our tears:

“Thank you for listening. I feel really emotional right now.”
“As you can see by my tears, I’m really passionate about this.”
“This always make me cry.”
“Hang on. I need a minute to collect myself.”
“I am so overwhelmingly happy!”
“This reminds me of my grandma. I miss her.”
“This makes me really sad/angry/upset/overwhelmed.”
“Darn you, Hallmark!”

Why do you think we feel the need to say “I’m sorry!” when we cry?

Why it is hard to accept our emotions, even our tearful ones?
What would we gain by accepting our tears as normal and part of “our story”?

TheBamBlog is trying to grow! Did this post encourage you or would it inspire someone you know? If so, please share! Thank you! 🙂

Posted in Christianity, grief, miscarriage, Mom Confessions, My Motherhood

If you’re heartbroken on New Years Day…hold on.

I wonder if God peers into our man-made New Years traditions, and in his omniscience says to himself, “Oh, dear child, this year…this year you will grow so much. I only wish I could spare you the pain of such growth. Hold on…I am with you.”

On January 1st 2014, I spent the day in the bathroom, praying and crying and telling myself that this was not happening, that I was not having a miscarriage.

Happy New Year, right? All my hopes, expectations, and plans for the year were shattered. All I could think was, “No new baby in August. No new baby. No baby.”

The only verse that brought me any sense of comfort during this time was this:

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…”

You are with me. 
You are with me.
You are with me. 

THAT was the only guarantee I had for 2014.

Now it is January 1st 2015. As I look back at last year, I am amazed at how my miscarriage shaped my whole year, overwhelmed with the good that was directly related to my miscarriage. In fact, this heartbreaking experience even fulfilled desires of my heart in three specific areas: Counseling, Volunteering, and Writing.

Interestingly, at one time, I was going to pursue a Masters Degree in counseling (I even took a Statistics class in preparation for grad school. eek!). My own grief allowed me to help others grow and heal by becoming a peer counselor to women who were walking through the grief of miscarriage, still birth, and infertility. I have grown so much in knowledge, compassion, empathy, and sympathy by being a co-leader of this group.

The grief group is under the umbrella of The Motherhood Collective, a non-profit organization in Lynchburg whose purpose is to “Nurture the Mother to Grow the Child.” I had secretly wanted to be a part of the leadership of this organization in a “that’d be really cool” kind of way, but had no idea what I could/would do. The miscarriage opened this door too. I feel very privileged to serve with the amazing women in this organization.

Looking back at 2014, I see how God was able to marry my life experience and clarified beliefs with my desire to develop professionally as a writer. As I blogged about my miscarriage throughout this past year, I was not only able to work through my own grief, but I was also about to develop my theology about  God’s providence and sovereignty when it comes to pregnancy and the gift of children.

At the end of November, I wrote “Say ‘Congratulations’–It’s the Christian thing to do” and it got over 500 views overnight! To date, it is my 2nd “most-viewed” post on my blog, with over 7800 views (in reality, this is not a lot of views in the “blog world” but is a LOT for my little blog!). Even more exciting though, is that this blog open the door for me to be a guest writer for Christianity Today’s blog, Her.Menutics. My article was published on December 10 and has received over 3000 shares on social media. These publications have been huge for me as a writer. I hope it is just the beginning. But I know that without the heartbreak at the beginning of the year, the victory at the end most likely would not have happened.

So what is the point of this post? I guess it is this: If you are heart-broken today, on New Years Day 2015, and your life is taking a completely different, unwanted, horrible path than you would have ever chosen…I pray you can find hope in my story.

God had plans for my 2014, ones I never would have chosen but plans that ultimately helped me to grow, learn, love others, and even brought me the desires of my heart.

And even though I was never promised the gift of another baby, He gave me that too. I sit here typing with my 10 day old baby boy sleeping on my chest. What a gift of grace, complete unmerited favor. 

So, hold on, friend. He is with you.

Posted in Baby, grief, life, miscarriage, My Motherhood

Pregnancy after Loss: Survivor’s Guilt

The past six months have been a time of immense growth for me, and very painful growth at times.

I shared very publicly and honestly about my miscarriage and the grieving process that I went through. While some women prefer to grieve privately, I found that writing and sharing my story on my blog and in the support group that I now co-lead has been very healing for me.

I found community in my grief.

I was part of “The Club.” Ironically, it is a club that no woman wants to join but the support I have found in women who have also experienced loss has been a source of great strength, encouragement, and hope.

Then I got pregnant again.

