Warning: This post is real and one part sad, one part hopeful.
On November 15th, 2015 I left the hospital empty-handed. Physically not having a baby in my arms is devastating. And I imagine it will only continue to grow more and more devastating, especially as I get closer and closer to my due date. But right now, what is so devastating to me, is how empty I feel on the inside.
I absolutely hate, hate, hate how flat my stomach is. It is a constant reminder that the sweet little life that was once growing in there is no longer there. One of the hardest things about my miscarriage has been the feeling of emptiness I have. And it's constant. I may not always be consciously thinking about it, but it's always lurking around my mind, threatening tears often.
I read a quote the week I miscarried that said, "You are missing from me." And I love how simply it described exactly how I feel. Something that once was, has gone missing.
It's hard to explain to others. But when you are pregnant you just have this special feeling, you just know. It feels amazing to think that there is a baby miraculously growing inside of you. It adds a whole new dimension of life to your current life. And it is so gut-wrenching to have that life ripped out of your womb. It disgusts me. It saddens me. I feel like I am just a millimeter away from being cast into a pit of despair every time I think about it. The thought hits me many times throughout the day that I am no longer pregnant even though I should be, and that thought causes a sadness that I can't describe.
It just seems so unfair.
I try not to let my thoughts go here, but if I'm being honest, sometimes I wonder why that 16-year-old girl got to have a perfect baby and I didn't. Or why that couple who is living together out of wedlock has multiple healthy children and we don't have any. Or why that married couple who doesn't believe in or serve God has a houseful of healthy kids. It just doesn't seem fair. We did everything "right" and I feel like we're being punished, while those who conceived their baby in sin, or are at least living in sin, are being rewarded. But I know life isn't fair. And it's not that simple. And I get mad at myself for even having those thoughts because deep down I know they are ridiculous and unfair to ask myself or God.
First Corinthians 10:13 says:
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
Sometimes I think this means that God knows the amount you can bear before you give up on Him. And I am so thankful that the Lord has opened my eyes enough to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can still trust Him even through the hardest of things. But with that enormous blessing comes an enormous burden at times.
And just in case you were wondering, there is only one way to escape, but He WILL always make a way to escape something so that you can bear it. The escape route is narrow, but it leads right back to Him. When you lean on Him, you can bear a burden you never thought you could.
With that being said, it is still hard. God didn't promise it would be easy, and I never expected it to be easy. But I also didn't expect it to be this hard.Hard is hard, but hard is not always bad.
Before I had a miscarriage my heart was hardened in some ways. I thought women who experienced child loss at a later stage in pregnancy or even after their child was born, were so above women who had a miscarriage. I got angry when people confused terms such as infant loss and miscarriage, and felt the need to defend and clarify how different the two were.
And I'm here to say that they are still different. But a loss is a loss. The Lord is showing me that and really softening my heart toward miscarriages. I wish so, so, so badly that my miscarriage would've happened later in pregnancy so that my baby would've looked like a baby and not just a blob of tissue. Even more than that, I wish I could have delivered my child and shared even just one second of my life with her as she breathed on her own without my life sustaining her's. I wish I had a birth certificate to prove her existence.
But I don't. And I honestly believe if I were fortunate to have one of the scenarios I described above that my heart would've only hardened even more towards women who are heartbroken and grieving deeply about their miscarriages. I would've become self righteous about my loss; that it was a much deeper loss. I would have become indignant any time someone tried to compare my loss to a miscarriage.
So as much as I wish I could've met my sweet little one, the Lord is teaching me something through that desire and showing me why He couldn't have granted it.
And now Christmas is only three days away and I'm feeling depressed. It's hard celebrating anything, let alone the birth of a child, when you just lost your child. And I don't mean that it's hard to celebrate Jesus, but it's hard hearing everyone singing and talking about birth. If I'm being honest, it makes me cringe just a little.
I used to get so excited with anticipation; wondering what gifts I would receive and hardly being able to wait to give loved ones the gifts I bought for them. But this year I'm excited to get past all of that. I'll be grateful for whatever I receive, but for the first time in my life I understand what people mean when they say that the older you get, the smaller your Christmas list becomes and the more you want things that can't be bought. I used to think that was so obnoxiously cliche. But I have such a longing in my soul this Christmas for a baby and that longing will not go away even if I get a brand new house for Christmas.
And this brings me right back to Advent. Advent and Christmas are two different things. Advent is the longing that existed before the precious hope that we have in Jesus was born.
My friend recently gave me the book Bittersweetby Shauna Niequist. In the book, she describes what a "thin place" is according to the Celtic mystics: "A thin place is a place where the boundary between the natural world and the supernatural one is more permeable -- thinner, if you will." She explains that a thin place can be a physical place, but that many aren't places at all, rather, a circumstance, a state of being, or a season. And she says that Christmas is a thin place. I completely agree. It's the one time of the year that people who usually don't think about God and His Son, actually might think about them.
She then went on to say that Christmas can be "doubly thin" as it is a thin place, but also a different kind of thin place; one of loss.
But then she said something that gave me permission to continue grieving through this doubly thin season:
There are years when the Christmas spirit is hard to come by, and it's in those seasons when I'm so thankful for Advent. Consider it a less flashy but still very beautiful way of being present to this season. Give up for a while your false and failing attempts at merriment, and thank God for thin places, and for Advent, for a season that understands longing and loneliness and long nights. Let yourself fall open to Advent, to anticipation, to the belief that what is empty will be filled, what is broken will be repaired, and what is lost can always be found, no matter how many times it's been lost.
Reading that paragraph gave me permission to not feel okay. Up until I read that I felt like I was being annoying and overreacting, possibly even being a little bit blasphemous with my lack of cheer for this season.
But this season is hard for many. And for the first time in 24 years it's hard for me. I now get why some people feel a little bitter this time of year, or don't attend all of the fun festive activities. While I'm not bitter, I can certainly see why some might be, and "antisocial" is a great word to describe the past few weeks of my life.
So I'm focusing on Advent this year to help myself realize that this terrible empty ache that I feel will one day be replaced with something wonderful.