I’ve delayed writing this post for ages, like actually ages, as it’s been two years (last week) since we lost our first conceived child 😦 To be honest, every time I go to write anything about it, my mind just goes blank. Even though, I have spent the last two years writing about it, thinking about it, talking about it, feeling about it and praying about it non-stop! Perhaps that is why it’s so hard to write anything as there is SO much that has happened, it’s hard to even know where to begin. And usually when you don’t know where to begin, it’s best to start at the beginning 🙂
So, there we were February two years ago, having only very recently found out we were pregnant with our first baby and all the excitement that comes with that. Then a few days later we received the devastating news that the baby wasn’t going to survive (and I wasn’t going to survive if we didn’t terminate the pregnancy). Pretty much some of the worst news I’ve ever heard 😦 After terminating the pregnancy in the States and getting the clear to fly home we come back to Scotland thinking that’s all behind us, only to have my fallopian tube rupture, resulting in some of the worst pain ever! In the midst of all of it, I could feel that God was SO near. Before, during and after, He just kept reassuring me that He was with me, that He was protecting me and that He had a plan. I felt an incredible about of comfort and peace in the midst of all the pain and grief.
Initially, after I began to heal from the surgery, I was just replaying all the events in my mind daily, going through everything again and again as if to make sense of what happened. Thankfully during that time I wasn’t working as I was recovering so had the time to just rest, heal and reflect. I did a lot of crying 😦 I knew God saw and felt such compassion for every tear shed for the loss of our baby and for enduring such trauma.
At that time, I kept referring to our baby as pregnancy tissue. Anytime anyone would refer to it as a baby, I would automatically think in my mind, “no, it was just pregnancy tissue”. Friends would suggest things like naming the baby, having a proper burial and many other things to help grieve, but it just didn’t seem like something I wanted to do. It didn’t seem like something I needed to do.
Though I was quite sad at first I moved on pretty quickly. Initially I was just so grateful to God to be alive! I couldn’t really cope with the thought of anything else. It wasn’t until about six months later when we began trying again for another baby that the grieving really began to set in. I told myself the whole way through that I don’t know what a “normal” grieving process is, so just resigned to let God lead me in that, after all the Bible says that the Holy Spirit, who is with us, is our Counsellor, so I thought He would know best how to lead me through it all. I’ve not noticed any distinct process in my grieving (such as denial, anger, bargaining, acceptance or whatever) but rather, just find that the grieving comes in waves. Some days I am deeply grieved and cry my eyes out over it. Other times, I’ll go for ages with nothing and then something will trigger it, like certain people getting pregnant. Most days I don’t think about it at all. It’s weird.
For me, the grieving began with the realisation that what we lost was indeed a baby. Like I mentioned, at first I just thought of it as pregnancy tissue, which is also what the medical professionals called it. And to be honest, who grieves over pregnancy tissue? Not too long after everything happened I was having a conversation with our Auntie, who has traumatically lost several babies, and she mentioned that it doesn’t matter how long that baby lived, at the moment of conception there is a little person being formed and created. It was like for the first time I realised and acknowledged that it was a baby we lost. I went home and just cried my eyes out as I thought, “It was a baby!” And not only that, but so many other feelings came up, the deepest was, “I loved that baby and I wanted that baby. I didn’t want it to die.” 😦 God has done a lot to bring healing to us in this area. We did in the end name our baby girl Anna (more on this later). We still talk about her all the time and look forward to the day when we get to cuddle her in heaven.
So, in July of 2013, we got the go ahead from the doctor to start trying again, and were a wee bit hesitant as I had a great deal of fear that we would have another ectopic. Thankfully through prayer, that fear diminished and we carried on with a lot of peace. Months went by with no pregnancy…then more months…then a year…now it’s been over a year and a half and still no baby. This process, which some call infertility, some call barrenness has also been incredibly painful for us, but in a totally different way. I’ve thought a lot about this and prayed much and have realised that there is so much that goes on inside a woman when she is barren. God has put something in women that longs to nurture and sustain life, something which reflects Him. To be honest, these feelings that I had, the incredibly deep longing to have a baby from my own body, surprised me! You see prior to getting pregnant I had never experienced any feelings like this before. I was of the mind, “if we get pregnant, great, if we don’t, I’m not too fussed.” I never really longed for a baby, never really desired it deeply, so these feelings were just entirely new to me and seemed to come out of nowhere! I think getting pregnant prompted it for me, while I know other women experience this without ever getting pregnant.
