Storms come into all of our lives. Sometimes, like radar, we see them ominously approaching. Other times they can appear as quickly as the sudden summer shower that causes us to haphazardly throw all our crap in the beach bag and scurry for the hotel.
When these storms come, for me, it’s difficult to know if and when I should share my grief with others. If I make known the details of my hardship too soon, I feel that people will interpret it as me wanting pity or attention. If I don’t share it at all, I somehow feel cheated–not from people’s pity–but from the missed prayers and encouragement that I could have received.
And I truly believe that prayer and encouragement make the most powerful umbrella for weathering storms.
I just decided moments earlier to publically disclose my latest storm- while I’m in the very midst of the downpour- and I’m certainly not doing it for pity.
For I’m learning there is really no pity to be gained from this storm.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that my husband and I have been trying to conceive for a very long time now. Yes, we have two absolutely beautiful, precious children, who we love unconditionally. But I cannot deny the strong urge within me to have another child. I have to believe that the overwhelming desire to have a third baby was placed within me by Almighty God. And I know that He will grant my family the desires of our hearts.
When I stared down at the faint positive sign on the pregnancy test last week, I was ecstatic, to say the least. I eagerly told my husband and children, in the form of a short poem that I had written months ago for the very occasion. We rejoiced and then I rushed out and spent enough money on pregnancy tests to buy a fully-loaded Kia. I bought them because I wanted added confirmation that I was, indeed, pregnant.
But each time I took a test over the weekend, the positive line became fainter. I did what any worry-wart does and frantically searched Google for reassurance, although I know that Google is rarely comforting. As I read message boards on Baby Center, I was disheartened. So many women had posted similar questions about positive pregnancy test lines growing dim. I became crippled with fear as the majority of them later updated that they had miscarried.
I rushed to see my doctor the following Monday for blood tests. The nurse called later that afternoon to inform me that my HCG level was only at 34, which was extremely low for someone who was supposedly 5w3d pregnant.
I tried to keep my panic under control until I went back to the doctor 48 hours later to have my blood drawn again. Afterwards, I sat in the waiting room at my daughter’s orthodontist, praying that the nurse would call to tell me that my level had miraculously risen. Instead, she said it had dropped to 33. I knew I was losing the baby.
I was told there was nothing else to do but wait to bleed. I cried on my husband’s shoulder at the loss of the child who we so desperately wanted. And I was left feeling like I’d come in 2nd place. I was so close to victory—so close to reaching my goal—the finish line was in sight—but I came up short.
Two more days passed and I had yet to start bleeding, which left me hoping that somehow this was all a mistake. I still felt pregnant. I was tired and bloated and nauseated, yet craving chili cheese tots and peanut butter cups.
I began cramping, so I went back to see my doctor, still hopeful that everything might turn out okay, yet terrified that it was possibly an ectopic pregnancy. I was relieved when the ultrasound showed that my tubes were clear. And then my doctor told me that my HCG level had risen from 33 to 91.
Once I’d quit crying happy tears and wiping snot from my nostrils, he said that the increase in HCG didn’t necessarily mean I was not miscarrying. But, it was reason to be hopeful. I was told to come back after the weekend to have my blood checked again, and I left the office optimistic. I called my husband and my mother, and joy rose in all of our voices. Everything just might be okay.
This child could be a miracle.
On my way home from the doctor, I decided to stop by the grocery store to buy more pregnancy tests. I wanted to see if the line got darker over the weekend just so I could be prepared for the upcoming blood test on Monday. I knew that it would get darker. I could feel it. I could feel the HCG level rising in my blood the way Nutella sends my glucose through the roof.
As I entered the grocery and headed for the family planning section, my phone rang and my OB was on the line. He’d called to personally and regretfully tell me that my blood work had been confused with someone else’s. My HCG had not risen to 91. It had dropped to 21.
What an emotional rollercoaster that was. To be elated, if only for 20 minutes, that this pregnancy just might be viable. And then to be told, as I stood in the grocery store aisle while The Bee Gees played softly, that I was going to lose this baby.
