But you shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and water. I will remove sickness from your midst. There shall be no one miscarrying or barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. Exodus 23:25-26
I have been pregnant six times. I have two children who live on earth with me, Jack (5) and Lucy Belle (2). I don’t know my other children yet, the four that I have lost to miscarriage in the past 4 years. They do not live on earth with me.
My son Jack was born on June 2, 2006. I had a pleasant first pregnancy and a beautiful birth.
My first miscarriage happened when Jack was 19 months old. I lost that little one on my wedding anniversary, three days before speaking at our church’s women’s retreat. Of course my pastor gave me the choice not to speak that weekend, but the Lord gave me words. I still remember that weekend as an extravagant offering of worship from somewhere hitherto inaccessible in my being. My women’s pastor prayed with me then and the Lord gave me a picture. I can still see it in my mind. It was a picture of me cradling a newborn baby girl with dark hair, wrapped in a crocheted purple blanket.
11 months later I gave birth to Lucy Belle. She was much tinier than Jack had been, with thick dark hair. I wrapped her in a purple crocheted blanket that Scott’s grandmother had made. Grandma Sue had not known about my picture. But the Lord did.
When Lucy turned one, I was pregnant again. My second loss. Then another, 5 months later. Then another, 3 months after that. My fourth miscarriage was unexpected. I went to my midwife at 7 weeks, expecting an ultrasound to show me a baby with a beating heart. Instead, it showed dark stillness. I could choose a D & C – a surgical procedure to empty me. Instead, I waited for my body to catch on that there was nobody alive inside. I waited five weeks because no part of me could let go. It was my one chance to hold this baby. I wept my way through last year, begging God to secure those babies in my womb. He did not answer that prayer. Stop taking my children, Lord. What is happening? What possible beauty could you bring from this constant heartbreak?
I have watched my sweet friends having more babies, some even reluctantly. I get the questions that well-meaning people often ask, “How old is Lucy now? Are you going to have any more?” I just smile and answer, “We would love to.”
Doctors and midwives usually do not run tests on multiple miscarriages until a woman has had three in a row. My midwife ran mine in January of this year. They found that I have a genetic disorder that makes my body prone to miscarriage. Recurrent miscarriage is one of the only symptoms, along with possible blood clotting issues as I age. I remember one glaring moment in my conversation with my midwife when she gave me the results. There is a treatment regimen, but I cannot explain how you have had two healthy pregnancies and births without that treatment.
So now I am left with a dilemma. When I clear a space in my day to really see my children, it is with awe. I really enjoy them and I adore mothering. But I should not have this life. Jack and Lucy are flesh and blood miracles. That word is grossly overused – we use it for sunsets and green lights on the way to work. I wish there was another word to describe Jack and Lucy, who are actual miracles. They are supernatural events. They should not be. And God gave them to me freely and easily, with no strings and no interventions and no stress, when I took conception and pregnancy for granted. Yes, I had a miscarriage between my children. But lots of women do. I thought I had “put in my time” and now I was home free to procreate at will. He just gave me two children as freebies before I knew what a radiant gift I was receiving. It is dazzling. So so so many women do not have that chance. Those women would not be wrong to call my life an embarrassment of riches. I should be walking on air with joyful gratitude every second.
It is not a small thing to hemorrhage a life.
Along with those babies I was hemorrhaging more. I never wanted anything but mothering. You may resonate with that, or you may be calling me old-fashioned and culturally backward. But my dream, from my earliest days, was to have a big family. Homeschool, carpool, piles of clutter, constant laundry, big batches of soup, getting accidently pregnant and stressing over only having three bedrooms for our five children. I wanted to make giant batches of homemade granola because we couldn’t afford to buy healthy snacks for our giant brood of children. I wanted to be the Old Woman who lived in a shoe. And that has never changed. I keep wanting it. Letting go of my expectation of that life is harder, harder, harder than anything I have ever had to do. Every miscarriage I have grieved that individual little one, along with the dream of my life.
It is not God’s dream for my life.
Somehow I must acknowledge the aching loss while still receiving the mercy of motherhood with gratitude.
So, my dilemma is this. What do I do? I mean, really, is that not that the dilemma of suffering? How do we live with it? There are a myriad of options. And I have chosen this: to worship. I do not feel like worshipping, often. This is still an open wound for us. We are still processing our reality and deciding what our next step is. We have not made any permanent decisions about our family’s future because we simply do not know yet where our dreams leave off and God’s dreams begin. I can say that we have finally decided that God’s dreams are where we settle. His glory and His goodness are interchangeable, so we can trust Him. Someday these raw wounds will be healed and we will simply abide in, instead of battle for, peace. Right now the best I can do is daily seek His face and say thank you for my story. it is not the story i wanted. it is a hard story. i would change it still if i had the power. but i do not. i choose to see You through the eyes of a worshipper. i believe that your Your glory reflects Your goodness. i believe that my lost little ones are safe with You. i can nestle in Your arms, my Abba Daddy, and i can say with the psalmist – “i know, O Lord, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness You have afflicted me. may Your unfailing love be my comfort, according to Your promise to Your servant. let Your compassion come to me that i might live.” Ps. 119:75-77