I am 1 in 4

It is estimated (stats from March of Dimes and WomensHealth.gov) that 1 in 10 women will lose a baby to miscarriage if they know they’re pregnant (other agencies estimate that approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage). 1 in 10 women struggle with infertility. 1 in 160 pregnancies end in stillbirth. 

There is so much stigma associated with loss or infertility. We struggle with feelings of inadequacy. We struggle with guilt and wonder what we’ve done wrong. We wonder if God is punishing us for some sin, remembered by us or forgotten.

When I joined the 25% with my loss, I was shocked at the number of women that I know who have experienced loss or infertility. Some I had spoken with about their experiences before I lost Cora, and some I had no idea that they had experienced loss.

Everyone mourns differently. Some people speak, and others don’t. I have chosen to speak, which you might find odd if you know me in real life. I’m an introvert. I’m a pretty private person. But I wanted to share her story. I wanted to acknowledge her existence and share it with the world, so that I didn’t just lost “a baby”. The baby I lost was wanted and had a personality and a name. There are things that I will not share with the world. There are things that I will not speak of, and that you will never see. I am still her mother, and her father and I have decided to keep the pictures we have of her secret. We have other mementos and memories that we will not share, because we don’t feel comfortable with it.

I wanted to speak so that others could feel free to speak. So that a conversation could happen about dealing with loss, about supporting people who have walked through loss. I know that some women don’t want to speak, and I honor that. I know that some do want to speak and don’t feel free to.

I plan on continuing to speak about her life, and am glad to speak about her. For the rest of the month, I want to walk with you all through the emotions that came through my loss and the kind of support I needed and still need after losing her. At first glance, that feels SO selfish to write. But, as I said before, everyone mourns differently; what was good for me might not be good for someone else. I don’t know what someone else may want or need, but I’ll include questions to help you think through how best to support someone you love that’s going through loss, or yourself if you are going through it.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

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Why worship?

I’ve spent the past several days posting worship songs, and I didn’t explain why. I just told you “music speaks to me. I leaned on music when my heart was shattered.”

Music is more than a coping mechanism when we’re broken. Music is a form of worship when everything comes crashing down. I will tell you, I did not and often do not feel like worshipping God much of the time in light of Cora’s death. And yet. I was led time and again, through encouragement by old friends, scripture, and countless other sources, to put my energy into worshipping God.

When Husbandman and I have experienced has been very, very difficult. So difficult that I know that I could not have gone through it without my faith. And the examples I have in my Bible are of people reminding themselves in hardship to worship God. After Job lost everything, his livestock, all of his kids, he said:

20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:20-21

Job worshiped God. Job did not go before God and say “You took this from me. You did this to me. You slighted me. You’ve hurt me.” Job recognized that his world didn’t revolve around himself. He realized that his world revolved around God, and that’s where he kept his focus.

That’s been my goal: to focus on God and to thank Him for His goodness. That’s what worship is. It reminds us who God is. It keeps us focused on Him, and when we’re focused on Him, our pain is lessened. I still hurt. I still fight anxiety and worry about “why”, “how”, and “what next”. But when I worship God, I remember His goodness. I remind my heart of His goodness. And in the light of His goodness, I remember to cast my cares on Him. He doesn’t answer all of my questions with “yes”, “no”, or “this is why I allowed this to happen”. He answers my questions with “I am here”. And He is enough. May He be enough for you. May you recognize that He is sufficient for you in whatever situation you find yourself.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

Torn Asunder

This is the last worship song that I’ll be sharing this month, and it’s the one that touched me the most. I still have no words to express how this song has spoken to my heart.

When my Heart is Asunder

When my heart
Is torn asunder
And my world
Just falls apart
Lord You put
Me back together
And lift me up
To where You are

There is hope
Beyond the suffering
Joy beyond the tears
Peace in every tragedy
Love that conquers fear
I have found redemption
In the blood of Christ
My body might be dying
But I’ll always be alive

You have turned
Mourning to dancing
You have covered me with grace
The struggle here
May last a moment
But life with You
Will last always

There is hope
Beyond the suffering
Joy beyond the tears
Peace in every tragedy
Love that conquers fear
I have found redemption
In the blood of Christ
My body might be dying
But I’ll always be alive

When the age
Of death is over
And this world
Has been reborn
I’ll be there
Beside my Savior
This is our GREAT
And rich reward

There is hope
Beyond the suffering
Joy beyond the tears
Peace in every tragedy
Love that conquers fear
I have found redemption
In the blood of Christ
My body might be dying
But I’ll always be alive

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

Deep Love

When I’m in the depths of grief, I need reminded that God loves me. I need reminded of my faith; of the sacrifice Christ made for me when He died on the cross. I believe with my whole heart that God chose to allow His only Son to die to pay the penalty for my sins. His only Son.

