Today is my due date of our 3rd child.
I only got to carry him 11 weeks and 3 days. We called him a him because we thought he might be a boy. We decided to name our baby “Eli” which means “ascended,” “uplifted,” “high.” Over the last 40 weeks, there wasn’t one week I didn’t know exactly how far along I would be. The grief of this miscarriage took me by surprise. Every pregnancy I’ve had, I’ve always been very aware and concerned of the possibility of miscarriage, but I didn’t expect to hurt so much if it actually happened. Today, I just want to spend some time remembering this journey and our child.
I remember with detail of emotion going in for my 12 week appointment and truly being caught off guard when they said, “I’m so sorry Kelly…”. I am a guarded person. I feel like I live (almost to a negative) in preparation for bad things to happen. But you just can’t really prepare yourself for this kind of thing. Honestly, I thought if it ever happened, I’d just be okay. But the sadness of this loss shook me and I just want to take some time today and reflect.
On the way to my doctor appointment that morning, I felt prompted to listen to the song Sovereign by Chris Tomlin. The lyrics are:
Sovereign in the mountain air
Sovereign on the ocean floor
With me in the calm
With me in the storm
Sovereign in my greatest joy
Sovereign in my deepest cry
With me in the dark
With me at the dawn
In your everlasting arms
All the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end
I can trust you
In your never failing love
You work everything for good
God whatever comes my way
I will trust you
Sitting in the doctor’s office after getting the news, I could feel the truth of those lyrics. I felt God’s hand of protection and His love for me in a way I hadn’t experienced before. I could feel Him covering me and even though this sucked, I knew He was good and works all things for good and I just trusted Him. I can’t explain the peace I had amongst the sadness. The days following, I was driven to His Word almost like never before. I clung to it with all my might. It was my lifeline. I was shocked out of my monotonous routine and felt closer to God than I had in a long time. It felt like my heart really beat and felt and ached and hurt for the first time in a long period of just numbness. God is my rock and these are His Words I clung to:
“The Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you.” Psalm 84:11-12
“To those who mourn in Zion, I will give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes. I will give them the oil of joy instead of sorrow, and a spirit of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Then they will be called oaks of righteousness, planted by The Lord that he may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3
“The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek The Lord lack no good thing.” Psalm 34:10
“When the righteous cry for help, The Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:17-18 (The whole chapter is awesome!)
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘behold, I am making all things new.’ And he said, ‘write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'” Rev 21:4-5
The 3 days following my D&C were the worst, by far. I was an emotional wreck. I couldn’t stop sobbing. My body ached all over from crying so much. I was emotional, hormonal, and while I was surrounded by many people who loved me and hurt with me, I felt alone in a lot of ways with my grief. No body felt it like me. Of course people were sad for me and they cared deeply but nobody loved this baby the way I did. Nobody got to have a connection with him like me and it bothered me so much to think others wouldn’t miss him or think about him – simply because they never got to have a relationship with him. But I did. And I felt like I had to feel a lot of the hurt alone. One night while sobbing in my bed over these thoughts, God reminded me that I wasn’t alone in my grief or my love for this child. It was His hand, His love, His very breath that had brought forth this life. And in that moment, I experienced God’s love for my baby like never before. I was comforted by the fact that my child was already with the One person who loved him more than me.
I have to say a couple of things. One thing that struck me big time was the number of people who reached out to me following this miscarriage and the number of people that I reached out to and the enormous comfort and encouragement they were to me. People I didn’t even know met me and wrote me and sympathized and encouraged me. My family and friends reminded me of Truth, sent songs, letters, flowers, fixed us meals, and dropped by just to give a hug. We are loved and we felt loved.
Another thing that struck me was this one line we sing in church from the Matt Maher song, Christ is Risen. One of the lines, from 1 Cor. 15:55 says, “Oh death! Where is your sting?” I remember singing that line (before this happened) and in my spirit shouting it like, almost mocking it…”Yeah death, where is your sting? You don’t have nothing on God!” And after this happened, David and I kept talking about this sting we felt. We couldn’t think of another word to describe it. But we felt it a lot, when we heard so and so was pregnant, saw the pregnant bellies, thought about how far along we would be…anything and everything that reminded of us of our loss felt like a sting. And all the sudden that song and verse took on a different meaning. Because until you have experienced death, you haven’t really felt the sting of it. And oh, how it stings! And this is the point of the verse, that all of it has been swallowed up in Christ’s victory over death. But my gosh, you feel that sting on this earth!
This world is broken and as a result, it is just not like it should be. Bad things happen and good things don’t always happen. The sun shines and the rain falls on us all. (Matt 5:45) And until you are faced with your plans not going…well, as you planned – many times we live under the delusion that we are in more control than we actually are.
We found out the week of Thanksgiving that I was pregnant again. While I was thrilled, it brought up a sadness in me once again I didn’t expect. I remember not wanting to tell anybody because I just knew that once people knew, they would never remember our little Eli again. They would just write the pain off…well, she’s pregnant again – she’s fine now. And I didn’t want him to be forgotten.
Well, little Eli – you are not forgotten! March 22nd will always be a very significant day to me. It will always be the day I think about you – separated for just a temporary period of time – but not for long. We will see you soon little buddy and I can’t wait to meet you!
Others haven’t forgotten you either. I’ve been blessed in so many ways by the thoughtfulness and caring of other people. Friends who remember he would be born soon and have asked – “How are you doing?” or sent notes, “I haven’t forgotten your little baby.” It’s amazing how simple and how much it means to me that people remember him.
At Christmas, my sister-in-law picked out an ornament for every significant person in her life to decorate her tree. Eli had one.
My cousin who also recently lost a little baby, gave us an ornament for Eli.
My mom also made us an ornament, molded a lemon out of clay (the size fruit our little Eli was when he died), painted it and attached this verse, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16.
My aunt had a small blanket made out of my grandmother’s clothes, a tradition she does for each grandchild, with the letter E on it.
Today, our friends sent us flowers with a note that read, “Remembering Eli today…”
And oh my goodness, David….For Christmas, he spent night after night in our garage, working on my gift. Little did I know, he was restoring this old park bench to place beside a dogwood he got me to plant for Eli. He already had the spot picked out to plant it right beside our playground – where we wouldn’t be able to watch Eli grow and play, but we would be able to watch this tree grow and think of him. Definitely the most thoughtful gift I have ever been given.
You will always be remembered Eli. Until we met again…
“Death is swallowed up in victory.” O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
1 Corinthians 15:55