I’m posting Lesson 2 and 3 together, because I’m still so behind. I haven’t been feeling well and am fighting off a sore throat and sinus pressure that have been around for a week now. I’ve also been feeling down lately, probably because the end of the month is here, which means another day further from when I had Calvin…. Louie has said to think of as another day closer to being with our babies again.
The 4th and 5th of the month are always a mix of emotions for me. I have found, though, that thinking of Calvin and remembering having him can lift my spirits. I also remember feeling uplifted after doing Lessons 2 and 3, when I was feeling particularly down, so maybe revisiting my journal to post online will help me to break out of this. I’m scared to to go to Lessons 4 and 5 because I don’t want to find myself in there again, which seems so odd for me. Since losing my two babies, I’ve been all about allowing myself feel however I need to feel, respecting my grief, and leaning into it. I guess I just don’t want to get stuck. I know that being afraid to go there probably means I need to work through it. For now, though, let me work on this constant catching up.
I didn’t mention Rainbow Baby in that post, since I chose to share Calvin’s birth story, so I wanted to also take a moment to speak of my second baby for those of you who are new to my blog through this bible study. I found out I was pregnant with Rainbow on November 22 (the Sunday before Easter and a little less than a year after I found out I was pregnant with Calvin). When I was 7 weeks pregnant, I started spotting and that turned into bleeding. I went in for an ultrasound and they only saw a fluid-filled sac. My hcg levels were within range for it to still be early in the pregnancy, but the next day, December 10th, I miscarried. We referred to this baby as Rainbow Baby, and decided to keep the name, because we both feel like she is a girl. Though her time with us was short, she showed me the expansive capacity of mother’s love. I am grateful for that. I am grateful for her.
Lesson 2: So Many Questions
Question #1: Where do I go to find out the truth?
After losing Calvin, I turned to support groups on BabyCenter.com, blogs of mothers who had also lost babies, grief books, and I also joined a support group through my hospital for bereaved parents. I had tried seeing a social worker in the OB department before joining the support group, but she trivialized my loss and said, Your baby wasn’t even a baby. Maybe it was on it’s way to becoming a baby. So that wasn’t helpful. The books helped, except when I ran into parts I didn’t agree with – like needing to stop and touch a swing your child used to play on whenever you walked by doesn’t seem like a problem to me. Neither does living your life for your baby even after he or she has died. Maybe “living for your dead baby” is subject to interpretation. The support group was really helpful, as was reading from and speaking with other baby lost mommies. Louie and I also turned to each and to God. Before we got married, we started praying together at night before bed, as our pastor suggested, and this has strengthened us especially after losing our babies. Thanking Him for choosing us to be Calvin and Rainbow’s parents, for blessing us with these two little lives, is a reminder that even this grief is a blessing.
Question #2: Where does life come from?
When we were asked to look up scripture about finding truth in the bible in the first question, I was confused, because I thought, isn’t that why we are doing this bible study? But it is provided validation and confirmation for the next verses. One that I really like is Psalm 139: 13-16:
13For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. 14I will praise thee; for I am fearfully [and] wonderfully made: marvelous [are] thy works; and [that] my soul knoweth right well. 15My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, [and] curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being under feet; and in thy book all [my members] were written, [which] in continuance were fashioned, when [as yet there was] none of them.
God knew both of my babies before I had any idea there was life instead me. He knew their physical weaknesses, but they were fearfully and wonderfully made – just as He had intended them to be. And even though Calvin and Rainbow died before being born into this world, God had already wrapped them in His love. The verse that brought me to tears, especially for Rainbow Baby, who died so tiny was Jeremiah 1:5, specifically the second part: …and before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee, [and] I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
Question #3: Why was my baby too weak to live?
The story of the man who was blind in John 9:1-11 and Jesus saying that it was not because of his sin or that of his parents, but rather so that through him the works of God can be shown, was a much needed reminder that it wasn’t my fault that my baby died. It is so hard to let go of the blame, to let go of a sense of control really, and to understand that sometimes we need to get saliva and mud rubbed in our eyes before being able to see. One example of this, for me, was when I found myself completely devastated and feeling alone and isolated because of some words that were said about Calvin and how he died. Louie had to go to school, and I sat on my bed sobbing. I looked at my phone and tried to think of someone I could talk to. And there was no one. No one I felt would listen and not say anything to further hurt me (even if it wasn’t intentional, much of the hurting during this grief was not intentional, I couldn’t take it). So I finally turned to scripture, and found a verse that brought me peace and stopped the tears. In that, one of the lowest moments of my grief, God was glorified, even if just for me.
Question #4: Where is my child now?
The story of David, was more difficult for me, because the reason why his son fell ill was because he took Uriah’s wife, and seemed to contradict the example we got of the blind man, but I understand the importance of seeing his ability to praise God and worship and not be torn down by his loss because he had the promise of going to be with his son in the next life.
Question #5: Can I ever understand WHY?
I don’t really have a lot of ‘WHY’ questions anymore. A lot of my questioning was more about what I did wrong, what I failed to do, and what I could have done to save my babies. My biggest ‘WHY’ question with Calvin was why didn’t our baby live if we were willing and ready to accept a special needs child and fight for our baby’s life? For Rainbow, it was why did we get pregnant again on the same timeline as Calvin, if we were just going to lose her? Another one, which I only thought but never said aloud, was in response to people saying it wasn’t meant to be; if it wasn’t meant to be, then why did I get pregnant? After losing Calvin, I really just wanted understanding. I knew God had His reasons, but I felt like if I was privy to that, then maybe it would be easier. But it is in His time, not mine. And I have faith that one day, I will understand.
