When I reflect on the experience at the hospital following the news of the loss of our baby, my mind dwells on the grace of God. I do not say this lightly nor do I claim to be a saint; I am as flawed and as far from a holy God than the next person. But I must share that grace is not something I had to muster up from the depths of my Positive Petunia self. The grace I knew on that day — I know this day — is is the kind of grace that finds us, follows us, pursues us; it is grace we breathe in as we walk through the ups and downs of life. Grace that not only saves but sustains us. This season of carrying a life and losing it has been no exception: it’s a journey laced in evidences of His grace and kindness.
In each part of this series, I’ve tried to shed light on the Amazing Grace so many of us know from the hymn often accompanied by blotted tissues at the gravesite. I encourage you to take time to open your heart and watch for those “glimpses of grace” so lavishly given by the Father — in good times and in trials. His grace is sufficient and will meet you in the thickest of thick, whatever narrative you’ve been asked to live. Pinky promise.
One last note: I’ve really tried to delicately and authentically paint a picture of my experience with miscarriage without too much personal detail but just enough to bring a voice to the silent sorrow therein.
Entering the hospital as technically pregnant, having a D&C (a procedure known as dilation and curettage) then leaving unpregnant is a mind- and body-boggling event. In so many ways it feels like an annulment, canceling out everything you knew — including unbridled joy — in the moments and days before; if it’s an early loss and you hadn’t shared the news with many, it can almost feel like the pregnancy never existed. You may not have gotten to the point of feeling your baby move, but you felt that babe with every fiber, every bone, every breath of your mama being.
(Of course, when I say “you” I mean “I” but somehow it’s easier to say “you” in these situations as if to distance myself from the vulnerability of it all.)
Image via Matt Redman: “Your Grace Finds me” – click to watch official video
“Is Grandma here yet?” my son groggily asked, hugging my neck as I kissed his forehead. He requested that I wake him up before we left for the hospital.
We’d told him.
Instead of the green balloons and big brother t-shirt, we sat at the kitchen table a few days before, the three of us, after the ultrasound, to give him the news of another kind.
“Son, we want to talk to you about something…”
“What is it?” he asked, the sorrow-saturated tones in our voices masking the expectant excitement in his.
“Well, we found today that Mommy had a baby in her tummy…well, the baby died but his spirit went to heaven.” The honest words came easier than we’d thought.
“That’s sad,” he shared, pausing for several seconds, long enough to see his contemplative eyes reveal that he had etched this piece of information into his short life’s narrative. It’d come up again but for now he thought about one very important thing in the life of a five-year old: “Can I go play now?”
My huband and I smiled, happy to know our son was…okay.
A few days later, he’d spend a Monday with his grandmother. She would be the “special visitor” in his homeschool day; they’d do phonics and math together and wait for the “Stove Man” to come and take away the old and deliver the new. My heart rested at the thought that he was okay.
On our way to the hospital, my husband and I held hands, thinking of 11 years ago when he asked for my hand in marriage on a wintry Sunday afternoon; a day filled with friends, family, and celebration cake with berries on top. This day, we faced a different course. But grateful to traverse it together. We’d eat lasagna that night, one of the meals sweet friends had kindly prepared for us.
Admissions was kind to us and we quickly checked into the “same day” care unit tucked away in a corner of the hospital. We needed to do a pregnancy test first, I was instructed. This seemed strange to me but in my dazed and melancholy state I figured it was standard protocol. Perhaps they didn’t know what I was “in for.” Having fasted since the night before, I didn’t really have to –
“YOU DON”T NEED TO DO A URINE SAMPLE. NO NEED TO DO A URINE SAMPLE. WE DONT NEED A URINE SAMPLE!” A loud rather unsympathetic voice yelled across the suite.
After a change into a pale green hospital gown, a nurse fastened my bracelet and had me state the reason for being there as if for a crime I didn’t commit. She took my medical history and started the IV. We’d just have to wait for transport to take us to the holding area.
My phone buzzed. “Mom, you wrote the wrong date on the morning message!” My son informed me, laughing. “That’s so silly!” My husband could overhear and we all laughed together. In the Same Day Care of the hospital before a procedure to rid my body of what are medically deemed as “products of conception.” We laughed!
“You go ahead and change it,” I invited him. “How’s your day going, Boo?”
“It’s going great! We did morning work and calendar, and the Stove Man is coming at noon! How are you, Mom?”
Oh sweet boy. He was more than okay; he was great. Oh sweet, kind grace.
“I love you,” I smiled in my hospital bed and passed the phone to my husband who kissed my forehead.
Like clockwork, transport arrived only minutes later. The man was kind, taking the twists and turns of the hosptial smoothly, handing me off to the next leg of the journey. So many hands invloved. My husband kissed my forehead again, following behind; I could feel his presence behind my rolling bed.
Another nurse greeted us in the holding area stall where I would wait for the doctor to come. She opened the blanket warmer and tucked several underneath the paper-thin sheet that offered little protection from the cold, sterile air of the hospital.
“I can’t wait to tell my son about the heated blankets.” I shared thinking about all the Hallmark cards that describe love as a warm blanket. They’re on to something.
So much grace in a warm hospital blanket.
An operating room nurse came, introducing herself as Jen. “Please state in your own words what you’re here for.” She verified the informaion on my hospital bracelet. The doctor would be in soon along with yet another request to share why I was there. For a split second, I thought about saying nothing, pretending to be anyone other than the name typed on that bracelet.
“Sorry it took me so long,” the doctor would share a while later. “I was assisting with a C-section.”
“You really run the gamut as an OB/GYN,” I piped up, surprised to hear my own voice. She nodded and shared a list of procedures she routinely performs. Instead of being jolted by the reminder of the obvious, instead I felt safe in her care. Matter-of-factly, she reviewed my medical history and I choked through a request to do one last ulstrasound…just in case.
There was no need to do another ultrasound. This was it.
The anesthesiologist came on the scene and routinely offered her condolences. Again, a check of the bracelet and statement of why I was there.
They’d tell my husband where to wait. After a round of “I love yous” and squeezing of hands, more forehead kisses.
Feet first, I arrived at my final destination — the operating room — where I was introduced to another nurse who quickly put away her cell phone. I could only see eyes. Slits of “it’s going to be okay, mama” peeking out among scrubs that had no color. I try to remember but all that comes is colorless. More warm blankets, one for each arm, each stretched out 45 degree angles from my straight body. Talk of the way the anestheosligst likes to stand, a question of if I can take IB Profren…
I awoke in recovery to a kind nurse asking my level of pain. “A 1 or a 2,” I mumbled, eyelids heavy as boulders. They mentioned I’d go to recovery for a bit before same day care and eventually I’d be wheeled back and reunited with more forehead kisses. Sweet kisses of grace.
Now, I invite you to consider the glimpses of grace in your own life. How or where have you experienced echoes of grace or mercy? If so inclined, leave a comment; otherwise reflect in the quiet of your own heart. Kara Tippetts, terminally ill wife and mom to four children shares this from her book The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard:
“Hunting for grace and living from your heart are not simple decisions. Learning the gift of each breath and spending it all in big, BIG love is the greatest calling of my remaining days— yours, too. The high calling of today is set before us both: to be humbled by the grace of God” (17).
Glimpses of Grace
- Heated hospital blankets
- Forehead kisses from my husband at every stage
- Texts and Facetime calls from my son letting me know he was having a “great day.”