Monday, May 31, 2010

Do not fear

It has been 4 weeks since my last blog entry. I ended that post by sharing how I was planning to grieve the loss of our tiny girl. To be honest I don't think I got very far down the road of mourning. Not because I am still in denial or shock, but rather because it felt wrong to let go and grieve when there is still another little one alive. And it also became clear that the life of this little one was also at risk. Going into labour before 26 weeks would result in death for this little one.
So I have been focussing on the life that is there; and learning how to overcome the stomach-turning fearful thoughts that seem accompany this part of the journey.
In the week following my last post I would wake up every morning wondering if today was going to be the day I was going to lose the 2nd child. Every twinge of pain in my belly - no matter how small - brought panic thinking that I was starting to go into premature labour. Everytime I would think about the fact that we had to get through at least 7 weeks until we reached the "safe zone" of being 26 weeks pregnant, my chest would close up so tightly I could barely breath in - it was like my rib cage would shrink crushing the air from my lungs.
I knew that life like this was not sustainable - and I was also puzzled by the fact that God had repeated (rather abundantly) the phrase "Do Not Fear" in many circumstances throughout the bible. How could God be serious about this, surely there should be some expections to this invitation to live without fear. However it seems that there is no circumstance or situation wher it is acceptable to succoumb to fear. Desparate not to remain in the anxious vice grip I was in, I started to seek, read, pray about this fear-less living.
I saw that God was not telling us "Do not fear" because He would always remove that thing that caused us to fear, but rather the thing that I fear is not worth fearing. In the light of eternity the thing that I fear is really insignificant. I remember reading (I think it was C S Lewis) that our life here on earth is like the title page of a book, and after we die then eternity is the rest of the pages of the story. Not that God trivialises the things we fear or the things we long for. He loves us and understands our hearts cry. However we give such power to things that we fear - things that do not have eternal value. Power over us to rob us of the life that God wants us to live today.
Lloyd and I have been lighting a candle at the end of each day - thanking God for the day that has passed, that our baby is still safe - and praying for the next day, asking God for His protection. And so I have been living one day at a time; whilst also seeing my life from an eternal perspective - both view points have brought peace to my heart.
More freeing for me has been the revelation that God calls me not to fear because, regardless of what happens, He will be there with me - He will be the shepherd who walks alongside me in the valley of the shadow death, He will be there in the fire, when the waters rise up, and when the storm hits. He is Immanuel - God with us. God with me. And so I will not be alone facing that event that I dread should it occur. So it is not worth fearing and giving up my peace today because of what might happen tomorrow.
I do not underestimate the inpact of the many prayers that have been poured out for us - how they have bouyed us up over the rough seas, and have brought us into God's calming presence. I cannot express my gratitude to the many who have been emailing, texting, phoning, visiting with one message - that they are standing with us in prayer. I know that the freedom I have from fear is also due to these prayers.
Therefore, I have been able to live LIFE in this precarious season. I have been able to be present with Matt and enjoy him. I have been able to sleep peacefully at night and not wake with dread each morning. I have been able to taste my food. I have been able to be creative in the kitchen and garden. I have been able to engage with others, not shutting down or withdrawing. I have been able to live.
We are now at 24 weeks...we keep taking it one day at a time - one lit candle at the end of each day.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous hand. For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you "Do not fear, I will help you"
Isaiah 41: 10, 13

Monday, May 3, 2010

Saying goodbye

Today we went back to the gynae. I explained that I needed to check to see if my baby was really dead, that I couldn't believe it to be real. I also wanted to know if it was a boy or a girl.
The scan showed me a little girl lying very still in my womb, the heart was still quiet, and clearly her spirit was safely with Jesus. I can't explain the peace that descended on me. On Sunday Lloyd and I had been in a dedication service for 2 kids - there they had read the story of when Jesus rebuked the disciples for shooing the children away. The words about how Jesus drew the children to himeself, embracing them, came to my mind in the scanning room. I knew my little girl was with the One who is Love.
I didn't feel angry about the loss, just disappointed - because I won't get to meet this little one face to face, and to share the life that she might have had. I also felt sad for the other baby who will not know his or her sister.
Our other baby has grown since the scan on Thursday and is a bundle of life and energy and movement.
The threat of premature labour looms like a dark shadow over the life that is in my womb. We would love your prayers for this baby to be able to stay in for as long as possible.

