October 22, 2010

Beautiful Things

Last night my dear friend, Melissa, gave me two pots filled with dirt. And in those pots are the promises of something beautiful. She planted winter bulbs for me.  Now I have something to look forward to in the upcoming months: something beautiful growing out of what looks to be dark and barren dirt.

At church we sing this song that more and more it is hitting me at the very core of my heart and what I long for; what I need; and what I am clinging to.

We all need to hear that beautiful things come out of the dust. Beautiful things come out of loss. Out of sickness. Out of pain.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, is out of the realm of GOD and HIS ability to make beautiful things happen and come out of what we only see as dust.

And I know this, and I feel this, and I believe this even in the midst of where HE has me now.

Even in the dark I see the LIGHT. Even in the void I feel the FILL. Even in the sorrow I feel the HOPE.

It’s nothing foolish I have made up in my own mind. It’s there in HIS word, in HIS very promise to me as HIS daughter.

At the end of Melissa’s beautiful letter she penned these words:
“So I planted these for you. Give them a little water- just enough to keep the soil damp. And give them space. And quiet. There’s something beautiful at work in those dark places.”

To all who mourn in Israel, HE will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for HIS own glory. Isaiah 61:3

October 20, 2010


When you have your first miscarriage you are surprised and saddened all at once.  “This happened to me?…..but I was so excited about this baby……but this happened to me.”  You learn soon enough that you are in “good” company because one in four pregnancies ends in a miscarriage.  

And so while you feel devastated and heartbroken, you find some small comfort in knowing that other women have walked this road and that you are not, by any stretch of the imagination, alone.  While others will have undoubtedly processed their loss and grief differently, you find solace in the sisterhood of those who have miscarried.  Friends and family will seek to comfort you, too, and you will be encouraged by the stories of so many who went through the same thing and went on to have babies who were born alive.

When you have your second consecutive miscarriage you are bewildered, on top of being deeply sad.  “But I was so careful…..I did everything I was supposed to…….why did this happen again?....and why to me?”  Losing two babies messes with your head and you begin to feel the scary idea that maybe you will never have a living baby set in.  

Medical people will begin to talk to you about testing you should look into doing and you will oblige because what’s eight of vials of blood if you think it might prevent this from happening again.  Friends and family will not know quite what to say because they have not really known anyone who has gone through two miscarriages in a row.  It’s not common…..but it’s really not all that rare either.  

And then the unthinkable happens.  You have a third miscarriage.

You are shocked.  You are angry.  You are lost.  You are crushed.  “No, please, not again……why again?......why me again?.....what the #&*@ is going on in there…..I feel like a freak show…….I can’t do this again.”  And you may even feel a little numb to it all.  Because somewhere inside of you- and maybe this is GOD’s grace- you shut down for a little while.  I think it’s because the pain is too much and if you feel it all at once you just might die. 

Friends and family will be speechless.  They won't have anything to say.  

Statistics show that only less than 1% of the population has three or more consecutive miscarriages.  After three miscarriages, you are officially deemed infertile and you are strongly advised to stop trying and meet first with a genetic counselor and then with specialized infertility/high risk pregnancy doctors.

Hi, my name is Justine and I have lost three babies.  My body, for whatever reason, could not sustain their tiny lives.  

I used to be like you and I assumed that when I wanted to start having babies I would.  But now I am benched- I am out of the game for the time being.  And instead of this part of my life being between just me and my husband, now we are joined by special doctors and counselors.  

And I feel shame.  I feel marked.

Yes, I know that there is no shame for me to carry in the loss of my three babies.  Yes, I know there is no visual mark on me.

But I feel shame.  And I feel marked.

And I am struggling with who I am as a woman.  And as a wife.  And as a daughter who cannot “deliver” a grandchild.

I feel like a freak show.  And even though my husband very much dislikes me saying this, I can’t deny that I feel that way.

My self-esteem, and sometimes my self-worth, are just two more casualties of this past year.  Right or wrong, they are. 

October 11, 2010

Our Third Glory Baby

A letter of love for my son, Liam.

