Tuesday, June 26, 2012

When Things Went Dark

This post is going to get dark, but hang in there with me. I promise not all post will be this way but just as life is not perfect neither is mine.

Miscarriage is probably one of the cruelest things that a woman can ever experience. It can also be one of the most lonely. There are very few comforting things that you can say to someone who has had a miscarriage unless you have had one your self. It is a mixture of very dark and depressing emotions, not a happy place to be. If you read the last post, I left things feeling optimistic: this is not that kind of a day. I have struggled to maintain my composure most days although I felt like I was concealing it well with my faith. After all, I am a Christian, I'm supposed to be positive and not have doubts right?

Well, yesterday morning God called me out on my doubts. Again, one of those days where I felt like I was the only one in the room and God was confronting me head on. The sermon was on Habakkuk chapter 1. I'm going to be the first to admit I had never heard of or studied this book. The beginning of the story is where a man (Habakkuk) is confronting God and crying out to him and expressing his doubts. "How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!”but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me;there is strife, and conflict abounds.Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails.The wicked hem in the righteous,so that justice is perverted."

That's when I started "silent crying" during the middle of the service. You know, the kind where you don't make a sound but the tears just keep flowing. I realized I was Habakkuk! I thought I was coping pretty well under the circumstances, but I was covering my feelings by hiding behind my faith. I kept my head down as they kept coming almost ashamed of myself for doubting God's presence in my suffering. I couldn't believe that I was breaking down like that. Everything that I had ever learned about God: that he was faithful, merciful, gracious, just, that's what comforted me in times like this. Why did I suddenly feel...... I couldn't even let myself say the words in my head, I couldn't let myself go there or I would fall apart. As our pastor kept going and it took a turn a didn't expect. Our pastor said, "God is big enough to handle your doubts." I I realized it was OK to feel that way. It was actually OK to question and have doubts. He said it was not only OK, but that you needed to confront your doubt before it becomes disbelief. And that's when I let it go and allowed myself to feel those things I was afraid of. Uh-oh ... here it comes ANGRY, JEALOUS, DEPRESSED, SADDENED, HOPELESS.

So through the next few days I allowed myself to feel that dark side. You might have been there before, that feeling that is like a black hole that just sucks all the joy out of life and leaves you feeling sort of numb?  I knew I believed that everything happened for a reason and that God has a plan but I didn't care about the plan then, I just wanted to be angry for a while. I was angry that this happened to us, I was jealous of the pregnant women I saw walking around because that was supposed to be me, I was depressed that our hopes and dreams for this baby had failed, I was sad that we couldn't give our daughter a baby brother or sister, I felt hopeless with no control over the situation.

On a side note: For those of you who have never had a miscarriage, there are certain things that have to transpire to have a miscarriage. In our case our baby did not develop, but my body has not recognized it as a failed pregnancy. The process of my body recognizing this and finally "miscarrying" can take weeks. Meaning no growing/living baby but still technically pregnant because my body it holding on to it and won't release it so to speak. I can have a procedure done to assist in forcing my body to "release" it, but we opted to try and wait two weeks to see if it will do it on it's own before we run a risk of infection. I will spare everyone the details of what most people are expected to experience during a miscarriage, but it's not pretty. I tell everyone this not to depress people but to inform people because until it happened to me I never bothered to think about what people who miscarried went through. So here I wait hoping that my body will now "release" the pregnancy before I have to under go a procedure for safety measures.

So yes, I felt all of those emotions as ugly as they were. Walking around every day with a constant reminder inside of you of what could have been made me feel very hopeless. I finally had an out loud emotional release with God where I prayed and cried my eyes out. You know the cry, it's what some people refer to as the "ugly cry". I told God about my doubts and how I felt. I told Him that I needed him to strengthen me and I needed him to show up big because we couldn't do this on our own. I prayed that he would somehow bring us closure to the situation and help my body do what it needs to do.

You can relax, this is where it lightens up. So what have I walked away with from this scripture and personal situation? Mainly like our pastor said that God is big enough to deal with our doubts and that its OK to have doubts every now and then. God doesn't say dig your self a permanent hole and wallow in your self pity, but that I think it's normal to questions sometimes because it forces you to dig deep in your faith "and ultimately draw you closer to God. Pray a lot and confront it when you feel it. As our pastor also said, "You don't always get what you want, but you get what God has planned for you." Right now that plan might feel a little ugly and imperfect to me because I can't see it and it's not my own, but he knows the end result and he has a better track record that I do. So whether you are dealing with something dark or you have doubts, take them to God and know that "God is moving even in the dark moments."I will probably continue to have hard days here and there, but as I said before, God loves us enough to never leave us where we are.

