Rejoice With Those Who Rejoice

I’m sure we’ve all heard or just somehow “known” the unspoken rule- do not announce your pregnancy until you are at least 12 weeks. Well, I’m not sure what Bible verse they use to back it up, but I have looked through almost all of them regarding pregnancy and loss- and there isn’t one.

I remember my very first baby loss, of baby Noah. I was 11 weeks along, and I had just announced the happy news to the Facebook world three days prior. I had four living, perfect children, and I thought that it wasn’t even a threat at this point. I was devastated. While I sobbed, one person mentioned, “You shouldn’t have told everyone. . .

Obviously, they meant nothing harmful at this statement. But I still remember it, five and a half years later. They were so, so, wrong.

I could not have gotten through that period of grief without people. One lady, that I would never have even thought to call, showed up at my door with flowers and a hug. Another, brought chopped vegetables to “throw at the kids” (I thought that was so clever) and a precious tea cup. Others messaged me or texted. I didn’t feel embarrassed at all. There was a baby, a sweet, amazing baby inside me, and he or she died and we don’t know why. That is devastating, to anyone who actually believes in the value of life. The people who showered me with love and prayer were literally God’s hands in my days, whether they know that or not, and they were not my close family or friends. They were women who had walked this path and knew what it entailed. To this day, when I think of them, I’m so humbled.

The second loss, we had decided to wait until Christmas to surprise the kids. What a cute memory that will be. Until it wasn’t, and baby Jordan left us as fast as he or she came, at around seven weeks. No one knew we were expecting, so I juggled the physical and emotional pain, with seven children and various activities, while my hubby had his wisdom teeth extracted with tremendous complications. What a time that was. Eventually I told a few friends, but it was a very alone, cold, and broken time. We had to tell the kids at this point so they would know why things were hard at home. They were devastated, and bummed that we hadn’t told them in the first place.

The third one, I didn’t wait that long. I was so, so, so sick and believe me, looked pregnant at like 13 days. I feel like I’ve gotten a bit of confidence now. I was so excited for this precious baby. We told family and friends right away, and told everyone else around 10 weeks. I think my hubby announced it at church around 8 weeks? I’m so thankful for our church family, because they hooted, hollered and congratulated us and made this baby their own. I could have waited until the hallowed 12, but it didn’t really matter because our baby didn’t die until way after that. So I still had to un-tell everyone anyways.

The point is- it’s a life, or it’s not.

It’s a baby; a beautiful gift from the Father- or it’s not.

We wonder why the world doesn’t believe that babies are babies, but we act like they aren’t until a specific undisclosed time. But what if they die early on? Yeah, what if?! And now we expect mamas to go through this alone? What a horrible, awful message we send to young moms. So then, the underlying message is, maybe only tell only a few friends or specific family. That’s all well and fine, but what if they can’t give you the support you need? I love my friends dearly, but most of them are in the same, busy season that I am. The ones I really needed the most were the ones a life stage or two ahead of me. Unfortunately, they can also be the ones that dictate the unspoken rules.

The first twelve weeks can be the absolute hardest. Sickness, fatigue, fear, and the constant loom that this baby may not make it- but you are all on your own. I don’t think that this is what God intends for new life, and for family life within the church at large. I think all life is God-breathed and created for a purpose. Yes. Babies die before the end of the first trimester. They also can die during the second trimester. Sometimes- I’ve heard so many sad, quiet, stories- they die at birth. Death is here. And it will be, until He comes again. So, I think we should celebrate when we can.

If you are expecting- or when you are- and you want to keep it under wraps- absolutely! You go ahead and do that! This is your special time, and you get to decide. Everyone is different, and some people are private. You do you, always.

But I know too many ladies, and more every week, that tell me their stories, and how they suffered all alone. I can see it in their eyes- the pain, the unspoken grief, and the bitterness at being on their own at such a sad, awful time. My heart simply breaks for them. And these are ladies who attend churches that believe babies are formed at conception, and that they must be protected. Some of them were sooo excited and couldn’t wait to tell everyone! But they didn’t, because what if the baby dies? Then it would be so. . . What?

