12 Sep Our Journey So Far…
There are many responses that may come with the announcement of a pregnancy. Some may be genuinely happy and excited. Some may think, “aren’t they a bit too young to be having kids?” Some may think, “about time!” Some, having been trying in vain for their own child, may be hurt, seeing yet another of their friends fall pregnant. Some, knowing our age, may assume it was a ‘surprise’. Whatever the reaction, chances are that few will just be happy without another passing thought. And so, I’d like to clear the water and just give you the whole story. At the end, your thoughts mightn’t have changed, but I hope at least some will have their eyes opened a little, and think twice before they make their assumptions.
The truth is, we both love kids. We both want a family. We both agreed that we would wait until one year of marriage before we started trying. We both secretly hoped that we would have a ‘surprise’ earlier, just so things were out of our hands. But not long into our marriage, our desire for a family grew stronger and stronger, as we saw those around us with their beautiful children, and watched as more and more of the people we knew announce pregnancy after pregnancy. And so, in September 2015, around our sixth month of marriage, we decided (on a bit of a whim) to start trying. We felt secure in God’s love for us, and thought that surely He would just bless us with a child. You see, we’ve experienced a lot of blessing. Sure, we have had our tough times, but nothing ever made us question the goodness of God.
Weeks passed and we did a pregnancy test. Negative. ‘Maybe it’s too early,’ we thought. So we waited, and sure enough we weren’t pregnant. It hurt. Tears were shed, research was done, and we realised that it could take months. We prayed that wouldn’t be the case.
But month after month rolled past. We gave up testing and just played the waiting game. Each month brought disappointment, and stung a little more than the month before. But still, the pregnancy announcements kept flowing. Some we knew to be surprises. Some we knew to be unwanted. It was hard not to compare. ‘Why should someone who doesn’t even want a baby get pregnant, and yet we’ve been trying for months and still nothing?!’ ‘Why does the druggo down the street get to have seven kids, and yet we can’t even have one?!’ ‘Does God not want us to have a baby?!’ ‘Can we even get pregnant? Is there something wrong with us?!’ These thoughts, and many more flowed through our heads. And in the meantime, we had to fend off question after question of ‘When are you guys having kids?’ – as though it’s any of their business; as though we haven’t been trying for months on end. We would just laugh it off, make a joke, come up with some smart remark. But inside it hurt. If only they knew…
In time, we reached our one year anniversary, and six months of trying. It was another month of disappointment, and we were just about ready to give up. We had finally reached the time we said that we would originally wait until. So we had a little feeling about the next month. The weekend before the time of finding out we had a worship night at our church. I felt heavy burdened by the whole pregnancy thing (or lack thereof), and prayed over and over again for life. I proclaimed life over my body, and I kind of felt like this could be the month. But then again, I kind of always felt like whatever month was approaching could be the month, for whatever reason I’d concocted in my brain.
The week of finding out came, along with no sign of a period. We waited it out with bated breath, trying not to get our hopes up, lest it trick us and come late as it had done before. But each day still showed no signs, and our hopes rose a little (okay, a lot). We were working out of town during the week, so we had to wait until we got home on the weekend to do a test. Sure enough, Saturday morning we rose early so I could wee on a stick and play yet another waiting game. The result was unclear so we went out and bought another pack of three tests. We waited, and tested, and the result was positive but not as clear as I had imagined. So we tested again on Monday morning before we headed out of town again, and there was no denying that the result was positive this time. It was a bit weird, as we’d always imagined we’d just suspect a pregnancy, do a test, get a positive result, and jump for joy. But it was a slow process of finding out for sure that we were pregnant, and our joy was not in one big burst, but more so something that just quietly followed us around.
That Sunday had been Mother’s Day, and I wore a hidden happiness, knowing that there was a little life inside of me that would make me a mother. The week that followed the positive test was a good week. Well, it was actually a not-so-good week, but we had this little light to keep us going. We booked in a doctor’s appointment for the Friday, and he gave us some referrals and many congratulations. Other than ourselves, he was the only one who knew. We decided to wait until we got the blood tests back before we would tell anyone (though we didn’t have time that weekend to do the tests).
On Sunday night, I was struck, without warning, with a strong urge to vomit. But nothing came. ‘I suppose this is nausea,’ I thought, wondering if it would strike me often during my pregnancy. Though I was uncomfortable, it didn’t bother me too much as I was just so thankful to be pregnant, that I would take whatever the pregnancy threw at me, over being not pregnant and comfortable, any day. I felt sure that God had finally answered our prayers, and the scripture in 1 Samuel 1:27 which says “For this child I have prayed…” echoed through my mind.
