Tag Archives: pain

Thoughts on Grief: Miscarriage

3 Mar

It was a surprise–both the pregnancy and the loss. We had decided to forego any additional biological children in order to focus on foster care. But then on Dec 4, I took a pregnancy test (my period was late) and it came back positive. At first, we were disappointed because the pregnancy upset our plans–foster care, Europe, my new job. But over the course of December, we grew excited, talking about names, gender reveal methods, pregnancy announcements, etc.

But then the bleeding started. At first, it was just spotting. An ultrasound revealed that the baby was smaller than expected, with a heartbeat of 92 (slower than it should have been, I found out later). I also had a corpus luteum cyst on my left ovary, a subchorionic hemorrhage, and “debris” in the gestational sac. They said they expected these things to resolve on their own.

I left the doctor’s office with a bad feeling about the pregnancy, even though no one else, including the nurses, seemed to be overly concerned about things. I tried to put it out of my mind. We told my family about our exciting news over New Years weekend, and prayed for good news at the next ultrasound.

But that next ultrasound on Thursday showed the embryo had no growth from before, and no heartbeat, and the spotting I’d had had turned to blood. I had gone to the doctor’s office for the ultrasound alone. It wasn’t until the reality that we were losing the baby set in that I realized how fully pinned my hopes had been on hearing that things were fine.

I kept it together until I got out into the hallway and called Travis. The minute he answered the phone, I started sobbing. “The b-b-baby…d-d-doesn’t…h-h-have a…h-h-heartbeat,” I stammered. Travis quickly arranged for our neighbor to take the girls, even though it meant waking them up from their naps, and came to the hospital, while I sat in the nurse’s office and learned about our options. Travis arrived, we discussed what the nurse had said, and decided to wait and see if things would happen naturally. We scheduled an appointment with the OB for the following Monday, just in case things hadn’t progressed on their own by then.

After we left the hospital, we went to Caribou Coffee to digest what was happening before jumping back into the craziness of parenting. I confessed to Travis that I was mad at God. The thoughts running through my head were, “This is so like God. He gives us a surprise pregnancy and enough time to get excited about that change in our plans, and then the baby dies.” It felt like God was the ultimate manipulator, toying with our emotions just to prove to us how little control we have over our lives. “What was the point of this?!?” I screamed in my soul. I felt like we were just pawns in God’s schemes, and that He didn’t really care about us after all.

The next morning, Friday, I got up at 6 am to cramping and lots of blood. A surreal experience if there ever was one, knowing that it wasn’t just blood–it was my baby too. Thankfully, it wasn’t very painful, lasted only a few hours, and another ultrasound that following Monday showed that I did not need a D&C.

God enabled me to see His grace to us in the midst of our loss. I’m so incredibly thankful that my body miscarried on its own, and that it happened the day after we found out our baby had no heartbeat. I’m also grateful that we have the money to pay for the costly ultrasounds.

God also reminded me how I had prayed a few months earlier for Him to enable me to hold the options of having another biological child or pursuing foster care with open hands, willing to follow wherever He led. I discovered that I wasn’t as willing to follow as I had imagined myself to be. The Sunday following the miscarriage, I had a vision in church of Jesus standing on the other side of the waterfall, beckoning me to join Him with an outstretched hand. Am I willing to follow through the veil down the road of fully acknowledging and feeling my pain and sadness?

Faced with the sorrow of losing a baby less than a year after the death of my beloved mom, I felt the familiar feeling of not wanting to follow Jesus into hurt and pain. As if there were a choice; the hurt and pain are there regardless. For some reason, though, accepting the hurt and pain as God’s perfect plan makes the pain hurt more, makes the loss seem more final. It seems easier to kick against the goads and reject the reality of loss. With the death of my mom, I clung to God’s goodness and perfect ways like a buoy in a white-capped sea. With this miscarriage, though, I floundered in unbelief and anger.

It wasn’t until I humbled myself and read the Bible that God broke through my anger, bitterness, and accusations, and my heart softened. The truth was that Satan causes harm and destruction; God redeems and heals.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

This experience revealed how close sin and unbelief are to me. They’re crouching at the door, waiting to devour me. And the only weapon I have is the sword of the Spirit–the Word. Truth. And the Truth is that “This God–his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 18:30)

One unexpected grace that has come from this loss is that I appreciate and cherish my two daughters and husband more. I feel so blessed to have them–and I actually feel it in my heart, instead of just acknowledging it in my head. You would think that a loss like this would make you feel less content, not more. But losing an unborn baby has reinforced how much I truly love kids in general, and specifically my own kids–even when they’re driving me crazy, I’m so blessed that they’re mine.

