It’s mothers day today. And up until this year, I have never really given it much thought beyond the usual trophy photo that we post up of our mothers or our kids, along with captions that dedicate how blessed we are to have such wonderful mums or children in our lives. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, things this year have been different for me. If you had asked me 6 months ago what I expected this mother’s day to be like, I would have told you that I’d be busy adjusting to being a mother of 2. I’d be sleep deprived all over again. That I would be fighting battles between a toddler screaming for attention, and an infant just newly minted in the world.
It’s funny what time does. And how different life can look in 6 months. Or in my case, how much the same it can look.
Now, before any of you even begin to think anything, I want to say really clearly that I am not writing this to fuel any sort of pity party. Nor am I looking for the spotlight to be on me or what happened half a year ago. I have sat down and prayed long and hard about whether or not to talk about it, and I have only decided to open up for the sole purpose of hopefully encouraging other women who have lost/are grieving, to help highlight to those that may be unaware to be more sensitive to women around them, and hopefully (and to me most importantly), I pray this brings all glory back to God, who always makes beauty out of the ashes.
I think some of you may already know, but some time late last year, I lost a baby in my womb. Hardly anyone knew I was pregnant (I didn’t make a huge announcement or anything). It was good news when I found out. And it was surprising how fast and how quick plans and preparations started flying in to place. Doctors appointments, confinement ladies, work plans, and so on. Then, out of no where, a couple of months later, I started to bleed. There was no pain. I did not fall. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. I literally had brunch with a friend and was excitedly chatting about baby plans, and then as I sat in the car on the way home, the red came.
Everyone had told me the bleeding was normal. But something inside me told me this felt bad. I won’t go into the details, but after multiple visits back and forth to the hospital, alot of lying in bed and crying, and one night where I really felt like I went into mini labour, my doctor confirmed what I dreaded to hear. That the baby had died. And before I knew it, I was being wheeled into surgery that same day to remove the life I had carried inside me. I remember waking up after it was over in a dark recovery room, with other patients around me. Some were screaming in pain. Others were crying. Due to circumstances that was no one’s fault, I had no family or any of my closest friends around me at the time. But it wasn’t that, which made me sad. I knew I could do things like check myself out of the hospital, sign the papers, and taxi home (so so thankful for the friend who took time out of work that day so last minute to make sure I got home in her car instead of a taxi). What was most painful was talking to people who did not realise what was going on (I don’t blame them or anyone) – I remember having to photograph maternity sessions, family sessions, and flying interstate for weddings WHILE going through this and having to pretend I was happy. I had to be the ultimate professional. No one knew anything. Most of them knew I had Sienna, so alot had asked when was number 2 coming. The question always shot a dagger in my heart, as I smiled and told them – hopefully whenever God decides fit. It was the only thing I could say that was truthful without letting my face crumple in front of them.
Anyway, the weeks following that, are now a bit of a blur. Just alot of netflix. And crying. And moping around the house. I remember wanting to journal my feelings to help me process my thoughts, but I always prayed – Lord, only give me the words to write if they are meant to be written and helpful. If they are not, bury it away and give me your peace to walk through this. “For your love is better than life itself” (Psalm 63:3). And so… after one thing or another, the journal never happened. And I am glad it didn’t. I had that time to wrestle with my feelings with God instead, and I found that He alone was enough. The peace He gave through His bible, and the grace He gave through friends who reached out was enough.
Sitting on this side of things, half a year later, I know now better, what I knew then. That is: I know that the lord gives and the lord takes, and that He does not owe us any children. Nor does he owe us the life we have pictured and planned in our minds. The fact that we are breathing and alive is grace it itself. More so, the fact that He’s given me the gospel to love and treasure and understand, and have Jesus as my lord, it means He has already given me the best gift of all.
When people ask me, how can you believe your God is good when He let your baby die. I tell them those things above. That I am already getting more than I deserve. In fact, He has already given me His best – Jesus, and the GUARANTEED promise of eternal life. This is not wishy washy talk either. I became Christian when I was 17. But I have spent the following 20 years of my life swinging from side to side often wondering, am I truly believing the right thing? What if other beliefs are actually correct and I am wrong? The wrestling over 2 decades looking at all the information, the evidence, the testimonies, and proof, has only made me more sure that Jesus Christ is the only truth. The only true and living hope. and the ultimate Joy.
If they still don’t believe God has given me more than I deserve, I then look at my daughter, Sienna. If she is not grace (the showing of unmerited favour), then I do not know what is. Every time I look at her, she is a reminder to me of how amazing is God’s grace and mercy. I didn’t deserve her. And yet here she is. Perfect and healthy. And I get to be her mother.
Then there’s my husband. I always acknowledge we do not have the perfect marriage. We are such different individuals and often that brings times and days or seasons where things are very difficult between us. But here he is, after almost 20 years together. Not just putting up with me. But loving me past the words and the fluff you see on instagram. He does it with action. Even when we don’t like each other very much. I don’t deserve this either.
