“Thank you… thank you, Lord, for another shot at this,” I sobbed while standing in my bathroom staring at that little pink plus sign. I can hardly describe the overwhelming amount of gratefulness and expectation of a child combined with the sickening fear of loss that overcame me. If you are pregnant after a stillbirth, you know exactly what I mean. How could one of the best blessings feel like impending doom?
When my husband and I found out we were pregnant for the fourth time, we immediately felt the mercy of the Lord. What a gracious gift. But we didn’t know how it would turn out, and forty weeks feels like an eternity.
It’s an odd sensation to be stuck between joy and fear. After losing a child you feel as if you can never let yourself go too far in either direction. Step too close to fear and you will find yourself crying in the bathtub and calling your doctor over every little thing. Step too close to joy and you feel the weight of potential heartbreak. So you just drift in the middle somewhere. Hoping time will pass quicker than it does, and that the ending to your current pregnancy won’t be like before.
Most people believe that once you finish the first trimester, you are out of the “danger zone” of pregnancy. But for us, pregnancy is the danger zone. It feels as if there is no relief from fear until your child’s birthday.
All children are miracles. No matter if they emerge from the womb living or not, each one of them have a specific purpose ordained by the Lord, and have an impact on our hearts. Children have a way of breaking us down and uncomplicating our emotions. They show us who we truly are, not who we try to be.
Charles and I waited until we were 18 weeks pregnant to tell our friends and family the good news. We were scared to let people in. We joked about not telling anyone we were pregnant until that child was born. We knew this to be completely ludicrous; there is no amount of tacos that can cover that kind of belly pooch. We felt like the more people who knew, the more people we would have to inform if we lost our child again. So we waited.
At 27 weeks pregnant, my husband and I still had not purchased a single decoration or piece of clothing for our little girl on the way. I was afraid to buy baby girl clothes and pink headbands in fear of having to return them.
Finally we realized a few things. Fear stifles joy. This baby was worth celebrating no matter the fate. And the people who love us, want to love us in joy and in pain. We realized that sharing our news wouldn’t change the fate God had for our baby either. This was the first step in surrendering my pregnancy to the Lord. You see, my child is his, my body is his, and my purpose is his, so my pregnancy is his also.
We crave control. We are mama bears! We control our kids schedules, what they eat, what they wear, and their lives. Or so we think. We take pride in our ability to produce beautiful children. And when we feel as if something threatens this, we do whatever it takes to protect them.
But we don’t have control. God does. And He lives inside our wombs with our children. He protects them. I believe there is no place on earth void of the Lord’s presence. This includes our wombs. The bible says, “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13) God isn’t just inside our hearts, he lives within our whole being, he breathes life into our children inside of us.
Pregnancy in general is overwhelming. But after a stillbirth it can be crippling. Ten minutes without feeling a kick and you may find yourself weeping in fright or walking into the doctor’s office for a surprise doppler visit. And I don’t blame you. Because I did exactly that. I counted kicks while pushing a shopping cart, while up at 2am, while playing at the park with my son, and while filling my gas tank. Basically at all times.
My fellow mothers, we live kick to kick, ultrasound to ultrasound, and heartbeat to heartbeat. Why? Because we love our children. Love is what makes us afraid to lose them. But as we are desperate for signs of life from our children, so is our heavenly father from us. I believe God wants us to live in such desperation for him that we feel as if we will perish in between heartbeats without Him. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)
If we can seek the Lord with greater intensity than we feel towards loving our own children, then maybe the fear will begin to fade. Maybe we will begin to trust Him in His plan and not be so preoccupied with our own failing bodies and weakened hearts. Maybe we will begin to surrender our pregnancies to God.
I have to announce that the Lord, in all his mercy, gave my family a healthy baby girl. We named her Christine Jane. Jane means, God has been gracious. And He has been and always will be.
Here are some scriptures that helped me through the course of my pregnancy with CJ. Memorize them. Repeat them to yourself daily. I encourage you to search the scriptures for your own verses as well. But here’s a good starting point as you walk through pregnancy after stillbirth.
“Do not fear, for I am with you, Do not look anxiously about, for I am your God. I will help you. Surely I will strengthen you. Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait on the Lord.” Psalm 31:24
“When you lie down, you will not be afraid. When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Do not fear sudden disaster or the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from slipping.” Proverbs 3:25-26
“When my foot was slipping, your steadfast love upheld me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” Psalms 94:18-19