This sadness has also made me aware that we are entering into a world of potential heartache with foster care. A world of unrealized hopes and dreams, of uncertain outcomes and tenuous relationships. But Travis and I continue to feel called in that direction.

Lord, whatever lies ahead, give us the faith and strength to follow You.

Worth Repeating {11/10/14}

10 Nov

worth_repeating

Being a stay-at-home mom is hard. I struggle with loneliness (because you’re alone, and yet not) a lot, even though I’ve been getting back into the swing of normal life. My kneejerk reaction to emotions that I don’t like is numbness – going through life on autopilot. But depending on God during the hard times meaning acknowledging the hardness, and trusting Him to be sufficient in the midst of it all.

That’s why I like this quote that I found on Pinterest. Such a great reminder that the hard times have their purpose.

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I’m leery of you, Legs.

15 Nov

Any runner knows that little aches and pains are a part of running. They usually go away on their own so they’re not really anything to get worked into a tizzy over.

Until they don’t go away.

And you have to sideline your dreams of running {insert race name}.

You even have to kiss some of your money good-bye  – not just because you registered for a race you can no longer run, but also because you need physical therapy, ice packs, foam rollers, compression tights and KT tape.

Even then, you’re not guaranteed that the pain won’t return.

That’s the dilemma I find myself in. Ever since I had to bail on the full marathon last year due to knee pain caused by IT band tightness, I haven’t trusted my legs. I want with all my heart to run the Eugene Marathon next April but to be honest, I’m not entirely confident that my legs can make it to the finish line healthy and injury-free. Every run I’ve done lately, I find myself with a nagging pain in a shin, a tightness in a hamstring, a clicking in a knee joint. Every ache and pain makes me leery. What if I can’t run this marathon either? What if I can’t prevent my IT band from getting tight? What if something else goes wrong that I can’t even predict or plan for right now?

Then I start thinking about how I’m probably the most unnatural runner ever.

Like chicrunner posted on her blog:

That picture makes me laugh every time I see it.

I know that I’m not the only runner who has ever gotten injured training for a marathon. I also know that plenty of people get injured at some point in their running career and yet go on to run marathons later. I’m also not the first runner to ever be discouraged or doubt themselves.

When you think about it, training for a marathon is really not all that different from pursuing a personal or professional dream – you take a risk and put in a butt-load of effort without knowing for sure what the end result is going to be. But you try to be smart about it. You take advice from other people who’ve blazed the trail. And you declare that quitting is not an option.

So I’m going to keep on keepin’ on with my training schedule and continue to intentionally fit in my mileage, strength training and the “good hurt” of foam rolling.

Just to make sure we’re clear, Legs:

I won’t go down without a fight.

Have you ever gotten injured during training? How did you recover mentally?

Faithful with the small things

18 Apr

Just a few weeks ago, I was sitting in bed accusing God of being silent about my life and what He wanted from me. The verse that crumbled my anger that night was 1 Thessalonians 5:24, “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”

He is faithful indeed.

Since that night, when I realized I had been measuring my life by what I do for God rather than by what He has done for me, I have felt like every message, discussion, song, and verse has been tailored for me, meeting me right where I am and giving me the exact encouragement I need in that moment.

Like last week, our care group discussion was about how Christians can make a radical difference in very “un-radical” circumstances. How do we live so that others notice we are different than the world? Very interesting conversation indeed.

My study of Romans has shown me that God had a purpose for my life even before the foundation of the world.

The book I’m reading, You Matter More Than You Think: What Every Woman Needs to Know About the Difference She Makes by Dr. Leslie Parrott, has reinforced what I have been learning about what makes life significant and meaningful.

And then Greg’s message last Wednesday during chapel was about how to continuously improve, not just in our spiritual lives but in our everyday lives.

Since all of these sources have impacted the thoughts running around in my head lately, this post may seem a jumbled mess of ah-ha moments. I will try to communicate as logically as my brain thinks (that’s a joke…)

In the post following my aforementioned revelation, I typed out a conversation I had had with God that morning. As a person who is usually skeptical of anything super-spiritual like hearing God actually speak, I have wondered if those words were contrived out of my own mind or if it was really God. While it did sound like me talking to myself in my head, the answers were immediate and formed like a response to my question. So I have to assume that the Holy Spirit was at least involved.

Because I like the conversation so much, I’m going to cut and paste it again here:

“But God, I still want my life to matter,” I said.