On Monday morning we headed out of town once again, and we quietly celebrated four weeks of pregnancy (since suspected conception, so six weeks from last period if you count that way). The future seemed bright, but a fear loomed over me that now that we had this gift, that it might be taken away. However, that same fear looms over me with Paul, also, so I have come to not entertain the fear lest it rule my life, for I know that all is in God’s hands and His plan is best. Come Tuesday I wasn’t so sure of this. Because come Tuesday morning, I started bleeding. At first it was just a little and I went back to bed and cried and prayed and declared life and rebuked death. But the bleeding didn’t stop. I cried a lot. I was absolutely shattered, but I held on to the small bit of hope that I had; that bleeding doesn’t always mean miscarriage. I told Paul Tuesday night, and he was in a state of shock and disbelief. It hit us hard. I tried to not let it affect my faith. I prayed; I listened to worship music about God’s goodness; I did my daily Bible journaling. I simply did what my head told me was good to do, and I tried not to listen to my heart too much, lest I question God’s goodness. Paul was much the opposite; he didn’t look at his Bible; he didn’t pray; he couldn’t even say God’s name. All he could say was, ‘Why?’. He questioned God’s goodness. But he slowly regained his faith and started talking to God again, and come Friday he could worship with a new depth of relationship. However, my experience was completely different to Paul’s. I could sing the words, clap my hands, pretend to be having a good time. But I couldn’t worship. I was beginning to question God’s goodness.
We did another pregnancy test, and it was negative. It cut deep. Up until then, we had a little bit of hope to cling to but this was confirmation of our suspicions. On Saturday we did the blood test, but we decided to wait to go to the doctor. We ended up waiting two weeks. We didn’t really know what to do; we were new to this whole miscarriage thing.
Saturday afternoon, we met with our pastor and spilled the beans. We hadn’t told anyone anything (except the lady at the blood place, but, ya know…), and it felt good to have someone on our side. We were being weighed down by work, church and social commitments, and we needed the support.
Saturday night we were at a social gathering and caught wind of a couple who had just quietly announced their (unwanted) pregnancy. It cut deep. It was all too much. We left early, went home, and mourned once again. “It’s just not fair!” I kept saying. It wasn’t fair. It took us seven agonising months to get pregnant, and then it was stolen from us. “Why would God give us a baby just to take it away?!” I cried. The truth is, I don’t know. I still don’t know. It still hurts.
Come Sunday morning, I couldn’t worship. I didn’t want to worship. I was a bit angry at God. Healing was a very slow process for me.
We carried on with life as usual. We smiled and laughed on cue, but deep down we carried this little secret that made life that bit harder. We still had to deal with the questions and implications regarding when we were to have kids. We still had to deal with people loading their issues onto us without giving a second thought as to ask how we were. We still had to comply with the demands of all those around us, and the comments about us being reclusive hermits, although we were still being socially active. We had people make assumptions about what might be going on in our lives, and try and be sympathetic, but they really had no idea. It was hard.
Several weeks later, I found that I was finally able to worship. I still wasn’t quite where I used to be, and to be honest I don’t know if I will ever be in that place again. Because I now find it quite impossible to sing and speak about the goodness of God, without being reminded of what I’ve been through. And I think that only adds more depth to my faith; to be able to sing “You are good” after all I’ve been through – and to know that He is good, no matter what I go through, and whether I question His goodness or not – that is a testimony. It is more than just me saying those words; it is me telling my story. You see, when we first met with our pastor he said something that I decided to hold onto even though I maybe didn’t want to hear it at the time. He said (paraphrased), “the goodness of God is what He has done on the cross. A trial has come, a life has been lost, but you still have your salvation. That is the goodness of God.” This helped me through and helped me process my own heart. Because you can’t just keep telling yourself the truths of God and deny your soul what it is experiencing. My head and my spirit said, “God is good” because that is what I know beyond a shadow of a doubt to be true. But my heart and my soul said, “I just don’t know if God is good.” And I decided not to snuff out my soul, because it is an important part of who I am, and through letting it speak and learning to understand what it was experiencing, I was able to come out the other side as a whole person. And through the process I learned the words that I have often said: that God’s goodness is not circumstantial but, rather, transcendent. Because we think that God’s goodness is that He gives us good things and an easy life. But to realise that the goodness of God is His saving grace, takes a lot of pressure off. It allows me to mourn, knowing that God is still good because His saving grace is still there, but life just sucks sometimes and it’s okay to feel broken. Can I just repeat that? It’s okay to feel broken. We don’t have to have it all together, all the time. It is just such a relief to be able to be broken in the presence of God, knowing that His comfort is my portion. Knowing that even if I am angry with Him and questioning Him, He still loves me through and through. Our relationship between us and God isn’t meant to be nice and pretty and clean-cut; it’s real and raw and messy and beautiful. It gives us room to feel angry and broken. It gives us a place to not have it all together. And I love that. And I hate that people have the misconception that it should be anything other than that. And sometimes I’m the one with that misconception, trying to do everything on my own, refusing to admit defeat, pretending to have my life together when it’s falling apart at the seams. And that’s okay too. Because it’s a journey, and the further along this road I travel, the more I realise how little I know and how much further I have to go. But I’m getting there. And I know this started out as a blog about our pregnancy journey, but really, that is just a small part of the bigger journey that we’re on, and God is the only constant that I’ve found in this journey so far.