In realty, my pregnancy happened very quickly after my miscarriage. At the time, it didn’t seem quick. My womb felt achingly empty as the weeks ticked by that I was NOT “12 weeks along;” rather, I was 3…4…5…6…7…weeks post-miscarriage.

My miscarriage was complete at the beginning of February and I found out I was pregnant again on April 14th.

It was a quiet joy, and a confusing time for me.

After telling my family, I nervously shared about my pregnancy with my grief group co-leader and told her that I primarily felt guilty for being pregnant again so soon.

She said, “I think you have Survivor’s Guilt.”

That odd, complicated guilt of those that have experienced pain but have also experienced a new gift of life, and feel undeserving.

My first thought was: I AM PREGNANT! We were going to have another baby.

Our precious new Little Meng

My second thought was: What about my grief support group? Will I still be accepted…wanted…needed…now that I am…pregnant?

I had my inner fears, but in my heart I knew that I was still a part of this important community.

But this was not just a question that I asked in my mind. For many people, the first question they asked me as soon as I told them I was pregnant was, “So, what about the grief group? Are you still going to do it?”

I must be honest and say that these questions really hurt my feelings. One part of of me understood because I had the same questions, in a way. But the other part of me pushed against this idea that now I was unqualified to lead a grieving mothers group because I now had the joy of being pregnant again.

I have learned that the joy of knowing a new baby grows inside my womb is co-mingled with grieving for the child I lost.

The day I announced my pregnancy was actually a very sad day for me. There were many tears. Somehow, I felt as if Izzy, the baby we lost, could never be, even in my mind, as now my womb was occupied again in the nine months that should have been hers.

Complicated, intense, illogical, yes. But those were my real feelings, even as I thanked family and friends for their congratulations and well-wishes.

It is not easy to be pregnant after loss. A new pregnancy does not replace the baby we lost.

I am doing better, well even. I am thankful every strong pregnancy symptom (even as I run to the bathroom…oh joy!), am beyond impatient to find out if we will be having a little boy or girl, and am eagerly anticipating those flutters and kicks.

But, in quiet ways, I still grieve. I still need support.

And I hope, that even though I am pregnant again, I can still offer support, love, and wisdom to other women who are walking this road.

When I shared about my pregnancy at our meeting last month, the women in my group had nothing but words of encouragement and joy for me. I hope that if and when their time comes to welcome a new life into their wombs that I can also walk this new path with them as they experience this journey of mingled joy and grief.

Posted in Christianity, grief, miscarriage

Miscarriage and Faith: Searching for Beauty

It was January 15, only about two weeks since I learned about my miscarriage. I hadn’t even shared about our miscarriage publicly yet, only privately. My prayers were still raw and desperate, crying out, “Why did this happen, Lord? Why? Is it something I did? What are you trying to teach me, show me?”

There was no answer.

Then, that morning, I got this email:

Hi friends.
So it’s been heavy on my heart to launch a Mother Grief Support Group. Once a month. No heavy pressure. No agenda. Just honest leading, sharing and experiences surrounding miscarriage and child loss. The Lord has put you two on my heart as co-leaders. The Motherhood Collective would do all the behind the scenes leg work (leader manuals, location, publicity, etc) you would just be asked to guide, listen, share and lead.
Would you think/pray about this?
I know there is a need.

I stared at my computer, shocked, stunned. I didn’t even know what to think.


I remembered a story, the one about the man born blind. The disciples asked, “Rabbi,<span class="crossreference" style="background-color: white; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”>
 who sinned,<span class="crossreference" style="background-color: white; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”> this man<span class="crossreference" style="background-color: white; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(C)”> or his parents,<span class="crossreference" style="background-color: white; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(D)”> that he was born blind?” And Jesus said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:2-3).


In thinking about this story, I bitterly scoffed, wondering if the man was angry–I had to suffer my entire life JUST so God could get the glory?!

Did my baby die so God could get the glory? 

This thought just makes me feel ill, and really, I don’t think it is true. I don’t believe God makes bad things happen just so he can swoop in, save us, and get the glory. 

Ultimately though, bad things do happen, like the man born blind. The man didn’t cause his blindness; the parents didn’t cause his blindness. The blindness simply happened. It was bad, evil; it caused great suffering in their family. 

But Jesus gave them a new perspective. He showed this family how suffering could be used to bring glory to God. 

As I stared at my email, I realized that this was more than an invitation from The Motherhood Collective: this was an answer to my prayer, my prayer of “why?” 
Maybe it wasn’t the answer. But it was an answer. 

It was also an invitation to deeper trust, deeper faith, deeper love. An invitation to life in the midst of death.   

I felt conflicted.

