“When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them. This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the United States and around the world. It is also meant to inform and provide resources for parents who have lost children due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, stillbirths, birth defects, SIDS, and other causes.”
In October 1988, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
One year ago today we lost our first pregnancy. It was day of grief unlike any other I had known. And it was weeks and months of waves of grief and healing that would come after.
I’ll never be able to adequately describe the deepness of those waves. My heart seemed to be crushed and my lungs seemed to be the same. There were days I cried so hard I could hardly breathe.
We lost not one life, but two.
Somehow, the following day just *happened* to be Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. October 15. And well, I don’t think it just happened to be so. I have to think that this timing was a small gift from God–a ray of light in the darkness.
Last night as I felt this day approaching, the grief washed over once again. My eyes flooded with tears and I choked back the words “I’m sorry” to my unsuspecting husband. It came on suddenly. He sweetly came to my side and held me. I just cried. Cried for the loss of life. Cried for the trauma we had been through–that my body had been through. Cried as I remembered those waves of contractions as we tried to make it home from our walk where they had begun.
In this photo above, I am 20 weeks pregnant with our daughter whom we have now welcomed into our arms–our little rainbow baby. I had found this anchor on a walk on the very same street I ended up beginning to miscarry that pregnancy. It was months before we had even begun trying to get pregnant, but we had been talking about doing so soon.
I was nervous. I wanted a career–a ministry. I wanted to finish my book. To write. To speak. To be more than just a mom. And yet with my chronic pain I experience I doubted my ability to do both. And yet… as I just *happened* to be listening to Rich Mullins’ song in which he sings the following words–“Gentler than a mother with a baby at her side…”–I just *happened* to stumble across this anchor.
A baby teething toy in the shape of an anchor.
I thought it meant God would be my anchor through the journey ahead–of both motherhood and ministry. And yet what I didn’t know is that it would be so much more than that–this anchor would be a symbol I’d remember and to which I’d cling through the storm of grief of miscarriage and through the fears of losing our next pregnancy as well.
This God knew I would need a sign of His presence through the storms and through the grief. He knew I would need a sign that He was with me through the waves.
He was. He really was.
He held me and he carried me when I felt I could go on, when I felt I couldn’t get out of bed.
And what’s more is He continued to carry me through not only our second pregnancy, but my 18 hour labor with no epidural.
He faithfully brought us our rainbow. Our sunshine beaming through broken clouds. Our calm after the storm.
I know that not everyone who has experienced loss has a rainbow. And my heart aches for that. There are no words I have to say to you. Or to those who have experienced loss and do have their rainbow. Because it’s still hard. It’s messy and confusing, and last night as I tried to “sort” it all in my mind, I realized it was like laundry–Clay’s laundry in particular.
He had had this pile of laundry he had washed sitting on our folding table. At first they sat unfolded. And then he partially folded them. And then they sat some more. And then last night when I finally needed the space to fold more clean clothes, he finally moved them and put them away.
I realized the emotions of miscarriage and of our beautiful rainbow baby are like that pile. Messy. Partially dealt with. And Clay reassured me that they would get sorted eventually. And well, regardless of it they will get fully sorted this side of Heaven, I know that God will continue to heal my broken heart. And I know that no matter what lies ahead for us, He will continue to be my anchor through it all.
As Hebrews 6:19 says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…”
Jesus has been–and will continue to be–my anchor for my soul, firm and secure through the fiercest of storms.
As we know from Isaiah 43:2, He will not let the waves consume us.
I’m grateful for this sign–this symbol of truth–that God so graciously gifted me on that summer day so many months ago… when I was about to embark on the most intensely emotional years of my life. A year of highs and lows so strong.
It was a year of the greatest grief I’ve ever known and the greatest joy I’ve ever known.
It was a year of mess and partially dealt with laundry of emotions.
As I go back today to find that first photo that I took of that anchor–to see which day, which month, I even found it–I find that the only photo I have of it is with a bright yellow flower I’d also found on my walk that day on February 26, 2018.
And then I find a photo my mom sent me that morning…
This photo makes me shake my head slowly back and forth in disbelief of this God and the crazy ways He works. You see, this photo of this tree from my family’s ranch in Texas is the exact same kind of tree that we now have in the front yard of our house here in Los Angeles.
I love it’s pretty pink blooms. When we bought the house last October–right after we found out we were pregnant with that first pregnancy–it was in full bloom.
The month that followed was so difficult. We ended up miscarrying October 14 and on October 15 we opened escrow. We were moving into a house we had moved forward with buying because I was pregnant. And now, we would be moving into a home with an empty room that would have been our nursery.
Thankfully that room is a nursery today for our sweet Noelle.
The very week she was born our tree–which had lost all of it’s blooms completely for months–seemed to blossom overnight.
I inhale and exhale a sigh… of disbelief and wonder and awe and gratitude.
Thank you, Lord, for being my anchor. Thank you, God, for your signs and wonders. Thank you, Father, for your mercies anew each morning, for your daily bread, and for this story that I pray points others to You.
Your Word and Your heart and Your faithfulness are true, steadfast, and unchanging.
I pray if this month brings remembrance of your own loss that you, too, would find comfort in this God of all comfort. As Jesus so wonderfully reminded us in His Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
I praise Him for this truth, for this ultimate hope we have that these lives, and the lives of our babies lost, are not the end of our story, but rather just the beginning of an eternity spent with our Savior in Heaven.
anchor photo: Apple Rose Photography