Empty Arms - A Journey of Infertility, Miscarriage and Children
A story of loss and gain through miscarriage and birth
Infertility, Miscarriage and Children
As I walked on the beach recently, my mind drifted back to a beach trip where I was experiencing my sixth miscarriage. With feet in the sand and a gentle breeze brushing the tears that streamed down my cheek, I thought back to the journey of infertility, miscarriage and now children. Now with five healthy children, I know that the blessings of a large family. My heart remembers the days of aching when I wondered if I would have any children. This is the story that God wrote for us. Along the way, my faith strengthened and my compassion grew. Because of these experiences my heart grows tender now to those still waiting. My eyes moisten when listening to the prolonged dull pain of longing. My prayer is that this story will offer hope to those still waiting with empty arms.
Like so many other young ladies, I pursued my education and then married the man of my dreams. After working for a few years, we bought property and built a home. Shortly after moving out into the country, we decided to start a family. Much to our surprise, having a family was not easy and did not happen as scheduled. When we finally found ourselves pregnant we were expecting twins. We were ecstatic.
The news spread quickly as we told everyone we knew. However, our excitement screeched to a halt the evening that we began to lose them. Darkness settled in. Sadness engulfed us. Dreams died hard.
During an internal ultrasound we had heard healthy heartbeats, but that evening the bleeding started. Following doctor’s orders I had a DNC. My normally even emotions were crazy erratic. That year I was teaching in a private high school and working nights as a decorator. Quietly, I wondered if I had been working too hard. Were pregnant ladies supposed to rest more? I never really felt overly tired. Was this my fault?
It was Christmas time, but I did not feel very cheery. I entered the season with empty arms.
During these early years, I spoke for pro-life in our city and state. I also volunteered as a pro-life counselor. This put me in close proximity to women who were unexpectedly pregnant. Many did not want the baby they were carrying. Some have asked if it was hard to work with pregnant moms when I so longed for a baby myself. On a few days I slipped into sadness, but most days the value of the life of the baby rose to the forefront. The confidence that God was writing my story separated my journey from those of my clients. What a joy to communicate God’s love for them and this little unborn one.
Early in May I braced myself for Mother’s Day. I usually kept the infant nursery on Sunday mornings, but that day, I just couldn’t. Mother’s Day was like the many baby showers that I tried to survive. Sometimes I just could not keep my emotions from tipping into tears. How often I sat at a baby shower with others who knew that I was grieving, but they did not seem to remember my pain in their conversations about pregnancy, childbirth and stories of the sweetness of newborns. After some time I decided that I would send a gift, but not attend. My failure to share their experience should not limit their abundance of happiness.
I wondered if I was the only one with this sadness. Only one of my friends seemed to understand. She lost three babies before having the ones that she enjoyed now. Whenever I was sad, she cheered me by reminding me that she too once had empty arms.
By summer we were expecting again. The next spring we were elated to hold our first son. Coming through such a desire for a baby compelled us to hold him closer than we might have if parenthood had been easy. What sweet days!
In the years that followed, we lost two more babies. Then we sought help from a specialist who quickly expressed that we would be easy to help since we could conceive. I was almost too heartbroken to hope. However, before long we were expecting again. Just when confidence soared, the first ultrasound revealed a problem. This was an ectoptic pregnancy with twins. One baby was in the womb while the other one was in the tube. Suddenly, we were confronted with the advice to abort the pregnancy that could not end in birth. What wrenching news when we had just heard two new heartbeats of our second set of twins. Anguish overwhelmed us. They sent us home with a plan for a DNC the next week.
The sonogram had been done on a Thursday. Over the weekend, we requested earnest prayer from our church leadership with laying on of hands. On Monday as we returned for a new ultrasound. God performed a miracle on our behalf. The one in the tube had disappeared. The baby in the womb sounded a steady pulse. The little girl born from that miracle married her high school sweetheart last spring.
With a family of two, we felt complete. But our miscalculation is often God’s surprise. Soon after riding a roller coaster and a log ride one hot summer day, I felt very queasy. The revelation was a pregnancy twenty weeks strong.
This next little girl was born fast with no risk of miscarriage. One more miscarriage and two baby boys later, we are blessed with a family of five children. I would not suspect that most people who look at my family of seven can guess the early years of waiting and disappointment. With six little ones waiting for us in heaven, there is a sweetness in anticipating heaven. For all those in suspense anxiously wishing for little ones, I deeply feel your pain. The in between time lasts forever.
Whether they come through birth or adoption, children are a gift of God. I pray God’s gifts for you. This is just part of the story that God is writing for us. Today, I am grateful for filling my empty arms with five not-so-little anymore kids.
This is what I know. I am a child of God. I believe that He loves me. I know that He loves my children that are now in heaven. I know that they are experiencing what I can only imagine.
In C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle a railway accident has just taken place. The parents in the story are killed. He relates the new beginning in the story:
“There was a real railroad accident…Your father and mother and all of you are - as you used to call it in the Shadow-Lands dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion: but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them, it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page, now at last they were the beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read; which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
While my children only existed for a brief time here on earth, their existence in heaven will go on forever. In the heart of Philippians 4:8 I focus on what is true, what is right, what is lovely, what is excellent and what is praiseworthy. I will think on these things.