Thursday, January 31, 2008

Peaks and Valleys

Well, there's something I've been trying to decide whether to share here, but I think I will, in the hopes that someone else will be comforted or encouraged. And I'd love your prayers.

On New Year's Eve, I found out some momentous news--I was pregnant.

I've never felt so ambivalent about a pregnancy before. If we weren't in the midst of selling our house and moving this spring (we hope, we hope, we hope!), I'd have been in delighted shock. As it was, I was just in shock.

Oh, Lord, how can I possibly handle one more thing? My husband is working two jobs, consuming all his energy and then some. Homeschooling with two in high school has increased my load and my stress so much. Now, looking at more painting and cleaning and de-cluttering and then keeping a house perfect for months on end... And this "one more thing" being something that will sap all my energy and strength... What are you doing, Lord? We know others--friends and family members--who are praying, begging, for another child, and we weren't even open to this gift. Yet here it is.

And slowly, the gift-ness of it began to sink in. Our kids paved the way, with their excitement and anticipation. We talked about how much more help I would need from them, and they were ready to step up and take on the responsibility. My 15-year-old daughter, who I thought might be the one most likely to be embarrassed or upset by the added demands on her, blessed me so much by being absolutely thrilled at the news.

We only shared the news with a few friends. It was a little embarrassing--we had talked like we were done. It would be painful for some to hear; they wanted children, or more children, so badly. Family would be worried and concerned. I was aware that, at my age, my chances of miscarrying were higher than they'd ever been. So we thought it best to wait to spread the news.

I started having nausea and fatigue--a good sign, though it added to my overall stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. I was keeping up with homeschooling, but having trouble fitting in anything extra, including getting our house ready to put back on the market. (You may have noticed I haven't posted as much this month.)

Though the morning sickness was reassuring, I began to sense that something wasn't quite right. I wasn't waking up at night having to go to the bathroom. And my jeans still fit. I'm always disappointed by how quickly my normal jeans just aren't comfortable anymore, due to bloating and other digestive discomforts. But this time, my normal jeans remained comfortable. Week after week. Too long, I thought.

When I started having a tiny bit of spotting--less than I've had in other pregnancies--I used that as an excuse to call my doctor and say that something wasn't quite right. And because he's the kind of doctor who listens to moms who've been through this a few times, he had me come straight in for bloodwork and an ultrasound. I was 8 weeks along.

But the baby only measured 6.5 weeks. And it had no heartbeat. And there was this other shadow: Twins?

Five days later, we repeated the ultrasound. With a clearer picture this time: No, not twins. Measuring more like 6 weeks. heartbeat.

In between the two ultrasounds, I had asked friends about having a D & C or not. One close friend, who is also a nurse, surprised me with her answer. She thinks there is an emotional price to be paid for a D & C. Like an abortion, a D & C would "take care of it" medically. With a D & C, as in an abortion, my baby's tiny body would be sucked and sliced and cut up, and I would never see it.

In the natural way of things, she said (with the emotion of experience), a woman can see and even hold the tiny body where a soul, for a short time, resided within her. She can know this child, a little bit, this side of heaven and grieve its passing in a way that is difficult to do without a body, however small. (Granted, she said, that if weeks and weeks go by, a D & C may be necessary--but by then the body starts decomposing.)

My friend also said that her neighbor had been told the same thing as me: her baby was dead, and she needed the D & C. But she kept refusing...and that baby is 10 years old now!

Now, I have no hope that this baby is alive. I'm feeling less pregnant each day, and have had enough cramping over the past few days to believe I'm going to miscarry. As I said, I've been sensing something was wrong for the past few weeks.

So I am a train wreck of conflicting emotions. Very sad--but not depressed. A little bit relieved--and feeling guilty for feeling relieved. Glad that it wasn't twins. (Two seemed so much harder to lose than one.) Praying for the miscarriage to happen soon--but afraid of miscarrying. Worry that I'll lose it next week at a dress rehearsal or performance of Godspell! (What will my makeup co-chair do without me? There's just the two of us this time. What if I start hemorrhaging?.... --Someone will drive me to the hospital, and my co-chair will draft some more help. It'll be fine. God will work it all out.) Dealing with my kids' disappointment as well as my own. Surprise at the depth of my husband's grief. Feeling guilty for my own ambivalence early on.

"Oh, Jeanne," one friend said compassionately, "just what you needed--more waiting and uncertainty in your life these days!"

And a letter from my aunt, telling me that my departed grandmother used to say, "Well, Romans 8:28 is still in the Book."

And it is:

Romans 8:28 "For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose."

I think I shall be quoting Grandmother often.


Amy said...


Anonymous said...

I am so sorry. Wish I could give you a real hug!

Jen in Seattle

Anne Kennedy said...