In the midst of everything I am deeply thankful for Lloyd and for all those who have prayed for our marriage during this tough season. We are walking very closely. I must say that I don't think I have every been more in love with Lloyd. He has risen up as a man of tender courage and gentle strength, allowing me to process things differently from him and yet never making me feel foolish. He has been processing his own pain and has kept me close to his heart without withdrawing - sharing his journey with words and tears. He has shown love and tenderness to Matt despite the grief in his heart.

I am also deeply thankful that during this time I have felt God's love in a tangible way. On Thursday night, after we received the news, a whole bunch of our friends came around in the evening to pray with us. The love and care in that room was so deep and rich. On Friday I received a message from a distant friend, who is living in Hawaii and who would have had no knowledge of our loss. She felt God remind her to pray for me on that Thursday, and that God wanted to affirm my mother's heart for me children. I was so comforted by the knowledge that God had spoken to her about me on that very day of my loss.

So now I start the grieving process...of saying goodbye to our tiny precious girl.
And also the journey of readjusting my plans...for the nursery, for the pram, for the car, for our lives...

and the journey of allowing new plans to form.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The day I walked into a wall...

On Thursday we went for a routine check up on our twins. We are in that safe zone, between the threat of miscarriage in the 1st trimester and the scare of prem labour in the 3rd. So we were not expecting anything sinister. As our gynae scanned my belly it became clear that she was concerned about baby A (as she calls them). She couldn't find a heart beat and the baby did not seem to be moving. She referred us to the Foetal Assessment Unit just up the road, there they have a sophisticated scan that could show what was going on. A long walk up a short road, hoping and praying that it was just our gynae's small machine that couldn't pick up the details.

In the small, dark room of the Foetal Assessment Unit the ultra-sonographer shook her head. No heart beat. With pity in her eyes she informed me that the "foetus had demised" - yes those were the cold, clinical words that she used.

That was the moment I walked head first into the wall. And it hurt.

I had not seen it coming. I had looked forward to the check up - to say hi to my 2 munchkins. The wall would not be moved and I walked into it. Pain throbbed throughout my body. She measured some more, and also checked over Baby B to make sure there were no further concerns. My mind was numb. I was told that since Baby A was the same size as Baby B the heart must have stopped beating only in the last couple of days.

The ultra-sonographer had squeezed us into her busy schedule so couldn't spend much time with us. Too soon she was ushering us out of the room. I had to will my legs to move to take me out of the dark room. The light seemed to bright for me, too happy, too full of life. I wanted to stay in that small, dark space for a while longer. I didn't want to face the world. I could relate to the darkness - it made sense. The light didn't make sense.

Back in our gynae's office I couldn't grasp what I had been told. My body felt no different. There was no bleeding , there were no cramps in my womb. No physical sign of the death that was allegedly inside my womb. Surely, surely the ultra sound was wrong. How could it be that the baby's heart just stopped beating. It did not make sense, in fact it still doesn't. This whole weekend I have been struggling to understand it is like my brain doesn't work. It is like I am grasping at smoke or a cloud, I can't take hold of it. I just can't let go of Baby A. It's like I can't even start grieving because in my heart I don't believe this Baby could be dead.

My heart is so confused that I can't even think about the Baby B - apparently now there is a threat of me going into labour in the next 6 weeks. It is just too much for me to contemplate.

The one joy in all of this has been our precious Matt. He has certainly been aware that something is not right with his mom and dad. On Thursday he started showing many more of his sensory stimulating movements, like head shaking and seemed to go a bit wild. We were a bit concerned how to cope with him and the whirlwhind of emotions. Yet today he surprised us over and over, he was calm and caring. His interactions with us were so therapeutic and he truly brought joy into our home. I thank God for Matt and the light he brings into our lives.

And I look to God to carry us through this storm.