“The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy...” (John 10:10)
Last week I was ambushed. Under attack. And I couldn’t escape it. Couldn’t find my way out.
My enemy was myself.
My mind. My thoughts. My fears. My anxiety. I made myself a prisoner. A slave to irrational behavior, motives, and beliefs.
I wrestled with intense anger, jealousy, inner rage, ingratitude, disbelief, and crippling fear.
I could not convince myself to think and feel otherwise. I was confined to desperation. Wanting a way out, but intent on staying trapped. Somehow, it felt safer. Yet, I hated what I thought. The way I felt. And the way I behaved.
I hated myself.
I felt ashamed. Discouraged. Embarrassed. Like the “old me.” My life...unraveling. Falling apart right before my very eyes, as though I was just watching it all happen. And I couldn’t change a thing.
Sunday nights are hard. The emotions build until they rupture from my eyes. The closer Christmas comes, the more difficult it is to go to sleep. (I don’t want Christmas to come.)
And a week and a half ago, on a Sunday, I found myself unable to sleep. I woke up all night, trying to will my baby to move inside of me. I had gone to the chapel earlier in the evening. To cry. To sit. To feel. To hopefully hear something. I heard nothing. But I did beg, and I did plead. “Make my baby move. You can do anything. Let me feel something. I need reassurance. I’m not leaving until You do. Until You prove yourself.” And nothing happened. Just like that day almost 7 months ago when we found out our baby’s heart stopped beating. YOU CAN DO ANYTHING. MAKE HER HEART BEAT. PLEASE! But nothing. No miracle. No action. And I reverted back to that day, to my anger, and to my confusion. I left the chapel and was convinced our new baby was also dead.
Fear overtook me. Panic began to set in. Anger began to rage. Anxiety was at an all time high.
I called my doctor the next morning. The nurse made an appointment for me within the hour to offer me comfort. Just a Doppler check... I had just been a week earlier, but I know all to well how quickly things can take a turn.
I waited an hour for reassurance. My heart raced. I couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t calm myself. I planned my induction for my “dead baby” and his burial. My plans for the future of my job. Thought of how we would break this news to our children again. And I cried. And cried. And cried. And cried.
My doctor finally came in. All I could do was apologize through a mess of tears. Then he placed the Doppler on my 18 week womb. Moved to the left. No sound. To the right. No sound. Towards the center. No sound. It felt like eternity. And just like before, my eyes diverted back and forth from my doctor to my husband. Panicked. Did my heart stop beating, too? Down a little further, and about 30 seconds into it, he finally said: “There’s the baby’s heartbeat. He’s at 150.” Relief. But also disbelief. Afterall, I had convinced myself that he was dead. Could he really be alive?
I once read somewhere that once you have lost, fear and intuition can seem so much the same. Deep down, did I think he was dead? Perhaps. But was that rooted in fear, or “that motherly instinct?” It’s hard to know these days.
The week continued, and I continued to unravel. Anger at life. Anger at God. Anger at how things “look” and “are” right now. Anger about being unhappy. Anger with my job. And people. And situations. Anger with my kids and their grief manifesting itself in unruly behavior. Anger that my naivety has been forever robbed. So angry that Christmas is coming, and everyone around me seems so ready to celebrate. Jealousy for not having what others have. Jealousy for not having my baby here. Jealousy for being unable to enjoy this pregnancy.
I kept spiraling. And escalating. It was debilitating. Consuming. Entrapping. I felt powerless, helpless, useless. But the sane part of my mind, that is somehow still within my consciousness, knew otherwise. I HAVE to snap out of this. I was also exhausted.
And I’m just so tired of waiting.
Waiting for things to change. Waiting for things to get better. Waiting for God to act. Waiting for security. Waiting for joy. Waiting for inner peace. Waiting for contentment. Those things are not coming my way. But how do I go after them? It seems impossible.
This past Saturday, I went to visit my baby girl. It had been weeks. I leaned against the stone, trying to press into her, and just asking. Why? Why couldn’t you stay? I miss you so much. As I cried deep tears, my body returned to that physical ache of wanting to hold her again. This is not fair. You should be here. I WANT YOU HERE. And within my heart, I heard her speak to me... “Let me go, Mom. Stop holding on to what was never supposed to be.” Pain at my core. Why was this never supposed to be?
I walked away from her grave with a strange sense and an awareness of how powerful that prayer was for me, for my future, and for her little brother growing within me. I knew I had to sit with it. Somehow come to terms with it. Accept this reality. Accept that she will not be here for Christmas. NOTHING will change that. I can’t keep living in fear of the unknown. I am not guaranteed tomorrow. Yet, I hold onto the past and the hope of the future, that somehow this tragedy will magically be resolved by better circumstances. And I believe the lies of the enemy that I will always be heart broken. Shamed. Despairing. Beyond redemption. And beyond healing.
So I forced myself to shop for Christmas. And that night, I received the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Not out of obligation. But out of conviction. And a strange peace pervaded me for the next 24 hours, until fear began to creep in again on Sunday night... Have I felt him move? The anatomical u/s is this Thursday. What if something is tragically wrong with this baby? What if he dies, too? Once again, I was under attack. I literally had to force myself to STOP. STOP THINKING THOSE THOUGHTS. Choose tomorrow. Choose life for him. Choose to trust. Choose to hope. Choose to be positive. Take. ONE. DAY. At. A. Time. After all, I am not “owed anything,” because I have lost. If I do have the privilege of being this baby’s earthly mother, then that will be a gift that I have not earned.
And writing this now, I am reminded of the words my husband said to me while waiting in the doctor’s office the week prior. “Whatever happens, we will face this together.” TOGETHER. I am not alone. I have an army fighting for me in the ambush. I don’t have to fight the attacks by myself. I have my husband. My friends who have stuck it out. I have my children. And I have my little girl praying for me from heaven.
I also have the opportunity to choose hope. Because right now, that feels a whole lot better than choosing fear. I can’t guarantee I will survive the next attack so well, but I have to take a step for courage. For today, I will live for this day, and the hope “to have life, and to have life to the full.”