Let’s just begin by saying that this week has been unbelievable–and not really in a good sort of way unbelievable.
But before that, there was last week. Brian and I had a few days off to rest from a year of discipling students with Kairos and to mentally prepare for a summer with Royal Servants. It was an all around good time as we enjoyed each other’s company. My favorite memory of the week was walking around the shops on a beautiful, big lake near our home in 90 degree weather, dreaming about our future. In a few months, our family would expand to three. Our lives were full of excited anticipation.
Monday, we headed back into the office for a crazy day of preparing, shopping, and packing for a trip to the Boundary Waters (a canoe wilderness trip) with Kairos. Both of us ran around almost like chickens with our heads cut off trying to get everything ready in time. One of us (who will remain unmentioned) didn’t even have time to stop to use the bathroom. This day was so important because both of us were leading a separate team of 4 students on this trip, so we were responsible for making sure our individual teams had all the gear and food necessary for 5 days in the wilderness.
Around 2:30, we hurriedly left the office (with promises to our director that we would be in extra early the next day to finish everything before we left for the Boundary Waters) and headed to the midwife’s office for our 13 week prenatal appointment. Both of us were super excited to hear the baby’s heartbeat again. At our last visit, hearing it for the first time was nothing short of magical.
During the visit, we chatted with the midwife, asking many questions about how the pregnancy would affect future trips we had planned with Reign Ministries. She began listening for the heartbeat, while we continued to talk, fully confident that we would hear it in no time. We heard it at 8 weeks, so 13 should be no problem.
But it was a problem. I began to think that maybe the midwife didn’t know how to use that little stethoscope thing. Next visit, I would for sure schedule with someone else. She tried for probably almost 5 minutes with no success. And then she decided we needed an ultrasound that day and left the room in a hurry. It was all kinda odd.
We walked back out to the waiting room to schedule the ultrasound with the receptionist (who, I might add, was seriously lacking in people skills). It wasn’t until 6:30 P.M. that we could get a slot–2.5 hours later. Neither of us were very thrilled about waiting in suspense for the next few hours while we continued to run errands for the Boundary Waters trip. It felt wrong to continue with normal life when in reality, our entire future was suspended in the great unknown.
By 6:30 that night, we were starting to unravel. While sitting in the waiting room (waiting–that’s all we’d been doing), Brian got a call from his dad with some unfortunate news. Brian’s younger brother is married to a Canadian, and they both live and work in Northern Alberta. While renewing his visa, Brian’s brother was denied entry back into Canada until his visa comes through. Your guess is as good as mine for how long that could be. Meanwhile, his wife is still living in Canada. It was on this note that we were called into the ultrasound room.
I couldn’t see the ultrasound screen because the technician had turned it away from me, but Brian could. He said she checked and double-checked, but it was void of movement and life. Her words seem stamped in my mind, “I’m so sorry. There is no heartbeat.” At that moment, it was like the world stopped for a split second and crashed down upon me. What was I supposed to do now?
Get dressed. Walk back out. Sit in the waiting room–again. Wait for the midwife to call. Try to hold myself together and not think about what just happened.
After 20 minutes of waiting, we left. I told the receptionist to have the midwife call me. It was ridiculous to sit there in that cold room with pictures of flowers while everything inside of me was dead. Why do they expect you to sit there calmly? And who designs those rooms anyways?
In the car, I burst into tears. It was all so terrible and unbelievable.
At home, the midwife finally called 40 minutes later. We decided the Boundary Waters was not a good idea because I probably needed surgery. So around 9 P.M., Brian called our good friend Mark who made the necessary phone calls to handle all the details about the trip. Actually, Mark and his wife Jana handled all the details about everything for us over the next few days–groceries, meals, Starbucks, tears, prayers, listening ears. They became our lifeline. But I’m getting head of myself.
The next day, we met with an OB-GYN doctor about the surgery, which was scheduled for the following day. I’m terrified of hospitals after the rafting accident a few years ago, so the prospect of a sedated procedure was intensely scary. I have to admit–I was upset that on top of the emotional pain, “they” were going to add physical pain. It was all so unfair, and this was definitely NOT how I thought things would turn out. Just last week, our lives were overflowing with promise and hope.
As I was expressing all my fears to Jana over the phone, Brian got another call. This time, it was about his older brother’s wife. She had experienced a stroke and was on her way to the Emergency Room. She’s 30. Like I said in the beginning, this week has been unbelievable. I don’t want to leave you hanging, so I will interrupt this story to tell you that now, a few days later, she is back home recovering well with very little lasting side affects (all things considered). You can read in more detail about their experience on their blog here. But in that moment when I heard the news and the future was unknown, it was then that I realized our family was under some kind of spiritual attack. Knowing that didn’t really make it all better, but it did add some explanation (albeit, small) to the craziness in our lives.
Late the next morning (Wednesday), Brian and I headed back to the hospital for surgery prep. A few of my fears were eased as the staff were very kind and understanding. I think I looked like a scared cat in the backseat of a moving car. In fact, I was told almost as much.
Coming out of the procedure, one of the first things I remember is tears. It was over. All my future plans and dreams were officially finished. A life had been lost. That little heartbeat we had heard just 5 weeks before was gone, never to experience our loving arms. The next few days of recovery were a cycle of sleep, movies, meals, physical pain, normal routine (like brushing teeth & showering), and deep sorrow.
I don’t think I have ever cried so much in my life.
I consider myself a pretty positive person. At least, I have an ability to focus on the good things in stressful or disappointing situations and let those outshine the negative. I can often easily see God’s hand. But this time has been different. The positives, although I can see them, do not outweigh the loss. They don’t even balance it. Sometimes, the pain is just too great. And I’m learning that is okay.
This world we live in–the world where we build our dreams, hopes, and futures–is broken. Life will never go as planned, will never be perfect. The positives will not always outweigh the negative. At the end of the day, the sun may not shine. We are in need of redemption. This world and this life were not meant to be so fractured. Instead, they were meant to be richly lived and experienced to the fullest. Redemption comes through Jesus Christ alone. Through hope in Him, we can face whatever today may hold because we know that tomorrow will be with Him.
The other night, as I sat on my couch reading God’s Word and weeping, this passage brought me great comfort; and it expresses the point I am trying to make beautifully:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write these down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” -Revelation 21:3-5
Maybe you are reading this because you’re curious about Brian and I. Maybe you support and pray for us. Maybe you love us. But if you are reading this in the midst of a deep sorrow like ours, I pray that you find hope. For without Him, there is only deep sorrow.
We named our unborn baby Promise. We don’t know if it was a boy or girl, so we chose this name to represent truth in our lives during this time. And the truth is this:
God has promised that someday, this suffering will end. Redemption will be complete. We have a hope and a future in Him.