Alright, enough of that soppy, emotional, heart stuff. I’m sure by now you might be wondering if I’ll ever get to the part about our current pregnancy. So here you go:
An additional reason to be upset about losing our baby (as if we needed another reason…) was that we were still on this trying to conceive journey, and not only did we have to deal with the heartbreak of losing our little one, but it would now be at least another two months before we could be pregnant again because we didn’t know what was up with my cycle and everything was weird and blehh. So we waited for my period to arrive. Dr Google said it might not happen for like 6 weeks so that was annoying. But just under five weeks after our miscarriage nothing had happened yet so we just decided to be crazy and do a pregnancy test. Much to our surprise and delight, it was positive. We could hardly believe it. We didn’t even know that it was possible. This was followed by multiple doctors appointments and blood tests and all showed positive signs. We had a dating scan to find out how far along we were and saw our little one’s heartbeat. There have been plenty of high moments, but there’s also been low moments of fear and continuing to mourn for our first baby. We’ve been careful who we told in the first trimester, and I, in particular, have struggled with fear of losing this one as well (despite positive tests and signs, and no red flags). At times it can feel as though I’m torn; I’m so happy about the little life growing inside me, but I’m still mourning for the one that passed away. I feel guilty for being happy. I feel guilty for mourning. I’ve been holding on, waiting for this first trimester to be over so that we can finally be in the ‘safe zone’. But the more I think about it, the more I’ve come to realise that there is no such thing as a safe zone. People can lose their babies at any point in the pregnancy. Some have still births. Others still, have had their babies pass away within the first few days, weeks, months of their life on this earth. Some are toddlers, some children, some teenagers, some adults. There really is no guarantee of when someone’s time will come to an end, and no amount of worrying can ever change that. This is something that I’m learning. I still wrestle with my fears but I am aware that I can’t let this take hold of my life. I’m growing; that’s what matters.
Another thing that has popped up is the notion of “rainbow babies”. For those unaware, this is a child born after the loss of another child – “a rainbow after the storm”. But to us, this just doesn’t really feel right. My second pregnancy is not a replacement of my first, nor is it a gift that we’ve received in exchange for what we’ve been through. One is not related to the other. We refuse to brush off the first because we were gifted with the second so soon. Of course it was a lovely surprise, but it doesn’t change what we’ve been through. It isn’t a reward. And it certainly isn’t a replacement. It may be ‘lucky’ that we didn’t have to go through months and months of waiting again, as we did with the first, but it doesn’t really make it any easier. We still mourn for our first child. It still hurts. We had hopes and dreams for that child. We still wonder what they would have been like and looked like. We still wonder why they didn’t get to stick around. And we don’t want to forget our first baby (or babies – who knows how many were in the womb), just because we’ve been blessed with another one so soon.
So here we are, much more weary, weathered, and experienced than this time last year. It’s been a year since we first officially started this journey. We never would have imagined what we were about to go through. It’s been tough, to say the least, but here we are. We’re doing okay.
I don’t really know who’s going to read this. I don’t know what your story is, but this is ours. It’s messy and a bit all over the place, but life is like that. I’m not really sharing this so that people feel obliged to be sorry for us. Honestly, I don’t really want your pity because it doesn’t change what we went through. And I know that our story is very different to most other’s. And that’s okay. I’m not trying to say that my life is so much worse or better than anyone else’s, because we all have our different struggles. More than anything, I wanted to open the minds of those who read this. I want to get people thinking. Like, maybe stop asking people when they’re going to have kids. I know you’re curious, because I’ve been there, but you don’t know what they’re going through (been there too). Honestly, this whole thing has just opened our eyes up so much to understand that you just really don’t know what anyone is going through/has gone through. I’m sure learning all this stuff about us will take a lot of people by surprise. I suppose that I hope at the very least it will get those cogs turning in people’s heads, that even though someone’s life may look rosy on the outside, you really have no idea. I’m hoping to open people up to conversations where they actually mean it when they say “how ya going?” and aren’t just waiting for the other person to finish talking so they can share how they’re going. I suppose I’m just so sick of people not being real. And I understand that we all have our reasons for only giving part of ourselves, but we shouldn’t have to pretend to be something that we’re not just because it’s socially unacceptable to admit that you’re a broken, hurting human who doesn’t have it all together all the time. The most important thing we’ve learned is to stop assuming. Stop assuming that someone had a good day, or week, or life for that matter. Don’t assume that what you see is what you get. Don’t think that you’re the only one who needs a listening ear, or a hug, or even just some time to try and forget about life. I know I’m still learning this.
So that’s why I’m posting. To help stop assumptions. Because I want to be real. Because I know that there are people who are hurting with every pregnancy announcement, and left to assume that they’re the only one going through pain in the process. Because people don’t really talk about miscarriage, even though statistics show how common it really is. Because people are told that the baby that they lost was just a clump of cells, so they feel like they’re not allowed to mourn for something that isn’t even deemed by society to be “life”. And I also know that there are people who have never experienced any of this, who just need a little wake up call, a little eye opener, to stop taking things at face value. And because being real is hard, so I hope I can encourage others to do the same.
Thanks for reading. Aimee out.