Thursday, October 3, 2013

Troubled Journeys

There are some journeys no one wants to take.

My wife and I have had a pretty crazy journey just to get married, we are still amazed and thankful that we found each other and love each other so much. Joy was the theme of our wedding and remained a theme of our marriage. Our theme verse is Psalm 126:3. Inscribed on my wedding ring is:

The Lord has done great things for us

And on her ring is the rest:

and we are filled with joy.

Joy filled our lives, especially marrying so late. The only thing that would increase our joy even more would be adding to our family. We both wanted children. Such things are easier to desire and harder to achieve.
It had taken us months with disappointment after disappointment. We saw doctors. We were finding it would be very difficult for us to have a child at all. We went to her doctor. We went to my doctor. My doctor sent me to a specialist. Surgery was discussed.

Then it happened. As we spent days weighing the necessity of surgery, that little test proved positive. The signs started to appear. Her doctor’s office confirmed our home test and sent us to a great obstetrician. There they confirmed with yet another test, they loaded us down with pamphlets and software galore to help us prepare. Even then the thought was overwhelming and exciting. Suddenly there was a whole part of the world opening to us. Things I used to be able to pass over I now paid attention with great interest. Most department stores have a whole section for babies – who knew?! It had seemed God had given us a little miracle of our own.

And how would we tell our friends and family? We didn’t just want to call and tell; we wanted it to be special. A plan was hatched! We had a clever idea and having just gotten a car for my wife, we used that as a convenient excuse to go to Utah and announce the happy news in person.

How often do plans go smoothly, without a hitch? Seriously, I’d like to know…

We were near the Idaho-Utah border when it started. Amanda noted she had some spotting. It wasn’t much, but just the word sent chills down our spines. We called her OB’s office where we were told not to worry unless it got worse. It didn’t quite stop, but it didn’t seem to get a lot worse. Hoping for the best, we continued down to Utah to her grandparents. We announced the news with the book, enjoying the reactions. We were praying the entire time.

In the morning, we got up. My wife said she didn’t seem to be having any trouble. Her grandfather wanted to take me to the small airfield with her cousin so we could take a look at his kit-plane and so the latter could see about getting his pilot’s license renewed. I was wary about leaving her alone – granted her grandmother would be there too – but understanding this was fun for her family, she encouraged me to go. I’ll admit, it was a lot of fun, and if things didn’t get worse, I might have had a chance to fly as well.

Things got worse. Not a lot, but worrisome all the same. She texted me while her cousin was in the air. Suddenly I couldn’t sit down. I started to pace nervously. I couldn’t relax. When would he get back? My worried attitude was readily apparent to her grandfather – which meant I was very worried. I normally don’t show a lot of emotion. That I couldn’t hide it meant I was truly afraid. Though they offered to let me fly, I noted it was more important we get back.

She was worried as well, I could feel it, but we still hoped for the best. After all, it still wasn’t bad. It was just … there. We had a little lunch at one of our favorite places to eat while we’re in Utah – Rib City. We went to One Sweet Slice (they made our wedding cake, the best wedding cake ever) to cash in a coupon. We tried to carry on as if things might be okay, but really that dark cloud was forming. There were two calls to her OB. We were assured we shouldn’t need to go in unless things got a lot worse. They never really did but the shadow remained. At last the fear was too much. We couldn’t delay any longer. We hurried with her grandmother to the emergency room.

I’ll be honest, most of the time I’m just fine in an emergency room. As young asthmatic boys my brother and I went to the emergency room so often that the staff knew our family by name. In those sorts of situations one either gets terribly stressed by the mention of such things or one gets so used to them that it’s hardly a bother, even welcome. I’m amongst the latter. I felt no ease this time. We still prayed. I’ll admit, I was begging the Lord often. “Please, please don’t break her heart. Please let the baby be well.” Again, my fear was readily apparent. My poor wife was terrified as well and needed reassurance. I found a little entertainment in rolling back and forth on the doctor’s stool, doing what I could to give her a smile. It’s not easy to do something like that when inside you feel a shadow growing over your heart.

The nurses took blood, they made her do tests, and they even performed an ultrasound. In the few short hours we kept giving information, and got little back. Smiles from the nurses and doctors did little to reassure us. The dearth of information was more ominous than anything. Waiting in silence was even harder. The door opening to our exam room became one of frightful anticipation. Again, we just wouldn’t stop praying.
After a long evening, the results came in: a completed miscarriage.

For us, there could be few words any worse to hear, but there it was. All that excitement and anticipation were gone in an instant. Even before those words, even when the bleeding got worse, we could cling to the smallest thread of hope. Please, please baby be okay. Please God let the baby be well. But in a few words that thread was cut. It was over abruptly.

There was a baby. We loved the baby. For a few short weeks, we got to enjoy a love that is a pale glimpse of what the Father has for us. Even before we are born He loves us as His own. Even before our baby was even noticeable to anyone, we loved that child with all our hearts. We were filled with joy in the anticipation of its arrival.

I’m not sure where that joy went. It’s gone. I’m not sure I understand why we were allowed to have this anticipation at all. I’m afraid I still get a bit angry with God at times. Why would He do this? If He didn’t want us to have children, why let us believe we could? If He did, why let us go through such a thing? Why did He have to break her heart? It hurt with such an ache I can hardly describe. It still hurts. I am less angry now. I apologizeto Him  for my anger.

Trepidation fills the hole that joy left. What if we can’t have kids? What if we never do? What if this was our only chance? Sadness layers atop the fear. There was a child we loved. When all sense would say we have no reason to love it, we did. Bitterness fills in the cracks. How is it that people entirely unsuited to have children are able to have many and we cannot? It gets worse as I log into social networks and see all my friends and family celebrating their children, old and new. I can only feel a sense of loss. I feel unfairly bitter towards even those I know to be great parents. I may just stay away from Facebook for a while. It seems to remind me too much of what we might have had.

We had a recent visit to her OB. There the doctor gave us a few facts to help us understand. I’ll admit that it probably helped me more than my wife. My analytical mind loves facts, and it clung to those facts as if they were driftwood in the open sea keeping me afloat. It was nothing we did, and nothing we could have done. It is more common than one would think. We could still have children. My wife struggles, as do I. I’ve found I don’t know what she clings to, but it seems she clings to me. I desperately want to find that stable point for her, and some days it just seems nowhere to be found. I’m reaching out to the Lord, but my fears and doubts surround me. Is He reaching back?

Anger and bitterness subside. I hope the Lord can forgive my anger. I know He has plans for us and is still with us. I fear should He return anger for anger; I am thankful I know He is forgiving and loves us. I pray for the comfort we need. In time, I’m sure, the pain will heal some and life will return to normal.

But that’s just the problem. We didn’t want it to go back to normal.

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