{31 Lessons Learned the Hard Way} :: Lesson 5~God is the Ultimate Family Planner ~ Part 1: Pain Can Bring Hope and Peace

The Lord has entrusted us with 5 beautiful children. See, that’s us right there at the top of the page. At first glance, it looks like we had 5 pregnancies, 5 deliveries, 5 miracles given back to back. They do look like “stair steps” when they’re lined up, although the oldest seems to tower over everyone more and more.

We were married for about a year when we “decided” it was time to start having children. We didn’t really even know how to “try” for pregnancy…we just stopped preventing and I was pregnant 2 months later. I never took any special tests to tell us when the “time was right” and I didn’t take a pregnancy test until I was fairly certain it would be positive. There we stood, in the bathroom of our starter house, crying and laughing and so overjoyed…and scared.

Caleb came that fall, just after the twin towers fell. I was in love with him immediately.

I immersed myself in being a mom. Those first couple of months are somewhat of a blur of feedings, diapers, sleepless nights…mixed with grief and insecurity about what our future held as our country went to war.

Four short months later, as I awoke from a nap while Caleb slept, I had an overwhelming feeling of fatigue. My body felt so heavy and unable to wake completely. It was very similar to how I felt when I first found out I was pregnant with Caleb. I remembered I had an unused pregnancy test in my bathroom cabinet. As the line on the test turned from faint to a bright “plus sign” I began to cry. I was so overwhelmed and tired already. I couldn’t imagine bringing another baby into the world, so soon.

By the time Brad came home from work, I had somewhat come to grips with the idea and wrote a note “from Caleb” announcing that he would soon have a little brother or sister. Brad was surprised but overjoyed. I decided to be as well.

Three weeks later we began telling our family, friends and youth group. I remember so clearly being at our youth choir rehearsal on that Thursday night with squealing girls around me. Everyone was so excited…why wasn’t I?

Friday morning was our scheduled appointment with the doctor, to officially confirm the pregnancy and talk through prenatal care. As the nurse performed the ultrasound, she became very quiet. She didn’t say much except that maybe it was just very early and they’d like to do a different kind of ultrasound to get a better look. My uneasiness about the pregnancy quickly turned to panic. What was wrong with my baby?

The doctor came in shortly after the second ultrasound to break the news. There was no heartbeat. It looked like our baby had stopped growing two weeks earlier. We had a decision to make. We could go home and wait through the weekend for my body to “take care” of things naturally or we could schedule surgery for that afternoon. By this point, my body was showing signs of cooperating, so we decided to go home.

My mom met us at home so she could help with Caleb. We decided to keep Brad’s scheduled voice students for that afternoon…he would be in our home office in case anything happened but I didn’t think it was necessary for him to sit around and wait with me. What if it took all weekend?

When it happened that afternoon, my body delivering what was once a baby, the wail that came out of me was uncontrollable. I sat on our bathroom floor, overwhelmed with grief. Brad came to my side, saying he had sent his voice student home. We hugged and cried and sat, in shock.

I remember the rest of my family coming over with their quiet, but calming, support. My father-in-law called and spoke words of comfort. We watched “America’s Funniest Videos” that night and I laughed and laughed…to this day that show is sentimental to me for that reason.

Friends brought flowers and planned meals for that first week. We felt so loved. Then life went back to normal. For everyone but me.

My body didn’t feel normal. I felt the effects of the miscarriage physically for over a month. Emotionally, I felt sad for the loss of our baby. I felt guilty for not wanting the baby in the first place. I wondered if I had caused this baby to die. I felt confused. Did God kill my baby? Everyone kept saying it was probably for the best. How could this be God’s best? And why didn’t Brad seem to be grieving like I was?

To this day, I don’t know the answers to all of these questions. But I do know that I didn’t cause the miscarriage of our baby. I know that God’s doesn’t choose for any of His children to suffer. And I learned that a mother’s grief is different and goes deeper than can be explained with words.

I found peace in a small ceremony. I named our baby. I wrote a letter to our baby and then gathered all of the paperwork…the letter “Caleb” had written to Brad, the pregnancy calendar I had purchased, cards & letters from friends…and placed them in an envelope. I said goodbye to our baby. Brad held and comforted me as I sealed it and placed it in our file box.

I became pregnant again 3 months later and delivered Emma that next spring.

She was so beautiful and I felt a connection to her that was different than Caleb. Caleb is my buddy and will always have claim as the first-born, the strong one. Emma is to this day so peaceful and loving. She has a strength that is so different from his. And while she was not a replacement for the baby I lost, I was overwhelmed with love and so thankful for the little family God was building.

10 years later and we still have that envelope. I haven’t looked through it in years. Now, when I see it I am in awe of all that God has done since then and all that I have learned about His sovereignty. Looking back, I realize that this was a small piece (that felt huge at the time) of a large puzzle of my life, our lives, the life of our family. I absolutely believe that our baby was a person…although not very developed, that baby was not an accident and she was created in the image of God. I look forward to the day we meet face to face in heaven and I will get to hold her.

This is our reward…the HOPE, the PEACE that comes with a relationship with Jesus.

“Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your 
hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:7
…to be continued…

 

This post is part of the series {31 Lessons Learned the Hard Way}. Did you miss a lesson? Catch up here.

7 thoughts on “{31 Lessons Learned the Hard Way} :: Lesson 5~God is the Ultimate Family Planner ~ Part 1: Pain Can Bring Hope and Peace

  1. Beautiful story Andrea. I have many friends who have been in a world of hurt from miscarriages and your story is very uplifting. I know I'm not even a mother myself but I know that hearing beautiful stories like yours is Gods testimony to His love He has for us no matter what crisis we face. Thx for sharing. Tara Hawbaker

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  2. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. I used to be a producer at Focus on the Family and we did a show on miscarriage once and found out that one in three and possibly one in two pregnancies end in miscarriage. It's an enormous topic that not many will speak of because of the deep emotional pain. When I lost my first, over 20 people in my department approached me privately to tell me that they had lost one too. I love how you named your child. I've done that too and feel it is a gift they can take with them to heaven. Blessings to you Andrea and to your entire clan!

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  3. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I am so sorry you went though that and Im sorry for you loss. The way you handled it and the realness of your story is amazing. It has really touched my heart. I have as well had to go through this 2 times. I think there is still some things I have to work through at times because of this, even though it was years ago. Thank you again for sharing.

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  4. Thank you for writing this, Andrea. Whether your baby is 6 days old in your womb, or 60 years old, when a child dies, a huge hole is left with so much pain. Even though with time the pain doesn't overwhelm as it did in the beginning, it never goes away, along with wondering what would they be like now…. I'm so thankful for the hope of knowing we will see them and hold them again someday.

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  5. I was not even aware of what you were going through at the time you lost this daughter. I am sad that I didn't know and maybe could have been a help. But I really believe God has seasons and people he brings into our lives for specific times. As I re-read this post, I cry, like the first time. I am so thankful for the growth and perspective God has brought to you over these years. I am so thankful for your family and for every child God has given to you. You are a great mom and they are blessed to be a part of your family. Love you dear one.

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