Saturday, May 9, 2015

I'm a Change in the Making...

Hey world...I'm back again, checking in on how life has been.

Since our loss in March (catch up HERE if you missed it) I've been working on finding my "new normal" and allowing myself to go through the grieving process.  So many things are happening in my head, heart and spirit that I almost don't know where to start this blog.  I guess I'll just start somewhere and hopefully the tangled and cryptic thoughts in my mind will make some sense once it's all out in the open.

Grief is hard.  Grieving the loss of a child is amazingly hard.  Grieving this loss has surprised me.  I say surprised because having never experienced a miscarriage before, and having had a perfect pregnancy with Elizabeth in 2003, I had no idea what this would feel like.  Similar to many life situations until you're actually walking that road, while you certainly can sympathize, or feel bad for someone who is sad, you cannot possibly empathize.

The pain, I can't even describe the pain.  The despair.  The feeling that I've lost something that I waited SO LONG for.  That hopeless feeling that nothing I could have done would have saved my child.  It wasn't meant to be, for now.

The finality of the whole thing and the surging hormones I've experienced over the last month have really made this road a bumpy one.  My body took a few weeks to figure out that I was no longer carrying a baby.  It's almost like it's in shock for that first little bit since I had the surgery and didn't miscarry on my own.  I still had tummy bloat for a few weeks then one day I woke up and it was gone.

There have been several key experiences and events this last 6 weeks that have really carried me along during this time.  One was a long conversation with a dear old friend, we don't get to talk often but when we do, it's like no time has passed since the last conversation.  She allowed me to share my heart, the good, bad and ugly, and she empathized with me, cried with me, and gave me a refreshing feeling of hope again.  Thank you my friend, for that. 

It was a Sunday, which in our house is kind of a big deal (you know, being married to the preacher and all) and I struggled to get myself dressed for church.  I had put on weight, some from pregnancy (chicken and waffles cravings were fierce!) and some from grief eating when Lizzie and I visited my future home (Amelia Island, Florida - before you freak out, that's where I plan to retire).  Anyway once the tummy bloat was gone, it was almost worse.  I was now just fat.  My hips and butt wore the remaining pounds I put on (something like 25 total - it was a bad scene) and I felt hopeless and totally upset.  Add the raging hormones, the typical difficulty that Sunday morning has in store for my family (until we get in there and begin to focus where we need to focus) and I was a MESS that morning.

A friend hugged me and I burst into tears.  I just felt despair.  I was really experiencing depression.  Full on, wish I could go to sleep and not wake up depression.  I haven't felt this way since long before I knew Jesus.  As a teenager I battled depression and suicidal thoughts.  I wasn't quite "there" but felt myself spiraling in a bad direction.  I knew that I needed to climb my way out of this.

I sent Stephen and Lizzie to lunch after church and I had a protein shake and grabbed my kindle.  A devotion I've been working through is called Grieving the Child I Never Knew by Kathe Wunnenberg.  The 6th devotion in that book is titled "Nothing to Show for My Loss."  I read that devotion and it was exactly what I needed on that awful day.

Here is a quote I highlighted:  "You may feel you have nothing to show for your loss but a stack of bills, and out-of-shape body, raging hormones, an incomplete nursery, pain and suffering and empty arms." 

Empty arms.  Yes.  This resonated with me.  As did the medical bills, of course.  And the out of shape body.  Nothing fit right.  My body was not the same. But my arms.  They ached.

Add to that the other physical changes, all of my long beautiful fingernails broke, one by one.  I've never had great nails, but they were amazing when I was pregnant.  I also was struggling with insomnia but thanks to some Valerian root began finding my sleep groove again.  Physically it took me a few weeks to get to where I would work out again, but I continued to be so exhausted (depression does that ya know) and felt like nothing I did mattered.  I kept wondering what I could have done differently to save my baby.  I made a long list of things I did while I was pregnant wondering which one caused my baby to die.  I rode on 6 airplanes (though I never went through the body scanner, I opted for pat downs), ran a 5k at 6 weeks pregnant, continued lifting heavy weights, had my hair colored, and I think I ate gorgonzola cheese by accident one time.  Was it me?  Did I do this?

My 2 week checkup with the OBGYN proved to be good for me.  I went over my laundry list with him trying to pinpoint what happened.  He is a father of 9 children (and shared his wife experienced 3 losses trying to get their last 2 babies here), and he looked at me calmly and said "You didn't do this.  The baby didn't spontaneously miscarry, instead, it got to a certain size and could not continue growing so it was missing what it needed.  Since your body didn't expel the baby we removed it.  There's nothing you physically did or could have done."

I feel like between the conversation with my friend, that devotion the day before and that appointment, something shifted in me.  I knew those things he said, that I read and that she shared, I think, subconsciously, but I needed someone to tell me it was ok, and it was not my fault.  As a woman, you think, my body is MADE for this.  How could I be dysfunctional in the one major thing my body was designed to do?  I also needed to know that it was normal to grieve a baby I never got to meet.  Some people have not known how to communicate with me about this and I don't blame them at all.  But they try to minimize your pain or say something to make you feel better. News flash - NOTHING anyone says to me will make me miss my baby less or soothe my pain.  All you can say is you're continuing to pray for us and think of us.  That helps more than even telling me it was "meant to be." Even if it was.  You wouldn't say that to someone who lost a child on this side of the uterus.  Don't say it to someone who lost a baby they didn't get to meet, either.

The only thing that has truly and totally begun to dig me out of my sadness has been Jesus.  Seriously.  I'm a pastor's wife but I will confess I'm not in the word of God regularly outside of Sunday.  I also have a crazy busy full time traveling job, run my household, workout 5 days a week and cook most of my meals.  Life is busy.  And for too long it's been too busy for God.  Through this He has been beckoning to me and I have nowhere to go but towards Him. 

