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Sinking deep (and thoughts on pregnancy after miscarriage)

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At thirty-four weeks pregnant I’ve now reached the stage where pretty much anything can spark tears. It’s like all the tears from eight months of pregnancy have been stored up and have finally found the crack to pour out of. No, gush out of.

32 weeks pregnant after miscarriage

Is it my hormones? Probably.

Is it the diminishing lack of sleep due to all the physical demands of late pregnancy? Probably.

Is it the overwhelming relief and gratitude I have for carrying this baby to term after three consecutive miscarriages? Probably.

Is it the stress of all the work to be done and the soon-to-be changes in my life, family, and work? Probably.

Is it the fact that my heart has finally allowed itself to open up and fully love this baby as I’ve longed to? Probably.

For so many reasons I’ve not shared as freely about this pregnancy as I did with my first two sons. No doubt because I’m aware of how painful it is to see baby bump stuff plastered all over social media when you’re the one experiencing loss, infertility, or other forms of pregnancy-related grief. Right or wrong, that alone has compelled me to hold back much of the time.

I’ve also not talked much about it because this pregnancy has been plain hard and I’ve felt like I’ve had little to say that wouldn’t come out shaped as a complaint. As much as I’m committed to being honest online (and not only showing the ‘beautiful’ parts of life), I’m also aware that using the internet as a platform for unmitigated negativity doesn’t do anyone any good, myself included.

Truth is, this pregnancy has been one of the most challenging times of my life.

Physically, I really struggled through the first trimester. I was exhausted and weak and sick while trying to navigate a huge move and renovation, which I felt powerless to contribute to. Then, just as the nausea and exhaustion were diminishing, I developed pubic symphysis and PGP. If you’ve never experienced this before—I’m so glad and I won’t bore you with the details. If you have, you know how debilitating it can be. I spent weeks in constant pain and struggled to walk, use the stairs (our bedroom and my office are upstairs, while the bathroom, kitchen, and living room are downstairs), or do anything remotely physical. (Pushing a heavy cart while grocery shopping? Playing outside with the kids? Forget about it.) Physical therapy helped, yes, and so did rest, stretches, and techniques for various things like getting in and out of bed, but being in near-constant pain is difficult for the heart to endure, much less the body. For months I felt like a dark cloud rested over my head, making everything more dim than it ‘should’ have been. That, of course, felt emotionally draining and discouraging.

You can probably imagine the added stress of the “what if’s” and the natural anxiety that comes after pregnancy loss. I didn’t experience heightened levels of anxiety after my first two miscarriages—probably because I genuinely thought they were terrible, one-off tragedies—but this pregnancy was by far the hardest on my heart and mind. By this pregnancy, a firm pattern of loss had developed making it difficult to not think my body must be broken and to worry about the consequences of that. At one point I bought a doppler—best $25 I’ve spent for peace of mind in my life. (I found mine used online, hence the awesome bargain.) Even though I had a strict commitment to only use it after I had been feeling anxious for an entire day (rather than every moment of anxiety—those come and go a lot), I still used it about once a week from about 9-16 weeks along. I’m glad I had it; the reassurance was grace to me. (I’m also glad I didn’t use it at every flicker of anxiety—I can see how a tool like that could quickly become detrimental to your mental health if you didn’t use discipline when determining how often to use it.)

But now here we are—our baby is coming in weeks. Weeks. I’m so grateful for that… and I’ve also managed to find new things to fear. (Go figure.)

Being a part of the baby loss community makes it impossible to think you’ve ever reached a “safe” place in your pregnancy—my inbox is just too full of heartbreaking stories from real women still raw in their grief. I’ve not yet created much time to think about birth, and yet now, that makes me anxious, too. I want to enter into labor feeling educated and empowered like I did with Judah, but at the moment I feel more tired than anything else.

I also feel lonely. Being in our new city is exciting and invigorating on so many levels (I don’t think we could love our community any more than we already do), but approaching birth without friends around to walk it out with feels incomplete. I have wonderful friends in other places—no complaints there!—but we’re still forging friendships here in our new city and that takes time. (And acquaintances don’t throw you a baby shower or bring a meal over once baby is born.)

This baby is coming regardless of how I feel or if I’m ‘ready.’ It’s helped to take some tangible steps like sorting through the boys’ old baby clothes, starting to wash little blankets and diapers, allowing myself the freedom to buy a few newborn items that I don’t need but want, and creating an online gift registry for people that live far away but might want to celebrate this precious one’s life with a gift anyway.

And here’s the thing: my life is filled with blessings—too many to quantify, too wonderful to comprehend—and so admitting the hard stuff is, well, hard. When I admit the hard stuff, it also means I must be prepared to battle the guilt that comes along with admitting it. (Isn’t it so wrong that we allow our gratitude to be bullied by guilt when we acknowledge life is beautiful and brutal all at once? I certainly don’t want that to be my default, and yet sometimes it feels easier to give in to the bullying rather than fighting it.) But ultimately there’s this: Jesus, in his tenderness, is able to hold my heart through all of it—the gratitude and the (false) guilt—and when I hold still long enough I can hear him saying, “Take courage, you are seen, you are heard, you are enough, you are loved.”