I never thought I would, but I know what it’s like for my only child to die. I know how badly it hurt that Cora died. I know some measure of the pain that God experienced when He allowed His only Son to die for my sins. And knowing that God knows how I feel comforts me. The reminder that God is still sovereign and that I am still His comforts me. And I pray that you know that comfort as well. I pray that you know that no matter what is going on in your life that Christ died for you, and that all you have to do to know Him is to accept that gift by confess that He is Lord and that you have fallen short.

“…because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 

How deep His love is for us indeed.

How Deep the Father’s Love for Us

How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

When my Feet Fail

The song “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong United has been popular since 2013. The song feels good to sing, and when you listen to it on the surface, it feels good to hear as well.

When you take a long, hard look at the lyrics, the refrain goes:
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Asking for God to take you “deeper than my feet could ever wander” is asking to get thrown in water that is too deep for you to handle. It’s asking to get placed in water that will drown you if your focus is not correct.

Think of Peter in Matthew 14:22-33. Peter tells Jesus to call him out on the water with him “if that is You”. Jesus said to him, “Come” and Peter stepped out on the water. Peter then noticed a “strong wind” and began to sink. He stopped focusing on Jesus.

That is what happens to us when we mourn and take our eyes off Christ. The wind is blowing pretty heavily in my life right now. My stress level is high, and the rest of my life feels like it hinges on test results that have yet to come. Will I be able to have another baby ever? Do I have an illness that will affect me forever?

I am having a difficult time. Have I told you that? I’m a mess. I’m having a hard time. And when I take my eyes of Christ, I start to sink. I start to flail around and become so frightened that I’m paralyzed. Every day this happens to me, usually multiple times a day. What if something else bad happens? What if I start to feel more overwhelmed. What if? 

When we ask Christ to call us out on the water with Him, may we remember that it isn’t “safe”. It is not within our comfort zone. When we’re called out on the water and we’re scared, may we remember that Christ is still good, even when we feel like we’re in over our heads. And He is right there when we cry, “Lord, save me!” like Peter did when he began to sink. May our faith grow as our trust grows. May we remember that trust doesn’t grow without the opportunity to trust more and more as God takes us out of our comfort zones.

When my feet fail, like they do daily, may I turn to Christ. 

“Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will standAnd I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

[6x]
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh, Jesus, you’re my God!

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

I Need Thee Every Hour

Another song that I listened to on repeat in the days following her loss was “I Need Thee Every Hour”. This song, penned by Annie S. Hawks and Robert Lowry, is a plea for God to be near. When my mind was so muddle by grief and pain, I could hardly come up with my own words to pray to ask God to be near. This song is a plea for the Lord to draw near; an expression of total dependence on God. When I had no words to express myself, I hid in this song. I cried as I listened to it over and over again.

I Need Thee Every Hour

1 I need thee every hour,
most gracious Lord;
no tender voice like thine
can peace afford.

Refrain:
I need thee, O I need thee,
every hour I need thee.
O bless me now, my Savior;
I come to thee.

I need thee every hour;
stay thou near by;
temptations lose their power
when thou art nigh. [Refrain]

I need thee every hour,
in joy or pain;
come quickly and abide,
or life is vain. [Refrain]

I need thee every hour;
teach me thy will;
and thy rich promises
in me fulfill. [Refrain]

I need thee every hour,
Most Holy One;
O make me thine indeed,
thou Blessed Son! [Refrain]

I am thankful that God is near when we need Him most, even when we don’t have the words to express our needs. I am thankful that we have music available to us when words fail to express our deep need for God, even in suffering. I am thankful that when I lived my life trying to just make it through the next ten minutes, that someone else had written such apt words and music with which I could worship. 

