We were going to wait seven years before having children. I thought we agreed on five. “No, seven,” my husband insists.Three years into marriage I suddenly developed a ferocious longing for a baby. It took a year to convince my husband and another 12 months to conceive. But the little white pill worked the first time. I loved being an instant fertility clinic success story. Nine months later our son was born and we were thrilled. “I could have eight of these!” I exclaimed. No—two, my husband asserted. We agreed on two.
Number two kept us waiting. I asked for the little white pill again. This time it didn’t work. Nothing worked actually.
When nothing works, people try to speak hope into your failure or stuff advice into your wait. Many words bounced right off my wall of discouragement. Friends prayed. I had grown weary of praying because it didn’t seem to help. God works better than a little white pill but he didn’t seem to want to get involved.
I got mad enough to try therapy. Therapy uncovers words and emotions more vulnerable than “mad.” I actually felt abandoned, defeated, unworthy, and most of all: unloved. I was drowning in shame and felt like God couldn’t care less.
God did care, of course. He cares by his own definition. I had shoved him into a box from which he was welcome to pop out when he had a baby for me. Then I would feel loved.
I felt like God was making no effort to speak my love language. In the end, he convinced me I was (and am) loved deeply and unconditionally. Something shifted in my soul and perhaps for the first time I believed and trusted his love. Believing you are loved unconditionally means you cannot fail in ways that make love extinct.
I was free to let go of my dream because love would remain. People always said, “It will happen when you let go.” I hated that line. But the day I made peace with unfulfilled longing and told everyone God was enough is the day I got pregnant. I could not believe it. My new-found contentment spilled over into joyful celebration.
My heart danced while my mouth remained silent. I would tell everyone after the first trimester when the risk of loss drops below 5%. I figured this timely God gift was a keeper but you never know, so I waited. I didn’t need any more empty phrases. At last I told everyone everything. The God anger, the letting go, the new baby.
“Awesome! I knew it!” People exclaimed. And, “God is sooooo good.” I was doing spiritual cartwheels too. Then, right in the middle of pregnancy, at a routine appointment—no heartbeat. “When was the last time you felt the baby move?” My heart started pounding. There was no breath to respond. Seriously, GOD?!?
The long-awaited, prayed-over, released and reclaimed miracle baby had silently slipped away. My doctor and I stared long at the ultrasound, the small lifeless body curled up inside. What now?
It takes courage to bear and bring forth life, but who can handle delivering death? “God does not give you more than you can handle” is a nice sentiment often uttered by those who’ve never borne the agony of death and deep despair. Life takes you places that strip your faith of fluffy phrases. We may find ourselves more naked and needy than ever before. We may also find that the goodness of God confidently resides outside our circumstance or reality. The goodness of God is unchanging, eternal, abundant and fills up our most broken places.
Sophie was born the next day. We held and wept over her lifeless body. I wept for weeks, alone, with strangers, in the car, at night. I never truly wept before.
My father taught me big girls don’t cry so I learned to swallow my tears. I didn’t cry after divorce, nor when my grandparents died, nor when I broke up with my long-term boyfriend. Sophie broke the dam. I cried until there was nothing left and I felt strangely cleansed. My back quit hurting. My anger diminished. My faith shifted and is shifting from a theology of certainty towards a faith that leaves room for mystery. I have fewer answers and more compassion. My heart is healed and is healing. My God box has grown larger than I ever imagined. It’s been seven years and two more beautiful girls were born into our family. No one replaces the one you lost.
In April, when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom and branches dance in the wind my heart remembers the way HE loved me through loss. Love is knowing we never suffer alone.