Scripture says that Jesus is made strong in my weakness. I don’t always feel that to be true or even know how to comprehend it in principle (much less in practice), but that’s faith isn’t it? Faith, mixed with hope, looks like reaching for something we can’t see or understand and deciding to give ourselves to it anyway. Faith is heading toward my son’s birthday knowing we both belong to Jesus and our belonging isn’t contingent upon my feelings of readiness or worthiness or strength or capability.

As I type these words, my son is moving and twisting and poking at my insides. He reminds me that although at times I feel like I’m in the dark or even trapped without an obvious way forward, I can rest assured things will be okay as long as I stay right here in the present—right where I’m meant to be. It sounds simple, but I know it to be true: it will all be okay.

It’s your reminder, too, friend. We’re safe. We’re cared for. We’ll be provided for. We are loved.

I need to sink deep into these truths. Do you?

This song is my anthem right now:

Sinking Deep by Hillsong Young & Free

Standing here in your presence
In a grace so relentless
I am won by perfect love
Wrapped within the arms of heaven
In a peace that lasts forever
Sinking deep in mercy’s sea

I’m wide awake, drawing close, stirred by grace
And all my heart is yours
All fear removed, I breathe you in, I lean into
Your love, oh, your love

When I’m lost you pursue me
Lift my head to see your glory
Lord of all, so beautiful
Here in you I find shelter
Captivated by the splendor
Of your face, my secret place

I’m wide awake, drawing close, stirred by grace
And all my heart is yours
All fear removed, I breathe you in, I lean into
Your love, oh, your love

Your love so deep is washing over me
Your face is all I seek, you are my everything
Jesus Christ, You are my one desire
Lord, hear my only cry, to know you all my life


(If you’re reading this from an email, please click over here if you’d like to see the video.)

Regardless of where you are on your own journey of pregnancy, fertility, motherhood, or faith (or even if you don’t see yourself within those categories at all), I hope you find yourself “in a grace so relentless… wrapped within the arms of heaven.”

Sinking deep,
Adriel

6 Comments

  • Reply Sandi 19 July 2016 at 2:02 am

    “And here’s the thing: my life is filled with blessings—too many to quantify, too wonderful to comprehend—and so admitting the hard stuff is, well, hard. ” This whole paragraph holds so much of my own truth. Beautifully said my friend.
    Embrace the beauty of this moment in time. This birth and surrounding days will look different than the first two boys, but it will be absolutely right for this season. It will have it’s own precious and unique memories to itself.
    Love you much!!!!

    • Reply Adriel Booker 23 July 2016 at 2:10 pm

      Thank you friend! I have actually felt so much better since writing this post! Also, I went in for a 34 week scan and the baby is measuring 2 weeks later for every measurement. That may or may not mean we were two weeks off our due date (or that I’ll have an enormous baby), but it did kick me into full-fledged nesting mode thinking that he could come earlier than we thought! I’m enjoying doing all the washing, sorting baby clothes, and browsing all the online baby things we don’t need. LOL! All of it is helping me mentally prepare, I think. :) I also took the boys shopping this week to pick out a small gift (from them) for the baby and that was fun, too—getting them involved in something tangible. I think you’re right… this baby and BIRTH are just SO different for SO many reasons and I need to remember that’s okay and, in fact, good. Now… pray we can settle on a name! Ahhhhh…..!!!!! :)

  • Reply Jody Collins 20 July 2016 at 1:52 am

    Adriel, I woke up singing, “I’m wide awake…” as it was in my head from Sunday (I helped lead worship). Funny, huh?
    I’ve been wondering about how you’re doing and appreciate the new details of this baby’s growth (a boy! I didn’t know). No negativity seeping through here, just heart stuff that we need to hear. Burdens are lessened and lightened when you let us know what they are.
    Praying for you my friend. And wishing I could bring dinner.
    love,

    • Reply Adriel Booker 23 July 2016 at 2:13 pm

      Thanks Jody! You’re always such an encouragement! x

  • Reply cynthia 5 December 2016 at 9:29 am

    looking for advent readings for our multi-generational household I ran across this posting of loss. In 1975 our baby was stillborn at birth. I remember feeling strange. I don’t have the words to describe it. we were young, in the army, in Germany. Our military family stepped unto the plate. We had so much to do and only a couple of days to get things done. One was to arrange a funeral. Our priest was wonderful, he explained to us the reason. We were surrounded by love and walked through many experiences. It took awhile for grief to come. Family had a difficult time understanding this. I felt guilty but now I understand , we all have different ways to experience grief. I pray all young couples have the love and faith to go forward after loss of a child.

    • Reply Adriel Booker 2 January 2017 at 3:48 pm

      Thank you for sharing some of your story, Cynthia. So much pain and hope.

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