I started off the weekend with a facebook status that said "Jennifer has homemade vegetable red sauce in the crock pot for tomorrow's 5 cheese lasagna. More cookie baking tomorrow and then fun with friends tomorrow night! Church Christmas dinner on Sunday...it will be a blessed weekend!"
When the phone call came yesterday, I was so crushed and all thoughts of blessing when out the window.
Yesterday was hard. The phone call came in the middle of getting ready for a party I was throwing. The party came and went, and though all in attendance knew of our loss, not a single person uttered a word of sympathy or condolence or asked how we were doing or even mentioned it. I don't think any of those people read this blog so this isn't to call anyone out or to shame anyone...it's just to say, if you know your friends are grieving, say something. Anything. Silence is the worst choice of all. So, last night really hurt. (ETA: This is not a plug for comments or emails--I meant in a social situation-if you're in the same room as someone you know is experiencing grief, please take a moment to hug them, weep with them, squeeze their hand, say "I'm sorry," etc. We don't expect you to know what to say...we just need to know you care).
The calls and messages did pour in from other friends and family (including so many of you-thank you!) but because we were in the middle of a party, we couldn't really talk to anyone.
But, as much as the actions of these people hurt, I really think that God redeemed it. I’m a person who processes things by talking (or in this case, writing) through them. By the time the party was over last night, DH and I hadn’t had but a few minutes alone, no one had asked us about it, and when they all went home, we were just too exhausted to talk or think. I’d made up my mind that I was determined to be mad at God, and I’d wake up and deal with it in the morning.
Then we got to church. I wish I could describe to you how much I love our church. I intended to go in the back, sit, stone-faced, teach my lesson and slip back out. Ha! Our church loves you whether you want it or not! We received so much love, and so many hugs, and so much support. And that’s when the tears started. I sobbed my way through the music. A good friend took my class so I sat through the sermon (I normally teach children's church during the preaching) and the sermon “happened” to be on my favorite passage in scripture (John 1). I was convicted through the sermon, and then I bawled my way through Sunday School and then we were surrounded by more hugs. We are so remarkably blessed by the great love shown in this local body of Christ. This church does that part of the Body's work better than any church I've ever seen. And we are so humbled to be recipients of that love, and partakers in this church.
And I got to process through those suspended thoughts in a new context, in an environment of support, and in the light of Truth. So, from that perspective, I am glad I wasn't able to process more last night.
When I say mad, what I mean is I felt a combination of anger, forsakenness, self-pity, confusion, more anger, impatience, grief, sorrow, more anger and overwhelming sadness. And I just wanted to throw my little temper tantrum and tell God I was sick and tired of waiting for His timing, that His answers don’t make sense, that He let me down and that while He promised He wouldn’t give us more than we can handle, I felt like this time, He actually did.
Today, I still said those things, but today they were as a confession of a daughter to her Father, out of an attitude of utter helplessness and desperation for rescue. Last night they were of an entitled citizen whose “rights” had been infringed upon. What a difference a day can make!
In one of His points this morning, my Pastor connected verse 5, “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it,” with Matthew 5:16: “Let your Light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.” I can’t explain it so eloquently as he did, but the net point was “A, therefore B.” I’ve always understood the passages independent of each other, but the connection today struck a chord with me.
And it dawned on me. In the modern context, a light is usually a light bulb. The light bulb doesn’t get to choose when its turned on, the wattage at which it’s turned on, or the sphere which it illuminates. Its job is to light. It serves at the behest of its master. I abdicated my “right” to turn off and hide under a bushel when I gave my life to Christ. My job is to serve as a vessel of His grace and mercy and love. Even when my feelings want to demand otherwise, I must choose to exhibit Christ in all that I do, including my mourning. There's little room for temper tantrums in that.
Skyler, the two-year-old love of my life who I mentioned a few posts ago, is at the stage where his favorite question is “Why?” As much as I adore that baby boy, I tire easily of that question. When the question is asked as the follow up to an instruction, I find myself, more often than not, answering, “Because I said so.”