If I was really honest, I would much rather be pregnant than be the leader of a miscarriage support group. Selfish, but true.

But I felt a stir of life and of hope. I felt like I should say yes but not in a I-know-this-is-the-right-thing-to-do kind of way.

I wanted to say yes because my heart and soul were desperate for “right.” And saying yes, to walk with other women as they journey though the valley of grief, seemed right.
I told one of my best friends about the invitation to lead this group and said, “I am thinking of the verse ‘He makes everything beautiful in his own time.’ So, maybe this is the start of something beautiful, even though it really, really sucks right now. How’s that for honest?”
Someone once said, your calling is where your passion and burden meet. 
Source
The email was a call. So, I wrote a reply, and this is what I said: 

I would be honored to be a part of leading this group. I would prefer to start in March though as my miscarriage was very recent and I still need some time to grieve and find perspective myself. Thank you for asking me. I hope the  Lord will use this heartache to help bring healing to others.

So, now it’s March. And through much prayer and planning, our first meeting of The Motherhood Collective Grief Support Group will meet tomorrow afternoon. I don’t know who will show up or exactly what I will say but I, along with my co-leader, Julie, am happy excited honored humbled to be part of this. God is showing me many things, including how this truth is starting to manifest itself in my life: 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Cor. 1:3-4)

My pain, my heartache, my suffering is real, but God is at work in my life.  He has promised to make “Everything beautiful in its own time” (Ecc. 3:11) and I am walking with him, searching for beauty. 

_________________________________________

You can read more about my journey here: 
Posted in Christianity, grief, miscarriage

Miscarriage and Faith: Walking through the Valley

Note: Candid discussion of miscarriage. 

Grief is a strange land.

Before I miscarried, I thought grief was kind of like sadness: a feeling that overcomes a person but a feeling that can be analyzed and dismissed when one is ready to move on.

But grief is not like that. It is a destination that you are thrust into, a place that you can’t leave no matter how much you want to leave until your grief slowly releases its grip on you.

When I first learned that I had miscarried, I felt numb. I remember laying on my bed and trying to pray but I had no words.

Psalm 23:4 came to my mind: 

Even though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me…

In my mind’s eye, I saw this Valley: razor sharp mountains, void of any vegetation, pierced the sky. The Valley was dusky, dark, grey. The path jutted sharply into shadows–I couldn’t see beyond a few steps. But I knew the way was full of pain, deep physical and emotional pain.

Source

I DON’T WANT THIS PATH! I DIDN’T CHOOSE THIS PATH! My mind screamed. I mentally dug in my heels…
I wouldn’t go.
I would not walk.

But there wasn’t another way. I couldn’t make my HCG levels rise. I couldn’t make the bleeding stop. I couldn’t make the baby live. The baby was dead.

This was The. Only. Way.

…I will fear no evil, for You are with me.

Brittany, He whispered to my soul. I am already there, in the Valley.

But this did not comfort me. The Valley was an evil place; God’s presence could not change that. All I could think was if God is already there, I didn’t want to follow.

My lowest point was the day I filled a prescription to induce the miscarriage. A week had passed and though I was still bleeding lightly, my numbers were falling very slowly. My midwife recommended that I use misoprostol to “help the process along.”

After we went to CVS to get the drugs (and a strong prescription pain killer), Aaron and I stopped by Kroger to get some Motrin. From what I had read online about other women’s experience with misoprostol, I couldn’t have enough pain killers.

I numbly bought the medicine and started walking back to the car, waiting for a bus to pass before I crossed the street.

This thought entered my mind, unbidden: If I got hit by a bus then I wouldn’t have to go through this.

Then: Wow! I just had a suicidal thought. I am in a really, really bad place.

I really didn’t want to get hit by a bus, or die. But I cannot express more clearly how much I did not want to go though this, to walk this path, to go through this valley.

Please be with me. Please be with me. Pleasebewithme….

The misoprostol didn’t work.
The midwife called in a second dose.
I took it again the next day.
It didn’t work.

By this time, I was so messed up with drugs and grief that my whole GI system rebelled against me for a few days. I felt terrible.

I went in for another blood test (number 3? or 4?).My HGC levels had dropped over 100 points. Finally, some good news (so ironic..)!  It had been over two weeks since I first found out. From everything I read online, the miscarriage would be over soon.

The new semester started at Liberty and I started teaching again.
I went grocery shopping.
I took my boys to school.
I publicly shared about our miscarriage.
I wrote about suffering and thankfulness in the midst of grief.