On an airplane a few weeks ago, I was returning from a trip and on my second flight of the day, wanted to sleep.  It was a short flight, but enough of a catnap to help me rest before the drive home from the airport.  I sometimes talk to people on flights, other times I don't.  Depends on my mood.  I looked to my left and the woman next to me had this tattoo on the inside of her forearm that said HOPE in huge letters. It gripped me that someone who would put this as such a large reminder on their arm probably had some major reason for doing so.  I suddenly began crying (this is a side effect of grief and hormones I've since learned) and began digging around in my bag for the tissues I knew had to be in there.  I didn't want it to be obvious I was crying but suddenly I began hearing something in my head.  A tune, and then some words began to flow with it.  I wondered what song had come to mind and then I realized, it's not one I've heard before.  I grabbed my notebook and through my tears penned an entire song in about 20 minutes.  The funny part about how I write music (and by the way haven't written anything like this in YEARS) is that I always get words WITH the tune.  Which makes it fun to try to write as you have to figure out what chord progression goes with your tune.  Kind of backwards but for some reason that's always how I write.  I was amazed and inspired that God would give me such a gift set off by emotion and someone else's tattoo.  I wish I had asked that girl what her tattoo stood for but I can only imagine it was a reminder to hang on.  I needed it that day.

More crazy, out of the woodwork things have happened to help me find peace during this storm.  I was flipping through my bible this past weekend while listening to an amazing speaker encouraging pastors and deacons wives at a conference.  I flipped suddenly to an ultrasound picture that I forgot I had stuck in my Bible one day hoping to hide it from my little girl.  I wanted to hide it as it was my 2nd Ultrasound picture, when I first began to experience bleeding a few days after my first ultrasound.  They had me come in when I called and explained my symptoms 4 days later.  Heartbeat was 155, baby looked good and was growing.  It's the last picture I have of my baby alive.  I stared at our little peanut for a minute, then my eyes were drawn below it to a scripture.  I had inadvertently stuck this picture in Psalm 39.  Let me share what I found.

Psalm 39:15 says "For I hope in You, O Lord; You will answer, O Lord my God."  This seemed to be a prophetic placement of the picture of the baby that would pass away just days later.  If you read on to Verse 17, it says, "For I am ready to fall, and my sorry is continually before me."

That day I quickly stuck this picture into my bible so Lizzie wouldn't know something could be wrong and wouldn't worry, I obviously didn't realize where I had put it.  I hadn't even seen it in weeks.  And that day when I stuck it in my bible and stuffed the continually nagging feeling that something was not OK with the baby, I was unaware that my sorrow really was still before me.

Right now my theme is all about trying to take one day at a time.  Trying to allow myself to cry and grieve when I need to, talk to the people who don't mind me talking about it all.the.time (you know who you are - I love you!) and look to the future purpose I know this awful experience was designed for. You see, I don't believe that suffering comes without purpose.  My faith in Christ tells me that we all suffer for a purpose, as did He.  He suffered more than I ever will.  This is not a time to turn away from God no matter how much I wish He had let me have this baby.  After all, He knows what it's like to lose a child.

That speaker last weekend shared with us that there are several reasons why God allows hardship. 

She shared that Trials can be to:
- TEST us - are you who you say you are?
- CORRECT us - we may be heading toward danger, move us down another path or direction.
- PERFECT us - to refine us and continue to make us more like the image of God himself.

I'm not saying I think I lost this baby so God could teach me a lesson, please don't misunderstand.  But I do believe losing this baby has had and will have a major purpose in our lives.  Not just for future ministry, but for my life in general.  It has caused me to run to God instead of putting every obstacle and excuse between myself and growing closer to Him and growing in my spiritual walk.

I do believe through everything we experience we are being perfected.  Like it mentions in Malachi 3:3, "He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver so that they may present to the Lord offerings of righteousness."  Someone who is purifying gold or silver puts it in FIRE to remove the impurities.  It is hotter than we really can stand, on our own.  God is perfecting me and through this grief, sadness and all of these tears, I hope to reflect more of His image than I ever have because of this.  So my loss can have a tangible and meaningful purpose.

My life is no longer about keeping everything separate or being careful not to mention my faith much on this blog.  I feel strongly called to share my grief with all of you, and share how God is helping me through it.  I don't know why.  I don't personally know most of those of you who are reading this right now.  But God does.  He knows everything.

And He holds my future.  I believe without a shadow of a doubt that this glorious sadness will bring continued joy.  And while I would gladly accept my child back in a heartbeat, I also do not regret this newly found closeness I am experiencing with my Father in heaven.

I can picture Him rocking my baby back and forth.  My daughter named the baby Andrew James.  We don't know for sure it was a boy, but in the several dreams I had about the baby, I always saw a boy.  While I know my arms will not hold Andrew this side of heaven, I know I have a beautiful angel waiting for me.  Until we meet again, I am going to do my best to comfort others who have also lost or are lost themselves.

Please comment if I can be praying for you.  I find myself having time now that I'm making time in my daily devotion so I will gladly add you to my list.

I'll leave you with a song that came on my ipod this morning during a 5k race.  I didn't get to pick the playlist as I didn't get my ipod working until halfway through the race (yeah the lock button prevents you from pressing play!).  I just hit play and this song came up in the playlist and I had forgotten about it.  I began crying (yep, again) but quickly had to compose myself so I could breathe and finish the race. 

I'm SO glad He is not done with me yet!  Change in the Making by Addison Road.