I've read each and every one of your comments and messages at least twice. Thank you sincerely for all your words of sympathy and support. They have brought a lot of light into the past few darks days.
Through our journey with infertility I have come face-to-face with the reality that being a Christian doesn't protect you from pain. I wish it did. Since we transferred our embryos just a few weeks ago I have prayed with particular intensity that God would spare me the pain of loss. I've called upon him as a Father who loves and cherished his daughter, asking him to look into my broken heart and see how fragile it has become. To agree with me that it's been beat up enough already. To spare me another agonizing blow. To protect me. To let me heal.
When I found out I was pregnant I thought finally. Finally! Finally God had seen me, bruised and vulnerable and stepped in to stop the fist of infertility from dealing another blow. Finally he had come to rescue me, to lift me up and set me on my feet again. To restore me.
For two weeks between the news of my pregnancy and my ultrasound, I fought fiercely against the fear that I would lose my baby. After so many years of negative pregnancy tests, I could not imagine anything more devastating than to miscarry this child I had longed for. Each day I worked to push the fear out of my mind and choose to relish the joy of my pregnancy: to hope, to imagine, to dream. I prayed life over the child growing inside me.
Now I know that somewhere in the middle of all those prayers for life, my baby died. Just stopped growing and withered away. The thing I feared the most happened. God did not spare me the grief of loss.
I knew there was no baby inside almost as soon as my ultrasound began on Friday. I saw a black screen where I knew a white little blob should have been. I lay silently on my back and my doctor's concerned, "Hmmm..." knocked all the hope right out of me.
"I don't see anything."
All I could muster was, "Oh no."
"Yea. I should see something by now."
The doctor stopped the ultrasound and I sat up on the table as John listened to instructions about what we had to do next. I fought back tears. Our doctor left and I got dressed, numbly. As John and I walked through the hallway to the exit a nurse caught my eye with a smile and asked, "How did it go??"
I shook my head and whispered hoarsely, "Not good."
She took me into her arms and held me close, whispering, "I'm so sorry."
When I first wrote this post, I wrote these words: "I don't know why God allows his children to bear the brunt of such excruciating blows. I don't know why he doesn't step in to stop them." Just as soon as I wrote them, I realized that actually God did step in to bear the brunt of our pain. That's exactly what he did on the cross. He became human just so he could put his physical body between us and all the wrath we deserve. Most of the reason why suffering makes me so angry at God is because I don't think I deserve it. I love the way the Bible reframes suffering:
First of all, I did deserve to suffer. Simply put, I am a sinner. I am prone to do the wrong thing, go the wrong way, make the wrong decision. I am prone to put myself before others. Prone to shake my first at God. Prone to think I know best.
For that, I deserve to suffer.
But, God. <---- the most beautiful two words in the Christian faith.
I deserve to suffer, deserve to be punished. But God was not willing to go there. Not willing to let me know the full weight of my sin. Instead, he stepped down from heaven and bore my punishment for me. He bore the weight of all my sin and shame when he died on the cross. He said, "Spare her. Take me instead."
That's what I believe as a Christian. That I am sinful. That I deserved to be punished. But that God became a man named Jesus and took my shame instead.
This is redemption. When I repented of my sin and accepted the gift of Christ's death for me, I was redeemed. Someday (and how I wish it would be someday soon!) at exactly the right time God will redeem the whole earth and no one will suffer any more. But until then, I live in a strange "in between." I live as a redeemed person in an unredeemed world. Living in an unredeemed world means I will still know suffering.
The difference is that I know my suffering is not a punishment anymore. Along with so many other women I can ask myself am I infertile because I did something wrong? Would I be a bad mother? Am I being punished? And the answer is absolutely and unequivocally NO! I know my infertility is not a punishment because Jesus already took all the punishment for me. There is none left.
Instead, the Bible invites me to look at my suffering in a different way: to glory in my suffering.
Romans 5:3-4, "...we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."
The Bible also tells me that my suffering is not meaningless. I cannot know the reasons why God has allowed me to endure this loss, but I do trust that he will use my suffering for good.
And finally, I know that my suffering will not last forever.
1 Peter 5:9-11 (The Message), "You're not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It's the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won't last forever. It won't be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ- eternal and glorious plans they are!- will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does."
I keep a firm grip on my faith as I watch the bruises on my body from all my Lovenox and progesterone shots fade away. Marks in which I took such pride only a few days ago; battle marks from a war against infertility I thought I had finally won.
I keep a firm grip on my faith as I revision my future with sadness. A summer I pictured enjoying with a growing belly. A guest room I had already painted and turned into a nursery in my mind. Thanksgiving and Christmas with a new baby in my arms. It's all gone. With faith I trust these months will unfold with a grace I cannot imagine.
With faith I will continue to ask God for the desire of my heart. Even in this sorrow I do see reason to hope. The fact that I got pregnant is a very good sign. My body knew what to do! The fact that we lost our baby so early is very likely due to something going wrong with the embryo: some genetic factor or random mutation that caused him or her to stop growing. We won't have our next consultation with Dr. Colbert until mid-April but after my own research and a conversation with an IVF nurse I feel pretty confidant that we can still achieve pregnancy. We have a full month to think and pray about how we should move forward, but both John and I feel pretty certain that this is not the end of the road for us. We have some questions and obstacles in our way, but we also have a God for whom we know nothing is impossible. We trust he will lead us on this journey as he always has.
Thank you again for all your support and for your countless prayers lifted on our behalf. I do not have the words to express how much they mean to us! You lift us up.