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Yes, another loss

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miscarriage pregnancy loss adriel booker

We’ve lost our baby.

I felt her kick for the first time on Wednesday night around 1:00am when I couldn’t sleep. It had been a really rough day and feeling those first flutters of movement felt like a little kiss from heaven. A few hours later at 7:30am on Thursday morning I rushed off to a regularly scheduled exam at the birth centre. They couldn’t find a heartbeat and several rounds of ultrasounds confirmed she had passed away. It all happened so fast and, truthfully, I didn’t believe them at first. Did they not hear me? I felt her alive a few hours ago. I’m sure of it. Didn’t they hear me?

Last weekend for the first time I bought a few maternity items and some baby girl clothes. All was progressing as it should and I thought a (late) Mother’s Day shopping trip was in order. With delight we had begun to let the reality sink in that we were actually going to have a daughter that comes to full term as we finish creating our family. (Yes, our scans a month ago showed the baby was a girl, though we hadn’t shared that publicly yet.) I feel like it’s all I’ve wanted my whole life and this was my last chance. We felt so complete. So grateful. And not that it should matter, but this wasn’t a “surprise” baby. This was a baby we longed for and prayed for and tried for over many long, tearful months of waiting and hoping and wondering if I was “too old” for the gift of one last child. Of course we know too much to assume any stage of pregnancy is “safe,” but at nearly half way through the pregnancy we had a deep sense of belief that this baby would live and thrive, and everything so far had proven that right.

So we’re stunned. Like—surely this is all a mistake. But it’s not. It’s real and our baby is dead. There’s no plainer or truer way to say it.

We’re taking the weekend to try and rest and I’ll be admitted next week to have an induction and hospital labor and delivery—the best option for this stage of pregnancy. The thought of laboring a dead baby repulses me but it is what it is. I don’t expect I’ll want to talk about it any time soon, which is why I’m sharing all of this now. (Then again no one really knows what they’ll need in grief until they need it.) We feel like we need so much right now, but don’t know what or how to ask for it.

These last few years have been brutal and we’ve grown battle weary. There’s not a significant milestone in our lives in six years that wasn’t also marked with some sort of pain or suffering or deep sense of challenge.

In the last few months alone we’ve had our roof collapse, major hail damage on our car which has diminished its value and made it unsellable just before we were going to trade it in for a larger one, then went thousands of dollars into debt to repair the mechanics of that same car after it mysteriously had a string of unrelated things going wrong with it out of the blue (our mechanic has warned us that we should be prepared for it to die beyond repair any day), we lost major financial support, had people take advantage of our generosity which sent us into more personal debt, had several others backflip on an array of different ministry-related commitments they had made, had major appliances and expensive electronics we depend on for work suddenly breaking, and many other smaller (but still difficult) things. These events in isolation are just a normal part of “life happens,” but when they are piled on top of each other for months on end (and years on end), you begin to wonder if you might be going crazy. Or if this is the price we’re required to pay to continue in vocational ministry. (Our first miscarriage happened two days after deciding we would pioneer a new YWAM ministry in Sydney, and every single one since has correlated with a major ministry decision we’ve made within days of making it.)

If it sounds like we’re feeling sorry for ourselves, that’s right. We are. We’re tired of life being hard and we’re way beyond faking fine. We’ve got no time for platitudes and “God’s ways are higher than our ways” and “God is in control” one liners so please don’t throw any out-of-context Christian cliches at us, however well meaning they might be. As much as we can we’ve been putting one foot in front of the other, choosing to trust God, choosing to not be overcome. We’ve done this for years. But for how long? When do we get to wave the white flag? (Jesus, are you sleeping?)

Through these particularly difficult months that seemed to come to a head early this year, our baby has been the shining joy in the midst of our personal hardship and ministry pressures and financial-related stress. With getting pregnant and then having a miraculous influx of staff join the ministry we felt like things were perhaps turning a corner. And now this. Losing this baby feels like too much. Can you break more when you’re already broken?

