October is Pregnancy/Infant Loss Awareness month and although it has been almost eight years since my husband and I experienced the loss of the first child in my womb, my heart has been stirred to mourn with those who have walked through and are walking through the pain of losing a little one…no mattered the age.
Last year I gave birth to our third child and I recall when I was being admitted to the hospital, the nurse was asking me a variety of routine questions, one of which was “How many pregnancies have you had?”
When I answered off the cuff, “This is my fourth…my first one was a miscarriage,” she turned around from her computer, looked at me with the most compassionate eyes and said, “Oh, I am so sorry for your loss.” Her response moved me, and I realized that time in my life mattered then and it still matters today.
So much time has passed, and life continues on that I don’t think about it much, but I believe it is important to remember that was my first child.
I don’t know why women don’t speak about loss or miscarriage much or why we may feel like we don’t have to mention it, but that kind response from my L&D nurse really made me reflect and remember and want to talk about it and share that time in my life.
I believe it is important to remind your heart that the life that was inside of you greatly mattered to God, and for whatever reason that we do not have to know, He needed them in heaven with Him instead of on earth. We must trust His sovereign plan is for our good and for His glory, even when it hurts so deeply. It has been said that grief comes in waves and you need to give yourself permission to experience each wave as it comes as you walk through the process. Yet, we must remember that when it comes to grief, as believers, we stand apart from those without Christ.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 encourages those who may have experienced the temporal sting of death to fix our gaze upon the life that is to come. As believers, we have a hope in Jesus that a resurrection of our bodies awaits us for eternity.
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (NIV).
I remind my heart of this great hope that one day, I will meet that precious babe that the Lord knit in my womb. So I pray for each woman who has experienced the kind of painful loss of a child for the Lord to not only bring them healing and peace if the wound is fresh on their heart, but to encourage them to not be afraid to tell others about all their babies…both earth-side and in heaven.
Father, we pray for all the mothers who have felt the deep pain of miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss of their precious babes that were formed in their wombs all for Your glory. No matter how long their tiny hearts were beating, Your plan for their precious lives had meaning and purpose. Letting go and trusting You during these times of mourning and great questions can be difficult, so we ask that you strengthen and renew their faith that You will carry them through this trial. As the waves of grief come crashing in on them, remind their heart of the hope that they have in Christ. Holy Spirit, help these grieving mothers to fix their gaze upon heaven where the promise of eternal life awaits them. Give them a voice to share their story of Your goodness and faithfulness during this difficult time. Thank You for bringing a peace that passes all understanding and healing broken hearts in Your timing. In Jesus’ name, amen.
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” -1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18, NASB.
A friend of mine shared a graphic on social media the other day that stopped me in my tracks and convicted my weary heart. It was a brief but powerful list of reasons to be thankful when we are tempted to complain. It said:
Early wakeups = Children to be loved
House to clean = safe place to live
Laundry = clothes to wear
Dishes to wash = food to eat
Endless questions = kids’ brains growing
If I am honest, I have not rejoiced in these blessings at all. I have complained, and often. So much so, I caught my six-year-old repeating phrases I had been saying as I grumbled with bitterness throughout my day.
Right after I saw that post on social media, the Holy Spirit brought the scripture to my mind that our pastor had just preached on Sunday earlier in the week; it was from 1 Thessalonians 5.
The Apostle Paul exhorts the believers at Thessalonica with these commands:
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing;in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18, NASB).
I knew that the Bible talks consistently about the sin of complaining, but I did not realize how important it is for a believer to make joyful thanksgiving every moment of every day. In fact, it is God’s will for us to do this because we are in Christ and in Christ, we have much to be grateful for!
Knowing that our flesh would so much rather complain, grumble, stress out, and look at everything that is wrong, there is no doubt as to why the Apostle Paul tells us to pray without ceasing. We must lift up our hearts to the Lord for help if we are to walk in thanksgiving when the pressures of this life crowd in around us and try to weigh us down. We need His grace to rejoice. We need His strength to face each day, especially when our current season of life is stressful and physically and mentally exhausting.
