Losing the baby was hard. Letting go of the vision was even more painful.
Flashback to 1997 when our nine year marriage, on the brink of divorce, was rescued from the miry pit as two lost sinners surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ. The very first issue the Lord addressed after coming to salvation was our heart attitude toward children.
I was pregnant, facing my fifth cesarean and wrestling with the idea of sterilization. My reasoning was based on two primary thoughts:
- Children are expensive, intrusive, and messy. Five was enough!
- Cesarean is a major surgery and multiple repeat c-sections are risky.
My Husband, Terry and I were faced with the challenge of surrendering our fertility to the Lord. I remember my exact words as I stood there four months pregnant, looking at my husband with fear and doubt in my heart. “We could end up with ten kids!” But the heaviness outweighed the fear and we knew the Lord wanted our heart obedience. We held hands as Terry prayed, telling the Lord we were willing to allow Him to determine our family size. We relinquished all rights to our fertility.
Oh my, how the Lord abundantly blessed this step of obedience! I witnessed my heavenly Father perform a miracle when He used an unsaved, crusty old obstetrician to get us to consider a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). By the time we arrived at d-day on August 7, though the doctor had changed his mind (after being chastised by several of his colleagues who’d uncovered our scheme), we were confident that we were walking in God’s perfect plan. While my husband and the doctor fought over the use of forceps, Baby MacKenzie began to make her grand appearance. I went down in the medical books in Indiana as the first woman to deliver a VBAC after four cesareans! And God received all the glory!
Two years later, I delivered a 10 lb 4 oz baby girl in a different hospital with a midwife. Not so pleased with the details of this birth, the next two babies, Isaac and Sam were born in a free-standing birthing center with midwives. Our ninth child, a whopping 11 lb 15 oz baby girl, was born on our kitchen floor. The homebirth was planned. The size of the baby however, was not.
Our babies had been coming every 17 to 24 months since we had surrendered our family size decision to the Lord. During those years, that commitment had been tested and reevaluated numerous times, but we never wavered in our resolution to entrust our fertility to our faithful heavenly Father.
It came as no surprise when I discovered that I was pregnant again in the fall of 2006. Our home erupted in cheers and shouts of joy when we announced there would be a new baby to love in the spring.
One morning about nine or ten weeks into the pregnancy there were signs of a threatened miscarriage. I immediately went to bed and was in frequent contact with my midwife, though I was certain the crisis would pass and the baby would be fine. I was wrong. The pregnancy ended on October 18. I remember the date because it coincided with the 18th birthday of our daughter Stephanie. She refers to it as “my worst birthday.”
I had previously experienced pregnancy loss three times before salvation. But somehow losing this baby was different. I did not “bounce back” as quickly as I had before. After going through the usual shock and grief, something foreign began to settle into my spirit. At first I couldn’t put my finger on it, but an icy chill seemed to surround my heart and I felt isolated and distant from the Lord.
One morning as I began pouring out my heart to Jesus, the pain bubbled to the surface and the root of the problem was revealed: I was angry at God. We had done all that He had asked of us. We had been obedient in surrendering our fertility. Even against the advice of other well-meaning Christians and amidst the condemnation from family members, we had not only been willing, but eager, to have as many babies as the Lord wanted to send us. Why then was He suddenly taking them back? It stung like a slap in the face and I felt betrayed.
Perhaps it was us. Could it be that Terry and I weren’t meeting the parenting expectations that God had set for us? The house seemed a perpetual wreck, homeschooling didn’t always flow, and at times I felt pulled in too many directions. Maybe the Lord had determined that we weren’t faithful after all in training up Godly sons and daughters for His glory. These thoughts proved to be toxic. I was a mess.
Through the haze of depression, I decided to focus my thoughts on the original covenant we had made with our heavenly Father back in 1997. To give up all rights to our fertility. Part of that agreement included “having as many babies as He would send us,” as well as training up sons and daughters in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. But was this all we had agreed to or was there more to it than that?
The answer was revealed in Romans 12:1: “…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” In giving our fertility to the Lord, we had in fact presented our bodies as “living sacrifices” to Him. As His children, who were we to tell our omnipotent and omniscient God what He should or shouldn’t do with the sacrifice we had presented to Him? That really wasn’t our business. We weren’t merely “collecting children” but surrendering ourselves to the Lord.
I could find peace in that.
And then I began to consider the baby. Our baby. What purpose did this child’s short life serve? I thought about where the baby was now. Paul said to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord. Could it be that there was one more soul around the Throne of God, worshiping the Lord because of our willingness to obey our heavenly father in giving up our rights to our fertility?
Surely that was purpose enough!
Since that loss seven years ago, the Lord added a tenth baby to our home, through birth. And another child through different circumstances, who was born in 2007, the same year the baby of this story was due. There have also been three additional pregnancy losses, though I no longer view them as “lost” anymore.
Her passions include writing and ministering to women, which mesh perfectly on her blog Treasures from a Shoebox. She also recently began a family blog with five of her daughters called The Long Way to Go, a fun site for moms and daughters which focuses on topics such as courtship, purity, and preparing for marriage, as well as mentoring and mothering.