Faith, life, Parenting, relationships, Spiritual Encouragement, Uncategorized
Comments 15

More Courage: Just Enough to Rest {a story of a baby lost}


Courage: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty

Encourage: to make (someone) more determined, hopeful, or confident

This is a story of more courage.

{It tells about my empty spaces, where I found I had none, and how Courage came through the cracks of brokenness.}

I never felt my vulnerability more than when I was pregnant with our daughter, Isabella. Except of course, when I was pregnant with our daughter, Annalia. Eight years separated these sisters and a brother in between, and although every pregnancy seemed to rub raw the edges of my confidence, something happened before my daughters that caused me to wrap arms around my soul to keep the badness away.

Each daughter’s birth was preceded by miscarriage. When Angelo and I discovered we were expecting our first, we were young, just married a few years and thoroughly unprepared for parenthood. Debt and low-income jobs seemed to tag-team our finances for the first several years of our marriage. That double-sided sword cut us low and deep. There were times our disillusionment with adulthood and each other tempted us to run away from one another. Yet, somehow, when the pink line appeared, we embraced and faced the possibility of parenthood undeterred. Ah, youth!

Then, on a cold November day, the red streaks appeared. Naïve, I consulted the “expecting” books and realized it could be nothing, just my uterus adapting to hosting a little bundle of cells. Or, it could be something worse.

The doctor ordered an ultrasound and the tech breathed silently in a silent room. Nothing detectable, so she showed me a wand and said, “It’s so early, we’ll have to go close to the uterus to find what we’re looking for.” They never found it. No heartbeat. Huddled in the doctor’s office, we listened to the doctor succinctly report the test results. He called it a Spontaneous Abortion. I recoiled at the words. How dare this happen? He sent me home to pass the tissues and warned there may be cramping.

The next night the pain rushed so severe that breathing was difficult. Nauseous, I lay sprawled between our rental home’s toilet and tub and lay my face against the cold porcelain tub, hot tears running. Angelo was in a panic, phoning the doctor on call who advised him to make me dry toast. Dry toast? One bite and I shook my head. We’d have to go to the emergency room.

There, I began to fill out the paperwork, excused myself to use the restroom, and there, in the ER public toilet, passed the once-living-now-dead tissue that was supposed to be a baby right out. And what do you do then? Flush it? Report it? Dig it out with a paper towel? And old me wishes I were there to tell younger, twenty-four-year-old me, that really, this sucks. But that it’s going to be okay. I want to hug her and give her courage. Defeated, I flushed the toilet and whispered goodbye in the tile-wrapped sterile cube.

I murmured what had happened to Angelo and he told the triage nurse. I had to stay—for hours—until the doctor could exam my uterus and make sure the release was clean, that there was, indeed, nothing left. North winds scraped against us and we drove home in tearless silence. Exhausted, we readied for bed. Angelo discovered he was head-to-toe hives. We found the Benedryl and he fell asleep for twelve hours. The stress of his ineptitude to fix the situation had found its way to the surface in prickly, heated bumps. I showered, cried, sighed a lot and crawled into bed, pulling my Bible under the covers.

I knew miscarriage was not a word found in the Bible. I knew that one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, that there probably wasn’t anything wrong with me, that one day I’d hold my own, pink miracle wrapped in living, beautiful flesh. One day. I knew the logic, the reasoning that I could utilize to get me through through this despair. I am Alyssa. My name means sane, logical. I am.

But I was empty. In so many definitions of the word, so many shades of connotation, I was empty: hollow, cauterized, a vacuum. A hollow wind scraped the sides of my soul and fear pelted like acid on the raw places. And I turned to the Psalms. Because where else does a young woman turn when the womb is empty and the night is dark and long and sleep won’t come? I don’t remember now what I read – it’s been 20 years now. But I remember finding enough courage to rest. I fell asleep with the Bible laid across my belly, soaking into the deepest parts of me.

And God gifted me that night with the level dose of encouragement to make it to the next moment. There was no rushing, gushing overdose of peace, no spoken word into the darkness to call me to Him. What He gave me was just a level dosage of his mercy that reached into my little house and my little heart and my hurting womb and gave me grace for that moment.

He enlarged my faith through the emptying of my womb. In the weeks following, I railed and raged and mourned and tried on despondency. It was Christmastime and the tree we’d cut down in the forest dropped a million needles and a few days before Christmas eve, I yanked off the ornaments and jerked the lines of twinkle lights and hurled that dead tree right out into the front yard and yelled at God something ridiculous like, “I can’t even keep a dead Christmas tree alive. Why should I want a baby?!”

I had my ugly moments, but God’s word was nearby and like the parched soul that I was, I kept drinking it in. Finding grace, finding my ever-present help in my time of need. Finding just enough courage.

I can see now, with the aid of hindsight, that God was helping me stand in faith. Faith seeped through the cracks of the broken places in my world and strengthened me. God allows loneliness and suffering and loss because He allows us to choose. This amazing gift of choice broke our perfect world, but God’s grace reaches beyond the sin and suffering anyway and perfects our faith. When we choose to turn to Him, He builds and heals and pours His love into us, that we might keep seeking Him beyond the imperfection that frames our experiences. He remodels and redefines us through mending our broken places with His encouragement that is His Word.

