Shannon shares her experience with three abortions and the redemption she found in the arms of a loving Father.
By Lindsey Racz
Just under three years ago, I wrote a very personal post on a different blog about my behind the scenes struggle with infertility. At that point, I hadn’t yet shared the struggle with many at all. Writing that post and publicly declaring our infertile status provided more healing than I knew it would. So many people’s comments—both friends and strangers—poured in to say, "us too." Suddenly, although still hurting deeply, I didn’t feel so alone.
Today, 8 months pregnant with our SECOND child since that post was written, I share the original post along with HOPE. To my friends struggling with infertility, I say this: miracles are possible. I don’t know what your story will look like, but here’s where ours began.
Our Behind the Scenes Struggle with Infertility (published 09-2016)
Many of our friends know our story and have been rooting for us. Matt and I love the Lord with all of our hearts and desire to serve Him with our lives. We were both foolish in our youth and squandered blessings in different ways. Each of us survived the shattered dream of a divorce and lived as single parents for a season. And then, in a beautiful swoop of restoration, the Lord introduced us to one another. By this time, we had each grown in our faith and we knew that if we were going to do life together, it was going to be God’s way. We had a beautiful courtship; one full of purity and hope. Yes, folks, we did save sex for marriage. Gasp. I remember one friend who said “Why are you waiting? I mean, you each have a child already so the cat’s kind of out of the bag!” But we knew the Lord could restore our purity if we walked in obedience with Him, and again, this whole marriage thing was going to happen His way if it was going to happen at all. We had a beautiful wedding complete with burlap and white lights strung from high hopes.
We each had a dream on our heart to grow our family. I brought a girl to our marriage. Matt brought a boy. But honestly, I pictured us having at least 2-3 more children together as being a mom is the greatest joy of my life. I came from a broken family and believe I’ve lived most of my life trying to put a family back together—right or wrong, this was our hope. We were so excited and began trying from month one! Six months went by with no pregnancy. Each month I had a reason to think I was pregnant and in this time frame, I probably went through at least a hundred pregnancy tests. I had a growing sense that something was wrong, but I was calmly assured that these things take time.
After a year of deep hope for that little pink plus sign to show up but instead of ending in a puddle of tears, we decided to seek medical help. We saw a primary care physician who ran an analysis. We waited to hear back hoping this would give us a clue to what we needed to do next. But the doctor called me a week later—in the middle of my work day—and spoke very matter-of-factly: “You two will probably not have children together. Have you thought about adoption?”
This is not the kind of news you deliver to a woman at 3 PM on a Tuesday afternoon when she’s getting ready to sit down with her next client. But, there it was. I responded in some robotic way and set the phone down and shut my office door and sobbed harder than I ever have.
I asked God if this was punishment for being divorced. If this was because of all the mistakes I’ve made. If He was testing me. I cried out to Him. He was silent.
I went home to tell Matt the news (that the doctor should have called us into his office to share with both of us). I tried to maintain composure, but it was not a pretty night. For several months after that, I cried daily and tried to imagine never having a child with my husband. Not a big deal, right? We both have a child. So what if we don’t have one together. We share these children with ex-spouses, which wasn’t exactly the original plan, but they are healthy and we are raising them together. It’s fine.
Except for that, it’s not. I can’t let this dream go. My heart aches to grow a family with my husband. To experience him holding my hand in childbirth. To see his gentle-giant hands pick up a tiny life that we’ve created together. To have this bond with one another that is part of God’s purpose for marriage.
We began looking for a second opinion. We met with a fertility specialist who put us on supplements. We tested again three months later, but the outlook was even bleaker. I cried some more. I read a 300-page book on conception and changed each of our diets in drastic ways for six months.
Twenty-one. That’s the number of months we’ve been married– which isn’t long at all unless you’ve been hoping and praying and trying and crying out to God every month for 21 months to please have mercy on you and bless you with a life you know you don’t deserve. In that case, 21 months feels like an eternity. We recently went to another specialist who gave a little more hope but stated a surgery would be necessary. Thankfully, this specialist found a problem area that others weren’t able to locate. And here we are. After much prayer, our surgery is scheduled for tomorrow. Neither of us knows the outcome. Matt has been brave and strong as an oak (he’s the one who has to go under the knife!) while I’ve just been an emotional wreck.