There are few things that bring a woman any measure of joy like when she finds out she is having a baby.  I remember the first time I learned I was pregnant and it was sheer shock laden with great excitement.  When we found out we were pregnant a second time, that was a different experience from the first time.  While we were excited, we were also cautious and nervous.  

And then we learned I was pregnant with you, Liam.  Finding out I was pregnant with you was a mixed bag of emotions.  It wasn’t that we weren’t excited about you- because we were- but our hearts had been broken twice from the loss of our two other babies and we were so afraid to have that happen again.  

But we had hope because that is what you do when you are a mom or dad- you hope and pray for the best for your children.  We hoped and we prayed and we invited so many others to hope and pray with us.

Your daddy and I talked about you often and we were convinced you were a boy- our second son.  Gosh, we were excited to see you and hold you and call you our own.

And then came our first ultrasound- the day we would get to see for ourselves that you were growing and well.  

But where were you, sweet Liam?  You must have been hiding in a secret place.  You were nowhere to be found.  You became a mystery to us and we left that appointment heart-broken.

But now I have seen you, little one.  

Seeing you was nothing like I had hoped, but I am thankful beyond words that I had the chance to see you.  And I am grateful that you passed through me at home.  And it was peaceful and with your daddy.

Liam, I am crushed knowing that you will never be my little boy to hold and chase after.  Gone is the chance to lock eyes with you; to comfort you; to cheer you on in your first steps; to sing silly songs with you in the car; or to hear your first words.  

So much more has been lost in losing you.  In time that which was lost will be found in me again.  That’s the beauty of knowing God- He restores us; He heals us.  But you already know that because you have experienced perfect and complete restoration and healing.

My grief at the loss of you brings me to my knees.  I am struggling to hold on to the only thing I know that is true: that the Lord loves us and He is working for our good.  He is always working for our good.   

That still does not take the sting away of losing you.

I want you here.  With me. 

But you were meant for heaven, my dear boy.  You were meant for the arms of Jesus first.  

Some day you and I will meet.   And everything that was heart-breaking about losing you will no longer be.  And my arms will have the chance to hold you and my eyes will get to see just how beautiful you are.  

That will be a sweet moment.  I can hardly wait for it.

I love you, Liam.  And I always will.  You are forever and always a part of me.


October 6, 2010

He Who Has Dominion Over Me

The physical process of losing our baby- our tiny baby that could not be seen on the ultrasound- began at 3am this morning.  I awoke scared and in a good deal of pain.  There is something about waking up in pain when everyone else is asleep and the sun is nowhere in sight that makes the experience of it all so scary.  I am sure I am not alone in this feeling.

The pain scares me because I wonder if it is out of control.  Can my body handle doing this again?  Am I pushing myself to do this alone when I should be getting help?

This afternoon I made the 45 minute drive to see our counselor.  No amount of pain was going to keep me away from seeing him.  He is, in some ways, like a father to me.  In times of deep hurt- both in body and heart- I to want to be with someone who has a strong and reassuring father-like presence.  Roger is that for me.

We spent some time talking about God’s dominion because I had to ask the question if perhaps my body had gone rogue and was no longer operating in the will of God.  I mean this was the third time this happened to us and God did give me the words “grow” and “be well” to pray over this baby.  Surely something had gone awry and this was not supposed to happen.

Imagine the tears that flowed when he assured me over and over that the Lord indeed has dominion over me.  That nothing that is happening now- or has happened or will happen- is out of His control.  This is not an accident.  Losing three babies is part of my story.

And that kind of Truth makes the fear subside.  And it makes you brave.

Not the puffed up kind of brave.  Or the brave that relies on your own strength or understanding.  

But His kind of brave.  The kind of brave that only comes from the One who tells you to build an ark and keeps you in it for 40 days while all the earth and its people are destroyed.  The kind of brave that comes from the God who leads you through the desert place and makes a dramatic escape from your enemies.  It’s the kind of brave that allows you to step off the boat and onto the water.  

I feel a little brave tonight.  I feel Him in the midst of what is happening to me and my body.  Even though the pain is heightened and the physical part of this is far from being over, I feel a little brave tonight.  

And it comes from He who has dominion over me.  And it’s there because He has dominion over me.