I’m not telling you all of this to make you feel sorry for us or to elicit pity (we have enough of our own already), but simply to say that life can be so damn hard sometimes (we’ve all been there—you too, no doubt). And it’s in these times things sometimes feel like they keep getting worse. Not better. So how do we cope when we’re walking around with already-tender hearts? What then when they seem on the verge of breaking completely? Is this a desperate cry for help? Of course it is. And yet we’re not even sure of the exact help we need. The grief makes things feel messier and louder and more urgent than they might actually be. We know that.

Obviously we’re left stunned and totally heartbroken by losing this child. This really is the main thing. The injustice of untimely death is so confronting. We’ve already been giving everything we have to keep our heads above the surface and continue to look for God’s goodness and practice gratitude for the many, many things going “right” in our lives. But we’re also tired. Tired of fighting and tired of what feels like losing.

You may think writing Grace Like Scarlett has made us “experts” in dealing with grief. And in some ways, sure, we are well equipped with some of the tools we need and to some degree we have learned how to hang on to hope when life feels hopeless. (This is the grace of God at work in ways unseen but somehow felt, enabling this miracle.) And yes, we sense the freedom we need to feel how we feel and walk straight into our grief as best we know how. But we certainly aren’t “experts.” Experience or wisdom softens nothing. Pain is pain and grief is grief. It just hurts. If anything we’re surrounded even more by the heartache of it all since messages land in my inbox daily from families seeking support or a listening ear after their own loss and heartbreak. Some days it feels like our whole world revolves around pain—ours and others. We could have never seen this coming.

For those who know us personally, you know that we’re also in the crucial period of trying to recruit students to our first discipleship training school (DTS) beginning in September at YWAM Sydney Newtown. The burden of communications and marketing to get students is mine and now this. How can I keep doing my job? I’m supposed to be organizing a speaking tour for a few weeks July and August to share the message of Grace Like Scarlett and help offer hope to people who are hurting, but how can I proceed when I’ve got so little left to give? Maybe this all seems unrelated but I assure you it’s not. Our lives are whole, integrated, complex—just as yours. So is this one more example of the enemy of our soul employing every means possible to derail what God has spoken? Because the one thing that seems consistent in our lives recently is that every time we step out in obedience to what we believe God has shown us we get hit. The timing is uncanny and also very confusing. It’s maddening.

Being blindsided again with loss feels like an assault on so many levels: personal and ministry and spiritual. Well wishes are fine, but the reality is we need miracles on so many fronts—miracles that sustain. The miracle of grace to endure suffering is one way we sustain and I’m thankful for it. The miracle of God’s presence even while we’re at our lowest is another way we sustain and we’re grateful for that too. But we also need the miracle of actual breakthrough—breakthrough that lasts and is not aborted before it fully takes root.

As you pray for our family, please keep all of this in mind. We simply don’t feel capable of carrying all that we’re surrounded by and we need God’s grace and the help of his Church and our community to support us as we navigate. Our staff members arrive mostly in August. Our dearest friends are miles away. And we can’t put our lives or work on hold until things are easier, because what if they never are?

If you’ve read this far, thank you for not staying away from our pain. I’ll likely post this in all the places, turn autoresponder on for my emails, and then back away for a little while to nurse my giant vulnerability hangover and wonder why I shared so much so broadly. But here’s the thing: if we can’t be honest about our pain, how can we be honest about our hope? If we can’t be honest about our despair, how can we be honest about our joy? The human heart is a paradox, we intrinsically know that. I appreciate your understanding if I don’t respond much at this time. I won’t speak for Ryan, but although I’m typically the one with all the words, I will say that he’s in immense pain too. He’s articulated it well to me and I’m thankful these last several years have at least taught us how to use language to name our heartache. We’re in this together and all of our burdens (and joys) are shared. We’re devastated and hanging on to hope by a thread. 

