Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Finding Joy While Experiencing Loss

On Father's Day this past June, my sister-in-law, Elizabeth, and brother, Mat, gathered the family together to announce that they were expecting a baby.  Since my four-year-old is the youngest grandbaby in our family, we were all very excited when we heard the news.

Over the next several weeks, we celebrated the good news and dreamed with Mat and Elizabeth about who this child would be.  Then things changed.

I asked Elizabeth if she would be willing to share her story here.  While a miscarriage is something I personally have never experienced, I know many of you have.  I hope Elizabeth's experience will be an encouragement to you.

From Elizabeth:

July 1st was on a Friday. I was eight to nine weeks pregnant.

Tuesday afternoon of the same week, I had been outside working in my garden, pulling weeds and playing catch with my dog. That evening, my husband and I had a date, so I got ready. We went out to dinner and he took me shopping so I would have clothes that weren't as tight fitting for our mission trip to the Dominican Republic (I know he loves me because he hates shopping :) ). That night, I noticed little pink splotches on my eyelids and I thought, 'Oh no! Bug bites."

Well, it turns out I was wrong. In the morning, I woke up with itchy eyes and by the afternoon, half of my face had swelled up and itched like crazy. I also had itchy spots on my arms, legs and stomach. The real cause was poison ivy! I ran to the doctor's office and she looked at my options for treatment, but she felt the risks for prescribing anything for me were too great. She didn't even charge me for a visit. As a result, I spent the rest of my day laying on the couch with calamine lotion on my face, trying to sleep.

The next day, was more of the same, but both sides of my face had swelled up and I could barely see. I was concerned because the poison ivy was spreading and getting closer to my right ear. I slept on the couch off and on all day and had ice packs on my face trying to reduce the swelling. My friend, who is a nurse, also recommended Benedryl, so I was taking the recommended doses.

While laying there, I said, "God, you need to talk to me." My rationale was that I couldn't do anything but lay there. He had a captive audience and I was feeling a bit helpless. As I lay there, I saw what looked like a charcoal drawing of a man's hand and as the image moved back, I saw a beautiful baby boy sleeping peacefully in that hand. Then I saw a hand cover the image and pull it away. I was surprised and didn't really know what to make of what I saw.

Around 9:00 that evening the poison ivy had gotten so bad that my husband took me to the emergency room. The doctor felt the risks for me outweighed any other risks so he had a nurse give me a shot of steroids and a shot of Benedryl.

On Thursday or Friday, God gave me the chorus to a song:

                        You have opened my eyes to see
                        The beauty of Your majesty
                        You have opened my ears to hear
                        The songs You sing over me
                        Oh Lord, where else can I go?
                        For You are the fountain of life
                        Lord, what else can I do?
                        But follow You

Friday, July 1st
The next morning, the swelling around my eyes had gone down a bit but I still looked like a pumpkin head and I still didn't have a full range of vision. I spent most of the day sleeping, taking Benedryl, and trying to find remedies for my itching and oozing that would be safe for me and my baby.

By dinnertime I felt pretty energized and I was helping my husband in the kitchen. Again, around 9:00 p.m., I started bleeding. We dropped everything (I grabbed an apple), and we ran out the door. I was trying not to cry because I was afraid my eyes would swell up more and I wouldn't be able to see. We texted key people to ask for prayer. Mat's dad, Lynette, my pastor and his wife, and Eddie and Ann Renee came to see us in the ER as we waited, and waited, and waited. The ultra sound showed no evidence of pregnancy but my hCG count was exactly where it should have been. The doctor said she couldn't say for sure that I'd had a miscarriage and told us that we needed to return on Monday (July 4th) for more blood work to verify if I had truly had a miscarriage.

I spent the weekend sleeping on the couch, taking Benedryl, and putting ice packs on my face. Scriptures also came to mind (Ps. 18, 27, & 32) I felt completely helpless, but I had so much peace. At one point, I had a very strong sense that God was just holding me in His arms. On Monday, we came back to the hospital for the lab tests, and they confirmed I had had a miscarriage. Then we went to the ER because Mat refused to leave until I got treatment for the poison ivy. I got another shot and a prescription.  One of the most challenging things was that I couldn't cry as long as my face was puffy.