I'm learning this week that God has to 'work good' because they aren't that way on their own. We mess things up, sin messes things up, illness, suffering, hardship, death--all these things God works together for good, fixes them for good, which is why sometimes it takes a while to be able to see it. Many prayers. Many many prayers.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Jeanne, you will be in our prayers, you and Eirik and your fam. I'm so sorry.

Bronwen said...

Brings back a sad memory...our little angel, like you an early loss...I can so relate to your nurse friend's advice... however hard it is to experience, it is a cathartic process of grieving for such as small and yet precious soul... my comfort came in knowing that:

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
(psalm 139 v 15&16)

However short those days were ordained to be, that soul was known and loved and cherished by our father. He called it to come back to him sooner than you would have hoped,but we are mere mortals finding it hard at times to fathom the greater picture...
My love and heartfelt prayers are with you and your whole chicken coop of a family!
Take care and God bless.

Megan (FriedOkra) said...

I love your Grandmother's quote. I may have to use that myself - it's so practical and even a little bit Steel Magnolia-esque. But monumentally CORRECT. I'm so sorry about the pregnancy, Jeanne. My prayers are all over your family daily. Hugs - M

elaine@bloginmyeye said...

"Oh, Jeanne," one friend said compassionately, "just what you needed--more waiting and uncertainty in your life these days!"

Wow. This really struck me.

Thank you for sharing so openly. I'm sorry you're going through this. But, like you, I'm glad Romans 8:28 is still in the book. (This one's a keeper)

God bless you and yours.

Kate said...

Oh Jeanne, I am so, so sorry to hear your sad news. Please know that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Linds said...

I am here too to add my prayers for you all, and to say how sad I am to hear the news. I also miscarried early in a pregnancy, and I often think of the baby who might have been.
I love your Grandmother's quote. She is so right. God bless you all, Jeanne. Big hugs.

Anonymous said...

We have been and continue to keep praying. I will not pretend to understand since I have never been through this, but I do know that as I go through other very difficult things this season, His strength is made perfect in my weakness and I long to keep learning and growing in Him. I know this is your heart's desire as well and I know He will use this to that end, because you are open and your heart is soft.

hopeinbrazil said...

Jeanne, thank you for sharing your heart. Thank the Lord for his patience with our ambivalent feelings. He understands us perfectly! I'm praying for you today.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jeanne,

I am so sorry to hear of this loss. No doubt another Bantam or Chick from you and Eirik would brighten this world. You are in our prayers. Nancy and I made the mistake of saying, "We're all here now." after #3. Now we rejoice in our five each day. Still, more children in mid-life would require lots of prayer. So we certainly understand your mixed feelings, and of course the sense of loss after preparing your hearts to welcome this little one. How very Christian of you to let this wee one come into this world the way he or she entered it, through the loving womb of mother.

In Our Prayers,

Mario and Nancy

At A Hen's Pace said...

Thanks, everyone for your words of comfort and your prayers. I told a friend today that I can FEEL the prayers for me, like a comforting, warm blanket around my shoulders.

Bless the Lord.

Jill said...

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I had a similar experience. My husband was out of a job and I was totally shocked to be pregnant. I cried out to God asking him why and how and all those questions. Then, just as I had accepted it and began to be excited...I miscarried. In the midst of grief I also felt guilt for how I had felt in those early days. Like your grandmother I hung on to that verse in Romans.

It was a very sad time and it happened the week before Easter. Just after Easter I was sitting in my room and I looked out my window and was struck at the beauty of the sonshine and the signs of spring and somewhere in my heart a voice said, "it's alright, you will be alright." And I was. I'll never know why, but I can rest in the knowledge that whatever God does he does for the good.

I'll be saying a prayer for you tonight.

Jamie said...

Jeanne, I'm so very sorry to hear about the loss of your baby. My thoughts were with you today (I read your post earlier), and I will continue to pray that God will sustain you and your family in the coming days and weeks.

Jenny in Ca said...


I am so sorry. Praying for you my hen friend. Please don't be so harsh with yourself, God knew all your thoughts and conflicting emotions, and yet loves with an everlasting love, and the best part of all, He gives grace...He is grace.

rest your tired body and rest your weary soul in the care of the Father.

Jenny {{{{hugs}}}}

Kerry - A Ten O'Clock Scholar said...


I am praying for you and have been. And will continue. I'm glad you shared this on the blog so that we can pray for you and wrap you in kind words. See - the body of Christ even here on the internet. Amazing!


Anonymous said...

A little late here since I just now read your blog. Just wanted to telling you I'm very sorry for your loss and will be praying for you. {{hugs}}

Amy said...

I'm so sorry - praying for you.

Amy said...

i have just found your blog and wanted to say how sorry I am for you and your family.
When I was pregnant with my first I was so scared of miscarrying until God reminded me that my body is His temple and if a baby goes straight from a temple on earth to one in heaven that that is (although sad for us)a life well lived.
you are in my prayers.