Finally, I want to close with some thoughts about how God enters into our suffering. I spent years forming a book around this very thing and I still believe it to be true:

Our humanity is the very thing that keeps us tethered to God. It’s our humanity—our lack, our pain, our weakness, our recognition that the world contains injustice and tragedy and suffering, our need for a Rescuer, our longing for Eden and the restoration of all things—that helps us to see our need for the Divine. Today, we can see that need so clearly. With all that’s gone wrong, this ability to “see” is both a gift and an invitation. And that, my friends, is nothing but the grace of God that never quits loving and pursuing and extending into our lives even in the dark when we struggle and squint to see it. As I’ve written in Grace Like Scarlett, “The spectacle of heaven is that it’s birthed into low places… He never stops creating life out of dust.”

I still believe it, even if I can’t yet see it.

Or, perhaps more accurately: I believe, Lord. Help me in my unbelief.

24 Comments

  • Reply Krystle 26 May 2019 at 11:37 am

    I weep as I read this.
    I am beyond sorry- I don’t know what to say. I am angry and stunned for you.
    Praying for breakthrough that lasts.

  • Reply Donna 26 May 2019 at 11:40 am

    Adriel. My heart is so broken for your loss. Please know we are praying and will continue praying for you and your hurting family 💕

  • Reply Bethany 26 May 2019 at 11:41 am

    What is something I can practically do to help you guys right now?
    PayPal money for meals so you don’t have to cook?
    Send some recruiting emails/ social media plugs for the DTS?
    Prayer during specific times or day?

    The offer stands for now or a few months from now when you may feel more up to asking for specific help.
    Xo

    • Reply Bek 26 May 2019 at 1:40 pm

      That’s a great idea.

    • Reply Tammy 26 May 2019 at 8:01 pm

      I wonder if someone might be able to set up a Go Fund Me to help this family get back on their feet and at least have the financial pressures ease up enough that they can relax a little from that worry.

  • Reply Stacy 26 May 2019 at 11:41 am

    Praying for your breakthrough. So heartbroken for you. Thank you for your vulnerability.❤️

  • Reply Tara Dickson 26 May 2019 at 11:42 am

    I’m so very sorry friend. No platitudes. Just sitting with you in this. Do you have the cash app? I would love to walk my love out a bit.

  • Reply Stacy 26 May 2019 at 11:42 am

    Praying for your breakthrough! Heartbroken for you and your family. Thank you for your vulnerability again.❤️

  • Reply Carol W 26 May 2019 at 11:58 am

    Adriel and Ryan, I am so so sorry for your loss. I hear your pain, and I can’t imagine what you must be going through. Thank you for being so honest and real as you’ve shared. God, please comfort Ryan and Adriel and be near to them.

  • Reply Ashley Jackson 26 May 2019 at 12:59 pm

    I’m so heartbroken to read this. I weep with you. The words of your book were my food when I was weary and gave me hope to believe again. I pray God will bring you a harvest from all the weary souls you’ve ministered to and continue to bless. Sending love and will be interceding for you and your family, from Minnesota USA.

  • Reply Melissa 26 May 2019 at 12:59 pm

    I’m so sorry for another loss for you guys. We have seven heaven babies and four earthside children. Five losses happened before we had one born alive. It is a terrible pain of loss. Please know you’re in my prayers today.

  • Reply Tara 26 May 2019 at 1:10 pm

    Oh sweet mama… reading this, I feel your exhaustion and deep hurt. I’ve went through 3 miscarriages and can empathize, with just being so beyond heartbroken. And having been in church ministry and feeling the attacks come in never-ending waves. Praying that your ministry would thrive despite the enemy’s attempt to stop you. Praying for God’s love to envelope you like never before. Praying for peace and strength as you labour your sweet daughter. So much love to your family.

