With a long hug and a gentle kiss on the forehead, I finished tucking my three-year-old in bed. We’d read, sang, prayed, lingered. Now I moved on, ready to do my nightly exercises.
At that moment, I would have called myself content, full, confident. I should have used words like smug, naïve, proud. The wheels were about to come off and I was powerless to stop it.
That evening I opened a door to a blackness I would not leave for several months. That night a baby, only a few short weeks from conception, died without ever feeling the warmth of his mother’s arms.
The funny thing about miscarriages is that few know how to respond. There was something wrong with the baby and this is for the best, one older woman told me. Another said that her sister had had one. You know that you’re getting older, another scolded me. You can’t expect much.
I wanted to hold my baby. I wanted someone to hold me and kiss my forehead and cry out, I’m so sorry.
Four days later, after minor surgery to complete the loss, I stood at a window while the world marched on. The horror of what I could not prevent pushed me into a numb world of shadows. Where I should have mourned, I hid.
I kept the paint touched up on the outside, but the inside was as empty as my womb. No one knew, or no one commented.
My life had largely been self-powered. I knew God and I knew I was a good disciple, living a clean life and following the church code well. I was a good addition to his flock and he, apparently, had always honored my commitment by blessing me.
But this was no blessing, I cried out. I had prayed desperate prayers of exchange: “save this child and I’ll….” No rescue had ensued.
I didn’t know then what I know now about that old shell of myself. The rest of that statement would have been, “…and I’ll return to our previous agreement.”
We had a deal, in my mind, and he hadn’t kept his part. I left for awhile. God was apparently moody and whimsical, unlike myself, and couldn’t be counted on in a crisis. I trusted my own viewpoint. God had failed me and so I withdrew.
In my worldview, God and I were in a legal separation. But not in his. I might have declared the covenant dissolved, but he did not. His contract could never be broken. He wouldn’t leave me or forsake me.
Most women love the lure of flowers, the attention of a suitor. There’s a thrill to a telephone call or an evening stroll in the park.
I was wooed in those summer months. I deserved no courtship. I had chosen a silent separation and had earned no suitor’s pursuit. The covenant had been broken in my reckoning; my Bridegroom had not done his part.
But on a summer camping trip, with a time for quiet and reflection, my heart began to expand. I missed my Lord. I felt his warm breath as he called my name. I opened my Bible and began a slow climb out of a black hole.
The miscarriage happened in March and by October I was passionately in love with my Savior. I did not understand my loss but what mattered to me was that I was loved by the Creator of the universe. My soul soared like the eagle.
I was scheduled to speak at our church’s Christmas tea in early December, now a delightful task. And the joy was expanded when I discovered I was pregnant again. I felt certain that God was restoring what had been lost.
My speech-writing tasks were easy and the outline pulsed with life and vitality.
But lightning crashed again. This baby, too, was lost. I gave the long-anticipated speech knowing that life was draining away.
But this time was different. I was desperate not to lose the relationship I had just re-gained. My cry that weekend was that I not lose hope in my King.
And this time, as I sat in a hospital bed facing a surgeon, there surged in me a certainty that I could never explain apart from my Lord. I told the doctor that there had to be a cause for this. He told me I might never know a reason.
But I knew that I knew that I knew that I would find it. We consulted a specialist and, after a month of embarrassing interviews and tests, learned that I had a progesterone problem.
And that I was pregnant again.
Daily shots, mood swings, fear blurred the new few weeks. This pregnancy didn't start with the joy and anticipation that it should have had. My thoughts were simple: “I don’t know if I can go through this again.”
A thin little heartbeat thumped on a 6-week ultrasound while I was still getting twice-a-week shots to stave off yet another miscarriage. A tiny being moved strongly in the 10-week ultrasound. Joy mingled with cold fear gripped me.
Our son was born on Nov. 7. The first baby lost had been due on Nov. 7.
I had once hoped that my friends or family would comfort me during the one-two punch of miscarriage but they couldn't give what I needed.
The Bridegroom never left my side. In the humiliation of loss and the agony of inadequacy, he whispered my name and drew me back. He kept his part of the covenant in the face of my accusations and my silence. He never left me.
The prophet Joel speaks well for me:
I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…
You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has worked wonders for you.