I ask you?

Embarrassing? Hard? Triggering?

Yes, it’s hard. It’s hard to value life. To laugh when it comes, and cry when it leaves. It is very hard. It is so, so hard. It’s literally against our very culture to celebrate life, because it isn’t considered to actually be of value. But like I tell my children, and often, the hard stuff is where the blessing lies. Don’t be afraid of the hard.

So, if you are expecting something precious, and want to shout from the rooftops what God has done for you, DO IT! Do NOT be afraid! And if you want me to celebrate with you, I will bring the wine herbal tea. There is nothing like new life. I will celebrate and pray for you and your baby. If you want to keep it secret, do that! You will remember this season for your whole life. Do whatever you wish. But do not let the fear of man (or woman) make your decision for you. God is so good. He is celebrating with you, too.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15

He Lived and Is Loved.

We tried for a few months. All of a sudden, there was an extra line on the test. It was faint- but very there. I tested again a few days later, and it was much darker. There was life.

And then the sickness hit. Like a forceful storm, it covered everything. All-the-things were hard. I was dizzy and nauseous. Stuff around the house went undone. I cried in frustration. The weeks went by. We saw him via ultrasound at 8 weeks. He was a-moving and a-shaking, just like all our other live babies.

We decided to announce his presence. It was a bit before the 12 week mark but I’ve never cared about that *at all.* (That’s a whole other post.) We were so happy. But I was still soooo sick. I started feeling little flutters and movements which made my day.

On my birthday

I needed to know who this was, that was giving me such a hard time! I needed to know his or her name, and just know their identity. I tried two internet blood tests that just didn’t work out for me. After crying and having a total meltdown, Sim booked me in for a gender ultrasound.

It didn’t go as planned. There was no heartbeat; we went to the hospital.

It was confirmed, baby died. I was booked for an induction the following day.

Sim went and picked up our crew from the church where they were being looked after by family. I feel bad that he had to tell them on his own. There was a lot of crying and sadness. I drove myself home, stopping at Walmart on the way. I picked out a special blanket to wrap my baby in, and bought myself the same one for the kids to snuggle at home.

I went home, to a dark, cold house, with a dark, cold tummy. I ran a bath, and weeped. Absolutely weeped. I am TERRIFIED of labour. I’ve avoided induction every time, even being way overdue.

For weeks, whenever the labour fears started to creep in, I would ask Sim. “I’m strong, right?” And he would laugh and say, “Oh yeah.” Obviously, I only mean strong in God’s power and might. I can do none things on my own. That’s just a given. But God and I have gone through over 100 hours of labour together, two hemorrhages, and so many things that scare me when I think too much. I was already afraid to birth this baby, even at week four. I kept repeating, over and over: “I’m strong, right?”

Well, now my baby has died and I have to go through ALL the stuff that scares me most- and with no life in the end. No joy, no sweetness. No new baby smell. Nothing. Just emptiness. No fingers to hold, no toes to count.

We got to the hospital at 8am, the labour and delivery ward. When I went to the desk to check in, all the ladies stood up in a line to greet me and said “Hello, Sandra. We are so sorry.” They were literally the kindest people I’ve ever met. We were escorted to a room with a purple butterfly on the door. Everyone who entered knew what it stood for, and were gentle with their tones and just so sweet. They wheeled in a cart with hot chocolate, coffee, teas, baking and chips. I laughed- I could drink as much coffee as I want, I guess. We could help ourselves all day, along with the hospital meals brought at lunch and dinner.

They started the induction at 11:30- four pills inserted high into my cervix. The OB looked like one of my friends, which made me trust her right away. I requested the full of buffet of pain relief, in case I wanted it. I’ve delivered all my babies naturally, but I had no desire to take one for the team this time. I had to lay still for thirty minutes to an hour after each round. Sim and I watched TV on his laptop, and cried and laughed alternately. Four hours later, it was repeated. And again. It got more painful each time. I heard a baby cry down the hall. There’s nothing like that sound.