  • Reply Christie Elm 26 May 2019 at 2:30 pm

    I am so very sorry. Weeping and grieving with you. I have 3 boys and lost my only daughter at 22 weeks pregnant in February. The first book I received was your book. It was so helpful to see and hear truth when I felt like lies and silence were all I heard. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. While I don’t personally know you, I’m praying for you as if I do because I know your story and some of your pain having been through this journey myself. Specifically I’m praying you feel Jesus’ presence and peace as you deliver your daughter. 💕

  • Reply Suzanne 26 May 2019 at 2:33 pm

    Tears leaked out as I read this. My heart breaks for you. I pray for peace and comfort in the days ahead.

  • Reply Rosie Brown 26 May 2019 at 3:30 pm

    I’m so sorry. Thank you for being so vulnerable in the midst of everything. Praying Peace over you as you go into Labor and Delivery. 💔💔💔

  • Reply Kristin Cash 26 May 2019 at 3:42 pm

    My heart to your brokenness. My prayers to your weariness. My tears to yours. I’m undone for you. Truly, there are no words. You are so loved. My prayers are going out to your entire family during the uncertainties of this dark journey. I’m beyond sorry.

  • Reply Danielle 26 May 2019 at 4:20 pm

    Adriel….

    What words are there for such a time as this? Your heartache makes my heart ache. To say I’m sorry for your loss feels meaningless…

    Xx

  • Reply Suzanne Field 26 May 2019 at 6:16 pm

    Praying for you, praying for Ryan, praying for windows of beauty in this difficult, painful journey ahead of you. Each grief is unique just as every child, hope and dream they held in our hearts is also unique. So so sorry that your little daughter has died. I pray that you feel Father lift and move his strong tower and place it around you on this bloodly battle field. Praying for miracles, angelic support, and the body of Christ to carry you & love you. Sending much love & covering you in daily prayer xx

  • Reply Tammy 26 May 2019 at 8:08 pm

    I had a thought while I was reading this, that the time is coming where our human bodies will be restored to perfection. Then age will just be a number, and your attempts at another child will be assured success. You will never be too old to have another baby when that time comes. Maybe that thought might be a light at the end of the tunnel for you.

  • Reply Becky Spies 26 May 2019 at 9:25 pm

    I’m so sad about your sweet baby girl dying . And I’m so sorry about all the pain and disappointment. I’m praying for you and Ryan and your family. The physical and spiritual battles are real. The devil hates YWAM and new life, but I believe that a breakthrough is coming through the power of Jesus. Praying that you glimpse Jesus’ power today. ❤️

  • Reply Amanda Bieber 27 May 2019 at 3:50 am

    I’m so sorry to hear of your loss! Gosh I know it’s hard! All your words I can feel so deeply from my own life experiences. Thank you for your vulnerability and for your willingness to share. I’m lifting you all up to Him for sure!! I’m trusting that in all of this suffering, He will meet you in different ways then you’ve yet know. Yes contending for you!!

    I met Ryan several years ago when he came to Kona to speak in a YWAM Ships DTS being led by Jonathon Spainhour. I was staffing the DTS w Jonathan. Also my dear friend since 4th grade, Miriam Giannini knows you! Small world for sure. I’ve been following you and praying for you since. And will continue!

  • Reply Carrie 28 May 2019 at 1:48 pm

    Praying for you and your family. I’m so sorry for your loss 💔

  • Reply LeiShell 29 May 2019 at 2:04 pm

    I identify so much with this honesty. I have felt pain and cried out for answers this way too. I’m so sorry that you lost a precious child. My heart aches to lift a percentage of your burden. I am praying God lends tenderness and mercy for these heartaches. ❤️

  • Reply Jen watson 3 June 2019 at 12:06 pm

    I am so sorry… as I read this you have pored so much and in reading your book a few times it breaks my heart to know you’ve had another loss. I am so sorry you are heartbroken and tired, it is so painful. I am praying for you and your family.

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