TITLE: Empty 8/07/14
By Rachel Malcolm
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I collapsed to my knees and rocked back and forth in agony. My arms hugged my abdomen protectively as I wept and mouthed my silent prayer. Oh, God! Please don’t take this baby from me. I can’t endure this. You know how I love this precious gift. Our children prayed for this baby.
The next couple hours would bring a storm of physical agony and soul anguish that I was wholly unprepared to weather and then leave me empty—so very empty. That night I lay curled in a ball, my husband sleeping, the children sleeping. My tears were all spent and I lay exhausted, but sleep evaded me. Why, God? Why?
I had known that 1 out of every 8 pregnancies end in miscarriage, but I had never let my mind dwell on the possibility. I just wouldn’t be able to deal with it, I told myself. But here I was, and what a lonely journey I found it to be.
“This is why expecting mothers didn’t use to tell people about their pregnancies until they were past 12 weeks,” a friend gently admonished me when I told her it was hard to tell others about the miscarriage. Are we supposed to just suffer alone then? I got the message. Good people don’t talk about miscarriages. We are not supposed to grieve the loss of the unborn, or if we do, it must be quietly. A miscarriage is dark—somehow dirty. And so we struggle along in isolation because of some obscure veil of superstition.
At only 10 weeks gestation, a graveyard burial wasn’t an option. Instead we chose a spot on a hill overlooking a quiet and remote lake. I laid a piece of paper in the grave with the name Jonathan written in blue crayon. It was the only thing I could give my baby—a name.
I lingered at the grave after my husband and children had gone back to the van and fingered the rocks my children had placed on the grave. Some were round and smooth and one was pinkish and almost heart-shaped. I breathed in the woody scent of evergreen trees, moist earth, and damp moss and let my tears flow. I finally stood to leave, but my steps were heavy. I turned back once to look at the little sun-streaked grave on the hill.
The next two weeks were strange as I tried to reconcile grief with living. The first time I laughed, it felt unnatural—almost wrong. Normalcy was returning, but just under the surface was a hole of anguish that could re-open at any time.
It seemed like there were babies and pregnant women everywhere, and just the sight of one or the other could bring on a flood of tears in the grocery store or bank. I unknowingly covered my heart with a shield of anger to protect myself from the relentless grief.
Sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, I noticed a pregnant woman walk across the room and sit across from me. My heart began to race and my hands clenched into fists. Dark bitterness washed over me. Oh God. I used to experience such joy at seeing a baby or a pregnant woman and now I feel anger, jealousy, and bitterness. Tears stung my eyes as I begged God to restore my joy.
At church, comments meant to comfort only brought more despair. Please help me, God, I silently prayed as I tried in vain to worship. I placed my hands over my mouth as the next song began. You give and take away. You give and take away. Still my heart will say, Lord blessed be your name. Tears coursed down my cheeks as I felt God calling me to praise him for his goodness—even when He takes away. My throat tight with emotion, I silently sang the words with my entire being.
That moment of surrender was the beginning of the thaw in my heart. God’s love wrapped around me like light, and He brought me into a deeper, more restful, relationship with Him. I was changed by the loss, but not for the worse. I was becoming more sensitive to others—more aware of the pain others were experiencing. God had placed a desire in my heart to reach out to other women who had experienced the loss of their little ones due to miscarriage, abortion, stillbirth, or infant death.
One morning, as I walked outside, I saw a vivid image in my mind of a little blond boy with blue eyes. I knew that he was my Jonathan. Love coursed through me. “Mommy!” he said as he ran into my open arms. I just sat down on the gravel and wept.
Pain and joy were so intermingled that I couldn’t distinguish the two. Before this there had only been hurt, but this nearly tangible image brought a beautiful truth to my heart: I had a child in heaven. I never got to rock him to sleep or tickle his tiny toes, but one day I will hold him and nothing can take away that joy.
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