January 16, 2011

Where I've Been

I’ve Been Angry
There are seven stages to grief, anger being the third.

I can honestly say that anger was not something that I felt after my first two miscarriages.  

Shock?  Yes.  Denial?  Yes.  Pain and guilt?  Yes and yes.  Depression?  Yes.  Loneliness?  You bet.  
But anger?  No.

I would ask myself “Am I mad at God?” and would come back with a resounding “No.”  And for that I was glad.  I was glad not to be mad.  I didn’t want a wedge between He and I; I knew anger could only keep me from going to Him and I needed Him close.

But I became really angry about three months ago, not long after my third miscarriage.  Yes, I think it was just about that time that I felt a change in my demeanor and I felt like I was constantly on the brink of displaying a fit of rage.  

No one could say anything right.  Or do anything right.  If they tried to say or do something I was mad.  And if they did not say or do something I was mad.  

I wore my anger like clothes- every day and layers of it.  

I felt ugly.  I thought ugly things.  I said ugly words.  I did ugly deeds.  I was ugly.  Through and through.  

There was deep-seeded anger spewing out of me and it was meant for the only One I could blame for all of the pain I was feeling.  God.  

After almost a year of bottling it in, I allowed myself to be angry at God.  The grief gave way and the anger took over- quickly and with fierce darkness.

And I did what any woman does when she is angry- I withheld my time and affection from the Lover of my soul.  After all, He had repeatedly withheld from me.  The tears that once used to draw me to Him became hot and burned with fury.

It’s an uneasy thing, to be so mad at the very One you need so much.  On the one hand you want nothing to do with Him, but on the other hand you don’t want to be apart from Him.  I felt like He had me in a proverbial head-lock on this invisible wrestling mat that I had set-up in our living room in the last months.  

We wrestled.  Me and God.  And in the wrestling I have learned some things specific to this season of life.

Here’s what I have learned as I journeyed, albeit grudgingly at times, through this season of anger:

  • Life is not about me getting to have a baby and as hard of a pill that is to swallow, it’s true and there’s no getting around that.  I am promised nothing apart from Christ.  And I don’t say this in a deprived, “woe is me” matter.  He is enough and if I mean what I say I believe, then I will praise Him and serve Him all the day long (sometimes with tears in my eyes) and know that there is still purpose and meaning in life even with empty arms.  And really, my arms are not empty- they are full with many good things from above.  I can see that now.
  • I have no right to judge who is pregnant or who has a baby.  I don’t know why some women get to be pregnant and have babies and some do not.  It’s not my job to figure that out.  
  • I can’t insert my own pain and longing into someone else’s life and expect them to not talk about just how hard it can be to be a parent because I lost three babies.  I can’t put that on them.  It’s not fair.  And it’s not right.  
  • No one can match my grief and it’s not fair to expect them to.  So many times in these last several months I have wanted someone to sit and cry with me.  I have wanted someone to be as sad as I am about these babies that are gone.  For someone to look me in the eyes and say “I know this pain” and to know that they really do.  And while no one sat and wept with me, some did take some of the pain I feel.  That came in small ways and sometimes it’s the small things that mean so much.
And now I am on the other side of this storm of anger and I am feeling the aftermath of it.
My heart still feels fragile.  My spirit still a little shaky.  But my resolve to keep my eyes on Jesus is stronger.  Life is so bittersweet and it only feels bitter when I am not walking and talking with the One who makes the sweet really sweet.

None of us are exempt from being disappointed. From wanting more than what we already do.  From hoping and longing.  From watching and waiting.  And none of us knows what lies ahead or what’s around the bend.  

But I have found that if you know God- if you know Him in a real and personal way- you can be certain that He is orchestrating the people and events in your life to make something beautiful.  
I believe this.  I truly do.  

And someday when I meet my Maker- and see my babies- all the pain; all the tears; and all the sorrow, well, those will be no more.  

There will be shalom.  Only shalom.

“We all have experienced our shalom being shattered be it by death, divorce, the loss of a job or significant relationship, or you name it.  We live in a fallen and broken world where it’s not a matter of if your shalom is shattered, but when.”  To Be Told, by Dan Allendar

I’ve Been Right
As the final task of trying to figure out what, if anything, is causing me to keep miscarrying, I was scheduled to have a test; the HSG test is a specialized kind of x-ray not uncommon to women struggling with infertility or secondary infertility like me.

I sat in the procedure room in my hospital gown and socks waiting for the doctor, eye-level with a metal table and taking in the sights of the monitors, steely instruments, and people on the other side of the glass window staring at me.  

And then my face began to burn and I was blinded by my tears.  I felt like an animal waiting for the slaughter.

I could not get out any words and only could motion to the technician on the other side of the glass window to come out and talk to me.  “I can’t do this” was all that I could eventually get out in between deep breaths.  She and the doctor both took turns explaining and re-explaining the procedure to me, but the longer I was there the more I knew I had to leave. 

So I walked out.  

I can’t tell you how many times I wish I could have walked out of a room with a doctor this last year.  I didn’t want to hear anymore sad news or see anymore death on a screen.  

But I never did.  I always stayed put.  I had to.  But this time was different.  Walking out was the right thing to do and the right time to do it.

I thought about you, dear Readers, that have walked a similar path and wondered if you would have done the same.  This deep-seeded desire we have to become mothers has likely taken all of us past the line of things we never thought we would do.  Is there nothing we will not do to try to have a baby?
I guess for me there are some things I will not do.  Simply cannot do.  And I learned that about myself. 

I’ve Been Grateful
I had a test done and when the doctor called with the results he said this:

“You have a lot of life in you.”

Life?  In me?  

Yes.  Life.  In me.

After that call I walked to the gym and no sooner had my face come in contact with the cold air my lip began to quiver and my eyes watered over.  And I felt gratitude wash over me.  “Thank You, Father.  Thank You for life that is in me that is yet to be created.”

Every test- every scary test- has come back normal.  Every call back ends with hopeful news.  There is nothing found.  There is nothing wrong.  Nothing that earthly eyes can see anyway.

And I am thankful for that.  It moves me to tears how even in this process of feeling helpless and hopeless there has been a mighty Helper and Restorer going before me; walking along side of me; carrying me through this.  

I am in the hands of great physicians but I know THE Great Physician and while He has not promised me a child of my own, He is promising to stay with me and really, I can’t ask for anything more.