Through this I have realised more than ever that there is a very close connection between the physical and spiritual, way closer of a tie than I had ever really known before. So, for example, not being able to conceive physically brought about this whole set of beliefs that I would also be barren spiritually. That I would remain fruitless, empty, dead. I would often think and pray to God, “Will my body be dead forever? Will I ever bear fruit? Will I ever produce life?” Do you see the tie here between physical fruit (babies) and spiritual fruit? I began to think that because my body wasn’t nurturing and sustaining life, my spiritual life wouldn’t either. These things, of course, weren’t true. But they were what I was faced with in my heart.
Barrenness has also taken us through endless cycles of expectation, excitement, disappointment and then despair. The utter hopelessness is so painful and probably the most difficult thing to break through. God would gently and softly ask me, “Erica, where is your hope?” Often, it has been in having a baby, in having children and a family. He has reminded me again and again and again, “Put your hope in Me.” There is a verse in the Bible which really spoke to me a lot, “…and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:2-5). Hope in any other thing disappoints, but those who hope in God will never be disappointed. I have found this to be trustworthy.
The other thing that’s been happening recently is I’ve been waking up sad, just feeling like I am missing out…on getting to be a parent, on the joy of loving a child, of nursing and nurturing a baby, of having my own baby. It’s a feeling of missing out on some fullness of love and joy and pleasure. But even in these last few mornings God has led me to bring all these feelings to Him, to pour them out before Him because He cares for me. And even as I pour them out, I know that He is enough and that in Him is the fullness of love and joy and pleasure. He brought me to this verse, “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand (Jesus) there are pleasures forever.” (Psalms 16:11) Life and the fullness of joy and pleasures that last forever are found in Jesus. So pretty much daily something comes up regarding barrenness and daily God meets me where I am and draws me to find everything in Him.
Now, amazingly, there is story after story in the Bible of God intervening and speaking into the lives of none other than…women who are barren! I have found this to be an incredible thing, as they seem to hit a real soft spot for God that I still can’t quite figure out. Some of the most incredible people of faith in the Bible were barren for a very long time (we’re talking 20+ years) and received the ability to conceive only through supernatural means (Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Samson’s parents, Hannah, Elizabeth and Zacharias, etc). I have taken great comfort and such reassurance in the fact that there is a God who speaks into our lives and brings dead things to life, and He does this through various and supernatural means. SO many things have happened over the last two years which have spoken right to my heart and showed me God was hearing our prayers and has a plan. Here are just a few (there are honestly so many more):
- First, in August 2013, just a month after starting to try for another baby, we went to my brother and sister in-law’s church as we were visiting one weekend. This was a particularly difficult weekend because my sister-in-law was newly pregnant, which was wonderfully exciting, but also, SO painful, as you could imagine. We had never been to their church before so didn’t know anyone, and the pastor was going around afterwards asking people if they’d like to receive prayer for anything. We’d never been in a situation quite like this before, but thought “hey, we always need prayer.” So we mentioned that we are helping start a church in Glasgow and would love prayer for that. He began praying for that, then he turned and focused his attention on me and looked at me dead in the eyes and said to me, “You are favoured by God” and just in case I didn’t get it the first time he said, “God favours you”. He said various things about the impact of my role with the church and went on to say, “I see you praying for healing for women who are unable to conceive and God giving them the ability to conceive”. Of course, at that moment, there were just floods of tears. He also prayed for God to have mercy on us and allow us to conceive. This gave me a fresh hope in God who works wonders in what seems impossible.
- We were so encouraged by God that we were in a church with a couple who had struggled with barrenness for years and they often prayed for us and strengthened us when we had no hope. One day when we were praying with them to be able to conceive they felt like God was saying something about naming the baby or were asking if we had named the baby. We said we hadn’t but this got us thinking further. I later asked Ali if he ever had any inclination or sense from God what the sex was of the baby. He said yes, he thinks he did. So had I! So I blurted it out, “I think it was a girl” and he said yup, he did too. We were amazed that we both felt the same. So then, we were praying and asking God what the name for our girl should be. For some reason, Ali had always loved the name Anna for a girl. I never really liked it, but for some reason it kept coming to mind and so Ali was a wee bit surprised when I mentioned this to him. I felt assured that this is what we should name her and then thought, I will look up her name and just see what it means. When I looked it up I was totally shocked to find that the name Anna means “God favours me”. Given the first prophecy that was spoken over us and how that pastor kept saying that to me, I was SO sure this was her name.