Question #6: How can God help me deal with losing my baby?
I have found God’s comfort through His word; through the people who have offered us love and support; in the peace He filled me with when I held my son; through the priest who baptized my baby and in the scripture he gave me and Louie scripture after he blessed Calvin; and in the outpouring of prayers and love we received after losing Rainbow. I have found comfort in being able to do things to honor and remember my children and in the strengthening of my marriage and of my faith.
I would like to be comforted through validation of my grief, acknowledgment of the significance of losing our babies, and recognition of the life our children had and the love we continue to have for them.
Lesson 3: This Can’t Be Happening
Biblical Example #1: Joseph
When Jacob said that he would mourn for Joseph until he went to his grave, it felt like he was speaking to my heart. When I first lost Calvin, I felt like I would grieve until I died and that the raw pain would never go away. I couldn’t imagine ever finding joy again, and a lot of the past year was more about surviving (even when I didn’t want to) than it was about living. I still believe I will mourn my two babies until I die – how can I not miss my babies? How can I not be sad that they are not with me? One year out from losing Calvin, and three months since losing Rainbow, things don’t feel razor-sharp anymore (at least not constantly). There are still moments when I lose my breath, but I guess I am learning to live with and accept the life I have so far. I think part of this is because I have been so open and adamant about talking about my babies and expressing my loss. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to try to choke down all that pain.
Biblical Example #2: Job
Job was actually the first book I read completely in a long time. I read the first few books of the Old Testament on my own in junior high or high school. During confirmation we read Acts of the Apostles. I actually downloaded an iPhone app through which I’ve been reading the bible (including Job and for this bible study; weird merging of religion and technology? Or a cool way to bring your bible with you wherever you go? both?).
Like Job, I felt very blessed in my life. My husband and I have been together since the end of high school, we were comfortable and happy to grow our family with children. We were afraid during the difficulties early on in the pregnancy and when we found out about the amniotic bands, but we had faith and prayed for our baby to live. When Calvin died, it felt like our world fell apart, and just as Job was admonished by his friends, we also felt alone and like no one understood. We clung to each other and continued to hope in God that we would hold our babies again. The scripture I relate to most is Job 13:15. That was why I was drawn to read Job. I came across this verse early on during my grieving for Calvin:Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him… because even as God is allowing me to suffer from the loss of two children, I am choosing to put my trust in Him, to trust that He will see me and Louie through this grief and suffering and that we will find joy again.
Now that I think about it, that verse has multiple meanings and doesn’t just speak to clinging to the Lord and having faith through the difficulties. It also says Though he slay me, that God is the cause of the pain, and that it how I felt when I lost Calvin and Rainbow, like I was dying and being broken multiple times over. But it is more than that. I am being refined in the fire.
The Grief Chart
Right now I am in between depression and busy-ness. I’ve been distracting myself from my grief, which is why I think I have been feeling down.
I only felt relief when Calvin was delivered, but ti was only from the physical pain.
I feel guilty about this.
The hardest thing to face about my loss is that I have to live out the rest of my life on earth without my two babies. I like the quote by C.S. Lewis I live each day thinking about living each day in grief. It can be so overwhelming and just the anticipation of the pain can be consuming, especially as milestones and anniversaries approach; even the thought of potential triggers is difficult. This is something that has been hard for others to understand, but as I’ve learned that, it’s easier to recover from people’s lack of foresight.
Facing Your Loss
I need to work on keeping God first, handing my grief and suffering over to Him, and being vigilant even in my sorrow so I am not led astray.
The promise in Romans 8:28: And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, [even] to to them that are called according to [his] purpose, makes me feel hopeful that good will grow out of my grief and that, ultimately, God has a greater plan and good reason for allowing Calvin and Rainbow to die before they could be born. Some positive things that have resulted from my babies’ lives are:
- finding my support group
- drawing closer to God
- being able to offer support to others
- drawing closer to Louie
- being able to be an advocate for families who are grieving pregnancy loss and baby loss
- being more creative in my babies’ honor
- finding love and support in unexpected places
- finding conviction and confidence in expressing myself
- becoming a mommy
- the wonderful ladies I’ve come to know through our shared connection
I thank God for each of these things and feel truly blessed by all the good I experienced during my pregnancies and after my losses. Although I grieve, and I do so deeply, I do not do so without hope. I have faith that Louie and I will find real joy again, and are thankful for the happiness we have experienced with Calvin and Rainbow and after they went to be with God.
And if you have read this far, I am thankful for that also, because your eyes must be aching! I am grateful for the chance to share not only how Calvin and Rainbow have profoundly affected me, but also how God is working in and through my life.
This Threads of Hope, Pieces of Joy Bible Study is part of the “Walking With You” outreach of Sufficient Grace Ministries, led by Kelly Gerken. To learn more, read Kelly’s post: “Upcoming Threads of Hope Study.”
To read my posts on other lessons, please use the links below:
•Lesson One: Your Story
•Lesson Four: Why Me?
•Lesson Five: How Can I Go On?
•Lesson Six: I’ve Got to Get Better Soon
•Lesson Seven: Moving On to Acceptance
•Lesson Eight: Learning to Let Go
•Lesson Nine: Finding Joy