I haven’t been myself for at least the last year and a half. This is why. Struggling with infertility was never part of my formula. It took me by surprise and came at a time when I thought I was leaving the worst of my heartache behind. Matt and I are a stronger couple for it. In our first two years of marriage, we’ve survived the dynamics of a blended family along with this monthly roller coaster of emotion. We hit our knees in prayer each night and take it one day at a time. It’s hard to count it all as joy, and yet I’m thankful for a new understanding of what it feels like to face infertility. It gives me another “specialty area” in my counseling ministry; compassion that is only birthed from experience. But most of all, when and if God decides to give us another child, the glory will be all the more to Him because HE IS ABLE even when doctors say “not possible.” That is the God we serve.
And although I know what I desperately want, I will continually declare that thy will be done.
By Brittany Rust
These words are the most vulnerable I’ve ever penned; I’m going where I’ve never gone before. I share with you from a place of loss and heartache, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. And the reason I share this deeply personal experience with you is that I’ve watched God use words through me that were most powerful when shared from the battlefield. The most tender words of encouragement have always come from a place of my greatest struggles.
Today, I share about miscarriage; a loss experienced by so many. This past week—in the middle of Baby Loss Awareness Month—I lost my precious baby. A life I had the honor and joy to carry within me for nine wonderful weeks before he or she passed on to be with the Father. And while I know my baby is gone from that little raspberry sized fetus, he or she still sits in my womb, waiting to pass from my body. So what was once life is now death within me; I mourn with a depth of grief I’ve never known. I cling to the little one inside of me and dread the day (in the near future) he or she passes and I scoop the little body up for burial. I don’t want to let go of my baby. However, although always within my heart, I’ll have to let go and leave a piece of me with that little one. Forever a fraction of my heart no longer there until we meet in Heaven.
I really struggled to share this for so many reasons: I felt shame, I didn’t want people to feel bad for me, and I wondered what others would think for being so vulnerable about a loss. But writing has always been the best form of process for me and I know—I just know—God wants to use this to help other mama’s out there experiencing loss not feel so alone. Because you do feel so alone.
Honestly, I was so shocked to find out we had lost our second child. With Roman, I constantly feared miscarriage but he was always so healthy and the pregnancy complication free that with this pregnancy, I had no worries. My body had done it before and why not again? However, my body did fail me.
He or she was coming unexpectedly during one of the hardest seasons for my husband and me, and it was such a blessing of hope in discouraging times. Two days ago, I went into a hospital room for a dating ultrasound and sat in silence while the tech took measurements. She said nothing and then shut off the machine and told me I was good to go. This couldn’t be it, I thought! So, I asked how far along my baby was and she said I measured at 8 weeks and 6 days. Then, the next day, I received that dreaded phone call from my midwife that there was no heartbeat. I was in the car, on my way to work, and I let out a sob never uttered before. And now I grieve, knowing there is still waiting until this little one passes from my body. I know I’ll never quite be the same because I still love him or her; my baby is wanted and loved.
As I sat on the couch after hearing the news, I spent a lot of time grieving and talking to my belly. Sure, I knew he or she couldn’t hear me but I just had to speak words of endearment over my little love. I had to tell my baby all the things I would ever want to say to a child of mine.
Then, anger set in. Doubt in His goodness came crashing in like a tidal wave. How could this happen? As if this season wasn’t already the hardest season I’ve ever been through—when I thought it couldn’t get worse—I lost a child. Why?
I yelled, I questioned, I called into doubt His goodness. I struggled to see how this could be good. I began thinking about the announcement photo session we had planned; the list of baby items I’d already started compiling; the maternity bin I had pulled out; the preganancy journey I had just received in the mail and was eager to fill out; they were now empty memories of hope deferred. Scripture says hope deferred makes the heart sick, and I feel grievously sick.