Lately, I have been physically and emotionally drained. Stress has been so high for me that I was beginning to grow resentful. I truly needed a shift in my perspective because it was affecting my heart in major ways.
In addition to being thankful for my growing children, the safety and comfort of my home, clothes on my back, and food in my belly, as a believer, most of all, I needed God’s help to remind my soul of the eternal blessings that I have in Christ.
In Christ, I have access to the Father to come to Him in prayer because I am His child. In Christ, I have hope for eternal life. In Christ, I have peace knowing that my sins have been forgiven and I am justified before a Holy God. When I am tempted to complain about the stress and inconveniences of life, I must look to Jesus and ask Him to remind my heart of all of these blessings that are lavished upon me that I truly do not deserve, both earthly and eternal. It is God’s will for us to rejoice and be thankful, so may God’s will be done in my heart.
I am weary and worn out from the cares of this life. My heart is heavy and stressed and my body is feeling the effects of it all that seems to be weighing me down. My heart has become bitter and ungrateful; I have taken many blessings in my life for granted. Father, I repent of my complaining and grumbling. I know that I do not deserve anything that You have lavished upon me. You do not owe me a thing, yet you are such a great Father and provide for my needs and grant me Your unmerited favor and mercy each new day.
In addition to my physical needs being met, you have given me eternal life in Jesus Christ and peace knowing my sins have been forgiven because of what Jesus did for me on the cross when He laid down His life for me.
I come to You to help me rejoice and ask You to fill my heart with thanksgiving. Please remind my heart to begin each day with a grateful heart and know that I can pray anytime I am struggling with bitterness or I am tempted to grow resentful for all that You have freely given to me. Help me guard my heart against anything that may cause it to grow hard and bitter.
Thank You, Jesus, for Your sacrifice and for the life that I find in You alone.
For me, one of the hardest things during pregnancy is not so much the morning sickness (although that is pretty rough). It’s not the weight gain, back aches, swollen ankles, insomnia, constant potty breaks in the middle of the night, or not being able to bend over to pick anything up without making weird noises. Although all of those things can make life a struggle, especially when you are chasing around two other littles, the most difficult part for me is the last few weeks of pregnancy…
…and not knowing when the day is going to be.
It takes a level of trusting God and leaning into His sovereignty like no other major life event. He is God. We are not. He is in control of all things. And we are not.
And birth is one of the greatest reminders of that…if you are allowed to let your body naturally call the shots and don’t have any kind of medical interventions, of course, and that was my goal this pregnancy just like my previous one with my son, James.
My hospital experience with Isaiah, my first born, was a bit traumatic- my water unexpectedly broke at 37.6 weeks at 1am, contractions stalled and no amount of walking was helping jumpstart labor, so the doctor approached us with the concern that the longer we waited, we risked infection for the baby, so Paul and I prayed and decided to take the doctor’s advice and be put on Pitocin to help my body along.
I will just say this: 12 HOURS ON PITOCIN AND NO EPIDURAL was NOT my idea of a natural childbirth, but God gave me the grace and strength to endure those 25 hours from the time my water broke to the time I was holding the baby boy who made me a momma.
God has an amazing way of taking a painful experience and making something beautiful out of it, and because of the chain of events that happened the day Isaiah was born, the Lord brought restoration to an area of my life that was broken. You can read more about that here.
Although difficult, I was thankful for a healthy baby and a safe labor and delivery at a hospital, but from that moment on, I knew I wanted my next labor and delivery to be quite different, so I chose to deliver our next son, James, at a birth center under the amazing care of midwives instead of an OB.
To be completely honest, Jesus brought so much redemption and healing with that experience, and I just remember being so filled with joy after I looked at my amazing teammate of a husband in the eyes who was literally my anchor during it all and scooped up my sweet prince into my arms. My water broke to initiate labor this time too, but there was no delay in stopping that boy from being born; In typical James’ fashion, he came into the world like a rocket in just under two hours after arriving at the birth center…as their 1,000th birth since they opened as a facility. You can read more about that birth story here.