Anyway, back to mothers and mother’s day. I know it’s silly because most people (trying to comfort me) said, lucky the baby was so early on. If you feel loss now, imagine how much worse it would be if it was later? They said I was still young and had time to make more babies if I wanted. I understood where they came from. I knew they had good intentions. it still hurt though, and for the most part, I kept all of this to myself (mainly because I did not want people to feel sorry for me). I didn’t talk about this with anyone. Not my husband. Not my family. And only curated parts to my closest friends. It was only a little later when I shared with a friend, that the odd grief over such a short loss of life, made sense. She said: ” It was already a little life. The wheels of planning have already been put into motion. And there’s a life you’ve imagined and pictured, and therefore expected because of it. Losing that is loss.”
Grief in that moment finally made some sense. And I finally felt like it was alright to feel sad.
I said to someone recently (because I was so encouraged by her testimony of how she’s battled anxiety and almost taking her life), that it is SO EASY to focus on ourselves in these seasons but there she was bringing the spotlight and praise back to God. I was so moved. So that’s what I want to do here. Praise God. May all glory go back to you, Lord. I may have been given a no, and I was grieving a loss, but I trust in a God who is good and everything He wills is for my good. Nothing He wills is without purpose and meaning. No hurt is wasted. And He works all things (yes, even the bad and the evil) for the best. I only need to look to the cross for the ultimate example of that. God took the cruelty of men when they murdered Jesus on the cross to turn it into the salvation of the whole world from our sins so that we may enjoy eternal life with Him. Free for all who are willing to listen and take up this amazing free gift.
I hope I will one day understand why I’ve lost a little life that I wanted and hoped for so much, but if not, and even if I never get to experience life growing inside me again, I know God is good (Romans 8:28 reminds me of that so clearly). And I trust that the life He has mapped out for me is for my best, even though it may not be my best in my mind. Sometimes there are seasons we need to walk through to be refined. To be taught things. And I truly believed this was one of them. I learned that God really does satisfy and fill your heart to the very brim, even when life is a complete mess around you. Even when something so precious is stripped away, He fills us with so much of Himself that even the darkness cannot live there with you forever.
So to those who know someone who has lost a little one, I know sometimes there is nothing you can say to make it better. And that is okay. We don’t expect you to. Instead, say that you are so sorry. That you know its hard. That it is okay to take your time. That there is no rush to heal. There is no need to remind us we are young. That it was so early on. That we can easily make another one. We understand that you say this to help us chase away the bad feelings, so that we feel better, but it’s okay. There is absolutely no need to shoulder our pain this way. Just tell us that you wish things weren’t like this. And that you know you can’t change anything, but that you’re there. If you are Christian, tell us you’ll pray for us. That is the best remedy of all. For it lays the pain back into God’s hands and He is bigger than all of this.
For those who are walking or have walked through this, know that there is no pressure to be strong. Getting through it day by day is already enough. There is no timeline to grief. I pray you allow yourself that space. I am not advocating self deprecating self pity (for that does no one any good, and is unhealthy), but I am saying – breathe. Take your time. Every now and then, when the fog lifts enough, focus on what you can be grateful for, and what you do have. And if you are open and willing to go one step further, allow God to heal where human hands and hearts are limited.
When people ask me what got me through. I tell them it was Jesus. Het met me in my sorrow. And it was His words in the bible that brought healing. It reminded me that He not only knows my heartache, but he understands it completely (Hebrews 4:15-16 – “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace to help in our time of need”). He sees all the ugly places we are suffering with our hearts, all the burdens we hide inside our souls, and He asks us to draw near to Him for he wants to give us rest. Grace. Comfort. Peace. We only need to let Him in.
When the bible says in Psalms 34:18 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit“, I know and understand how real that is now. He really does cradle us in his palms when we are weeping and hurting and lonely. I learned from my season 6 months ago, that God indeed walks with us in our pain even if we cannot see Him.
So to all the mothers out there today who have a reason to celebrate mother’s day, Happy Mother’s day. You are indeed blessed. And to everyone else, I know it is hard. God knows how hard it is for you even more than I do. You may have lost a child. You may be battling years of infertility. You may be waiting for a painfully long adoption outcome. You may have strained relationships with your children, or your own mother. You may have lost your own mother (or father). Whichever group you are in, know that this day is no less for you. And more importantly, I hope you know that we have a God who creates unexpected beauty from the ashes, and makes broken things whole. He sees you through and through and understands every heavy layer in your heart, and wants to carry you. Draw near to Him. Let His words heal you the way they did me. And let Him fill you up with Himself with a joy so full that no darkness and no circumstance no matter how painful, can live inside you forever. Amen.