I was visited that afternoon by wonderful friends and family who comforted me. I cried on so many shoulders that I was nearly out of tears by the time darkness fell. And once I was in my bed that evening, exhausted at the emotion of it all, I began to bleed.
I welcomed the bleeding. I welcomed passing this pregnancy naturally in my own home, without the help of medicine or a D&C. I welcomed the finality and the closure.
As I sat in silence that evening, engulfed by the rain, an ever-present peace and clarity came upon me and drowned out the thundering confusion.
“All in God’s timing,” they’ve said to me countless times over the last 18 months. And I’ve nodded at the words. I’ve believed them. But I never fully grasped how important or true that bit of encouragement was.
Or how simple.
For over a year, I’ve religiously charted my cycle. My calendars are scribbled with more colors than a bag of Skittles. I’ve tried to plan every aspect of this pregnancy– down to the very month that the child would be born so it can wear my other children’s baby clothes. (With this pregnancy, I would have had a July baby, which was perfect for my plan.) I tried to do all of this in my time. A summer baby. Before I’m 35. Sex on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. OPK tests. Thermometers. Plan. Control. Plan. Plan. Plan.
And yet, it has nothing to do with my plan.
“Hey, Susannah, this is in My time. Slow down and let Me take control. Put away the pens and the calendars and take yourself out of it, because it has nothing to do with you. I’m the Creator of the life that you so covet. And I will plant the perfect seed within you when I so desire. In my time. My calendar. Not yours.”
Was this pain, this storm, necessary for me to realize that I’m not the one in control? Was it necessary for me to lift my eyes and my hands to Him and say, “Okay, God, I give it to You.”
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
I’ve not fully miscarried, and yet I’m already sharing my story with strangers. Why? For what gain? Pity? Attention? Because I’m a writer and have the annoyingly incessant need to release my emotion through words?
It’s not for pity or attention. Maybe it is because I’m a writer, but I could have easily written this and saved it on my hard drive to never be seen by another soul.
I write this post for the same reasons I write anything.
To help myself and to help others.
Writing this particular post is an emotional release for me. It is cathartic. And it’s a request for your umbrella of encouragement and prayer.
I also write this for whoever needs to be reminded of the most important, yet simplest, lesson to be learned. It’s a prayer for you to be faithfully content in His will. Not just in terms of family planning- but in all aspects of life. His timing. His plan. His calendar.
I’m sharing this for a third reason, as well. I have close family members and friends who would never announce their miscarriages to many people, especially not in a blog post, and I highly respect that. But I firmly believe that life starts at conception, and I don’t want this child’s life, albeit so incredibly short, to be a secret. This child wasn’t conceived in vain. This child was conceived as a reminder to me, to you, of Who is really in control.
And it certainly ain’t me.
Praise the God Who Gives and takes away.
I will praise Him in this storm.
Why, my Lord—dare I ask why? It will not hear the whisper of the wind or see the beauty of its parents’ face—it will not see the beauty of Your creation or the flame of a sunrise. Why, my Lord?
“Why, My child—do you ask ‘why’? Well, I will tell you why.
You see, the child lives. Instead of the wind he hears the sound of angels singing before My throne. Instead of the beauty that passes he sees everlasting Beauty—he sees My face. He was created and lived a short time so the image of his parents imprinted on his face may stand before Me as their personal intercessor. He knows secrets of heaven unknown to men on earth. He laughs with a special joy that only the innocent possess. My ways are not the ways of man. I create for My Kingdom and each creature fills a place in that Kingdom that could not be filled by another. He was created for My joy and his parents’ merits. He has never seen pain or sin. He has never felt hunger or pain. I breathed a soul into a seed, made it grow and called it forth.”
I am humbled before you, my Lord, for questioning Your wisdom, goodness, and love. I speak as a fool—forgive me. I acknowledge Your sovereign rights over life and death.
I thank You for the life that began for so short a time to enjoy so long an Eternity.
Mother M. Angelica