I had days where I laid on the couch all day.
I had functional days.
I had bad days where I cried my eyes out when I saw ANOTHER freakin’ “we’re preggo!” announcement on Facebook.
I had good days when I smiled and laughed with friends and talked objectively about the miscarriage and my grief.

I was ready to move on. I wanted to move on. I wanted to leave the Valley.

But the bleeding went on and on and on. Two weeks slipped into three. Then four. Then five.

It was now February, over a month since the miscarriage began.

I snapped.

“I can’t stand it!” I screamed to my husband. “You don’t understand. This has to end! I can’t move on until it ends! You don’t know what it’s like to bleed and bleed and bleed and see red every time you go to the bathroom!  When will it END?!”

I felt utterly alone. My pain was bound up in my body, without any meaningful release. I couldn’t give it away if I wanted to. No one could carry this burden with me. NO ONE understood.

Even though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death . . . You are with me…
The verse had become a mantra, playing over and over again in my mind. At times it comforted me. Other times, it frustrated me. 
On the night of my outburst, I saw this verse in a new light. God wasn’t just with me, beside me. He had promised that his Spirit was within me, inside my soul–inside my body, my body that was filled with so much pain, physical and emotional. 
He was with me, inside my body–feeling, suffering, mourning, grieving, walking with me.
I used to think that when God walked with a person through hard times, the darkness of that person’s path would somehow be filled with His light. 
My path through the valley was not filled with light.  It was very dark, and at times, I didn’t feel God’s presence at all. But in the darkness, along this journey of death, He was there. 
Three days after I said “I can’t stand it any more!” my bleeding stopped. Two weeks later and another blood test later (7? 8?), I found out that my numbers were at 0.
It was finally over. 
I will fear no evil, for You are with me…

At the beginning of my miscarriage, I was filled with fear: fear of pain, fear of grief, fear of loss, fear of hemorrhage, fear of the disgusting horror that is miscarriage. 
At the end, I realized that the evil I feared did not ever manifest itself.  My bleeding was long, but never heavy. I had cramps but they were mild when compared to the worst menstural cramps I had experienced in my life. My emotional pain, though debilitating, was not devastating. 
I would heal. 
I am healing. 
Today is March 1st. I am wishing myself a Happy New Year.

Because on January 1st… and then on February 1st I was going through hell.

The Valley is a place that I had to travel through. Sometimes I think I have reached the other side; other days, I know I am still there. But there is light.

Source

Because You are with me…

Posted in Christianity, grief, miscarriage

Miscarriage and Faith: Giving thanks IN…not FOR.

I shuffled into the kitchen, pushing the Kreuig button and my greasy hair behind my ear.

I was awake. I was functioning. I could make eggs. I could feed my kids breakfast before school…

…before I went to lay on the couch for the rest of the day.

It was a few days since “the phone call” and I was in the “wait and see” days of what they call “miscarriage management.”

Micah pushed play on our kitchen CD player and Psalty the Singing Songbook’s perky voice and camping exploits filled the air.

“In everything give thanks! In every situation! Sing of song of thanks…and praise him from your heart!!!”

“This is such a stupid song,” I thought. “There is nothing, NOTHING to be thankful for in this situation. Everything about this sucks. Miscarriage SUCKS!”**

I put plastic plates of eggs in front of my kids and sat down heavily at the table, wincing from pain in my womb and pain in my heart.

Then I glanced over at Silas and he smiled at me…

…and I felt a little nudge in my soul.

Precious little boy. You are such a comfort to me.

I pushed through the fog in my brain and tried to plan my day…dinner tonight? Oh! That’s right. Another dear friend was bringing us a meal.

I’m so glad I don’t have to cook tonight. Thank you, Lord, for friends and the meal. 

Aaron came into the kitchen and kissed me on the forehead. “Ready to go, boys?”

Thank you for my husband. He has taken such good care of me and the kids. 

“Bye, Mommy!” My twins said as four skinny arms encircled my waist. “See you after school!”

Photo by Sabrena Carter Deal

Thank you for my children. I have three beautiful children who love me. I am blessed. I am blessed

The realization washed over me: 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (and Psalty!) says, “In everything give thanks….” not for everything.

I couldn’t be thankful for…but I can be, no, I need to be thankful in. 

I need to be thankful….because thankfulness is ultimately trust in God.

In order to be thankful, I must look outside of myself–my pain, my grief–and see that God is still taking care of me. He has still blessed me with so many good things.

He holds my whole life in his hands, both the good and the bad. Thankfulness is recognizing this truth.

I can still give thanks in this situation, and really, in all things. This is the will of God for me.

**I actually googled “Miscarriage Sucks” and came up with some comforting blog posts that used lots of swear words that summed up my feelings quite nicely.

