TODAY is October 15th: Infancy Loss Remembrance Day.
On this day we remember the little lives that were ours for only a short while. We honor the sons and daughters that were in our bellies, but are no longer with us on earth. We celebrate the members of our family that we never made eye contact with, laughed with, or shared a meal with.
I am aware I have not yet shared this story publicly and there are many details left to be told, but the short version is just after our son Kai was born (he was 10 weeks old), we conceived a little one that is no longer with us. Today we remember our baby, what would have been our 6th child.
It would greatly trouble me for this blog to simply be a place for helpful tips or tricks on how to better manage life, motherhood, or our hair (though there is certainly a place for those things!). I also want this to be somewhere I can be real and open up about the things I’ve learned (99% of those the hard way), struggled with, as well as the things I’ve failed at. I chose the name of this blog not because life is always fancy or like a fairytale, but because life is sometimes messy and challenging. And sometimes I haven’t just lost a shoe, but I’ve lost my way.
Although the experiences of infertility and miscarriage are extremely different, having endured both I feel that the pain, the grief, and the lamenting that comes in the wake of those experiences are very similar.
I’m not alone in the sea of people that have endured the struggle of infertility or a painful miscarriage. There are many, many others who have gone through similar trials, and many, many who have endured far worse. People meet me now and have no idea we ever went through those struggles, yet they have shaped SO much of who I am now and most certainly how I parent the five children I do have.
The struggles we endure in our lives mark us, scar us, and have the potential to change us forever. When we go through trials, it is not only for our own growth, but for the uplifting and building up of those around us.
How we handle the trials and struggles we face are to be an encouragement to others around us as we share out of our brokenness what we learn, as we relate to one another in humbleness, and as friendships deepen through suffering.
I believe that it is in those times that as a Christian, Jesus is made much of. When we boast in our weaknesses, He becomes more “real,” His grace MORE than sufficient, and it solidifies that our hope is in something far greater than the here and now.
However…I want to be brutally honest.
When we struggled to conceive and when our baby died, I chose the opposite of everything I just wrote.
I chose anger, self-centeredness, bitterness, and self pity. I look back on those days and grieve over them as a monumental failure, spiritually speaking. In no way am I saying that it was wrong for me to have wept, felt sorrow, sadness, or even heartbreak. Those emotions are not wrong and it is perfectly acceptable, even necessary, to experience them in full force when going through difficult situations like those.
But what I did with that hurt mattered. I went inward. I tried to hide away the pain and I shut everyone else out.
I vividly remember being angry. Very angry. Angry with everyone. Angry with people who didn’t know what to say. Angry with every other woman who found out she was pregnant before me. Angry at others for not understanding how each month was like grieving a death. Angry at those who didn’t understand death.
I thought I knew best and, ultimately, I was angry at God for just not giving me what I wanted.
I look back to those seasons of my life and know without a doubt that I wanted the gift far more than the Giver. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but my soul tangibly felt the weight and destruction of that choice.
Figuratively speaking, I want you to see the image of me holding inside the palm of my hand all of my hopes and dreams, as well as the timetable I desired held inside. And imagine me raising that clenched fist, shaking it at God, and screaming…
“You’re not giving me what I want!”
Inwardly, I was unable to rejoice with others who were rejoicing. I was unable to consider others as more important than myself. I chose not to overlook the insensitive comments of those who were honestly trying to help, instead I saw those people as foolish or mean and I took their comments personally. And I certainly did not trust that there was a bigger plan with the potential to bring a far deeper joy.
What I could have, or should have, done was move my heart outward to actively trust, and consistently, whole heartedly pursue Jesus…for His grace IS more than sufficient.
I was once told that you should never trust a person who does not “walk with a limp.” In other words, never ever trust a person who has not gone through great difficulty and been forever changed by it. Infertility and losing a baby, are two of my limps. I have been forever changed. I will never be the same again. Those two struggles have marked me…permanently.
Yet…in His goodness, I now see that there is such incredible good that came from it.
My struggle to have children gave me a far deeper insight into how much I need Jesus in a very real, daily, dependent, moment-by-moment way. He alone is the source of true joy and it is in His presence that my soul finds true rest.
Losing a baby has given me a far greater appreciation for life and a far greater respect for the One that holds it in His hands. He alone is the Creator and Sustainer and I will worship Him whether He chooses to give or whether He chooses to take away. Blessed be His name.