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

It is Well

One of the things that has helped carry me through this loss is music. Music has always been a very special part of my life. When I’m scared, I sing. When I can’t sleep, I pray and praise God for who He is, often through going through songs that I’ve loved in my heart and in my head. When I’m scared of the days to come, I find great solace in music. I believe that God designs each of us to worship in a certain way. Some worship through painting or writing, and some through singing. I have been singing since I was a little girl, and hope that I never have to stop. I find the mingling of voices in a church choir to worship God a small glimpse into what I think Heaven will be like when we’re in God’s presence. There is something beautiful about singing with those that we love, each lending our own unique voices to a piece written by someone else and sung by many others in their native tongue in times of pain and in times of joy.  

“It is Well with my Soul” was written by Horatio Spafford. Spafford was a successful businessman in Chicago, and had a great deal of real estate holdings. After the loss of his son and the loss of his property holdings in the Great Chicago Fire, Spafford scheduled a European trip for his family to help them recover. He was delayed in his journey, and sent his wife and daughters ahead. He received news shortly thereafter that all of his daughters drowned on the journey, and that his wife alone survived. He wrote this powerful, hopeful song as his ship sailed over the very place where his daughters died.

(http://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Music/hymns-the-songs-and-the-stories/it-is-well-with-my-soul-the-song-and-the-story.html)

This song speaks to my heart. Spafford lost everything, and at the very site where his children drowned, he praised God. He praised God as he reminded his soul of God’s goodness.

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well (it is well),
with my soul (with my soul),
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

Refrain

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Refrain

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

Refrain

And Lord haste the day, when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Refrain

As I live daily without my own daughter, I am thankful for the reminder to my soul that all is well, because of who God is. I am thankful for the reminder that no matter the trial, God is with me. It truly is well with my soul. 

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

A Story of Stillbirth- Hope

That’s our story so far. Husbandman and I are back at work full time, and I’m physically fully recovered. We’re still waiting on test results, but the likelihood that we’ll find out exactly what caused our baby girl to die are slim. (And if I’m completely honest, I am really struggling with not having test results back yet. I really want to know what we can know.)

There have been a few days that I haven’t cried since we lost her, but many more days that I have. Sometimes, the grief comes out of nowhere and takes me by surprise. Some days I wake up sadder than others, and some days I remember to laugh.

I’m used to wrapping up stories in a neat bow, but the truth is that this story won’t ever really be “over”. I have been changed by Cora’s life and death, which means that every experience that I have for the rest of my life will be colored by her’s. And I’m okay with that. Allowing my life to be changed by the fact that she lived means that I won’t forget her, and that’s a good thing.

Husbandman and I choose to see our story as one of hope. We have chosen to see her life in the light of our faith. We could easily focus on the sadness of what we’ve experienced, or we can focus on the hope of our salvation in Christ Jesus. Our faith doesn’t mean that hard times won’t come. Christ only lived into His thirties, He told people that to follow Him was to renounce all of their physical possessions, and He wasn’t the CEO of a major carpentry business. He spent His time with social outcasts and slept where His head fell. He chose to die on a cross, the death of a criminal, to pay the price for my sins so that He could redeem me, the very one who is responsible for him being on that cross. I will not deny my faith in Christ, because He does not deny me.

Today, we choose hope. We choose to hope in Christ that we will be reunited with her when we die. We choose to hope in Christ that her life will bring others closer to Him. Tomorrow, we choose to hope as well, and all the days after that.

We encourage you to choose hope with us, regardless of your circumstances. We encourage you to choose hope in Christ Jesus because of a personal relationship with Him. It’s not easy. It hurts. But, it’s worth it. It’s good.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

A Story of Stillbirth- Home

After we got home, I noticed how still our house was, and how loud the silence was. I slept at night, but woke up every three hours on the dot, looking for a baby to need me to take of her. I started lactating, and spend miserable days waiting for the engorgement to ease; waiting for the physical pain to ebb and stop reminding me every second of how there was no Cora to feed. We made a visit to the funeral home, to finalize the arrangements for her remains.

My body healed well. My ability to work and to do physical labor returned slowly. I slept as much as I could, and we had a steady stream of visitors blessing us with their time, gifts, and food. On more than one occasion, I hid in the bathroom off of our bedroom and cried while there were people at our house, because I was so overwhelmed. I cried so much that I had an almost constant headache from being dehydrated. We started keeping tissues in each room of the house for all of the crying that happened  seemingly at random.

