When Hope is Smaller than a Mustard seed

When Hope is Smaller than a Mustard Seed.

What I remember most about that day is that sense of dread coming over me all of a sudden. And then came a small twinge of pain. I was at a birthday party at that time and I quickly sat down, hoping it would pass. But then the pain increased. It came in waves, and I struggled to catch my breath when the pain was at its worst. A couple hours later I was sure of what was happening -  my worst fears had come true and I was miscarrying once again.  It was still quite early in the pregnancy, we'd only just gotten a positive on a home pregnany test a few days ago so we hadn't had a chance to tell anyone about it. But that's the thing with pregnancy loss, it doesn't really matter how early you are - the pain of that loss is just the same.

This was not the first time this had happened to me, which somehow made it worse. I knew what was coming, but it didn't mean I was any more prepared for it all. The last time it had happened was also very early. That was my first pregnancy. At that time my doctor had confirmed the pregnancy with a home pregnancy test and a blood test the day before. So at the first sign of miscarriage we had rushed to the Emergency Room, only to discover (after almost a day spent in the hospital) that there was nothing that could be done. A miscarriage, especially one that early cannot be prevented. This time as the bleeding started again, I knew better - I didn't want to spend a day in the hospital only to be told that the most they can do is track my hormone levels over the next couple of weeks to see what happens. So I stayed at home. And cried. 

No one knows why a miscarriage happens. My doctor says it's most likely because the genetic make-up of the baby being formed wasn't the best and the body recognizes this, and terminates the pregnancy before it can go any further. But in that moment, that is not very comforting to hear. I also found out that I knew next to nothing about what happens after a miscarriage is confirmed. I was not prepared for the follow up scans and seemingly endless blood tests needed to track my hormone leves back to where they should be. My body even in this seemed to be letting me down because with both miscarriages it took longer than expected for my hormone levels to normalize. And all the while I felt physically, emotionally, and mentally drained.

Going through my second pregnancy loss, not only was I processing the grief from the miscarriage, I was also experiency anxiety and panic thinking about the blood tests and scans and possible medical intervention that will follow. It also turned out to be the worst weekend ever in the history of my life to have had a miscarriage. From the fact that we were at a birthday party for our friends twins who had just turned one when it all started, to the number of pregnancy and birth announcements on social media that weekend - everywhere I looked women and families were welcoming or looking forward to welcoming little ones into their family. Some were welcoming baby # 2! And here I was struggling to carry my babies to term. 

There was also the added internal struggle to justify my grief and loss that I found difficult in the aftermath of my losses - was it even a miscarriage? There are women who miscarry later on in their pregnancy, and that feels more real somehow. My baby didn't show up on an ultrasound and I didn't hear it's hearbeat. If all that's there is some tissue and cells that are too small to even see then how can I justify this sorrow I feel? Perhaps the loss was a loss of hope instead - a hope of what was to come, like "a dream deferred"(from the poem Harlem by Langston Hughes)*. Even with the passage of time I still don't have the answers to all my questions. People that I have shared our loss with have also had varied opinions on whether this was truly a miscarriage. Medically, even though it was so early, I remember the hospital had to run extra blood tests to make sure my blood was not incompatible with the baby's blood as that could have serious ramifications for me. And in that moment that loss felt all the more real - What we had lost that day was something with it's own blood type, it's own DNA - completely separate from mine. There are also studies done to show that a baby's DNA crosses into the mother's bloodstream even in early pregnancy and it can be detected for a long while after (sometimes years). So in a way, it's possible that I still carry the DNA of my two lost babies in my blood. How could I then entertain thoughts that my loss was not real? 

But however you look at it, it didn't change the fact that what I had experienced was a loss, and that made the pain and grief very real. And whether I liked it or not, I now had to work through my grief and pain to get to a place of healing. We are all different in how we process our experiences and emotions and that shows up most in situations where there is loss. Where my husband was still hopeful in the midst of our grief, I crashed. Physically, my body seemed to cope better after the second miscarriage. Emotionally, I was a wreck. I just don't understand why this has happened a second time. Why my babies were struggling to stay, and why God would allow me to go through this, not once but twice. I did some good things - like listen to a playlist I had made in a previous season of grief and waiting, (here it is on spotify); I listened to many of the songs on that playlist on repeat. But I also did some bad things - like shut out friends and family and binge watch TV. As the days have gone by I no longer feel the acute pain I felt in the days following the miscarriage, and eventually I found that I was starting to open up again. But the grief from my loss has not fully disappeared. I find that even though I had them for a very short amount of time, both my babies are always on my mind. I remember not only the dates I miscarried, but also their approximate due dates, which my doctor had put on all my forms. Unwitting thoughts of their lives pop up in my mind as those dates come near and it makes me sad that we will never witness those moments with them. Pregnancy loss depicted on TV often has me bawling. Mother's Day this year was particularly difficult. I still find it difficult to pray, to even think about a miraculous, comforting God in the midst of this. 

So, this is where I am now - with little to no hope. It is a difficult place to be - I am waiting for God to show up, but all the while not expecting Him to. To be honest, I don't know if being parents is something that God has in store for us - I wish I knew. Being a mom is something I have wanted my whole life, more than I wanted to be a wife, and it is painful to accept that it might not happen. Trusting that in the midst of all this God is still good, and He has the best for me is hard. Holding on to hope in the middle of this storm seems impossible. I am thankful for one thing - this type of loss is not unique to me. I know that many women have walked this journey before me and I am comforted by their combined experiences. And I am once again amazed at the power of community. But that still doesn't make up for my struggle with hope - especially when God still feels far away. 

My husband still hopes that we will one day be parents; there are others in life who have also believed this for us. Perhaps I can borrow some of their hope while I am struggling. Sometimes I feel a twinge of hope when I see friends announcing the birth or upcoming birth of their rainbow babies (babies born after a miscarriage); if it happened for them, it could happen for us. But all this hope is still so very small - smaller even than a mustard seed, maybe as small as a poppy seed (which is approximately how big our babies were when we lost them). I wish this post had some sort of conclusion - a story wrapped up neatly of me finding my way back to hope and a restoration of my faith. But I am still waiting. If you are in your own season of brokenness and waiting, all I can say is this - In this season of waiting, when my hope is smaller than a mustard seed, and I know I cannot hold on in my own strength, I am thankful I have a God who shows up for me. He never expects me to be more than I am right now; He is more than able to meet me where I am and fill in the places where I am lacking in my faith. And I know this because I have seen Him do this countless times before. He was faithful then, He is faithful now. And this is all I can cling to now. 

*Corfman, A., (2016, January 15). Harlem (A Dream Deferred) by Langston Hughes. Poem Analysis. Retrieved from https://poemanalysis.com/langston-hughes/harlem-a-dream-deferred/


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