When Nightmares Come True: Facing Miscarriage and Keeping Your Faith
- 2011 23 Jun
I woke with a surge of fear. Oh God, my baby! The words shot through me as I sought to distinguish reality from the image of a miscarriage still vivid in my mind.
I let out a long breath. It wasn't real. It was just a dream.
I wrapped my arms around myself and stared at the ceiling fan whirling slowly through the darkness. Surely God wouldn't allow anything to happen to this baby. After all, we had been trying to get pregnant for almost three years now. It had been a roller coaster ride of emotions - hope and fear and disappointment chasing each other through our hearts. Now, finally, I was pregnant. And I had to stay that way.
Later that day, I went about my business as if nothing had happened that morning. I had blood drawn for prenatal tests, stopped at the store to purchase crackers and milk, and came home again to rest.
Then, it happened. I started to bleed. Within a half hour we were ushered into a small examination room at my doctor's office. The doctor, her usually cheerful face drawn with sympathy, pulled a cart of machinery up to the table. "We'll need to do an ultrasound, to see if . . ." She didn't finish her sentence. She didn't need to.
As she moved the probe at different angles, I saw nothing on the screen but grey fuzz. She shut off the machine. "I'm sorry. It's too late." The words were barely a whisper.
The baby was gone. My nightmare had come true.
As we left the doctor's office, grief and shock mixed together, leaving me in a daze of pain.
When we reached home, a dozen reminders of my loss assaulted me - a congratulations card on my desk, a baby name book on the coffee table, a bag of maternity clothes waiting to be taken to our bedroom.
I sat on the couch and stared at nothing.
Slowly, my hand reached for the baby name book, the touch of it seeming to sear my fingers as I picked it up and flipped through the pages. I paused, my eyes lingering over the names we had marked: Andrew, Jared, Thomas . . . Brianna, Justine, Michelle . . . Tears lodged in my throat as I dropped the book and fell to my knees.
For a long time, I sat there, unmoving, until in the midst of my grief and hopelessness, a single scripture spoke in my mind. Yet, it wasn't the scripture I would have expected. Not a scripture of comfort, or hope in God's power, or a promise of future blessings. No, it was one spoken by Job, when he, too, was faced with tragedy: "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." Job 1:21 (NIV).
It was then that the tears came, a flood of them, like a tumbling river. I knew about how God gave us a baby, and I was experiencing the agony of taking the child away, but how could I praise Him in the midst of a nightmare-come-true?
Still shaking, I rose and went into the other room to get Bryan's guitar. As I came back, I handed him the instrument. "Play for me." I choked on the words. "Not something about me, something about God."
Without a word, he took the guitar and began to play. "Great is Thy Faithfulness, O God my father . . ." The words washed through me, beckoning, questioning. Could I still sing them, even now?
Oh God, I can't. Help me. With a shuddering breath, I squeezed my eyes shut and pushed the words past the lump in my throat. "Thy compassions, they fail not . . ."
As I sang, my eyes lifted until, through my tears, I saw the cross that sits on our television. I drew a shuddering breath. God understands the pain of losing a child. His Son died on the cross. Was God now allowing me to experience a bit of His own pain? If so, could I trust Him enough to go through this nightmare without anger and accusations?
Another verse from Job came to me: "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" Job 2:10 (NIV)
New understanding flooded me. If I praised God, if I claimed that God was good and just and kind when things were going well, then I needed to be able to say the same things when times were terrible. If I only praised God when circumstances were good, what did that say about my faith?
I began to sing again, my voice growing stronger despite the pain, the loss, the tears that still flowed unhindered down my cheeks. And while I sang, I prayed not so much for comfort but for a faith that could share the pain of God Himself and come out stronger on the other side.
In time, as I went on in the years to come to face another miscarriage and another and another, until reaching six in all, I finally I began to see that suffering and sorrow are not the enemies I'd once thought, but are tools in the hands of a loving God to mold me into the woman He desires me to be. I only need to keep seeking Him, pouring my pain and doubts before Him, and singing even when it's the last thing I want to do.
Now, though I still grieve the loss of our children, I know that God used those young, brief lives for a purpose in His Kingdom. I will never be the same. Because of those children, my faith no longer is based on the ever-changing circumstances of my life but on the unchanging glory and wonder of God. And now, through the window of deep suffering, I can see God more clearly, and I know that all things, even miscarriage, can be transformed in His hands.
Originally posted July 5, 2010
Marlo Schalesky lives with her family in Salinas, California. She's the author of eight books. Find out more about Marlo's books, including her latest novel Shades of Morning at www.marloschalesky.com. While there, check out the excerpt for Shades of Morning (www.marloschalesky.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/ShadesOfMorningSC1.pdf ), various interviews (www.marloschalesky.com/media/ ), and resources for the infertility journey (www.marloschalesky.com/resources/ ). You can also connect with Marlo on her Facebook author page (www.facebook.com/MarloSchalesky) where the focus is on deeper living for everyday people.