Life after death

A little over a year ago, Samantha and I learned that we were pregnant with our fourth child.  To put our lives in context, we were already doing the most as the kids say.  I was in the midst of a campaign for local city council which was consuming all of our family’s time and energy.  We had also recently taken in my teenage niece and were trying to help her get her life back on track.  Finally, only a couple of  weeks earlier I suffered a health setback that seemed to put everything in jeopardy.  To say that the timing was off on this news would have been an understatement.   I wrote this in my journal following the day she told me the news:

It’s now been a day since Samantha told me the news.  I’m still in shock.  She went in for a regularly scheduled OBGYN appointment and after they told her, she said she sat in the parking lot and cried.  My first reaction wasn’t to cry, but to plan.  Our lives are about to change.  It’s like I can feel myself starting to make room mentally and emotionally.  

So there it was, we were beginning to wrap our heads around the news.  For each of our previous children I was always so excited that I began sharing the news immediately.  For some reason, I didn’t do that as widely this time.  It wasn’t that I was expecting something bad to occur, it was mostly that I simply was distracted by everything else that was going on in our lives at the time.  We had too much to do!  We did tell our family and close friends, and I even mentioned it in passing to a few of my co-workers, but for the most part my big focus throughout the spring was on the campaign.  I figured that once the campaign ended, good or bad, I would have something great to look forward to in the next chapter.

As an interesting omen of what was to come, or perhaps as God’s way of preparing me, I started reading the book You’ll Get Through This by Max Lucado.  I was in the heat of the campaign, and after my health scare was really trying to pro-actively keep myself centered.  I wrote in my journal one morning the following:

Is God always good?  I find myself asking that question more lately…If bad things happen, if challenging circumstances occur, is God still good?  What is my imaginary line that I assume God will never cross?  For me it’s Samantha and my girls.  Their health and well-being is the most important thing in the world to me, and the fact that to date God has kept our family relatively unscathed speaks volumes of His grace.  But I sometimes wonder, what if something happened to one of them?  How would I react?  What would I say about God?  I pray that I never have to find out the hard way.  It’s easy to trust God when things are going well.  Try trusting him when they aren’t.   God promises to render beauty out of “all things” not “each thing”.  The isolated events may be evil, but the ultimate culmination of my life’s story will be good.

Then, days after my birthday and days before my wife’s birthday, we received more shocking news.  Again it occurred at the doctor’s office for a routine check-up.  Our baby was no longer a viable fetus, with no heartbeat and no discernible shape.  We were whisked away through a side entrance that we’d never seen before and just like that, it was over almost as fast as it had occurred.  Days later my wife fully miscarried.  We told the girls, told our family and friends, and finally began the process of picking up the pieces.  I wrote in my journal that evening:

It’s been an emotional ride, telling the girls, navigating how to respond ourselves, but God thank you for being there through it all.   Right now I feel like I’m going through the stages of grief and I just need some simple reminders that I will in fact get through this too.  What is coming will make sense of what is happening now. Let God finish his work.  Good days.  Bad days.  But God is in all days.  

In hindsight, what’s surprising in all of this is how quickly we decided we would try again for another child. Neither of us expected to get pregnant when we did.  We were contemplating stopping at our third.  But once we did, and then once we lost the baby, we realized that perhaps we did want another child.  The next few months carried it’s own ups and downs, but in late fall we discovered we were expecting again.  This time we didn’t tell anyone, including our own family (not even the girls!).  We waited until the holidays to finally break the news, long after crossing into the second trimester.

Everything about this last (and probably final) pregnancy has been different.  Each doctor’s appointment has felt a little more high stakes than in previous years.  Every routine good news has been met with sighs of relief.  We’ve had a scare, about a month ago Samantha was in a car accident and had to spend most of the night in the hospital while they monitored the baby.  Fortunately mommy and baby both are doing well (if I can keep them both in bubble wrap until May I would!).

We’re finally nearing the end of the finish line and I can see a lot of the struggle of the past year paying off.  It’s a terrible thing to lose a child, in utero or beyond.  I have a deeper sense of empathy for those who have struggled with miscarriages and conception.  We’re so thankful for our small group and close friends who have wrapped their arms around us during this past year, their words of encouragement and shoulders to cry on have been tremendous.  But more than anything I’ve learned the power of redemption.  God truly does redeem the time.




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