Posted in Christianity, grief, miscarriage

Miscarriage and Faith: Suffering and God’s Goodness

It was 20 minutes after I received the phone call that we got the expected knock at the front door. A friend from church was bringing us dinner.

I was still numb from the news: “Your numbers are dropping. I’m afraid…this confirms a miscarriage.”

As our friend set the food on the table, we told her what happened.

She was so sorry. She had been praying for us fervently. She had even shared that she had seen a vision of God cradling my womb during her prayers. This had been a great comfort to me.

“Can I pray for you?” She asked.

She slipped her arm around me in our kitchen and we bowed our heads.

“Oh, Lord,” she began. “We thank you for your goodness…”

Everything in my soul recoiled.

How could she thank God for his goodness?
This was not good! This was bad, evil,  horrible, a nightmare!
If God was good, then why did my baby die?
I begged God to let the baby live, let the bleeding stop, let the midwife say “We have good news!”

That was the phone call I played over and over again in my mind. I couldn’t imagine the alternative.The pain was beyond my imagination.

Yet here I was, in the midst of it.

And she was thanking God for his goodness?

God was not good. Not to me.

Her prayer and God’s presence hovered over my soul at that moment and I shoved them away as hard as I could.

I couldn’t pray. I had no words. Only deep pain and suffering that I had never experienced before.

Oh, I had suffered, of course. But as a result of my sin, or someone else’s. That suffering had a reason, a purifying effect, a course that led me to repentance.

This. This was new. Stark, and bleak, and shocking, numbing and white hot. Suffering that hit me physically and spiritually.

“We know you are a good God…” she prayed.

I almost wanted to laugh. But I couldn’t and so I cried.

We know you are a good God. 

I don’t remember anything else from her prayer in my kitchen that day. But her words about God’s goodness both shocked me and have stuck with me.

We know you are a good God.

I knew, in my head, that God is good. I had repeated those words since I was a child. I had memorized hundreds of verses, could recite every Bible story that spoke to this fact. I had prayed these words myself. I had never doubted God’s goodness.

Until now. I doubted in my heart because it was filled with so much pain that there wasn’t room for my faith.

But my head knew that God was good. The scriptures came rolling in, the ones I had tucked away for such a time as this.

I heard a song a few days later, a familiar hymn: “His eye is on the sparrow, but I know he watches me.”

Source

I basked in the comfort of this image but a moment later was slammed with this truth:

His eye is on the sparrow….but the sparrow still falls. 

And all I can ask is why? Why did he let the sparrow fall? Why did I have a miscarriage?

That was my only prayer: Why did this happen, God?

I don’t know why. But I do know he is with me, watching me. And weeping with me.

This is faith–horrible, hard, gut-wrenching faith: God is good.

______________________________

I’ll be sharing more of my spiritual journey through suffering and grief in the coming weeks and how God had brought comfort to my heart through this difficult time.

UPDATE: Click on the links below to read about more of my journey.

Sweet Iz: Our Miscarriage Announcement
Giving Thanks IN…not FOR
Walking through the Valley

Posted in Baby, grief, miscarriage, My Motherhood

"Sweet Iz": Our miscarriage

Your older brother, Micah, named you when you were just a glow in my belly.

“Hi Iz!” he said softly, his hand on my hips, his mouth pressed to my stomach. He planted a kiss near my belly button and then scampered away.

“I’m going to name the baby Iz.” He announced, 5 minutes after we told our boys they were going to be big brothers again on December 20th. “I want a baby sister. If it’s a boy, I’m going to fuss.”

I laughed, reminding him that the baby might not be a girl, and inwardly thinking that I didn’t really like the name “Izzy.”

But that was the only name you got. It was a sweet name, and full of love and expectation from the big brother you will never know on this side of heaven.

Sweet baby. You left us only a few weeks after we knew you were there. On January 4th, we found out that your soul had slipped away.

We miss you, your mommy especially. Christmas was such a time of hope. I felt like Mary, expecting a child, however small, at such a magical time of year.

Your daddy and I kept looking at each other with wide eyes, saying in hollowed, hallowed tones, “We’re going to have FOUR kids. Holy crap.”

And we still have four. But not here on earth.

We wonder why this happened, why you won’t be joining our family here on earth. I told your big brother Benji that Mommy was very sad that the baby died.

“But Mommy, we still have Silas!” he said.

And that made me smile.

I have three little boys to hold in my arms and one little one to hold in my heart.

We didn’t get to know you but your big brother named you.

We miss you, sweet Iz.

You can read more about my journey here: