I have experienced a lot of death in my life. Grandparents, friends, parents of friends, car wrecks, suicides, illnesses...I couldn’t begin to count the number of funerals I have attended and the heartache I have witnessed firsthand. And I never thought anything of it until late high school/college, when I would actually hear friends say they were going to their first funeral. First funeral?! How did you make it this far in life with never going to a funeral before? Why has my life been so different?
And then I started worrying/ wondering…what if God was preparing me for something? What if I needed to be able to handle loss in ways that others can’t, just for lack of the experience? What was it I would have to endure that I needed to be so ready for? I tried to talk myself out of that thought, reminding myself that it makes me a good friend to someone who has lost someone...I am better at comforting others. Yeah, that’s got to be why. He needs me to be strong for others, right?
On Friday, January 16, 2009, I took two showers. I cried in both. Now, the two showers wouldn’t really be a big deal, except we are very stingy with our showers since we have to turn on our water heater and wait for an hour or so for it to be hot enough. If I want to shower before Shaye wakes up, I have to set my alarm early, just to flip that switch. It’s too expensive to leave on overnight.
So that morning, I headed to the shower before Shaye woke up. Kyle had already left to let someone into the office to do some cleaning. So I was alone in our apartment when I realized I was bleeding and slightly cramping. Normal, yes, but not for me this time. Not since we had discovered I was pregnant earlier that week and would have been about 5-6 weeks along. I panicked. I went ahead and showered, weeping and pleading with God to take care of my baby. When I got out and decided something really was wrong, terrified and in tears, I called Kyle to come home.
By now, Shaye was awake and thoroughly confused and frightened by my persistent crying and inability to get ahold of myself. She was crying as well when Kyle got home, having refused breakfast and insisting on sitting in my lap. She kept asking me if I had bonked (our word for hurt) my eyes, since that was where the tears were coming out.
Kyle took charge of Shaye and I went to lay down and try to calm myself. The bleeding wasn’t letting up and the cramps were definitely uncomfortable, so we decided to go to the clinic. Kyle walked Shaye over to the McKinzies’ and we headed out.
Thus, I spent several hours that day lying in a bed in their emergency room. I got an IV for basic fluid loss and some light food. Then we basically had to wait until the afternoon to have an ultrasound and see what was happening. The screen showed nothing. No pregnancy. The baby was gone.
Looking back, it was a blessing to have those quiet hours to deal with the emotions I was feeling. I kept bleeding and cramping, so by about lunchtime I lost hope. It was just too much. I cried alot that day. I tried to sleep, but would only doze. I prayed until I ran out of words, then just let my tears talk for me. I’m not usually an emotional person, but that was the exception. Raw fear and pain took over and there was nothing I could do.
Once the doctor affirmed that I had indeed miscarried, I just wanted out of there. Kyle took care of the bill as quickly as he could and we walked to the McKinzie home to pick up our daughter. I just wanted to hold her and never put her down. On the way, we voiced what we had suspected all day. I turned to Kyle and said, “We lost our baby.” That was enough to let loose some floodgates on the road. I didn’t care. I could do nothing else.
We got Shaye, hugged everyone and came home. I tried to keep it together, but you know that’s difficult when you look into the eyes of people who care for you and are hurting with you. I can’t imagine having gone through this without someone I trusted completely with my child and knew they were praying and hoping with us. Thank you, Greg & Megan, for just being here.
We’ve talked about how unexpected it was for us to be so attached to a baby that we had barely known of for a week. The pregnancy hadn’t really felt real to me yet, but it hit me like a load of bricks that Friday morning as I pled for the life of my tiny baby. It was real then. I mean, I learned during my pregnancy with Shaye that you can truly love someone before anyone in the world has seen their face, but that was a process of knowing her in a different way. This was purely intellectual, knowledge that someone was there and I was losing them. I can’t really explain it, but we felt the loss as acutely as if I had felt kicks and heard a heartbeat. That baby - our second child - was very much already loved.
We decided to stick around the house and just take comfort in our family. We talked to our parents, but no one else until the next day or two. We ordered a pizza, cried some more, played with Shaye, and tried to re-envision how the year would play out now. I took my second shower and wept and prayed again. By Saturday, we were much better. Sunday we were almost completely recovered, emotionally. We’ve still had some moments where we need to withdraw, adjust, or just rest more than normal, but we’re cutting each other slack and covering when it’s needed so that we can grieve and heal.
We really are okay. I don’t blame myself, Peru, God…none of that. We don’t see evil in this. And that’s where the preparation, though painful, is paying off. I don’t feel a need to ask God why. I know full well that I live in a broken world. He gave us a perfect one, but in thinking we knew better what we wanted, we changed the rules...and can no longer expect perfect. Thus, our bodies can fail us, and for no particular reason. I believe in the power of prayer, but don’t presume to tell God when He will and won’t act. If I did, I could scarcely claim Him as the one True God, could I? I trust in His power, but more than that, I believe completely in His love and care for me. He promises not to burden us beyond what we can bear. He provides exactly what we need to endure pain. That doesn’t mean we won’t be burdened or pained, just that we can survive it. He either smoothes the way with prevention or with healing, but either way, He is involved. Don’t doubt it.
I am also immensely thankful for my husband and daughter. I have been able to cling to them when I need something real, something tangible to claim. It is a strange thought that I will meet our second child upon my death, rather than upon his or her birth. But I have another child to care for in the meantime, which just helps. And Kyle has been wonderful to step in when I needed a break, or just needed extra sleep (fatigue is a common effect of miscarriage). I can’t imagine dealing with this kind of experience without the support network we have had within our own home, within Arequipa, and being able to contact our families so readily and take comfort from them.
Shaye still doesn’t understand. We had already told her that Mommy had a baby in her tummy and that she would be a big sister. She still says that. She’ll wake up from a nap and say, “I’m gonna big sister” (she leaves out “be a”) or she’ll point at me and say “Mommy have a baby”. We have told her several times, but she resists, reaffirming “MY big sister”, telling us she has staked her claim. Or the other day, I asked her if she would like to have a pet in the house (looking at an animal book) and asked her which one. She looked me in the eye and said, “Sister.”
Those moments are still hard, but the potency is gone. We are still sad, but in control. We will continue to stick together, pray, rest, and talk.
And yes, I thank God for all those years of preparing me. Fun? No way. Vital for this moment? Absolutely.