While searching for decent poetry material to share a couple of weeks ago for my poetry meeting, I found an interesting journal entry. It was a list titled "Moments I am grateful for in my life that I never thought I'd be grateful for..."
Number four on the list says this:
"The moment I lay on an ultrasound table, searching with my midwife for the flicker of a heartbeat and hearing the words: I'm sorry, there's no heartbeat. Surrendering to this experience tore me wide open. In the years since, gallons of years of unacknowledged grief have come spilling out of the hole created by that moment. Grace, compassion, gratitude and joy have come rushing in to the void."Miscarriage was, for me, a heart-wrenching experience. At the time, I wrote this:
"It was a difficult truth to face. My baby’s beginnings of a body would not, could not be a recognizable embryo with legs and arms and face. She had barely begun to develop those characteristics when she died. She had stopped growing at around five weeks, even though my hope of her had not died for eight weeks, when I lay on an ultrasound table looking at her lifeless form. My hope that somehow my dates were wrong, that the ultrasound technician was wrong, that I’d misunderstood him hadn’t died until the day I sat in my bathtub, blood streaming from my body. And even after that day, I had still been growing her in my mind. I was nine and a half weeks pregnant, surely she had continued growing to be a nine and a half week embryo. Surely her body had stayed as safe and as whole as it was in my mind. She had grown in my mind not only as an embryo, but from a tiny newborn baby and then to a little girl with big blue eyes and bouncing curls.I was talking to my sister, just a little bit, about this experience. I told her that I don't feel much grief over losing my baby anymore. I said that it was probably because I already had three children and have since been blessed with one (almost two) more.
I knew I had to stop growing her, to stop waiting for her, for she had not grown for nearly a month. Her spirit had been with me, was still with me, would continue to be with me. But the healthy, lively body in my imagination had flitted away to a bitter and amorphous reality. There would be no tangible evidence of the very whole and beautiful child I had lost."
But that is only partly true. Yes, my hands and heart are full to bursting with the blessing of these gorgeous children I am inexplicably privileged to raise. But really, the loss of that little one, so real only to me, is not really eased by the gift of my four other children any more than losing Coco would be eased by the fact that I still have Kaitybean and Scud and Mashuga.
So, I suppose that's the bad news. The crying tapers off. It gets easier. But every once in a while, there's still a little pain. Or at least the reminder of pain.
But the good news is found in Isaiah:
"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness: that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified." Isaiah 61:3Words like these can be cold comfort during times of loss and sadness. But they are true, nonetheless. The Lord always gives more than is taken from us. The recompense is not always what we expect it to be, or when we expect it to be. But it always comes.
"For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody." Isaiah 51:3
"Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away." Isaiah 51:11
For me, it has come in the form of peace, a settled feeling that all is well and as it should be. When I think about that time, I just can't feel the pain as clearly anymore because it has been so deeply overcome by the joy, gladness, thanksgiving and praise that have filled that place.
There are many amazing, good, courageous women who have struggled with infertility and with miscarriage. It wouldn't be fair for me to say, from my one experience with loss, that I understand exactly how they feel. I don't. I hope and pray that comfort will come for them in the form of arms and hearts bursting with love for the children they get to raise. Even if it does, I hope even more that the sweet feeling of recompense that comes only from opening up to the love offered by the Savior and our Heavenly Father will bless them as deeply as it has blessed me.