When we found out we were pregnant with our third in January 2020 (after only trying once…God is good!), I didn’t hesitate to decide where our next baby would be born. I called the birth center and set up my first appointment where the boys were able to hear the baby’s heartbeat, and since the birth center had added some new ultrasound equipment since James was born, we were also able to catch a glimpse of the little peanut growing in my belly. Everything looked and sounded great! What a precious memory for me to experience with my two oldest before the whole world shut down just a few weeks later.
That is the word that comes to mind when I reflect on my entire experience with our third son, baby Jude, as you will see.
Just a few weeks after my initial prenatal appointment, I received a letter in the mail from our insurance company- the birth center was no longer contracted with United Health Care.
My heart sank and tears began to well up in my eyes. I don’t want another hospital birth! I cried to Paul. Especially during a global pandemic! I searched and searched the internet to find another option.
What about the birth center at Mercy Hospital? I thought. Two of the midwives at the birth center worked there! This would be great!
Sadly, it was out-of-network with our insurance.
What about a homebirth? Yes, that settles it. I am having a homebirth.
If you know my husband, Paul, you know how that was out of the question. He works with data in the medical community for a living and calculates risk for fun. You will never find us on vacation on a cruise. “It’s a death trap! Like being in a giant steel coffin in the middle of the ocean…no thank you!”
But on a serious note, looking back, I see how God had a specific plan for this pregnancy and how He ordained every step of the way even at 14 weeks along. I was able to find a family physician that I had been wanting to see as my own primary care doctor when I was postpartum with James, but she was only accepting patients who were currently pregnant, as she also delivered babies. This doctor was a major contributor of advocating for more natural childbirth at Mercy Hospital and helped their birth center get off the ground before she opened her own practice. She also trained as a midwife’s assistant before beginning medical school. AND her practice was in-network with our insurance! And not only would I get to see her during my pregnancy and postpartum, I would finally have a primary care physician for the first time since I was in college!
My pregnancy was a rather smooth one once we made it out of the dreaded first trimester nausea and fatigue, and I truly enjoyed getting to form a relationship with my new doctor, but every so often, I would get frustrated that I had to go the hospital route, especially as COVID restrictions kept changing.
As we approached my “guess date” of September 19th, I began to have a similar prodromal labor experience as I did with James. Contractions began to form patterns and they would intensify. I never knew if “this was it” or if the contractions would simply keep me awake through the night only to fizzle out. This in and of itself is pretty exhausting and stressful, especially when others’ schedules are impacted by your personal judgment and being terrified that you would run out of time and give birth in the car on the way to the hospital.
The week leading up to Jude’s birth was extremely stressful and emotional for Paul and I as our childcare plans continued to fall through and change last minute in addition to having one false alarm that resulted in a hospital trip mid-day to get “checked.” My doctor wanted me to do laps in the hallways to see if things would progress, and because of COVID policies, I had to wear a mask at all times and walk alone without Paul only to find out that I hadn’t progressed at all. Let’s just say I was so over it, that it was hard to hold back the tears by that point.
Contractions continued to come (and go) at various times in the day and night and finally, the day after my “guess date,” my water broke just like my other two pregnancies….hat trick! 😉 It happened around 7:30pm as I was climbing into the van to go grab Paul some White Castles. We will remember that story for a long time!
Since it was a Sunday night, Paul’s parents were able to come to the house to stay with the boys with no issues at all and on top of that, my mother-in-law Becky was off work the next day. Something I was so worked up and anxious about, ended up working out with ease.
I had been listening to sermons that entire week about not being anxious or worried because my Heavenly Father knows what I need and will provide. I simply just needed to trust Him. I’m so glad I prepared my heart with those teachings because I had no idea how much I would need to trust the Lord as I prepared to give birth to our sweet, baby Jude.
As we were admitted into the hospital, we were blessed with an incredibly kind and gentle L&D nurse who helped us remain peaceful; We were almost certain she was a believer. Suddenly as I got up to go to the restroom while contractions were still pretty mild, the nurse notice a unique coloration that indicated that the baby passed meconium in the womb. She calmly informed us that NICU staff had been notified in advance so that they were ready at the time of his birth just in case they were needed for an emergency situation.
