I stood in the empty nursery, laughing at how it would never be this clean again. My huge belly made it hard to get much more done, but it was my last night of pregnancy and there was still much to do before my early-morning inducement. I glanced up at the wall above the changing table, which I’d decorated with a few prints and scriptures. One caught my eye. It read, “Joy comes in the morning.”
After all I’d been through in the past year, it was a verse that held tremendous meaning for me.
As I looked at it, I heard the Lord say so clearly,
Yes, joy does come in the morning. And his name is Hudson.
A few moments later after just laying down for bed, my water broke and we headed to the hospital, beginning a season of more joy than I’d ever known. And yes, his name was Hudson.
20 months before this, I would have never believed I could feel joyful again. You see, after announcing our 6th pregnancy, telling our children and starting to show, we heard those awful words.
There is no heartbeat.
At 16 weeks gestation, I lay in a hospital room… the same type that had previously produced so many happy memories… and waited for my induced labor to begin. Friends and pastors filtered in and out of the room. People talked of politics, the weather, anything to distract from the horror that was about to commence. Labor pains started and so did the tears.
Neither the pain nor the tears really abated for many weeks… months.
With the death of my sweet baby boy came a season that I now recognize as grief mixed with postpartum depression. I became desperate to get pregnant again. Desperate to not end my child-bearing years with a miscarriage.
I immediately miscarried again.
A new wave of grief nearly knocked me out this time. Months went by. My usual fertility waned and for the first time in my life I rode the monthly rollercoaster that is “trying to get pregnant.”
I’ve written before about how God was near to me in that dark time, about all that He taught me. I won’t go into it here, except to say that around the first of 2015 I finally relented, finally ceased my striving and came to peace with not having any more children. I’m sure you can imagine what happened next.
I became pregnant with my sweet Hudson.
I wish I could say that those next 9 months were full of rejoicing. No, just the opposite. I now experienced another first.
The fear of miscarriage.
I now know that this is incredibly common. And yet, it never had been for me. With every twinge and sensation, I rushed to the bathroom, so sure I would find evidence that it was beginning. This literally became a constant meditation of my mind… when would I miscarry? Where would I be when it happened? How would I survive it? And yet the days went on.
I traveled out of state to a pastor’s conference with a few other couples. The fear followed and took advantage of my extra mental space during the trip. During the worship session, I again was sure it was beginning and rushed to the restroom.
There the Lord met me. In the bathroom stall of a small church in rural Alabama. He spoke His Word to me:
Perfect love casts out fear.
I wanted to write down the reference so I searched the words on my phone and an image appeared which spoke to me so clearly. It said,
Fear knocked on the door. Love answered and no one was there.
This was my turning point. The day I decided that fear would no longer dominate my pregnancy. Every time I felt fearful, I spoke out loud, “perfect love casts out fear.” Sometimes I believed it and sometimes I spoke it through gritted teeth. Either way, the truth had its effect. Day by day my fear lessened a bit and hope began to creep in.
This declaration was not my only tool against fear. I also chose to be grateful, even though I didn’t know the end result. I began saying, “Thank you Lord for allowing me to spend this day with this child.” As time went on, I found myself thanking him for weeks instead of days, months instead of weeks. Oh, how this perspective changed my outlook.
As the pregnancy progressed, I noticed that I didn’t feel bonded with Hudson. Truthfully, that was a coping mechanism. If I didn’t bond with him, then it wouldn’t be as hard to lose him (or so my still grief-soaked heart reasoned). I asked the Lord, “How can I love someone that I have no guarantee of ever knowing? How can I love someone that I might lose?” And He so sweetly reminded me that He does exactly that every day. He loves people with no guarantee of a relationship with them. He loves people that He may lose. And yet He loves them just the same. Wow. I’ll never forget the way He taught me that truth.
I’d love to tell you that I eventually conquered my fear of losing Hudson. But that would not be true. As I lay in the delivery room awaiting each wave of contractions, it all felt too similar. The last time I was there, feeling those pains, I delivered a lifeless baby. What if today was the same?
But then he came.
Peacefully, easily, calmly, with a sweet cry and bright pink skin.
Completely alive in every way.
I sobbed uncontrollably. The tears carried away the final remnants of my anxieties and my heart inflated with more joy than I had ever felt.
If God had only done this. If He had only given me a healthy child and nothing more, I would praise Him until the end of my days. But did you know that my God is one of abundance? One who does “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think”? (Ephesians 3:20)
On top of a perfectly healthy child, He gave me the sweetest, most affectionate, most peaceful child I’ve ever known. From birth, Hudson has been a pure joy. He is truly like a salve to my scarred soul. His life has ministered to me like no one else.
The Lord has loved me through Hudson. That’s the only way I can explain it.
Recently this sweet babe turned 3. And again I say, “Thank you Lord for allowing me to spend 3 years, plus 9 months with this child.”
Are you struggling with fear during a pregnancy after a loss? I want you to know that you are not alone. Many women have walked the same path. It just isn’t one that’s easy to talk about. I hope my experience can help you in some way.
I would love to talk and pray with you if that is helpful. Feel free to reach out here or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.