Advice if you ever know someone who has had a miscarriage
LISTEN: If they will talk, encourage them to talk about it is so important to deal with those feelings. Be willing to do this often because there is no time line on grief. If you have never had a miscarriage then there really isn't much you can say to comfort them. Be a shoulder to cry on and allow them to use you as a sounding board. What you have to say isn't going to be as important as just being there and being willing to listen or even cry with them.

For those of you going through it:
TALK: you need to talk about it as painful as it is and allow yourself to go there. Talk to your spouse especially and share your feelings repeatedly, but remember men handle things differently than women. I often mistook my own husbands optimism as not caring enough about the situation, but remember they are also trying to be strong for us,

Monday, June 25, 2012

God Said "Not Yet"

Have you ever sat in church and felt like the sermon was directed toward you? A few Sundays ago that's exactly the way I felt. To tell this story in its entirety, I have to back up a little. Lets start around two weeks ago.

I went to church with a heavy heart that morning because just days before we had been to the doctor for the first prenatal visit of our pregnancy. I say heavy hearted because it was during that visit that we saw and empty gestational sac staring back at us on a monitor. For those of you who have never experienced that moment, it is one you never want to. A moment of panic, sadness and pure disbelief all rolled into one. While the tech pointed me in the direction of the tissues, she left the get the doctor. I knew at the moment that things didn't look good. What made this even more damaging was that we had miscarried the month before. While a very early miscarriage, it hurt non the less. I knew based on the only possible conception dates that something was very wrong with this picture. We should have been at least 6 and a half weeks by now. The doctor tried to reassure me that sometimes the dates can be off, as well as the ultrasound sometimes. We scheduled an appointment in two weeks to have an ultrasound again and she said we should definitely see something (meaning a baby) by then. I still had my doubts and felt like I already knew were this was going. Never the less, we tried to live life like normal. Our family was going to travel to Destin,  FL with my husband for work so that would give us some time to "relax" for the majority of the two weeks while we waiting for our appointment. 

Prior to leaving on Monday we attended church that Sunday. The sermon was about prayer; praying to God but not always getting the answer that you want. Our pastor talked about God's plan and how it doesn't always match up with ours, but that his is the prefect one. Sometimes God will answer "yes", "sometimes no" and sometimes "not yet". I could relate because I knew of several instances where this was true. In fact not only could I see God at work in my life, but can recall being thankful for God NOT answering some of my prayers later on realizing that he helped me dodge some bullets. I could also see some hard times in my life where God had taken a terrible situation and something good and unexpected had come from it. As I heard him speak, it was as if God was trying to prepare my heart for the news we would later receive. I remember tearing up thinking about how hard we had been praying for this baby to be OK and to be healthy, but suddenly being very scared at the thought that it may not be His will for that to happen. The thought of God saying "no" broke my heart, but I knew I had to keep praying. This time; however, I changed my prayer from asking for a healthy baby to God's will for our baby. I knew I couldn't give up hope, yet somehow it felt hopeless.

 I prayed constantly for a healthy baby and God to give us strengthen, comfort, patience and peace about the situation. The wait was exhausting and I had lost all of my pregnancy symptoms during our trip. Finally, the moment had come, we arrived at the doctors office two weeks later and were escorted back to the ultrasound room. Holding on to my last bit of optimism as we looked at the screen, we saw not much more than the gestational sac yet again. There was no baby and we knew it was over. That confirmed what I think my heart knew all along. We were sent back into the waiting room to be called to meet with the doctor. I have never hated a waiting room more in my life. There is nothing more excruciating than sitting in a room full of pregnant women being reminded of what you just discovered you don't have. In that moment, I just wanted to walk out because it was almost too much to bear. Thank God for my sweet husband who saved me by accompanying me that day. Once we were called into the doctors office she confirmed my worst fears that we had in fact lost the baby. I cried while the doctor was in the room but once she left I lost it. I broke down and sobbed uncontrollably. I don't know what I would have done in that moment if my husband wasn't there with me. (For anyone who will read this and feel like his role has been left out, there will be a whole separate post for that :)) I kept thinking, God said no. How do you handle life when God says no and would we be strong enough to handle it?

As I cried, my husband held me and reminded me that God didn't say "no", He just said "not yet". We may never know why he chose not to answer our original prayer for a healthy baby, but we do know that sometimes his plan doesn't always match up with ours. As painful as the situation is, he has a different plan for us, a perfect plan. I pray that one day he will bless us with more children but that will be in his time and not my own. While I never wish to relive that day again, I left more hopeful than I came in that God was not calling this the end of the road for us, He was simply saying "not yet". I knew the road ahead was going to get a little darker before it got lighter, but that God was going to be here with us the whole time. Just in every other part of my life I can recall that felt dark or terrible, God showed up with something better. He loved me enough to never leave me in those dark places then and I knew he wouldn't leave us this time either.