I have a lot of “whys” with regard to this loss, our last loss, and our infertility journey in general. And yet as I said it again to Skyler tonight, it dawned on me that the answer is always the same to my questions: Because He said so. Because the Great I AM said so. When He is the answer, the questions suddenly become irrelevant.
And do you know what? That’s remarkably freeing. Not in a “check your logic at the door” sort of way but in a “Someone who knows more than I is in charge, and I don’t need to know all the details because I’m safe in His care” sort of way. Scripture tells us that God’s ways are not our ways. And His thoughts are not our thoughts. His mind is not our mind. But darned it all if I don’t try to make sense of things in my insufficient ways, thoughts and mind, anyway. How futile! And how exhausting!
Pastor said something in Sunday school: in the darkness of our grief even when things don’t make sense, the truth of God’s character remains the same. Praise God! His steadfastness and trustworthiness and faithfulness are not dependent on whether or not I feel them or want to acknowledge them.
No other answer matters. Because He said so. It’s not only freeing, it’s convicting.
Then, as Pastor continued and preached about the miracle of God made flesh, I found Him asking me “Is that enough?” Here we are in the season focused on the precious Gift of the Christ Child, and my selfish heart is asking for more. How much I still have to learn.
I do believe that that God gives us desires of our hearts and there is a way to reconcile that with the Sufficiency of His Person. There is a Way Because He is both. I can’t quite reconcile it all in my head just yet to know how to hold on to one and rest in the other, but I know that He knows those details.
So, that’s where I’m at. I still am a mother who just lost two more children, and I grieve. But my grief doesn’t feel overwhelming, endless, or purposeless.
These are some questions we’ve received several times that I thought I’d attempt to answer.
How is this different than last time?
In a transfer, the babies are put in my uterus, but they still have to “grab on” the good old fashioned way. That’s still entirely up to God and nature. In our last transfer, they did grab on, we got pregnant, and then we miscarried. In this case, they just never implanted. We don’t now specifically when they were lost, and we were never officially pregnant in this case. The end result is the same-our babies are in Heaven and not with us. But functionally, the process is very different. For one, there is no trauma to my body like there is with a miscarriage. For that I’m grateful. In one sense, that makes it much easier. The memories I have of the night I lost the girls still haunt me to this day. I have and will have nothing like that with this loss. On the other hand, that makes it tough, too. The babies just left me one day, and we have no idea when. That ambiguity is a little odd.
Are the results conclusive?
Yes. This news was confirmed through a blood test to check for HCG, the pregnancy hormone. My blood was drawn at a late enough point in the process that even if the babies had implanted at the last possible second in the biological “window” of possible implantation time, there would still be measurable levels of HCG by now. The fact that there are none, means there never will be any, with regard to this transfer and those babies.
When will we try again?
We don’t know. We need to process this grief. We need to “detox” my body of all the hormones and let it return to normal. We need to save the money again for another transfer. Then we need to gear up another cycle of hormones in preparation. So, not for several months, at least. We still have 8 babies in frozen storage. And we are committed to giving every single one of them a chance at life. So we must do this again, at least several more times. We just don’t know when the next time will be.
We had our Christmas dinner at church tonight. It was wonderful. I spearheaded cooking dinner for 100 people and worked with my DH and some amazing ladies to get it done. We enjoyed wonderful fellowship. And sweet Skyler gave me all the hugs and snuggles I could want…the best medicine in the world. But, now, I’m exhausted. Tears, trauma and tasks will do that to you! My sweet DH has been kind enough to wait up with me while I finished this so I should wrap it up and go to bed.
Please pray for us. I feel strong and composed tonight, but I also know my flesh and will are weak. Please pray for His strength, composure and peace. Please pray for rest for us. Please pray as we continue to process and mourn. I know the coming days will be difficult.
And please join us in thanking God for His wonderful mercies: Christ has come and will come again, He loves us patiently, our babies are in Heaven with Him, He quiets the questions of our hearts, and He has given us remarkable family and friends. Despite my mid-weekend faltering, the weekend was, and we indeed are, blessed!
Love to you all.