July 11th
            God gave me the rest of the song:
                        Looking around at things
                        I just don't understand
                        Yet resting in
                        The palm of Your sovereign hand
                        Wondering how and why
                        Looking up to the sky
                        Knowing that You
                        Make everything beautiful

                        You have opened my eyes to see
                        The beauty of Your majesty
                        You have opened my ears to hear
                        The songs You sing over me
                        Oh Lord, where else can I go?
                        For You are the fountain of life
                        Lord, what else can I do?
                        But follow You

                        Caught out on stormy seas
                        Walking out on the waves
                        You speak to me
                        A promise that will not fail
                        Lost in the darkest night
                        Reaching out towards the light
                        I call Your name
                        Your Spirit and Truth prevail


                        You are my hiding place
                        You are my safe refuge
                        I run to You
                        When my world comes crashing down
                        Rescued and set apart
                        You're making me to stand
                        Over all my enemies

                        ©Elizabeth Stutzman 2011

Because of all God has done, I don't feel bitter. I am not afraid. I'm not even asking why because I have such peace. I know He is in control. Of course, I have moments when I cry, but all I'm facing is the sadness of the loss. I really have a lot to be thankful for. We were supposed to be going on vacation the next day, so my husband wasn't working and I was in my own town. I could have bled a lot more. I could have lost   twins. I could have lost the baby at eight months. This could have happened during the school year. Instead, I had an amazing church family bring me meals and send nice notes. Mat's family helped out in various ways. AND I experienced God's strength holding me up.

I read Hebrews 11:1 and almost cried.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

I know I have a baby on the way. I don't know when, but I could almost shout because I know God has something good on the way and He will use this for His glory :)

Elizabeth worked with the worship team at our church to put her words to music.  Since then, we have begun to use it during praise and worship.

Elizabeth and I would love to hear your stories.   If you've had a miscarriage, please feel free to share what your experiences have been.

You can reach us both at lynettecarpenter@yahoo.com


Anonymous said...

I lost my first baby... I was supposed to be 13 weeks but had some spotting so I went to the doctor. It was dec. 30 the day before my birthday... the doctor couldn't find a heartbeat so they did an ultrasound to find out that the baby was no longer living and it most likely died around 9 weeks based on measurements. I never did actually miscarry the baby apparently my body wanted to keep it... so I had to have a d&c which was another trauma... it was a sad time and I still feel the loss even though God has richly blessed us with two incredible girls! It's nice that you are sharing about miscarriage because what I found is that people trying to comfort do not always say the nicest things... I think that it's not always looked at like true loss because you never actually held the baby in your arms... but it is true loss that needs a time of mourning and healing... thanks for sharing :)

Stephanie M. said...

Lynette and Elizabeth thank you for sharing. I have technically never been "pregnant" but I have lost 9 embryos after 8 years of infertility, years of medications, hormone shots, invasive procedures and finally two cycles of In Vitro fertilization. I was devastated and angry. I did NOT have a good attitude, but looking back now I'm glad things turned out the way they did. I learned so much about leaning on God and trusting in His timing during those years. Also, had I been pregnant with any of those embryos we would not have been "taking a break" and would not have been open to adoption when the opportunity came up to meet Melana's birth mother. What a blessing she has been to us!! Even though I miss my 6 babies in heaven I wouldn't trade her for the world. God knew she needed us and that we needed her. Praise be to Him for His loving kindness even when we seem abandoned.
Stephanie Miller

Lynette Carpenter said...

Thank you both for sharing! It's wonderful to see you both being able to find joy despite the circumstances! I will pass these on to Elizabeth.

Crystal Mendez said...

Thanks for sharing I had a tuble pregnancey in 2008 and had one tub removed I was truly broken but thro this whole trial I felt the lords confert I felt him right there with me I remember laying there closing my eyes and picturing him holding me day after day. He is so faithful
in 2010 I had a lil girl named Izabelle thro that pregnancey many people were concerned but I had a peace God showed me that , that was a time in my life and it had made me a stronger woman after God heart and a greatful mother!
I am a Proud mother to a baby that was way to perfect for earth
I am now pregnant agin To him be the Glory