I know now, without a doubt, that there is nothing in life that will satisfy like He does. He created me to worship, but not worship the things I want, rather, to worship Him. Life goes terribly wrong when what I want is anything other than Him first.
Infertility and miscarriage have also given me an increased ability to “see” others who are going through difficult situations. It birthed in me a greater compassion for people. It began to grow the desire to change significantly how I listen to, speak with, and counsel others. It has compelled me to move toward those in pain, rather than shy away from them. I am FAR from perfect and still have a great deal more to learn in each of these areas, but infertility and miscarriage began the process of the blinding scales over my heart being removed.
I have often said that I would not wish infertility or miscarriage on my worst enemy, yet I would not trade it for all of the riches of the world.
An open letter for those struggling with infertility or a miscarriage now:
I know your heart is broken. Please hear this from the bottom of my heart that I am genuinely, whole-heartedly so very, very sorry.
I would encourage you, as best as is possible, to not ignore the pain or stuff it away. It’s okay to feel it. What you are going through isn’t easy and you don’t have to pretend that it is. You can busy yourself and distract yourself, or look for other ways to cope, but in those still quiet moments don’t be afraid to let it out.
I want to encourage you to be on guard though. Guard with all grace and with all fervor against going inward. If you let your pain lead you to despair, anger or bitterness, it won’t take away the hurt. It won’t make it go away. It won’t help. Sinking into the hopelessness of what it “feels” like, I promise you, won’t dull the sting of that sharp edge. Let me put it this way…if…and it may be just as big of an “if” for you as it was for us…but, IF you shall be given a child some day in your future, then I would hope for you the opposite of what was true for me, that you wouldn’t regret with deep sorrow how you handled this time. I would pray for you the opposite of what was true for me, that this “season” would be one of intentional chosen joy as you look to Jesus and wait anxiously, hopefully, and fervently on that little life to come into your arms.
2 Corinthians 4:8, 16-18 says, “that we are afflicted in every way, yet not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair…So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.”
I know all to well that it does not feel like light momentary affliction when you’re in the midst of it. It’s okay to weep, long, yearn for that little heart beat. But as you grieve, please don’t let it crush and destroy your own.
In no way am I able tell another woman whether or not she will someday bear a child. There are no guarantees and no promises that hold any weight whatsoever by me or by the most amazing fertility specialist on the planet. Many may have told you that they are certain “you’ll be just fine if you’ll simply give it time.” Others may say that “the moment you quit trying you’ll suddenly get pregnant.” And others still will voice that since it “worked” for them it’ll “work” for you too. All of them are wrong.
The God of the Bible is Yahweh (Lord), the Great I AM, Jehovah Rapha (The Lord Who Heals), Jehovah Shaman (The Lord Who Is Near), El Sheddai (Lord God Almighty). He is the one in control and the story He is writing for you and through you is unique. No one can guarantee an outcome other than the Creator Himself, and I know that every single one of those well intended comments won’t bring the genuine encouragement that you long for, much less the baby that you want.
My story is one where our doctors, who gave us a 0% chance to conceive, were incorrect. I did go on to have my own children. I would hope and pray the same for you as well. But I can’t guarantee that. I can’t say that if you just “trust in the Lord with all of your heart,” then He will give you a baby. The God of the Bible doesn’t work like a wishing well or genie. But I can tell you this: God Himself sees you. And He understands what you are going through. He says in the Proverbs that the empty womb is just like a raging fire that won’t stop consuming. It cannot and will not be satisfied. There is nothing, other than Him, that can quench that kind of emptiness. There is nothing, but Him, that can take away the longing or the pain you are experiencing.
My friend, know this…you are not alone.
I know that you need comfort and I know you want hope.
No one besides the Creator can give you that. He alone creates life, but choose the Giver, not just His gifts. Trust in Him. It is in His presence that our joy is made complete. It is at HIS right hand where there are pleasures forevermore. I offer no false hope, yet I offer you the One who IS hope. He is the One who not only offers peace, but who IS peace. He is the One who knows you and sees you and loves you.
“that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-18
One final note: Please reach out to ask others to be involved in your journey. This is a hard enough road as it is, and it isn’t meant to be walked alone. You need friends, good friends, and loved ones to come alongside you, even if they don’t say the right thing or they can’t relate. Don’t go inward. Don’t shut others out. Let others into your story, let them be there to walk with you in your sorrow, let them share with you in your time of waiting, and by His grace…let them be there with you if the time should come for you to celebrate and rejoice!
With all love,