It is a very, very strange thing to be carrying a child who is exactly half-way gestated on the same day doctors would have said a different, older child should be completely at term. In the shocked, overwhelming beginning of this pregnancy, I felt like loving the baby we have was a way of betraying the one we had just lost. Sometimes now loving the other one seems like a betrayal of the one who -by some miracle I cannot yet wrap my mind around- grows right on schedule and has all the right body parts, frequently jabbing them into the walls of the home my own body provides. The other miscarriages were spaced far enough apart that the pregnancies would not have overlapped in any way, so this is a new sort of grieving. (I am not complaining – I think the bittersweet path that leads to a baby in your arms is far preferable to the one that just seems bitter, but it’s a little more intense.)
There was a day in July when I took three naps and developed a blister under my ring, and while I was sick of hoping for news of a baby coming… I knew it was happening. After the Wal-Mart test confirmed this, my college room-mate squealed on the phone with me even though she was in a library in Indiana, and I put a sign on the big blue chicken coop to tell Aaron he had someone even more important to take care of. We hugged and he hoped for a cute little girl like the one he had seen at lunchtime with little braids over her shoulders. I slept a lot – A LOT. I shared the anxious joy of close due-dates with someone dear who had a similar history to me and we prayed for two healthy babies to come this spring.
Just a few weeks later, I bossed my midwife’s new nurse around when the dread crept over me, demanding blood tests that proved I was right to be concerned. Arriving home from the decisive ultrasound that showed a way-too-small baby who never even had a heartbeat, my computer was playing a song called, “God will take care of you.” To this day I have no idea how it ever got into my music library in the first place. I sat on the couch and sobbed while the friend who had squealed earlier read me Psalms over the phone.
Then I was relieved and guilty about how great it felt to not be sick anymore, and I thought making the announcement sign for the chicken coop -still folded on Aaron’s dresser as if to taunt me- was the dumbest thing I’d ever done. I sat around and it took hours to get anything accomplished. I painted my toenails. I begged Aaron for a puppy. I told him I hated our house, I didn’t want to have kids anymore, and I wanted to pretend like none of this even happened in the first place.
Summer trips were not cancelled, so I drove to Michigan alone and listened to the last Harry Potter audiobook, where Harry prepares for battle by internalizing the inscription on his parents’ graves: “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” It had to be my rallying cry, too. My belly was swollen with death, and I made sure to sip wine conspicuously while giving a too-morbid toast at my sister’s wedding, praying that no one would make awkward baby comments to me because I just wasn’t ready to go there. (It felt very strange to hope I just looked chubby.) I hate that negativity seems so much stronger than truth, because the only thing I remember about finally breaking the news to friends and family was hearing that, “God just wants you to get settled after Aaron gets a job and THEN have a baby. You have too much going on to think about that right now!” That still hurts. I’m sure many people told us they loved us and they were sorry.
And while I spent the weeks after in a haze of confusing blood tests, there was so much love all around. I remember the beautiful postcard from the squealing psalm-reader, old friends who visited from afar with gourmet cheeses and Cabernet Sauvignons, and friends nearby who cleaned my closets and made me leave the house with them and brought us meals for weeks. Meals! For weeks! They made my life infinitely easier and cut our household spending that month by almost the exact amount of all the co-pays and lab fees associated with the whole debacle. I heard that song about God’s care ringing in my head every time I heated a meal, paid a bill, and wrote a thank-you note. Was I “over” it? No. Was I cared for? Yes.
Sometimes I still get really angry thinking it would have been better if I hadn’t even been pregnant, or wondering why we couldn’t have just had this baby then. Why mess with the heartache if we were going to get a healthy baby a few months later anyway? I marvel at the ironic mystery that God still said yes to some of the early prayers of anxious summer joy — two babies (healthy twins!) arrived last week for the people we shared our due date with. (I also got the puppy I asked for! hooray, hooray!) None of this makes any sense yet. It might always be like that. Sometimes not knowing is a gift, even when it doesn’t seem that way.
Today I know beyond any doubt that I was created for eternity, proved like C.S. Lewis says, by desires and love that cannot be satisfied by anything on earth. I dearly love two babies, each formed in the image of God, and the strange timing of these pregnancies does not diminish either of them. Both of their lives are worth celebrating, even if I’m not sure how to do it. And my current pregnancy with Li’l Kicker here does not remedy the real problem of any of my miscarriages. Any death happens because of the fall, and while it is very normal to especially long for a miraculous pregnancy, there is no promise that anyone will definitely have a baby, or that having a baby takes away the sting of death. A child always a gift, never a guarantee. I can’t expect this coming baby to answer these questions when I know I have never lacked the only promised child I have ever needed. The remedy for the consequences of the fall is the gospel, not having a baby.
“Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead… for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” – I Corinthians 15
“God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16
I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul. – Psalm 31:7