Contractions continued to get stronger and I settled into position (which I discovered with James’ birth) where I get “in the zone.” Paul was an amazing support by my side, holding my hand and encouraging me through each wave of contraction. My awesome doctor arrived just as I began to make vocalizations to handle the pain and she was also encouraging me through the contractions and giving me sips of water. That is usually unheard of when it comes to OBs who mostly just show up at the very last minute to catch the baby.
My doctor was only in the room for less than hour by the time I felt the urge to push. I switched to an upright position on my knees with my arms around Paul to bear down as I began to push, which seemed so much more difficult than I remember with James. I heard the doctor tell me that the head was out, but then I kept wondering why it wasn’t over yet.
What I didn’t know was that Jude’s shoulders were stuck in the birth canal.
Suddenly, a swarm of nurses were around me as they turned me onto my back, and everyone did all they could to help Jude out. It was a slow night, so there was plenty of staff to come to the rescue.
Finally, there he was, but instead of instant skin to skin like I was promised, they rushed him to the table across the room where Paul met them. The NICU staff worked extremely fast and precise to intubate him to clear his airways because he did in fact swallow meconium and wasn’t breathing. As I was waiting to hear his precious little cry, I just kept praying “Please, Father” over and over again as the nurses by my side were telling me to calm my breathing. Finally, Jude cried, and I threw my hands up in worship and kept saying “Thank you, Jesus.”
One of the reasons, his birth was so difficult was because he was very unexpectedly two pounds heavier than Isaiah and James. Jude Samuel born at 1:39 am on 9/21/2020, and weighed in at 9.6 lbs- my doctor was absolutely shocked that baby fit inside my little belly. Most often, babies that big result in a C-section, but by the grace of God, Jude entered the world naturally and because of God’s grace and mercy and the amazing staff at Missouri Baptist Hospital, he is alive and healthy.
Once the doctors and nurses were able to stabilize his oxygen levels enough before they took him to the NICU for him to receive the care and observation he needed, the nurses swaddled him up in a blanket and put a hat on him for a quick family photo op. I was still trying to grasp what had just happened that I could barely smile. As I look at the photo now, I see that Paul’s eyes were welled up with tears and Jude’s gaze was locked on his momma.
A couple days after we came home from the hospital, Paul needed to process what he experienced in the whirlwind of events of Jude’s birth, and he shared with me that Jude was in fact limp and lifeless for what seemed like an eternity. I know it was a scary several minutes for me not knowing what was happening, but the reality of this news that Paul shared with me hit me like a ton of bricks. So instead of thinking about how awkward I look in this first photo with our third precious son, I will forever remember how I had no idea what God had just done, but I praised His name, knowing that He was faithful to hear my cries and saved my son.
I cannot truly put into words the gratitude that my heart has felt these last two weeks as I continue to process those extremely intense moments leading up to Jude’s birth and the moments of seeing my little man with all the tubes and wires on his tiny body when I nursed him for the first time in the NICU (of which his stay was brief at only five hours total). Truly, the Lord was so incredibly merciful to us that day. What the enemy meant for evil, God turned it for good, and our sweet Jude’s life was spared all for God’s glory.
I can’t help but see God’s providential hand from the beginning of my pregnancy with the birth center dropping our insurance so that I had to give birth at a hospital instead, to the very end with my water breaking to initiate labor to see that there was meconium in the fluid so that the NICU was ready and on-hand just in case.
Nothing with God is coincidence or happenstance; He is sovereign and in control of every detail in our life, guiding our every step. His work in our lives is providential through and through, and He causes all things to work out for our good and for His glory.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
After this life-changing experience, this verse is having a profound impact upon my heart as I continue to reflect on the goodness and faithfulness of God.
We serve a mighty God who is completely sovereign over all things in our lives. Because of that, He can be trusted.
Thank you, Lord, for our newest arrow, Jude Samuel, who will one day be sent out into the world to tell others of Your great love and share the Gospel wherever You send him. May we raise Him to testify of Your goodness and give You the glory You deserve, all the days of his life.