Actually it should’ve been the third birthday party for a little girl. I would’ve stayed up late the night before to make a cake, something girlie of some description I think. 17th of April is already an imaginary day, a day Emmanuelle should’ve been born. But not as Emmanuelle but as a healthy and whole girl we hoped and dreamed and prayed for, a little girl we had talked about since before we were married.
Except its not. We’re here…. Again. The same room. The same clock. Listening to women cry as multiple healthy lives enter this world and we wait for death to labor into our hearts again.
Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock.
We aren’t living the unimaginable…. once we saw our baby as more than a seven week blob, we knew the dark white of bone was missing around the head. And we knew. We knew what lay ahead. Death. Again. Loss. Again. Pain. Again. Grief. Again. Confusion. Again. Questions. Again.
I can imagine the stormy days morphing into stormy weeks, aching arms and sleepless nights. I can imagine the affect on relationships that are only just starting to feel repaired after our last loss. I can imagine the lack of words, our own and others, and depth of emotion. I can imagine exactly what it feels like to keep living as a grieving parent because I already am. I can imagine, because in so many ways, its somewhere we’ve already been.
I couldn’t sleep waiting for the appointment, so as the sun rose I prayed the prayer- I hoped, I begged, I demanded. A prayer I refused to pray with Emmanuelle, I couldn’t risk the hurt. But I prayed the prayer this day that Jesus would turn and be so distracted by my cry he would have to act. He would be the God of miracles and change our story, protect us from walking this path again. That He would see my tears and show His care and love for me and act. That my feelings could interrupt his sovereignty…. what was I thinking?
As we drove in the car, the stupid Christian radio station was talking about how God is good and we just have to trust that He acts at the exact right time. I pushed the button off and we listened instead to my dad’s playlist of Billy Joel. Safe from christianese with that!
The ultrasound on Friday was with our really good sonographer from Emmanuelle, her name is Karen and she treats us like people. She called my name and hugged me as we walked down the hallway to the room, remembering us and in disbelief that we were here again. A heartbeat and perfection in nearly every way, yet still Daniel and I left the room with silent tears streaming down our face.
God had done nothing.
We cannot fault the care we received at the hospital this time; Perhaps because miscarriage and pregnancy loss isn’t such a taboo subject anymore? Or because it’s our second time walking this valley and the staff were so much more enraged at the unfairness of it? – Which I know because a doctor was honest and told us that. I’m thankful she said that; it revealed the slightest chink in her brave stone armor, revealing her humanity-, which lets face it everyone needs in his or her doctor…or who knows what the reason may be?
The clock is relentless, it just keeps ticking, honestly doesn’t stop. Time keeps passing and I can’t pause any moment no matter how good or bad it is or how much I wish it.
Perhaps the greatest help was the wonderful midwife who cared for us with our second son cared for us this day. She’d come in to say goodbye as her shift ended at 330 and I was talking about something and all of a sudden there was a pop, gush of water and a few minutes later at 322pm our third son, Steven James was born. Born into the arms of Jesus. He is named after his two grandfathers. He was perfect. Ten fingers and ten toes. A smiling mouth and beautiful little boy. From the tips of his toes to just above his big blue eyes everything was perfect, the miracle of life will never cease to amaze me.
It took us over two years to be blessed with our beautiful healthy second son, a boy who has bought so much healing and joy to our lives and hearts. For me to realize I love him for who he is and will be was a moment I realized just how changed and healed my heart was that had radical implications. Then we didn’t even ask for this gift specifically and we were given it- looked like a baby, smelled like a baby, felt like a baby- almost, well actually at the time it did feel like a perfect ending to forming our family. An easy unexpected blessing we were happy to receive, perhaps even unspoken one that I felt due.
Then we unwrap it and through my dense heavy fog of grief, anger and sadness I see Jesus shoving his face in mine yelling “jokes” as inside is not a baby. It’s the exact same list of negative things you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. The list that I don’t even want to type again. I’m angry with Jesus. And I’m learning that that’s ok to admit. (I’ve wrestled with the honesty of this paragraph, and hope that those reading read that it is through a haze of anger and grief that I depicted Jesus in this way in this moment.)
Daniel and I had some special moments with Steven James, to hold him and love him. Tell him how beautiful he is and pray thanking Jesus for his life. Be amazed at how perfectly human he is at such a young age. Ribs and organs, ears and big blue eyes
Before everything; before I started bleeding and passing clots, before I last breastfed our baby boy in the early hours of the morning and didn’t realize it would be the last time I fed him intimately like that, before bad ultrasounds, before gastro and stomach infections. Before all of that. Just a little over a week ago, I commented to Daniel one afternoon just how good God was. I’d been thinking about it; He has blessed us with five precious children, cared for us, loved us and guided us through the darkest valleys and celebrated with us on the joyful peaks. He is good and I’m thankful. He’s done so much for us.
Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock.
Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock.
The clock ticked into the night. A few hours earlier I birthed our boy and immediately began to sob as my heart broke once again. Daniel held me tight while our beautiful midwife Mischa stood silently to the side thinking I can’t even imagine. There was no joy in that room.
As the woman across the hall grunted out “this hurts so much” and was told to breathe, breathe and birthed a healthy baby, I heard the first newborn cries.
I gratefully took the sleeping tablet offered me in the room dimly lit by medical machinery and thought, “does all of this, does today, does it change the fact that God is good. Is that not just who He unchangably still is?”
Tick tock. Tick tock.