June 3, 2019. For most of you, that was just an ordinary day. It started out that way for me too: 19 weeks pregnant, went to a maternity appointment, out for lunch with my mom, bought flowers for my pots...like I said, ordinary day. But then, unfortunately, my nightmare began and unfolded remarkably quick before my eyes. Labour started (literally went from 0-100) at 7:50 pm and my beloved son was born at 11:10 pm, his little body born too soon to be able to sustain life in this world. And so, I said hello and goodbye to my beautiful baby boy. I don't think there is anything that can possibly prepare you for heart wrenching reality that is the loss of your child. To think of it - heart wrenching just doesn't seem to be a strong enough term to adequately describe it...I don't think there are any words in the English language that can...
I sat holding my lifeless, peaceful 9.88 oz baby boy in my arms, admiring his perfect little features - his cute nose, his dainty lips, his tiny fingers, and tiny toes - I would have given anything to have that little boy take his first breath. Unfortunately, no matter how much I prayed and begged and pleaded, God did not give me a miracle that day. And so, the next day, I did what no mother should ever have to do: I walked out of the maternity unit without my baby Noah.
Noah. This name wasn't even remotely on our radar for a baby boy. But the one we did have picked out didn't have much of a meaning and my husband and I couldn't fathom naming this special little boy anything that didn't have meaning. And so "Noah" came to us: Genesis 5:29, "He named him Noah and said, "He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed."
Noah. To us it means "God hears our cries" and of course, as per the verse above, it means comfort; a promise, like the rainbow covenant in the biblical story of Noah, that God will come through and give us a healthy baby, despite the fact that our ground is "cursed." I try to cling to that, but to be honest right now I am clawing and scrambling to cling to hope.
We had been married almost 3 years. We had the stable jobs with steady income. We had the house. So, naturally, 16 months ago my husband and I decided to start a family. I did not anticipate all the pain that would be accompanied by a supposedly 'exciting' and 'joyful' new adventure: a newly diagnosed thyroid disorder, a miscarriage at 10 weeks followed by a slew of complications that would eventually result in a rainbow pregnancy that would end in a 19 week stillbirth (technically a miscarriage, but when you hold your fully formed baby in your arms, in my mind, it's a stillbirth not a miscarriage). Nope, definitely not what I had pictured at all. And yet, God brought a verse to mind that has been on my heart a very long time: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11). For I know the plans I have for you...
Really, God? It honestly doesn't feel like it. I am pretty sure my plans would be a lot better than this. But then again, I know that I am not God. As God says to Job in Job 38:4-5 when Job was asking similar things about his inexplicable suffering, "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it." ...and the chapter continues on with rhetorical questions that no human can obviously answer because we are not God. I try to remind myself that, but honestly it doesn't take the pain away knowing that God is sovereign and in control. It honestly often makes it worse. Because I know that with the snap of His fingers He could have instantly stopped my labour and Noah would still be safely in my womb, waiting to be born closer to his due date of October 28, 2019.
But He didn't.
Why? That question plagues me and I may not ever get the answer. In navigating through the loss of Noah, the grief and the suffering, I have a recurring picture come to my mind: being on a beach with God, sobbing in anger, pain, and frustration; screaming, cursing at God asking why this has happened, banging my fists against His chest. And God in His infinite mercy, grace, and love takes every punch and harsh word. Then He pulls me in and holds me close. And eventually, I give in to His embrace, still sobbing, but being held by my loving Father.
Folks, that is who God is. And as much as I have no answers for why suffering happens, other than the fact that we live in a broken world. And although the pain, anger, depression and all the human emotions are still very much real, God can take it. He can take it. And not only can He take all our pain, anger, and fill-in-the-blank-with-your-emotion-here, He gets it. He is not some God sitting on a big throne accusing us of not having enough faith because we feel anger, depression, and every human emotion. Instead He hears, He listens, and then He whispers to us, "I get it." He wants us to pour out our hearts to Him, because He's equal parts sovereign God and heavenly Father.
Believe me I have had my fair share of candid conversations with God throughout this process. Lamentations has been my mantra, especially Lamentations 3:16-18, "He has broken my teeth with gravel; he has trampled me in the dust. I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. So I say, "My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord."
Broken. Crushed spirit. Devoid of hope. Betrayed.
These are the feelings that consume my heart after losing Noah. I have been pounding my fists, hard, against God's chest and yelling curses at Him asking, "Why, why - why?!" Perfect Christian? No, far from it. I'm just like anyone else, stumbling through the trials of life trying my best to trust my heavenly Father, even though sometimes my heart wants to run in the opposite direction of Him because of the injustice of my affliction.
And yet, God hears. Lamentations 3:55-57, "I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: "Do not close your ears to my cry for relief." You came when I called you, and you said, "Do not fear."; Psalm 27:13-14, "I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."
I don't know about you, but I suck at waiting. Noah was my dream come true: he made me a mother. It's unfair to me that I am not able to physically hold him in my arms, watch him grow, sit up for the first time, crawl, take his first bite of cake, say his first word, take his first steps, take him for walks in the sought after UppaBaby Stoller, spoil him with hugs, kisses, toys, watch him sleep in the nursery we had started preparing...
It's unfathomable to have had my dream come true, just to have it taken away like one big tease. Then to also sit here again waiting to finally hold a healthy baby in my arms. And yet, here I am, waiting again. Trying to wait for the Lord in expectation that He will come through and that I will see His goodness. Trying to trust Him and that His plans are good. Trying to have faith in the fact that He is taking care of me and that He holds my future in His hands, even though it doesn't feel like it. And in the waiting, I cling to the One who is my strength and from whom my hope comes from. I trust and have faith that God's "got this" as Jeremiah 17:7-8 says, "But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."
"Take courage my heart || Stay steadfast my soul || He's in the waiting || He's in the waiting || Hold onto your hope || As your triumph unfolds || He's never failing || He's never failing" [Take Courage - Bethel Music]
And so...I wait.