Comfort from furry creatures

The weeks when I am the most broken are the weeks when these dogs spend the most time letting me know I am loved.

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Gracie, snuggled on my lap while I read.

 

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Riley on my lap, after he pushed Gracie off. This is his MY TURN face.

It has been the kind of week when the griefs sets in. Nobody told me that when you lose a baby, your body takes weeks to accept it, clinging to the hormones like it clings to the grief. I have spent years looking at cheap pregnancy test strips, wishing for a second pink line. Now all I see is pink, and I want white. I never, ever thought I would be in a place like this.

And so it is a week in which the faithfulness of a dog means so much.

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The mornings have been hard, because I am so much sleepier now that I’m not pregnant. Most women are exhausted while pregnant, but the hormones were wonderful to me and made me feel energized. I woke up before my alarm each morning and pulled Gracie close, snuggling with her until we had to get up.

I can’t do that anymore, and I’m back to being jarred awake by my alarm at 5:45. But after I groggily get up and stumble to make coffee and get settled on the couch for my Jesus time, Gracie snuggles in on the couch cushion behind me.

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Or she lets me pull her close while I read, snuggling under the blankets on my lap and resting her head against my fuzzy red robe.

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I love how they love me, and I’m so thankful for these sweet creatures. Every day is a good day for them, as long as I am in it. And that sweet, innocent faithful love makes everything better.

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Beauty to bless the world

Photo Credit: K2D2vaca via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: K2D2vaca via Compfight cc

I started this blog because I knew that writing out the things of my heart puts me in a better place. I’m not great at writing in a journal; I keep one, but mainly for scripture references and scraps of prayers and thoughts. Writing for an audience, whether it be 5 or 1000, forces me to formulate my thoughts more clearly. I can’t just word vomit and hit publish. I have to do the work of evaluating my thoughts over and over again until they start to make sense.

Suffering can make you forgetful. And at times like this, I would not remember dwelling upon God’s creativity or visiting Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane if I hadn’t typed it out here. The other night, a friend asked me what has helped me the most these past few weeks, and I knew what to tell her because I remembered writing about it. And just this morning, I was driving to the fertility clinic to get blood drawn, and I felt lost in the senselessness of our pain. And then I remembered, God will create good out of this. He did not cause the bad, but he will create the good. And the loss of our baby(s) will be used for our good and for the good of the world. Writing these things out etched them in my heart. 

My friend Kari is one of the wisest women I know, and she said once that she doesn’t believe there is meaning in suffering, but she believes this is where we are co-creators with God. We make meaning out of our suffering with God, make it into something beautiful. I love this thought so much. Not only is God hovering over the chaos in my soul and creating light from the darkness, but he is asking me to take his hand so we can do it together.

It feels a little blasphemous, this idea of partnering with God. Almost as blasphemous as God becoming man, calling his followers friends, washing their feet, and telling them they will do even greater things than he did. The God who subjected himself to the violence of our broken world has risen from the dead, and he raises us up with him to create good from the brokenness. It is the beauty of the cross. The beauty of a creative God. The beauty of resurrection.

I don’t know how my pain will be used for good or what kind of meaning will come out of it. But I know that God and I can do it together. And I pray that those who read this would know that you, too, can partner with him to make meaning out of your pain. It’s what we get when we have a God who stoops down to make us great.  You work in the dirt together and make something beautiful. And then you use that beauty to bless the world. 

Infertility, Loss and Gratitude

The world of infertility is a lonely place. There are few words to describe it, few ways to memorialize or mourn the pain felt every single month. In this barren land of infertility, even loss seems better than the lack. For most of our journey, there was only a lack. No loss, only absence. No death, only non-existence. We endured years of this, years with a barren womb and empty arms.  We peered out our window at a world of fertility and life, so close and yet so separate from the room in which we sat.

It took 6.5 years to see a second line on a pregnancy test. I imagined that this moment would be filled with joy, but instead it was filled with shock. I used to chide myself for hoping, for thinking things could be any different than they always were. But it wasn’t until I got that positive test that I realized how little hope I had. Yes, the scraps of hope were there. But not enough to be able to look at a positive test and believe what I saw. Despite the money spent getting to that place, it still did not feel real or possible.

The positive test opened the doors to a a new world. A world of joy, but also a world of fear. We knew that there was a 1 in 3 chance we could lose this baby, and we knew that our luck isn’t great when it comes to these things. And I don’t believe in guarantees in this life, even when we pray in faith. Anyone who takes a good look at the state of this world knows that life just doesn’t work like that.

Our greatest fears did indeed materialize, and  we lost not one, but two babies. One barely got a start, and the other fought with every bit of might she had, defying all the odds during her short, sweet life.

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We love these babies, and we mourn their loss. They were a miracle, conceived during a month when we did not have much chance of conceiving (our IUI was cancelled in December, which means we somehow made these babies the old-fashioned way), and the pregnancy test came just days before our scheduled consultation with the doctor to discuss IVF. We were near the end of our rope, and then we got the news that kept us hanging on.

In many ways, a miscarriage after infertility is more difficult than it would be for those with “normal” fertility. These were not babies we tried a few months to conceive. We had spent years praying them into existence, and their loss is that much harder to accept. Surely after all this waiting, at least one of the babies should have made it. But neither of them did, and that pain cuts deep. 

But as much as it is more difficult, it is also easier. I am strong after all these years of pain, and I am not shocked by the bad things that happen. When we saw a lifeless baby on the ultrasound screen, I knew how to react. I knew immediately where to go to find the strength I needed. I knew there is comfort for every kind of pain, and I knew how to reach for it during dark moments. Infertility prepared me to deal with this loss.

It hurts, and we are grieving. And yet, as I wrote before, lament opens the door to gratitude. Recognizing the very broken pieces make me even more aware of those which are redeemed. And so in the midst of this immense loss, I am grateful. Here are a few of the things I’m most grateful for these days:

    • My husband. Infertility is rough on a marriage. It has been rough on ours. And yet, the past few weeks with my husband have been some of the most beautiful weeks we have ever had. We have cried together, but we have also laughed together. We have mourned and prayed and loved and snuggled. And on Friday evening, when I took the drug to induce the miscarriage and spent the subsequent hours in pain beyond anything I’d experienced before, he stepped up and cared for me during every second of it. The puke, the blood, the passing out on the kitchen floor–he was there and somehow found a way to make it better. He brings me so much joy 
    • We got pregnant. I still can’t believe the second line on the pregnancy test. We have now figured out a way to get pregnant (we learned last month that progesterone supplements are a key factor), and this knowledge takes a weight off of my shoulders, a weight I have been bearing for six years. I am no longer afraid of never getting pregnant. There are simply no words to express how freeing this knowledge is to me. 
    • Comfort. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted (Mt. 5:4).  I do not believe things like fertility and health and prosperity are guaranteed, but I do believe that comfort is. And the thing about sitting in grief like ours is that there is an abundance of comfort, unlike anything experienced on a normal or good day. It’s the blessing in the midst of the pain, and it is a beautiful thing. Jesus feels very close to me these days.

So, this is where we are. We have lost much, but we are drenched with comfort and peace. And we are thankful for all of you, those who have mourned with us and supported us through this very difficult time. May the Lord bless you and keep you and make his face shine upon you.