“My child, it already matters. I was willing to send my only Son to die for you and your life,” God replied.

“But I still want to do big things for you.”

“I know, Kathy, I know you do. Just be patient. I’ll open the doors for you.”

“So what do I do in the meantime?”

“Live your life for me and for others.”

“What does that look like?”

“Draw close to me and you’ll see.”

That little line “Live your life for me and others” is the key to a meaningful life, I believe. I think back over all the things I’ve struggled with over the past year or so…being convicted that I don’t share my faith enough, being self-conscious and lonely living in a new state, feeling lazy and self-centered in my hobbies and free time, wanting to see a tangible way that I am making a difference. All are solved by living a life of love for God and for others.

In her book, Leslie Parrott writes, “One of the fundamental truths I’ve learned about making a difference on this planet is that the road less traveled is not actually found in Calcutta or on the mean streets with the down and out. The road less traveled is ultimately found in the heart. It’s found in the heart of every woman who wants her life to make a difference and realizes that the difference is found, quite simply, in love. You walk the road less traveled whenever and wherever you bring more grace, compassion, understanding, patience, and empathy. More love. Why? Because a life of love is rare” (22-23).

Women, by nature, are designed to be relational and nurturing. We are designed to be intimate, intuitive, and loving. We are detail-oriented so that we can notice changes in a friend’s mood, sense a child’s hurt spirit, or remember our husband’s favorite dessert. We are multi-taskers so that we can run households full of children, dirty laundry, piles of dishes, and meals to cook.

But women can also feel incredibly under-appreciated. Though my husband does a wonderful job of thanking me for cleaning and cooking, I still have those moments when he does something inconsiderate (in my eyes) without his being aware of it. I have discovered the truth in Leslie Parrott’s words, “A woman’s pain either makes her bitter or makes her better.” And how do we women use pain or suffering to make us better instead of bitter? Gratitude.

A few more phrases from Leslie’s book: “…The more gratitude I cultivate for the suffering I endure, the less tethered I am to its weight…Gratitude unlocks a loving heart…The more gratitude you cultivate, the more grace you have for others…Grace and humility are two key components of gratitude and essential ingredients of love.”

[Good stuff, no?]

So the way I bring the most glory to God is by loving the people in my life, the people I come in contact with every day. These principles about gratitude, grace, humility, and love are biblical: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 John 4:7 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”

I would be tempted to think “Ok, so now I know that I should be loving people. But who? And how?”

That was the question answered by Greg on Wednesday. In essence, the part of his  message that was most poignant to me was this: “Make the most of now. Be faithful with your slice of the kingdom pie, which is what God has called you to do right now. You may not be called to whatever you’re doing for the rest of your life, but it’s what you’re called to do now. We miss out on God’s future vision for us because we don’t make the best of our current situation. Be faithful now and God will open up other doors down the road.”

Amen, brother. This puts into words what God has put on my soul for the past several months. And reassures me that I am where I am for a reason. Right now, I am living God’s purpose for me. God has given me today. He has asked me to be faithful with this day. To strive with every fiber of my being to live a life of love in order to bring glory and honor to the name of Jesus.

Greg also talked about pain, like Leslie Parrott does in her book. She writes, “Ultimately, the pain we carry in our hearts [or experience in our days] is the grinding stone that shapes us to love. It sharpens our capacity to be tender with another’s wounds and to empathize without judgment.” Greg said, “Pain is spiritual protein for us. It develops our spiritual muscles. So we should be grateful for every experience. If you are feeling frustrated at your job, slighted by someone, persecuted or mocked, the pain makes us stronger. Pain, it’s what’s for dinner.”

When I view struggles as contributing to my ability to love, then I can indeed be grateful for their presence in my life. And gratitude unlocks a loving heart.

I’ve already been able to put these realizations into action. Even though the non-profit ministry I work for is small (around 25 employees), there can be some tension between what we call the “sides” of the office (because we literally have 2 different offices that are across the hall from each other–admin/donors/events on one side, sales/marketing on the other side). After having some drama this past week between sides, I thought maybe Admin felt underappreciated, like the Mktg department always expects them to bend over backwards while jumping through hoops to do whatever we want done. So instead of getting angry and frustrated, or gossiping about how they’re not acting like Christians, I suggested our side throw their side an appreciation breakfast. Just so they know that we really couldn’t do what we do without them. My team liked the idea so Phil is going to bring it up to Debb and Jason (VP and Director of Sales). Hopefully it’ll work out…