We can live broken or scarred or limping because He gives us just what we need. This, friends, is victory. It mayn’t look pretty, sometimes we’re the bloodied boxer in ring who battled out round after round and by heaven’s miracle remained standing. But the thing is: we remain standing.

This is the grace he began in me those many years ago, alone in my grief. It was just the beginning, just enough. Life would, as it does, continue to pummel me. There would be other losses, other catastrophes, other real and throbbing physical pain.

There would be the night I stared into the eyes of the First Responder in the back of a medical helicopter to search for an answer to the question posed on fragile breath: Am I going to die?

There would be the long night in ICU days later, after I was able to breathe without life support, when the pain rushed full through the curtain of morphine.

Hour after hour I longed for relief. Yes, I was alive, but every cell pulsed in pain.

My thoughts stumbled around in the medicated fog, but I held onto the name of Hope that had found me so many nights ago in that Word splayed across my flattened womb that brought me grace upon grace and just enough courage to rest.

Psalm 119:28

My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.

linked up with these storytellers, with Lyli and also with Emily (would you say a prayer for her –she’s traveling to Africa! to do art with children and see God’s bigness there)

tellhisstory-badge

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

Advertisements

15 Comments

  1. A heart-wrenching story. I am so sorry for your losses. This line holds such beauty: “Faith seeped through the cracks of the broken places in my world and strengthened me.” Thank you for telling your story.

  2. I’ve never experienced miscarriage, but I’ve experienced emptiness and anger that caused me to rail against the Lord in a similarly ridiculous fashion. So, this piece speaks to me anyways. Lately I feel very much the part of the bloodied boxer, but yes – still standing. And yes, that is victory. 🙂 Thanks for sharing with the Tell His Story crowd. 🙂

  3. What a beautiful story of courage. It speaks true in so many areas of pain and defeat. I love Psalm 119. Thanks for the reminder of Gods healing grace.

  4. Alyssa, this is a beautifully written story. Such poetic imagery. “He enlarged my faith through the emptying of my womb.” Powerful! And “I can’t even keep a dead Christmas tree alive.” Hilarious! The roller coaster ride of emotions you put me through in reading this post gently reminded me of the lives I voluntarily aborted before I became a Christian. I am saddened that you experienced the grief of loosing your child, particularly in light of the ignorant selfishness of my past. I am always appalled when I consider that at one time I was killing babies, while worthy mamas were loosing babies. I am so glad God cloaked you in His word. Strengthened you. Encouraged you. And gave you courage. Keep writing, my friend. Your message impacts lives.

    • Harvest, I love what you have to share here. Thanks for being candid. I know he meets all of us, regardless of the “cause” of our losses, right where we are, when we let him in. I think that shame is a self-built barrier to receiving the comfort and grace God has to offer. By sharing our stories perhaps we can help others break down the walls so the Light of Life can enter in, to fill and strengthen others, too?

  5. Dear Alyssa,
    Thank you for sharing your story…always with courage and grace…and this is so true: “When we choose to turn to Him, He builds and heals and pours His love into us, that we might keep seeking Him beyond the imperfection that frames our experiences. He remodels and redefines us through mending our broken places with His encouragement that is His Word.” Hugs to you, my beautiful friend 🙂 Grateful for His Grace

    • Dolly, Happy to see you here, friend. I know we have different stories but lots of cracked places mended and filled by grace, praise God. You are a gift.

  6. Janeen says

    Alyssa, your stories are so good and thought provoking. This is what every girl needs to hear after a miscarriage to help with the healing process. Thanks for another amazing read. Love you!!

    • Thanks Janeen! It was impossible to find anything back then, when I was desperate for some sort of encouragement. Before everyone had the internet 😉 I had one woman, though, give me wonderful advice (she’d lost 7). She gave me permission to mourn. She said that whether or not I held that baby, I had God-given love and dreams for a life that was stolen and I needed to allow myself to mourn and grieve and process through it. This was so helpful and I’ve shared it with so many others. Thanks, friend, for reading. You know I love you. (Oh, and share this with anyone who might need it)

  7. Alyssa, I read this on my phone last week, and now I am finally sitting down with free time and a lap top. Your words here and your story deeply ministered to me — I actually started blogging after having a miscarriage.

    This is the 2nd post I have read today that uses the same verse from Psalms 119. It’s going in my journal tonight.

    I am so glad that you linked up at Thought-Provoking Thursday! I pray that your story helps bring healing and courage to many more.

    • Lyli – Thank you 🙂 I appreciate your coming back to engage. That means a lot to me. Isn’t it interesting that pain/loss causes us at first to retreat, but then to engage. We need other people to help us and the process of writing, for me anyway, is clarifying and healthy. I’ve always wanted to write a study on Psalm 119, but heavens, what an undertaking that would be!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s