When I Became a Mother
Well, my friend, it's time.
This post has been sitting in my drafts for a few months now, I just haven't felt quite ready to share it.
You know I'm committed to being real and authentic, but somehow this felt too real to talk about. Until now.
I've been thinking, why else would God give me these words to write? Why else would he call me to walk this path?
Sanctification, refinement, growth - yes. But also, I believe, to encourage and to bear burdens with my sisters.
My husband and I lost our first, precious baby in February 2018. Miscarriage is something I never thought I would go through, but I am constantly reminded that God has a good and perfect plan for me. Great is his faithfulness.
So, today, I want to finally lay it out.
Because it's hard.
Because this is real life.
Because I want you to know, dear one, you are not alone in your grief if this is your story too.
This is not how I pictured my first Mother's Day. I'm sure many mamas can relate.
I thought my child would be growing strong in my belly, or snuggled safely in my arms - not in heaven.
I thought my heart would be full to the brim with joy.
Instead it feels hollow and deflated from loss.
But I don't grieve without hope - and I hope you don't either.
I have hope because God is mighty.
He is the broken heart binder.
He walks with me through the valley of death.
He is the great Redeemer - of wicked hearts and empty wombs.
Friend, if you too are mourning this Mother's Day, take heart.
God is grieving with you, and so am I.
But I pray you grieve with hope and remember, you are a mama.
And this is not the end of your story.
I know I am a mother before I see the two pink lines.
There is a certain kind of weight in my body. It’s new and different.
It stretches and already fills the gap between my thighs, the waistline of my jeans, and a new, untouched place in my heart.
It’s mysterious and terrifying and wonderful all at the same time.
We know for sure now, and we keep it a secret – for the most part – tucking it close, savoring the joy, trying not to let it spill out too much, not just yet.
What if something happens? Nothing will happen. We are young and strong and healthy. God gave us this blessing. The timing is so perfect.
The fear lurks in the corner of my mind, but I tell myself nothing will happen. Everything will be fine.
And I believe it.
I rest my hand on my belly. Knowing a tiny, but so very real, soul is growing there sends a thrill through my entire being.
So this is what it is to become a mother.
My body and my heart ache to know and hold my child, to nourish it, to kiss its cheeks and smell its skin.
Nine more months. Enjoy these moments – you’ve waited for them for so long.
I feel so aware of the life inside of me. I am thankful for the tiredness and the fact that I don’t want to eat sweets because it means the tiny babe is getting what it needs to be strong and healthy.
We tell a few people. They share our joy and excitement.
We can’t wait to tell our families. They will be so surprised.
We are already planning on visiting them. It’s so perfect, they don’t suspect a thing.
Ryan has an idea for the announcement and we frame it. He is getting excited and we are enjoying conversations about names and October and the holidays and the future with this precious child.
We are going to be parents. We are parents.
Something is wrong.
There’s a little bit of blood.
I tell myself that’s normal, everything is fine. It’s not enough to worry about.
But I do worry. This doesn’t feel right.
I don’t know what to do or who to call. Someone can fix it. Someone has to fix it.
I cry a lot on this day. Someone talks to me about miscarriage and statistics and how most babies don’t make it. Fear overwhelms me.
This can’t be happening. It’s not supposed to be like this.
I finally talk to a nurse. We are going out of town tomorrow so they can’t see me until next week.
We’ll go in next week. Ryan can come with me and we’ll see a heartbeat.
The timing is perfect. Everything will be fine. I’m overreacting.
But there is concern in her voice. It practically screams at me.
My heart and my body sink to the floor and I plead with God.
Don’t take my baby.
I’ve wanted him for so long and he’s finally coming.
Don’t take him away from me. Please, let me keep him.
A strange peace washes over me that night.
I am humbled and reminded that this is not my child, not really.
I am only a steward of it.
I can only care for and love my child as God calls me to for as long as he allows.
Three weeks. Three or thirty years. A lifetime.
I finally feel myself letting go. I didn’t realize how tightly I was holding onto a thing that’s not even mine.
I finally rest.
We drive to California. There is more blood.
All I want is to never live this day. It feels like the worst bad dream.
This can’t be happening to me. Not to me.
My heart and my body are in so much pain that I feel numb.
We get to my parents’ house.
I try to act like things are fine, but I’ve never been good at that.
My stomach hurts and I can hardly eat. I smile and laugh but it feels hollow and fake.
We tell them.
I had imagined the conversation so differently. Hugs and laughter. Tears of joy. Plans for the future.
Instead there is such an immense sorrow.
There is more blood.
My belly cramps. My back and sides are on fire. I can hardly move.
My whole existence aches and I know the life I’ve been carrying is already gone.
The grief is so overwhelming that I feel like my body is being turned inside out.
I cry and the tears won’t stop.
I don’t try to stop them this time.
It’s a strange thing to live through death in your own body.
It makes you feel so hollow and alone.
It makes you feel aged and soul-weary far beyond your years.
I only knew that little life for a few weeks – and even then, I didn’t really know it.
The heart didn’t even have a chance to beat below mine.
Who are you, little soul?
What color are your eyes?
What strengths did God give you?
What makes you laugh?
Do you love the land like your daddy and the summer like your mama?
I’m able to get up and act like a human.
Everyone is asking me how I am and I say fine. I have never told a bigger lie in my life.
But what words can I say to explain the agony I feel?
Of course I’m not fine. My child died inside of my body. My heart is breaking. This is not what I wanted.
I want to shout this, but I don’t. I know it won’t help.
Instead I say I’m okay and it makes me feel like a robot.
Weeks pass and the grief still hangs on to me, dragging me down.
How can I mourn so deeply for someone I've never met?
There are good days and bad days.
I feel so many things -- sorrow, anger, confusion, bitterness, fear, doubt, jealousy.
Sometimes I hate myself for the things I think and feel, but I am slowly learning to acknowledge those things, let them go, and move on.
I realize that it's ok to let it out.
To cry the tears, to pray the prayers, to feel the feelings.
So I do.
A dear friend gives me an aloe plant.
The card says ...sometimes healing comes through brokenness.
I'm not sure I believe that all the way, but something in me holds on to it.
The leaves turn brown and shrivel up and I think it's dying.
How fitting. Just like my baby. Just like my heart.
But then, somehow, I become determined.
I break off the dying spears and strip the little plant bare.
This is for your good, trust me. I am caring for you. I will give you what you need.
I give it a little water and lots of sun and I wait.
It sits by the blue chair where I read my Bible every morning. We are both just trying to make it.
Now the healing starts.
Slowly, almost timidly at first, but it's there all the same.
Small, but welcome and waited for.
The aloe grows new shoots and my heart is bound up.
Sisters share my burden.
Prayers cover this season.
Encouragement in many forms sinks deep.
I have never been so aware of God speaking through people as I am now.
The future stands tall and intimidating in front of me.
I wonder what it holds.
I don't want to walk this road again, but what if I do? What if that is my story?
And what if it's not?
Will I have the strength either way?
I have lots of questions, and there are things I don't understand, but I hold onto this and that is enough:
"But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
'The LORD is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.'
The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.
Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him;
let him put his mouth in the dust -- there may yet be hope;
let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults.
For the LORD will not cast off forever,
but, though he cause grief,
he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men."