My tummy started to ache. I was expecting contractions and heavy cramping, and instead I was just freezing cold and screaming hot alternately. My abdomen ached, but there wasn’t really a break in between, like contractions. It was just a constant hurt. I don’t think my pain threshold was all that high, though. I really was being a sucky. I’ve been through a lot worse, with two spine surgeries, etc. But everything just hurt.

They offered me the pain relief or sleeping aids around 9:30. I didn’t think it was “that bad” though, because I didn’t think it had really started. I asked how long the genuine labour would take when it got going. “Six hours?” I asked. “Hopefully. . . .” My nurse responded. It can go in any direction, there’s not much for predicting. I turned down all the meds, expecting it to get worse and wanting to have options available.

Around ten pm, I started to shut down. I CAN’T DO THIS. I don’t want to be here. I want to go home. I want my kids. I want it to be a week ago. It wasn’t physical pain, but just constant waiting and noticing every twinge and ache and wondering if this was “it.” It all hurt, but not all-encompassing, it was just super uncomfortable and I couldn’t ignore it. I wanted it to be done so bad, but I didn’t want him gone. I was crying and we were watching “Christmas Vacation.” I could feel myself going downhill fast. The nurse brought in a cot for Sim to sleep. They kept mentioning that when it was “go time” we would have to pack it up and make some room. I remembered the tools, the blue paper everything is wrapped up in, the smells of the latex and all the equipment. Ican’tdothis. I remembered all my other labours.

Around 10:40 I went to the bathroom. I felt pressure. When I felt ready to push, I was supposed to tell the nurses so they could get the doctor and have everything ready, start my IV since I’ve hemorrhaged in the past, and put in motion the whole thing that scares me so badly.

As I sat there, I felt God say in the pain of my heart. “Are you ready?”

“Yes.”

I gave just the *tiniest* little push, and felt my baby come out in his sack. I started yelling for Sim, and I just held it there, waiting for another contraction. I knew they were worried about my body retaining the placenta, and I knew the cord could break very easy at this stage of the pregnancy. I waited, hearing the chaos coming down the hall and in my room, and felt my body push on its own the rest of the placenta. I could tell, even without seeing, that everything had come out.

I cried and yelled, “Thank you, Jesus! Thank you! Thank you!” The nurses probably though I had lost my mind. I was crying and just so thankful.

I was thankful I could do it on my own, and not have a whole bunch of people around me with yucky tools. I didn’t have to have a D&C. Seriously, so much of this stuff just freaks me out, and He totally spared me all of it. I am so thankful for His mercy, even when things are terrible.

They brought me back to bed, and the nurse cut the cord. They laid my baby on my chest- just like so many times before. He was so little. He weighed 67 grams and was 15 cm long.

He had two beautiful eyes.

Ten perfect toes, ten teeny fingers.

A look in his face that was totally Elijah.

A big belly.

Sim and I took turns holding him, touching him and thanking Jesus for his life.

The nurses took photos of him. In some, he’s holding a little, white heart that fits perfectly inside a big heart that the hospital gave me to wear around my neck. They weighed him; measured him. Every time they held him, they kept the blanket perfectly straight, adjusting it as needed. They reverently took him from me, and gave him back when they were done. They wheeled him gently in the little cart with a bassinet, carefully and slowly.

Finally, I had all the medicine I needed to not bleed out- not that it was even a thing, just a precaution that they always do to me now. We opted to leave a few hours after his birth, at 2:30 am. Then we could be home with the kids when they woke up.

We held our baby one last time, and replaced him into the bed.

They put a white blanket over his bassinet.

We left, without him.

It hurts.

It hurts, but God is good.

I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.

 Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

(Some excerpts from Psalm 34)