A few days ago, my husband and I flew to San Diego, my favorite city to visit. I was sitting in the row behind him, almost giddy from excitement, eager for a reprieve from the stress that had plagued me for the last two weeks.
I was beside a woman who was speaking rather loudly on her phone about her friend who was pregnant again. She obnoxiously retorted that her friend’s husband tells her she’s most beautiful when she’s pregnant, “Probably just to get more kids out of her,” she quipped. I kept eavesdropping for a while until I looked over and saw that the woman on the phone was also pregnant.
Then I had an ugly moment.
How come she gets to keep her baby but I don’t? She seems to hate kids. I love them. This isn’t fair.
As soon as the thought came to my head, I felt horribly guilty. I know you’re not supposed to think those things and, when you do, it’s certainly not nice to admit them. But there it was, clear as day: I was jealous.
When my husband and I found out we were expecting — we weren’t surprised. Sure, I had the shocked moment of staring at the test, hands shaking, eyes wide, motherhood looming over me. But even though Phillip and I had only been married for a month, I’d grown up hearing my dad joke about his and my mom’s efficiency (I was born ten months after they were married). Not to mention, I grew up in a church community where children follow marriage as inexorably as night follows day. Two of my friends and their husbands who were married earlier than I was just welcomed newborns a week apart last year.
I debated over whether to tell anyone we were expecting, knowing that the risk of miscarriage is highest during the first trimester. For my husband, it was a no-brainer: Let people rejoice with us while we rejoice. And if there’s mourning, we’ll mourn together (Romans 12:15). I still waited two weeks before making it public but told my friends and coworkers the news right away.
And then I started worrying.
I am a worrier by nature, and the nail-biting extended to my new pregnancy. I spent six weeks waking up in night sweats, afraid that something had happened to my baby — the little-bitty blueberry who I already loved so much. Then, during the seventh week, I felt I had arrived at a safer place. I was calmer, able to enjoy my changing body and the wonder of the child growing inside.
I didn’t know that by then my baby’s heart had stopped beating.
When the ultrasound informed us, I felt the biggest gut-pain I had ever experienced in my life. It still hurts. It always will, I suppose.
What’s It For?
The worst thing that I had imagined happening for the past few weeks happened two weeks ago. I lay on the floor in our apartment hurting physically, emotionally, and spiritually, battling more pain in every way than I had ever felt, and I screamed, “Why?”
I’m a “good Christian girl” from a “good Christian family,” so I know not to ask, “Why me?” Yes, of course, I deserve death, hell, and the grave (Romans 3:23). In those hardest moments, the Sunday school answer that I was doing “better than I deserved” echoed within me. But still, I couldn’t help but feel cheated.
Here I was in excruciating pain, tears streaming — for a baby that caused me so much joy in such a short span of time — a baby I would never get to hold.
The minute I found out I was pregnant, I became anxious to meet the little person who the Lord had blessed me to mother. I wondered about his or her future, his or her place in my home, his or her impact on our lives. I grew to love that person more and more every day.
I love children. I grew up around them, I teach them, I want a household full of them. I couldn’t wait to be a mother — I couldn’t wait to care for my own child. But now my child was dead. I felt like the psalmist, “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?” (Psalm 30:9). Sometimes we cannot help but ask: God, what are you doing?
His Undaunted Purpose
Even in that excruciating pain, the Lord’s suffering on my behalf came to bear.
And I don’t mean I sat there singing “Amazing Grace” while waves of pain and grief flooded my heart. It was far from a pretty sight. I cried out to God — literal, guttural cries — and felt close to the suffering Savior who had experienced even more excruciating pain for me, not because he lost a child, but because he gave his all to bring lost children home.
He gives purpose to our suffering (Romans 8:28). My miscarriage didn’t happen in a vacuum. Both my baby and I were created in God’s image, designed for his glory. My intentions for my child’s life were not the Lord’s intentions, and my timetable was not his timetable. He chose for that tiny person’s purpose to be fulfilled through seven weeks of life. He chose for my purpose to be further revealed through the death of that little one.
He chose me to be my child’s mother for seven weeks. He chose for my husband and me to learn to walk together through the hormonal hazes, for my husband to show sacrificial love to his weary wife. He chose for us to walk through sorrow together, and to proclaim his greatness even through our pain (Job 13:15).
I got to be a mom. It was only for a moment, but it was a beautiful moment. I hope I get to be a mom again, but even if that doesn’t happen, God is good. And his purposes for me are sure. My little slice of motherhood continues to show me different angles of God’s good character and things about myself that I could never have learned without my baby. For that, I’m grateful. God is the Author of life and the only all-satisfying one. He will fulfill his purpose for us (Psalm 57:2) and, by that, I am comforted.
I’ve been in Atlanta all week with my husband. We’re here half for ministry (for me), part for work (for him), and part for some quality time with just us two. We left on the heels of hosting my family all the way from Zambia. In fact, seven of my siblings, my mom, and my dad are back in our eighteen hundred square foot home with our sons. I should be laying in a hotel bed binging Parks and Rec with my husband. And I will be soon. But I have something to say about motherhood and mom guilt.
A few months ago, I wrote an article for Legacy about friendship. In it, I tried to be as honest as possible about the struggle of being a transplant in Mississippi’s foreign culture, and my own hang-ups with making new friends. I hit send. Weeks passed. A couple of months. Then the article went live. And I had more than one friend reach out to me and ask me if we were okay. “I thought we were friends!” Undercover Trust Issues I’m not a journaler, and I try not to use my articles as thinly veiled diary entries. However, there…