I spent time listening to music, studying my Bible, and praying. I spent as much time as I could. I felt like the moment that I took my eyes off of Christ, I would drown like Peter when Jesus called him to walk on the stormy waters towards him.

We spent every day focusing on making it through the day, and waited to think about tomorrow until it arrived. Husbandman spent one week at home with me, and went back to work the week after. I was alone in the house, but got daily visitors from work or church with food and a hug just when I needed it.

Along with the redefinition of myself, my home had to be redefined in my mind. The room that had been the guest room and was intending to be the nursery was the guest room again. The space in our bedroom where she was supposed to sleep is just a space on the floor now. It took a long time before I could walk past the guest room and not cry every time. Sometimes, I go and sit in that room and still cry, remembering what was planned that won’t occur. 

Being home was a lovely, painful refuge. I couldn’t do much because I was physically and mentally too weak, but God brought people to me. He brought beautiful days when I could walk up and down our little street and build my strength. He provided my neighbor’s dog when I just need to pet something fluffy, and my neighbors when I needed a friendly face and to know that someone was physically near. He provided what I needed every day, even when I didn’t know how to handle my grief. He carried me as I learned how to live with the grief that I will carry to my grave.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

In Praise of Nurses

I can’t continue with Cora’s birth story without taking a day to pause and express my deep gratitude to the people who worked so hard when I was in the hospital to make sure that I was physically healthy, and that I was as comfortable as I could be. We’ll be back to the remainder of her birth story tomorrow.

The nurses that served me while I was in the hospital made such a difference in the days and nights surrounding Cora’s delivery. They went above and beyond their job descriptions to help ease as much of the pain as they could during the darkest days we’ve walked through, and will forever help us remember our time in the hospital as one in which we were surrounded by gentle, understanding care instead of cold efficiency.

I have always respected nurses, and my job is to help nurses as they work on higher education. But, this experience gave me a whole new level of respect and admiration for your heart to serve, and for the difficulty you deal with every day. I want to thank you, for doing such important work that is easy to gloss over.

You saw me suffering, and did your best to physically ease my pain. Thank you.

You saw me cry, and took time to talk with me instead of going on to the next thing (of many) that you had to take care of. Thank you.

You spoke with me about God’s provision in times of great loss when I couldn’t sleep. Thank you.

You watched over me while the doctor tried four times to get my epidural right, reassuring me that it would be over soon. Thank you.

You held my hand while I was delivering my little girl after she died, and told me that I was doing a good job. Thank you.

You dressed my daughter after she was born, and took so much care to make sure we carried good memories of her with us for the rest of our lives. Thank you.

You took pictures as my family and I held her for the first and last time, doing your best to capture memories that we will treasure forever. Thank you.

You helped make molds of her hands and feet, of her fingers, and prints of her feet so that we could have tactile memories of her life. Thank you.

You cried after she was born too, when I couldn’t see you. Thank you.

You helped me walk to the bathroom when my legs were unsure after my epidural. Thank you.

You made a special request for the next nurse to take care of me, making sure that I was with someone kind when I was vulnerable. Thank you.

You called to check on me after your shift was over. Thank you.

You brought another bed into my room so that my husband could sleep next to me when I needed him close the most. Thank you.

You came into my room to make sure I was still alive when my pulse was in the high forties while I was sleeping. (Which I guess is normal for me.) Thank you.

You were careful to not wake me up if you didn’t have to when I was sleeping. Thank you.

You asked if I wanted bacon for breakfast, because who doesn’t like to eat bacon? Thank you.

You called the funeral home to help us make arrangements for our daughter. Thank you.

You told my family how to take care of me before I left. Thank you.

You got Mom and Husbandman caffeine before the drive home. Thank you.

You hugged me right before I left, and told me that I would be back one day to deliver a healthy baby. You made sure that my last memory at the hospital was one of encouragement. Thank you.

You checked on us after we left the hospital, and still think of us today. Thank you.

Thank you for taking care of me. Thank you for acknowledging my pain and honoring my daughter’s short life.

To nurses everywhere, thank you for the work you do. Thank you for working so hard to care for your patients physically and emotionally.

Please feel free to share this post with the nurses who have made a difference in your life. 

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media.