If you’ve experienced a miscarriage, you likely know how I feel and have asked the same questions. Had the same doubts. Questioned how to find God’s goodness in the darkness. Here’s what I can find in Scripture and what’s helped encourage me these last few days.
1. God is still good.
A dear friend of mine told me yesterday, as I shared my grief with her, that God doesn’t speak in negative terms. That all the hardship I’m going through, and the loss of this baby, isn’t His will or doing. It’s the consequence of sin and works of the enemy, but it’s not God pulling these strings of destruction. But He is there, in the good. He is watching, moving, and waiting with arms wide open, ready to comfort. Although in dark times we often want to pull away from Him, it’s in these trying times we must press in even harder. Pressing in is where we find Him and hear His voice. His goodness. Because God is good and does work all things for good, even if we can’t see it.
Mama, believe me, I know it’s hard to see how good can come from your loss. Who knows why your baby passed on but God? Perhaps there was something wrong; some part of the body didn’t form correctly. Whatever the case may be, you still get to be the mom to that beautiful child. And there is good to be found somewhere—your child’s life brought joy to this world.
2. Jesus mourns with you—you are not alone.
The first verse I thought of as I mourned was John 11:35,
All my mind could recall in the grief is that he wept. That he weeps with me. It’s the shortest verse in the Bible but within its two words are some of the most compassionate you’ll read in Scripture. Jesus knew Lazarus was gone but he also knew his dear friend was about to be brought back to life. So why weep?
Perhaps it was the grief he saw those he loved experiencing. Many mourned the loss of Lazarus and Jesus knew the depths of those wells of grief many were experiencing. He felt the loss that those around him were feeling—he was feeling all the pain. He himself loved Lazarus and although life was ahead, the cost of death was still very real. Which brings the second thought as to why he may have been weeping—the cost of sin. Sin brings death and almost everyone Jesus loves had or would experience death.
In our grief, we are not alone. In our mourning, we share in it with another. Jesus wept for Lazarus but he also weeps along with us in our grief. He mourns with those who mourn because although he knows hope is ahead and death has been conquered, grief is still part of our journey on earth. That death is real, even if temporary. And that in that journey we go through depths of anguish and loss that rip at the soul. But he feels it too. Every ounce of pain is taken in and felt by him.
3. Ask the right question.
We want to ask, “Why God” in the hardship. We want to question Him and His goodness. But this is the wrong question—the one that leads us astray. Instead, the question to ask is:
There is so much treasure to be found in our trials and tribulations. It’s the storms that forge a more authentic and mature version of ourselves, and where we find God most intimately. Instead of pulling away and doubting, press in and ask the hard question. Uncover the value that can only be found right here, right now. What can you learn about His character? What can you learn about yourself? And what nugget of wisdom regarding a flourishing life can be found in this loss? Don’t waste your anguish—use it to forge a closer relationship with God, a better you, and a more fruitful life.
4. There is hope in the darkness.
The only real comfort I have found in this grief is knowing that my baby is with Jesus. That he or she will never have to know loss, pain, cold, grief, disappointment, or sorrow. That all their soul will ever know is joy and the presence of God. And although I won’t be able to embrace this beautiful soul now, one day I will. Our meeting is only delayed; not robbed.
If you have experienced the loss of a child, dear friend, let me say I’m so sorry. I know how it feels to lose a part of yourself with that precious one. How grief penetrates within your soul to a depth never reached before. How you feel you might never be the same. How you’ve questioned and doubted.
Please know, although the darkness is overwhelming, there is light. There are goodness and hope to be found. There is a beautiful and loving God Who wants to scoop you up into His strong arms and hold you close.
** If you’ve experienced loss and are looking for connection in your grief, we have created a group on our Facebook page for mother’s who have experienced a miscarriage to find community. Share you story, let’s remember the life of your little one, and be heard in your grief. We are a sisterhood who mourns with those who mourn. You can find our Facebook page here and simply click on “Community.”