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This Mother’s Grief

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Her name was Bella Nichole. In all actuality, I have no idea whether or not she was a girl. I just know that in my heart she was, and will always be, Bella Nichole. But that may be getting ahead of the story. Let me start with a little bit about me.

I have a beautiful son who is almost two years old. He was my first miracle. After six years of marriage with no birth control and more than one doctor telling me not to get my hopes up – that I would most likely never have a child of my own – we had a wonderful surprise the morning that pregnancy test turned up positive. I had a great pregnancy and delivered a wonderful son into our family. Less than two years later, on July 5, 2009, we were once again surprised and overjoyed to see the positive sign on a pregnancy test. There was such joy as we shared the news with our extended family. How could we have known that our joy would soon turn to sorrow?

I was of “advanced maternal age,” so the standard procedure for my doctor’s office is to have those of us who are 35 and over meet with a geneticist and get an ultrasound to make sure there are no genetic issues with the pregnancy. My ultrasound was scheduled for 2:40 p.m. on August 20, 2009. I was excited to get to have an ultrasound this early. With our son, we did not have an ultrasound until I was in my sixth month.

I was finishing graduate school, and we were moving from one state to another. While I continued all pre-natal visits, we had never been scheduled for an ultrasound. I was looking forward to seeing our tiny baby.

My husband went with me. I sensed that something was wrong while the technician was performing the ultrasound. She showed us the pregnancy sack and the baby. She made lots of measurements and clicked away on her machine. After several minutes she asked us to wait for the doctor to come into the room. The doctor came in and gave us devastating news. He was confident that our child was no longer living.

I think my world stopped for a brief moment or two while I struggled to comprehend what his words meant. I was terrified, and then the sweet words of a hymn flowed through my mind. What peace and comfort that gave to me. The doctor gave us little hope but did give us the option of coming back in two weeks to make sure that there was no error in gestation calculation. Knowing that our God is a God of miracles and that science does make mistakes, I took this hope, and we scheduled another appointment.

My husband and I held it together for the 45-minute drive home (well, for the most part anyway), and then we lost it together for a few minutes once we got there. We clung to each other and wept for what might have been, what might be and for the two weeks that we would live in limbo.

One week later, we met with our obstetrician. She read the results of our ultrasound and did not give us any hope that our baby might live. She told us what our options were, and we left her office still in a state of limbo. I knew there were many prayer warriors praying with me. I was not having a difficult time praying for God’s will to be done as I thought I might have. I was honest and told God that my preference was to have this baby, but that I wanted His will more than mine.

The two weeks between tests (13 days actually) were very long. I worked and tried to go about my normal daily routine as much as possible. I was so tired – mainly because I was not sleeping well – spending much of the night in and out of prayer for God to show me what He wanted from me at this point. I would get up, go to work, come home, fix dinner, feed the family, and then go lie down and read/pray and try to sleep. I neglected my house, my husband and my son, but I could not quite get up the energy to be anything more to anyone else than I was being just by surviving the day.

September 2, 2009, finally arrived. My mom flew in the night before to go with us to the ultrasound. The news confirmed our worst fears. Our baby had not survived. My OB was in the hospital at the time, so she came down, and they took me immediately to go and have a D&C. We chose this option because we live almost an hour from the hospital. If we had taken the option of using a pill to start contractions and miscarriage, we would likely not make it to the hospital in time if things went wrong.

I remember sitting in the counseling room waiting for my OB to come down and talk to us. It was almost unreal to me. I sat next to my husband and across from my mom. There were tears all around. I know my mom was hurting for she loved this baby, too, but I could not reach out to her and either give or receive comfort in a physical sense.

I drew strength from her being there and knowing she was praying, but I felt that I would lose all control if I let myself grieve as I wanted to at that time. I knew that, in order for me to have the D&C, I needed to be stronger than that. “Just get through it,” was all I could think. My sister met us at the hospital; my dad caught a flight in that night, and we moved forward.

By early evening I was back home. I think we were still in the hospital, or maybe we were at home, I can’t really remember, when I shared a thought with my mom. I had just had the same procedure done that women have when they have an abortion. An abortion is actually a D&C with an additional procedure at the end to make sure that everything that they meant to take out got taken out.

I cannot believe that doctors and counselors tell women and young girls that the procedure is nothing to worry about, painless, no big deal, etc. I was in pain. I was in physical pain; I was numb inside. I know that many people are told that they can go back to work the day after the “procedure” is completed. I don’t know how that could be possible. I woke up the next morning very sore and in pain. I can’t even imagine how I could have gotten up and gone to work that day. My heart breaks for all of those women who have believed the lies.

As the anesthesia started to wear off completely, I began to feel. I’m not really sure, but I think I would have liked to keep the numbness for a little while longer. The emotions I have felt have been heavy and seemingly bottomless. I find myself trying to get lost in the mundane. I don’t want physical touch, because I think that might be too much for me and the dam might break and never get rebuilt. The tears come in waves where I bury my head in the pillow and sob, but it is a private grief. I don’t feel that I can share it.

I know that many women have been where I am right now. I know that many more after me will feel the same feelings that I have right now. I just don’t know that I can feel like I can commiserate with anyone right now. I have one solace that I am clinging to: “For I know that ALL things work to the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes.” This verse is my sustenance. It gets me through. ALL things. Not some things. Not the happy things. ALL things work to my good.

I have faith that God knows what He is doing in this situation. I do not see where He is leading me at this time. I don’t need to see where He is leading me at this time. What I see is that He is sovereign. He is in control. His will is over mine. He will see me through.

There have been moments where I have felt overwhelmed and like I cannot make one more decision or take one more step. Five minutes later, I feel as if I can take on anything. My hormones feel out of control. I don’t know why God has chosen this road for me at this time in my life. I don’t know if He will choose to bless us with any more children or not. I do know that He loves me. He sees the big picture, and He has plans for me that go beyond anything I could ever imagine.

I don’t know why my precious baby boy will not get to be big brother/protector to Bella Nichole. I don’t know if the pain in my heart over losing her will ever go away. I don’t know if I want it to go away. There are a lot of things that I don’t know right now, but there is one thing I do know: I know my Redeemer lives, and I know that He has plans for me.

I hope that writing out my story while I am in the midst of the pain can bring healing for someone. That someone may even be me somewhere down the road. I am only two days into dealing with this loss, yet I feel that Bella has been in my heart forever, and her place is etched there for as long as I am alive. It is amazing to me how much you can love someone you have never touched or even seen except in a monitor.

I praise God that He is faithful. He has not left me during any of this time. He comforts me by bringing to mind songs of praise and adoration for Him and His majesty. He reminds me, through hymns, of His sovereignty and His righteousness. He brings memorized verses to recall His omniscience and His love. He is an awesome God and is worthy to be praised in ALL situations – even the ones I don’t like and would rather not have to be in, such as this one. But I don’t get to choose. I get to praise Him and glorify His holy name.

Father God, I love You. I thank You for the time that You gave me to love Bella Nichole. I thank you that you have surrounded me with family and friends who love me and have continually prayed for me. Please help me to see Your will in my life and to act accordingly. Lord, please use this situation to bring lives to You. Lord, please let me be a candle that burns brightly, that all may see the fullness and the richness of Your blessings and your grace. Thank You, Father. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Keri Ann Thompson is the Area Director for CWA of Texas West.