I'm apprehensive tonight. I'm about to wear my heart on my sleeve in a new way, and I'm actually a bit anxious about it.
If you follow me on facebook or my blog ever, there's a pretty good chance that you've noticed I'm one of those people that typically walks around with her heart on her sleeve. I'm what you might call an open book. I don't have a poker face and can't hide my feelings for more than a minute or two (if that long).
I say things straight up like I see them, I call a spade a spade, am often called candid and blunt, and I tend to share my burdens and failures quite easily as well.
I try to be an open book about the joys and struggles of motherhood; the challenges of two becoming one in every facet of life the way marriage demands and how its wonderful and often painful; the incredible pain I've experienced over the last 16 months since losing my Mom; the daily challenges of living on a one-income budget while raising four children. I try to be an open book about most everything.
(Okay honestly I don't try that hard...I'm so extroverted that it all just kind of pours out of me.)
But tomorrow morning I'll be wearing my heart on my sleeve in a new way, and I admit I'm a bit nervous.
A journalist from our local paper called me last week and asked if she could interview me for an article she was writing about miscarriage. She had gotten my name from a colleague that we have in common.
Caring deeply about the hearts of those going through miscarriage, Paul and I readily said yes to the opportunity to share our story. It's a story that many have also gone through, but also a story that most haven't heard because no one wants to talk about it.
You've probably noticed in your own life that the world we live in every day, even within our close friend groups, churches, etc., ignores pretty much all things personal or uncomfortable. I have never understood why. I personally think it's alot more uncomfortable to sit in a room with an elephant than to just talk about whatever it is that needs talking about.
Miscarriage is one of those really hard things that gets ignored. And so men and women suffer silently as babies die and dreams crumble and bodies ache and hearts shatter. Which is exactly why this journalist wanted to run a story on the impact of miscarriage.
But it's a risk, even for someone like me who shares most things quite openly. Because these are my babies we're talking about. And though Paul and I haven't met them yet, we love them. And we honor them. And we are so thrilled to know that in eternity we'll be reunited (or united for the first time, really). And so opening up my heart about the babies we've lost for really the first time ever is a big risk. Sure, I mention my miscarriages in my speaking events with adult women, and I briefly shared the experiences with my small group, but to sit for an hour-long interview and talk about my babies...last week was the first time. And then to let how many thousands of people read about it in the paper tomorrow...whoa. Heart on my sleeve in a brand new way.
And I'm a little anxious.
You might be wondering about the babies we lost. In 2007 we had a miscarriage at 6 weeks, and in 2011 we had a miscarriage at 10 weeks. Both were scary and sad and confusing. Because the first one was earlier it wasn't as physically invasive so the emotional struggle hit harder sooner. We had only known about the positive pregnancy test for a week, but still in that one week we had told everyone and had a thousand hopes and dreams already piling high in our hearts. We were totally in love. And then our hearts broke when the bleeding started. We never regretted telling everyone though - my husband always says that we aren't going to hold back from celebrating one of God's miracles just because there's a risk we might lose the miracle. We celebrate every miracle during the time we have it. So we continued in subsequent pregnancy to tell everyone early.
That baby would have been born in June, so to honor that baby, we used June as our next daughter's middle name - Lillian June.
And in Lillian June, born about 11 months after our first miscarriage, we saw in an amazing way how God takes ashes and creates beauty. I don't know why God allowed that miscarriage and I don't need to know why He allows what He allows. If we try to figure out all the "whys" in life and death we'll go absolutely crazy. Bonkers.
But I do know that out of those ashes God created something absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. Lillian June. And so we praise God. He alone can take the ashes of our pain and make something so beautiful.
Our next miscarriage in 2011 was extremely physically painful and ended in a horrific ER experience in which the miscarriage happened in full in a crowded waiting room where about a hundred people with sprained ankles stared at me in horror as I was in pain on the floor crying and bleeding for over an hour. Absolutely horrid. And when we finally got into a room and the doc confirmed that the miscarriage was complete, I just sobbed to Paul and said never again. No way. We have three healthy beautiful children. I have suffered two miscarriages. I'm done. Done. Done. Done.
So the physical pain and the anger of the situation and the humiliation of having to lose my baby in a waiting room all took a few days or a week to wear off before the sadness and grieving really hit me. That baby would have been my fourth c-section, so because of the early scheduling for such an event I already knew the likely birthdate - January 19. Not a January 19 will go by again when I won't think about my baby.
And then, after a few weeks or months, the hope of Christ began anew in my heart again. Paul and I had known since we were dating that we would have four children, and God told me that we were in fact not done, but that He wanted to again create beauty from the ashes. So, about a year later, Griffin Bruce. And oh my goodness has that boy stolen my heart. You should see his eyes. Beauty from the ashes.
And our story is unique, just like every story is unique, because we have four healthy children. And we know that many people reading this blog and many more people who read tomorrow's article may be suffering miscarriage after miscarriage, losing all hope in a healthy pregnancy. And I am so sorry if that's your story. My heart aches alongside you.
And many others reading this or the article tomorrow will be struggling with the pain and grief of infertility and childlessness. And again, if that's your story, I am so sorry. And although I haven't walked that road, I have many friends who have. And my husband has many friends who are walking that road. And we grieve with you. We will walk alongside you and we love you.
And what I want you, in any of these scenarios, to keep in mind, is that God grieves with us too. God loves babies. LOVES them. More than any one of us could ever imagine. I think that we take our joy at the birth of a baby, and multiple it by like a bazillion, which is unimaginable, and we still aren't close to how much God loves babies. And God loves us. Believe it or not, as much as He loves babies. It actually blows my mind to think about it. And He grieves along side us.
The reality of death in this world is obviously and certainly something God allows but I think it's also something that God grieves. God is a God of life and the reality of death because of the weight of sin in the world aches the heart of God. So He grieves with you. And He loves you. So let Him hold you. Let Him calm you with His peace. (And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7)
And let the hope of eternity reign in your heart because death doesn't win. Ever.
Life wins. Praise the Lord that life wins. Every single time.
One of the first things Paul said to me after my mom died, within the first few hours when we were reeling with the news, was that my Mom gets to be Grandma in Heaven. It still brings me to my knees. Grandma Pam had two grandbabies in Heaven just waiting for Grandma to come rock them. Or play with them or tickle them or teach them how to bake cookies or quilt (it depends how old we are in Heaven, and I definitely don't claim to know an answer to that one!)
But how much does that rock your whole world? That your babies, if you've lost one baby or many, are waiting for you. And the hope we have in Christ GUARANTEES us that though we are separated for a short time here, Eternity is WAY longer. Wow. Praise God. And my kids on earth have two siblings in Heaven. Wow. Seriously all I can say is praise the Lord. His love endures FOREVER.
So my heart is on my sleeve in a whole new way. I feel like I'll be walking into church tomorrow totally naked. And I'm nervous. But you know, isn't that what life is all about anyway? I have pain and you have pain so why don't we talk about it. If we talk about the pain together, then we'll have so much more reason to celebrate the joy together, right?
So feel free to talk to me. Cry with me. Celebrate with me. I'm the one wearing my heart on my sleeve.