- Then, in October, we went along to the Glasgow Prophetic Centre for a check-up. It’s basically the two of us in a room with three people and there’s a wee bit of chat and they prophecy over you. Sounds weird, I know, but it’s not really and it’s Biblical. Scripture says that we should desire the gift of prophecy because it builds people up the most out of all the gifts as it provides encouragement, edification and comfort. We experienced only those things. There was SO much they said that is just not relevant to this blog post, but when one of the women came round to me, she said these words, “Erica, I feel like God is saying you are like Hannah in the Bible”. Insert floods of tears! If you’ve never read about Hannah, you can find her in 1 Samuel, chapters 1 and 2 of the Bible. It’s about a woman who was barren for many years, who couldn’t conceive and in the midst of her bitterness and pain, she cried out to God for a child, for a son. God gave her that son, who she named Samuel which means “I requested him from God” or “God gave me the one I requested from Him”. So this woman mentions Hannah and my whole heart is completely exposed. Needless to say, this woman had NO way of knowing what our life circumstances were as we had divulged nothing to her. God showed her this and like the scriptures say that with prophecy, “the secrets of the heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you” (1 Corinthians 14:25). She went on to say to me, “you know Hannah was barren for years and she cried out to God for a son and God loved to bless Hannah with Samuel.” She realised quickly that there was so much truth to what she was saying and began to pray for me directly that God would allow us to conceive, and she began to say to me, “The Lord says you will not be barren in any area of your life. I speak fruitfulness over your life in Jesus name. Daughter, I have made you fruitful, I’ve made you fruitful in every area of your life in the spirit and in the natural.” She said SO many other words than this, but again, this was so clearly God speaking to all the things taking place in my heart.
- Even though we had all these incredible words of hope and comfort from God, we still weren’t sure if we would ever actually have a child naturally. So, we began asking God if we would 🙂 One morning last year (early 2014), Ali woke up and said he had a dream that we had a baby and in the dream he spoke the baby’s name. He told me he wasn’t going to tell me what the name is, so I will just have to pray and God will tell me! I was not impressed by this at all as I just wanted to know, and thought, “what if God doesn’t tell me?” But then I remembered that in the Bible there are loads of examples where God would tell each person in a marriage separately what the name of their child is and it was always the same, so I just asked God to do the same here. I completely forgot all about this and a few weeks later was praying one morning before church and looked across the way and saw a young boy next to his father who was praying. God really fixed my eyes on him and the boy just looked so comfortable in the presence of his father and it reminded me so much of the boy Samuel (recall earlier Hannah’s son), who grew up in the house of the Lord and loved to be in God’s presence. I distinctly felt God say to me that day, “I will bless you with a son and he will be like Samuel”. I cried and then completely forgot about it as we went about our Sunday. Later that day I was telling Ali everything that had happened that morning during the service and nonchalantly mentioned what I had heard from God and he excitedly exclaimed, “That’s the name from my dream!” Amazing!
So, we have reason to believe God for natural children or at least a natural child. These are just a few stories, there are actually SO many more of God speaking to us on this matter. I’ve never experienced anything like these things before in my life and was so surprised and comforted every time He would speak. God is so good and truly is the God of all comfort.
Now, we have been trying and there is still no baby and do we stop believing God now? No way! I think a lot about Abraham and Sarah (from the Bible) and how they believed God and their hope was in Him even when things seemed completely impossible. I love that God built and established the “Father of Faith” through a situation like this, through something as personal like barrenness. I was also asking God just the other day why He spoke to us so much about this in the beginning but doesn’t say as much about it anymore. He reminded me how when Joseph and Mary or Elizabeth and Zacharias were pregnant, there were so many words from God that came through such supernatural means early on, but scripture doesn’t record as much of it later after the men were born. I think He was showing me this in order to encourage me to remember the things He has said and rely on them by faith, to trust that God is faithful to do what He has said. Everything He has said and done is more than I have deserved, He is so gracious to me.
So, the last thing regarding all of this is related but different. Throughout this whole process God has increasingly broken our hearts for the parentless (whether temporary or permanent) and has increasingly given us a desire to foster and/or adopt. We are currently in the process to do this locally in Glasgow and are really excited to get to care for children in our city who need it. We’ve noticed that our desires for this are also totally different from our desire to have children naturally and realise more and more that adopting children won’t replace or satisfy the desire to have children naturally and that’s fine. It’s good even! We have compassion for these poor wee babies and have the time and willingness to be a part of loving them. We will post more on this later as it progresses! 🙂
So I definitely over-analyse everything, but I have found it really helpful to distinguish my emotions in each of the areas below as I have processed through them all. The emotions and motivations in each are different and I just thought it might be helpful or clarifying for anyone else going through something similar.
|Losing a Baby||Barrenness||Adoption|
|Grief||Longing/Deep rooted desire to conceive||Compassion and care for the fatherless|
|Loss||Desire to nurture a child||Desire to defend and protect|
|Part of you has died||Feeling deeply disappointed and like we’re missing out||Desire for justice (to do what is right and good)|
|Heartbroken||Desire for life to come from my body (to be fruitful)||Desire to respond to the fact that we’ve been adopted by God|