I used to think I was invincible. That if I put my mind to it, I could overcome any obstacle. I was big enough, strong enough, and determined enough to face any battle straight ahead and defeat it. That was, until I faced the biggest battle of my life with burying one of my children...my baby.
I’ve experienced a lot of disappointment in my life. Abuse. Woundedness. Failed relationships. I’ve grown up with insecurities, uncertainties, and a constant longing. I’ve sought for affirmation and consistency from others. And I’ve wondered if “good things” were ever to come. I’ve waited for the Lord to bring redemption and healing in those broken spaces and places. And I’ve fought Him kicking and screaming. (I can do this on my own.)
In the summer before the conception of our fifth child, I experienced a lot of healing within my marriage and in the area of old, festering childhood wounds. I was finally feeling free. There was no holding back. No wall building. No hiding. No running away. No more fighting. I was waving my white flag and surrendering. I felt whole. I felt content. And then we found out I was once again expecting. It had been nearly five years since I had a baby. I was OVERJOYED.
Our “healing baby” we called this child. Conceived from an immense place of love and freedom. What will this child bring for my life? My healing? I was so thankful for the tiny life growing within me, yet I felt so undeserving. So unworthy. Part of me had difficulty accepting the pregnancy. It seemed “too good to be true.”
I made it through the first trimester filled with fear due to low progesterone and wondering if my body would carry the baby. This was coupled with the normal anxieties associated with a pregnancy, which magnify with each subsequent one, because you simply “know more.” I was terrified for the 20 week anatomical ultrasound. Will this baby be healthy? Will everything be okay? However, fear after fear was squelched. The baby “looked great.” I could finally rest easy. Everything was fine. I would have this baby, and it would all “work out.”
I saw this child as a reward for enduring my past suffering. As a gift to my faithfulness to the Lord. My pain, not in vain. Proof that God really did love ME. He cared about ME.
There were personal trials throughout the nine months. Through endless fatigue, I pushed through and tended to a lot of things I didn’t want to do. I kept telling myself that in the end, it would all be worth it, because I would be holding my baby. I stayed consistent in daily prayer and my visits to the adoration chapel. I did every task asked of me at work and MORE. I continued with monthly counseling sessions. I ate well, exercised, and surrendered my pregnancy to the Lord. I chose joy and excitement over fear. I wouldn’t allow myself to listen to my creeping anxieties, and my deep unspoken fear that something terrible was going to happen at the very end. (That I could never “see” my baby in our home.)
I wanted to be invincible. So I kept pushing. And going. And fighting. And I was so EXHAUSTED.
The weeks of the pregnancy were advancing. Each day brought me closer to the end goal—my baby. Then, at 38 weeks and one day of pregnancy, it just all went wrong. And there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING I could do about it. I was powerless. And defeated. I was broken. And hurt. I was confused. And lost. I was tired. I couldn’t fight. I wasn’t going to win. I would not have victory over this outcome. In the end, God had the final word. And I just could not understand the outcome. I still don’t.
In bringing a dead baby into the world, my life has been completely altered. I am not the same person anymore. Quite honestly, I don’t really know “the new me.” I haven’t quite figured her out. I do know she is TIRED. And is realizing how weak she is. And that she can’t do life on her own anymore. That building walls expends useless energy she just doesn’t have. But she also struggles to find hope. And she wonders, Who is fighting for me? Because she feels forsaken and abandoned by God. She asks, How can losing your “healing baby” be a reward? How can losing your baby bring healing, at all? I do know that she is desperate. And thirsty. And discontent. And longing to surrender again, but she doesn’t know how...because she’s TERRIFIED. What will the Lord ask of me this time? But there is the awareness that He is relentlessly pursuing her. If she would only let Him in. Only let Him get close. And she still finds him in the Blessed Sacrament and she wonders, How can I love and be so angry at someone at the same time? That in His presence, He breaks her defenses and still fills her with immense peace. That in praise and worship before Him, she returns to her truest self—her desire to want what He wants. And when she looks at Him, He reminds her, “You are not doing this alone.”
And it’s so confusing. When my old self and new self try to interweave my identity into a tapestry I can’t quite grasp, I default to fight or flight mode. Right now, though, grief is winning, and I’m growing weary of running. I’m tired of trying to be invincible. Perhaps, I will let someone else fight for me now. Perhaps, it will be the Lord.